Reading Two Paths for the Personal Essay by Merve Emre, I was struck by this passage:
Taking an unapologetically snobbish tone in her 1905 essay “The Decay of Essay Writing,” Virginia Woolf lamented how the nineteenth-century democratization of literacy had flooded the literary marketplace with personal essays. A new class of writers, blinkered by the “amazing and unclothed egoism” that came from asserting one’s importance through reading and writing, thought nothing of sacrificing “their beliefs to the turn of a phrase or the glitter of paradox,” Woolf complained. Theirs was a mass demonstration of newly acquired cultural capital over and above any aesthetic or political purpose they may have had for putting pen to paper in the first place. “You need know nothing of music, art, or literature to have a certain interest in their productions, and the great burden of modern criticism is simply the expression of such individual likes and dislikes—the amiable garrulity of the tea-table—cast in the form of the essay,” Woolf wrote, scolding those middle-class writers who would dare leave their grubby prints on the windowpane of good prose. If one can set aside her disdain, there is a larger point: too many people writing have nothing interesting to say and no interesting way in which to say it.
So if Mrs Woolf were alive today she would be similarly dismissive of blogs, especially this one!
Peter Wehner, writing in the New York Times:
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll illustrates the dilemma Republican politicians face. It found that 28 percent of polled voters say they approved of Mr. Trump’s response to Charlottesville. But among Republican voters, the figure was 62 percent, while 72 percent of conservative Republicans approved.
The more offensive Mr. Trump is to the rest of America, the more popular he becomes with his core supporters. One policy example: At a recent rally in Phoenix, the president said he was willing to shut down the government over the question of funding for a border wall, which most of his base favors but only about a third of all Americans want.
Implication: anyone hoping for impeachment from a Republican Congress is engaging in magical thinking.
As ever, Jack Shafer’s ‘Swamp Diary’ has useful insights into the tangled web in Washington. This for example:
If the Russian operations don’t add up to a single rational number, that’s to be expected. The Russian playbook teaches its operatives to “create so much confusion and uncertainty and mystery that no one knows what the truth is,” British journalist Ben Macintyre told novelist John le Carré in a recent conversation. “It’s called maskirovka—little masquerade.”
Peering into the wilderness of mirrors, Macintyre offered this about the Russians:
“They set up an ex-MI6 guy, Chris Steele, who is a patsy, effectively, and they feed him some stuff that’s true, and some stuff that isn’t true, and some stuff that is demonstrably wrong. Which means that Trump can then stand up and deny it, while knowing that the essence of it is true. And then he has a stone in his shoe for the rest of his administration.”
Nice metaphor, that.