Sunday, March 25, 2007

Another proto-blogger ...

... The Question of Karl Kraus. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This is an outstanding piece. The connection of Kraus to blogging, while interesting and pertinent, is far from being the most important point. That would be found in this passage, and those that follow it:

... his biographer, who has gained a dangerous authority by the sheer magnitude of his labours, takes a lot on himself when he assumes that Kraus would have been against armed intervention in the Middle East as an example of our being led into folly by “propaganda for war”.

The phrase is of Timms’s coinage, and rings like pewter. By the time Kraus died, he knew that there could be an even bigger danger in propaganda for peace. Some of the brightest people in Europe, up to and including Bertrand Russell, preached non-violence up to and beyond the day Hitler invaded Poland. The British Labour Party, sitting in opposition to the Conservatives, denounced Fascism but also denounced any proposed armed opposition to it as warmongering. In service to the great analyst of cliché, Timms is hampered not only by his Cultural Studies jargon (the leaden word “discourse” riddles the text) but by an untoward propensity for not spotting what a current cliché is. The two drawbacks are connected, by his tin ear. Kraus, whom Timms tacitly invites to join in the widespread practice of putting jokey quotation marks around the phrase “war on terror”, might have pointed out that the quotation marks are a cliche in themselves, helping as they do to disguise a brute reality: terrorists are at war with us, and don’t care who they kill. The reason terrorists don’t use those risible cosmetic terms of ours such as “collateral damage” is that they not only have no intention of sparing the innocent, they have no more desirable target in mind.

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