Thursday, June 03, 2004

Nietzsche As Interpreted By Those On The Short Bus

Via TBOGG, I'm treated to Peggy Noonan's deep thoughts on nationalist masculinity:

But they do remind me of something that occurred to me one day about 30 years ago. I was watching on TV one of the great movies of the British new wave of the 1960s. I think it was "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner." I thought to myself: British acting is simply the best in the world, England is drenched in great acting now. Then I realized it had been for generations--Gielgud, Redgrave, et al. Then I thought: Hmmmm. The rise of England's acting class the past century seems to coincide perfectly with the fall of its power as a wealthy and powerful nation that made a difference in the world--an exploring nation, a conquering one.

I wondered if the loss of a kind of national manliness, or force, tends to coincide in modern nations with a rise in expertise in the delicate arts. Then I thought: I wonder if in general one can say of Western nations that the loss of one tends to be accompanied by a rise in the other. In the case of England I think that is so. I have wondered for 30 years if I would come to think it of America. I have not. But the rise of the young graduates who all want to communicate but have no idea what they want to communicate has me thinking about it again.
[Her Italics]

Where to begin? All I know is that Noonan's brilliant conclusion puts her in some fine company -- on the screen! Her thesis has been advanced by G. Gordon Liddy (both in his own insane self and as played by Harry Shearer) and, most ingeniously, in the character of Otto West, "ironically" played by a man especially skilled in the feminine "delicate" art of acting, Kevin Kline.

Word is that Kline based his character. precognitively as it were, on Kim du Toit, a manly man by any standard, even Peggy's exacting one.