The never-slept-with-Althouse Cohen writes:
One of [the books Bush read] was Albert Camus' "The Stranger," with its unforgettable opening lines: "Mother died today. Or perhaps it was yesterday, I don't know." After reading Rove's Wall Street Journal column, it's clear there's much we all don't know.And what's Cohen's excuse for forgetting so much of the book he claims to have read? Or did he just read the first page? Or was that just the only part of the book that was "unforgettable"? If you want to skewer Bush for reading "The Stranger," you should bring up the part where he kills an Arab for virtually no reason at all.
Bush's choice of the Camus classic is odd on the face of it. It is a novel about estrangement, about an amoral, irreligious man (Meursault) who never shows emotion. It is a book out of my Gauloise-smoking youth, read in the vain pursuit of women of literary bent,* and not something I would think an over-60 president would read. Maybe this is what happens when you have to give up jogging.
[T]hat Bush is a prodigious, industrial reader... does not conform at all to his critics' idea of who he is."Industrial reader" is a good phrase, one that makes me think I'm being too mean to RC.
They would prefer seeing him as a dolt, since that, as opposed to policy or ideological differences, is a briefer, more bloggish explanation of what went wrong.Bloggish? Bloggish? As if your column — your column that is entirely parasitic on Rove's column (ugh! that sounds like Rove needs a medicinal ointment) — is so damned deep. Cohen, you're losing me.
[But] the books themselves reveal -- actually, confirm -- something about Bush that maybe Rove did not intend. They are not the reading of a widely read man, but instead the books of a man who seeks -- and sees -- vindication in every page....Metastasized into a debacle? That's one of those dead-metaphor mixed metaphors. I wonder what George Bush thinks about mixed metaphors....
The list Rove provides is long, but it is narrow. It lacks whole shelves of books on how and why the Iraq war was a mistake, one that metastasized into a debacle.
Bush read David Halberstam's "The Coldest Winter," which is about the Korean War, but not on the list is Halberstam's "The Best and the Brightest," which is about the Vietnam War. Bush read some novels, but they are mostly pre-movies, plotted not written, and lacking the beauty of worldly cynicism. I recommend Giuseppe di Lampedusa's "The Leopard." Delicious.Delicious? Are women attracted to men who pronounce things that are not food/drink "delicious"? I think not! And what's his point? From the novel:
"We were the Leopards, the Lions, those who'll take our place will be little jackals, hyenas; and the whole lot of us, Leopards, jackals, and sheep, we'll all go on thinking ourselves the salt of the earth."So... the Democrats are jackals and sheep?
* That might have impressed Althouse. But the truth is that I can't think of a single time that I found a man attractive because I noticed the book he was reading. And yet there are many times when I snap-judged a man to be a fool because of the book he was reading. Be careful with the books, lads.
IN THE COMMENTS: Meade said:
"I wonder what George Bush thinks about mixed metaphors...."I really appreciate that. Meade has my number.
Best bloggish idle musing of the year!
NOW will you sleep with me?More things to wonder about.
C'mon already, Althy, we're waiting for what books would make you throw yourself in a blind passion at he-who-would-be-reading-one.Well, there's "Get Me a Table Without Flies, Harry"...
A friend once told me that (this was in the late '80s, mind you) if I just went into a local coffee shop wearing my spandex biking shorts and read Sartre I'd "get all the p*ssy you want". Maybe so, but it'd be hairy and wearing Birkenstocks. No, I never tried it.Who wears shoes that way? Is it like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and socks? (NSFW.)
Chip Ahoy said...
Why Literature Is Bad For You, Peter ThorpeWow! Now, I think "Why Literature Is Bad For You" would work.
A onetime professor of literature at CU Boulder. Here, let me save you $3.20 on the secondary market. The book amounts to a screed against the people with whom Professor Thorpe shared a Department, and the Masters students with whom he came into contact. He apparently studied their traits closely, eagerly tallied their most damaging characteristics and categorized them, then described how it was Literature that distorted otherwise perfectly good personalities. It's hilarious. It's horrible. I laughed, I cried, I couldn't eat or sleep for days. I'm fairly certain I made up this last part, or possibly I read it somewhere.
Yes, that's right, I'm doing it too. Cohen reminds me of someone I've previously met somewhere in literature. His archetype has already been perfectly delineated in a book by a writer good at describing people. I automatically subsumed Cohen to a characterization I have already meet, thus I deny his unique contribution, if there is one.
Actually, Cohen's review, which I'm smart enough to avoid, makes me go, "Gah!" Reminds me of real people I know in real life, irritating people, always eager to tell me what books I really must read, lists of them, in order to become enlightened like themselves. The unstated assumption sits flatly, that I'll remain dull and unenlightened until then. I reflexively spit on the floor and immediately regret having spit, because it is uncivilized, and because now somebody must clean it up, most likely myself.
And have you ever cleaned spit off a carpet? A dampened rag, a little Oxiclean, it's not all that bad. But I wouldn't have to do it! If everyone would just stop telling me which books I must read, and stop using words like Galuoise instead of cigarettes, industrial instead of industrious, and delicious instead of good. Yes, it reminds me of overlapping cases in Peter Thorpe's book. Students of literature, avoid them.
On the other hand, I'm reading Robert Sabuda's delicious adaption of Barrie's Peter Pan. Well, I'm not actually reading it, but rather, I'm studying the industrial pop-ups. A real tour de force in pop-uppery, and you're really not sufficiently educated in paper engineering pop-up mechanisms until you've studied Robert Sabuda.
This is a fun game to play. Let's bludgeon each other with the names of books we supposedly read, or possibly scanned the cover jackets or the Cliff Notes, or possibly heard about, and then use inappropriately artsy adjectives in an effort to elevate ourselves at each other's expense. Sniff.
As for "Robert Sabuda's delicious adaption of Barrie's Peter Pan"... delicious... Chip Ahoy is named after a cookie, so it might be okay to call him delicious.
AND: About Chip's fun game — naming "books we supposedly read, or possibly scanned the cover jackets or the Cliff Notes, or possibly heard about, and then us[ing] inappropriately artsy adjectives in an effort to elevate ourselves at each other's expense" — may I suggest the adjectives "luminous" and "astonishing."