Sunday, December 02, 2007

"I think Martin has suffered terribly at the hands of the Guardian"

Thus speaks Mac, defending Mart. These interviews are heavily edited and condensed so it can't directly be blamed on McEwan, but the summary given there of l'affaire Amis is very, very misleading.

He is not fucking kidding on the other hand; here's Mart himself and he is pissed off. Apparently he didn't get the memo that if you shoot your gob off unthinkingly all the time, it tends to do a bit of damage to your reptuation as A Serious.

Is Martin Amis a racist? To be honest, I think that the evidence is better for him being an Arabophobe than an Islamophobe, but part of the problem is that he isn't really attuned to the difference, because he hasn't actually thought about this as much as he thinks he has. Just as with his totally unthinking Trotskyism, which then morphed into a totally unthinking anti-Communism, he's now read the Paul Berman book and believes that repeating it verbatim will render him a deep thinker. That's quite a nasty thing to say about a writer, and I only make the charge because it's clearly what happened when he read a volume of Robert Conquest, then regurgitated it as Koba the Dread. What happens with Amis, I think, is that he literally doesn't understand the difference between the analytic and literary thought processes; spends a whole day believing himself to be thinking about Communism, but he's actually just coming up with metaphors like "Comrade Horse-Yoghurt".

Martin apparently meets professional ex-jihadi Ed Husain tomorrow, and will perhaps be able to keep a civil tongue in his mouth. As a British-born Muslim of Pakistani descent, Ed doesn't look particularly like he comes from the Middle East so this may be possible - being polite to him was apparently more than Ayaan Hirsi Ali could manage but there you go. Keep this one in mind the next time that some Decent tries to convince you that AHA and Ed Husain (and Hassan Butt, of whom we seem to hear a lot less these days, perhaps because he is transparently a Walter Mitty character and loon) are two of a piece in the broader ex-Muslim movement.

Meanwhile, with the following sentence:

It's not simply that Saudi Arabia and Iran prove that the more Islamist a regime the more corrupt its officials but that McKee and his colleagues talked as if the 20th century had not happened

Nick Cohen proves conclusively that he doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about. Saudi Arabia an Islamist state?

32 Comments:

Blogger ejh said...

Was Marty a Trotskyite? (Genuine question, I must have missed something.)

12/02/2007 11:44:00 AM  
Anonymous dd said...

Well, he was more of a Hitchensite if "Koba the Dread" is to be believed, but Hitchens was specifically a follower of comrade Horse-Yoghurt.

12/02/2007 12:13:00 PM  
Blogger belle le triste said...

this may be unforgiveably disenchanted of me but i fear i am glumly counting down the days till the requisite race-science-and-IQ DUDE-column -- there's just too much there that's catnip for contrarians

i. anti-PC liberal-baiting
ii. "you just can't handle the TRUTH"
iii. militant flourishing of a scientificity that writer is a LOT more out of his depth with than he realises (cf everything he ever writes abt economics also)
iv. dickwaving anti-"relativism"*
v. "modernism" conceived as a species of crusading and violently and excitedly punitive imperialist universalism
vi. muscular defence of status quo disguised as bold tilt at castle of effete pieties...

*in cute quotes bcz the concept of Relativist Revulsion (© m.amis) must surely be the neatest possibletwo-word demonstration that you don't entirely get the concept of "relativism"?

12/02/2007 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

...and climate change denial. It's coming.

12/02/2007 12:43:00 PM  
Anonymous darkhorse said...

"As a multiculturist ideologue, Bennett cannot engage with the fact that a) the indigenous populations of Spain and Italy are due to halve every 35 years"

I'm not sure that anybody can really engage with this "fact", because it isn't a fact.

12/02/2007 12:57:00 PM  
Anonymous darkhorse, still yakking said...

..and a quick excel spreadsheet suggests that from a starting population of 50 million, halving every 35 years means that there will be only 20,000 Spaniards left in just over 300 years, rapidly dropping to zero within a millenium.

Bloody authors, too darned ignorant to bother to understand the dangers of geometric progressions. Hasn't he heard that old tale about the guy whose reward from the King was a 1 grain of rice on the first chessboard square, 2 on the second, 4 on the third etc..?

12/02/2007 01:05:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

We'd have to be losing half a million indigenous Spaniards a year. Is that really likely? Bloody nightmare for those of us selling children's books if it were....

12/02/2007 01:08:00 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

I answered this on the other thread, but anyway, here's the NATO standard smackdown.

12/02/2007 01:29:00 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

ahhhh, good tracking. Also, surely the implication that every dying nonna and donna in Spain or Italy gets specifically replaced by a bouncing baby Islamistjihadist, springing straight out of the womb with a copy of the works of Qutb and a profound hatred of women, gays, Jews, Yellow Dog etc, rather undercuts the claim that this isn't about race, dunnit?

12/02/2007 01:46:00 PM  
Anonymous darkhorse said...

Am I wrong, or have the Guardian neglected to include Amis' hissy-fit on the Comment is Free site.

Awwwwwwwww.....spoilsports.

12/02/2007 01:50:00 PM  
Anonymous darkhorse said...

I apologise for the missing interrogative above, and include it here?

12/02/2007 01:51:00 PM  
Blogger belle le triste said...

quasi-malthusian folkpanics about the birthrate of the undesirable bad-breeder uncivilised multitude* -- an OBJECTIVE matter of GENETICS and HARD NUMBERS and ew ew the MASSES having SEX ew ew -- are exactly what seems to spark element (iii) in my list; i think this is why i associate this kind of hysteria with race science and IQ

(climate change i think is a difft species of hysteria -- there is after all a famously bonkers passage in trotsky's literature and revolution where, as a muscular scientistic radical modernist, leon goes into) a total "MAD-MADE CLIMATE CHANGE WILL BE TEH AWESOME" freak-out)

*thanks to multicultural ideologues we are now forbidden from using the term "swinish multitude" for fear of offending blah blah

12/02/2007 01:54:00 PM  
Blogger belle le triste said...

obviously i mean: a total "MAN-MADE CLIMATE CHANGE WILL BE TEH AWESOEM" freak-out

12/02/2007 01:57:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

MA: 'A Pakistani immigrant, in Boston, can say "I am an American", and all he is doing is stating the obvious.' This isn't obvious at all - has he not heard of the stories about Barack Obama? Gary Trudeau weighed in on that one.

I don't believe MA is a racist either; rather, he's the only 'literary heavyweight' who makes me think that Bono is some kind a deep analytic genius. I can't see the point in "my father (at that point, incidentally, a communist and universalist)" - I don't think the later KA would have behaved differently. But there are a lot of rather silly flourishes in that piece (what is with the Raft of the Medusa reference?). The Guardian's greatest disservice to Martin Amis is not editing him into coherence.

12/02/2007 02:40:00 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

There are a lot of silly flourishes in Martin Amis's *books*, for fuck's sake.

BTW, an exercise: compare TGA's essays (especially The Uses of Adversity) with anything at all Mart has written about politics.

Come to think of it, an alternative title for much of Amis's journalism could be The Useless of Advertsity.

12/02/2007 03:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your fellow novelist Martin Amis is being shredded in the British press after criticizing various aspects of Islam. He was attacked in The Guardian, in a shrill manner. All religions make very big claims about the world, and it should be possible in an open society to dispute them. It should be possible to say, “I find some ideas in Islam questionable” without being called a racist.

Which ideas do you mean? Well, the idea that any apostate should be punished is revolting. This is completely hostile to the notion of free thought and everything we hope to stand for. I think Martin has suffered terribly at the hands of The Guardian.


ah, so once again McEwan arbitrarily decides that what was actually at issue in the Amis 'criticisms of islam' (disguised, of course, as both a 'thought experiment' about how racist he can be and a lunatic rant about being outnumbered by al-Qaeda in the next 50 years) was actually a straightforward attack on the way apostates are treated...

these old men are not doing themselves any favours whatsoever here. And it's odd, too, that the Guardian (whose review reads like a McEwan fan club newsletter) shoudl be so heavily attacked. Maybe those right wingers in left wing clothing will finally migrate to the Telegraph where their views actually belong?

12/02/2007 04:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Simon said...

The point about the MB being the 'sworn enemies of leftists across the Muslim world' is not really true, either. For instance, the Egyptian left made common cause with the MB over the Egyptian constitutional amendments a few months ago.

12/02/2007 09:02:00 PM  
Anonymous matt w said...

Just as a point of Yank journalistic inside baseball (choice of metaphor deliberate), "heavily edited and condensed" may be a bit euphemistic for that interviewer's practices, which at least used to be more like Burroughsian cut-ups. McEwan may have gone for the full "He was just criticizing ideology!" wank, but it's possible that he said something more nuanced and Solomon edited it out.

And "he didn't get the memo that if you shoot your gob off unthinkingly all the time, it tends to do a bit of damage to your reptuation as A Serious"; well I didn't either. Has it done any damage to his reputation?

12/02/2007 09:03:00 PM  
Anonymous matt w said...

glumly counting down the days till the requisite race-science-and-IQ DUDE-colum

Calling Mark Steyn "broadly pertinent" on demographics is surely the equivalent of uncritically citing Phillippe Rushton on IQ.

12/02/2007 09:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

McEwan may have gone for the full "He was just criticizing ideology!" wank, but it's possible that he said something more nuanced and Solomon edited it out.

probably true, but the sentiment is pretty much identical to the following:


Much of what passes for moral guidance in the Bible, especially, but not only, in the Old Testament, appears to me to be morally repugnant. I like to feel free to say so. Similarly, there are firmly held beliefs in "mainstream" Islam that are questionable. One instance is apostasy. The orthodox view appears to be that men and women who turn away from their religion are guilty of a serious thought crime. Recommended punishments range from ostracism to death. There are numerous websites now on which courageous ex-Muslims across the Middle East, Pakistan and Bangladesh correspond with each other in secret. The dominant emotion is fear of being discovered. Such a dispensation appears to me to be an offence to rational inquiry and free thinking. To say so, Mr Bennett, is not to be a racist, but to exercise the gift of consciousness and the privilege of liberty.

