Friday, July 31

Random Catastrophes Of A Cold, Unfeeling Universe, As Contemplated By Staring Into The Eyes Of A Chicken

Jonah Goldberg, "Planet Bull's Eye". July 29

ROY points to this thing and laughs; we'd read it, or as much as we could take in a sitting while sober, yesterday via the Indianapolis Racist Beacon (Motto: We Were Wingnuts Back When Wingnuttery Wasn't Cool Was More Like A Localized Outbreak of Scrofula). And, as is sadly far too often the case, we had to reject targeting yet another Goldbergian issuance on the grounds that, well, Fuck the man's a walking encyclopedia of compensatory psychoses, not to mention the Wingnut Sinecure to beat all Sinecures, which makes poking at him over and over again feel like ridiculing contemporary American food pretensions by writing about Mountain Dew™ four times a week.

But that was before we knew there'd be prizes. Mark S. in comments:
I missed this stupidity when I read this earlier today:

Meanwhile, a "deep impact" is a terribly inconvenient threat, partly because it requires making peace with the idea that nature can be conquered.

A copy of Armageddon for anyone who can decipher this sentence.

So here's where we were when we realized a novella was about to break out:

Decipher it? Hell, it's the keys to the Wingnut Kingdom, though you'd want those only to melt 'em down and sell 'em for scrap. And it's filtered through Goldberg, so it's topped with an extra double-dollop of smirky "Who's talking whose lunch money now, liberal fascist hippies?", but here goes:

An inconvenient threat is intended as a sort of informational signal, to let us know a even wittier riposte involving fascist liberals is dead ahead and we should slow our progress to a crawl to enjoy it. Note that Goldberg finds it necessary to sprinkle continually the trail of his writing, or "writing", with breadcrumbs this way, the explanation of which requires delving more deeply into Goldbergian psychology as I'm willing to go without three more cups of coffee. A more mundane observation is that he also belongs to the "if one adjective is funny, seven must be hilarious" school, which may or may not have already been named for Dennis Miller.

Partly because is just in there because the one thing Goldberg seems to've learned in forty years is that he can't unleash simple declarative sentences without a high degree of certainty that he'll be forced to eat them later. We should ignore whatever impulse we have--mostly humanitarian--suggesting these little circumlocutions mean anything, particularly that they mean he's actually equivocal.

The payoff, of course, is making peace with the idea that nature can be conquered, which I grant you is confusing on an almost uncountable number of levels, but which simply refers to that Rose-Golden Age of "conservative" imagining, an amalgam of the 1880s, the 1950s, the seventh Andy Hardy flick in the series, half-slept through on Turner Classics, an admixture of Reagan anecdotes on everything from the unfair tainting of Columbus Day to the banning of Lawn Darts™, and Jim Crow, an era when iron men of Northern European extraction showed half a continent's worth of hardwood forest, not the mention the people who already lived there, what the relentless use of explosives could accomplish if the Can Do Spirit wasn't unfairly regulated by sissies. American "conservatives" have been driven to regard even the suggestion that unfettered rapine in pursuit of profits may have any deleterious effect whatsoever as The Drumbeat of Global Commie Fascism, though, oddly for percussion, only they can hear it. Again, this is filtered through Goldberg, and thus is presented as a sort of culmination of everything from Anti-Fluoridationialism through Dirty Hippies Are Having Miscegenated Sex At Lunch-Counter Sit-Ins, to Jimmy Carter Gave Away Our Canal, which wisdom he received from his parents and never bothered to check on.

So, in short--yes, yes, too late for that (again), Riley!--Jonah Goldberg, born 1969, folks, and hence a completely undeserving beneficiary of the Clean Air and Water Acts, believes it's a libbyliblibrul idea that Puny Man Cannot Control Nature, apparently on no more grounds than the effect turning his thermostat up or down has on his immediate surroundings. Which leads him to produce this sentence, worth repeating the way automobile accidents are worth reconstructing:
Meanwhile, a "deep impact" is a terribly inconvenient threat, partly because it requires making peace with the idea that nature can be conquered.

And as no docent-guided tour of that total vacuity should be allowed to end without directions to the gift shop, let's note that "understanding" that sentence, most of the rest of Goldberg, and that auto-vaunted political philosophy to which is is such a fitting heir, is perhaps the single example of it actually being wiser to look for your keys a block from where you dropped them, on the grounds that the light is better.

Now, the last time I was forced to argue with someone insisting that Mankind could dig his way out of any and every hole its digging created we were interrupted for Recess. It's certainly worth asking how an entire political movement came to believe it was being singled out for oppression by the 20th century, and how that came, in just fifty years' time, to be subsumed by a religious mania for cheap, mass-produced gewgaws and prohibitively expensive military hardware in search of a purpose, or how--even in Goldberg, its most spectacular breeding experiment failure--it comes to enlist scientific expertise in the effort to blow up scientific expertise. But there you are.


