Monday, May 21, 2007
The New Intellectualism
Monday morning warm-up piece from the scribe as he works into a rhythm.
The “New York Times Magazine” ran a story on Al Gore. We read it online and are not sure it wasn’t actually the cover piece. The fancy and important woodcut of Gore that came with it screams cover.
Or maybe not.
The Gore Zeitgeist having taken solid hold in the culture, the former veep is now able to garner what his prior incarnation as prize-pony-prep-boy-gone-gov never could - a flattering article in the mainstream media.
The piece by James Traub - who has one of those famous media-guy names - is entitled “Al Gore has big plans,” and does not appear under a “politics” subhead, rather “Architecture.”
It has a nice dissection of Gore’s post-election state of mind and the process by which “An Inconvenient Truth,” became what it became.
The piece says what it has become safe to say, nice things such as, “Al Gore has attained what yo can only call prophetic status; and he has done so by acting as he could not, or would not as a candidate - saying precisely what he believes and saying it with clarity, passion, intellectual mastery and even, sometimes wit.”
Super status really, a new narrative gnashing the flaws of the old Gore with the transforming adjustments of the new one and this is what an Oscar will do for you.
It’s tough to stare down the Gold Statue, the influence of which far outstrips that possessed by those that choose who gets it.
It is a gilding by glamour that can make a whole cultural apparatus turn on a dime, hailing what was once a stuffed shirt as “Goracle.”
Gore gets whacked by the establishment, gets art, and new respect from the establishment.
It’s too rich. The article’s bet Gore’s not running for president is rooted in the fact that Al is simply too cool.
“Given his druthers, he’d really rather talk about complexity,” Traub writes.
Welcome to the new intellectualism.
The article fleshes out the former veep’s latest rounds; now that they are retroactively newsworthy. There is a tendency to check back on the life of Gore after six years in the hinterlands to find out he assumed a natural mantle as laureled leader of the enviro-bohemian cadres.
But the article suggests that, like the rest of us, Gore had to sink pretty low before he began his stratospheric rise and that a “slide show” was not the first thing he had on his mind.
the scribe read a biography by John Keane of former Yugoslavian President Vaclav Havel. The young scribe adored Havel and his jump from the literary avant garde to the height of power during the Velvet Revolution.
With Havel having been tortured and jailed for years by the fleeing powers, the scribe just assumed he ascended the steps of power borne upward by the blessings of a thankful multitude.
Keane dissects the fight Havel had to launch, makes clear he was not selfless and that he had to desire power to obtain it.
And this article has plenty of that, with Gore again flailing with bureaucratic dunderheads in the environmental movement before going it alone and making the fortuitous friend in Hollywood.
It’s crazy, but even a former vice-president can pursue that wacky, distored, but self-evident American dream.
Either they’ve made your movie or they haven’t.
Al Gore is appearing with Harry Shearer, Presented by Writers Bloc, at the Wilshire Theater, across the street, but the highway scribe could not get tickets.