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Martin Amis on 9/11 and the cult of death:
"Let us briefly trundle through the argument for moral equivalence, and let us begin with a trio of ascertainable truths. First, the years 1947 and 1948 saw two imperialistic decisions that guaranteed an increase in hostility between Muslim and nonMuslim: the partition of India along religious lines, and the establishment of the state of Israel. (These decisions also led to, but did not invent, murderous hostility between Muslim and Muslim – in East Pakistan, in Gaza). Second, throughout the 1970s the Arab regimes sponsored by the US started to head off political dissent by guiding the opposition towards Islamic fundamentalism. And, third, in the 1980s the US backed the Mujahidin against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, and also helped to fund the Pakistani madrassas, whose graduates (all of them unemployable zealots) increased from 30,000 in 1987 to well over half a million by 2001.

Thereafter, or so the equivalence argument goes, the Islamist vanguard, having wearied of seeing the battles fought exclusively on its own soil, visited a taste of this destruction on the West. Which turns out to suit the neocons and Christian Zionists, who can now place the US under military rule while they prepare their push for Islamic oil and for Israeli hegemony in the Middle East. The goals of the so-called “terrorists” (who are merely responding in kind to state terrorism from the US and its clients) are not delusive or messianic but solemnly political. So it has always been: the oppressed struggle against the oppressor; the wrongs of the past rise up to avenge themselves on the present."
posted by chuckdarwin (71 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Cheers for reformatting that.
posted by chuckdarwin at 5:22 AM on September 11, 2007


I never could get the hang of Tuesdays.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:32 AM on September 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


*gets popcorn*

I love Tuesdays.
posted by public at 5:37 AM on September 11, 2007


Being an American in a foreign country, I've had to endure a lot of weird questions about that particular Tuesday... usually inspired by whacked-out conspiracy theories. But I have a hard time thinking of it as some global-important seismic paradigm shift; I will always remember it as the day my old friend Paul died. It doesn't help that he was actually on flight 77 when it hit the Pentagon, since the most earnest Tinfoil Hatters usually blather on about that bit the most.
posted by chuckdarwin at 5:41 AM on September 11, 2007 [4 favorites]


It's kind of cute that Mr. Amis still tries to be relevant. After telling everyone what we already knew about Stalin and insisting that it's a new perspective, he's doing the same with 9/11.
posted by rottytooth at 5:48 AM on September 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


Sorry about your the loss of your friend, chuckdarwin.
posted by McLir at 6:01 AM on September 11, 2007


Executive summary: Why do British people say 9/11 when it denotes 9 November? Because of herd mentality. A girl who asked me a question on Question Time seemed to think that 9/11 was the Americans' fault. Typical chattering classes. What they don't get is that bombers and suicide bombers are 'abnormally interested in violent death'. Also, that religious fanatics tend not to put much faith in Enlightenment values. Like Nazism and Stalinism, Islamism is bad. And let's not be all PC about it.

Better to skip this, remember that Money was a pretty good novel, and read His Toughness Problem—and Ours by Ian Buruma.
posted by Mocata at 6:08 AM on September 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


Me too, chuckdarwin.

Meanwhile, Amis has turned into quite the tedious old windbag, hasn't he?
posted by GrammarMoses at 6:10 AM on September 11, 2007


Who the hell says FWD?
posted by Greg Nog at 6:11 AM on September 11, 2007


Are you guys honestly complaining that he's saying stuff people already know? Grow up. No one cares if your record collection is more obscure than theirs.

Also this is in an oped in a news paper, it is redundant by default.
posted by public at 6:15 AM on September 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


Thanks, guys.

I didn't want to post about one man when so many amazing people were lost on that day, but I really think that America lost someone special that day. He was set to lead the way on the obesity problem, and I think he would have made a real difference, even if it was just a policy shift. He wasn't the kind of person who took his job lightly.
posted by chuckdarwin at 6:17 AM on September 11, 2007


I'm not even necessarily complaining about the ordinariness of his "insights" - I'm griping about the voluminous verbiage with which he's expressing them. Sheesh, Marty, you need an editor, stat.
posted by GrammarMoses at 6:18 AM on September 11, 2007


After telling everyone what we already knew about Stalin and insisting that it's a new perspective, he's doing the same with 9/11.

