April 18, 2006

Fashionably Unfashionable

The other day, dear reader, one of the senior editors here at “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly”—let’s just call him “Chip”—was perusing the April 16 number of The New York Times Magazine. Yes, we know: “Chip” is a glutton for punishment.

Among the pieces “Chip” read was “The Anti-Orientalist,” a fawning profile of Spanish expatriate novelist Juan Goytisolo, which was penned by one Fernanda Eberstadt. Already as early as the second paragraph, “Chip” became skeptical about Ms. Eberstadt’s opinions.

For, in said paragraph, she offers the following sentiments:

Considered by many to be Spain’s greatest living writer, Goytisolo is in some ways an anachronistic figure in today’s cultural landscape. His ideas can seem deeply unfashionable. For him, writing is a political act, and it is the West, not the Islamic world, that is waging a crusade.

Dear, oh, dear: According to the powers that be at the Times Magazine, then, the notion that the West is on a crusade is “deeply unfashionable”? Oh, come on.

As far as we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” can determine, that’s about as chichi a view as you can sport. Offering such a sentiment, in fact, is so “deeply unfashionable” that you’d have a hard time getting it across without everyone in the smart set vociferously agreeing with you.

Gee, we suppose it must be difficult to present such a view. You’d only have access to a couple of “deeply unfashionable” avenues to publicize your opinion: The New York Times, The Nation, The Guardian, The New York Review of Books, Salmagundi, Dissent, New Left Review, The London Review of Books, The Progressive, Tikkun, The American Prospect, Z Magazine, any academic publisher, most trade publishers, The New York Times Magazine, The New Statesman &c.

How tough! Clearly, you must pay a price for being such an intellectual trailblazer.

Even the title of the profile demonstrates how utterly faddish is Mr. Goytisolo: “The Anti-Orientalist.” These days, if you pine to advertise your un-modishness, you should loudly proclaim yourself an Orientalist. That ought to win few friends in academe.

To be sure, Ms. Eberstadt notes that Goytisolo has a few comparatively unfashionable opinions: He isn’t a big fan of Fidel Castro, for instance, and he thinks various Arab regimes are corrupt. To which we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” reply: Yawn! Basically, this merely means that Mr. Goytisolo isn’t Tariq Ali.

As far as we’re concerned, no one should be calling anyone with such views “deeply unfashionable.” To us, “deeply unfashionable” means believing that keeping Twinkies in your pants for three hours a day will bring world peace and cure Alzheimer’s disease.

Posted at April 18, 2006 12:01 AM | TrackBack