Sunday, January 27, 2008

The weeping ...

... and the gnashing of teeth: Critics are becoming an endangered species. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I find it odd, at a time when everyone is obliged to do obeisance before the altar of natural selection, that so few people seem to think it will apply to blogs and Amazon reviewers: Over time the vast numbers will dwindle to a precious few - at least those who prove good and reliable will garner audiences, while the rest will not.


  1. Anonymous6:57 PM

    There's an excellent article by a critic in The SUnday Times today by the critic, William Dalrymple here on Martin Amis' new book. Some lines to choose from:

    "here we have a wholly un-nuanced book about Islam by a man who appears, to judge from this text, never to have visited an Islamic country or to have talked seriously to any Muslim. The Second Plane is a compilation of second-hand views, in this case lifted from Islamophobic neocon primers (the works of Bernard Lewis, VS Naipaul and Paul Berman) about a subject on which the author has no personal experience, but which he still strongly dislikes. The result is not just flawed, but riddled with basic misunderstandings.
    It is the lack of nuance that is most alarming. For Amis, all Islamists are the same, whether mass-murdering jihadis, or completely non-violent but religiously conservative democrats. Nor is it just the militant Islamists he dislikes: ordinary Muslims are regarded with equal contempt. He writes, with deep distaste, of “the writhing moustaches of Pakistan” and “the shoving, jabbing, jeering brotherhood”. It seems, to Amis, that people’s religion and ethnicity can remove them from rational discourse, and relegate them to the position of untermenschen.

    As far as one can tell from this book, he does not engage with Muslims, visit their countries, or talk to them. Instead, he merely uses his great stylistic gifts to denounce. The result is a book that is not just wilfully ignorant, a triumph of style over knowledge, but that, for all its panache and gloss, is at its heart disturbingly bigoted."

    Regarding the wonderfully well-enumerated Amis, perhaps the following is apt, "What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul.”

  2. Anonymous7:52 PM

    I should have said critic and historian, William Dalrymple. He has an excellent site of his own, with articles here. A welcome antidote to the uneducated and bigoted philistinism of people Amis and Hitchens.

  3. Anonymous8:31 PM

    Link doesn't seem to work. Dalrymple's The Last Mughal: The Eclipse of a Dynasty, Delhi 1857 – has just won the prestigous Duff Cooper Prize for History and Biography 2007. Presumably someone with a real knowledge of his subject.