Spending a few minutes on redstate.com is a great way to eradicate the idea of "everyone knowing" obvious stuff like that science works, the US is not composed entirely of angels and women are people.
posted by DU at 6:22 AM on September 11, 2007


I'm griping about the voluminous verbiage with which he's expressing them. Sheesh, Marty, you need an editor, stat.

I guess you don't read The Times much then?
posted by public at 6:22 AM on September 11, 2007


Heh, public, that's a fair cop.
posted by GrammarMoses at 6:26 AM on September 11, 2007


DU: my search has turned up few people on redstate.com who don't know that Stalin was a pretty bad head of state. The author of the first hit thinks he was a 'liberal', but I'm guessing he's using in the American sense of 'left' (and is mad).
posted by Mocata at 6:28 AM on September 11, 2007


Are we still trying to figure out why it happened? As far as I can tell, the CIA file contains one word: Blowback.
posted by Acey at 6:31 AM on September 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, Amis, you do write some incoherent bullshit! The West deifies and worships dead soldiers as an undifferentiated holy mass; is liberal democracy "thanatoid"? The House of Saud are as carpe-diem-hedonistic as they come. Are they representative of "radical Islam"? What does radical Islam mean, anyway? Muslims who hit back? Why did this "death cult" become such an important feature of Muslim civilization after the Great War? Did it materialise out of nowhere? Maybe it's genetic.

Israel, occupying 0.6 per cent of Arab lands and with a proportional population, defeated the armies of Egypt, Syria, and Trans-Jordan, together with the supplementary forces of Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq. In the other 99.4 per cent of Arab lands, this event is known as al-nakba: the catastrophe.

It was only a little invasion, and if there are half a million Palestinian refugees, well, there's plenty more Muslims where that came from, so it's nothing a rational person could get grumpy about.

Of course, even the most insanely, irrationally murderous Muslim terrorists have made their political demands pretty clear - basically an end to all Western military intervention in the Middle East. But that means nothing to Amis, because obviously what they really want is a "planetary empire cleansed of all infidels". That's why most Iraqis now support attacks on American troops: Muslims be crazy!
posted by stammer at 6:32 AM on September 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why make smart-as remarks? you dislike what he says, move on. The comments usually more tedious than the original. What I note about 9/11: in our wars, other than the Civil War, our enemies have always been fought or attacked us on non-American soil. Here, we got hit by an enemy in the very heart of the capitalist system--downtown Manhattan. (ps: I am not denigrating capitalism in my remark.)
posted by Postroad at 6:33 AM on September 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


I am sorry but I had meant to add this, from OBL's forthcoming video
http://apnews.myway.com/article/20070911/D8RJ8QL81.html

for whatever you think it is worth
posted by Postroad at 6:42 AM on September 11, 2007


What I note about 9/11: in our wars, other than the Civil War, our enemies have always been fought or attacked us on non-American soil.

The Spanish-American War
The War of 1812
WWII (Pearl Harbor and the Aleutian Islands)
posted by pardonyou? at 6:47 AM on September 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


It is worth snarking because this is Martin Amis, a man who as a writer of fiction is a genius, as a writer of criticism is incredibly insightful and as a writer of op-eds is a massive cock.

Okay, you can argue that his recent novels have been a bit of a mess but he still wrote Money, London Fields and The Information. To see him write drivel like this is upsetting. Whenever he talks about Islam he is like a poor man's Hitchins which is just as awful as it sounds. I think this interview was the tipping point.
posted by ninebelow at 6:47 AM on September 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


fuck martin amis.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:51 AM on September 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why make smart-as remarks? you dislike what he says, move on.

after all, someone's got to put the friendly in friendly fascism, right?
posted by pyramid termite at 6:55 AM on September 11, 2007


Money was a great book, but it was difficult reading it at work because it made me laugh and I couldn't tell my co-workers why I was laughing.

