Thursday, May 31, 2007

HOW NICE FOR YOU. Rod Dreher, speaking in anticipation of loving Knocked Up, the new comedy by the maker of slightly-better-than-average fart-and-swearing-granny comedy The 40-Year-Old Virgin:
I think about how snotty and cruel (but funny) my own writing used to be before I had kids, and I just shake my head. It's fatally easy to make fun of everything when you don't have a stake in it.
I've been reading Dreher since Rupert Murdoch inflicted his worthless film criticism on New York Post readers, and in my experience he has never written an intentionally funny line in his life.

It bugs me when newspaper and internet gasbags rhapsodize on the changes these blessed events allegedly wreak on their consciousnesses, because one almost never sees evidence of these life-altering epiphanies in their actual writing. Take for example this John Podhoretz essay about how 9/11 made him realize "the antidote to horror is love" and drove him to propose to his girlfriend and make a baby tout suite. One would expect this realization to have a major impact on his thinking, yet there is absolutely no sign on this in his work: Podhoretz was a right-wing fist-shaker before, and he is a right-wing fist-shaker today. (To be fair, maybe he saved up all the philosophical stuff for his magnum opus, Can She Be Stopped? Hillary Clinton Will Be The Next President of the United States Unless...)

Similarly, when Dreher was childless he devoted his film criticism to tiresome cultural crankery, and, post-enlightenment, that remains his stock in trade. For all his writing reveals, he might as well have spent his time between assignments in a sealed cleanroom.

I don't think that they're lying about their feelings; rather, I think that the sort of writing they're doing (popularly known as propaganda) doesn't have anything to do with their feelings or anyone else's, except perhaps those of the publishers and think-tank presidents who employ them. In either case, it's just one more reminder not to confuse their work with anything important, and that perhaps none of us is as open to transcendent experiences as he likes to believe.

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