Shorter David Brooks:
Screw you Dolores! You are not getting the boat. I will burn the fucking thing to the waterline and sink the wreckage into the Potomac before I let your or your ratfaced lawyers see one fucking nickle...What he actually said:
George Eliot was an emotionally needy young woman.Oh lord. Really?
Seven. Paragraphs. Later.
The letter didn’t solve her problems. Spencer still rejected her. She remained insecure, especially about her writing. But her energies were roused. There was growing cohesion and, at times, amazing courage.And then we move on with, Jesus, who the fuck knows? Just slow river of humid tapioca meandering between various outcroppings of adjectives and punctuation marks. Even Brother Charles Pierce -- peering into the slurry of tepid flapdoodle ahead -- gave up at this point and went back to the lodge so hang out by the fire and drink hot toddies with the ladies.
I’ve been thinking about moments of agency of this sort because often you see people who lack full agency.
Sage advice, but I pressed on a wee bit further to test my theory that no matter how loose a heap of stool an given David Brooks "topic" may be, you will virtually always find a glintly, little Both Sides razor buried in it somewhere. And lo and behold, lookity what we have here...
Sometimes you see lack of agency among the disadvantaged. Their lives can be so blown about by economic disruption, arbitrary bosses and general disorder that they lose faith in the idea that input leads to predictable output. You can offer job training programs, but they may not take full advantage because they don’t have confidence they can control their own destinies.Legend has it that the rest of the column is basically a microessay of Mr. Brooks refracting various aspects of his trainwreck personal life through the lens of other people who he is alleged to have known who all solved their "agency" problems with stiff upper lips and sudden flashes of something or other.
Among the privileged, especially the privileged young, you see people who have been raised to be approval-seeking machines. They act active, busy and sleepless, but inside they often feel passive and not in control. Their lives are directed by other people’s expectations, external criteria and definitions of success that don’t actually fit them.
At least that is the story I was told by the few hardy souls who slogged through the rest of it and made it back alove. As for me, I quit around here -- "I once knew a guy who was batted about by people who should have supported him..." -- so all I can report for sure is that back at the lodge the toddies are indeed hot and the ladies 'round the fire are charming.