academia | advice | alcohol | American Indians | architecture | art | artificial intelligence | Barnard | best | biography | bitcoin | blogging | broken umbrellas | candide | censorship | children's books | Columbia | comics | consciousness | cooking | crime | criticism | dance | data analysis | design | dishonesty | economics | education | energy | epistemology | error correction | essays | family | fashion | finance | food | foreign policy | futurism | games | gender | Georgia | health | history | inspiration | intellectual property | Israel | journalism | Judaism | labor | language | law | leadership | letters | literature | management | marketing | memoir | movies | music | mystery | mythology | New Mexico | New York | parenting | philosophy | photography | podcast | poetry | politics | prediction | product | productivity | programming | psychology | public transportation | publishing | puzzles | race | reading | recommendation | religion | reputation | review | RSI | Russia | sci-fi | science | sex | short stories | social justice | social media | sports | startups | statistics | teaching | technology | Texas | theater | translation | travel | trivia | tv | typography | unreliable narrators | video | video games | violence | war | weather | wordplay | writing

Sunday, February 19, 2006

hitch gets weirder every year

Like a piece of fruit sealed in a plastic bag, Chris Hitchens is getting more and more rotten in his political isolation. Like Bizarro Superman, weird Hitch has conquered regular, impulsive, iconoclastic Hitch.

His latest is a takedown in Slate of Garrison Keillor, for Keillor's takedown of Bernard-Henri Levy, which Hitch could have easily have written himself.

Which of these is civilized offense?


In New Orleans, a young woman takes off her clothes on a balcony as young men throw Mardi Gras beads up at her. We learn that much of the city is below sea level. At the stock car race, Lévy senses that the spectators "both dread and hope for an accident." We learn that Los Angeles has no center and is one of the most polluted cities in the country. "Headed for Virginia, and for Norfolk, which is, if I'm not mistaken, one of the oldest towns in a state that was one of the original 13 in the union," Lévy writes. Yes, indeed. He likes Savannah and gets delirious about Seattle, especially the Space Needle, which represents for him "everything that America has always made me dream of: poetry and modernity, precariousness and technical challenge, lightness of form meshed with a Babel syndrome, city lights, the haunting quality of darkness, tall trees of steel." O.K., fine. The Eiffel Tower is quite the deal, too.
Hitch, in response to that specific paragraph:
Well, take that, you baguette-brandishing poseur! You and your high-falutin' ways ain't wanted here, see, and some of us fellas figger we know how to deal with outsiders. If we want someone praising Seattle, we got plenty of fine locals to do it for us, you hear?
Anyway, this is my favorite part of Keillor's piece:
...when, visiting Cooperstown ("this new Nazareth"), he finds out that [baseball] Commissioner Bud Selig once laid a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington, where Abner Doubleday is also buried, Lévy goes out of his mind. An event important only to Selig and his immediate family becomes, to Lévy, an official proclamation "before the eyes of America and the world" of Abner as "the pope of the national religion . . . that day not just the town but the entire United States joined in a celebration that had the twofold merit of associating the national pastime with the traditional rural values that Fenimore Cooper's town embodies and also with the patriotic grandeur that the name Doubleday bears." Uh, actually not. Negatory on "pope" and "national" and "entire" and "most" and "embodies" and "Doubleday."


Blogger Alice on Sun Feb 19, 04:30:00 PM:
The copyeditors at Slate go easy on Hitch, apparently. "High-falutin'" isn't standard punctuation or spelling of the term; many publications, including Slate, use "highfalutin" in their style guides.
Blogger Ben on Tue Feb 21, 08:39:00 AM:
I pity the machiatto-drinking fool who corrects Hitch's mocking of the elite. "Mr. Hitchens sir, I believe that's spelled rather less anatomically as 'V-O-L-V-O'." WHAM! Fist to the face! Spinning star kick! Tyrants everywhere are getting what's coming to them!