For the weekend of the glorious Fourth, the obligatory.
• At The New Criterion James Bowman is mad that obituaries of the recently departed Michael Herr often refer to Herr's Dispatches as "the definitive account of the war in Vietnam." Stuff and nonsense, huffs Bowman; it was instead a definitive liberal media put-up, as was Herr's contribution to Apocalypse Now. Says Bowman:
Neither the book nor the movie tells us anything about the war that the media, echoing the anti-war movement, hadn’t already told us. On the contrary, both existed to confirm our prejudices about the war as senseless, savage, insane, and criminal.How else would people get a negative impression of war, if not from mendacious liberals? Bowman also laughs at Herr for having a nervous breakdown over the war, which Herr saw close up as a correspondent ("[we] were all 'traumatized' by Vietnam just like poor Mr. Herr..."]. Bowman is "well known for his writing on honor," according to his bio, which mentions no military experience. I'm pretty well accustomed to conservative culture-war gibberish, but it's always something of a surprise to find it in their actual cultural journals; it's as if Film Comment contained nothing but YouTube comments.
• Good old Nancy Nall reminded me about Jim Lileks the other day and I realized I hadn't read him in a while. So I pulled up a 2016 Bleat more or less at random and there he is complaining that the Oxford American had chosen to write about Terry Southern:
But the hangers-on - who had limited talent, if any, and whose purpose was to flatter the guy who Did That One Thing, would somehow believe that they were part of a great creative era because they had gotten high with the writer while he talked about Mick Jagger, who was interested in this project. Mick Jagger, man! He knows Mick! And the people to whom he's telling the story think then his dope must be really good.This from a guy who apotheosizes old matchbooks. Here's part of a more recent one:
There's a deadness at the heart of the period. Endless hours of unlistenable psychedelic music, endless pages of unreadable prose, cheap movies...
Lest you think all Traders Joe clerk-customer interactions are a model of sparkling wit and bright banter, I had a disconcerting exchange the other day...Yes, it's another in Lileks' endless series of insufficiently understanding service workers. They're still letting him down! He told that rapscallion about "Halt and Catch Fire" all right. Then on to Brexit:
The idea that a transnational organization is superior in its nature to a government that arose organically from a thousand years of culture and reflects the national will and character is wishful thinking, and there's one big example that comes to mind: the USSR. No, the EU is not the USSR, but given their druthers they'd love the scope of control the USSR had. Over the proper things. For the Good of the Many, of course.You should see those gulags where they sent people who wouldn't use metric! Well, that visit will do for a few years.
• I have Monday off, so like many of my fellow citizens of this wretched neofeudal society I am being crushed with work to make up for that tiny respite, so that does it for this week's 'round-the-horn. This weekend celebrate your country as you see fit: as something to be seized by the dictatorship of the proletariat, by radical Islam, by the glorious sexual revolution or whatever -- remember, it's our dreams that make us Americans!