1. souse, n.5: 3. A drunkard. slang (chiefly U.S.). (OED)
  2. white souse, n.1: A blog for literature, politics, science, and the occasional cocktail.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Zadie Smith at Delphi

There's an amazing essay by Zadie Smith over at the New York Book Review. It's about Obama, and speaking in tongues -- that is, with many voices. Please read it for yourself, it's so sharply written it could prick your eyes, and it's equally smart.

But I was floored by this line:

"The idea that one should speak one's cultural allegiance first and the truth second (and that this is a sign of authenticity) is precisely such a deformation."

She's talking about Jesse Jackson and how some members of the Black community feel about dealing with their identity with regard to whites. What is stunning is how clearly and cleanly she expresses this, and how well it describes we're seeing in Rush Republicans right now. She attributes such "deformations" to living "through a bitter struggle, and bitter struggles deform their participants in subtle, complicated ways." So what was Rush's bitter struggle? Where was Michelle Malkin's, or Charles Krauthammer's great testing?

But what is so striking is how pithily she expresses the incoherence here -- authenticity is tied directly to willing distortion. You place party before truth in order to demonstrate how true you are.

That, my friends, is one wicked pen. I think I'll go drown the week in White Teeth.

P.S.> And I wholly agree that Obama draws freely from the James Baldwin fount. Who wouldn't?

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