Monday, October 17, 2005

READING THE CARETAKER IN MORON. He's often come close, but never has Jonah Goldberg so overtly revealed his analytic method:
I will confess here and now I know very little of Pinter's work. I've caught bits and piece over the years, read the occasional criticism (and many since the Nobel announcment) but I think it's fair to say I'm perhaps a few inches shy of real ignorance about Pinter's literary contributions.

But does that really mean I can't complain about his Nobel?
Yes, he really is asking why we shouldn't take his opinion of Pinter seriously even though he has only seen "bits and pieces" of his work -- in other words, not one play all the way through, possibly not even one scene. This leaves even the normal purview of ignorance, and becomes that which my mother used to call pig-ignorance.

The rest of the post is just as bad, pretending to explain but really only compounding the intellectual felony.

We are accustomed to laugh at Goldberg, but the phenomenon he so ably respresents is rather chilling. With his many posts admitting ignorance of his subject or claiming a lack of time to explain himself properly (yet insisting that he's making on contribution to the discussion) Goldberg seems to demand a right to make arguments based less on reasoned analysis than on his willingness to declare his own argument superior regardless of the evidence.

This is genuine anti-intellectualism: not the watery kind that leads politicans to pretend ignorance to win votes, but an evident and deep-seated desire to rewrite (or if necessary obliterate) the rules of logic and causality so that one's side will always come out ahead.

This blight is apparently contagious, as this reader comment, which Goldberg finds "interesting," shows:
To a conservative like me, it is the left that killed off Pinter’s art, more successfully than any censor could have. Doubtless, it is the later, bloviating Pinter who the Nobel committee is rewarding, not the true artist.
In this view, one's very identity is changed by political incorrectness: Pinter is not worthy of the Nobel because Pinter is not Pinter.

Some things are even worse than being wrong.

P.S. Terry Teachout's very sane assessment (and I don't just mean comparatively sane) is now online.

P.P.S. Backword argues in favor of a much-maligned Pinter poem. He hasn't brought me round quite -- in that genre, I still much prefer Selfish Cunt -- but it's a good strong effort.

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