Thursday, January 08, 2015

The Prude Abides.

Yes, there was a David Brooks column this week.

About the Meaning.

Of Life.

Or...was it?
Yet what do we mean when we use the word meaning?
So there I was, with a David Brooks column in my very hand, and between one of my paper routes and the other of my paper routes, I hadda big long think about it.  In mind.

I imagined Mr. Brooks in a beret and turtle-neck, maybe.  The denizen of a tiny, airless, fart-and-nicotine-smelling office in the slowly-curdling philosophy department of some crumbling community college.  An office into which eager young social climbers were lured and then stunned into becoming Reasonable Conservatives with cattle-prods of pseudo-erudite pseudo-meaning.

Yeah.  I could write that.

Then I went for a walk around The Twitter and found that, no, I was just wrong.  Just as wrong as I could be!  Because, see, David Brooks had just written to most fucking luminous meditation on the meaning of life since Nietzsche dropped acid and fell into an Escher painting of men walking forever upwards and downwards past each other looking for a place that sells those funky medical batteries on Christmas morning and came out the other side, gooey and squalling, reborn as the culmination of the dream of a butterfly who dreamed it was a man who dreamed he was a copy of Augustine's Confessions moldering away as lonely and abandoned as your Second Life avatar in a tiny, airless, fart-and-nicotine-smelling office in the slowly-curdling philosophy department of some crumbling community college.

So I did not write a thing, because a million people on Twitter can't be wrong.  Instead I rode off rode on my little bike, into the teeth of a -177 wind chill, because those newspapers aren't gonna deliver themselves.

Returning many days later I opened a copy or The Internet up to Esquire Magazine, there to discover that Mr. Pierce had written a column about David Brooks, and it cheered me to know that at least one other person out there in the wide world did not think that Mr. Brooks' meditations on the meaning of life were Important and Wise and a Must Read.

Update:  Also, Booman is rocking the David Brooks runway.


Cliff said...

I read the column after Pierce pointed me to it, because as it happens finding meaning to my life became crucial when I moved to the suburban hellscape of Phoenix.

I noticed that he spent the first three paragraphs on Gardner quotes that have fuck-all to do with his overall topic.
That's an obvious dodge to hit his word count without having to think about his topic. Brooks gets paid a lot of money to do this.

The rest of the column he spends trashing the idea of meaningfulness, which is a big old fuck-you to Gardner, which makes me wonder why he bothered to quote him.

Not surprisingly Brooks hates the idea of deriving meaning from something besides established authority.
I just can't figure out why he spent so much effort to write something that feels like having Pope Ratzinger drag his dick across your face.

Maybe that's just life to David Brooks, every day.

bowtiejack said...

OK. The mystery of David Brooks seems to me to parallel the rise of the failed artists and novelists (Goebbels, Hitler, etc.) of another era.
That is what does all this portend?
When The Gallant Gallstone (hey! let's use an Ayn Rand reference when we can get away with it!) has his own NYT column, what does it tell us?
Well, for one thing, the American love of a MINORITY of its population for authoritarianism and the ever new relevance of Vaihinger's The Philosophy of As If.
It worked in Germany in 1934.
It might still work here.

Kevin Holsinger said...

Good morning, Mr. Glass.

Nothing in Mr. Brooks' piece about "hearing the lamentations of their women". How can one talk about the meaning of life without talking about "hearing the lamentations of their women"? I ask you!

Enjoy your day.

---Kevin Holsinger

wagonjak said...

"There are meanings that are known, and meanings that are unknown, there are unknown meanings that we think we know, and there are known meanings that we know we don't know, there are....OH F*CK IT!"

Pagan in repose said...


All indicators point to a crapulent Brooks being in a perpetual turgid flux state of meaningful meaninglessness brought on by the Ennui Floods that washed away his reliable ground of intellectual rigor and aroused moral sentiments.

Leading to the conclusion that real moral systems are based on NutraSweet.

Next week we’ll discuss “The Problem with Butterflies”, and how hurricanes are caused by a butterfly flapping its wings in Pago Pago, and the lack of a common moral vocabulary to describe the radical wing flapping of butterfly pluralism.

Pagan in repose

Red Hand said...

In any sane organization devoted to thoughtful, written public commentary a senior HR rep or editor would long ago have approached DFB, and invited him to his or her office for "a little chat."

A skilled and compassionate rep would have steered the conversation to the stresses that DFB was unfortunately, but clearly, under as a result of his divorce, and suggest, politely but firmly, that the quality of DFB's output was suffering because of this, even if he wasn't able to detect it himself.

So, might it not be better for everyone if DFB went on a an extended leave of absence until he felt better, and was back in top form producing the kind of dynamic, incisive and scintillating commentary that the organization had hired him for in the first place? Really, it would be better for all concerned, didn't DFB think so, too?

One way or another, this lunatic would have been ushered out the door to preserve what if anything was left of the tattered image and reputation of a once great publisher.

Here, however, we're talking about Pinch Sulzberger's Grey Lady. Here, The Club keeps its sacred cows ruminating no matter how much manure they deposit on the newsprint, prompting respected journalists like our Mr. Pierce to rightly point out that:

DFB's writings are "the kind of talk employed by philosophy TA's desperate to score with sophomores"

and where ink-stained Internet wretches like Yastreblyansky, who easily has ten times the intellect of DFB, rightly observe out that Hyperlink Code "He's really out of his mind."

Don't expect any of this to make a dent in Pinch's set course. He'll keep right on, despite warning whistles, klaxon horns and lighthouses, until the NYT becomes a universal laughingstock and hopeless wreck on the rocks.

Yastreblyansky said...

Hi Redhand!

Other friends, that's a wrong link to Mr. Pierce, which should have been here. I must say I used the same hilarious hook for my own piece snark here, with a semiotical follow-up) several hours before he did.