Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Pablo on David Brooks' latest column

UPDATE: Amanda Marcotte has a reaction, as does Ezra Klein.

Pablo on Brooks:
Okay, I think David Brooks has taken his autumn rake, made a huge heap of clipped copies of his own past columns, lit it on fire, and spent an hour getting high inhaling the fumes from his own bonfire. And this column is what he wrote in that state.
I didn't find that Brooks column as annoying as some of his other ones, like the one in which he states: "[Democratic politicians] also know that a Democratic president is going to face challenges from Iran and elsewhere that are going to require hard-line, hawkish responses." (emphasis added). Even though he can't possibly know what the challenges will be in 2009-2012, he does know that the the Democrats will have to be "hawkish", because... well, because David Brooks says so. Annoying.

I actually liked Brooks' 10/26/07 column about outsourcing your brain's functions to electronic devices various websites:
...I had thought that the magic of the information age was that it allowed us to know more, but then I realized the magic of the information age is that it allows us to know less. It provides us with external cognitive servants — silicon memory systems, collaborative online filters, consumer preference algorithms and networked knowledge. We can burden these servants and liberate ourselves.
This is the same theme discussed in the book Natural Born Cyborgs. That book makes the argument that this cognitive offloading is nothing new: we've been doing it for centuries with inventions like writing, reading, clocks, etc. We've even offloaded the expression of sentiment to companies like Hallmark. (This is one form of emotional outsourcing I'm very reluctant to engage in. I try to buy blank cards and write my own trite drivel instead. And I don't feel I have to make it rhyme.)

But I don't think we're just off-loading mental functions: we are enhancing and extending them. Writing doesn't just save us the burden of remembering stuff: we can actually remember much more stuff much more accurately when using writing than we ever could without it. Maybe if Hallmark were able to express my feelings better than I could, I'd make use of their writings more often

Maybe David Brooks deliberately alternates writing good columns with annoyingly pseudo-centrist lectures on how Democrats need to be less confrontational (despite poll after poll showing how voters are annoyed with Democrats for not standing up to Bush enough) as a strategy to generate excitement and interest in his columns. You never know when you start reading him whether you're going to get an amusing bit of insight on some trend in society, or some stale dish of Republican talking points.


Blogger said...

I like your style.... very sceptical but ultimately elegant and witty! I mean the donations bit and the congress remarks :))

All best,

1:39 AM, October 31, 2007  
Blogger Zachary Drake said...

Thanks for stopping by. Is an entity that has achieved enough sentience to appreciate my blog?

2:13 AM, October 31, 2007  

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