This article, with the Bennifer shout-outs and 9/11 vs. 11/9 stuff, felt like it was written by a student who was trying to make a word count but couldn't be bothered to do research.
posted by betweenthebars at 7:00 AM on September 11, 2007


DU, my point is his insights are shallow. The fact that some people know less than him isn't a justification.
posted by rottytooth at 7:32 AM on September 11, 2007


The Spanish-American War was fought in Cuba and the Philippines. None of the battles were on US territory. (The US took Guantanamo Bay and Puerto Rico in the war.)
posted by kirkaracha at 7:35 AM on September 11, 2007


Executive summary: Why do British people say 9/11 when it denotes 9 November? Because of herd mentality. A girl who asked me a question on Question Time seemed to think that 9/11 was the Americans' fault. Typical chattering classes. What they don't get is that bombers and suicide bombers are 'abnormally interested in violent death'. Also, that religious fanatics tend not to put much faith in Enlightenment values. Like Nazism and Stalinism, Islamism is bad. And let's not be all PC about it.

Thanks—I figured that would be about the size of it, but I was tempted to click through and subject myself to his windbaggery. Now I can do something else with my time.
posted by languagehat at 7:50 AM on September 11, 2007


Shallow, but still deeper by far than anything we get on tv (or in print usually too). If we have to have commentary by "serious people", i prefer authors and any other people whose whole lives/livelihoods aren't about their place in the Beltway food chain.
posted by amberglow at 7:50 AM on September 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Dang. When I read the title I thought maybe it would be an essay about how the cult of 9/11 in the States is also a cult of death. Oh well.

My condolences as well, chuckdarwin.
posted by jokeefe at 7:52 AM on September 11, 2007


I can't stand his writing. I may or may not agree with what he is saying but he tends to be so fucking arrogant and officious about it that it becomes tedious. He spends half a page on the subject of how we all refer to September 11th when he could have just got on with the fucking article after a sentence or two.

Fucking tedious writer. It's like wading through shit trying to read that.
posted by Po0py at 7:58 AM on September 11, 2007


Neocon wankery.

Who in their right mind would thing that what we need now, to solve our problems is literary analysis. I mean the western outlook is more aesthetically pleasing then endless jihad? Shocking!

This guy is attacking the straw-man left, people who hold The U.S. more intentionally responsible then the Taliban. Those people are nowhere near power, and have no influence.
posted by delmoi at 8:03 AM on September 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Amis would be so much more respectable if he just dropped all pretense and publicly admitted his deep-seated racism. As is his rantings just come off as incoherent, shallow, rah-rah nonsense. It's just stupid to dismiss the radical Islamists as "really bad people who just can't be reasoned with!!!" and it's even stupider to lump Fascism and Communism (and even this association is pretty damn questionable) into the same pile.
posted by nixerman at 8:03 AM on September 11, 2007


Man, that is some biggoted myopic bullshit. And did postroad really say that our enemies, with the exception of the civil war, have always fought us on foreign soil? You can't seriously have forgotten the American Revolution, can you? Really?
posted by shmegegge at 8:37 AM on September 11, 2007


bigoted, rather.
posted by shmegegge at 8:38 AM on September 11, 2007


Those people are nowhere near power, and have no influence.
Hopefully, that will all change in 2009.
posted by chuckdarwin at 8:38 AM on September 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Neocon wankery.

