"Thermopylae is a wedge issue!"


To Do this weekend: See 300, the surprise blockbuster about the battle of Thermopylae based on a graphic novel of the same name. Neal Stephenson, author of Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon, and The Baroque Cycle trilogy, reviewed the movie last week in The New York Times under the outstanding headline "It's All Geek to Me." The film has gotten a lot of attention as a possible metaphor for the War on Terror (white guys hold out against onslaught of brown guys), or a meditation on gays in the military (both armies are scantily clad), or something else controversial:

Thermopylae is a wedge issue!

Lefties can't abide lionizing a bunch of militaristic slave-owners (even if they did happen to be long-haired supporters of women's rights). So you might think that righties would love the film. But they're nervous that Emperor Xerxes of Persia, not the freedom-loving Leonidas, might be George Bush.

Our so-called conservatives, who have cut all ties to their own intellectual moorings, now espouse policies and personalities that would get them laughed out of Periclean Athens. The few conservatives still able to hold up one end of a Socratic dialogue are those in the ostracized libertarian wing — interestingly enough, a group with a disproportionately high representation among fans of speculative fiction.

More on Stephenson here.