21 June 2011

"It has a long way to go before it can even be called simplistic"

So, at the risk of proving what my close friends and family already know -- that I can be kind of a monomaniac on certain subjects -- I can't resist throwing in some juicy bits of Christopher Hitchens' take down of David Mamet:
This is an extraordinarily irritating book, written by one of those people who smugly believe that, having lost their faith, they must ipso facto have found their reason. In order to be persuaded by it, you would have to be open to propositions like this:

“Part of the left’s savage animus against Sarah Palin is attributable to her status not as a woman, neither as a Conservative, but as a Worker.”

Or this:

“America is a Christian country. Its Constitution is the distillation of the wisdom and experience of Christian men, in a tradition whose codification is the Bible.”

Propagandistic writing of this kind can be even more boring than it is irritating. For example, Mamet writes in “The Secret Knowledge” that “the Israelis would like to live in peace within their borders; the Arabs would like to kill them all.” Whatever one’s opinion of that conflict may be, this (twice-made) claim of his abolishes any need to analyze or even discuss it. It has a long way to go before it can even be called simplistic. By now, perhaps, you will not be surprised to know that Mamet regards global warming as a false alarm, and demands to be told “by what magical process” bumper stickers can “save whales, and free Tibet.” This again is not uncharacteristic of his pointlessly aggressive style: who on earth maintains that they can? If I were as prone to sloganizing as Mamet, I’d keep clear of bumper-sticker comparisons altogether.
Hitchens and Matt Taibbi have a superlatively cruel way of slashing up their targets. They do the awful thing of actually  checking on the facts. They then brazenly point out factual errors. After that bit of wet work they'll pull from Rhetoric 101 to show errors in reasoning that make the subject look like some brain-damaged moron from a remedial literacy class.

My chief issue with Mr. Mamet is that his conversion has left him so completely unoriginal in his opinions. We don't really need anyone else parroting the lines, and not a guy with his smarts. If only he'd come up with something on his own on the topic, that'd be something. Instead of a rehash of very tired cliches you'd hear from any numbskull Rush Limbaugh listener.

Read the full review here.

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