David Brooks’ review of Al Gore’s latest book merits another post (at least). Gore argues that the participatory nature of our democracy has been undermined by the one-way media. While that may not be an original idea, Gore has a lot of experience with its consequences. Brooks has no patience, however, for argument (something we have long suspected). He writes:
>But Goreís imperviousness to reality is not the most striking feature of the book. Itís the chilliness and sterility of his worldview. Gore is laying out a comprehensive theory of social development, but it allows almost no role for family, friendship, neighborhood or just face-to-face contact. He sees society the way you might see it from a speaking podium ó as a public mass exercise with little allowance for intimacy or private life. He envisions a sort of Vulcan Utopia, in which dispassionate individuals exchange facts and arrive at logical conclusions.
It really would suck if people “exchang[ed] facts and arriv[ed] at logical conclusions.” The mysterious thing here is that not only is Gore lamenting the absence of civil discourse–which is, dear Mr.Brooks, a kind of civic engagement–but he can hardly be taken to be claiming that it’s the only thing people do.
What lurks behind Brooks dimwitted review is the classic Brooksian dichotomy: things can only be one way (my way) or the totally absurd other way (whatever your way is). Gore cannot be right about logic, because then we would all be Vulcans–like Dr.Spock (the one on TV). Maybe Al Gore is saying that we need logic at least, or perhaps, also.
Some, maybe like Kant or Aristotle or Aquinas, would agree with Gore.
More on this tomorrow. It’s too horrible for one or two days.