Christopher Hitchens Reviews David Mamet

The condescension on display at the outset of Christopher Hitchens' review of David Mamet's The Secret Knowledge On the Dismantling of American Culture tells you exactly where the review is headed:

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.

"By one of those people." It is off-putting. Minimizing. An appeal to stereotype and consensus. It is lazy, and it is meant to switch-on prejudice. "Oh, yes, one of those people!" Because, you know, there are all those people out there. It has the ring of insult, of saying "the other." It's reptilian to the degree it attempts to mark territory that leaves Mamet on the outside.

And isn't it the other way around? A person's faith is their reason, their rationale--the thing that explains it all to them, whatever the religion in question may be. Having lost one's faith, wouldn't it be more accurate to say the opposite, that a person has lost their reason?

Although it is a short article, Hitchens repeated use of isolated examples as the basis for general claims, largely insinuated, feels relentless. This appears to be Hitchens' instinctive, go-to form of argument. But he knows better. It is deliberate. People do this when they have nothing else. They resort to the faulty when there is no sound argument to be had.

Perhaps that is why Hitchens finds Mamet's book irritating. It forces him to use a few rhetorical tricks over and over, rather than constructing a persuasive, valid, and sound appraisal of the book. And he knows that. It's frustrating for him. I suspect that these analytical flaws stem from the fact Hitchens knew the conclusion he desired to reach from the outset. This is no more-objective-than-subjective review of a book. It is a collection of territorial grunts shoehorned into the space between premise and conclusion.

He has read — perhaps before Glenn Beck’s promotion of it on the air — Friedrich von Hayek’s classic defense of the market, “The Road to Serfdom.”

(Emphasis mine.) Nasty. Another gratuitous appeal to consensus--in this case, to the prejudices many hold against Beck, someone many regard as a flake. But it is such a slapdash reference, the rhetorical goal is obvious: tar Mamet by mentioning Beck.

Hitchens then refers to Mamet's "propagandistic writing." One might wonder whether there is a point where the self-refuting nature of Hitchens' critique dawns on him. But Hitchens is a brilliant man, so he must have known all along. Again, this is what you do when you have nothing else. Plan "A" would be dealing with the book on its merits. Plan "B" would be to attack the book simply by flinging feces and hoping some of it sticks. One employs Plan "B" when the true rhetorical goal is only to attack, not review.

[B]ut it is more than ignorant to say of Bertrand Russell — author of one of the first reports from Moscow to analyze and excoriate Lenin — that he was a fellow-traveling dupe and tourist of the Jane Fonda style.

Ignorant? Is this the same Bertrand Russell who was part of the anit-war, anti-nuclear protest crowd? The one who promoted unilateral disarmament? Jane Fonda style indeed. But this is Plan "B," so it doesn't have to hold together or make sense.

This review is about attitude, not the merits of what Mamet is saying. It spends almost no time at all on Mamet's transformation, the conclusions he has drawn and the reasons therefor. In fact, this review is meant to cut short consideration of such things. One learns very little about the book. It spends time nitpicking with spitballs rather than evaluating the actual thrust of what Mamet is saying. Why? Because that is a much more difficult task. And because the target audience likes this kind of spitball.

Hitchens wants you to know that Mamet is not part of the in-crowd. Remember, he is speaking to New York Times readers. These people want to be stroked. Think of Frank Rich's former column, Your Weekly Ten Minutes' Hate: We're smart; they're dumb. We're experienced; they're naive. We're good; they're evil. We're right; they're wrong. We're with-it; they're hopeless. We're superior. This kind of writing appeals to other self-regarded in-groupers. It is a collection of sentiments and postures designed to signal their membership and the exclusion of Mamet. It is meant to be reassuring to the liberal left elite--to salve the wound of losing Mamet, to make the existential threat he poses go away, and to remove the challenge he posed to their cognitive biases. And when they read Hitchens words, they will breathe a sigh of relief, knowing they are still wearing the white hats.

Posted by: rdbrewer at 04:37 PM



Comments

1 I hate to admit it, but I find Hitchens' review to be sort of convincing (keep in mind that I haven't read the book, however). From the quotes he cites, Mamet strikes me a bit like someone who has the slightly-embarrassing over-zeal of the new convert...from all the way on the Left to all the way on the Right now.

Still glad he's on our side, though!

Posted by: Jeff B. at June 20, 2011 04:31 PM (hIWe1)

2 Confronted with the reality of death, Hitch went back to his religion: being an upper-class twit.
It's been sad.

Posted by: oblig. at June 20, 2011 04:33 PM (xvZW9)

3 Hitchens of course was long a man of the left.

He himself, having discovered that much of the left is dishonest and venal, cannot make that last step himself, and is scornful of those who do.

This happens. Any change of political impulse generally includes an in-between state in which the person, having lost previous faith, now scorns all political faiths. He has to. He had been scorning one faith all his life, now finds the faith he followed to be deserving of scorn as well, and is not yet ready to embrace some other faith.

People in this state tend to say "I don't believe in labels" or "I believe what I believe."

At any rate, having lost most faith in the left, Hitchens now only believes in very few things, but believes in those passionately (such as self-determination for the Kurds).

On most things he is now a skeptic/contrarian/Devil's Advocate.

This is a normal thing, I think.

Unfortunately, he has too much of an investment in disliking the right, and has held that dislike for far too long, to easily let it slip away.


Posted by: ace at June 20, 2011 04:34 PM (nj1bB)

4 Not being mean, but I thought he was on his death bed.

Posted by: © Sponge at June 20, 2011 04:34 PM (UK9cE)

5 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.”

I thought it was in their charter.

Posted by: Cherry π the unbanned at June 20, 2011 04:35 PM (OhYCU)

6 4
Not being mean, but I thought he was on his death bed.

Same here.

Posted by: Jane D'oh at June 20, 2011 04:36 PM (UOM48)

7 The older I get, the more I realize that intelligent people on the Right understand everything about the Left. Intelligent people on the Left (I know, I know) understand absolutely nothing about conservatives or conservatism.
Hitchens' "review" was a totally predictable response to a book that threatens the beloved Lefty preconception that"people on the Right are inbred, superstitious, xenophobic, uneducated hicks, and that's why we on the Left can congratulate ourselves on being sosuperior and evolved." Mamet, who's obviously not a hillbilly, DOES NOT COMPUTE!!

Posted by: Cicero at June 20, 2011 04:36 PM (QKKT0)

8 waaaaaaaa!!! I'm not as famous a writer as David Mamet...waaaaaa!!!!

Posted by: Ben at June 20, 2011 04:36 PM (wuv1c)

9 >>>Mamet strikes me a bit like someone who has the slightly-embarrassing over-zeal of the new convert...from all the way on the Left to all the way on the Right now.

Ah there is some truth in that, most likely, HOWEVER, Mamet doesn't seem to be a "new" convert quite yet.

But there is a psychology of people who are fundamentally quixotic and search for deep meaning in most things. And when they lose faith in one meaning, they quickly embrace another one, even if it's opposite the old one.

Like: Andrew Sullivan, who went from a True Believer in Christ to a True Believer in Satan almost overnight. (or vice versa, depending on your ideology.) With no "decent interval" between his two beliefs.

That's not really Mamet, though. Mamet is more of a guy who just assumed things because other people said them, and then began doubting them, and then began investigating them.

Still, there is an element here of initial flush of excitement in learning stuff for the first time.

Posted by: ace at June 20, 2011 04:37 PM (nj1bB)

10 Hitchens is a brilliant man
So is Obama, right?

Posted by: Cherry π the unbanned at June 20, 2011 04:37 PM (OhYCU)

11 There is also a zeal when you figure out that people have been lying to you all your life.

I remember feeling that myself. As Breitbart calls it, when you finally saw The Matrix.

Posted by: ace at June 20, 2011 04:38 PM (nj1bB)

12 I just read Glenngary Glennross. It was good. I'm going to pick up American Buffalo at the library after I finish another book I am reading.

Posted by: Ben at June 20, 2011 04:38 PM (wuv1c)

13 First time I ever encountered Hitchens' name was over on Althouse's blog. After reading him, I didn't understand what the big deal was or why I should give a damn.

Still don't.

Posted by: Burn the Witch at June 20, 2011 04:41 PM (8JpQH)

14 well, you knew all the snoots would be defensive about the book. The AVclub's perfunctory grade of D+ pretty much signaled how the left will be dealing with this apostasy.

Posted by: joeindc44 at June 20, 2011 04:41 PM (QxSug)

15 Face it, this review isn't about Mamet's book, or about Mamet. Probably unintentionally, but it's about Hitchens. The man's on the edge of oblivion, facing a certain philosophical and existential despair.

This is all too often the tension of a man of his philosophies. His preferred philosophy has no answers, and now too late is shown bankrupt; but the alternative, if correct, places him so far in the hole that oblivion is preferable. Even when he knows it's the worse choice.

I mourn Hitchens. In a real sense, he's dead already. Sad...so, so sad...

Posted by: AoSHQ's *second* worst commenter, DarkLord© at June 20, 2011 04:42 PM (GBXon)

16 I didn't read Jeff B's comment but I'm convinced it was probably a condescending I'm smarter than the rest of you typical tripe. I wish he wasnt on our side.

Posted by: Blog comment reviewer at June 20, 2011 04:42 PM (xECRb)

17

Hitchen's is still alive, and Mother Teresa is dead.

There is no justice in the world.

Posted by: toby928™ at June 20, 2011 04:42 PM (GTbGH)

18 Wonder if Hitch disliked himself while he was doing this. He's been a lefty all his life, putting it on the line in various places.
He has, however, been mostly able to distinguish between good guys, bad guys, and America's enemies. Lefties usually figure any enemy of America is a good guy and anybody who is an enemy of America can be excused anything. Allies of America or America itself not only get no credit for doing good, they get accused of that which they did not do. Hitch doesn't do this.
So he's been a good voice for mostly sane public and foreign policy. But he's still left in his heart and it must hurt him to see things like Mamet making the change. Mamet isn't making a big deal out of one actual fact or another on the ground in the MENA or in the old USSR, which Hitchens could and would do according to a laudable moral code. Mamet is attacking The Left itself. Different and worse. And since Hitchens' adversaries are frequently from the left, he's in a quandary.

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at June 20, 2011 04:42 PM (wxHHM)

19 I read two of Bertrand Russell's books and admired him, until I found out he used to seduce all his friends' wives just for shits and giggles, including TS Eliot's wife shortly after they were married. It seems like most atheists become looney or sociopathic with age.

Posted by: Moist Towelette at June 20, 2011 04:42 PM (GdalM)

20 what a blowhard.

Posted by: germain at June 20, 2011 04:44 PM (VSWPU)

21 After the last round of Mamet praise (and time-travel revelations), I rounded up a bunch of his movies and have been watching them.

