"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Oh, Jay Is Guilty Again

So you have built up an appetite (you remember the Seinfeld dialogue... Jerry: George, do you ever yearn?; George: I crave, I crave incessantly, but I don't yearn...) for an article by Jay Homnick, and who can blame you?

It's not my way to deny my devotees their wishes. Here it is.

What is it about? About 800 words. On what subject? Harriet Miers - what else is there?

13 comments:

Hunter Baker said...

Jay, I have to disagree with your basic premise that what matters is "Bush" justices vs. "Gore" justices. The O'Connor and Kennedy spots are the important spots despite the fact that they are both "Bush" justices. If we had originalists/textualists in those spots, I think liberty and democratic governance would be secure for at least a decade.

Another thing is that McConnell, a choice conservatives crave disagreed with Bush v. Gore if I remember correctly.

Kathy Hutchins said...

Another thing is that McConnell, a choice conservatives crave disagreed with Bush v. Gore if I remember correctly.

Looking at this article, written very shortly after the decision was handed down, I think that McConnell is not criticizing the outcome of Bush v. Gore, but the bizarre nature of the compromise that was necessary to form a majority opinion (thanks, natch, to Kennedy and O'Connor). His comments about the decision being weaker than it had to be, and therefore usable as a weapon of delegitimation, by Bush's opponents, is downright prescient. And while his argument is subtle, I think had he been on the court he would have added a fourth vote to the Scalia-Thomas-Rehnquist axis.

Tlaloc said...

"On what subject? Harriet Miers - what else is there?"

Well there is the Fitzgerald investigation into plamegate. The new Iraqi constitutional compromise that completely negates the purpose of voting on it in the first place. Bush's numbers below 40 in polls. tens of thousands dead in pakistan (more than just a story of devastation pakistan is key to the region in several respects).

Miers is certainly a story i enjoy but there is a lot else happening in the world.

Hunter Baker said...

My main point about McConnell is that a justice's position on Bush v. Gore should not be our touchstone. I'm not in favor of a politicized court.

James Elliott said...

Mr. Homnick, I don't mean to cause offense even though I probably will, but your column is an expression of everything that has gone wrong with American writing. Your encyclopedic (one might even say “thesaurical”) knowledge of language and word play is, truly, amazing; but instead of actually resulting in clever writing it results in giving you the voice of a man overly impressed with his own cleverness and his felicitous facility with pen and parchment. This is precisely the kind of horrific, aggravating writing that percolates in today’s MFA programs and creative writing majors at universities. The ability to dazzle with literary prestidigitation is now more important than cogent, coherent thought. I half-expect the corpses of Orwell and Hemingway to burst through the doors of major publishers and magazines wielding shotguns, ridding modern English of those who have turned the written word into a plaything, robbing it of its power and ability to communicate.

Burwell said...

I would add a rousing "here, here" to J.E.'s diatribe on the state of language and writing in America today (though I will distance myself a bit from his criticism of JDH). I will say, though, that synonym use and word play as given in the AmSpec article is better suited for Slam poetry.

I see this discussion as inherently related to the tribute to WFB a few posts ago. WFB's command of the English language was unparalleled in his hey-day, and seems to be unattainable in ours.

Strunk and White said it best: "Simplify, simplify, simplify," AND, "Omit unnecessary words."

Tlaloc said...

"Strunk and White said it best: "Simplify, simplify, simplify," AND, "Omit unnecessary words." "

Shouldn't they just have said "Simplify" and "omit unnecessary words"?

:P

James Elliott said...

I'll concede that the Right has had some gifted wordsmiths, including Buckley in his heyday and Irving Kristol. However, some of Buckley's latter, post-9/11 stuff borders on the manically incoherent.

But who can forget William F. Buckley calling Gore Vidal a "faggot" live on national television? I think it's priceless, and that was 11 years before I was born!

Hunter Baker said...

I think the Buckley/Vidal confrontation is one of the great moments in American television. If memory serves (I'm not googling), it was, "I'll punch you in the mouth you faggot." What bracing speech from the days when men were men and Gore Vidal was, well, you know.

James Elliott said...

A man?

Because I know you're not a homophobe. That would be horribly unChristian of you.

See, my favorite part was Vidal calling Buckley a fascist.

Matt Huisman said...

I thought he called him a crypto-nazi...that's what pissed Buckley off. Vidal later said that he meant to call him a cryto-fascist, but misspoke.

Did Buckley ever address the fascist charge? That would have been entertaining too.

Jay D. Homnick said...

In response to the critique on my writing, I offer a classic Jewish story.

There was a great scholar, Rabbi Ezekiel Landau, who was rabbi of Prague, Czechoslovakia in the early 1700s. He wrote carefully reasoned books on Jewish law.

Now and then, in his synagogue, he would engage in a sort of intellectual gymnastics. He would take six random legal positions of a particular Talmudic figure and create a series of logical deductions which prove a link between the six opinions.

Once a fellow stopped by his office and asked if he could present one of these six-statement linkages. Rabbi Landau threw him out. "But don't you do it too?" the man protested.

The Rabbi answered: "Someone who can walk on his feet but can also stand on his head is an athlete. Someone who can only stand on his head is a sick person."

I think that my ability to write lucid prose is well-established. When I go into my little spiel of working my wordplay sequences (usually two paragraphs out of a column, one as part of introducing the subject and the second as part of expressing my opinion), the readers can appreciate the novelty.

Over the 110 columns that I have published since 2003, the mail I have received has been 95 percent positive.

James Elliott said...

I count eight paragraphs out of ten. And I'm sorry, but it's all obnoxious. I stand by my critique. You are a clever man, and your wordplay lends itself well to fluffy prose and poetry, but not to commentary or communicative pieces. Orwell weeps and Hemingway polishes his elephant gun, mark my words.