First Committee Purges: “James Flint and Hari Kunzru are expelled as they have become complicit with a publishing industry whereby the ‘writer’ becomes merely the executor of a brief dictated by corporate market research, reasserting the certainties of middle-brow aesthetics (‘issues’ of ‘contemporary culture’, ‘post-colonial identity’ etc.) under the guise of genuine creative speculation.” It appears that Tom McCarthy is running a very important organization.
The National Post, which ain’t exactly the bastion of liberal thought, devoted a series of columns devoted to attacking Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine. But here’s the funny thing. They also paid for excerpts of Klein’s book, essentially paying Klein dinero to slam her to the ground. So who’s influencing whom? (via Bookninja)
In fact, when I type in a sentence like “X on Y,” I cannot help but think of randy intellectuals twitching lustily between sheets. But there appears to be no better shortcut in the English language to describe one person writing about another. I have similar problems with the phrase “in conversation with” (two prepositions!), which suggests a needlessly formal way of simply saying “talking with.” Apparently, “talking” is not good enough. One must be “in conversation with” in order to say anything intelligent, uplifting, or otherwise seminal to the human species. But very often, the people I find “in conversation with” another tend to be full of hot air. (In fact, when a person is telling you at a party, “I’m having a conversation with so-and-so,” a not so veiled way of telling you that you don’t matter and that you should go away very soon because you’re not all that interesting, it’s quite a rude thing, isn’t it?) Perhaps these various organizations avoid direct verbs because what’s being celebrated here is not so much two people talking with each other, but two people being “in conversation with” each other. Meaning that, due to legal reasons or other factors, an institution cannot promise something as vivacious as “talking.” Meaning that an event billing itself with the “in conversation with” moniker may very well be boring. Meaning that the audience members are not part an important part of the experience, because one of the participants is essentially saying to them, “I’m having a conversation with so-and-so.” Please shut up and listen. Pontifications are the order of the day.
And while I’m quibbling over this subject, I should point out that I try never to say that I am “talking to” someone, but that I’m “talking with” someone. “Talking to” implies that you are speaking down to them. “Talking with” implies a shared conversational experience, which is more human, when you get right down to it. Then again, I’m usually the guy at the party who is introducing people to others. (Aha! Another trap! Should I not be introducing people with others? Well, in this case, I can’t, because it sounds wrong.)