And what's with the flurries of rhetorical questions? Is this how the French talk or is it something they save for books about America? "What is a Republican? What distinguishes a Republican in the America of today from a Democrat?" Lévy writes, like a student padding out a term paper. "What does this experience tell us?" he writes about the Mall of America. "What do we learn about American civilization from this mausoleum of merchandise, this funeral accumulation of false goods and nondesires in this end-of-the-world setting? What is the effect on the Americans of today of this confined space, this aquarium, where only a semblance of life seems to subsist?" And what is one to make of the series of questions - 20 in a row - about Hillary Clinton, in which Lévy implies she is seeking the White House to erase the shame of the Lewinsky affair? Was Lévy aware of the game 20 Questions, commonly played on long car trips in America? Are we to read this passage as a metaphor of American restlessness? Does he understand how irritating this is? Does he? Do you? May I stop now?
And you thought that Tom Friedman was prtentious and pompous? At least Friedman does some serious research, provides us with facts and figures, and his writing is somewhat coherent. But BHL is an intellectual marketing genius. Notice how he is positioning himself somewhere between the New Republic and the Weekly Standard (which is where you'll find his American Idol, Francis Fukuyama). I think that Carl Swanson, the reviewer in the New York . magazine had it right when he suggested that BHL's goal with "American Vertigo" was "to become BHL in America, a branded public intellectual." "No comment," responded BHL when asked by Swanson if that was indeed the case. "What I would like is if I could participate in the ideological intellectual debate here and contribute in a slight way." Isn't that what Andrew Sullivan said when he moved here? But not to worry. BHL just has too many mistresses:
“Everything, my dear. I will tell you. Sometimes in your private life you have a mistress you love, love being with. You spend time to time in a grand hotel, with good room service, great champagne, and you separate—and when you are really in love with her, you inevitably think, Could I wake up with her, near her every morning? And then you try it. This is exactly what I did in America. America was a great mistress. I had a great fuck with America. It was like a weekend in the Hotel du Cap.”
And here I'm suppose to end this post with something witty in French. Instead, l'm going to make a confession: The reason for all this obssessive bashing of BHL is that I'm just jealous of this guy, that look, that pose, that long hair. And at the age of 57. Yes, Steve, I know that it's all genes. But still...
An American Public Intellectual
A French Public Intellectual