This photograph was taken a few minutes before Daniel Dennett started his Saturday afternoon talk. Dennett, by the way, is a tall dude (like basketball player tall):
Dennett, in his lecture, coined a mildly amusing term (or, more accurately, one of his friend’s daughters coined the term, and Dennett says he has been using it for awhile now). The term is “deepity” (as in, “Ooh, dad said a deepity”). A “deepity” is a statement that appears to have content, but actually says little or nothing (as in, say, “The ground beneath the ground of being sounds forth in silence”).
I understand Dennett’s insistence on the demystification of language (for purposes of analytical debate), and clearly defining terms, and using them without subtle shifts in meaning, but it does strike me as a potential blow for poetry to insist on language use purged of “deepities.” To be dismissive of “deepities” is almost to express contempt for poetry (and the paradoxical nature of the ontological mystery itself). Here, for example, are some lines from a poem by A.R. Ammons: “The universe has no floor / but we walk the floor.” That strikes me as deep, and not just a “deepity.” But maybe Dennett would see it differently, and has little patience for such “woo.”