Harmony of Dissension

« previous post | next post »

Today's Non Sequitur:

Two previous strips for background:

Danae's sensitivity to mere incoherence and internal contradiction seems atypical to me, but perhaps future strips will tell us more…

And political grifting aside, "Harmony of Dissension" is something we could probably use more of these days.


  1. AntC said,

    January 10, 2024 @ 8:10 am

    the course exposes students to a diverse range of ideas and narratives related to dialogue.

    Thanks Mark. I kinda thought any/every first-year Undergrad programme in a liberal/social studies course would do that(?)

    (This was my beef in my first-year digs: my flatmates studying Electronics seemed to think it was an indulgence: what was wrong with merely parroting their parents' social views? I appreciate that was the 1970's, and kids these days are much better informed, what with social media yada yada.)

  2. Mark Liberman said,

    January 10, 2024 @ 8:32 am

    @AntC: "I kinda thought any/every first-year Undergrad programme in a liberal/social studies course would do that(?)"

    It's hard to tell if it's really true, but there seems to be a consensus that polarization is increasing, and that people interact less (and less effectively) outside their social bubbles.

    Religious missionaries (and other sorts of activists) are trained, explicitly or implicitly, to use dialogue to establish a connection and reduce disagreement. But most people, not so much.

  3. Mike Anderson said,

    January 10, 2024 @ 8:45 am

    @AntC: "…much better informed, what with social media…"

    "When I was 17, my father was so stupid, I didn't want to be seen with him in public. When I was 24, I was amazed at how much the old man had learned in just 7 years."

    "I was educated once – it took me years to get over it."

    ~ Mark Twain

  4. Steve Morrison said,

    January 10, 2024 @ 9:06 pm

    Um. Mark Twain lost his father when he was still only eleven years old. And no one has found any evidence that the first quote is by him.

  5. Seth said,

    January 11, 2024 @ 1:37 am

    "Harmony of Dissension" – which sounds like a good name for folk-music group – suggests to me one of the those vaguely centrist organizations which tries to run "dialogues" between opposing groups, with the goal of finding common ground or mutual understanding. Parody – "Today, in "Harmony of Dissension", we bring together spokesmen of two factions threatening war over slavery. We have John Lincoln, of "Abolish Slavery Now!", and Harlan Calhoun, of "Slavery Is Our Way Of Life". We'll try to find some harmony in this dissension. Gentlemen, I ask you, even though you have such very different views about the morality of slavery, can I get you to both agree that slaves should be treated with kindness?"

    Trump just recently suggested the Civil War could have been negotiated. He was very wrong in a deep way, in that many tried quite hard, and it repeatedly failed.

    Anyway, a "dialogue" organization is not the worst possible activist grift. Some people aren't cut out to be disruptive shouting types. Big nonprofit grant-makers love policy papers and conferences. My reaction to a name like "Harmony of Dissension" would not be a narrow dictionary-reading of each term and proclaiming a contradiction. Rather, I would assume the contrast was intended as part of the reason for the name.

  6. Jason said,

    January 13, 2024 @ 4:07 am


    "Harmony of Dissension" is obviously the name of a prog-metal band, not a folk group. If we had a theory of semantics to explain why this is true, we'd know a lot more about the world than we currently do.

  7. Philip Taylor said,

    January 13, 2024 @ 10:51 am

    Ever since this thread appeared, I have been wondering why the cartoonist chose "Harmony of dissension" rather than "Harmony of dissent", the latter sounding better in my mind's ear. Finally I asked Google, and learned that "dissent" <> "dissension". One lives and learns, even at 76.

RSS feed for comments on this post