The Spanish Prisoner was kinda dumb, but I really enjoyed Redbelt and Spartan. Have yet to watch The Winslow Boy.

Posted by: Waterhouse at June 20, 2011 04:44 PM (rZx4Q)

22 There's a kind of movie I love, where the guy wakes up one day to realize he's the target of a huge conspiracy to lie to him about the most basic facts he assumes about the Universe.

The Truman Show is that type of movie (although I did not like that particular one, too dopey).

Anyway, anyone who has gone from default liberal to convinced conservative knows that feeling, of waking up one day and realizing people you'd long assumed were telling you the truth and were the Good Guys have actually been lying to you and are the Bad Guys.

It leaves an impression.

It also makes for skeptics, most of the time. If I seem sometimes a little squishy and skeptical it's because I can remember feeling Burned By Believing once before.

Posted by: ace at June 20, 2011 04:44 PM (nj1bB)

23 >> And when they lose faith in one meaning, they quickly embrace another one, even if it's opposite the old one.
Especially if it's opposite the old one. If a person concludes that Belief System X didn't have the answers, the most natual successor is Belief System Not-X.>> Like: Andrew Sullivan, who went from a True Believer in Christ to a True Believer in Satan almost overnight.
Yeah, just like that.

Posted by: FireHorse at June 20, 2011 04:44 PM (WLKSn)

24 This is no more-objective-than-subjective review of a book. It is a
collection of territorial grunts shoehorned into the space between
premises and conclusion.
DR KARL GRUBER:
Hello! My name is Karl Gruber. Thank you for inviting me into your home.
My method is the result of six years work here at the institute in
which subjects were exposed to simulated embarrassment predicaments over
a prolonged fart - PERIOD OF TIME!! [farts] Sorry.

Lesson one: Words. Do any of these words [farts] embarrass you?
ASSISTANT:"Shoe" ..... "Megaphone" ..... "Grunties".DR KARL GRUBER:Now let's go on to something ruder.ASSISTANT:"Wankel Rotary Engine".

Posted by: No Whining at June 20, 2011 04:44 PM (7GfKM)

25 13 After reading him, I didn't understand what the big deal was or
why I should give a damn.

Still don't.

I thought he'd be fun to get drunk with.

Posted by: Moist Towelette at June 20, 2011 04:44 PM (GdalM)

26 Hitchens is brilliant with words. If you read his stuff with zero footing, he'll probably convince you of whatever he is trying to convince you of.
Pretty spot on by Brewer, I think. Good job.

Posted by: Rich at June 20, 2011 04:44 PM (IPvQe)

27 How's his health btw? Is he making any progress on the cancer or is it, well, hmm, I don't really want to finish this sentence.

Posted by: laceyunderalls at June 20, 2011 04:44 PM (pLTLS)

28
It is a collection of territorial grunts shoehorned into the space between premises and conclusion.

The ONT?

Posted by: Stompy Boots at June 20, 2011 04:45 PM (gppu7)

29 >>>The Spanish Prisoner was kinda dumb,

The Devil you say!

Posted by: ace at June 20, 2011 04:45 PM (nj1bB)

30 And Hitch had his moments of exasperation of the left...think of him telling Bill Maher's braying audience that they're jackasses. But I guess, those jackasses are still more appealing than, oh gawd, being painted with the Glen Beck brush. Sure, he may know that his liberal super-cool friends are a bunch of ill-informed, knee jerk, smug, vacuous asses, but at least they read the NYT's or something.

Posted by: joeindc44 at June 20, 2011 04:45 PM (QxSug)

31 Doesn't he have that uppity "I'm smarter than you because I'm British" British accents?

He's never really impressed me, but I've only heard him on the Hugh Hewitt show, when it actually aired during daylight hours in Dallas.

Posted by: © Sponge at June 20, 2011 04:45 PM (UK9cE)

32 NP, I'm taking care of the Hitchens problem

Posted by: Cancer at June 20, 2011 04:46 PM (60TKB)

33 Danger on the right (Will Robinson)! Danger on the right (Will Robinson)!Danger on the right (Will Robinson)!Danger on the right (Will Robinson)!Danger on the right (Will Robinson)!Danger on the right (Will Robinson)!Danger on the right (Will Robinson)!Danger on the right (Will Robinson)!Danger on the right (Will Robinson)!








Posted by: ParisParamusInBrooklyn at June 20, 2011 04:47 PM (QN76w)

34 Anyone that starts out being a lefty, is one level below hobo in the smarts department.

Posted by: Cherry π the unbanned at June 20, 2011 04:48 PM (OhYCU)

35 NP, I'm taking care of the Hitchens problem
Posted by: Cancer at June 20, 2011 04:46 PM (60TKB)
Hey cancer, Ace said no more with the one up's manship. Next thing The Plague will be in here telling us that he's taking care of another problem and then Aids is gonna make an appearance. He doesn't have time to baby sit these threads! Do not drink Ace's special beer Cancer!

Posted by: Sgt. Fury at June 20, 2011 04:49 PM (LXPet)

36 That's just Hitchens. With the exception of his support for the War on Terror, he's been hard-left all his life -- the sort of leftist who equates "freedom" with "free stuff."

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto at June 20, 2011 04:49 PM (FeYbR)

37 Gross. WTF is wrong people that wish ill on someone that doesn't espouse their beliefs?




Posted by: laceyunderalls at June 20, 2011 04:50 PM (pLTLS)

38 What were we talking about?

- Dementia

Posted by: Cherry π the unbanned at June 20, 2011 04:50 PM (OhYCU)

39 There is no justice in the world.

None in this world, maybe...

So, is this Ace saying: "Go buy Mamet's new book?"

Posted by: AllenG (Dedicated Tenther) at June 20, 2011 04:50 PM (8y9MW)

40 Pretty good review by Hitchens. His "more-in-sorrow-than-anger"disappointment that Mamet the dramatist misses the ironic and tragic in politicsis checkmate.

Posted by: cleaningmygun at June 20, 2011 04:50 PM (m4U8Q)

41 And isn't it the other way around? A person's faith is their
reason, their rationale--the thing that explains it all to them,
whatever the religion in question may be. Having lost one's faith,
wouldn't it be more accurate to say the opposite, that a person has lost their reason?

You confuse things. Reason, broadly interperated to mean logical analytical thinking, is a conveyance, not a destination. When you start from a presumed postulate that a supreme being exists, reason dictates reliable conclusions from that postulate. Changing your faith to believe that a supreme being doesn't exist can change your conclusions about humanity, therefore your destination, without changing the underlying way you reached them.

FTR a "loss of faith" is itself prejudicial to articles of faith. Faith in nothing takes no less faith. Believing that in the whole of possible existence from the billions of years of this universe, to every other possible plain of existence, considering man's progress in the last 15000 years as a point of reference, that nowhere in all of that all universes, in all possibilities of consciousness, that existence evolved a sapience to more or less govern it, that existence itself remains at it's core completely random and meaningless, could be demonstrated easily by any mathematician to be highly improbable, and believing that requires as much faith as believing in an entity that we cannot scientifically demonstrate does exist.

Posted by: MikeTheMoose at June 20, 2011 04:51 PM (0q2P7)

42
Here's an accurate prediction of Christopher Hitchens' legacy:



Posted by: Soothsayer at June 20, 2011 04:51 PM (sqkOB)

43 I can't stand Hitchens, but I do concede he is a true wordsmith. I hate to say it but we could use some more of that condescending, ironic,bitter venom on our side.

Posted by: RM at June 20, 2011 04:51 PM (TRsME)

44 Just because something can be said doesn't mean it should.

Posted by: ace at June 20, 2011 04:51 PM (nj1bB)

45
What's the opposite of indelible?


Posted by: Soothsayer at June 20, 2011 04:52 PM (sqkOB)

46 The only thing irritating about Mamet is what I also find irritating about Hitchens. Here you have two very intelligent men, yet it took them years to realize that their leftist religion was praying to a false god. What took them so long?

Posted by: Diplomad 2.0 at June 20, 2011 04:53 PM (N4qnK)

47 Perhaps that is why Hitchens finds Mamet's book irritating. It forces
him to use a few rhetorical tricks over and over, rather than
constructing a persuasive, valid, and sound appraisal of the book.

That and he's no doubt got one bitch of a hangover

Posted by: kbdabear at June 20, 2011 04:54 PM (so1xa)

48 delible

Adj. 1. delible - capable of being deleted

Posted by: toby928™ at June 20, 2011 04:54 PM (GTbGH)

49 What's the opposite of indelible?

Posted by: Soothsayer at June 20, 2011 04:52 PM (sqkOB)


Erasable?

Posted by: © Sponge at June 20, 2011 04:54 PM (UK9cE)

50 No time to esplain. Let me sum up.

Hitchens is a bit of a cranky old dick.


Posted by: sifty at June 20, 2011 04:54 PM (0qfJK)

51 I must be the odd man out in not considering Hitchens an ally.

Posted by: toby928™ at June 20, 2011 04:55 PM (GTbGH)

52 Hardly ever agree with Hitchens, but I admit I read just about everything he puts out.

As one said, he is a wordsmith, especially when on the attack.

Posted by: Dave at June 20, 2011 04:55 PM (Xm1aB)

53 What's the opposite of indelible?

Temporary.

Posted by: Buzzsaw at June 20, 2011 04:55 PM (tf9Ne)

54 ace - Unfortunately, he has too much of an investment in disliking the right,
and has held that dislike for far too long, to easily let it slip away.

When I read it, the thought occured to me that the "review" was a toss-off by a tired man who didn't want to disappoint his core readership, so Mamet was greased for the Hitchens™ anti-apostate template.

Posted by: mrp at June 20, 2011 04:55 PM (HjPtV)

55 It also makes for skeptics, most of the time. If I seem sometimes a little squishy and skeptical it's because I can remember feeling Burned By Believing once before.
Posted by: ace at June 20, 2011 04:44 PM (nj1bB)
I was more or less apolitical until my first day of ConLaw. My professor started by saying she was a devout socialist, neigh communist. We then began going through of an introduction of the various areas we were to cover with some commentary as we went throught the seminal cases.
It was only worse from there. But, being in that class taught me a healty disrespect of the court system, and that indeed, these nine black sages were like Oz but men, and worse mostly full of shit.

Posted by: Jollyroger at June 20, 2011 04:56 PM (NCw5u)

56 There's a kind of movie I love, where the guy wakes up one day to realize he's the target of a huge conspiracy to lie to him about the most basic facts he assumes about the Universe. The Truman Show is that type of movie (although I did not like that particular one, too dopey). Anyway, anyone who has gone from default liberal to convinced conservative knows that feeling, of waking up one day and realizing people you'd long assumed were telling you the truth and were the Good Guys have actually been lying to you and are the Bad Guys. It leaves an impression. It also makes for skeptics, most of the time. If I seem sometimes a little squishy and skeptical it's because I can remember feeling Burned By Believing once before.
Posted by: ace
My sister in law told me of an aunt that was a born again Christian, and for whatever reason turned from that to full blown athiest/anti-theist. She remembers her like one would remember the central character in a horror flick.

