Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bokonanism

You have to admire Paul Berman for publishing a piece called "What You Can't Say About Islamism" in... the op-ed pages of America's top-selling newspaper by circulation. (Full text available here, due to the WSJ's paywall).

Berman's list of the things he isn't allowed to say but does is merely a retread of the points he couldn't make in his latest book but did, which is itself merely a very lengthy retread of the things he wasn't allowed to say but did in his previous, gigantic article, being...

1) I can't tell you, because I'm not allowed to describe the things Berman says in the WSJ, in his book, in his articles or in person to many, many people.

No, I'm screwing with you. Actually, the words on the page blur and jumble before the human eye as the reader fights to comprehend the unsaid arguments that can't be printed, spoken or transmitted because You Can't Print, Speak or Transmit Them.

I'm kidding. I do only mild violence to his argument if I shorterise it to because the Mufti of Jerusalem met with the Nazis in the forties and because some minor academics voiced mild criticisms of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a huge number of academics have lost their damn minds and become bastards.

Fear not though, for Berman is unafraid to question his certainties...

"But am I right? I glance with pleasure at some harsh reviews, convinced that here, in the worst of them, is my best confirmation..."

Similarly I imagine that, while casting an eye over rancid reviews for The Phantom Menace, George Lucas felt a swell of fierce pride at his genius creation and depiction of Jar Jar Binks.

All of which makes no sense at all, unless you realise that Berman is clearly a devotee of some form of ultra-belligerent Bokononism - Kurt Vonnegut's fictional religion, which held that the path to true happiness lay in the conscious adoption pleasing but blatantly untrue beliefs, or Foma.

Beset upon all sides by wrang-wrangs (Indecent academics), Berman and his karass (Followers) are thus able to follow their wampeter (Raision d'etre) into whatever pool-pah (shitstorm) it may lead them, even if that's a paid opportunity to plug Berman's book.

This would certainly explain Berman's stated belief that, following the invasion of Iraq, it was everyone's duty to then begin fervently rooting for peace and democracy, with the inevitable result of (cough, cough, mumble) defeat of terrorism and magical ponies, or something.

The only problem is that Foma are meant to be harmless, and Berman's schtick... Well, sometimes pool-pah exceeds the power of humans to comment, as Bokonon would say.

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