Man Without Qualities

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Life After The Big Sleep

Paul Krugman is back after his big sleep! Similarly, Lenin vanished from his tomb for an extended hiatus following some serious corruption, coming "back" to raise the question: Who's buried in Lenin's Tomb? It wasn't a joke. The resulting Lenin corpsesicle looks so waxen that there are constant rumors that it isn't Lenin's body.

And so too with the column inserted under Herr Doktorprofessor's name in today's New York Times. Since the brain is the first thing the embalmer removes in the mummification process, there is of course no economics whatsoever in today's effort - in accordance with tradition, none appears even to have been preserved in canopic jars or their journalistic equivalents. The column's corpus has also been purified of all signs of fresh intellectual activity or analysis. The language is ritualistic, a kind of funerary text praying for the punishment of the President, in some ways rather similar to texts inscribed in certain tombs at Saqqara, for example, which were written on the inner passages and the walls of the burial chamber. They were intended to help the deceased travel through the afterworld, and sometimes included a prayer for the punishment of those the deceased saw as enemies. Today's modern simulacrum appears to be a professional job.

The column is nothing more than a desiccated rehearsal of the inadequately supported anti-Bush, "he lied," "Blair lied," "the intelligence services lied because Bush and Blair made them lie" memes that have been cluttering the media for the last week or so. Those charges have already been answered by various people in the Administration, the Blair administration and the media.

Herr Doktorprofessor adds nothing new. His arguments are but Ka hoovering among funerary models of real world objects. We are moved to leave him to his eternal peace.

Herr Doktorprofessor does emit one tentative sign of life at the very beginning of the column, where he notes ambiguously:

More than half of the U.S. Army's combat strength is now bogged down in Iraq ... We have lost all credibility with allies who might have provided meaningful support ... All this puts us in a very weak position for dealing with real threats. Did I mention that North Korea has been extracting fissionable material from its fuel rods?

At first this might be read as arguing that Herr Doktorprofessor thinks the U.S. Army's combat strength may be needed soon to strike at North Korea. Herr Doktorprofessor seems as though he wants to say (the way frustrated spirits want to send messages to us from the afterlife) that the new Korean War he thinks that we need is just not possible because the strength of the U.S. Army has been bogged down and our former allies will just not help now that we have lost "all credibility."

But, since Herr Doktorprofessor doesn't complete the thought that almost emerges from his pretty damn peculiar semi-suggestion, we are left to conclude that this was no sign of life after all. Just some burp resulting from inadequately purged decomposition gases, perhaps.

Heck, there's not even a juvenile pun of the sort we might expect from Maureen Dowd.

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