AV making a case

One of AV’s writing assignments had him choosing among three quotes to argue either pro or con in an essay.  He chose this one.  Don’t recommend giving high school students this quote because researching the author’s life brought up security filters and rightly so.  I’m sure other quotes would have worked as well.  But AV learned a whole lot about modern feminist writing style, topics, and word choices.  Sigh. He can handle it.


Feminist writer, Erica Jong is often quoted as saying: “Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.” I think it is her way of talking about women’s intuition. While intuition is valuable, I will prove by using a story, logic and historic evidence that all advice cannot be something already know to the seeker.

When you buy ice cream at the family owned shop and you ask the man behind the counter for advice on which ice cream tastes best, you are not asking because you “wish you didn’t” but because you don’t know what is in the ice cream you want to get the best tasting ice cream flavor. But without asking the person who made the ice cream, you will not know which one to order. This one of the many examples that proves Erica Jong assumption wrong.

Although Erica’s statement seems to be an aphorism, it can not possibly be. For example:  an interviewer is having a discussion with a cancer surviver and in the interview the person was asked to give some advice to the audience. The TV viewers could not possibly know what the cancer survivor is going to say. In talk shows, the interviewer asks questions on behalf of the viewers expecting to have the interviewed answer them for the audience. In this case, as in others, the cancer survivor gives his own advice to the audience. The audience would like to never get cancer or would like to know how to overcome it, but they can not have the intimate knowledge that the survivor can give.  Thus this does not fulfill Erica Jong’s aphorism.

Here is yet another short coming for this statement this is a quote from Napolenon proves my point aptly. When asked how to be a great general, Napoleon said: “Read over and over again the campaigns of Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, Gustavus, Turenne, Eugene, and Frederic. Make them your models. This is the only way to become a great general and to master the secrets of the art of war. With your own genius enlightened by this study, you will reject all maxims opposed to those of these great commanders.” This is no doubt advice but you did not know what he was going to say, and if you are not a general, it will not help you in the least.

From buying ice cream to Napoleon’s advice on being a great general, this essay should have convinced you why Erica Jong is mistaken in her claim about advice and its use in culture and language.



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