[lbo-talk] Downloadable Hitch

shag carpet bomb shag at cleandraws.com
Wed Dec 21 03:45:33 PST 2011

At 09:58 PM 12/20/2011, Michael Smith wrote:
>On Tue, 20 Dec 2011 23:57:29 +0000 (UTC)
>123hop at comcast.net wrote:
> > True that. He couldn't hold a candle to Orwell, and Vidal's wit was
> > deeper, but I will always be grateful for his description of the
> > republicans/democrats as "two cheeks of the same derriere." Always
> > elicits a gasp or recognition ...
>Heh. I had forgotten that. A nice phrase indeed.
>The comparison with Vidal seems like the right one,
>and Hitch doesn't show to advantage when it's made,
>Nobody would call Vidal a Deep Thinker, but he has done
>some thinking of his own, and he has things to say
>that are original. And his invective is better too.
>I remember he once wrote that Reagan managed to be
>'boyish and grandmotherly at the same time', IIRC,
>which is more sharply observed and more telling
>than anything Hitch came up with.

What is the fascination with these writers, though? I mean, it really is starting to sound the way either Greenwald or McLemee said, the only reason anyone cares about any of them much is that they're writers, admired by other writers or aspiring writers, and held in great esteem. I see people trot out some turn of phrase they admire him for, nearly always a personal insult about their character, physical appearance, or their intellect.

i am reminded of playing the dozens. we do this all day long at work. the entire day at any job I've ever had, outside of academia, was spent in a display of style and talent at being able to observe others foibles and mock and ridicule them, letting go of the stinging barb at just the right moment. It can be about anything at all, from your work habits to your taste in music. One of my other sons once had us all laughing so hard I had to stop driving and pull over, and all he did was make fun of his brother's ashy knees. Real talent. And while some are so good at the dozens, they outmatch everyone, they are never admired if they can't take what they dish out. Of course, the point is to be so good that no one else can actually dish anything else out.

Of course, this happens as a display of male pecking order in a far more obvious way the higher up the corporate ladder you go. It's use in the corporate world is as symbolic display of warring between underling managers and their bosses, as entertainment for the masses. Oooo, lookee that. My boss just slammed his boss right in front of us. It's a symbolic act of "class warfare" such that our boss looks like he fights on our behalf against the real boss, the guy above him. It's also a symbolic leveling to make it seem like, in spite of great differences in power between C-levels and the underlings, even a C level has to take shit. (Granted, since I'm not a c-level so I haven't observed it under conditions where I was equal to any of the monkeys in the room. When I used to cater board meetings, there was too much ritualistic fanfare going on for me to get a sense of this.)

Which, thinking about it, is probably why readers love reading the slams. It's a ritual enactment of an attack on powerful individuals, scored for style points. As someone said, people in power aren't afraid of anything Hitchens or Cockburn or Vidal ever wrote. But they managed to entertain the masses and keep them committed to the cause, much as my director does when he ridicules Big Boss's inability to run powerpoint software.

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