Brad De Long writes something condescending

by Chris Bertram on May 24, 2011

I was starting to feel somewhat neglected. Usually, when I write something of any substance on Crooked Timber, Brad De Long pops up and has a sneer. Recent efforts have been so stretched in relation to what I actually wrote that I have to conclude it’s personal and that Brad is just itching to have a go. Well that’s his problem. Usually, I’d post a short and polite correction in his comments box, explaining where I thought he’d got himself mixed up, but recently Brad has taken to “moderating” my comments, as if I were some kind of troll. Well ho hum. Anyway, “he clearly approves of my latest, or purports to”: , since he (unsurprisingly) approves of my judgement that Leninism doesn’t offer a way forward for the Western left. Well no shit. But he also appears delighted to catch me out in a “contradiction”, because, well, didn’t I write something laudatory about Cuba on the occasion of Castro’s retirement over two years ago? (It seems Brad is keeping track, which does feel a bit creepy.) Well yes I did, though he clearly didn’t understand the point I was making, which was principally that US hate-obsession about Cuba has everything to do with capitalism and not much to do with enthusiasm for human rights. Plus (in the case of Brad and people like him) it signals that you really really disapprove of those to your left. Am I pro-Cuban in the sense that I support the ideology and strategy of the Cuban CP? Well no, of course not. I’m not a Barca fan either, for that matter, but I will be cheering them on in the Champions League final.

UPDATE: I see that DeLong has extended his original post slightly. I respond below the fold:
[click to continue…]

On first reading, Sunnyside seems to be a picaresque with a sting in the tail. In the best spirit of Chaplin’s films, this rambling story of World War I and the movies uses slapstick and pathos to wring out tears of laughter and sadness. Many readers set it down, bemused, scratching their heads, wondering what, if anything, it was all about. Some reviewers said it was an ambitious failure. Sunnyside is a book you need to live with for a while as it unwraps itself. Or not. Like the best comedy, it’s a response, though not an answer, to the despair of the human condition. And it’s very, very funny.

What does it mean to ‘get’ a book, or at least to think you have? It’s something that happens in a reader’s mind when the characters, story, feelings and ideas of a novel unite into something greater than their sum, becoming a complete world of their own, a world that teaches true things about the world we live in. A good book that sits uncomfortably in its own era resists understanding just as it teaches you how to read it. Sunnyside is the sort of book you think about for a long time after reading, and will probably come back to again. [click to continue…]

Dylan birthday open thread

by Chris Bertram on May 24, 2011

I’ve never really been into anything post Desire, but went through a period of intense Dylan fandom in my late teens. That’s faded, but he’s still special and I’ll never understand the haters. Personal favourites: Visions of Johanna and Absolutely Sweet Marie.