Monday, May 03, 2010

Every picture tells a story

Nick Coren is insulting me (and the other proprietor of AW)

Hmmmm ...

What would you say the defining characteristic of these faces was? A certain, well, hollowness, around the eyes? (NB: that name also indexes a handsome rogue who apparently discjockeys around with his shirt off. Not him).

Sheesh. If I'd been called a "big-foreheaded onanist" or a "scruffy wanker", or as the long departed and not very much missed "Drink Soaked Trots" blog had it, a "ginger cunt", I think I'd have less cause for complaint. Presumably there are no mirrors in Nick's house.


Blogger Sangiovese Fellow said...

Quite agree about Nick and the mirror, BB. Do I get any credit for being the first to make that very point in my response on the "Lang may yours slums reek" post, and linking it to Nick's lack of self-awareness? ;-)

5/03/2010 09:23:00 PM  
Anonymous speranza said...

Could he have possibly honestly misspelled all three of your names, or is it some kind of "security through obscurity" strategy?

5/03/2010 09:51:00 PM  
Anonymous sonic said...

Out of interest why nickcohen2 as a twitter ID?

I've checked and there is no nickcohen1

Anyway I think Twitter is ideal for Nick, he can be a prat in real time with no editor.

5/04/2010 02:58:00 AM  
Blogger Sangiovese Fellow said...

Given the importance of foreign affairs to Nick's reputation, surely any dispute must include consulting international opinion in its resolution. In this respect, it seems that US opinion is already unambiguously in favour of BB:

5/04/2010 04:07:00 AM  
Anonymous dd said...

yes, SF gets the points!

There is no nickcohen1, but the handsome DJ bloke apparently got dibs on "Nick Cohen".

5/04/2010 04:46:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

You know, I came here to repeat FR's comment from the last thread: that Nick gets a lot of hate mail. Let's not descend to that level (or the mosh pit of Harry's Place's comments). But I followed the Sadly No! link to the Corner. Jesus, what a lot of guff. As we've said here, 'the other' is actually a Hegelian concept (and I think it informs Marx's view of class warfare) although Nick is probably thinking of Heidegger, although he wasn't even a modernist.

At present, American liberals are not fighting for an Obama presidency. I suspect that most have only the haziest idea of what it would mean for their country. The slogans that move their hearts and stir their souls are directed against their enemies: Bush, the neo-cons, the religious right.

Er, "Yes, we can"?

Sometimes I wonder why I do this. I have tried to back out before. I don't think I'm a hater. But it offends me that the Observer publishes such transparent trash.

5/04/2010 05:33:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

If Nick is going to do some research on us (as suggested in the last thread), I really should point out that I am not the David Weeden who is Jeffrey Archer's brother-in-law. Nor are we even related. I have never been called 'fragrant' either, certainly not by a judge.

5/04/2010 05:40:00 AM  
Blogger Sangiovese Fellow said...

For the record, CC, the Sadly No! link has appeared on this blog before and was meant by me as a quick and apt riposte given Nick's own tendency of speedy resort to abusive adjectives and his choice of them on this occasion. I doubt that any of us here would be inclined to make a habit of such things.

So far as Nick on Sarah Palin is concerned, you're right that it's an atrocious piece. Despite his having studied under Honderich (I think), it's pretty clear that these days Nick is pretty much a philosophical illiterate and he might be doing everyone a favour if he laid off the pretence that it's otherwise. As a Brit who's US based however, one thing I would say in fairness to him on this is that a lot of the anti-Palin stuff that immediately resulted at that point over here was indeed quite unnecessarily nasty and ill-targeted. What should have been the focus of criticism of Palin then was what was already manifest but has become quite embarrassingly obvious since: in terms of both experience and ability, she is manifestly nowhere near being up to such a job. The personal attacks on her family situation were not necessary or courteous (though given her willingness to use them as political props they were not all that surprising either), and insofar as Nick is making that point, it's a reasonable one. But as ever, he can't stop there: no, it all has to demonstrate some hideous moral rottenness amongst those who think the Iraq war was something other than the shining wonder of moral clear-headedness that he and his fellow Decents want to regard it as being. So in order to portray Palin's critics as twisted with hatred, he mixes up the anti-Bush bitterness and anger that were actually far more prominent on the US left from 2003-6 with the mood of the Obama campaign in 2008, a mood that was, as CC rightly notes, not angry but overwhelmingly positive. As so often with Nick, it seems there's an awful lot of projection going on here.

