Punk alert: Feeling “bitchy”

December 30, 2008 at 10:45 pm | In ideas | Comments Off on Punk alert: Feeling “bitchy”

It’s almost NYE – that dratted time of year when idiots worldwide propose resolutions and the rest of us stare blank-eyed at the cereal bowl of life.

I’m feeling particularly foul-minded these days, not least for being older (but not wiser to life, necesssarily), and for being at a point where reassessment seems …um, necessary, irrespective of being unwelcome.

I wonder how banality rises, if not to the top, at least to visibility.

Why has Die Zeit nothing better to do than to publish a six (6!) page interview with Juergen Habermas in which he manages (from what I gather, skimming the first page, being too bored to jump to the second page) to rehash original ideas already voiced with much more incisiveness elsewhere by other people, so they sound like platitudes and generalities when he voices them? Seriously, are German intellectuals still reading what Die Zeit dishes out, or is the paper just gearing this stuff to establishment academics and armchair radicals?

The interviewer prefaces a question of relative substance (“Was waren für Sie die eindrücklichsten Bilder dieser Krise?” “What were the most salient impressions of the crisis for you?”) with this: “Sie haben gerade Vorlesungen an der Universität Yale gehalten.”/”You just gave some lectures at Yale University.” (Except of course that it sounds more portentous in German…)

There’s the rot, right there. Whether or not Habermas gave lectures at Yale matters little to the quality of the ideas he expresses, yet within the institution (the newspaper – Die Zeit, academia, the whole hoary tradition of who he is), it’s paramount. Why is it significant to middle-brow newspaper readers – to the point that they need to be reminded – that Habermas lectured recently at Yale?

This is where reputation, clout, whuffie, institutional seal-of-approvalness, and all of that merge with the old broadcast mentality. The establishment is still broadcast.

(PS: the printable version comes to nine pages. Yikes. Must be large type.)

(PPS: no, it’s not large type – the PDF version is seven pages. Holy cow. I hope people love the planet and don’t bother printing this…)

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