Posted by: VP Joe Choo-choo Biden at June 20, 2011 04:56 PM (6rX0K)

57 Posted by: VP Joe Choo-choo Biden at June 20, 2011 04:56 PM (6rX0K)
Begone sock.

Posted by: Blue Hen at June 20, 2011 04:56 PM (6rX0K)

58
Temporary.

okay, this'll do.



Posted by: Soothsayer at June 20, 2011 04:57 PM (sqkOB)

59 Why do most atheists needlessly expend so much precious time and energy vehemently defending their position?

Posted by: Soap MacTavish at June 20, 2011 04:57 PM (vbh31)

60 #59

Desperately trying to convince themselves they are right?

Posted by: Dave at June 20, 2011 04:58 PM (Xm1aB)

61 52 Hardly ever agree with Hitchens, but I admit I read just about everything he puts out. As one said, he is a wordsmith, especially when on the attack.
Posted by: Dave at June 20, 2011 04:55 PM (Xm1aB)
As do I, but I found this column to be rather subpar. Phoned in if you will.

Posted by: Jollyroger at June 20, 2011 04:58 PM (NCw5u)

62 What's the opposite of indelible?


Atheist

Posted by: sifty at June 20, 2011 04:58 PM (0qfJK)

63 23
If a person
concludes that Belief System X didn't have the answers, the most natural
successor is Belief System Not-X.Posted by: FireHorse at June 20, 2011 04:44 PM (WLKSn)


Is this becoming another "A" / "Not A" thread? 'Cause those make my brain hurt ...

Posted by: No Whining at June 20, 2011 04:58 PM (7GfKM)

64 Why do most atheists needlessly expend so much precious time and energy vehemently defending their position?
Yep. If I thought everyone else was being life-limited by the wool pulled over their eyes, I'd say nothing at all, and just take advantage of them with my freedom from ex-temporal consequences.

Posted by: toby928™ at June 20, 2011 04:59 PM (GTbGH)

65 Why do most atheists needlessly expend so much precious time and energy vehemently defending their position?

Posted by: Soap MacTavish at June 20, 2011 04:57 PM (vbh31)


Everything's about converting you.

If you see what they're saying, you'll understand and become one of them. It's much like those annoying bastards in short sleeve button up shirts and ties that ride bicycles all over the place asking if you'd like to talk about God, or some such.

It's a constant attempt to get you to see the "right" way to view things.

Posted by: © Sponge at June 20, 2011 05:00 PM (UK9cE)

66 Why do most atheists needlessly expend so much precious time and energy vehemently defending their position?

They're not on their knees all the time beseeching a sky-fairy to be nice to them, so they have time for other things. Like golf. And making fun of the faithful.

Posted by: cleaningmygun at June 20, 2011 05:00 PM (m4U8Q)

67 43, I think Steyn does a pretty good job at being quite snarky and condescending. Always on the offensive, too.

Posted by: Rich at June 20, 2011 05:00 PM (IPvQe)

68 Just because something can be said doesn't mean it should.


Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

Posted by: Methos at June 20, 2011 05:00 PM (sOXQX)

69 It's an NYT review of a conservative book. They do this close to 100% of the time - post a smear job by a leftist.

Frequently they will even pick a leftist who is personally interested in the subject or is tarred by the author of the book, and "fail to mention" that fact in the review.

NYT book reviews are simply THE MOST dishonest drivel available, I would consider them somewhere below the drunken ramblings of a bum waving an end-of-the-world sign on a street corner.

Posted by: Merovign, Dark Lord of the Sith at June 20, 2011 05:01 PM (bxiXv)

70
okay, so we have two men. Two writers.

Mamet and Hitchens.

Mamet left his mark on this world. When people mention Mamet, they rattle off several pieces of his work. Mamet has touched millions of lives; he made a positive contribution to the world.

Then you have Hitchens. He wrote lots of stuff. Can you recall a single title?
Other than some occasional witty and acerbic snark and perhaps an original observation or two, Hitchens is forgettable.


Posted by: Soothsayer at June 20, 2011 05:01 PM (sqkOB)

71 Next thing The Plague will be in here telling us that he's taking care of another problem and then Aids is gonna make an appearance.
I'm not going to one-up any post in this thread without my lucky hat.

Posted by: Lois Lou Gehrig's Disease, the baby sitter at June 20, 2011 05:01 PM (WLKSn)

72 Hitchens is brilliant with words. If you read his
stuff with zero footing, he'll probably convince you of whatever he is
trying to convince you of.

Pretty spot on by Brewer, I think. Good job.



Posted by: Rich at June 20, 2011 04:44 PM

Thanks!

Posted by: rdbrewer at June 20, 2011 05:02 PM (xl+Cn)

73 This reminds me of what a lefty said to me after I mentioned many of the deliberate lies in Moores Fahrenheit 911, "he probably did include some lies, but it feels honest, it captures everything I've been feeling since 9/11."

That's where we conservative writers always miss the boat, to many something can feel honest but be a lie or be honest but feel like a lie that's because like many words lefties have distorted the word betrayal was replaced with "lies."

Posted by: shiggz at June 20, 2011 05:02 PM (mLAWK)

74 You are going to have to post some intermediate topics. Going from dicpics straight to Existentialism is freaking me out.

Posted by: Cherry π the unbanned at June 20, 2011 05:02 PM (OhYCU)

75 Nice way to ensure a loss of good will amongst your allies, Hitch. Have a smoke, you'll feel better.

Once heard Hitchens speak at a lefty event about 25 years ago. He said at the time he was a big fan of the ad hominem attack (not excluding other forms of argument). This was around the time of his book "Prepared for the Worst: Selected Essays and Minority Reports."

Looks like when Hitch ran out of real argument he fell back on name-calling. Little, angry man.

Posted by: George Orwell at June 20, 2011 05:02 PM (AZGON)

76 If I thought everyone else was being life-limited by the wool pulled over their eyes, I'd say nothing at all, and just take advantage of them with my freedom from ex-temporal consequences.
Posted by: toby928™ at June 20, 2011 04:59 PM (GTbGH)

How about a Spoiler Alert?
You are almost as bad a s Ace.

Posted by: garrett at June 20, 2011 05:02 PM (djndZ)

77 Hitchens has done a nice job of going after the jihadists, very much unlike his leftist comrades.

Posted by: Dave at June 20, 2011 05:03 PM (Xm1aB)

78 I thought he'd be fun to get drunk with.
You wouldn't be getting drunk with him. You'd merely be engaged in a futile attempt to catch up.

Posted by: somebody else, not me at June 20, 2011 05:03 PM (7EV/g)

79 I think Steyn does a pretty good job at being quite snarky and condescending. Always on the offensive, too.

Steyn is Maureen Dowd with a beard.

Posted by: cleaningmygun at June 20, 2011 05:03 PM (m4U8Q)

80 I read this yesterday (yes, I get the Times on Sunday. Please don't ban me) and my first thought was that Hitchens has decayed considerably, no doubt because of his illness. Chemotherapy is not free of side-effects, and some of them are cognitive.

It was angry and ad hominem from the beginning, and its tone and lack of logical rigor didn't speak well of a man who was quite an impressive intellect for a long time.

Posted by: CharlieBrown'sDildo (NJConservative) at June 20, 2011 05:03 PM (LH6ir)

81 Why do most atheists needlessly expend so much precious time and energy vehemently defending their position?

I don't know that it's "most" atheists. I tend to think most atheists are like most Christians- we just kind of do our thing and let it go at that- unless the issue expressly comes up.

I do think there is a special type of atheist- let's call them Evangelical Atheists- who do spend an inordinate amount of effort on attempting to convince people they're right. Of those, I think they mostly fall into two groups: the ones who really believe there is no God and, for some reason, believe that belief in God is itself a bad thing; and the ones who secretly believe (or at least fear) that there is a God, and try to make themselves feel better by attempting to erase every mention of Him from around themselves.

Posted by: AllenG (Dedicated Tenther) at June 20, 2011 05:03 PM (8y9MW)

82
If you really think about it, Christopher Hitchens is the writer that Maureen Dowd always wanted to be.

Hitchens achieves what Dowd attempts.

In conclusion, woop-da-dee-fuckin-doo for Hitchens. He is but a pimple on Mamet's ass.

Posted by: Soothsayer at June 20, 2011 05:03 PM (sqkOB)

83 Nice way to ensure a loss of good will amongst your allies, Hitch.

I am unclear; I meant allies on the right.

Posted by: George Orwell at June 20, 2011 05:03 PM (AZGON)

84 Nasty. Another gratuitous appeal to consensus--in this case, to the
prejudices many hold against Beck, someone many regard as a flake. But
it is such slapdash reference, the rhetorical goal is obvious: tar Mamet
by mentioning Beck.

It's not a review.

It's a shunning. (Trust me, I know.)

Posted by: AmishDude at June 20, 2011 05:03 PM (T0NGe)

85 They're not on their knees all the time beseeching a sky-fairy to be
nice to them, so they have time for other things. Like golf. And making
fun of the faithful.
Oh, then that leads to a very productive life, as you've so eloquently pointed out. I've seen the light.

Sounds like our President.

Posted by: Soap MacTavish at June 20, 2011 05:04 PM (vbh31)

86 O/T: Holy $#!+. Someone declared war on LulzSec. And if they're telling true, they have names and addresses on the members and ringleaders.

This could get ugly. God willing, there will be video...

Posted by: AoSHQ's *second* worst commenter, DarkLord© at June 20, 2011 05:04 PM (GBXon)

87 Why do most atheists needlessly expend so much precious time and energy vehemently defending their position? Yep. If I thought everyone else was being life-limited by the wool pulled over their eyes, I'd say nothing at all, and just take advantage of them with my freedom from ex-temporal consequences.
Posted by: toby928™

That's just it. Why not say nothing, but get on with your life and leave others be? Why did you take the leap to "taking advantage"? You suggesttwo courses of action;atheistic evangelization or being a predator.

Is this perhaps where Hitchen's mind is?

Posted by: Blue Hen at June 20, 2011 05:04 PM (6rX0K)

88 67
43, I think Steyn does a pretty good job at being quite snarky and condescending. Always on the offensive, too.Posted by: Rich at June 20, 2011 05:00 PM (IPvQe)

I concur with the snark, but I think Steyn isn't practicing condescension as much as he is playing the game: "You won't truly know what I just said to you / called you until you locate a dictionary, and then you'll see that you were pwned ... in the meantime, I shall laugh at your expense."

