Wednesday, 10 February 2010

You'll only encourage them

Brit continues to bemoan The Mary Beard Experience, rightly so. He points to her bizarre and insensitive views as being typical of the knee-jerk anti-American left. Which, of course, they are. However, he struggles to explain why she might hold them. I would argue that to pursue a rational, political explanation is to head off in the wrong direction.

MB is merely a show-off. She most closely resembles Rod Liddle. In fact, she's the female Rod Liddle, just as Rod Liddle is the male Mary Beard. They're two peas in a pod, the golden couple of exhibitionism.

There's usually no point in trying to rationalise their views - instead, look to what sort of effect they have. That gives you the secret of why they hold them. They just play to different galleries.

Personally, I think their natures are to be found pretty much entirely in their photos (which I can't bear to reproduce here). I'm sure you knew these types during your schooldays: the ugly, clever girl who finds the attention she craves by setting out to shock the nuns with her unconventional views and by flashing her knickers at the boys; the ugly, clever boy who shows off his unique qualities by dying his hair purple and by being plain rude, consideration and politeness being examples of bourgeois hypocrisy, oh yes.

Nothing wrong with all this, of course. We probably all did a bit of it. But, then, most of us grew up. We probably had to as, unlike our celebrity couple - and let's give them their due here - we didn't have the talent for shocking, the cleverness and the flair, to be able to make a career out of it. Or perhaps we just didn't have the neediness.

Anyway, what is to be done? As your mother told you when you were provoked by this sort of child: 'don't dear, you'll only encourage them'.


malty said...

It can at least be said of Rodders that his Sunday scribblings are often hilarious, nothing the Beard writes is remotely funny.
She is just the bullet, we should investigate the gun.

Gaw said...

You're right there. And she isn't even literate, which I would have thought a minimum requirement for a Classics don. Her blog is a model of incoherence, infelicity and sloppiness. Ah well, we can only aspire...

Sean said...

And she is a bit of minger.
If she had a face, an arse, legs and decent tits, then she would be dangerous.

Brit said...

Another way that Beard and Rodders are similar is in their willingness to immediately take strong, extreme stances on arguments about which they know little, or have only just encountered.

Gaw said...

Sean: But that's enough of Liddle. By the way, are you feeling fully noticed nowadays?

Brit: What I most like about twinning them is to imagine their horror at discovering their cross-dressing doppelganger.

worm said...

damn, you beat me to it Gaw! :D

Sean said...

NO. but I am feeling full of cold does that count?

Gaw said...

That'll teach you to win at rugby. I bet you were so happy you danced naked round the car park on Saturday evening.

dearieme said...

In a Cambridge bookshop before Christmas:-

My wife: "There's a book by Mary Beard; would you like that?"
Me: "God, no; she's not got what you might call a critical intellect."
Two late middle-aged female bystanders then glared daggers.

I conclude that the daft old bat has her groupies.

Anonymous said...

i mentioned the Beard to a historian i know. His response, "I can't stand the sight of her. She reminds me of a slug."

Nice Wittgensteinian analysis - don't look at their actions for an inner meaning, look at the "use".

maryb said...

Hi .. yes I got this by googling.. and what a strange site this is.I am happy to debate differences with anyone who would like to engage with the argument. That's the point isn't it?

But all this stuff about "if she had a face , an arse legs and decent tits" that REALLY what we are talking about? Come on guys. Surely our disagreements are more interesting (and important) than that?? Don't just pretend that it is all about the female form! Mine may be lacking.. but aren't we talking about more significant issues that are not reducible just to tits and bums.. or have I lost the plot?

Gadjo Dilo said...

Frig!!!! Ghostofelberry beat me to it with the Wittgenstein reference - can you believe it?!?!?!? It was my chance to appear intelligent and I won't get another for months!!!

BTW, Mr Elberry, how does one comment on your blog? I've tried but to no avail.

Yeah, come on boys - well, Sean - let's lay off the tits and bums references shall we (unless we're being like "ironic").

Gaw said...

Dearieme: I remember, Cambridge can be like that - are you sure one of them wasn't MB?

