My readers ask the tough questions:
I think you might need to shore up the case for why one takes the battle over the independent judgment of literary and artistic merit to a place like Gawker. Does the existence of gossip rags somehow preclude the existence of any other form of criticism? Is gossip where ideology critique went to die (as you hint)? Is this what happens when you separate bad Marxist and sociological and gender lit theory from practice? That seems like the strong intellectual line to take, and addressing this is necessary for all the people like me who would keep urging you to let it go.
Uh, that’s right. The real toxicity of a lot of this stuff is precisely in its use of the language of progressivism—its claims to being anti-elitist, or feminist, or pro-gay. It is periodically those things, in individual posts. Overall of course it is the opposite of all those things. And really we should blame the universities, right? Because aren’t these political theories of culture separated from practice there, at the very start? And in that sense we’re reaping what we sowed, insofar as we supported that.
And yet isn’t it a more promising base from which to start than with those who would deny the connection of any politics to culture? It’s been deformed but couldn’t it be straightened? Am I speaking in riddles? As another reader once put it: “They got the same bad education as we got.” And now we’re stuck with one another.
Wow. My initial reaction is that Reader and THE MOST IMPORTANT AUTHOR OF OUR TIME sure said a lot in those paragraphs, without really saying much of anything. This is par for the course with Mr. Gessen, it seems. However, if there’s one thing we hope to have proven to love, it’s parsing his nattering.
What is he saying? I think it has something to do with his belief that the argument over culture and politics has been removed from the Great Halls of Society (think the salons of Paris ca. 1820) and has been reduced to pithy comments by the rabble on gossip blogs. I’m sure Mr. Gessen will correct me if I’m wrong.
I don’t see why this is such a bad thing. Should socio-political discourse be solely the realm of those moneyed and leisured enough to (even metaphorically) sit on leather couches drinking iced cocktails? Or, rather, would society benefit most from a conversation informed by the opinions of people from all walks of life? I suspect that even THE MOST IMPORTANT THINKER OF OUR TIME would agree with the latter, at least in public, for the sake of appearances.
And this is the real problem with modern (or post-modern) day liberals like Mr. Gessen: they claim the “language of progressivism” and pay a lot of lip-service to concepts like “anti-elitisism,” “feminism” and “pro-gay”. But, I suspect that beneath this sheen is harbored the very antithesis of the so-called “politics of inclusion”. To play armchair psychiatrist, I suspect Keith’s (capital L) Liberalism extends only so far as it remains just a vaporous concept for him to control — for him to toss about in converstaion with his friends - the self-proclaimed “cultural elite”.
Sorry we seem to be stuck on politics here. Our previous Tumble about rededicating this blog to its stated purpose was, sadly, a lie.