Posted by: No Whining at June 20, 2011 05:04 PM (7GfKM)

89 That's just it. Why not say nothing, but get on with your life and leave
others be? Why did you take the leap to "taking advantage"? You
suggesttwo courses of action;atheistic evangelization or being a
predator.
Good point. Perhaps I have shared too much.

Posted by: toby928™ at June 20, 2011 05:06 PM (GTbGH)

90 I think Hitchens declining health is likely the main reason he is forced to resort to argumentative ticks and crutches to attack Mamet.

Remember, Hitchens is an Olympic caliber level argumentavist. He's been competing in this game since he was a young child. He has a huge reservoir of verbiage and argumentation to fall back on, even if illness has robbed him of that razor-sharp verbal combat mind he developed.

Andrew Sullivan is a similar example. Although with Hitchens it's likely he no longer has the mental energy to fully analyze a complex book and produce a devastating take-down. In Sullivan's case it's more a case of a brilliant analytic mind compensating for dementia and confusion..

Both Hitchens and Sullivan were products of that British prep school debating society subculture. It's natural selection, the same force that gives us anti-biotic resistant bacteria produce these scathing britwits who train from a young age to win an argument at all cost.

And just like an athletic wunderkind can still function at a high level despite the ravages of age and injury, so too can these child prodigy argumentavists keep up the illusion of their former power despite mental illness and mental decline.

It's impressive to a degree. Hell, I have trouble following the plot of anything more complicated than SpongeBob when I have the flu. I can only imagine the difficulties Hitch faces. Sullivan clearly has lost that portion of his mind that can even notice that he's losing parts of his mind. I think Hitch, on the other hand, is keenly aware of his declining faculties.

I like Hitch, so I feel bad for him. Sullivan is more like a rabid dog, my pity is outweighed by my feelings of revulsion at the vicious attacks the dog keeps launching.

Posted by: Clubber Lang at June 20, 2011 05:07 PM (QcFbt)

91 I'm not going to one-up any post in this thread without my lucky hat.

wuss.

Posted by: The second season finale of Millenium at June 20, 2011 05:07 PM (sOXQX)

92 I think Mark Steyn is a good comparison.

Although, maybe it's just their British accents.

Posted by: Dave at June 20, 2011 05:07 PM (Xm1aB)

93 38 What were we talking about?- Dementia
Okay, that was funny.

Posted by: Randy at June 20, 2011 05:07 PM (vI8R6)

94 I've read half of Mamet's book, and I have been disappointed, but not for the reasons Hitchens gives. Mamet is coming from a good place, but I expected a little more art fromthe artist. I expected something solid and constructed.
Instead, the textbouncesfrom one idea to another with no sign of unity. It reads likethe transcriptof a talkshow host trying to fill up his last hour of airtime. I think it is this rambling tone and general lack of cohesivenessthat makes Mamet an easy target for the Left Literati on this one.

Posted by: Debbie Downer on this one at June 20, 2011 05:07 PM (inezR)

95 One of the memes on the Left regarding Mamet is that his whole conversion has to do with his sympathies with Israel and his getting in touch with Judaism. Hitchens is anti-religion and since Mamet's book appears to come from a newfound religious faith Hitchens must bash it.

Predictable. And boring.

Posted by: supercore at June 20, 2011 05:07 PM (bwV72)

96 I'm trying to figure out how to respond to someone saying Mark Steyn is simply a Maureen Dowd with a beard. I'm not the only one who thinks much more of Steyn than that, am I?

Posted by: Rich at June 20, 2011 05:08 PM (IPvQe)

97 Who the fuck is Maureen Dowd?

Posted by: Dave at June 20, 2011 05:09 PM (Xm1aB)

98 Hitchen's is still alive, and Mother Teresa is dead.There is no justice in the world.

Hitchens drinks like a fish, Mother Teresa not so much.

The moral: whiskey is good for you.

Posted by: I R A Darth Aggie © at June 20, 2011 05:09 PM (1hM1d)

99 Posted by: Rich at June 20, 2011 05:08 PM (IPvQe)
No you're not alone good sir.

Posted by: Sgt. Fury at June 20, 2011 05:09 PM (LXPet)

100
Mark Steyn is intelligent and clever and entertaining.

Dowd is none of those things.

Posted by: Soothsayer at June 20, 2011 05:09 PM (sqkOB)

101 I'm not the only one who thinks much more of Steyn than that, am I?

Not at all. The comparison was either an attempt at humor, or simply way off the mark.

Posted by: Soap MacTavish at June 20, 2011 05:09 PM (vbh31)

102 Hitchens has taken his anti-religion beliefs and expanded them to political ideology.. He doesn't want anybody worshiping anything or anyone.

Posted by: Dr Spank at June 20, 2011 05:10 PM (1fB+3)

103 92 I think Mark Steyn is a good comparison. Although, maybe it's just their British accents.
------
I find both to very good at using language to advance their arguments. Whether or not the argument is sound is secondary. They crush you with words before you can even begin to think of the actual argument.

Posted by: Rich at June 20, 2011 05:10 PM (IPvQe)

104 Hitchen's is still alive, and Mother Teresa is dead.

There is no justice in the world.

Ryan Dunn is dead and Steve-O lives.

Macho Man is dead and Hulk Hogan lives.

As the man said, "Justice don't come into it."

Posted by: supercore at June 20, 2011 05:10 PM (bwV72)

105 Mark Steyn is simply a Maureen Dowd with a beard

You mean Steyn is a brainless, humorless, desiccated twat without an original idea and has facial hair?

Must be a different Steyn.

Posted by: George Orwell at June 20, 2011 05:11 PM (AZGON)

106 I'm trying to figure out how to respond to someone saying Mark Steyn is simply a Maureen Dowd with a beard. I'm not the only one who thinks much more of Steyn than that, am I?
Posted by: Rich
1. Who says Dowd doesn't have a beard? (Think about it)
2. Steyn has a brain, and uses it.
3. Does anyone think that Dowd would stand up for free speech if it cost her anything? Steyn did.

Posted by: Blue Hen at June 20, 2011 05:11 PM (6rX0K)

107 Hitchen's is still alive, and Mother Teresa is dead.


And Keef Olberdouche has a new show.

Posted by: Soap MacTavish at June 20, 2011 05:11 PM (vbh31)

108 Toby's Law: Snark is good when you like the snarker and dislike the snarkee, reversed, not so much.

Posted by: toby928™ at June 20, 2011 05:12 PM (GTbGH)

109 That's strange, I thought Maureen Dowd was a beard.

Posted by: No Whining at June 20, 2011 05:13 PM (7GfKM)

110 I recently saw an interview with Hitchens in which he sincerely thanked those religious people who were praying for him.

Posted by: Dave at June 20, 2011 05:13 PM (Xm1aB)

111 I think the italics feature on this blog is like HAL 9000. Got a friggin' mind of its own.

Posted by: Soap MacTavish at June 20, 2011 05:13 PM (vbh31)

112 Who broke the italics' switch ... fess up!

Posted by: No Whining at June 20, 2011 05:13 PM (7GfKM)

113 "It also makes for skeptics, most of the time. If I
seem sometimes a little squishy and skeptical it's because I can
remember feeling Burned By Believing once before."




Posted by: ace at June 20, 2011 04:44 PM (nj1bB)
Huh? Squishy and skeptical seem to be, if not opposites in this context, certainly not on the same side.The fervor of the converted is exciting exactly because they have seen the light, and are examining the facts in a new and more logical way. Ronald Reagan is a good example of this, as are many of the neo-cons. Embracing conservatism doesn't mean suspending disbelief. On the contrary, it is the examination of that which once was true, and is now seen as patently false that makes every day and every comment seemingly filled with conviction and vehemence.[can I borrow a step ladder to climb down from my soap box?]

Posted by: CharlieBrown'sDildo (NJConservative) at June 20, 2011 05:14 PM (LH6ir)

114 Looks like Orwell did.

Posted by: supercore at June 20, 2011 05:14 PM (bwV72)

115 On the other hand, looks like we have another open tag.

Posted by: Soap MacTavish at June 20, 2011 05:14 PM (vbh31)

116 Hey, I'm nothing like Mark Steyn. I have scads of fashionable Manhattan and Georgetown friends who use me like I use them, I'm unable to get married or form a meaningful relationship and I can't write my way out of a split infinitive.

But I do have this five o'clock shadow problem my esthetician is working on. Working out. Fixing.

Fucking prepositions.

Posted by: Maureen Dowd at June 20, 2011 05:14 PM (AZGON)

Posted by: AllenG (Dedicated Tenther) at June 20, 2011 05:14 PM (8y9MW)

118 "(Atheists are)not on their knees all the time beseeching a sky-fairy to be nice to them, so they have time for other things. Like golf. And making fun of the faithful."
Oh, then that leads to a very productive life, as you've so eloquently pointed out. I've seen the light.
It at least allows for the possibility of leading a productive life. Some atheists make bad choices. Somewaste their time on the links or ridiculing those whobelieve the gibberish a bunch of pre-modern desert tribes slapped between two pices of parchment. But they don't have to. They are free to spend their time on moire productive endeavors if they so choose. Believers, on the other hand,are compelled to waste their time kneeling and whooping andpraying (or, if you prefer, talking to their imaginary, all-powerful fairy-friend in the sky).
Sounds like our President.
We should be so lucky.

Posted by: cleaningmygun at June 20, 2011 05:15 PM (m4U8Q)

119 Lovely to look at
Delightful to hold
But if you break it
Consider it slanted, about thirty degrees to the right.

Posted by: George Orwell at June 20, 2011 05:15 PM (AZGON)

120 Steyn may be an Ann Coulter with a beard.

Posted by: Blog comment reviewer at June 20, 2011 05:18 PM (xECRb)

121 We should be so lucky.
Hey, you cited a) playing golf and b) making fun of holy-rolling knuckle-draggers. Sounds like Toonces to me.

Posted by: Soap MacTavish at June 20, 2011 05:18 PM (vbh31)

122 116
Hey, I'm nothing like Mark Steyn. I have scads of fashionable Manhattan
and Georgetown friends who use me like I use them, I'm unable to get
married or form a meaningful relationship and I can't write my way out
of a split infinitive.



But I do have this five o'clock shadow problem my esthetician is working on. Working out. Fixing.



Fucking prepositions.
Posted by: Maureen Dowd at June 20, 2011 05:14 PM (AZGON)



If you really were MoDo, you would have written "I can't seem to easily write myself out of a split infinitive." Ergo, you must be Bob Dole.


Posted by: No Whining at June 20, 2011 05:19 PM (7GfKM)

123 Posted by: cleaningmygun at June 20, 2011 05:15 PM (m4U8Q)

Worst. Troll. Ever.

