We're A Capital Couple Are Bloom And I

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Here's more proof that coinciding prejudices trump conflicting politics every time. Literary critic Harold Bloom has compared George W. and Jeb Bush to the twin clowns Dromio of Ephesus and Dromio of Syracuse in The Comedy of Errors. He announced to the Baltimore Sun, "I wouldn't vote for a Republican for dogcatcher." Last year he told an audience in Barcelona that President Bush is "semiliterate" and that "to call him a fascist is to flatter him." He would seem to be an odd fit for the pro-Bush, pro-Republican editorial page of The Wall Street Journal—not typically a friendly place for sneering New Haven intellectuals who attack the President on foreign soil.

Yet because Bloom—self-appointed guardian of the Western Canon, author of must-reads like Genius: A Mosaic of One Hundred Exemplary Creative Minds, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, and the formidably titled How to Read and Why (presumably available as part of the Chilton's Guides series)—gives off a vague impression of being a fuddyduddy in apoplectic fury over Harry Potter, Stephen King, and whatever else these kids today are into, the WSJ allows him prime Op/Ed real estate so he can misread Edward Gibbon and gather Clark-for-President wool.

(Back when western culture still had some real standards, Suck.com was still publishing and Nick Gillespie, taking a cue from the Western Canon, did a Titus Andronicus on the rotund critic. Interestingly, Nick's essay provided the last word for this Spanish-language article on old Bloom.)

NEXT: Does She Get to Ride the 6 For Free Too?

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  1. gee maybe interesting ideas trump politics

    remember this if you ever see any pro-free market materials in the NY Times.

  2. did someone have a seizure at the submit button?

  3. gee what you’re doing is very repetitively repetitive with a lot of redundant repetition.

    Allow me to repeat myself.

    What you’re doing is very repetitively repetitive with a lot of redundant repetition.

  4. boy, that was great just to read NG’s article. why doesn’t he write like that anymore?

  5. That Clark should be President because only a general can run the Pax Americana is an interesting idea? Funny, I’ve heard countless Democrats making that argument in the past month, and I don’t see the Journal giving them the time of day.

  6. I have to say once I got to the portion in “The Closing Of The American Mind” about rock and roll as the “great satan” I started laughing and closed the book. This is another example of a small minded idiot’s notion that Western culture is made up of 267 books, and that they must be read in order to be a true “Westerner.” That these books ignore books by Eastern European authors, and the like is only more damning.

  7. As a grad student at Yale, I got used to (and tired of) seeing Bloom drag his decaying carcass through the office of the English Department (to which he he hasn’t actually belonged since the seventies), pronouncing doom upon American culture and the Republican Party–once condemning both as part of a single reference to King Lear. The man is as full of shit as a superannuated Christmas goose. My only fond memory of him is an anecdote he used to tell about standing outisde a museum at Yale with an empty coffee cup and being mistaken for a homeless person.

  8. That Clark should be President because only a general can run the Pax Americana is an interesting idea?

    I guess its interesting, in a way, because it encapsulates so many fundamental misunderstandings about such a wide range of topics.

  9. Jean Bart, quick correction. Closing of the American Mind was Allan Bloom. There are two gloomy Blooms, one on the left and one on the right. I prefer Allan, mostly because he’s dead.

  10. That note was a worthwhile read for the Ulysses reference alone.

    Does anyone know of any literati member who DOESN’T sneer at Bush?

  11. Regarding literati and Bush: Jeffrey Hart at Dartmouth, Thomas Hibbs at Baylor, not too many other well known people in the lit/culture field. Among authors, Mark Helprin (who thinks Bush is too soft on terrorism) is probably about it for the moment.

  12. Jason,

    I had thought that he was dead; but had assumed I was mistaken. I’ve never heard of the other Bloom.

    Mark Helprin’s particular form of “magical realism” is good – I have enjoyed most of his novels, though I found the children’s novel to be over the top – but I found little respect for him politically after he became a paid shill for Bob Dole, and his shrill attacks on Clinton’s sexual antics were also a bit much too take.

  13. >>>…Nick Gillespie, taking a cue from the Western Canon, did a Titus Andronicus on the rotund critic…

    Hmmm… doing a Titus Andronicus? What does that mean, exactly? Penning a poorly written, rarely read morality tale? Cutting off one of his hands and blinding him, to much hilarity? Letting the Emperor kill his sons? Huh? And even though Shakespeare probably wrote Titus, is it actually part of the Canon? I mean, Shakespeare probably blew his nose, too, and that wasn’t canonical…

    Though in these days of Chris Ofili, maybe it is.

  14. Why is it these old farts *always* invoke Gibbon? Jesus, guys: if you’re gonna sit there wringing your hands and bewailing the Imminent Collapse Of Civilization As We Know It, at least show a little originality, OK?

  15. Why be original when you can make a damn point? Putting on a tinfoil hat -with a feather! – might be original but I don’t see how that would further the discussion.

  16. Jim:

    The Collapse of Civilization As We Know It isn’t imminent, but if we don’t act preemptively to forestall it the collapse will no doubt come.

  17. I want to see the Collapse of Civilization As We Don’t Know It.

  18. John Hood,

    You wrote –
    “The Collapse of Civilization As We Know It isn’t imminent, but if we don’t act preemptively to forestall it the collapse will no doubt come.”

    Can you perhaps elaborate on this thought -ie why and how will it come, since you are certain that it will “no doubt come” ?

  19. Jean Bart,

    You seem to think that western civ and/or it’s values will persist just because. Most people, when they talk about western civ, are probably thinking of a culture consequent on the labours of John Locke/August Comte etc. Why do you think that it’s survival is implicitly assured ? Look around you – there are plenty of competing ideologies.
    BTW – Gibbon is terrific.

  20. Well, the problem with Gibbon was that he was flat wrong; Rome did not collapse due to Christianity. Largely it was a result of imbalance of trade and other such things.

    BTW, Western Civilization As We Know It is always collapsing; if you think this is a bad thing, then I would suggest that your horizons on how much room for improvement and change is left are rather limited.

  21. SM,

    Gibbon was a moron.

    “Most people, when they talk about western civ, are probably thinking of a culture consequent on the labours of John Locke/August Comte etc.”

    Actually, most people couldn’t begin to define the term; and when they think of it, they likely think of Renaissance paintings as much as they do the labors of John Locke.

    However, if you think that Western Civilization began with John Locke, then I suggest you ignore from this point onward the Athenians, Archimedes, the Etruscans, the Burgundians, the Normans, the Renaissance, the Poles, Carolingian art, the Czechs, the Celtic world, and everything that passed before John Locke’s birth. I on the other hand recognize that Western Civilization’s genesis and numerous flowerings and de-flowerings started long before Locke’s “Treatise” was ever written.

    BTW, if you are truly interested in truly influential 17th century philosophers, please read Harrington’s “Oceana,” which as has been discovered in the last twenty years ago or so, was as influential to 18th century thinkers as Locke ever was. 🙂 BTW, given August Comte’s (I assume you do not mean the Comte de Buffon) views on altruism, I thought libertoids like yourself despised the man. Unless of course your act was another example of ignorant name dropping.

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