Lazy intellectualism exposed (probably without consequences)

Funny to come across three pieces today wherein a bunch of fashionable faux-intellectuals are taken apart.

First Franzen in the LRB:

He writes against blogs, yet allows a comparison between Die Fackel and blogs; he writes about the way the internet disturbs the reading experience, but does it in pages bracketed into German and English sections and in notes that confuse me more than anything I read online – that confuse me more than the Talmud. He writes about competition and the work ethic, but never mentions his own Heine: David Foster Wallace, a master of the nuanced citation who managed to be both smarter and more casual, crazier and kinder.

I tore through Freedom for a book club but I never understood the hype. Recently he’s hitchhiking on the anti-internet nostalgia that is so fashionable in 40-somethings which makes him not only suspect but lazy as well. And yes you should read all of DFW and none of Franzen.

Then Gladwell in the New Republic whose stories were amusing to read but who I never could take seriously after the exposition of his corporate shilling.

Now also Diamond in the LRB being taken apart by the esteemed James C. Scott whose writing could inform so much of what passes for political debate in the Netherlands but who seems to be ignored by the fashions of continental academia and the stupidity of our opinion makers.

And last week the exposition in nsfwcorp of Pierre Omidyar as an extremist robber baron (just like every other billionaire out there).

In many regions, Omidyar Network investments have helped fund programs that create worsening conditions for the world’s underclass, widening inequalities, enhancing exploitation, pushing millions of people into crippling debt and supporting anti-poverty programs that, in some cases, resulted in mass-suicide by the rural poor.

This compromises all of the work that Greenwald and colleagues will do under that banner. Of course no reaction from Glenn Greenwald will be forthcoming because of the (partially justified) internet paranoiac way in which he handles criticism.

The lesson here seems simple: if something strikes you as too convenient or too simple to be true, it probably is.

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