Friday, May 14, 2010

Book Reviewing As High Comedy

Lee Siegel's review of Paul Berman's The Flight of the Intellectuals is a marvelously funny piece of criticism (and thank you, Scott, for the link). While I can appreciate Scott's comment on the review (which is also quite funny), the end of Siegel's review captures an attitude I have found far too frequently, and not just on the internet:
When I read Mr. Berman, I don't think romantically of those dreadful old Partisan Review "smackdowns." Instead, I recall this line spoken by Dostoevsky's Father Zossima in The Brothers Karamazov: "Suffering is the inability to love." The problem with that kind of suffering is that it blinds you to everyone else's. You become a hero in your own mind, the rest of the world be damned.

That brave soul, standing athwart the tide - whether it be left or right, intellectual elitism or anti-intellectual buffoonery, the theocratic threat or the secular humanist threat - is the creation of those individuals' own grand sense of their own place in history.

Me, I'm happy with a small blog that about three people read with any regularity.

Of course, this doesn't detract from the fact that a bit of score-settling may be taking place here. Moral rectitude is a pose I dislike in any case; vengeance disguised as moral rectitude is particularly nasty.

But, it can also be funny.

Virtual Tin Cup

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