It feels a little silly to quote Chuck Klosterman as some sort of Deep Thinker– this is a guy whose whole claim to fame revolves around the expression of weirdly absolute opinions about pop culture ephemera, after all. Then again, the best political reporting being done these days is done by a pair of comedy shows, so maybe it’s not so stupid.
Anyway, there were two passages in his new collection, Chuck Klosterman IV, that really struck a chord when I read them the other night. Well, OK, there were more than two, but there were two that struck me as worthy of blog posts. Here’s the first:
It strikes me that every wrongheaded sentiment in society ultimately derives from the culture of inherent, unconditional rightness. As I grow older, I find myself less prone to have an opinion about anything, and to distrust just about everyone who does. Whenever I meet someone who openly identifies themselves as a Republican of a Democrat, my immediate thought is always, Well, this person might be interesting, but they’ll never say anything about politics that’s remotely useful to me. I refuse to discuss abortion with anyone who is pro-life or pro-choice; I refuse to discuss affirmative action with any unemployed white guy or any unemployed black guy. All the world’s stupidest people are either zealots or atheists. If you want to truly deduce how intelligent someone is, just ask this person how they feel about any issue that doesn’t have an answer; the more certainty they express, the less sense they have. This is because certainty only comes from dogma
This comes near the end of a 2004 piece from Esquire on the pointless nationalism of the Olympics, but it strikes me as an absolutely dead-on description of, well, a lot of things: why I don’t read Daily Kos, why I don’t follow links to the Skpetics Circle or Carnival of the Godless, why I don’t post much to the “Culture Wars” channel on ScienceBlogs. And, probably, why I don’t get fifty thousand visitors a day.
I’ll post the second blog-worthy passage separately.