And now try reading it.
posted by yerfatma at 8:46 AM on September 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Insightful but rambling piece with a very questionable conclusion.
Yeah, the neocon dogmantra (dogma/mantra) is terror terror terror, and yeah knee jerk liberals say the U.S. is evil and should bomb itself for arming Afghanis et.al. in the first place, but the damage being done is in the emotional irrational response, not in the retrogression and revanchism of Islamic extremists.
They destroyed some property and killed some people (my condolences chuckdarwin) but although that caused pain, that did not damage the country. Only the unreasoning response has caused lasting damage to our institutions, traditions and rights and liberties.
It is our attachment to 9/11, our fetishization of it and obsession with a marginal sect of Muslim people that has caused a moral crash and made us afraid (somewhat literally) of our own shadows. It’s our refusal to engage the Muslim world because of a small group of nuts which has allowed the ground to loosen between reality and reverie.

I wouldn’t let it slide, but I wish we hadn’t imparted any dynamism to the event. I’d rather we’d been unfazed. Mourned our dead, rebuilt and healed our damage, and brought the perpetrators to justice, and show the world our society can take the best shot of madmen and just shrug it off.

Instead it’s been what it has been.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:46 AM on September 11, 2007 [7 favorites]


And the insistence that 9/11 falls under the criteria of 'senseless acts' really needs to be rejected by honest people. It was a major covert operation planned over a period of at least two years and then executed flawlessly in the bright light of day. It radically transformed world affairs, threw the world's sole superpower on the defensive, and legitimized Islamic radicalism literally overnight. It is probably one of the most effective military operations ever carried out simply in terms of bang for the buck. And let's not even bring up that most fortuitous and unexpected payoff, the Second Iraq War.

What Amis article really demonstrates is the laughable inability of the Western elite to seriously and realistically engage an organized and determined enemy. It turns out the only play in their playbook is outright military confrontation; this is the only thing they can do well and even when it's not the right play, hell, they'll insist on it anyways. Now, nearly a decade after the opening salvo, the situation is significantly worse than it was when the entire affair began. These guys have got nothing, they've come up completely empty, but they're far too chickenshit to admit it and so, even now, we are treated to insulting, shallow screeds insisting that the enemy is insane, cannot be reasoned with, hates babies and freedom - but don't worry (too much) we're still going to totally kick their ass. I suspect it's actually this total failure of leadership that will be remembered much more so than the various rantings of Osama Bin Laden. People will look back on the early 21st Century with a mortified mixture of horror and dismay and seriously wonder just how shortsighted, complacent elites -- the "best and the brightest" -- could be so outmaneuvered by even a minor, non-state enemy. Unfortunately it will probably require real comprehensive disaster in the form of millions dead and many trillions wasted before the political will to deal with terrorism in a globalized world can emerge. Things will likely get a whole lot worse before they get better.
posted by nixerman at 8:50 AM on September 11, 2007 [17 favorites]


I agree with you; the oxygen of publicity is what the perpetrators of these crimes really crave, Smedleyman. And that is the one thing we ALWAYS GIVE THEM... even the ones who fail to kill anyone.
posted by chuckdarwin at 8:51 AM on September 11, 2007


I'd advise anyone reading this thread who hasn't read the whole Amis piece yet to skip it and reread nixerman's much more insightful comment instead, if only because it will save you the nails-on-chalkboard horror of clawing through a whole essay overflowing with incoherent pomposity like this:

Much of our analysis, perhaps, has been wholly inapposite, because we keep trying to construe Islamism in terms of the ratiocinative.

If that essay was a college lecture, I'd have marched out and dropped the course right there.
posted by gompa at 9:36 AM on September 11, 2007


Money was pretty good but The Information was better, but his best ever is still London Fields. I've dated a few chicks like Nicola in my day. It's a pity Amis ain't much of a Thinker though, and that his brain too shrivels rapidly from aging.
posted by davy at 9:47 AM on September 11, 2007


In Britain, they don't abbreviate much of anything or, if they do, they read it aloud exactly as it's written. Thank you, Mr. Amis, for teaching us that.
posted by katillathehun at 9:47 AM on September 11, 2007


