Sunday, August 05, 2007

Hmm ...

... Edmund Wilson's traditions in peril. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I have just been reading this two-volume set of Wilson's work. I was struck by how wrong he was about poetry - unimpressed by Wallace Stevens, dismissive of Robert Frost, confused - it seems to me - about e.e. cummings. I also found the tone of his early work pompous - he lightens up a bit as he grows older. And I might add that To the Finland Station may be one of the first histories of the Russian Revolution, but it also one of the worst. None of which is to suggest that Wilson's work isn't still worth reading, if only out of curiosity. The overall impression I've had so far is how ephemeral criticism can be even when done with high seriousness.
Now, Bob Hoover's a friend and a great guy, but I have to demur on a couple of points. One is that the objectivity on the Fox News Channel seems no thinner than that of CNN, MSNBC (check out the loathesome Keith Olbermann, Bob), the networks, and PBS. The other is that what he and Sven Birkerts think is so important about print has nothing to do with print itself. No reason why you can't have a fully edited, in the old-fashoned sense, Web site (and I believe you will have just that sooner or later).


  1. Anonymous10:52 AM

    Someone calls fascism as it is & he's "loathsome". And I doubt the Nazis propaganda machine ever got much more obviously vile as the superheroes of FOX like O Reilly & Hannity. Now that's what I call loathsome. America uber alles.

  2. Anonymous11:34 AM

    What's also loathsome is people imagining they are Christians & supporting pro-torture, pro-war regimes. John 7:7 says “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil.” and John 15: 18-25 says “ If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own."
    As true as ever in this era of mass-deception, & imposed upon culture of idiocy. "He that is not with me is against me."

  3. What's odd is someone with such cocksure opinions taking the trouble to remain anonymous. As they say in Texas: All hat and no horse. As for Keith Olbermann, I doubt if he could even define fascism.
    And as for Christianity obliging one to be a pacifist, it is worth noting that Jesus never made that point to the centurion. But of course your private imterpretation of scripture trumps everyone else's, I am sure.

  4. One other thing: If Keith Olbermann actually lived in a fascist state, he would have been taken away in the middle of the night long ago. He knows that, which is why he feels free to call the President a fascist. This makes Olbermann another of the present age's great gutless wonders, a poseur whose high-decibel dissent costs him nothing and gains the attention he needs to keep his undistinguished career put-putting along.

  5. Patrick1:17 PM

    Paul Craig Roberts was the Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury under the Reagan aministration & the mastermind behind the economic policy that became known as Reaganomics.
    Some of his thoughts below.

    "The Bush regime is proceeding exactly as the Nazi regime proceeded. First, eliminate every person of conscience and integrity from the government. Second, redefine duty as service to the leader: "You are with us or against us" - a formulation that leaves no place for duty to the U.S. Constitution. Patriotism is redefined from loyalty to country and Constitution to loyalty to the government's leader.

    Americans are too inattentive and distracted to be aware of the grave danger that the neoconservative Bush regime presents to American liberty and to world stability. The neoconservative drive to achieve hegemony over the American people and the entire world is similar to Hitler's drive for hegemony.

    Hitler used racial superiority to justify Germany's right to ride roughshod over other peoples and the right of the Nazi elite to rule over the German people. Neoconservatives use "American exceptionalism" and "the war on terror." There is no practical difference. Hitler cared no more about the peoples he mowed down in his drive for supremacy than the neoconservatives care about 655,000 dead Iraqis, 100,000 disabled American soldiers and 2,747 dead ones.

    When Bush, the Decider, claims unconstitutional powers and uses "signing statements" to negate U.S. law whenever he feels the rule of law is in the way of his leadership, he is remarkably similar to Hitler, the Fuhrer, who told the Reichstag on Feb. 20, 1938: "A man who feels it his duty at such an hour to assume the leadership of his people is not responsible to the laws of parliamentary usage or to a particular democratic conception, but solely to the mission placed upon him. And anyone who interferes with this mission is an enemy of the people."

    "You are with us or against us." "

    Outright fascism wasn't built in a day. Maybe you can wait to see if they achieve exactly that, & then down the line plead that who could have seen it coming.
    "Because you are neither hot nor cold but lukewarm I spt you out of my mouth."
    Also, didn't he say eomething along the lines of having to be pprepared to hate your very kin for the sake of Truth. However more must one be prepared to cut all ties to the parasites on the illusion that is the nation State. A man cannot serve two masters. You've evidently made your choice.

  6. So a paleocon like Paul Craig Roberts has suddenly become a hero of the left by virtue of a screed against neoncons. I suppose it's because Roberts is not a part of the admistration that "every person of conscience and integrity from the government" has been eliminated. Apparently Roberts forgets there are three branches of government.
    And by the way, I do not by any stretch of the imagination support everything Bush or his admistration advocate. And I certainly don't regard Jesus as a political philsopher, let alone my favorite. And I still think blather about fascism and Nazism poisons political discourse when you're not talking about actual fascists and Nazis.
    I would also suggest sticking to the point of a post and not getting all hot and bothered over some disparaging remark about a TV clown. The subject of the post was Edmund Wilson and the internet - though these comments may go far to support much of what Bob and Sven Birkerts say.

  7. By the way, I stick to my point: Olbermann calls Bush a fascist precisely because he knows Bush is not one. You respond by citing a fatuous comparison to the Nazis by a paleocon because you think I will have to respect his viewpoint because - why, he was a minor functionary in the Reagan administration. Well, so was Pat Buchanan and I think he's a horse's ass. But of course it takes time for fascism to develop - well, I'll believe it if Bush is still president on Jan. 21, 2009.

  8. There is a group of people out there who argue everything possibly negative, including and especially irrationally, until something hits a sore spot. And once it does, it becomes part of the anti-credo, part of the attack "ideology".

    The argument goes something like this: You're a stubborn, sociopathic, womanizing, cheap, evil, ugly, bullying, sado-masochistic, pedophilistic, prejudiced . . . with an mother who . . . (and so on and on)--until you finally blurt out, "Now wait just a friggin' minute! I am NOT cheap!!" Then they know they've grabbed your weak spot.

    This was Ted Kennedy's role in the last election, to go out on these name-calling limbs, until the Democrats found fluff the people would actually listen to--or Bush might take seriously.

    I had voted for Gore, and wanted so badly for Bush to have a bonafide opponent, one with an honest-to-goodness different opinion and approach. Instead, we got Kerry and weak rhetoric. When it came down to it, the voters knew that, and were not wrong to refuse him the Oval Office.

    Bush is not fascist at heart, but has made serious blunders, especially in the "occupation" part of the rebuilding, versus the "war" part where Saddam went down to Iraqi cheers. To Bush's credit, he had asked the world to join in and help out, and so many countries, led by the selfish politician Chiraq, decided to stay on the sidelines and be part of the "anti"-brigade, being both counterproductive and destructive.

    Any country's leader who decided to not to be part of the corps helping the Iraqi's rebuild, is at least as responsible for the debacle that has resulted as Bush is. If we start the argument at Bush's faults, the next step is how much help he (still) needs--and the Iraqis need.

    The world has failed here, miserably and continously painfully. Any country in the world, that can, but does not join in and help Iraq rebuild, is more "pro-torture, pro-war" than Bush, who is trying but incapable in too many ways.


  9. Amen, brother. I could not have put it better.