Posted by: Waterhouse at June 20, 2011 05:19 PM (rZx4Q)

124 Worst. Troll. Ever.

I protest!

Posted by: BMXdroid at June 20, 2011 05:20 PM (GTbGH)

125 If you really were MoDo, you would have written "I can't seem to easily write myself out of a split infinitive." Ergo, you must be Bob Dole.

Bob Dole doesn't appreciate others blowing Bob Dole's deep cover. Just ask Bob Dole.

Posted by: Bob Dole at June 20, 2011 05:21 PM (AZGON)

126 I'm halfway thru Mamet's book and there are some passages (the form is a collection of 40-some short chapters) that do have that zealotry of a newfound relevation - overusage of "the left",etc...
However,as one goesfrom observationof behavior and events to describing a pathology/ethos, its somewhat necessary to frame it in such terms. For someone like Hitchens, whose craft is based on his verbal virtuosity (h/t Sowell), the plain-logic style must grate on him, for excellence is the ability to create an illusion of thoughtfulness and logic rather than the validation of a truth.
- my only negative review of the book is that he doesn't spend time describing how he came to realize his change.

Posted by: Pedro at June 20, 2011 05:22 PM (NHNJt)

127 Worst. Troll. Ever.

Posted by: Waterhouse at June 20, 2011 05:19 PM (rZx4Q)


Think again.....


Posted by: Gerg the Magnificent at June 20, 2011 05:24 PM (UK9cE)

128 Who the fuck is Maureen Dowd?

Posted by: Dave at June 20, 2011 05:09 PM (Xm1aB)
She is a 60-year-old woman who desperately wants to be young again, and will bang you just to prove that she isn't really a post-menopausal bitch.

Oh, she is also a stupid lefty who is much more impressed with her own wit than is seemly, especially based on the evidence.

Posted by: CharlieBrown'sDildo (NJConservative) at June 20, 2011 05:24 PM (LH6ir)

129
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.
Is Hitchens talking about Mamet's book or his own athiest manifesto God is Not Great? I haven't read Mamet's book, but the later is a turd of well worn and poorly reasoned rhetoric that could have been culled from a half a dozen news groups.

Posted by: Jeff the Baptist at June 20, 2011 05:24 PM (Si0MJ)

130
Here you have two very intelligent men, yet it took them years to
realize that their leftist religion was praying to a false god. What
took them so long?

The first act of defiance is to notice the curain. The second act is to notice the man behind the curtain. The third act is to ask why does god need a starship? those are relatively easy to do if one is a child, and not particularly invested in a certain outlook on life and change not only happens regularly but is often forced on you whether you want it or not.

Once you've reached adulthood without noticing the curtain, it is a long and winding road to have enough courage to go thru the steps necessary. Consider: much of what you've been told by people you know, admire and trust suddenly appears to be nothing but a stream of falsehoods. Further, you know that if you go against these people, their reactions will range from being disappointed with you to actively calling you every vile name in book.

It requires significant testicular fortitude to endure such push-back.

Posted by: I R A Darth Aggie © at June 20, 2011 05:28 PM (1hM1d)

131 Posted by: Jeff the Baptist at June 20, 2011 05:24 PM (Si0MJ)

Well said. Atheists seem to preach their religion much more obnoxiously than even the most ardent religious proselytizer.

Posted by: CharlieBrown'sDildo (NJConservative) at June 20, 2011 05:28 PM (LH6ir)

132 Worst. Troll. Ever.
We can't all be sub-literate, internet lingo-addledhalf-wits like friend Waterhouse. This thread's about Mamet and Hitchens for Christ's sake. Let's raise the game.

Posted by: cleaningmygun at June 20, 2011 05:29 PM (m4U8Q)

133 It's good to see Hitchens finally coming around.

Posted by: Pablo Krugman at June 20, 2011 05:34 PM (p2IBw)

134 jeff goldstein talking deepak but applies here too:

"the minds of self-appointed, self-deluded, would-be liberal elites, whose supposed intellectualism, it is often found upon even cursory probing, is but a carefully crafted veneer, made up of ready-made signs, referents, markers, and other bits of iconography that they hope will point to a possession of knowledge, to suggest it, without their ever having to do the hard work of actually collecting it."

Posted by: newrouter at June 20, 2011 05:35 PM (6BXlQ)

135 Hitchens has always been my favorite Leftist. He remains so. His appealfor mecomes fromhis willingness to break with the uniform leftist clone army that never seems to deviate from theparty line. Aline which seemsrooted at least partially in the most cowardly of all rationales. The need to be liked and accepted. It isn't about moral certitude as much as moral cowardace with that mob.Hitchens is many things but a coward never. He might take cheaps shots. He might be a smarmy bastard sometimes. His contempt for his intellectual inferiors is self evident. But he could care less if you hate him. At the core I have always thought of him as a genuine thinker, an individual working towards his conception of truth. Someone with the ability to shun the cozy warmth of collective groupthink. That's why I have difficulty in dismissing his criticism of Mamet as simply the raging, embittered last gasp of a groupthink Leftist. I might not agree with Hitchen's conclusions but I have difficulty in dismissing his sincerity.

Posted by: Wonkish Rogue at June 20, 2011 05:36 PM (y5teC)

136 Think that Hitch spent a few too many minutes staring into the abyss.

Anyway haven't read the Mamet book, but this NYT review is a shunning, clearly, and is that all, now, Mr. Hitchens? Really?

I can't even work myself up to being sad.

Posted by: BlackOrchid at June 20, 2011 05:37 PM (SB0V2)

137 My favorite "lefty" person is Joan Didion.

Unless she doesn't count anymore.

Posted by: BlackOrchid at June 20, 2011 05:37 PM (SB0V2)

138 Why do Atheists care if religious people are wasting time talking to an "imaginary fairy God in the sky God" Prostelytizing Atheists talk about their freedom. Why not let other people have the freedom to talk to imaginary fairy God if they want to and shut up about it ?

Fundamentalist Atheists-the flip side of the coin of aggressive fundamentalist Religious people.

Posted by: FenelonSpoke at June 20, 2011 05:38 PM (PDyFC)

139
I think they [atheists] mostly fall into two groups: the ones who really believe
there is no God and, for some reason, believe that belief in God is
itself a bad thing; and the ones who secretly believe (or at least fear)
that there is a God, and try to make themselves feel better by
attempting to erase every mention of Him from around themselves.

Agreed. And some are like new religious converts: they are unsure of their new beliefs, and need to hear reassuring words even if it is coming out of their own mouths.

I ran into several of the "belief in G*d is bad" sort in a thread on Amy Alkon's blog. She posted a jihadi video of the slobbering, visceral hate being preached by imams concerning Jews. In very short order, a commenter came along and said "hey the Muslims aren't any worse than the Christians persecuting the Jews!" and that while all religion offended that commenter, the Christians were the worst.


Posted by: I R A Darth Aggie © at June 20, 2011 05:39 PM (1hM1d)

140 <blockquote>And Keef Olberdouche has a new show.</blockquote>

Actually, Keef has the <em>same</em> show, on a network with even fewer viewers. So, if a tree falls in the woods...

Posted by: MarkD at June 20, 2011 05:40 PM (6CLxP)

141 138.

Yeah I must have missed the sky fairy bits during all those years of Catholic School. Jesuits don't tend to focus on fairy anything.

I don't know why some atheists act this way. When I was one I was extremely quiet about it. It's not any of my business what others believe. I still feel that way. My husband is a Tyrannical Atheist. He looks down on me now that I've moved away from agnosticism. And when drunk says things like our new troll does.

It's quite tiresome, really.

Posted by: BlackOrchid at June 20, 2011 05:40 PM (SB0V2)

142 No html?

Posted by: MarkD at June 20, 2011 05:41 PM (6CLxP)

143 It isn't much of a read. There are flashes, some moments where Mamet's gift shows through, but for those who are expecting either Mamet's trademark gunfight-like dialog or a thoughtful examination of policy are going to be disappointed. I've enjoyed all of Mamet's work, and most of Hitchens' (his memoir and his essay on OBL were both great reads) but that review is a lot better reading than the book.

Posted by: Jordan at June 20, 2011 05:44 PM (4z6KA)

144 Awww . . . the Hitch make all the widdle Cwistian babies go cry-cry?  Very sad.  Eat a widdle wafer, dip it in gwape juice, be happy-happy!  Reason won't bother your tiny heads again, you can have faith in invisible sky-fairies.  Allah, Ganesh, Gaia, Mothra, take your pick.  God will be on your side no matter how muddled your thinking is.

Exactly what we want in our modern conservatives.  Just trash the Hitchenses with their science, embrace the Mamets with their "art."  Open your mind the the Eternal, the Chi, the Great Hippie in the Sky.  Eventually you can get together with the deconstructionists and existentialists on the far left and have a big group hug.

Posted by: Proud Atheist 4-Ever at June 20, 2011 05:44 PM (bN5ZU)

145 while all religion offended that commenter, the Christians were the worst.

That's the kind of person where what actually offends them most is what whichever parent they're trying to get back at was into.

Posted by: Ian S. at June 20, 2011 05:45 PM (tqwMN)

146 Fuck. Christopher. Hitchens.

Who gives a shit about a vile, nasty slob who is continually scouring his palate with cigarettes and vodka in a vain attempt to remove the taste of all the penis he gobbled on his school days.

I keep hearing about how brilliant he is. Really? Figure out a cure for the cancer you're dying of, fucker.

I heard about how "brave" he was in Beirut. Wrong. Being stupid is not brave. Risking the lives of his companions is right in line with my read on him: a self, effete cocksmoke who adds nothing of value to this world.

Fuck him. I'll piss on his grave like he did on Reagan's.

Posted by: Empire of Jeff at June 20, 2011 05:46 PM (lbo6/)

147
Brief word concerning trolls.

For several years, Troll University has been suffering from a decline in quantity and quality of enrolments, stemming from a lack of qualified staff. Rumors have surfaced that Cass Sunstein is proposing a nudge to remedy the problem,.though this cannot yet be verified.

In order not to further damage their self-esteem, we should instead laud the trolls here, in hopes they may benefit from constructive, gentle criticism.

Perhaps in the future, TU can overcome their problems and provide quality trolls again.

Posted by: irongrampa at June 20, 2011 05:47 PM (ud5dN)

148 Posted by: Proud Atheist 4-Ever

parody?

Posted by: toby928™ at June 20, 2011 05:47 PM (GTbGH)

149 or irony?

Posted by: toby928™ at June 20, 2011 05:48 PM (GTbGH)

150
144
Way to elevate the debate. You'll convince many people with that mature and reasoned approach.

