The Agony and the Apostasy: On Pulitzer Prizes and Prize Putz Louses
Van der Leun has written a a piece about our elite media that is so psychologically and spiritually astute that there’s almost nothing I can add. Maybe I’ll try anyway.
The Times is the very definition of an “elite,” having “self-selected itself as a vehicle worthy of wielding a power we normally reserve for those named by our citizens in elections,” specifically, “the right to say what is and what is not in our public interest” and “to knowingly risk the lives and well-being of the soldiers and citizens of this Republic at will.”
Obviously, nothing could be more illiberal and undemocratic than a couple of wealthy and insulated pinheads lost in the 1960s--Pinch "Me? I'm Dreaming" Sulzberger and Bill Keller--taking it upon themselves to arrogate power that is only properly vested in the people and their elected representatives.
But these men are not just driven by the usual ideological or venal motives, which is what makes them all the more dangerous and all the more able to live in denial of what they do. That is, they are perverts who enjoy the thrill of betrayal and the rush of stripping away the veil--any veil, whether it is the veil of decency or a veil of security. As Van der Leun writes, they “really enjoy how it feels. And they enjoy it, they revel in the pleasure of it, at the level of bodily sensations parallel to that of the orgasm. In common parlance, ‘they get off on it.’” The joy obviously doesn’t come from the journalistic aspect--which is dubious at best--but from the transgressive component. It is the transgression that creates the perverse pseudo-journalistc thrill.
This kind of perversion doesn't qualify for a DSM diagnosis. It's worse than that. The DSM only deals with the mind, but this is a perversion of the soul. All perverts live for their perversion, and soul-perverts are no exception. Although they are enslaved by ther perversion, they rarely feel that way. Rather, they often feel superior to those who do not know the transcendent joys of their particular illicit pleasure. They might even feel sorry for those confined to the licit kind. Part of the purpose of the perversion is to transform shame into pride. But perverts often need the association of other perverts to accomplish this transformation--somewhat like the reverse of a 12 step program, a support group to support what is wrong in them and make them feel right about it. The first step is to acknowledge your helplessness before a power that is lower than yourself, but to elevate it to the Most High.
Thus, journalistic perverts everywhere are coming out of the woodwork to support their fellow perverts at the Times Two. The other day, I saw Tom Brokaw weigh in, assuring us that he didn’t know of a single person who actually thought that the terrorists didn’t know about the the SWIFT program anyway. If that is true, then why did Bill Keller say that he agonized over the decision to reveal the program? Why the agony if it wasn’t a secret anyway? Brokaw strikes me as more pretentiously (because stupid) stupid (because pretentious) than a pervert. In any event, he is denying Keller the very purpose of the story, which was the agony of journalistic longing followed by the ecstatic release of publication.
In truth, the non-pervert cannot understand the motives of the pervert, and the pervert long ago lost any ability to empathize with the lowly, bourgeois non-pervert. They live in two divergent worlds, with entirely different frames of reference. A couple of days ago I canceled my subscription to the L.A. Times, but in truth, I had canceled it long ago. I had only recently re-upped for the Sunday edition, after having not looked at the paper in years. Even before canceling it in the wake of the SWIFT story, I found the entire paper to be suffused with a palpable soul-creepiness--not just the editorial page, but the front page, the entertainment section (obviously), the book review, the business section, even the real estate and sports sections. All of it is colored by a strange world view that I and most normal Americans do not share.
Richard Weaver saw this coming. In his Ideas Have Consequences--which was published in 1948--he discussed the effect of the new journalistic cosmology on the soul. As the medieval peasant might have looked up and seen “a revolving dome of fixed stars,” today we see something similar in looking at the daily newspaper; we see "the events of the day refracted through a medium which colors them as effectively as the cosmology of the medieval scientist determined his view of the starry heavens. The newspaper is a man-made cosmos of the world of events around us in time. For the average reader it is a construct of significances which he no more thinks of examining than did his pious forebears in the thirteenth century...” It presents “a version of life quite as controlled as that taught by medieval religionists, though feeble in moral instruction...”
When you uncritically read a newspaper or passively watch television news, you are participating in someone else’s metaphysical dream, not your own. And it is generally a sick dream with horrifying, infrahuman assumptions about reality.
You can be absolutely certain that Keller and Sulzberger are not only unashamed of their treason against the Good. Rather, they are proud of it. And as Augustine taught, “all the other vices attach themselves to evil, that it may be done; only pride attaches itself to good, that it may perish.” A normal soul loves what is good and therefore despises evil. The abnormal soul does not love what is good, but “the place of a suppressed devotion never remains empty.” Thus, the essence of perversion, on the soul level, involves passion and pride. Passion, in its classical sense, means to flee from God, while pride is to “rise up against Him” (Schuon). The proud man has “the propensity to brook no humiliations while readily inflicting them, upon others,” especially if they are Richeorge Nixbush and their illegal war on Viet Saddam. But don't ever question the Times' pervatriotism. They're better than patriots--they're dissenters!
The two--pride and passion--go together and are generally insatiable, thus the need to repeat the drill again and again. There is a reason why God shuns the proud. Pride is related to smug self-satisfaction, while humility is linked to honest and accurate self-assessment. The self-satisfied soul “is one who is saturated with his own imaginary worth which he projects onto his scanty knowledge and mediocre authority.” This is why they must give Pulitzers every year, so the biggest offenders may honor themselves again and again to keep the illusion alive. They can put this one right next to Walter Duranty's.