Stephen Karlson (shkarlson) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
Stephen Karlson


Playwright David Mamet discovered enough discrepancies between the commonplaces of the chattering classes to question his worldview, beginning with "Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal'" for the benefit of Village Voice readers and following up with The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture.  I can keep Book Review No. 21 short.  Everything a reader needs to understand is on the cover, under the subtitle.  "The struggle of the Left to rationalize its positions is an intolerable, Sisyphean burden.  I speak as a reformed Liberal."  Straightforward enough: a stimulus that doesn't stimulate and a failed war on poverty and a Third-World-ophilia that rationalizes Islamic anger and makes of Israel a monster has been the discovery of many a recovering leftist, perhaps most notably the so-called neoconservatives.

Writing is hard work, and Mr Mamet may have had his share of flops before he earned that Pulitzer for drama.  Political writing is a different kind of hard work, and Secret Knowledge has a lot of the markers of a beginning writer ... he's discovered the logic in Hayek and von Mises and Friedman, and the folly of uncritically celebrating the Third World, but his arguments (and too often there are jarring changes of focus therein) are more likely to reinforce the partially converted and the waverers than to strengthen the main line of libertarian and conservative argument, let alone to tellingly rebut the claims of the true believers in Franklin and Lyndon and the Croly Ghost.  On the other hand, if he can work his new-found politics into his plays in a subtle way ...

(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)
Tags: in the media, politics, unimpressed
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