Posted by: Wonkish Rogue at June 20, 2011 05:48 PM (y5teC)

151 @146
EoJ is giving me yet another reason to swear my fealty to his Imperial Legions.

Posted by: George Orwell at June 20, 2011 05:49 PM (AZGON)

152 Hitchens is STILL a man of the left. He supported the war(s) and aligned himself with some conservatives on that one issue. Generally he is just another Socialist who thinks the state should be deciding everything for us. His brother Peter is anti-war but more Conservative.

That is why I find his arguments hollow. He ridicules religious people for believing in God because supposedly no such God exists (how does he know?) but puts his faith in governments who everybody knows are incompetent and corrupt. I will take my God-given rights, he can have his meddling bureaucrats.

He also shouldn't be critiquing Mamet too severely. His books about Clinton and Mother Theresa were awful, and not even for some of the ridiculous content. It was just bad writing.

Posted by: Ken Royall at June 20, 2011 05:50 PM (9zzk+)

153 Earlier in this thread, someone said that Hitchens is brilliant with words. I think that's pretty close. Hitchens is actually a master of sentence construction. Because he can sound convincing, some are convinced. He can take empty ideas and convince many of their profundity - and often does. I've argued this for years.

Posted by: Hussein the Plumber at June 20, 2011 05:50 PM (jx2j9)

154
149
Farce.

Posted by: Wonkish Rogue at June 20, 2011 05:51 PM (y5teC)

155 ....Eventually you can get together with the deconstructionists and existentialists on the far left and have a big group hug.




Posted by: Proud Atheist 4-Ever at June 20, 2011 05:44 PM (bN5ZU)
You're slipping, Average Joe.

Posted by: museisluse at June 20, 2011 05:53 PM (Y3n3D)

156
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.
Is the irony of this being written by an Anglican-turned-militant-atheist authorlost on anybody besides Hitchens?

Posted by: Jingo at June 20, 2011 05:55 PM (JlBmQ)

157 You're slipping, Average Joe.

Nice pick up.

Posted by: toby928™ at June 20, 2011 05:55 PM (GTbGH)

158 and I hate this cryptographic shit.

Posted by: toby928™ at June 20, 2011 05:56 PM (GTbGH)

159 I like Mamet's plays, but I would expect that it would be a hard transition going from writing plays to a memoir and wouldn't expect the writing style to be all that good. Just because you can write well in one genre doesn't mean you can do it in another.

Posted by: FenelonSpoke at June 20, 2011 06:01 PM (PDyFC)

160 @ 158--forget the crypto shit, and spot him by the limitations of the material he/she works with. You can only take that so far.

Posted by: irongrampa at June 20, 2011 06:01 PM (ud5dN)

161 "Because he can sound convincing, some are convinced. He can take empty
ideas and convince many of their profundity - and often does. I've
argued this for years."

Which is exactly what didn't impress me about the guy even though I only recently heard of him. He just strikes me as a 'smoke and mirrors' type of writer. It also explains why Althouse is always up the guy's ass - she was impressed by Barky bullshit too.


Posted by: Burn the Witch at June 20, 2011 06:01 PM (8JpQH)

162 <i>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.</i>

I like Christopher Hitchens, but to think he is anything but a smug elitist "intellectual" is just stupid. He is not an ideological conservative, he's just pro-Iraq War, that is all. As for "lost their faith, they must <i> ipso facto</i> have found their reaso"> Doesn't that also apply to Chris? he was raised in the church of england, his BROTHER is ordained in it, yet Christopher has all the answers? Also lets talk "Smug." I bought "The Satanic Verses," when it came out, BEFORE the fatwa, I think I was 13. It was inconsequential stream of consciousness drivel, it's a USELESS BOOK!, yet it pissed off Iran, and so Salman Rushdie, who Chris says is one of his good friends and colleagues supports.

Where is Chris's attack on Salman, who ALSO <i> ipso facto</i> lost his faith and found reason? Oh, But Salman and chris found their faith AGAINST god, and towards "rational" atheism. They also get away with being smug, because, unlike everyone else, they are ACTUALLY right, unlike you stupid believers (btw, I'm an atheist, but I hate atheists who act like this, and chris does it all the time.)

I agree with him on mother teresa, I agree with him on various wars, I DO not agree with him on his general philosophy which is anarchic destruction of the foolish. (that's really what it comes down to.) I disagree with him on nixon, reagen, clinton, basically any definitive statement he has made about ANY US president is self serving and pedantic.

He is an intelligent person that I would never let light the candles in my house, let alone dictate the policy of my country. There are a lot of "smart" people like that, one of them happens to be dictating the policy of my country, and how has that worked out for us so far?

Posted by: Douglas at June 20, 2011 06:02 PM (YKOnu)

163 You can only take that so far.

AJ draws down our strategic snark reserves. I've wasted comedy gold on him.

Posted by: toby928™ at June 20, 2011 06:03 PM (GTbGH)

164 "an extraordinarily irritating book"

--------

Is that an argument, or an opinion? Was Mamet's book opinion?

Maybe we're taking them both a little too serious?
.

Posted by: gastorgrab at June 20, 2011 06:07 PM (qgubJ)

165 Jeff B, I haven't read the book, but reading and listening to some of Mamet's interviews, I get the idea that he is someone who believes, but hasn't learned the words yet.

I am relatively well read for my education level, and relatively well versed in judeao christian history, considering my atheism, but when I talk faith, unless I have already talked about it with someone of faith (cathy is a good resource, as is one of the beths) I don't talk about it, unless it is to ask a specific question.

Mamet seems, as I said, haven't read the book, like the guy who thinks jesus is a great guy, but never read any of his biography's/gospels.

Posted by: Douglas at June 20, 2011 06:10 PM (YKOnu)

166 To call Hitchensa conventional lefty would be quite unfair. He was even in his old"TheNation" days in favor of the flat tax, a steadyfree speech absolutist, a vigorous and outspoken Clinton opponent, pro-life,defends FOXNews against the usual lefty crap andwas always respectful towards right-wingers with a well reasoned ideology. He speaks more favorably about Margaret Thatcher than aboutmostleft-wing politicians for example.

Posted by: Elize Nayden at June 20, 2011 06:10 PM (2Ew22)

167 Excellent review, rdbrewer.

Posted by: Michael Rittenhouse at June 20, 2011 06:13 PM (2Oas0)

168 My husband is a Tyrannical Atheist. He looks down
on me now that I've moved away from agnosticism. And when drunk says
things like our new troll does.




Posted by: BlackOrchid at June 20, 2011 05:40 PM (SB0V2)

Sex is a powerful tool. And lack of sex is even more powerful.

Posted by: Typical perverted moron at June 20, 2011 06:17 PM (LH6ir)

169 One must be inclined to say, indeed, that the goddamn Sunday Book Thread is really most dreadfully late this week.

Wunnit, wot?

Posted by: comatus at June 20, 2011 06:17 PM (W5ilH)

170 46 The only thing irritating about Mamet is what I also find irritating about Hitchens. Here you have two very intelligent men, yet it took them years to realize that their leftist religion was praying to a false god. What took them so long?
Posted by: Diplomad 2.0 at June 20, 2011 04:53 PM (N4qnK)
When you live in an echo chamber, it can take a long time to figure out there are other voices on the outside.

Posted by: soulpile is... at June 20, 2011 06:20 PM (Mk/IQ)

171 Here is my opinion: someone wanted a hit piece on Mamet and Hitch might be hard up for cash. You will do a lot of crap when you are desperate to pay for medicines and pain-killers.

I continue to pray for him. I always liked him, despite his leftism, and sorrowed when he attacked Mother Theresa.

I hope that at some point, before the end, he accepts that he was wrong. Cancer may be giving him a chance that he would not have if he were to live longer and be hit by a car.


Posted by: Miss Marple at June 20, 2011 06:24 PM (Fo83G)

172 like Hitch, so I feel bad for him. Sullivan is more
like a rabid dog, my pity is outweighed by my feelings of revulsion at
the vicious attacks the dog keeps launching.

Posted by: Clubber Lang at June 20, 2011 05:07 PM (QcFbt)
Andrew Sullivan isn't in the same intellectual league as Hitchens. He's not worthy of carrying Hitch's literary jock. Oh wait- he'd like that

Posted by: Francis Scott Key at June 20, 2011 06:26 PM (6U4X6)

173 Okay so Hitchens was serving up the usual slop to satisfy the New York Times readers. But those boys aren't so smart. Eric Holder is going to resign as Attorney General and run as VP to Anthony Weiner in the 2012 Presidential election race. They're running as the Weiner-Holder ticket!

Posted by: Comanche Voter at June 20, 2011 06:27 PM (3ESDJ)

174 Of the Atheists I know, I mean the hardcore (like me) but not evangelical atheists, the athists who are set in their beliefs and aren't likely to change absent some random strike of lightning.

Suicide Ideation.

Not suicidal, but the acceptance of death, even at their own hands for ANY reason, not for a cause.

I don't think any of the atheists (I'm one of them) hasn't had an SI episode.

With that said, I don't believe chris can turn at the end of his life. He's to invested in it, and too stubborn, and in his ideology, he's correct, as he said, in one interview, that if he turned to god in his last days, it would be selfish and hypocritical and what god would want that anyways?

Posted by: Douglas at June 20, 2011 06:29 PM (YKOnu)

175 Hitchens?
Fat, drunk and disheveled is no way to go through life, son.

Posted by: -Shawn- at June 20, 2011 06:31 PM (J1/Fp)

176 I fear Mr. Hitchens has what we call in the Big Casino circles as chemobrain or chemonesia.

Maybe I'm wrong and he is just being a prick.

Thinking about it now...he is a prick.

Posted by: mpfs, sans sombrero at June 20, 2011 06:31 PM (iYbLN)

177 Yeah I must have missed the sky fairy bits during all those years of Catholic School. Jesuits don't tend to focus on fairy anything.
Not all of them, no.

Posted by: cleaningmygun at June 20, 2011 06:31 PM (m4U8Q)

178 17046 The only thing irritating about Mamet is what I also find irritating about Hitchens. Here you have two very intelligent men, yet it took them years to realize that their leftist religion was praying to a false god. What took them so long?Posted by: Diplomad 2.0 at June 20, 2011 04:53 PM (N4qnK) It should neither irritate or suprise. There are factors in this world other than innate intelligence. Take a look at Holocause lit sometimes and read the conclusions the authors make as to what created life or death outcomes. Nature, nurture and pure random chance all had their place.

