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Thursday, May 18, 2006

The ever amusing Tom Wolfe

This article is a reminder of how insightful and entertaining the author Tom Wolfe can be.

Wolfe lectures with the vigor of youth, animating his witty insights with eyes popping, a tongue darting across his lips, broad smiles, and dramatic hand gesticulations, especially when he comes upon one of his "aha" findings, to wit, some insight or story that explains Everything.

A favorite target of his is the "intellectual." As the prodigy put it the other night, the intellectual is "a person knowledgeable in one field who only speaks out in others."

One of the reasons Wolfe fastens on the intellectual so frequently is that a major interest of his is "status."

No group in society more earnestly appropriates the constituent elements of status to "exalt" themselves in society than the intellectuals, though adepts of the "hip hop" culture run a close second.

Turn to an interview Wolfe gave to the Wall Street Journal in March. There the brightest young man of American letters said this: "I really love this country. I just marvel at how good it is, and obviously it's the simple principle of freedom....Intellectually this is the system where people tend to experiment more and their experiments are indulged. Whatever we're doing I think we've done it extremely well....These are terrible things to be saying if you want to have any standing in the intellectual world."

All very amusing to my taste!

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