Monday, December 06, 2010

Two op-ed pieces worth a comment from NY Times

1. Sean Kelly at the NY Times, in my observation, seems to be missing the mark:

There may be parts of the culture where this destabilizing force [ of "the death of god"]  is not felt.  The Times’s David Brooks argued recently for example, in a column discussing Jonathan Franzen’s novel “Freedom,” that Franzen’s depiction of America as a society of lost and fumbling souls tells us “more about America’s literary culture than about America itself.”  The suburban life full of “quiet desperation,” according to Brooks, is a literary trope that has taken on a life of its own.  It fails to recognize the happiness, and even fulfillment, that is found in the everyday engagements with religion, work, ethnic heritage, military service and any of the other pursuits in life that are “potentially lofty and ennobling”.
There is something right about Brooks’s observation, but he leaves the crucial question unasked.  Has Brooks’s happy, suburban life revealed a new kind of contentment, a happiness that is possible even after the death of God?  Or is the happy suburban world Brooks describes simply self-deceived in its happiness, failing to face up to the effects of the destabilizing force that Franzen and his literary compatriots feel? I won’t pretend to claim which of these options actually prevails in the suburbs today, but let me try at least to lay them out.

It is a pity folks like Kelly - who should know better - marginalize the Buddhist concept of sunyata here by posing  false dichotomy between indecisive, hopeless "nihilism" and commitment to pastimes that in themselves are void at their core.

2.  I can't imagine the mindset of Ross Douthat.  I just can't.


glennjf said...

I'm having trouble tracking down an email address for you. Feel free to delete this comment by the way. I'm putting this here as a means to direct you to the question you've asked, which I've had a go at answering. Question and answer are here -->


glennjf said...

Cool you went and checked, thanks for that. And so I've commented further after your response, maybe you're placed now to supply a link to your image?

Also found another question you'd asked some time back which I'd attempted answering.

"So why is a humidor good for cigars but bad for incense?"

Think that's the lot :)