Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Intellectuals and Conflict

There's an interesting new publication on the Web called World Affairs Journal. It's actually a venerable publication, but it came online only recently, as a quarterly. I already cited George Packer's Iraq the Place vs. Iraq the abstraction article from this website; here are another two.

Peter Collier tells about an altercation between Ian Buruma and Timothy Garton Ash, on the one hand, and Paul Berman on the other, regarding the essence of the Islamist threat in Europe. The former are too sanguine, says Berman, and Collier agrees. Yet ultimately, you can ask what Collier added to Berman's ideas. Or put otherwise, if you've read Berman, why read Collier, and if you haven't why not?

Jacob Heilbrunn describes how most intellectuals who are on the ideological barricades these days are more like celebrities than intellectuals: they write op-eds and such, not carefully reasoned books, and their discussions deal with unimportant matters, not with ideas. His exception is Paul Berman.

As a blogger myself, I'm growing ever more convinced he's right. We run around so much, and need to say things all the time and every day, that we're losing the ability to think slowly, seriously, and in depth. It's a real problem.

1 comment:

Lydia McGrew said...

That's why it's important to have something else one does, either off-line or only with very slow posting on-line, that takes a lot of time and that one does in a careful and scholarly way. So the blogging or short op-ed writing isn't the whole of one's intellectual life.