Clearing the Fog
in the
War of Words


  logomachy--1. A dispute about words. 2. A dispute carried on in words only; a battle of words.
logomachon--1. One who argues about words. 2. A word warrior.



WFB retires; liberal unhappy

WFB retires; liberal unhappy

William F. Buckley has given his shares in National Review magazine to a group of trustees.

The NYT article included this: "Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of The New Republic, called Mr. Buckley's sometimes baroque style 'genially ridiculous. . . . His thinking and his writing have all the disadvantages of a happy man. The troubling thing about Bill Buckley's work is how singularly untroubled it is by things.'"

Doesn't that capture the liberal pose of being virtuous because one is "concerned", the (especially NY Jewish liberal) mode of authenticity through agita? And what are we to make of Wieseltier's declaration that Buckley "is in fact a completely modern man"? Does that mean that the tsuris-embracing Wieseltier is not modern? Are there no advantages to being a happy man? Is it any accident that the man who gave modern, self-anointed liberalism some of its biggest shocks in the realm of debate shares this quality with Ronald Reagan, who gave them its biggest shocks in the realm of practical politics.

Wieseltier finds himself where liberals usually have been vis-à-vis WFB in particular and conservatives in general: the state of complete flummox. Note the jangling attempt to produce an epigrammatic thesis/antithesis ("the troubling thing...untroubled by things") in lieu of analysis. They so little understand conservatives--so far alienated are they from the people and founders of this country and indeed of Western civilization--that they have no categories by which to analyze conservative ideas and no language with which to discuss them. So they misappropriate words and infuse them with their own meanings, some deep intellectual import on the order of "I don't like this", e.g., "baroque" style. That's for when they feel tactically constrained by civility. When they are speaking in their own voice or playing the role of speaking truth to power, they say things like "medieval" or "primitive".

Whatever Buckley's style is, it is not baroque. When he is thinking seriously about something, he is straightforward and exceptional only in his insight and clarity (and for liberals, sheer novelty). Those qualities, in combination with a capability for pithiness, give rise to the epigrammatic passages that people like to extract. But his style is neither epigrammatic nor ornamented. When he is noodling, he is most likely to indulge himself with periods and sesquipedalia; then he is allusive and oblique, spiraling into his point, if he approaches it at all rather than simply circling about it and then declaring "QED--by inspection". Not for him what Boswell reported of Samuel Johnson: "Sir Joshua [Reynolds] observed to me the extraordinary promptitude with which Johnson flew upon an argument. 'Yes, (said I,) he has no formal preparation, no flourishing with his sword; he is through your body in an instant.'"

Ah. Living well is the best revenge.


  This page is powered by Blogger, the easy way to update your web site.
My Profile

Home  |  Archives