John Robb:
If you think the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will end with this US presidency, think again. These wars will likely outlast the next several Presidents. The old Vietnam era formulas don't apply anymore. The reason is that the moral weaknesses that have traditionally limited the state's ability to fight long guerrilla wars have dissipated, and modern states may now have the ability and the desire to wage this type of war indefinitely. Here's what changed:
  • A radical improvement in marketing war. The US military learned from Vietnam that it needed to be much better at marketing wars to domestic audiences in order to prevent moral collapse. It has gotten better at this, and that information operations/strategic communications capability has reached a new level of effectiveness with General Petraeus. Despite this improvement, the military and its civilian leadership still don't have the ability to garner wide domestic support for guerrilla wars beyond the initial phases. However, they do have the ability to maintain support within a small but vocal base -- as seen in the use of weblogs to generate grass roots support for war -- and the capability to trump those that call for withdrawal (by keeping the faintest glimmer of potential success alive and using fear/uncertainty/doubt FUD to magnify the consequences of defeat). In our factional political system, that is sufficient to prevent withdrawal.
  • The threat that justifies the state and the perpetual war that codifies it. The ongoing threat of terrorism has become the primary justification for the existence of a strong nation-state (and its greatest instrument of power, the military) at the very moment it finds itself in decline due to globalization (or more accurately: irrelevance). The militarization of "the war against terrorism" reverses this process of dissipation, since it can be used to make the case for the acquisition of new powers, money, and legitimacy (regardless of party affiliation) -- for example, everything from increases in conventional military spending to the application of technical reconnaissance on domestic targets. Of course, this desire for war at the political level is complimented by the huge number of contractors (and their phalanxes of lobbyists) attracted by the potential of Midas level profits from the privatization of warfare. The current degree of corporate participation in warfare makes the old "military industrial complex" look tame in comparison.
  • The privatization of conflict. This is likely the critical factor that makes perpetual warfare possible. For all intents and purposes, the US isn't at war. The use of a professional military in combination with corporate partners has pushed warfare to the margins of political/social life. A war's initiation and continuation is now merely a function of our willingness/ability to finance it. Further, since privatization mutes moral opposition to war (i.e. "our son isn't forced to go to war to die") the real damage at the ballot box is more likely to impact those that wish to end its financing. To wit: every major presidential candidate in the field today now gives his/her full support to the continuation of these wars.
posted by lodurr at 9:55 AM on September 11, 2007 [6 favorites]


that reallly expensive dentist must have drilled through his brain
posted by matteo at 9:57 AM on September 11, 2007


Why all the hating on Mr. Amis? He writes more effortlessly than the vast majority of us ever will, and I think that his observations are relevant. It appears that half of the posters here didn't even get through the first half of the essay, where he did dither on rather Martin Amishly for too long on the best way to refer to this day. In the second half, however, I found his remarks to be grave and ponderous, and that seemed wholly appropriate to me. "Walter Mittys of mass murder" is simply heartbreaking, and today, that's okay.
Apart from the haters, there have been some really interesting points made, thanks Smedleyman, Nixerman and lodurr.
posted by msali at 10:11 AM on September 11, 2007


"the political will to deal with terrorism in a globalized world"

Most so-called "terrorism" has little to do with "a globalized world" but happens in the context of what are essentially civil wars (for lack of a better term), as in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq, Sri Lanka and formerly Northern Ireland; "terrorism" is a strategy many actors in many places adopt for their own reasons, not a world-wide movement Americans at home in Topeka need to be afraid of. I.e., there is no enemy.

GET OVER IT, AMERICA.
posted by davy at 10:15 AM on September 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yikes. This reads like a stoned philosophy major's term paper. I read about ten paragraphs and gave up, having decided that if there were any point to the essay, it probably had nothing to do with any relevant anyway.
posted by DoctorFedora at 10:20 AM on September 11, 2007


I defer "my" point to Mr. Robb.
posted by lodurr at 10:22 AM on September 11, 2007


Always posting before reading the whole thread, but I have to say that chuckdarwin's comment about his(?) friend dying hits home. My sister was recently killed by a drunk driver, and I reflected on the difference between "natural causes" and attributable evil. And I really empathized with those who had friends/relatives die in 9/11 because their tragedy was personal, but we had to make it into some big national bullshit war orgy, and how politicized it all became just really made me sick (I mean, at the time I knew it would, and hell, things turned out a lot less worse than I expected when I heard the news)... The point is, though, that these are real people, who had real connections, and it's so sad that the emotions are used to justify all kinds of things.