Posted by: Wonkish Rogue at June 20, 2011 06:31 PM (y5teC)

179 He signed on the line that was dotted.

Posted by: TexasJew at June 20, 2011 06:41 PM (ttZKH)

180 Anyway, anyone who has gone from default liberal to convinced conservative knows that feeling, of waking up one day and realizing people you'd long assumed were telling you the truth and were the Good Guys have actually been lying to you and are the Bad Guys. It leaves an impression. It also makes for skeptics, most of the time. If I seem sometimes a little squishy and skeptical it's because I can remember feeling Burned By Believing once before.
Posted by: ace at June 20, 2011 04:44 PM (nj1bB)
So Ace is a real conservative? I figured Ace just figured out that (1) liberals don't like humor and (2) some alternative lifestyles were more accepted on the right.
I'll be dadburned.
Would love to hear you conversion story sometime.

Posted by: Emperor of Icecream at June 20, 2011 06:44 PM (epBek)

181 Hitchens is what he's always been, a smug, glib, pseudo intellectual lefty prick without an ounce of self-awareness. Hurry up and die, jackass.

Posted by: Kerry's Pink Plaid Netbook at June 20, 2011 06:46 PM (Z0EF7)

182 <u>Proud Atheist 4-Ever
<i>Unless I misunderstand the whole atheist thing, I think you actually mean "Proud Atheist 4 80 years or so, longer if Obama stops ruining medicine"</u></i>

Posted by: Emperor of Icecream at June 20, 2011 06:55 PM (epBek)

183 Peter Hitchens has always been the wiser brother.

Posted by: MlR at June 20, 2011 06:58 PM (isNKI)

184 Hitchens is a crazy anti-religious zealot.

Posted by: Lemon Kitten at June 20, 2011 07:00 PM (0fzsA)

185 Hitchens pictures himself as the second coming of George Orwell. On the bright side, that means he's a good writer who's willing to play the iconoclast, particularly against totalitarian enemies the left apologizes for. On the negative side, they both are/were still soft-headed socialists at heart.


Posted by: MlR at June 20, 2011 07:05 PM (isNKI)

186 Christopher Hitchens always assumed having never had faith, he must have had reason. One of those.

Posted by: Tattoo De Plane at June 20, 2011 07:07 PM (mHQ7T)

187 #174 What God would want that?

The God whose Son told the story of the Prodigal Son.

The God whose Son welcomed the thief on the cross into paradise.

That God.

Posted by: Miss Marple at June 20, 2011 07:10 PM (Fo83G)

188 *nods*

Posted by: that laborer hired at the 11th hour counting his denarius at June 20, 2011 07:17 PM (GTbGH)

189 That was the real Diplomad, at comment 46.

In case you don't know it, he's back to blogging, and he's still great.

http://thediplomad.blogspot.com/

Who knew that he was a Moron? Cool!


Posted by: stace at June 20, 2011 07:23 PM (lYlx9)

190 I loathe Christopher Hitchens perhaps even more than I loathe Barack Obama. That's a lot.

Posted by: dagny at June 20, 2011 07:29 PM (GnNTL)

191 Hitchens has contempt for anyone who manages to do the one thing he has never been able to do:
Admit he was wrong.

Martin Amis wrote a whole book taking Hitchens to task for his inability to accept that the horrors of the Soviet Union were inseparable form the Marxist mentality. I only vaguely knew who Hitchens was at the time I read that. Amis had been every bit as much a lefty in his youth but like a lot of things that appeal to the young, he got over it.

Hitchens never grew up. He is the Peter Pan of lefty intellectuals. In recent time he made a lot of interesting noises that caught the attention of those opposed to Muslim rule. They were so impressed they made the mistake of ignoring how poisonous a character this was.

Posted by: epobirs at June 20, 2011 07:41 PM (kcfmt)

192 What you see from Hitch are the classic signs of chemo-brain. I've been there. There is no coherence nor an ability to properly filter out the garbage that flows onto the page or in a meeting. I had to learn to just keep my mouth shut as to not make a fool of my blithering idiot mouth which did not have a stop button or a filter. My son thought I had lost my mind until I researched chemo-brain syndrome. Hitch hasn't gotten to that point yet since his old days of making a fool of himself with his blithering idiot mouth seem to have taken over his intellectual processes. It takes @3 years to get over it. As I understand Hitch doesn't have that amount of time. Luckily I'm on year 4 of remission and making sure I stay there.
As for Hitch...you will more than likely see this kind of garbage til the end.

Posted by: Buffy at June 20, 2011 07:43 PM (SIXaQ)

193
Hitch sees life through the odd prism he's constructed over time. Being an anti-religious zealot has its limitations - one being that hatred of others for having faith automatically forces the non-believer into a defensive posture that they know is irrational.
Like a broken clock, once in a while Hitch strikes a correct note and people gasp thinking he'sseen the light. Sadly, as his time nears its natural end, the only light left to see is God's.
Whichshould make for an interesting day at St. Peter's gate when Hitch arrives - and realizes he got some explaining to do.

Posted by: Murph at June 20, 2011 07:55 PM (qVdCn)

194 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.

Irony eludes Hitchens.

Posted by: nickless at June 20, 2011 07:57 PM (MMC8r)

195 Hitchens strikes me as a Charles Johnson type - he's always been to the left, then he decided militant Islam was a threat and focused on that. What's baffling is the amount of adulation he gets on the right. I think it's a 'look, one of the cool kids is in our club' mentality.

Posted by: Bevel Lemelisk at June 20, 2011 07:57 PM (uhAkr)

196 Being an anti-religious zealot has its limitations

Kind of a religion in and of itself.

Posted by: rdbrewer at June 20, 2011 07:58 PM (xl+Cn)

197 I'm reading about chemo-brain. You know what else sounds like that? Pump head.

Posted by: rdbrewer at June 20, 2011 08:01 PM (xl+Cn)

198 @196
There is a difference between being "anti-religous," and being a person who has no faith.
Hitchens seems to be the rare breed that is both, couple that with a lack of ability to face reality, and a stubborn need to be different, we are talking about somebody that is probably completely unhinged.

Posted by: Jimi at June 20, 2011 08:04 PM (JMsOK)

199 ...flat out, brilliant post rdbrewer, a fantastic dissection of Hitchens essay and motives.

A pleasure to read. As Reagan once did long ago, Mamet, today, poses an even greater ontological challenge to liberalism. Liberalism could dismiss Reagan by calling him a B-Lister. Not so with Mamet. His very existence challenges and calls into question its defining characteristics. Mamet stands athwart all the pillars of modern liberalism: a Jew, literate, literary, acknowledged in theater, TV and print, a Pulitzer Prize, Oscar, Tony and Academy Award nominations, a poet, a novelist, credentials with the BBC and Hill Street Blues. Mamet’s apostasy is a dark seed that cannot be allowed to germinate.

So Christopher Hitchens was chosen carefully by the NYTs to deflect the ontological threat. Hitchens is the left’s most exotic of tools. He is the embodiment of reason, the progressive counterweight to William Buckley, the thin edge of marxism’s wedge. But as rdbrewer points out, Hitchens labored far beneath his task in his essay, as he says, brilliantly, “a collection of territorial grunts shoehorned into the space between premise and conclusion.”

A brilliant post, a delightful read!

Posted by: Dave at June 20, 2011 08:04 PM (DCrQ9)

200 I just finished "The Secret Knowledge" yesterday morning. Very witty. But then I had already read Hayek, and Sowell. So Mamet was preaching to the choir here. Hitchins is intellectually dishonest.

Posted by: Jimbo at June 20, 2011 08:20 PM (O3R/2)

201 The line about "Propagandist" is a hoot. All fiction is propaganda. And most non-fiction is propaganda too.

Posted by: Jimbo at June 20, 2011 08:22 PM (O3R/2)

202 Thanks, Rich. Thanks, Dave. Appreciate the kind words.

Posted by: rdbrewer at June 20, 2011 08:46 PM (xl+Cn)

203 I'm a third of the way through Mamet's book and have been pleasantly surprised. It is a bit meandering at times, almost stream of conscious. But he has a keen insight into the mind of the left, and he fully grasps one of the key tenets of Hayak's philosophy: the unconstrained vs. the constrained view of human nature. He gets that to the left it's all about trying to achieve utopian perfection, and how that mentality ultimately leads to big government, and then tyranny.

Posted by: Paul Zummo at June 20, 2011 08:47 PM (DScmV)

204 "Hell, I have trouble following the plot of anything more complicated than SpongeBob when I have the flu.
Posted by: Clubber Lang at June 20, 2011 05:07 PM (QcFbt) "
Dude, you have something bad - there are no plots in Spongebob. Good luck with that.

Posted by: Nora at June 20, 2011 08:49 PM (VxqUc)

205 Good God, Armond White is at it still? This is the same general variety of bullshit he peddled long ago when we were students at the same time at Wayne State University in Detroit, and he wrote the most atrocious, insipid film (and sometimes book) reviews for the WSU South End newspaper. Low rent garbage from a low rent mind.

Posted by: D1 at June 20, 2011 09:09 PM (g7Yfs)

206 Isn't Hitchens mister "abandoning faith equals gaining reason" to begin with? I guess that only applies as long as you agree with him politically.

Posted by: Christopher Taylor at June 20, 2011 09:10 PM (r4wIV)

207 Hitchens wrote not so well in his diatribe which is poorly focused. Maybe he was ill, and I am sorry if he was. Mamet is the smarter guy though, just because of where he ended up. Redemption is the last good thing you get in life.

Posted by: mytralman at June 20, 2011 09:15 PM (epDAp)

208 Hitchens has always been a nasty anti-religious jerk off and now that he's about to die thinks that he's got a free pass to spout his usual nonsense ... screw him ... I hope he begs for God on his deathbed ... (this from someone who's been an atheist longer than Hitchens has been out of diapers)

Posted by: Jeff at June 20, 2011 09:51 PM (jE/ZS)

209 "Although it is a short article, Hitchens repeated use of isolated examples as the basis for general claims, largely insinuated, feels relentless. This appears to be Hitchens' instinctive, go-to form of argument. But he knows better. It is deliberate. People do this when they have nothing else. They resort to the faulty when there is no sound argument to be had."

And here we have a takedown of Hitchens' review that sheds no light on anything of value Mamet's book offers.

As Hitchens states, Mamet's description of the Israeli/Palestine conflict really needs no response. Best to just walk away from it as quickly as possible.

Posted by: seospider at June 20, 2011 09:58 PM (Xm0Bi)

210 Hitchen's is still alive, and Mother Teresa is dead.

Mother Theresa wasn't exactly all that saintly to start with.

I suspect Hitch was hitting the bottle (again) when he wrote his screed. He always did think the best stuff was written while pissed.

Posted by: cheshirecat at June 20, 2011 11:09 PM (r2SLq)

211
"It is a collection of territorial grunts shoehorned into the space between premise and conclusion."
Oh, God, what a deliciously-phrased encapsulation.
Ace, with the TKO at 1:57 of the first round!

