Tuesday, August 03, 2010

How To Write a David Brooks Column

The final three sentences of today's David Brooks column ("The Summoned Life") --
The first vision is more American.
The second vision is more common elsewhere.
But they are both probably useful for a person trying to live a well-considered life.

-- summoned me to share with the Young Writer out there exactly how you too can learn to write a New York Times Opinion Page Editorial just like America's Last Reasonable Conservative, David Brooks!

In just 10 Easy Steps you'll be punditting like a pro!

1) Pick a subject. Any subject. From Tasseled Loafers to Torture, it literally does not matter.

2) Quote extensively from one person or group on the subject. It's OK to just more-or-less copy and paste in big hunks of what whatever-you-happen-to-be-reading-at-the-moment to flesh out your 800-word column. Here at the Times we call that "research"!

3) Quote from some other person or group on the same subject who appears to hold a different opinion. If no actual opposition exists, just put on your Magic Green Jacket and invent an opposing opinion.

4) Although such is not the case with today's subject, as often as possible, try to impute these fictional distinctions to the different hemispheres of the political Universe. So no matter how bigoted, reckless or just bugfuck crazy the Right behaves, you just go right ahead and blandly assert with no supporting evidence whatsoever that the Left is equally and oppositely bad in exactly the same qualities and quantities. Here at the Times we call that "seriousness"!

5) Discover in your final paragraph or two that -- amazingly! -- the precise midpoint between those two completely artificial positions on an imaginary spectrum just happens to be exactly the Right and Reasonable answer!

Oh boy!

6) Rinse and repeat. No matter what the subject, no matter how false or bizarre the equivalence, just rinse and repeat. Twice a week.

7) Every week.

8) Year.

9) After year.

10) After year.

Long ago this stopped being a "style", and started being a fetish, Mr. Brooks

It's called "Asymmetriphobia": a horror of asymmetrical things.

Seek help.

FYI, this posted started life as a comment on the NYT website where it clearly ran afoul of somebody and was wished into the cornfield along with all other bad things.


Roket said...

I can hear DFB dog whistle from my house.

Shorter DFB:

A Well-Planned Life (let's call him a conservative) is a 'real' American who attends Oxford and knows exactly what he wants in life.

A Summoned Life (let's call her a liberal) has no fucking clue what the hell she wants in life.

Both ways of life may be valid, but I'll let you decide whether the 'real' American is more valid than that crazy liberal bitch.

Esteev said...

Shorter Bobo:

"Ignore what's 'right'--that's just tiresome; do what makes money."

Spot said...

What happened to Onan the Establishmentarian?

Myrtle June said...

"The Morphologied LIEfe" is more appropriate.....

Bustednuckles said...

Let me help ya out here Drifty.
You can distill every one of
Bobo's columns down to five words, every time.
"But they are both probably"....

Ad nauseum.

Yer wasting your breath on that worthless waste of skin, he isn't going to change, think Broder, with less substance.



South Florida Lawyers said...

This is great, the only other thing I would mention is the reductionist, binary nature of his thinking -- as you say, everything (literally everything) comes exactly in twos!

Anonymous said...

This is great, but you forgot a few obvious things:

1) cloak it in religion. Throw in lots of God references, or statements from "Holy people" to give your point weight.

2) start by quoting a famous but slightly obscure book. Some Montaigne or Diderot will do nicely. Or a 19th century American economist.

3) Make links between the unquestioned, solid words of the 29th century writer and your current point or argument, even if there's no connection. Find a link, for example, between Tocqueville's observations about simple folk he observed and the Bobos in Paradise who spend their yuppie money on frivolities and indulgences, even though there are no such links.

4) Imply conservative "values" are better than anything today, even though under these values blacks are chattel, women are property and one percent of the populace controls the other 99. These are known to types like Brooks as "The good old days."

5) Completely ignore colleague and Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, who has probably already blown your argument to smithereens with facts, historical argument and statistics.

6) NOW lather, rinse, repeat!