25 June 2006

Stamp On Stupidity

I actually have very interesting work to do this evening, and some regular phone calls to make to dear friends. But I am compelled to address the latest bit of idiocy from the Christian Right. Dylan (again and still) articulates my despair. He writes in “Stuck inside of Mobile (With the Memphis Blues Again)": “And here I sit so patiently/Waiting to find out what price/You have to pay to get out of/Going through all these things twice.” Indeed!

I read in The Forward (16 June 2006) that in a footnote on the third page of Ann Coulter’s new book, Godless: The Church of Liberalism, she writes “Throughout this book, I often refer to Christians and Christianity because I am a Christian and I have a firmly good idea of what they believe, but the term is intended to include anyone who subscribes to the Bible of the God of Abraham, including Jews and others.”Indeed!

I say: The absolute effrontery (but I say them not in those exact words) of that ignorant pedant to conflate what Jews believe and what Christians believe in a single belief. What ignorance and hubris the statement reveals about this spokesperson for the a) Christian Right; b) the Republican establishment; and the Conservative Clowns. But then, how typical of the imperialist machinations of the present Cheney/Bush Administration. Her words are too stupid to address in substance, but her words are too stupid to ignore.

The Washington Post ran a contest in which they challenged readers to take a common word and change one letter to invent a new word, and then to give that word a definition. The all time favorite was ignoranus: someone who is both stupid and an asshole.
Ann Coulter has several books in publication, and I believe she actually makes money from her writing.

Another of my favorites is dopeler effect: the tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

Metonomy is a literary trope in which a writer makes meaning by placing words, ideas, sentences, images (you get the idea, I hope!) in contiguity.

Figure it out.

09 June 2006

Autobiography and Memoir

I’m reading Amoz Oz’s memoir, A Tale of Love and Darkness. I’ve loved the two Oz novels I’ve read: My Michael, Fima, I’m not sure why I purchased this memoir, but my reading has raised at least these two questions: why do I read someone’s memoirs? What exactly is the difference between a memoir and an autobiography?

A memoir, perhaps, is offered with a greater acknowledgement of subjectivity. An autobiography purports to be truth, but a memoir admits to its basis in memory which has a troublesome relationship to reality. An autobiography purports to be a life, whereas the memoir admits only to subjective remembrance.

So why read a memoir? I’m not sure. At the same time as I am reading A Tale of Love and Darkness, I am also reading about Baruch Spinoza, and particularly (at this time) a tome ponderously titled Jewish Themes in Spinoza’s Philosophy. And I know exactly why I am reading this book, though I am open to insights I didn’t anticipate when I began the reading, and which I can’t yet imagine. But what am I looking for in Oz’s memoir? And therefore, how shall I read it? Without a question, how read at all? I have no difficulty reading without discovering an answer, but I cannot read without the question. And at present, I don’t have a question for Oz’ memoir. Perhaps I might wonder what is there in his life that led him to have to write. And to write the novels that he has written. For example, he has said that every story he writes is an attempt to offer a second chance to something that never could have one, and described how that derives from his own fascination with history.

Why read an autobiography? I think I read them to discover the context in which the autobiographer lived, to explain not the autobiographer but to understand the milieu as a way to explain the autobiographer.

Oz’s memoir is beautifully written, though the life is not necessarily beautiful. And I read it, why? To immerse myself in the beautiful writing, or the not beautiful life? I suspect there are insights in both! But I haven’t learned what to ask yet.