Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Great Project Continues, Ctd.

And like that, he's gone.

David Brooks has a new book for sale.

You can buy it everywhere.

It's a best-seller, which he is promoting on the kind of book tour almost no author on Earth gets anymore; the kind of worldwide publicity blitz which Media, Inc. would normally reserve for a new book of the Bible.

And because David Brooks is a Very Serious Person who has written an Important Book, eventually The New Yorker would have to write a book review.

I don't care about Mr. Brooks' new books and on most days I don't give The New Yorker a second thought, but here (I sez to myself) is an interesting opportunity to watch how Mr. Brooks' Great Project is progressing.  Because in order for Ms. Rebecca Mead to write anything like an honest review of Mr. Brooks' book using the following thesis --
"David Brooks’s Search for Meaning"
-- she would immediately have to confront the vast and fetid swamp of Mr. Brooks' entire public record of being horribly, hypocritically wrong about virtually everything, and his relentless flogging of the snake oil of "Both Siderism" for the last decade as a conversational abortifacient (Guaranteed  99% successful in preventing people like David Brooks from being held accountable for being horribly, hypocritically wrong about virtually everything!)

So how would Ms. Rebecca Mead navigate these tricky waters?

Like so:
Brooks, who established a reputation for sometimes glib but often insightful cultural commentary with “Bobos in Paradise,” his 2000 best-seller, has more recently specialized in applying the latest in brain science and social psychology to larger questions of morality on the Op-Ed pages of the Times.
That is all any reader of Ms. Rebecca Mead's review will learn about Mr. Brooks qualifications to speak on the subject of character and morality.

Then we are off to the races:
It would be a hard-hearted critic who dismisses another writer’s sincere attempt at midlife self-examination, or his efforts at moral and ethical improvement. (That being said, Brooks does so, snarking at Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling memoir, “Eat, Pray, Love.” “I am the only man ever to finish this book,” he writes, thereby insulting the author and more than ten million readers in one fell swoop.) There is something affecting in the diligence with which Brooks seeks a cure for his self-diagnosed shallowness by plumbing the depths of others, each of whom—while achieving greater fame and sometimes even greater fortune than that accrued by a successful newspaper columnist—did the hard work of scouring his own soul.
And so, in broad daylight and with the eager assistance of Media, Inc., the real David Brooks is hustled into an unmarked tomb along with the entire, sickening history of Modern Conservatism, never to be visited again except by angry, unemployed bloggers who no one listens to anyway,

And like that, he's gone.


Anonymous said...

Such was Brooks’s course, he hints: he wrote “The Road to Character,” he declares, “to save my own soul.” Brooks does not dwell upon the specific depredations from which his soul was in need of rescue.

Holy shit! We should put David Brooks on suicide watch.

dinthebeast said...

I'm glad that I no longer take such statements as challenges, or I would have to read that book just to be contrary. A smart and well read friend of mine once snarked that no-one had ever actually finished Gravity's Rainbow, after which I set out to read everything Thomas Pynchon ever wrote. Which I did, at the time. Then Mason&Dixon came out, and I really liked that, but haven't made it to his subsequent releases. That being said, I don't think I could finish a DFB book, as I can barely finish one of his columns. OK, I have finished two of them, and both of them pissed me off, so why do more?

-Doug in Oakland

Anonymous said...


I think, or at least I've heard a few times, that reporter/media types cut loose in their books. You read the book to get to the true person, not the marketed product in the news/movie/politics/ect. The public persona is always false, the book is a window into the private.

If that is valid of course varies from book to book, but at least that's the logic behind reading a book from a famous person.

How much of what part of David Brooks persona is utter bullshit is highly up for debate. But he wouldn't be the first type to realize his product is bullshit, convince himself it's not, and then have a public breakdown over it.

crweaver said...

With regard to David Brooks' recent trajectory, I can't help being reminded of an old Miami Vice episode which guest starred Phil Collins, who played a con man who escaped one step ahead of the law, only to reinvent himself as a tv preacher. If I recall correctly, upon viewing one of Phil's broadcasts, Sonny Crockett is moved to shoot his tv.

Neo Tuxedo said...

an old Miami Vice episode which guest starred Phil Collins, who played a con man who escaped one step ahead of the law, only to reinvent himself as a tv preacher.

So, basically a long-form video for "Jesus He Knows Me"?

bluicebank said...

Brooks' writing career is as mystifying as the vampire genre. Talentless hacks and shit-for-brains scribblers succeed, because THIS is the evil alternate universe, not the other way around.

Unknown said...

i don't think there's anything wrong with The New Yorker -- a great publication in the main -- savaging the latest iteration of David Brooks without savaging all previous iterations. It's God's work, either way.

Neo Tuxedo said...

THIS is the evil alternate universe, not the other way around.

Sometime during the Cheney adsinistration, I saw somebody blog the observation that we're living in a Bad Future of the sort that usually requires a time-traveling protagonist to go back and prevent it from happening.