Thursday, May 9, 2019

The Spring Review of Unreadable Books: Deep Thinking Ahead. Wear your Boots.

Editors' Note:  It's been a long time since we picked up a book, what with one world championship after another.  But apparently the Hub of the Universe can't keep accreting banners without surcease, so it's time to think about something to read.  And if you're thinking about pitching your hammock and relaxing with a good book, we've got a couple of ideas about what to avoid.  Keep in mind that these books are not just bad – they are unreadable.  To be truly unreadable, a bad book must be capable of being understood fully and dismissed utterly without the need to turn even one page.  Like these.

The Right Side of History
by Ben Shapiro
$27.99 already marked down to $18.29

Remember that obnoxious freshman who used to annoy you in the dining hall by droning on about the genius of philosophers he was reading for the first time (like you)?  But unlike you he had to impress everyone with how much he had gotten out of them and how he in his genius (and it was always a he, amirite?) had pulled out of his blowhole a majestic intellectual history of all things that he just couldn't shut up about?  And remember how the cute girl in your Ec 10 section overheard the little putz rambling on and immediately headed off to the other side of the dining hall?

Whatever happened to that guy?

One of two things: either he went into venture capital and made a fortune and married that cute girl, or he sucked up to enough rich reactionaries to bankroll a life of ease as a conservative gasbag.

Open Door No. 2 and you'll find Ben Shapiro.

He's going to jabber on about Plato and Aristotle and the “Judaeo-Christian” tradition (leaving out a third religion that belongs to that tradition and thanks to which the works of the ancient Greeks didn't perish in the Dark Ages of Christian Europe). He might even tell you that the Greek and the religious views of the world are basically the same thing, which is completely correct if you add one word (not).

Reb Shtickdreck did not have space to cover the
occasions when the Judeo and the Christian
traditions diverged, like the Christian
massacres of Jews during the Crusades
Then he's going to tell you that the rich tradition of slavery, pogroms, and burning women at the stake as witches is under assault by – you guessed it, liberals.

Why that is will be restated endlessly as if it were self-evidently true. Which it isn't.

And if you think that the installation in power and subsequent grotesque misconduct of the current President reflects or embodies those wonderful Greek and Judaeo-Christian traditions then either you don't understand those traditions or you agree that racism, misogyny, and corruption are essential parts of them.

We don't know which is a worse take, and we certainly don't intend to waste time or money to find out which one Reb Shtickdreck, self-proclaimed King of the Jews, chooses.

We do however have one suggestion for further research.  If he really doesn't understand why no Jew could possibly support the Tangerine-Faced Bigot and his relentless assault on immigrants and those fleeing persecution, maybe he should ask Maxwell House to send him a Haggadah.

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The Second Wife [Surely, Mountain? – Ed.]: The Quest for a Moral Life
by David Brooks
Random House
$28, already marked down to $16.80

Speaking of self-proclaimed great minds, you'll be pleased to know that the World's Greatest Authority, David Brooks himself, is out with yet another waste of trees, this time telling us about the importance of faith and values.

According to Brooks, faith and values must be lived, not just professed.  That means each of us should dedicate their lives, or a good portion thereof, toward making the world a better place by combating racism, sexism, all other forms of bigotry, exploitation of labor, and the destruction of our fragile environment.

Nah, we're just bullsh-ting you.  For David Brooks, faith and values don't mean anything like that or indeed anything related to any coherent moral philosophy we've ever heard of.  They mean it's OK to dump your first wife for a dishier younger model and then lecture the wronged woman about how  to bear graciously the burden of being kicked to the curb.

Faith and values also mean to this dolt not wrestling with the imperfections of the world in which we live and helping other to do so. No, it means a life of soul-crushing narcissism and empty pontificating about “community” without doing one f***in' thing to build a community based on shared values like I don't know justice or fairness or whatever real ethical philosophers think about.

Of course, you can't expect a guy who tried to pass off Jordan Peterson as a serious thinker to be in possession of a well-magnetized moral compass, but you have to expect him to do something to pay off the alimony that his ungrateful ex-wife wormed out of him.  And writing unreadable sententious tomes is that some thing.

And by the way, don't tell Reb Shtickdreck, but Brooks's faith is no longer the religion into which he was born into and to which he made his first wife convert.  Now he, like fellow moral exemplar George W. Bush, has later in life acknowledged Jesus H. Christ as his Lord and Savior.

We truly live in an age of miracles.

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