Elberry: Any engagement with Witters was entirely accidental.

Maryb: I would guess Sean was engaging in exhibitionism designed to shock. It's best not to pay such comments too much attention as it only encourages him. I agree that they're tasteless and silly.

Gadjo: I shall think of you as the Belated Sage of the Carpathians from now on.

Elberry's switched comments off.

Brit said...

Sean's comment was obviously puerile so Mary B mentioning it is itself an evasion.

Barendina Smedley said...

If Professor Beard is still lurking about in the neighbourhood, I'd be fascinated to hear whether she considers condemning this blog as 'strange' - without the fairly basic courtesy of explaining what, exactly, she finds so 'strange' about it - a constructive prelude to 'debating differences' here?

As for Professor Beard's comments about 9/11, although pretty obviously evil (to use Brit's word) in the sense that they - or, rather, their author - offer an apology for mass murder - I suppose I am, by now, so thoroughly numbed when it comes to anti-Americanism - e.g. the bland statement made by a commentator here recently that all Americans supported the IRA - that it's a struggle to work up any special indignation in this case. Certainly, in the first few hours or so after the events of 9/11 began to unfold, at least half a dozen British friends of mine opined, quite happily, that at least this would show the Yanks what terrorism was really like. It was only later they learned that this wasn't quite the acceptable thing to say, at least in public.

Evil, yes. There's a lot of evil about in the world - callousness, cruelty and moral myopia, too - and so I am all the more grateful that there are still people around who, like Brit and Gareth, have the energy to get exercised about it.

malty said...

One can only comment on elberry's blog by appointment or a special dispensation or decree, maybe a brown envelope or two.
Ladies can feature on his blog by removing their kit.

Gaw said...

Brit: If a debate is what MB wants, I recall an excellent one over at your blog yesterday...

Barendina: 'Strange' (certainly when it comes from MB's direction) I take as potentially very positive. Many thanks though for your comment. I can't imagine what it must have felt like to hear that sort of stuff as an American over here.

It was only later they learned that this wasn't quite the acceptable thing to say, at least in public.

I feel sure I wouldn't have been able to demonstrate such incredible restraint!

Malty: Or by ouija board.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Gaw, thanks, that eases my disappointment, a little.

Malty, Papal bull? I'll get on the blower right away to "German" Benny if so.

Sean said...

Brit, I only do "puerile" for the "puerile"

Sean said...

The great thing about free speech is you know who the idiots are.

So instead of "debate" and "reason" or a very clever piece of scorn when a baseball bat will do, try giving them a bit of meat to keep them alive, make their existence a pleasure for themselves, then you will know when you are unsure, that the opposite of what they say is probably true. the cloud of reality will be slightly lifted. They serve a public good.

One good thing about being a quarter Polish is you know from experience that the majority of Western Intellectuals (if thats what they think they are ) talk a load of shit.

Shit that keeps people poor, less free and with a high mortality rate.

Anyway garth, Rod had it coming, Mary especially can F the right off and stay F.ed off. As least Rob is interesting if not often correct, a bit like Palin.

Sorry for the anti-intellectual Ranting posts, But the subject matter does not a more considered one.

Anonymous said...

i'm too haughty and neurotic to enable comments. Also i have a small but dedicated following of trolls and mentally ill people who used to leave alarming or annoying comments. i was on the point of trying to kill one of them with magic when i decided it was better to just turn comments off altogether.

Good reasons to avoid any kind of fame: along with attracting nutters, eminence encourages self-important pontifications, as if being a novelist or historian entitles one to weigh in on each & every matter in the news. Virginia Woolf dissects this neatly in, i think, 3 Guineas - she's attacking dons, who have this disconcerting habit of becoming gurus. Woolf rightly says that lecturing - standing on a platform talking at 200 malleable young people - encourages narcissism and self-importance. i suppose having comments makes it more like a seminar, with some give & take - i prefer to think of mine as a private conversation, like a stinking bearded wild-eyed schizophrenic's ramblings.

Gadjo Dilo said...

ok :-)