Friday, July 19, 2013

The World Is A Complex Place!

Former conservative "intellectual" poster boy rides scooter to seaside punch up with Rockers!
This is a bit of a dry post for a Friday but consider it a little intellectual stimulation (said in affected WF Buckley drawl with head cocked back whilst looking down nose) before you go out and tie one on, or whatever you do to have fun i.e. kill brain cells. I don't consider myself a fan or follower of Noam Chomsky but I've always enjoyed his Firing Line appearance for the manner in which he draws William F. Buckley up short and exposes his rhetorical smoke and mirrors by patient and composed explanation of his own viewpoints and continually resisting his host's generalizations and false equivalencies by returning to a nuanced examination of the issues discussed. This culminates near the end of the clip below when Chomsky in the closest he comes to frustration with Buckley's disingenuous line of questioning admonishes Buckley "Look the world is a complex place!" 

This to me gets to the root flaw of all conservative political ideology whether its the paranoiac, enraged moronic variety of our current era or the more calm and by comparison intellectual approach of guys like Buckley, in order to believe and advance their arguments they have to remain essentiality in continual denial of the complexity of the world and by extension all issues they examine, for to acknowledge this complexity and allow nuance to enter the conversation would simply undermine all of their arguments. Sadly this denial of the world and its issues as complex is also the root appeal of conservative political ideology, that is it's easier than thinking through complex issues, and acknowledging gradients, to view everything as black and white, good and evil, heroes and villains, it's comforting, makes the world a much simpler place, but as the last 40 years has clearly illustrated succumbing to this appeal (Colbert's truthiness if you will) and letting these people formulate and control policy and policy debate ultimately does a hell of a lot of damage.  

Buckley's hostility towards Chomsky in the clips below is thinly veiled, in fact in one early sequence he makes a "joke" in which he says he will smash Chomsky's goddamn face in. He is obviously threatened by the, most likely almost subconscious, realization of being in the presence of an intellectual superior.  All this aside and despite Buckley's pretension and pompous condescension one can't help but feeling slightly nostalgic as you watch for a time when there was at least a pretense of intellectual political debate in America. I've posted the full hour appearance after the  clip below for those interested.  

Lastly to lighten things up sort of and ease you out into your weekend, I've posted the amusing and in some instances sad appearance of a drunken, but still surprisingly lucid and funny (particularly if you know enough background on JK to follow his train of thought and ad-libs) Jack Kerouac on Firing Line (also Ed Sanders of the Fugs) who despite his inebriation and crankiness, to me still gets the best of Buckley particularly when he loses his patience with Buckley's long drawn out way of asking questions (you get the sense Buckley can't help but luxuriate in his own perception of himself as rhetorically elegant) and barks at him to "get your question over with"!  It's especially sweet and touching when Kerouac says, after puffing deeply on his cigar, that the beat movement was pure in his heart. 

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