These days, "that's inappropriate" and "I'm offended" are considered knockout blows in so-called intellectual debate -- debate, that is, often untouched by active human minds. Author Philip Roth skewers many of these "contemporary political pieties" in The Human Stain, a novel not unlike David Mamet's play Oleanna. Here for example is Roth's protagonist reflecting on contemporary campus pieties:
How about the solipsism of the terminally shallow in search of 'self-esteem' -- a self-esteem so fragile that 'inappropriate' behaviour so easily offends:
"Appropriate. The current code word for reining in most any deviation from the wholesome guidelines and thereby making everybody "comfortable." Doing not what he was judged to be doing but doing instead, he thought, what was deemed suitable by God only knows which of our moral philosophers. Barbara Walters? Joyce Brothers? William Bennett? Dateline NBC? If he were around this place as a professor he could teach 'Appropriate Behavior in Classical Greek Drama,' a course that would be over before it began."
She was talking to everybody. She's part of that dopey culture. Yap, yap, yap. Part of this generation that is proud of its shallowness. The sincere performance is everything. Sincere and empty, totally empty. The sincerity that goes in all directions. The sincerity that is worse than falseness, and the innocence that is worse than corruption. All the rapacity hidden under the sincerity. And under the lingo. This wonderful language they have -- that they appear to believe -- about their `lack of self-worth,' all the while what they actually believe is that they're entitled to everything. Their shamelessness they call lovingness, and the ruthlessness is camouflaged as lost `self-esteem'.Dopey, huh? You bet.
Their whole language is a summation of the stupidity of the last forty years. Closure. There's one. My students cannot stay in that place where thinking must occur. Closure! They fix on the conventionalized narrative, with its beginning, middle, and end -- every experience, no matter how ambiguous, no matter how knotty or mysterious must lend itself to this normalizing, conventionalizing, anchorman cliché. Any kid who says `closure' I flunk. They want closure, there's their closure.TAGS: Political_Correctness, Nonsense, Postmodernism, Books