Saturday, October 02, 2004

It's been a busy week, for everybody. I'm not much for journalese so I ended up doing two rewrites of a short review. That and a full week of work plastering an apartment while under the influence of a back spasm. Last weekend I spent most of the time almost immobile.

I've also been in no mood to be faced with posts like this one by DeLong.

Yes Kerry won the debate. And the press has been not quite as bad as usual, if only because the victory was so obvious there was little room for equivocation. But being unbiased is not the same as offering time to demonstrable falsehoods, and they haven't learned that yet. Still that's not really the problem.

Between con men and reformers, economists and hippies, we have no intellectual culture of irony that's not leaden, or of self-awareness that's not bitter.* The moneyed right wing has its cynicism, the moneyed left has its condescension, both based on the the assumption that others are gullible and stupid. It makes no difference if it's DeLong and Yglesias, or David Brooks and Bill O'Reilly. Unto the pure, all things are pure. We stand apart. And language is either transparent, or corrupt.

For all that I'm an arrogant son of a bitch I live my life assuming I'm an idiot. It doesn't bother me. I spend every day waiting to be corrected, by others or the accidents of experience. The world is more complex than any model I'll ever produce, and model-building is my life, perhaps too much so. In this country a sense of irony is considered roughly equivalent of a death-wish, even while it's the life's blood of the British press that so many envy.

I spent thursday evening talking the possibility of a future with a woman who's a defender of her country's monarchy. We spent three hours laughing at ourselves, our insecurities, and at everything we care about (obviously she's not British).
'My wife the monarchist.' 'My communist husband.'
There's more to life than economics.

It's been a good week for me. And for the country, not that it's saying much, it could have been worse.
Juan Cole
* Intellectual culture, not culture at large.
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