Most of us DON'T know anyone directly affected by 9/11, yet we act as if it's all about us...

The best thing that happened was the very split second of grief/unity, not just from the US, but from the world.

Then it went to shit, because people had to drag their agenda into it.

That said, let me express my sympathy, as I now can really feel it and understand more than I did 6 years ago, or even a month ago...
posted by symbioid at 10:37 AM on September 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Most of us DON'T know anyone directly affected by 9/11, yet we act as if it's all about us...

I really don't think most of us do. Most of us, and this is just a guess, understand the tragedy of the events surrounding that day, but not so many of us consider ourselves personal victims as much as politicians and the media would have you believe.
posted by katillathehun at 10:46 AM on September 11, 2007



the moral weaknesses that have traditionally limited the state's ability to fight long guerrilla wars

why am i left with the impression that these "moral weaknesses" referred to in your quote, lodurr, are what i would call "moral strengths"?

posted by saulgoodman at 10:46 AM on September 11, 2007


My condolences to you too, symbioid. I am so sorry.
posted by GrammarMoses at 10:54 AM on September 11, 2007


saulg: Robb's a guerilla warfare theorist; "moral weaknesses" in that context is a relativistic term. I've been tracking his blog over hte past few months, and it's clear that he's approaching 4th Generation warfare from a pragmatic perspective: This is how it works, this is how we have to deal with it, etc. It's not "moral" in the sense that "we need to have the moral fiber to deal with this"; it's "moral" in the sense that people think they have a moral justification. These ultra-radical wahhabists think they have a moral justification; so they've similarly corrected the "moral weaknesses" that didn't permit them to, say, kill non-combatants.

It's not an excuse, or even a value-judgement -- it's an analysis.
posted by lodurr at 10:55 AM on September 11, 2007


what about our "moral justification" in invading other countries, and imposing our will on foreign governments, and securing natural resources that don't belong to us at all?
posted by amberglow at 10:59 AM on September 11, 2007


Why all the hating on Mr. Amis?

because if he was mr acorn, he wouldn't have gotten this published in the letters section of the east north rutland commercial observer, much less the times

He writes more effortlessly than the vast majority of us ever will

maybe it's time for him to put more effort into it - a rambling intro about names of dates, several strawmen and hopeless stereotyping does not make for compelling reading
posted by pyramid termite at 11:06 AM on September 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


what about our "moral justification" in invading other countries,...

What about it? In the post-Vietnam world, moral justification is a problem that a political institution has to solve. Ours has solved that problem. To its own satisfaction and, until recently, to the satisfaction of a majority of the American public.

You and I don't like that solution. We wouldn't think it's a very good solution. But it is a solution. Robb's arguing (among other things) that states and non-state entities are continually creating moral, economic, political -- social -- solutions, and that one of the byproducts of our age is that war has become an increasingly viable solution. Where "viable", again, is a relative term...

It's kind of like arguing about whether globalisation is good or bad. It is. People justify it, rationalize it, on whatever grounds they need to, but it will happen because there's just too much damn money in it. War is similar. Just substute "power" for "money."
posted by lodurr at 11:34 AM on September 11, 2007


God he's a crappy writer.
posted by nanojath at 11:48 AM on September 11, 2007


On the rare occasions I've encountered "FWD" it's meant front-wheel drive, 4WD being four-wheel. And I've never heard it said, only seen it in print (in classified ads at that). So I'm already thorougly unimpressed by a seemingly innocuous tangent on line 1 paragraph 2.

