Monday, March 17, 2008

The Problem Is ...

No one who knows about World War II will take "Human Smoke" at all seriously. The problem is that people who don't know enough, and who enjoy the spectacle of a writer of apparent authority turning the myth of "the good war" upside down, will think "Human Smoke" is a brave book. Already a reviewer in the Los Angeles Times has praised it for "demonstrating that World War II was one of the biggest, most carefully plotted lies in modern history." That people who think this way about the past will apply the same self-righteous ignorance to the politics of the present and future makes "Human Smoke" not just a stupid book, but a scary one.

Adam Kirsch, putting his finger on it. There are no "good wars," but there are necessary ones.

But ignorance is the mother of monsters, including wars. The lifelong intellectual free-fall of one who has never learned how to grip the walls of life and climb them is a tragedy for that person. He is blown and buffeted by every foul wind from the mouth of every demagogue or lunatic or liar he meets.

A whole people, a whole nation in such a condition -- including its supposed intelligentsia, is a threat to itself and the world.