Monday, August 31, 2009

The Abolition of Loneliness

In an otherwise unremarkable review of Elizabeth Edwards' new book (not exactly at the top of my list), Christopher Hitchens writes of the internet,

"The importance of this medium in bringing about a great unspoken social reform—the abolition of loneliness—has not to my knowledge been better evoked."

That's not exactly how I'd describe the Internet's effects, abolition is a strong word after all. Still, I must admit that is one of its major appeals for me, along with the abolition of boredom and the quenching of curiosity.

And what a name for a Slouching Towards Bethlehem-style social dissection!

P.S. I found this by way of Mickey Kaus, who continues to nitpickingly celebrate the fact that he was right about the Edwards affair when many others were denying its possibility. And he deserves some credit for that. Just imagine that news breaking a month after an Edwards win at the Democratic National Convention.

1 comment:

Little Earl said...

Hitchens, you can't keep your hands off those fancy turns of phrase! Some mildly groan-inducing examples:

"Her husband’s “campaign biography” book, Four Trials, was co-written with him by my friend John Auchard, editor of the somehow perfectly titled Portable Henry James and an academic colleague of Elizabeth’s; few such workaday volumes can boast this sort of step-parentage."

Oh! The thought of a biography boasting "step-parents"! And not just a biography, but a "workaday volume." And I'm always a sucker for Henry James jokes.

"Perhaps here is the moment for me to say that I used to see a good deal of them both in Washington, beginning with my writing a profile of him in 2002, and that we have been on friendly social terms in each other’s houses. I think I may refer to her as “Elizabeth” rather than “Mrs. Edwards” from now on."

Call her whatever you want, Hitchens. So, what, are you going to give the slightly sleazy Edwards clan a fair pass just because you're friends?

"I remember once discussing with Elizabeth the brute evolutionary fact that people used to have large numbers of offspring because they had to count on burying at least some of them; however objectively one reasons such a thing, it will still, always, appear to be against nature for a parent to be at the funeral of a child, rather than the other way about."

I guess this is as close as Hitchens comes to expressing compassion?

"...she ends up with a sort of deistic compromise whereby she doesn’t demand the right to have an explanation from God but doesn’t believe he intervenes, either. Like a surprising number of people, she fails to see any contradiction in the idea that God “gave” her “free will.” When she goes to texts for illumination, she is more likely to quote Ovid than the Gospels. From the Old Testament she prefers the Book of Job, and no wonder."

Oh come on, Hitchens, if she wasn't you're buddy you'd be laying into her for this vulgar display of Christianity.

But enough about Hitchens. As for Mickey Kaus: personally, I don't care whether politicians have affairs or not. I understand that, because so many other voters care, politicians are often forced to lie. Eliot Spitzer, Mark is all nonsense to me. So if Edwards had indeed become the Democratic nominee and then this scandal had broken, I think his candidacy would have been sunk for a stupid reason.

But then again, most politicians win or lose elections based on stupid reasons anyway.