Gail Collins, straight outta Joyce!

THURSDAY, AUGUST 8, 2013

Come let us smother the living together: Question! How does a reader finish a column if it has started like this?
COLLINS (8/8/13): Let’s talk about Gov. Chris Christie. Everybody is; he’s the politician of the hour. At the top of the latest poll of likely Republican presidential primary voters in New Hampshire. (Just two-and-a-half years to go until the Iowa caucuses!)
How does somebody force himself to read to the end of that column? Just for starters, Christie isn’t the politician of the hour.

Everybody isn’t discussing him. In fact, almost no one is.

More punishingly, Collins is citing a poll about the New Hampshire primary, which is currently scheduled for the year 2016. Even she seems to see the inanity, since this primary won’t take place for almost three years.

As we’ve often told you, Collins has nothing to say. There is nothing she wants to discuss.

She doesn’t have any ideas; she’s interested in nothing. And so, she has to waste everyone’s time this way, especially since she’s already written three columns on weiner.

This is the state we’ll call death in life. Joyce explored this state in Dubliners, which ends with the famous story, The Dead, and with the famous lines about the snow, which “was general all over Ireland,” “falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.”

Collins could be numbered among those dead. You can see it in her columns. You can see it in her dead eyes when she speaks in public, discussing the books she hasn’t bothered to research, making her vile and grossly inaccurate claims about the millions of American children she doesn’t quite care about.

You can see it in in her hacking jokes, which the dead will often tell as a way to deny their state. Joyce starts exploring this death-in-life in The Sisters, the first story in Dubliners.

Collins isn’t East Coast Irish Catholic, like Dowd and the rest. In her case, Cincinnati (and then Marquette) seem to have been close enough.

What is the paralytic state—call it death-in-life—explored all through Dubliners? In The Sisters, Father James Flynn has just died at age 65. He has been living in a semi-paralyzed state in an upstairs room at the home of his two sisters.

Joyce’s young narrator and his aunt come to pay their respects. As they sit with the slumbering Nannie and the garrulous Eliza, this paralytic aspect of Dublin culture gains its first exposure.

As Father Flynn lies in “the dead-room,” his sister speaks of his “beautiful death.”

“He was quite resigned,” she says. “He looks quite resigned,” says the young narrator’s aunt.

At this point, the body blows descend. “No one would think he’d make such a beautiful corpse,” his sister says.

Praised by the narrator’s aunt for all the care she has provided, she then delivers the final blow:

“Ah, poor James! He was no great trouble to us. You wouldn’t hear him in the house any more than now.”

Irish Catholic culture of the past century sometimes included this highly familiar attachment to death and the state of death in life. Joyce explored it all through Dubliners. Transported to our own East Coast, this culture sometimes lingered.

Most of Us Irish have long since moved on from this less helpful part of our culture. Those of us who can’t move on are all employed at the Times or by NBC News.

(Needless to say, Irish culture also contains many superlative elements. Our sainted mother and all our aunts were East Coast Irish Catholic!)

The culture of death in life reeks from the Times op-ed pages. We Americans seem to sense that something is wrong in a wider sense, with our weird pop fascination with zombies and vampires, the living dead.

In our view, the endless pointlessness of Collins’ columns makes her the walking dead. We’re sickened by this endless publication, by the tolerance from all sides for this state of death in life.

Is Collins a party to death in life? If you doubt that in any way, just try to read her new column, in which she pretends to discuss the latest poll for a primary which is three years away.

Gail Collins has no interests. Despite her very high platform, there’s nothing she wants to discuss.

She doesn’t care about black kids. She doesn’t care about inequality. (She's on the bright side of that line.) She doesn’t care about the gigantic looting in our health care system, which her necrotic upper-class newspaper is now pretending to discuss, producing complete total silence.

When she pretends to write her books, she doesn’t look anything up.

This is the soul of the New York Times. This culture reeks from its op-ed pages. It also reeks from its paralytic news reports, as Joyce described long ago.

Collins has nothing to say again today. When she tries to make a point late in her piece, her point doesn’t make any sense.

Gail Collins has nothing to say once again. Why is this serial indifference to the living so widely, so greatly accepted?

This point doesn’t make sense: “In that New Hampshire poll, Christie got 27 percent of the male vote and 14 percent of the women. All the other candidates mentioned were pretty much gender gapless. It’s just one little poll, but maybe we’re onto something. Maybe quiet and sane trumps loud and crazy, even in Republican primary politics.”

That point doesn’t make sense. As Collins notes two paragraphs earlier, Christie is ahead in that poll!

They don't award delegates based on the size of your gender gap. Despite her obsessive attention to weiner, we'll guess that Collins has heard that.

36 comments:

  1. This is childish, but I began to dislike Collins in the run-up to the millennium.

    Most sane people realized the new millennium started at midnight 1/1/01. But Giuliani needed it to be a year earlier.