5/04/2010 06:27:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Who's the "he" who Nick reckons one of you is, or should I know this already but just haven't been following?

5/04/2010 08:19:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Ah, I see from about two threads ago that it is. My apologies.

5/04/2010 08:22:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

The slogans that move their hearts and stir their souls are directed against their enemies

I relly dislike this aspect of Cohen's work - the tendency to base entire articles on completely unproveable smears about people he arbitrarily dislikes which have no basis in reality. See also Ben's latest on HP Sauce.

In any case i do feel sort of sorry for Nick, in the sense that as someone said on the other thread, even when he's writing he philistine bluster about the arts he still gets called a warmonger. But then again, given his propensity for bringing Iraq into everything (even after 1000 plus words in the Obs this weekend, iraq is his sole stated reason for continuing to support Labour, after all), it's hardly surprising that people read him through those lenses; it is, after all, how he himself reads everyone else.

5/04/2010 08:38:00 AM  
Anonymous skidmarx said...

You've misspelled "Cohen" as "Coren".Unless that's a deliberate satire on his misidentification.

5/04/2010 10:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Cohen is mistaken about the sin of Onan. Onan was not a solitary masturbator. In fact he had sex with his brother's widow Tamar quite a lot, but practised coitus interruptus, which is why he 'spilled his seed on the ground'. God was so pissed of with this form of contraception, he killed Onan.

5/04/2010 11:01:00 AM  
Anonymous dd said...

Unless that's a deliberate satire on his misidentification


5/04/2010 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Thanks SF. Yes, I was pretty sure that we'd done that one before. I agree about the nastiness which was expended on Palin. If Nick had said that some of it was sexist, or snobbish, or just nasty, he'd have had a point, but of course it was rather complex. Palin believes some unpleasant stuff herself, I think she's hypocritical (over Federal funding for example), she may even have floated the idea that she sent her son off to Iraq. But Nick accepts things like that - that Palin sent her son to war - without any obvious critical thinking.

I don't read Sadly No! all that often because it does seem to get too personal. However, it wasn't the left that got stuck in to her family, most prominently, it was Andrew Sullivan, and some of the later leaking against her (in the final month of the race, IIRC, so after Nick's piece) came from the McCain camp.

I *think* I know what Ophelia Benson means by post-modernist: roughly trendy humanities department anti-science touchy-feely mumbo-jumbo. (I sort of share her antagonism, but I don't think it's at all modern; there have always been and always will be nutters.) Norman Geras, OTOH, seems to mean "humanities department philosophy which has strayed from the straight and righteous path of Marxism, yet dares to be taught to students who consider themselves left and radical". I think Nick's usage is slightly closer to the latter (see "the postmodern theories so many of them were taught at university" = these young people know nothing), but mostly he seems to get by with a foggy conception of pomo as a bad thing mostly associated with theorists with unpleasant pasts (Derrida, Heidegger, possibly Paul Feyerabend).

5/04/2010 01:37:00 PM  
Anonymous belle le triste said...

Derrida didn't have an "unpleasant past" that I'm aware of, CC: are you thinking of Paul de Man?

My main objection to this species of academic critical theory used as a lens to analyse culture is that it moves from the general (taken as a given) to the particular (treated as a symptom), and never vice versa*. As a consequence it can often be vastly careless with detailed content: but this is exactly the type of carelessness you can serially find in Kamm, Geras and -- far far far FAR worse than either -- Cohen. (Was he really taught by Ted Honderich? There's a novel in that...)

*The particular is rarely considered as a challenge to -- or by implication a critique or refusal of -- the claims to insight of the general. This is actually a habit of error journalists are slightly less likely to make, by professional deformation, than academics -- because they gave to go and talk to people outside normal exalted circles (and listen to them). Cohen isn't actually this kind of journalist, though, is he?

