‘I’ll Write What I Damned Well Please’

I can’t get much more unpopular myself: If you’re looking to art for moral instruction, or for canned lines to solidify group membership, political affiliation and/or ideological identification, you’re probably doing dirt on the arts and life.

Such a brave stance to take:  Six writers apparently know what is acceptable speech and what isn’t, and thus didn’t think the folks at Charlie Hebdo engaged in acceptable speech.

Ah, But Pigeons Can Shit On The Shoulders Of Statues-Gay Talese on Journalism

Gay Talese:

‘They swim in the same pools, they belong to the same clubs. Their wives and everyone goes to the same fucking cocktail parties.’

‘..And they eat these little handout stories. They’re like little pigeons eating the shit sprayed on the sidewalk from the government. They want to be in good with their sources, but they don’t even name the sources!’

Was there a time when more hard-boiled skeptics roamed the newsroom; narrative purists seeking le mot juste and the story behind the story?

Perhaps there’s never really been much space for a writer’s writer, an old-fashioned craftsman looking for some interplay between light and shadow; thought, and the words on the page.

Perhaps like many writers, even good-writing journalists can become bitter with age.

-The linked-to Talese piece on Frank Sinatra.

-Lawrence Wright on his book-Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & The Prison Of Belief.  That took some balls.

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As previously posted:

The satire of the liberal intelligentsia is pretty rich, as well as the Southern Gentleman’s WASP ‘rejuvenation.’ You just know Christopher Hitchens had to get-in on that action:

From the Late Show in 1989 with Howard Jacobson:

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Are Tom Wolfe and New Journalism seeing things clearly, as they really are?

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Andrew Potter has his own ideas:

‘The important thing to understand about journalists is that they are the lowest ranking intellectuals. That is to say: they are members of the intellectual class, but in the status hierarchy of intellectuals, journalists are at the bottom. That is why they have traditionally adopted the status cues of the working class: the drinking and the swearing, the anti-establishment values and the commitment to the non-professionalization of journalism.’

and on professors:

The important thing to understand about academics is that they are the highest rank of intellectuals. That is why they have traditionally adopted the status symbols of the 19th-century British leisured class—the tweeds and the sherry and the learning of obscure languages—while shunning the sorts of things that are necessary for people for whom status is something to be fought for through interaction with the normal members of society (such as reasonably stylish clothing, minimal standards of hygiene, basic manners).

The ideas of original thinkers and those of thinkers in academia often trickle down into popular thought anyways, but the easy quote is often just a way to reinforce one’s own beliefs or ideology, or get a quick fix.

Also:

‘In a philosophical debate, what everyone involved is trying to get at is the truth. In contrast, what is at stake in the political realm is not truth but power, and power (unlike truth) is a “rival good”—one person or group can wield power only at the expense of another. This is why politics is inevitably adversarial. Political power is ultimately about deciding who shall govern, and part of governing is about choosing between competing interests’

***In journalists there can be the shabbiness of the second-hand, the designs of the social-climber, the self-regard of the idealist and the possibly deeper aspirations of an artist.  Some are more devoted to finding truth than others.

Related On This SiteFrom io9 Via An Emailer: ‘Viral journalism And The Valley Of Ambiguity’

From The Nieman Lab:-An Oral History Of The Epic Collision Between Journalism & Digital Technology, From 1980 To The Present.

Charlie Martin At PJ Media: ‘Could Amazon and Jeff Bezos Make the Washington Post Profitable?’…‘Sorry, Jeff Bezos, the News Bundle Isn’t Coming Back

Michael Kinsley At The New Republic Via Althouse: ‘A Q & A With Jill Abramson’

From Slate: “Newsweek Has Fallen And Can’t Get Up”

A Few Thoughts On Blogging-Chris Anderson At Wired: ‘The Long Tail’

You could do like Matt Drudge, but the odds are stacked against you.

From The New Yorker: ‘Writing Powered By Amtrak’

Cast a cold eye on life, on death, Amtrak, pass by!:

Amtrak has created a writing residency, or something between the clever use of social-media marketing and a ‘writing residency’.

From The New Yorker:

‘Amtrak is largely government-funded, though it operates as a for-profit enterprise. Also, it would cover Gross’s travel but wouldn’t pay her for writing. Still, there were similarities. While Amtrak was processing the tickets, Gross got an e-mail from Emily Mannix, a public-relations representative who works with Amtrak. ‘

Perhaps vigilant citizens who care about the arts and an open society could keep on eye on some struggling English and liberal arts majors out there.  Your sympathy can become someone else’s ’empathy’ and from there the demands can flow.

From David Thompson quoting a piece in The Guardian:

‘The perennial question among most creative people I know is not what to create, but how to create: how am I going to write this book/play/polemic and also pay the rent? It’s a tricky balance. Apart from a lucky few writers who get big advances or grants, most novelists cannot live off their work. They need a second (or even third) job to keep on writing.’

Thompson in response:

‘This admission, by novelist Brigid Delaney in the Guardian, may prompt readers to wonder whether we have a surplus of such “creative people,” more than the market can support. More than is required. Certainly, the career prospects of being a novelist, playwright or unspecified creative person don’t sound terribly good:’

Food for thought.

Related On This Site:  Repost-From Poemshape: ‘Let Poetry Die’

Ken Burns makes a good documentary, but he’s also arguing he absolutely needs your tax dollars in service of what he assumes to be a shared definition of the “common good” as he pursues that art.  The market just can’t support it otherwise. Repost-From ReasonTV Via Youtube: ‘Ken Burns on PBS Funding, Being a “Yellow-Dog Democrat,” & Missing Walter Cronkite’From NPR: Grants To The NEA To Stimulate The Economy?…We’re already mixing art and politics, so…
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Here’s a suggestion to keep aesthetic and political judgements apart-Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment

From 2 Blowhards-We Need The Arts: A Sob Story

 From Big Hollywood: ‘The National Endowment For The Art Of Persuasion?’

A museum industrial complex…more complexes…who are the people museums should be serving? James Panero At The New Criterion: ‘Time to Free NY’s Museums: The Met Responds’

Via Reason: ‘Salvador Allende’s Cybersocialist Command Center’

Repost-‘Via Youtube: “UC Television-Conversations With History: Christopher Hitchens”‘

A writer, a polemicist, a war correspondent, quite at home critcizing the abdication of personal responsibility by religious believers and leftists, a former Marxist/Socialist, a secularist, an anti-religionist, a builder of the humanist project upon Enlightenment ideals (especially against fascistic theocracies), and a Briton born of its class structure.

What are some advantages and drawbacks of the humanist project seeking to enshrine ideals assumed to be universal in international legal framework?  Better than what we have?

Mentioned:  Mother Theresa, Isaiah Berlin, The Generation of ’68, Thomas Paine, The Materialist Conception of History, British Conservatism, the end of the British Empire, The International Left.

Also On This Site:  Via YouTube: ‘Christopher Hitchens Vs. Ahmed Younis On CNN (2005)’Christopher Hitchens At Slate: Yale Surrenders

A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

Both Kant and Hegel provide deep roots in the expansion of Western ideals through foreign policy: Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: Liberal Democracy Vs. AutocracyFrom The Atlantic: Samuel Huntington’s Death And Life’s WorkFrom The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel Huntington

How does Natural Law Philosophy deal with these problems, and those of knowledge?

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