European Diary

The Salami Fallacy

A few months ago in this space I described the Pecorino Effect, referring not so much to the Italian cheese as to the shopper’s inability to refuse any merchandise he has sampled, irrespective of what he thinks of the quality.  I diagnosed this modern malady, with myself as a specimen of social tissue in the Petri dish of a farmers’ market in Palermo, only to realize later that the disease was pandemic, for the incontrovertible reason that, in today’s world, anything from political affiliations to lifestyle decisions qualifies as merchandise.

If the Pecorino Effect is the centripetal force of modern life, its antisocial, centrifugal complement is the Salami Fallacy.  In this case I borrow the trope from the expression “salami tactics,” which is what cunning tyrants use on bleating democracies to win strategic concessions and anecdotal wives use on husbands whose Budweiser habit they want to break.

The Salami Fallacy is the belief that the world as one knows it will go on forever, that the length of the sausage in question is a workable definition of infinity, and that the stealthy, incremental surrender of what once made life what it was is a matter of evolution, of one’s changing location on the infinitely long cutting board of time.  “Love is lost?” wonders a famous Russian gypsy romance of the 1900’s, adding, with melancholy irony, “You can live without it!” ...

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