On the Opinion Page: April 22, 2008

22Apr08

In which The Gay Recluse scores selected opinion pieces in The Times.

Bob Herbert/Clueless in America

The Short Version: Kids are stupid.

In his words: “While we’re effectively standing in place, other nations are catching up and passing us when it comes to educational achievement.”

Score: F (Forgettable)
If you’re in the mood to be scolded on account of how shitty the public-school system is in the United States, this column is for you!   

David Brooks/The Great Escape 

The Short Version: The world is not a machine!

In his words: “There’s something about obsessing about a campaign — or probably a legal case or a business deal — that doesn’t exactly arouse the imaginative faculties.”

The Score: A- (Almost)
We like this column, because Brooks at least recognizes that the mania surrounding the campaign is a distraction — like so much of life — from issues of “true” importance, which in the case of Middle Ages meant finding the hand of god in the sky and stones and other cool stuff, instead of viewing the world as a cold, soulless machine. Where we diverge from Brooks is in the implication that “faith” — at least in the right-wing sense of the word in which it has to be understood coming from him — is the modern salve to this mania; we by contrast think the answer lies in the (reclusive and inevitably lonely) psychology/philosophy of introspection, not chee$y (and often dangerous) religions that emphasize herd-mentality and conformity to an imaginary norm.   

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2 Responses to “On the Opinion Page: April 22, 2008”

  1. 1 James van Maanen

    Hey, TGR–
    I usually love your thoughts on the NYT Opinion page, but this time: whoops. I don’t read David Brooks much anymore because his ideas turn my stomach. But because you liked something he’d written earlier in the month, I took the trouble to read his “Oh, wasn’t it wonderful in the olden days when knights were bold and folk had religion!” What a crock. This is just more of his ususal obscuring what’s going one with blather about “faith.” I admit that I hold no religious faith, nor will I ever (My kind of intelligent design is Physics and the other sciences). But I really can’t abide Mr. Brooks, who rah-rahed for this current ludicrous war yet professes such faith. He’s a hypocrite, and columns such as yesterday’s will do their part in turning attention away from what is going on in order to get folk back to a kind of lame-brained “faith.” What he is syaing here is: Look up to the sky and see not what is there but some illusion you have that will make you feel better and thus ignore what your leaders are doing. Get over it!
    –Jim V.

  2. Hey Jim V, thanks for the comment. I completely agree with you about Brooks’ bogus notion of faith, but I don’t disagree with his notion that there is something “deeper” in the world that is often obscured by our collective/manic focus on…politics, entertainment, science, whatever. I personally believe in what might be called “the will” (Schopenhauer) or “the unconscious” (Jung) — as opposed to “god” or “faith” — which I think does a lot to explain the world around us in ways that quantitative science can never do (I’m definitely not an atheist in this respect!). Thus, I think Brooks is correct to ask the question, but wrong to the extent he suggest we look outward instead of inward. If that makes sense.


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