Kathy said...

What really scares me, as a Liberal, is: what if the comet or meteor or whatever, slammed into the new Krakatoa, causing another "year with no summer"?

See, there are good and bad points to every situation. Just suppose this imaginary meteor slammed into the Hoover Dam, or better yet, Washington DC. These ideas keep me awake at night.

Also, I'd like to issue a witty quip about my word verification, but it doesn't seem to be a word. But "Barizenc" really *should* be a word. Some kind of alcholic-vitamin drink?

Unknown said...

I think you said this, but I'm slow, so can I say it again.

Goldberg uses 'inconvenient' to nick Al Gore, of course, but in so doing he damages whatever meaning his sentence was building toward. But it didn't matter, because he worked in 'inconvenient,'so mission, any mission, accomplished.

Is that happened? I think that's what happened.

But people don't seem to mind when he does that.

I'm reminded of a recent commencement speech I heard in which the drowsy audience reacted with cheers and applause to a single word, taken completely out of context, because, well, they noticed it, and the word pushed a button, and so the speaker simply stopped during the applause, never finished the sentence or the point, dropped the rest of the paragraph and moved on to the next point. I know because the speech was printed in the program.

We need an 'out, vile jelly' for the ears.

Kathy, you can purchase packages of word verifications that are tuned to the political and intellectual sensibilities of the website. Over at FreeRepublic you get 'gougecoon', 'fostershot,' etc. Here, they sprang for the vaguely greco-latin upgrade to the prefix-suffix set (presuff). (I got 'Phythram')


R. Porrofatto said...

one thing Goldberg seems to've learned in forty years is that he can't unleash simple declarative sentences without a high degree of certainty that he'll be forced to eat them later

A typically excellent Riley observation! I think Goldberg could learn a lot from the master of the mannered couch, David Brooks, who hedges his positions almost as cravenly as Jonah does, but without the feckless ineptitude.

that unfettered rapine in pursuit of profits

I once heard one of the pioneer donors to the radio blowhard sperm bank, Bob Grant, in apoplexy over the news that Star-Kist agreed to only produce dolphin-safe tuna. Bob, whose lunatic obsessions usually had more of a racial animus, averred that our god-given dominion over nature and the bottom line demanded the needless slaughter of these mammals, and to think otherwise was to surrender to godless communists and the destruction of our American way of life. Maybe to right-wingers like him dolphin advocates and anti-global warmers are all just more annoying civil rights workers, out to prevent us godly Americans from exerting our destructive superiority over all things, warm-blooded or not.

M. said...

So, uh, snarking is fun, but do you actually have anything to say about the hazard of a giant meteor wiping out all life on Earth?

Scott C. said...

So, uh, snarking is fun, but do you actually have anything to say about the hazard of a giant meteor wiping out all life on Earth?

Yes, I do. It makes for extremely dull cinema.

verification word: fuzzlati, Starbuck's new mocha and sweater pill beverage.

Mr Bill said...

Of course, Doughy isn't actually sayin' we (as in the US and other countries) ought to mount an intra solar system wide program of telescopes and satellites to actually look for Killer Asteroids...
Much less fund programs that could actually do something about said chunk of debris.
Both of which would yield some interesting science.
He's just throwing sand at global warming arguments. Maybe he could decode this:
"Fuck off."

CMike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leeds man said...

So, uh, snarking is fun, but do you actually have anything to say about the hazard of a giant meteor wiping out all life on Earth?

It would really suck, but because I'm a liberal, I can see the bright side.

StringonaStick said...

Leave it to DoughBob to take a reasonably serious scientific issue and turn it into yet another vehicle to take a whack at Gore, and of course by extension to anyone who might sympathize, thus accomplishing 3 things: (1) a whack at Gore & fellow travelers (OK, that was easy), (2) justification for his easy weekly paycheck, and (3) taking a truly important issue and turning into right wing snicker-fodder. He's such a serious man.

Anonymous said...

I read this column when you first posted it, and just now, again. It was even better the second time.

Quoting John Cole, Balloon Juice:

But now I’m starting to wonder if things are really so different over here. As much as I like the idea of serious, wonky discourse about CBO estimates and WHO rankings, in the end, I’m most affected by the idiocy of the conservative blather about death panels and euthanasia and eugenics. And, for the most part, it makes me laugh. As a result, I find that the only news sources that make sense to me are Comedy Central and blogs that specialize in sarcasm and snark.

Anonymous said...

Oops, that was DougJ at Balloon Juice I was quoting.