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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Because big words, are, like just too hard to read
Posted by Jill | 6:29 AM
David Brooks runs this year's Al Gore meme up the flagpole to see if anyone salutes: Al Gore is Weird.

But, hey, nobody ever died from contact with pomposity, and Al Gore’s “The Assault on Reason” is well worth reading. It reminds us that whatever the effects of our homogenizing mass culture, it is still possible for exceedingly strange individuals to rise to the top.

Gore is, for example, a radical technological determinist. While most politicians react to people, Gore reacts to machines, and in this book he lays out a theory of history entirely driven by them.

He writes that “the idea of self-government became feasible after the printing press.” With this machine, people suddenly had the ability to use the printed word to debate ideas and proceed logically to democratic conclusions. As Gore writes in his best graduate school manner, “The eighteenth century witnessed more and more ordinary citizens able to use knowledge as a source of power to mediate between wealth and privilege.”

This Age of Reason produced the American Revolution. But in the 20th century, television threatened it all. In Gore’s view, TV immobilizes the reasoning centers in the brain and stimulates the primitive, instinctive parts. TV creates a “visceral vividness” that is not “modulated by logic, reason and reflective thought.”

TV allows political demagogues to exaggerate dangers and stoke up fear. Furthermore, “conglomerates can dominate the expressions of opinion that flood the mind of the citizenry” and “the result is a de facto coup d’état overthrowing the rule of reason.”

Brooks has a serious problem with this notion. The loss of reason has allowed Fox News to spin utter horseshit as fact and allows George Bush to declare that Americans agree with HIM on Iraq. But the loss of reason has also allowed David Brooks to make a handsome living pretending to actually think while writing some of the most moronic columns in the history of opinion journalism.

In today's column, Brooks resembles nothing so much as the high school lunkhead who refuses to do the assignment because the big words are just too hard to read. And besides, there are poetry nerds and science geeks out in the quad who need to be beaten silly. And after school, there's pizza to be eaten with Maureen Dowd and the rest of the Heathers.

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