what they do is who they are

“It’s hard,” writes Thomas Harris somewhere of Starling and Lecter, “to accept that someone can understand you without wishing you well.” Life’s too slippery for books, Clarice; anger appears as lust, lupus presents as hives.

I wrote something in July about political grifters, left and right: an argument (over-compressed, over-allusive) that their adept way with words — their subtle deployment, and indeed understanding, of the elaborate shibboleths of the tribe — is by no means necessarily the conclusive tell for their motivation. The heart of a good con is that you’re hearing what you very much want to hear: the conman may or may not at some level also believe it himself (and please to note: they are by no means all men). The sentence “I love you” is not on its own proof that the speaker loves you (this powerful argument is Seth’s, by the way). Karl Rove and the Super-PAC American Crossroads; the people who built ORCA for Romney… what did these projects seem to say but “I love you” to those whose money they took, in such eye-wateringly large amounts?

This species of con is BY NO MEANS restricted to the moneyed right: though I think the equivalent on the left perhaps feeds more on moral-intellectual authority and celebrity and glamour than actual cash. (Though some of them do like cash.)


Is there not a point — of acclaim, respect, mainstream success, [stupid word alert] “influence” and simply being paid lots to do what you enjoy doing — where self-awareness should kick in, as you find yourself unleashing this take-down term at others? Own your power: you are not the embattled nobody you imagine.

(Am looking at self somewhat here, not that I use this specific word very often.)

(But not just at self…)

how to sustain an intellectual conversation (in your head)

one thread of the scott/amundsen post refers (without saying so) all the way back to something kogan wrote in why music sucks in 1989 or so: which i have been puzzling away at ever since — explanation in the FT footnotes when i get round to em (i hope and plan)