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Opening Arguments

O, brother!

I made it all the way to today -- the day after Oprah's last show -- in keeping my vow to myself not to comment. I mean, saying something snide about the insipid queen of gush and how she epitomizes the banality of popular culture, we're talking fish-in-a-barrel time. But, really, this just sent me over the edge:

With Oprah's legendary talk-show career ending today, we should celebrate her unparalleled influence as a healer, visionary, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. Well, I would like to bestow upon Oprah a new distinction: Oprah the existentialist.

Existentialist? Huh?

Fair enough. Oprah is not an existentialist in the classic sense of the term. And yes, she does deviate from Nietzsche, Heidegger, Camus, and Sartre in ways too numerous to list. But Oprah also shares much in common with them, namely a career-long excavation down the deep and dark crevices of the human soul.

[. . .]

The breadth of Oprah's personal talent and the scope of her intellectual reach enlist us to ferret the deep-seated metaphor lurking at the surface of our core being. She helps us to conquer a clearer vision of our purpose and potential.

[. . .]

In short, what Oprah shares with the great existentialists is an indomitable pursuit of two fundamental questions: Who are we? What can we become? And she has shed light on the possibility for a far more hopeful, productive answer to these questions than our traditional existential heroes.

After two decades in daily pursuit of those two essential inquiries, perhaps Oprah wears the crown as The Greatest Existentialist of all.

Wow. The "Greates Existentialist of all" -- and to think, we wasted all that time reading about Man and Superman and arguing about Being and Nothingness. Nietzsche and Sartre never tried "to ferret the deep-seated metaphor lurking at the surface of our core being." We should have been suspicious right away.

This drivel was written by a professor of sociology, a discipline I'm sorry to say I minored in at Ball State. I can just see myself back then, reading something like this and going, "Yeah, man, that is so right on!"