    Collins wrote a whole op-ed piece about the millennium starting on 1/1/00. She at one point said, "Get with the program, people!" as if she had the final say on when it should start.

    As I said, childish.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For computers, the impact of the millennium started in 00, not 01. Because public administrators had to deal with the impact on software -- that was what the prep for the new millennium was about -- it had to start in 2000. This wasn't Giuliani's whim. It is about math and how computers store numbers in the software that runs public services.

      Delete
    2. Of all the things to fault Collins about (and there are a lot), it is hard to fathom this one. The millenium is a meaningless and artificial concept. There is nothing special about a year just because it is 1000 or 2000 years after some other year. Given that 2000 was the first year beginning with a "2" after 1,000 years beginning with a "1" what is the harm in considering Jan. 1, 2000 as opposed to Jan 1 2001 the start of the new millenium? If the year before Jesus' alleged birth a 1 B.C, it would seem to make more sense that the year he was born would be 0, not 1 A.D., as the next number after minus 1 is zero, not one, though feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. (I gather that in fact that what has been done by whoever decided on how to designate these years, that the year after 1 B.C. was 1 A.D.). The above being the case, I have no problem with characterizing 01/01/2000 as the beginning of the new millenium, the 2000's.

      Delete
    3. A millennium is any 1000 years. The millennium begins and ends when journalists say it does. This is very important when compiling lists, like the best albums of the millennium, or the best wars of the millennium, things like that.

      Delete
  2. Collins was once the Times Editorial Page Editor. I could never understand how someone whose columns were so vacuous could be put into that august position.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You wouldn't want them to keep writing, would you?

      Delete
  3. “In that New Hampshire poll, Christie got 27 percent of the male vote and 14 percent of the women. All the other candidates mentioned were pretty much gender gapless. It’s just one little poll, but maybe we’re onto something. Maybe quiet and sane trumps loud and crazy, even in Republican primary politics.”

    If Christie is more moderate than the alternatives, maybe the women voters who are more moderate are more willing to vote Democrat instead of for Christie, whereas women voters who are conservative are not going to be attracted to Christie or to Democrat candidates. That means the impact of there being fewer female Republicans than male Republicans would fall disproportionately on Christie. The impact of a shift and siphoning off of voters by Democrats falls disproportionately on the moderate Republican candidates, not the conservatives, and is a greater trend for women than for men. That would perhaps explain the stats in that poll.

    Is Christie the sane and quiet one?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yawn. Another tirade about Gail Collins? What does this make, Bob, number 985,0759?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. “She refused to be bored chiefly because she wasn't boring.” - Zelda Fitsgerald

      Delete
    2. Awesome. Brilliant and true response.

      No wonder you read bob. :)

      Delete
    3. That was meant for anon,

      Delete
  5. the spirit of oliver cromwell says,

    "Irish Catholic culture of the past century sometimes included this highly familiar attachment to death and the state of death in life. Joyce explored it all through Dubliners. Transported to our own East Coast, this culture sometimes lingered."

    "Most of Us Irish have long since moved on from this less helpful part of our culture. Those of us who can’t move on are all employed at the Times or by NBC News."

    [...]

    "Collins isn’t East Coast Irish Catholic, like Dowd and the rest. In her case, Cincinnati (and then Marquette) seem to have been close enough."

    "Collins could be numbered among those dead. You can see it in her columns. You can see it in her dead eyes..."

    >>> did I not predict that the previous days columns which contained references to joyces 1907 ireland were a set-up to use to eventually blame americas ills on americans of irish catholic heritage?

    disgusting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you have a cunning plan to get us out of this mess?

      Delete
    2. At most, he is blaming the ills of certain Irish Catholics on their Irish Catholic heritage. I don't see how you get from there to America's ills being caused by Irish Catholic Americans. Out of curiosity, do you think Ireland's problems started with Oliver Cromwell? You can perhaps argue that America's problems did, because so many of the sore losers of Europe's religious wars have come here.

      Delete
    3. Wor, aren't you a daft s.o.b.?

      Delete
  6. Let's see, Christie is moderate because he's not the doctrinaire ideoloque we see in Rand & Paul (both Rands and both Pauls).

    Since we're inspired by Joyce of late, which pundit reminds us most of the early chapters of "Portrait of the Artist..."? Or "Finnegan's Wake"?

    Just kidding. Never finished that one, either.

    Once we've exhausted the possibilities of Joyce, who's next on the old Barnes & Noble bookshelf? Alphabetically, probably Kafka. Who are the most Kafkaesque columnists?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So many it's very difficult to choose

      Delete
  7. Another descendant from East Coast Irish Catholicism here, Bob. And I am thoroughly enjoying these themes.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Poo Poo Platter ( What, No Comments?)

