July 12, 2005

Making Jonah Goldberg seem like Lord Kenneth Clark

Many have wondered why the bumptious bully John Podhoretz was invited into NRO's The Corner. Perhaps it was to make Jonah Goldberg seem as cultivated by comparison as the late art critic who hosted the great Civilisation documentary in the 1970s.

From a 1998 article by Hanna Rosin:

Norman Podhoretz’s gift -- or curse, depending on how you look at it -- is to see himself at the center of history. As a writer, he’s a narcissist. Critical occasions for America, for the world, grew out of his personal experience. Both his books, Breaking Ranks and Making It, are memoirs, tracing his own life as the paragon of an age. His disgust with Stalinism is the universal disgust; his drive for success is a reminder of an abandoned American ideal.

John Podhoretz has inherited his father’s literary narcissism, but without the ideological vigor. Instead, he decided early on his model would be Robert Warshow, a movie reviewer for Commentary in the fifties. “The rest of us were interested in boring topics, like foreign policy,” says his friend Daniel Cass. “John only wanted to talk about movies and television.”

So his parents spent their life at war with Communism; the younger Podhoretz has spent much of his life at war with sitcoms.

For five years on and off, Podhoretz wrote a column for the conservative Moonie-owned newspaper the Washington Times, in which he lived out the banal life of a twentysomething on the page -- one of America’s first bathetic, solipsistic Gen-Xers (around the Washington Times offices, the column was often read out loud in Podhoretz’s absence, for comic value, in a ritual famously called Podenfreude).

No subject was too trivial to share with readers. Topics included his trip to an amusement park; his hatred of household pets; his love of Jell-O; conversations with his imaginary friend. He recounted events in mind-numbing detail: “I missed the 2:30 shuttle, so I had to wait for the 3:30 shuttle . . . I arrived in Washington at 5:15.” He’d also do things like type “SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX sex sex sex sex sex,” apropos of nothing (“I can see your eyes drifting”). One column ended with “Podhoretz . . . this is without question the dumbest column you’ve ever written. Stop it now!”

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

No comments: