Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A great steaming blob of Mart

About a year ago, I wrote:

"What would Martin Amis have to do in order to lose his reputation as a "major" or "important" writer? Is there literally anything that he could write which might make literary editors and critics say "actually this man is really rather untalented"? Or has he achieved a sort of event horizon of writerliness, at which his seriousness and density have become so great that there can be no escape? I suspect the latter; surely a reputation that has survived "Koba the Dread", survived "Yellow Dog" and now survived this, must be indestructible. Long after the nuclear holocaust when we are all dead, the cockroaches that crawl through the ashes of Western civilisation will still take Martin Amis seriously, although none of them will know why."

Now this, rather underlining the point. I cannot see how this piece would have been written differently if it was part of a conceptual art project aimed at destroying Martin Amis' reputation. Apparently there is literally nothing the man can write, no matter how idiotic, that is not publishable in a national newspaper. Even recycling anecdotes which are nearly a year old (the "Question Time" one, which is rather dodgy - here's the video, and I think Amis misrepresents both the intention of the statement and the audience reaction: Update: that's funny - I could have sworn it was there but it doesn't seem to be, although this clip has him saying that the Russians are "half European and half Asiatic", and that the murder of Litvinenko was an example of the Asiatic side coming out. Can anyone find the relevant Mart-blobule on YouTube?) doesn't matter.

Of course Michael White, who will not be the subject of a Profile In Decency any time soon, loves it, and goes straight to the heart of the issue - why is it that liberal relativists all support Osama bin Laden?

Well, AW readers? Why do you support Osama bin Laden? Go on, why? Best reason in the comments wins a miniature of Bell's.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love ObL because he has managed to expose the depths to which people like Amis and White will sink in their use of illogical arguments. The last 6 years have shown us exactly what nonsense spin-doctors like White (and Kettle and Rawnsley etc) are capable of producing. The last 6 years have shown us exactly what bizarre logical contortions our political elite are capable of. We can't claim now not to know. Keep up the good work, Osama!

9/11/2007 03:41:00 PM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

I hereby award "anonymous" first place! on the entirely rational basis that doing so saves me from having to cough up the prize.

9/11/2007 03:43:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

OK, here's another competition. Amis uses this phrase

slowly and expensively dying.

Why does he use the word "expensively"?

9/11/2007 03:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a liberal relativist, I love OBL because he kindly contributed to the Guardian's comment page. The Graun, of course, is the heroic vanguard journal of we disillusioned bourgeois atoning for the loss of communism (Or something. I refer you to Nick Cohen's major theoretical intervention for the age).

9/11/2007 03:49:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Incidentally, I found myself completely unable to discern anything resembling an argument in White's piece. I suspect this is because he was trying to ask a question that is without meaning since it is based on a false premise.

(There's a similar rhetorical trope used by similar people about similar people regarding, say, opposition to Israel. It involves asking the question "why are you concerned with them but not about Tibet/Western Sahara/Darfur/somewhere else?" and the intention of the question is to show that you are, effectively, an anti-Semite. It doesn't matter if you actually give an answer to the question, and several good answers can be given: the rhetorical gambit is sufficient in itself.)

9/11/2007 03:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like OBL more if he did all his videos sitting in a swivel chair stroking a fluffy white cat...

9/11/2007 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger Malky Muscular said...

I love Osama because he's going to win me a 25 million dollar reward - I've got the Karachi phone book in front of me, and so far I've denounced everyone up to the Iqbals.

All those calls to Langley have cost a fortune, but mark my words - sooner or later I'll strike gold.

9/11/2007 04:00:00 PM  
Blogger StuartA said...

I realise they're friends and all... but why is the tough-man rhetoric of Amis and Hitchens so eerily similar? Admittedly, Amis likes his fancy words a little more, and Hitchens has read more history books, but is there really any important difference?

They seem completely interchangeable: the same faux macho pose of facing hard truths while avoiding any, the same fetish for meaningless linguistic or numeric coincidence, and the same hinting at some grand understanding in place of actual argument. Surely the world needs at most one of them?

9/11/2007 04:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bet Obama could sort out Britain's drinking culture and Mad Mel. What's not to love.

9/11/2007 05:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a fellow beard wearer I'm right behind Osama's never ending Jihad against pogonophobia.

9/11/2007 08:23:00 PM  
Blogger Philip said...

I support Osama bin Laden because he did not write the novels of Ian McEwan.

9/11/2007 11:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eminem was able to rhyme "Bin Laden" with "his head noddin'". What's not to love?

9/12/2007 12:12:00 AM  
Blogger Sonic said...

Watching the towers fall in New York, with civilians incinerated on the planes and in the buildings, I felt something that I couldn’t analyze at first and didn’t fully grasp (partly because I was far from my family in Washington, who had a very grueling day) until the day itself was nearly over. I am only slightly embarrassed to tell you that this was a feeling of exhilaration.

(that was Hitchens)

9/12/2007 01:10:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

I like Osama Bin Laden because his name looks like an anagram.

9/12/2007 06:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's all this about bin Laden? I thought Amis' article lost its way after the first 76 fascinating paragraphs on numerology and I gave up.

9/12/2007 07:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Classic Liberals, like the Economist, support Bin Laden because of his position on flat taxation.

9/12/2007 01:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I support Osama bin Laden because of his consistent commitment to the de Hont system of proportional representation, even when this was neither popular nor profitable.

9/12/2007 02:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Next question: is this thread going to be mentioned in Nick's next book, and how will it be described?

9/13/2007 03:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amis returns to the UK and it shocked by apparent anti-Americanism (or rather, anti-US Government sentiment).

This is hardly unique to the UK, such attitudes are rather prevalent in Central and South America, which have been on the sharp end of some of the US' more gruesome foreign policy decisions.

Oh, but Amis lives in S. America doesn't he? Didn't he notice any "anti-American" sentiment there? Oh, I forgot, he doesn't speak Spanish, if I recall the last AW posting on Amis correctly.

9/13/2007 06:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Next question: is this thread going to be mentioned in Nick's next book, and how will it be described?

Why wait until the book, when Nick could use this thread in his next column to indicate his inability to read irony on the net?

9/13/2007 08:36:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Didn't he notice any "anti-American" sentiment there?

If he spent his time among the affluent, probably not, even at dinner parties. (This is a problem which also afflicts British television and newspaper correspondents.)

9/13/2007 08:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Osama because he taught me how to love myself, and value life. Before I caught his video at the East Croydon Pogonophile Dating Service, I was rapidly drawing the conclusion that this world had run flat out of ideas. Now I see that there are still people on the planet with a sense of fun, and adventure.

I know what people say about him. I've heard them - the player-haters, the cynics, the critics, the naysayers, the wreckers, the nihilists, the negative-ninnies, the namby-pamby numpties, the nappy-wetters, the bruschetta boffins, the PC brigade, the party poopers, the pessimists, the pot-and-kettle crowd, the cavilers and carpers, the whiners, the whingers, the wet blankets, the worry-worts, the flouters, the flossers, the doubting Thomases, the disbelievers, the doomsters, the downers, the drags, the drips, the diffident doolittles, the kvetchers, the killjoys, the Krispy Kreme Korps, the lamos, the line-dancers, the lily-livered and limp-wristed, the terror-taunters, the scoffers, the sneerers, the mockers, the moo-heads, the mocassin-wearing muesli-eaters, the Ministry of Moan, the masters of mourn, the mundane Minnies, the misfits, the morons, the idle Ians, the idolatrous Isobels, the infidel Irvines, the heretics, the splenetics, the peripatetics - I've heard them all.

If they haven't got anything productive to say, why do they bother? I mean, it's easy to criticise. It's easy to point out the flaws when you know you're never going to have to make those difficult decisions yourself. It's easy to sneer from the comfort of your plump armchair, but let's these people get up off their arses and do something constructive. You think he made all that money from nattering with his mates? NO. No, he fucking didn't. Bloody hard work, love. And sex: the man has seen more tunnels than the Tora Bora. When you've got half as many quids as he has kids, then you'll have something to talk about.

Leave it, Osama baby, leave it. They're not worth it.

9/13/2007 11:19:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

That's trying rather harder than Bell's is worth.

9/13/2007 05:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

its more of a punishment than a prize.

9/13/2007 09:00:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Teabag said...

Following ejh's lead, I support OBL because his name is an anagram of "bi, and some anal", as in "What are you in the mood for tonight, Mr Bushell?"

9/19/2007 04:25:00 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

I love Osama with an O because he is Obviously still alive.

9/20/2007 09:40:00 PM  

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