Wednesday, May 31, 2006

10.0! In his review (that term being used here in its new, conservative sense -- that is, criticism of a movie he hasn't seen) of An Inconvenient Truth, Holman Jenkins goes about fatuity as if it were an Olympic event, fitting in all the high-degree-of-difficulty routines.

For example, he does a philosophical number, claiming our problem is not so much global warming as Al Gore's existential dread: "In a million years, the time it takes the earth to sneeze, the planet will likely be shorn of any conspicuous sign we were ever here, let alone careless with our CO2, dioxins, etc. Talk about an inconvenient truth."

He also scores high in my favorite conservative event, the equivalence of observable reality with rhetorical whims: "What if science showed conclusively that global warming is produced by natural forces, with all the same theorized ill effects for humanity, but that human action could forestall natural change? Or what if man-made warming were real, but offsetting the arrival of a natural ice age? Would Mr. Gore tell us meekly to submit to whatever nature metes out because it's 'natural'?" More to the point, what if this peanut butter were caviar? I would have gotten this sandwich at a substantial discount!

But Jenkins shows exceptional creativity and daring here:
A remarkable and improbable thing is that, despite presumably devoting decades of study to the subject of global warming, nothing Al Gore has learned leads him to say anything that would strike the least informed, most dogmatic "green" as politically incorrect. He doesn't discover virtues in nuclear power. He doesn't note the cost-benefit advantages of strategies that would remove CO2 from the atmosphere, rather than those that would stop its creation.

Anybody who deeply searches into any subject of popular debate inevitably comes back with views and judgments to shock the casual thinker. Mr. Gore utterly fails to vouchsafe this reliable telltale of seriousness.
You may have missed it, but Jenkins just said that Gore's conclusions cannot be right because they are not the same as Jenkins' presumptions.

I have to applaud. I would also like to take credit for appreciating Jenkins' craft despite our disagreements, but I don't really know that I disagree with him, because he hasn't asserted anything that rises to the level of argument. He just doesn't like Al Gore, and wants to say bad things about him.

Fair enough. A traditional film review wouldn't have been as interesting, probably. Previously I had put down this New Criticism to sloth and arrogrance, but maybe it's really an avant-garde movement. If so, Jenkins is a stylist to watch.

UPDATE. Those of us who are not so cutting-edge might want to settle down with the down-home, old-school fatuity of the Ole Perfesser, who refutes Gore with -- get this -- the new hand-dryer at his gym, which "makes the skin on your hands ripple like it does when you're skydiving, and within a few seconds your hands are dry." This is the end of MST (Main Stream Towels)! I can't wait to see what they have for the bidet.

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