Should I keep reading?
posted by Bokononist at 1:08 PM on September 11, 2007


Curse you all for not responding in time.
posted by Bokononist at 1:17 PM on September 11, 2007


Robb’s analysis is often on the ball.

(Disclaimer: FWD)
posted by Smedleyman at 2:00 PM on September 11, 2007


Meanwhile, poor Britney!
posted by davy at 2:09 PM on September 11, 2007


I think 9/11 has nothing to do with me, and while I have no love for "Islamo- fascism" I can't see a world-wide counterinsurgency against it either.

And no, I don't think "the terrorists" will bother hitting the "homeland" again, not anything as hard as that anyway: they have more pressing things to do than spend years working on another lethal publicity stunt.

The "War On Terror" is bullshit.
posted by davy at 2:15 PM on September 11, 2007


Most of us DON'T know anyone directly affected by 9/11, yet we act as if it's all about us...

True, and so we should keep it at arm's length. I mean, just because a good friend of mine used to work on the floor of the WTC that the first plane hit, and so personally lost dozens of friends and acquaintances...well, I only knew those people (and the families impacted) through my friend who is very much alive, hey, it's just an abstraction, right?
posted by davejay at 4:40 PM on September 11, 2007


Amis was a damn good fiction writer in spots, specifically Money, London Fields and The Information, and Night Train was okay.

But his current political opinions are as bad as Hitchens'; had I encountered those statements first I'd never have bothered reading his novels. The pity is that people who have just been turned on by his political "judgment" are not likely to like his best fiction.

Novelists should write more novels (and perhaps literary criticism) and fewer articles on "contemporary issues" (if they must indulge at all); interviews should be restricted to literature, one's own and dead writers'.
posted by davy at 8:28 PM on September 11, 2007


In the post-Vietnam world, moral justification is a problem that a political institution has to solve. Ours has solved that problem.

hey, you know who else solved the problem of moral justification?

that's right ...
posted by pyramid termite at 9:07 PM on September 11, 2007


Did anyone find Dawkins' review of Hitchens' book (linked to from the Amis article) more interesting?
posted by Summer at 3:04 AM on September 12, 2007


Kingsley Amis's absolute confidence that he was the only man sensible, cynical and smart enough to see and speak the truth in a world gone "PC mad" was bad enough. The era of the omnipotent, omniscient "Oxford man" was coming to an end, but he made a career out of playing it up even when it meant becoming a ranting curmudgeon in his old age. At least there was an edge of self-awareness, and even self-mockery to him.

Martin has no such excuse - if anything, his background should have made him all too aware how arrogant and unpleasant it is to act like that. It's a shame he seems to be overripening in just the same way, and taking himself far too seriously with it.
posted by Drexen at 3:17 AM on September 12, 2007


Did anyone find Dawkins' review of Hitchens' book (linked to from the Amis article) more interesting?

Apparently not.
posted by ninebelow at 5:10 AM on September 12, 2007


Oh well, I'm not surprised it got deleted as an FPP as Dawkins and Hitchens are very overdone and it's not saying anything new. I still enjoyed reading it though.
posted by Summer at 7:37 AM on September 12, 2007


davejay, you do understand what I'm getting at, no? It's more along the lines that katillathehun said "not so many of us consider ourselves personal victims as much as politicians and the media would have you believe."

The issue, to me, is identification, tribal identification and the excuses it provides politically. Both sides of the aisle (and myself included).

When I say "direct" I don't mean you have to know someone directly, you could be kevin-bacon-steps away... Perhaps the term "direct" is misplaced.

My point being that there is a real tragedy and real people are affected and in our haste to place blame, our emotions at the injustice are manipulated for an agenda. Again, while I think it was more manipulated by the right, it's absurd to say only the right manipulates emotions in this way.

I just wanted to point out that I'm empathizing more now than I did before, and I hope more people really contemplate the actual losses and empathize with those who lost their loved ones, and less feel personally attacked by "the enemy".

Thanks, saulgoodman, for the kind words.
posted by symbioid at 11:30 AM on September 12, 2007


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