    I notice we are not seeing Ms. Collins flayed with a random sampling of the NYT commentary aimed at her column
    as we were with Ms. Dowd's Teal Toenail offering.
    (Which, by the way, left me wondering if her fingernails matched).

    Many commenters seemed to devote attention to whether loud, abrasive politicians like Christie could attract female voters, which was, of course, the theme of the column. But since Bob decided it was about nothing, you the reader had to read the whole thing to find that out. Bob completely disappeared that fact for another rendition of Mick Psychology 101. Which is why, perhaps, the last paragraph he quoted made no sense.

    I will say this post about the nothingness of Collins is certainly doing better in the commentary totals here than Bob's latest rendition of test score terror in the Times. Maybe readers feel that post was about nothing.
    Or another half Irish wail about the banshees in the philosophy bushes. I wonder if that is because his old liberal readers truly, as Bob often claims, don't care about black kids and his new conservative ones care only about trumpeting the guilt of dead ones.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Boy you don't get bob at all do ya?

      Oh well, after all, the median iq is 100 and all that...

      Delete
    2. I've never seen points missed by so infinite a margin

      Delete
    3. Regarding comments on school test scores: maybe most people don't have kids in school?

      Delete
    4. OMFSM, Timlh, I do get bob.

      If you are Irish, you are part of the problem unless you push that part of yourself aside.

      If you are silent, you affirm, like Krugdrumdionne.

      If you repeat what a candidate says without refuting them you are a pimp.

      If you err you ignore while labasting others for ingnoring and or insufficiently correcting.

      If you ever called Al anything bad, no amount of hail marys and OF's can save you.

      Our civilization is paralyzed but collapsing
      as everyone knows. But don't say everyone is talking about it without disaggreating.

      PPP

      Delete
    5. Hey Poo,

      Do you have anything to say about the state of the press corps in America today? While you're twisting yourself into knots trying to come up with contradictions (Gödel explained how there will always be these in a complex system), Bob is saying some important things about how the leaders of this nation (hint: they're not elected) are wielding power.

      Delete
  9. to better understand the sophistic nature of the foundation somerby built for his ultimate and slanderous charges here against *americans* of irish catholic heritage, read my comments as "ray veeng" in the first dozen or so comments:
    http://dailyhowler.blogspot.com/2013/07/dubliners-too-journalists-build-sacred.html

    ReplyDelete
  10. It seems like the Democrats won't put much of a fight in the governor's race here in New Jersey. When Christie was first elected, I remember reading that he would have trouble because the state is so strong for the Democrats and he only won because of Corzine's unpopularity and high taxes. Taxes are still high and I can't imagine whats so likable about Christie. A friend told me about going to a Christie town hall near Morristown. A gentleman got up and politely asked a question and Christie called him an "idiot." No more questions were asked. Thats the Christie shtik and I don't think it will go over in Iowa and New Hampshire where it seems the candidates have to meet the voters over and over. The Christie rudeness and cruelty won't look so cute, I would guess. -Karen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. karen, very interesting on-the-ground report on the big man.

      a republican wouldnt get my vote if he had a halo around his head, but with christie i think you maybe should cut him a little slack.

      i understand he has some irish-catholic heritage, so maybe hes another example of "death in life"? but im not sure if that would apply to somebody with only one infected parent until we get further clarification from bob somerby, the expert in this area.

      Delete
  11. For the sad among them, to think that there is ANY part of Irish-Catholic culture that could in any part be "less helpful" must constitute an outright attack on Irish-Catholic Americans.

    For the sad, it will not do to recognize that their culture "contains many superlative elements."

    No, it must ALL be great, without exception, otherwise the sad will pretend they see a claim that "you are part of the problem unless you push [your Irishness itself] aside."

    I've said sad. It's actually pathetic, whiny and petulant.

    Irish-Catholic Americans are not worse than any other culture in this country. Nor are they better. But, like every culture, it most assuredly does contain things better left behind, in memory, than carried forward.

    To affirm that fact, as Somerby does, can only be seen by the most backward minds as an attack on Irish-Catholic Americans as a whole. Sad and pathetic. But those minds are being left behind. Most, indeed, have moved on.

    ReplyDelete
  12. AnonymousAugust 8, 2013 at 5:37 PM says,

    "Irish-Catholic Americans are not worse than any other culture in this country. Nor are they better. But, ***like every culture***, it most assuredly does contain things better left behind, in memory, than carried forward." [* asterisks emphasis mine]

    >>> "every culture"? you didnt learn about those bad characteristics of other american "cultures" at this blog because somerby singles out only one group by name -- americans of irish catholic heritage. youre supporting bigotry. what do you think that makes you?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, please, enough with the cries of bigotry from the fainting couch.

      They took down all the "No dogs or Irish allowed" signs in my town a couple of years ago.

      Delete
    2. That's not a *fainting* couch he's on.

      Delete