Friday, November 14, 2014

Whig Decomposition


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.

I’ve been thinking about moments of agency of this sort because often you see people who lack full agency.
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.

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.

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.
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.

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.


jim said...

The trouble with agency is that in the long run they always get so much more than ten percent off the top.

Anonymous said...

Intense stupidity. "I once read about a guy whose childhood was a steady calamity. He was afraid, unable to control his mind and self." Does he really intend to refer to himself here? And does he really recommend, for everybody, living by one's "own criteria"? Yes, I imagine. He does.

dinthebeast said...

Dazed by the terrible sentence, I decided to "cut and run" as the saying goes.
-Princess Sparkle Pony, on Richard Cohen.
(Post comes complete with comments from Blue Gal and Batocchio)

Doug in Oakland

Horace Boothroyd III said...

About this lack of agency among the disadvantaged thingey, in an economy where PhDs from elite universities are no longer able to get work, much less work in their areas of professional expertise, I really don't see that the problem is some kind of bland disaffection. Rather more of an "America doesn't do the science/industry thing anymore, having recreated itself as a casino for the rich and a toy factory for the unscrupulous and parasitic" vibe is what I am picking up. A harsh reality which renders Job Training Programs, for those without access to lectures on moral virtue, something of a transparent joke that the Poors - being not nearly so gullible as the Rich imagine - treat with a certain hard earned skepticism.

Speaking of lectures on moral virtue, Harvey Mansfield was one evil fucker but he wore snappy hats and he could deliver a string of presentations without once stepping on his own tongue. Brooks could take notes.

Anonymous said...

So David has discovered Roget's and weed at the approximate same time. Interesting....

Anonymous said...


Considering the “Agency Moment”:

I was intrigued so I went looking for an “agency moment” on the intetubes and did find this ( Trust me it is worth the look just for the ad photo.

Anyway, never having learned to look away from a bad car crash, I grabbed my agency moment and rushed right over to Our Mr. Fucknuts fender bender and began my perusal of his latest car crash dummy moment.

My first moment of agency was reading this: ““I suppose no woman ever before wrote such a letter as this — but I am not ashamed of it, for I am conscious in the light of reason and true refinement I am worthy of your respect and tenderness, whatever gross men or vulgar-minded women might think of me.” What pride he must have felt in being able to quote from Eliot what he must have seen as his very own “agency moment”. (I guess you can have many agency moments depending on your personal needs, like say a “insurance agency moment”, or “Indian agency moment”…)

Anyway, this following bit was my biggest moment: “After the years of disjointed neediness, the iron was beginning to enter her _____ ,(it’s at this point where you fill in the blank with whatever might pass through your dirty little mind, and indeed find yourself in a moment of sorts), and she was capable of that completely justified assertion of her own dignity. You might say that this moment was Eliot’s agency moment, the moment when she stopped being blown about by her voids and weaknesses and began to live according to her own inner criteria, gradually developing a passionate and steady capacity to initiate action and drive her own life.” So, I’m guessing that the whole ramble Our Mr. Fucknuts was fussing about was just to add another new name to the act of self pleasuring, forever now known as an “Agency moment”. “So many people are struggling for agency. They are searching for the solid criteria that will help them make their own judgments. They are hoping to light an inner fire that will fuel relentless action in the same direction”. Note here he adds the need for “solid criteria” to complete your “Agency moment”. Who doesn’t need a little extra “solid criteria” to achieve their “agency moment”, eh.

Anyway, that’s the agency moment I had. Please excuse me, I need to go wash up now.

Please forgive me if I have inadvertently offended anyone with my “Agency moment”. The responsibility is entirely mine.

Anonymous said...

One more moment:

OK. The shorter synopsis of the 800 word vegematic blender leavings from the Brooks Agency: Brooks discovers masturbation and spends and entire opinion piece to give the act a name that suits his delicate sensibilities.

There, that’s what Mr. William Strunk, Jr of “The elements of style” might have approved of as a more concise effort.

Anon @ 12:06

Anonymous said...

Insurance agency moment and indian agency moment win the interwebs with solid aid of solid criteria. Yum!

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking there are lots of people who should avoid literary criticism and commentary. Sometimes it does seem easy, I agree. But it isn't.