Posted by: Sam Adams at June 21, 2011 04:02 AM (mREG5)

212 rd, great review of Hitchens' review. I have read the Mamet book. It is brilliant and delightful. As I read Hitchens' review, all the thoughts expressed by rd went through my mind. CH's review was very similar to one I had read in the LA Times: attack small points, make insulting remarks, and ignore the premise of the book.

The fact is, there is no good answer to Mamet's premise. It is too subtle and beautifully expressed for Leftists to deal with.

And because of their epistemic closure, so wonderfully and trenchantly described by Mamet, they are intellectually incapable of understanding what Mamet is saying.

Any non-leftist who has lived his life among Leftists understands immediately.



Posted by: Tonawanda at June 21, 2011 10:50 AM (bN5ZU)

213 And I wish to add - - although no one will read this far at this late time - - a point addressing a frequent observation made about Mamet's book.

Folks say it is a book of mini-essays, or is meandering, or jumps about, or is stream of consciousness or some such thing. It is not.

From the title to the last word, it is a carefully written, integrated polemic, intended to splash ice cold water across the Leftist face, in hopes of bringing one or two or a few Leftists to.

If you pay attention, you will notice that Mamet subtly uses various stories or observations to advance a few truths of non-Leftist thinking, what we might call Conservative thinking, and in the process to beautifully describe the intellectual cocoon of Leftist thinking.

He is attempting to avoid a bluntly didactic approach, and to my mind he succeeds. Contrary to Hitchens' criticism, Mamet very much uses his dramatic and artistic ability.

Keep in mind, the book is about the Tragic View of Life, that is, the Conservative view. The Tragic view is subtle and profound, not ideological. This is the premise.

The book flows beautifully, describing this Tragic View of Life. If one thinks it is jumpy, re-read the book, and you will see that it is deeper than you apprehended.

Posted by: Tonawanda at June 21, 2011 11:24 AM (bN5ZU)

214 "One learns very little about the book. It spends time nitpicking with
spitballs rather than evaluating the actual thrust of what Mamet is
saying. Why?"

Because Hitchens is psychologically unequipped to do so. Serious and objective contemplation of Conservative/Libertarian ideas creates severe cognitive dissonance in leftists. They cannot do it because to do so would mean that they could no longer be leftists. Instead they engage in a sort of mental warding effort, saying and doing things intended not to address what they cannot confront, but to scare these ideas away and to silence their advocates.

Only those who live with lies fear the truth.


Posted by: Lee Reynolds at June 21, 2011 11:48 AM (5KnyG)

215 "a collection of territorial grunts shoehorned into the space between premise and conclusion"
"nitpicking with spitballs "
Brilliant. F'n brilliant.

Posted by: Running Hobo at June 21, 2011 11:49 AM (l1oyw)

216
214 Lee R hit well, I think, with his point about being "psychologically unequipped to do so." Hitch is a marvelous British journalist,so interpreting him in American terms can be misleading.Superior Brit journalists are wonderfully literate and superb rhetoricians, but disturbingly uninterested in accuracy and intellectual development. In sum, theirpriority is on proving themselves correct, and their professional skills are oriented accordingly.
As other have pointed out, from the start Hitchens seeks nottodiscover Mamet's motivation(s)not as they are, but as they would be if they were most convenient for Hitchens to prove their point, so Mamet is identified as"one of those people who smugly believe that, having lost their faith, they must ipso facto have found their reason."
I have not read the book, but I have listened to three lengthy interviews of Mamet, read another, and read several long pieces taken from his book, and even the casual reader (and listener) knows this in no way describes the processMamet went through. On the contrary Mamet's faith, i.e., his Judaism, lead him to reason his way from unquestioning liberalism to thoughtful conservatism. However, by placing him in such a position, Hitchens 1) can score easy points without having to back them up;d 2) not work very hard; and 3) not have to grapple with a task at which he is not very good at,analyzing serious religion, politics, and philosophy accurately. After all when you think about it for a moment, the quote above is wholly irrelevant to the ideas in the book itself. It is,possibly, an intellectual appraisal of the author that would come in the review'sconclusion.
Hitchen'sunyielding superficiality, for all of his undergardauate survey course name dropping, can be seen in his concluding paragraph, when he states, in oppostion to Mamet's references to Hillel's admonition that Judaism'sessences is "“What is hateful to thee, do not do to thy neighbor.”Hitchen's eternally adolescentresponse is,"To Colonel Qaddafi and Charles Manson and Bernard Madoff, I want things to happen that would be hateful to me."
Hitchen's missing Hillel's (and that of Socrates, Mamet, and any serious moral thinker) point: If a moral person committed the crimes of Qaddafi, et al, they would want to be punished in a manner befitting the crime (Socrates made the point about better to suffer evil than to commit it; better to be punished for evil than to get away with it).
That the NYT Book Review would entrust a review of a very serious book byone ofthe country's leadingdramatistsannouncing achange in his philosophythatprofoundlychallengesthe political and philosphical foundations of our cultural elite to areviewer who is clearly incapable of understanding the issues involvedistestimony to the intellectual degeneration of that very elite.

Posted by: JoeYnot at June 21, 2011 12:46 PM (6ykA8)

217 As other have pointed out, from the start Hitchens seeks nottodiscover
Mamet's motivation(s)not as they are, but as they would be if they
were most convenient for Hitchens to prove their point, so Mamet is
identified as"one of those people who smugly believe that, having lost
their faith, they must ipso facto have found their reason."

One of the points I considered and eventually edited out was this:

It's an exercise in relentless deliberate misunderstanding and redefinition: "You don't mean what you say you mean; you mean what I take to be your meaning, because it's easier for me to respond to my re-definition rather than to your actual words."


Posted by: rdbrewer at June 21, 2011 01:47 PM (6z5jy)

218 Condescension, yes, and it renders the review worse than even what he claims for the book.

But the thing is, Hitchens is no liberal; even the review in questions goes after liberals, and among - no, the ONLY - praise he gives the book is for the attacks on liberal naivete.

Hitches is dying - well, we all are, but in his case it's imminent and painful - so I think the condescension can really be traced as much if not more to his lack of patience for the job and trying to create a hook to attract approval from the mostly liberal readership of the NYTimes book section.

Anyway, I had read the book before I read the review, and the real criticism is that Mamet really does not get conservatism, but only has the most superficial feel for its general contours. I've written to this effect here before, but I say it again: Mamet is first and foremost just like Jon Stewart is: in the case of Stewart, he starts as a comedian, and being a liberal serves his populist comedy. Similarly, Mamet is trying on a new set of clothes, and so far they are a very awkward fit. Rather than Fred Hayek - who ended up later actually rejecting conservatism, if he ever really was a conservative - he should have spent more time and effort reading WF Buckley, who gives the positive basis for being a conservative, not just that it's better to be a conservative because it means being not a liberal. Not being a liberal is simply a by-product.

Maybe Mamet will work this out by his next book; but I think not. I think he's a dilletante, and that his next book will be written from the point of view of some new point of view he runs to in the course of running away from stuff he does not like or finds did not fit him. He is first and foremost a performance artist at heart without the ability to perform himself - like the director who claims he'd rather direct but in fact would rather act but is just piss poor at it. He's old enough that his exploration of what it means to be a conservative may take his remaining years; but I would bet against it. I think it's at least as likely that he'll do something like discovery Zen Buddhism and go off on that in his next book.

In the end, the review was of a disgruntled former liberal by a disgruntled former conservative, the first rendered conservative by the desire to sell books, the second rendered liberal by the need to sell magazine articles. Both of them are phonies.

Posted by: Rex the Wonder God at June 21, 2011 02:25 PM (NHeC0)

219 Re 218: have to respectfully disagree. Political conservatism is in fact definable by what it is not. It is not reductionist, it is not utopian and therefore nihilist, it is not simplistic, it is not swayed by emotion to ignore cost-benefit analysis. In modern terms, this means being Not Liberal and Not Leftist.

Buckley was well aware of this and understood that it is not so easy to define what conservatism is, as it is to say what it is not. Buckley recognized that in almost any given area, conservatives could and did disagree, because reasonable people could disagree, if they were being reasonable.

What is not reasonable, is ideology, totalitarian thinking (groupthink), and repression. Yes, maybe it can be summed up by saying conservatives agree there is a human nature, but to say what that nature is almost always presents difficulty.

Mamet understands all this and explicates it well in his book. I love Buckley, and have always loved Buckley, even when he became somewhat goofy toward the end. But Buckley never wrote what Mamet has written; Buckley was brilliant, but he was not capable of writing what Mamet has written. Mamet has humanized conservative thinking, and in doing so he needed to point out the inhumanity of Leftist thinking.

From year to year and age to age, conservatives will not know what will occupy their thinking, because the folly of man is ever-changing. Mamet confronts the folly of today, which he can do because he has arrived at a perspective one can never change once one has it, let alone change to something trendy, as was glibly suggested.

Posted by: Tonawanda at June 21, 2011 04:29 PM (bN5ZU)

220 And one other thought. I believe Mamet might well have been influenced by Ace's original insights. It would not surprise me. The distinct echoes are there. It might be a conincidence.

Regardless, in the same way this site has provided an unexpected forum for conservatives, wry and off beat in a way which is so welcome to a segment of those conservatives who can identify (but not the cup of tea for so many others, I suspect), Mamet presents his case in a way unique among those explicating conservatism.

I, for one, am exhilarated and grateful, as I am for this unique site.

Posted by: Tonawanda at June 21, 2011 04:36 PM (bN5ZU)

221 And even though it is far too late for anyone to pay attention anymore, one more, one more, one more thing.

Victor Davis Hanson humanizes conservatism amazingly. He and Mark Steyn are above all others in this respect. Both have a distinctly personal pov, just as does Mamet. These men are so rare, so valuable.

Mamet is a gift. The chief question about what he wrote is, will he succeed in his goal of getting some Leftists/Liberals to pierce their Epistemic Closure? Is this a book (a polemic) which will open eyes? Those are the stakes and the significance.

I bet he does.

Posted by: Tonawanda at June 21, 2011 09:07 PM (fgysf)

222 I'm quite sure Hitchens wouldn't throw this canard at formerly moderate/conservative Supreme Court judges who "found the light", "progressed", "grew in office" to adopt democrap socialist ideology.

Posted by: eaglewingz08 at June 21, 2011 10:18 PM (tpGp1)

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Posted by: Ms. bags for sale at July 05, 2011 05:15 AM (kXx9K)

224 Hitchens mention of Beck seems forgivable since Beck is mentioned in Mamet's acknowledgments. If anybody did the tarring, Mamet did it himself.

All you've accomplished is you've allowed your readers to skip Hitchens' review and simply throw mud at the snobby liberal Brit "twit."

Posted by: Peter F at July 06, 2011 02:39 PM (tkLHj)






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