5/04/2010 02:13:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

BLT, you're quite right. I conflated the charges of 'obscurantism' against Derrida with the controversy over de Man. Laziness, sheer laziness.

5/04/2010 02:21:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

BTW, AFAIK, it's false that Nick was taught by Ted Honderich. Nick interviewed TH for the New Statesman. I've had Professor Ted Honderich's books on my shelves all my adult life. I won't pretend to reach for them often, but the argument of his 1976 essays on violence has stayed with me. Inequality kills, it runs. No mention of having been taught by TH, however. TH responded.

We covered this as did Steven Poole. BB on TH's reply and on the original interview. TH's earlier response on his UCL site.

5/04/2010 02:32:00 PM  
Blogger Sangiovese Fellow said...

You're quite right about Cohen-Honderich, CC. My bad (as they say over here), I misremembered Cohen's "New Statesman" interview statement about Honderich's influence over him. I shouldn't have made that mistake given that Honderich has never taught at Oxford, but that's what comes of writing blog posts at nearly 1.30am after a long day.

5/04/2010 03:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I shall now start calling him Nique Cohen.

5/04/2010 04:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Cian said...

He's insutling you to his new bestest mate: Simon Indelicate. Harry's Place and the Indelicates - its not exactly sophisticated company he's keeping these days is it.

5/04/2010 07:25:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

He's insutling you to his new bestest mate: Simon Indelicate. Harry's Place and the Indelicates - its not exactly sophisticated company he's keeping these days is it.

I think we was rebuffed by the Wurzels because they were afraid he would damage their credibility.

5/05/2010 11:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Martin Wisse said...

Nick gets a lot of hate mail because he's an asshole supporting an illegal war who has spent some time smearing opponents of said war; fling shit, get shit flung back at you.

I'm not the only one to actually find it cheering that he can't write about anything without people calling him a warmonger, am I? Just like it's cheering to see Blair can't visit Malaysia without being called a war criminal.

None of these people is actually likely to have had their careers harmed by their cheerleading for the war. nor are people like Blair ever likely to end up in the dock, so a bit of momentary discomfort is the best we can give them.

5/06/2010 05:46:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Martin - I disagree very fundamentally. In the first place, I don't see the need to make our opponenents martyrs or give them assmuption by behaving badly. Obviously somebody will, and we can't do much about it, and that's one reason why I'm against invitiations to condemn: but at the same time I see no reason to go along with it.

In the second place, I hold to the rule that a good argument does not need to be put badly. If we're in the right, why put ourselves in the wrong? There are all sorts of ways of putting an argument well, not all of them polemical, and not all of them necessarily entirely polite: but why spoil it by picking a bad one?

And in the third place, I'd suggest to you that the sort of people who habitually send people like Nick Cohen hate mail are likely to be the same people who behave similarly badly to others on the left. Beware of paying no heed to how your enemy is treated, for pretty soon afterwards you may find yourself treated the same way by your former friend. No?

5/06/2010 11:00:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

Well not disagreeing with that, I'm not sure that I'd share Nick Cohen's definition of hate mail.

5/06/2010 04:15:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

I agree with Justin here, although, bearing Cian's point in mind and that Nick's output over the past few years reads like trolling, Martin isn't advocating sending personal abuse to columnists one doesn't like.

5/06/2010 10:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Martin Wisse said...

Ejh: oh, I'm certainly not arguing that anybody oen disagrees with should be called names, but Cohen is somebody who dishes it out regularly enough, so I don't mind hitting him back -- if he calls this lot wankers, I'm allowed to link to that video of him being a bit tired and emotional at the Orwells last year. Abuse won't make him a martyr because he's so bad himself.

Separate from that is the issue of the War on Iraq. This was such a monstrous crime (500,000 - 2 million killed, millions more fled
abroad, a multicultural society effectively ethnically cleansed, undsoweiter) that those who did their best to bring it about should have it flung in their faces forever. It's an issue were, if you got it wrong, you've lost my trust forever -- and I think that goes for a lot of people. the likes of Cohen and Blair should get used to people hating them for this forever.

And no, I don't think people who rag on Cohen would turn on their friends/allies on the left later on. There's more anger tna asholery there.

5/07/2010 07:28:00 AM  

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