I've known Martin Amis for almost 35 years, and he's no racist. When you ask a novelist or a poet his or her view of the world, you do not get a politician's or a sociologist's answer. You may not like what you hear, but reasoned debate is the appropriate response, not vilification by means of overheated writing, an ugly defamatory graphic, and inflated, hysterical pull-quotes. I wonder whether Ronan Bennett would care to expend so much of his rhetorical might excoriating at similar length the thugs who murdered - in the name of their religion - their fellow citizens in London in 2005.
Ian McEwan
London


Not much difference there really. and:

And "he didn't get the memo that if you shoot your gob off unthinkingly all the time, it tends to do a bit of damage to your reptuation as A Serious"; well I didn't either. Has it done any damage to his reputation?

I'm not sure - no more than Yellow Dog did, but there is no way that he's ever going to get a similar commission to the 'horrorism' one again. That in itself probably tells its own story. I think we'll have to wait for the reviews - and more importantly, the sales figures - for this

http://www.randomhouse.ca/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780676977851

before we can conclude either way.

12/03/2007 09:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mac:

"When you ask a novelist or a poet his or her view of the world, you do not get a politician's or a sociologist's answer. You may not like what you hear, but reasoned debate is the appropriate response, not vilification by means of overheated writing, an ugly defamatory graphic, and inflated, hysterical pull-quotes."

Nicely done, there: "Us novelists, we speak from the heart, but demand different standards from those who respond to us." Handy.

12/03/2007 09:52:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

I wonder whether Ronan Bennett would care to expend so much of his rhetorical might excoriating at similar length the thugs who murdered - in the name of their religion - their fellow citizens in London in 2005.

I think this puts McEwan squarely in the nastiest tradition of Decency: the attempt to associate one of their enemies with terrorism. Absolutely vile.

12/03/2007 10:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Gingsters Pork Pie said...

Re: the Guardian; Ian McEwan is married to Annalena McAfee (the editor of the Review section), whereas Ronan Bennett is the partner of Georgina Henry (editor of Comment is Free).

12/03/2007 01:01:00 PM  
Blogger Andrew Bartlett said...

Amis calls those who argue that he is a racist 'appeasers':

"I will just say, in parting, that the ideology you appease [...] is irrationalist, misogynist, homophobic, inquisitional, totalitarian and imperialist."

I have never appeased an ideology, but will just say that Amis is not only a filthy debater, he is also a racist. He appears to think that one cannot be racist if one has made un-racist statements in the past. But Amis HAS made racist statements. He HAS demonstrated a racialised manner of thought. The stupid fool does so in his latest defence, when he starts to discuss 'demography'. Unless one is a racial essentialist, then discussions of demography, and the differential birth rates of groups of people, are questions of 'race'. And discussions of demography that are shot through with fear of a threat posed by the babies of peoples that are other than your 'own', as not just racial, but racist.

The Demographic Threat

The mantra, 'Muslims are not a race, being a Muslim is to hold to a political ideology', is not sustainable once demography is introduced. Once it has been, the discussion is about intergenerational contiguous peoples. Races, to anyone outside the incoherent, unscientific biological fetishists. Fetishists, who, it must be said, would lack the mental equipment to understand anti-Irish racism, or anti-Jewish racism, because in their demand that one can only be racist against races are objects with a 'real' existence, as categories that exist above and apart from the human act of categorisation, they render themselves unable to make sense of the way in which race actually works in human experience.

Below, if anyone needed convincing, are other examples of racism from Martin Amis, and an example of why the approach to politics, history and society from the intellectual ground occupied by a (bad) novelist should be one marked with warning signs.

The Mind Reading Martin Amis

More Amis

12/03/2007 03:28:00 PM  
Anonymous matt w said...

Yes, anonymous at nine sharp, that's pretty much the same--in fact when you give McEwan more space he comes off considerably worse.

12/03/2007 05:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

as an update here's maureen freely on the Manchester debate:

http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/books/2007/12/the_amis_vs_islamism_debate_th.html

Of interest, in particular, is the fact that for a debate on 'terrorism and literature' they saw fit to invite Ed Husain who is only an expert on the former... and that Freely claims that she was told (by amis, i guess) that 'he reads no neocons'. Last name quited in his Guardian piece on Saturday? Francis Fukuyama. main historian quoted in 'Horrorism'? Bernard Lewis. etc...

12/05/2007 02:01:00 PM  
Anonymous 彼岸落日 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/05/2007 07:42:00 PM  
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12/19/2007 02:12:00 AM  
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