Wednesday, November 05, 2008

upon watching BHL pose as an intellectual on Charlie Rose last night

...reminded me of this:
Did Bernard-Henri Lévy comprehend that "the American left" and "the Charlie Rose television program" are, in fact, distinct entities? Might there be aspects of social and political life that do not impinge upon the consciousness of Sharon Stone or Warren Beatty (who, to judge by American Vertigo, are among the American left's most important figures)? Can a thing be, and yet not be, well publicized?

I frame these questions with all due seriousness, for they touch on something one must always keep in mind while reading Lévy's work--his new book, Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against the New Barbarism (Random House, $25), most emphatically included. For BHL (as he is known in France and, increasingly, the United States) is not simply another pundit. He brings to current affairs a certain philosophical method, which he succinctly unpacked not many years ago in his book War, Evil, and the End of History. There Lévy explained that he found it impossible to recognize as valid any political movement "about which I could not have the feeling, even if illusory, that it began, ended, and found its reasoning in me alone." And so while "the American left" may or may not exist, what Charlie Rose so lovingly calls "this table" certainly does--for BHL has sat at it. Hence certain rigorous deductions are possible....

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