Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Blame Postmodernism!

All right, I've been sitting on this idea for a post for a long time, but it's becoming ever clearer that I'll never have the free time to write it, so if anyone wants to run with this, go for it. In fact, why don't I make it a Mostly Harmless Contest--which blogger can best funny up this idea?

The basic idea is to parody the way that conservatives who have been huge supporters of the Bush administration have been looking for ways to justify ending that support and have thus been forced to come up with ever smaller fig leaves.

So I wanted to create a fake press release from The New Criterion--which has published some of the most vicious and misguided attacks on literary theory among many entrants in this culture war marathon--blaming the Bush administration's disastrous embrace of postmodernism for the Iraq debacle. It would trumpet shocking revelations stemming from recently uncovered documents from Bush's undergraduate years and pre-political career. Among them: Skull and Bones was an early adapter of poststructuralism and secretly invited Derrida and De Man to participate in ceremonies; Bush's cheerleading and general anti-intellectual pose during his time at Yale hid from public view his enthusiastic participation in these ceremonies; a gentleman C student, Bush overconfidently kept reading postmodern and poststructuralist texts on his own after graduation during the 1970s and 1980s, yet horribly mangled key tenets (Foucault's power-knowledge, death of the author, discipline and punish, and analysis of Bentham's panopticon; De Man's aporia and writings on apologies and excuses; Lyotard's differend and incredulity toward grand narratives; Baudrillard's simulacrum; Debord's society of the spectacle; and so on); Bush's much-celebrated reading of a French existentialist novel a few years back was a new attempt to smokescreen his long-standing dalliance with French theory; and more.

Basically, I would use the fake press release to make fun of long-time editor of The New Criterion Hilton Kramer's "blame postmodernism" approach to everything, and now to the Bush administration--to lines like "I'm the decider," to Bush's confidence that American power would allow him to write history, to his accelerated implementation of a surveillance society, to his cavalier attitude toward facts and justifications, and so on. As if the Bush administration's pop postmodernism were the biggest reason to stop supporting it. As if I care why conservatives or liberals stop supporting Bush (never having thought it would be a great idea to support him in the first place myself).

Problem is, I don't have time to research any of my best lines, much less the basic background for the piece. Like, was Kramer ever a supporter of the invasion of Iraq? Is he even still editing The New Criterion? When exactly did Bush graduate from Yale? Could he ever have taken a course from one or more of the infamous Yale theory gang? Moreover, I haven't read enough of Kramer or The New Criterion to parody his/its writing style.

What actually writing this piece calls for are the talents of a Michael Berube (imagine the accents) or a Scott Eric Kaufman McLemee Lemieux or a Chris Clark(e) or an itsy bitsy professor. Do YOU have what it takes to win this contest?

[Update: I've left gauntlets all over Left Humorstan, but feel free to promote the conference on your own and participate in it. I should give a shout-out to The Poor Man Institute, Sadly, No! and Jesus' General for indirectly inspiring the contest idea.]

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't have the time to give this the humorous treatment it deserves (or you want), but on a serious note, what you're suggesting is basically what Shadia Drury argues in her books on Strauss and the Straussians: The Political Ideas of Leo Strauss and Leo Strauss and the American Right.

FWIW, I think she's wrong, both in her analysis of Strauss and in her sense that Leo Strauss lies behind most of modern conservatism. But if you're looking for an argument that postmodernism is what's responsible for the disaster that is the current administration, you need look no further.

The Constructivist said...

Thanks, definitely will check it out soon if I can find either in libraries in Fukuoka. Have you seen Anne Norton's book on Strauss and neoconservatism? I haven't, but would assume from her own intellectual history she wouldn't be participating in the "blame postmodernism!" game I'm trying to mock in my post.

Burka said...

Iran Responsible For Postmodernist Invasion of Iraq, Says Cheney

Dick Cheney revealed on Meet The Press this past weekend that he had intelligence which showed that Iran had manufactured the dangerous postmodernistic ideas that infected the Bush Administration and caused its disastrous invasion of Iraq.

"It's all their fault," he said, although, he maintained, "We're still winning. We're making great progress in Iraq."

Cheney condemned Iran. "By causing our invasion of Iraq, Iran has increased the spread of terrorism," he growled. He said "all options were on the table" to deal with Iran's "pernicious pursuit of the postmodernistic programs." He also blamed Iran for the spread of alliteration.

Cheney would not rule out invading Iran to stop them from further spreading the postmodernist crap that has ruined conservative thinking today.

The Constructivist said...

Not bad, Mr. Opinions You Must Have, if that is your real name! I have to assume you smuggled this from an undisclosed location to which you've been rendered--how else to explain your going AWOL last month?

The Constructivist said...

The Editors chime in.

The Constructivist said...

Andrew Sullivan gives it the old college try-and links to a Sadly, No! entry, too.

The Constructivist said...

This doesn't quite fit the contest requirements, but David Brooks isn't known for following the rules, baby. (h/t: my dad)