February 7, 2005

Recanting, refocusing my anger

So I am feeling a little ashamed of my post about Alex Howe's op-ed about Dartmouth and collegeness the other day. After reading through the many comments my post has provoked, I admit, all you readers out there are right, I got a little prescriptive and very uncool myself over the issue of what is cool and not cool. For who am I to determine? I'm certainly no Vice Magazine. That said, I would like to begin a sort of rolling diatribe about why The Dartmouth Review, despite its many apparent merits, sucks. Of course this ambitious project might perish by the wayside like many other goals of mine. But hopefully I will get somewhere with this, as the rancor the TDR has inspired in me, pustulent and protuberant, is overripe to issue forth.

Where to begin? I have never been a fan of The Dartmouth Review, many know this much about me. I have, however, frequently read it, even as I facilitated its prompt post-distribution recycling on a not insignificant scale. Why do I occasionally read it? Oh I might cite the same reasons given by many of its other non-conservative readers: "It is (if nothing else) well written"; even "The best-written paper on campus"; etc. But no. If ever I said those things may I never stop being punished for them. And I will go so far as to say if you have ever conceded these things to some conservative friend you should ask yourself why, why did I say the Review is well-written when its writing -- not just its content -- makes me cringe?

At least, it makes me cringe. And surprise guess what the weak part in the received proposition "The TDR is the best-written paper on campus" is? The TDR is well-written if what you value in writing is the pompous, the smug, the (unattractively) affected, the pathetically atavistic, the cliche, the unchanging, the (tired old) insouciant, the self-aggrandizing, the insular, the boring canonical, the sterile -- I'll stop here, but feel free to add your own adjectives. And this description is not limited to the writing; take any given photograph in there, all of Dartmouth c. 1890 (O that the homosociality of yesteryear might return!), any comic, font, middle initial, graphic, "[sic]", and don't even mention those lithographical avatars, whatever those things are called in the business of Wall Street Journalism.

Granted, I'm starting to sound a little political, a little liberal: on my honor, I hope those Reviewers shall not already scoff and guffaw, snuff a cigar in my face (but only after due and gentlemanly notification). I'll admit, my aesthetics and my ideology are inseparable, just like everyone's -- I should hope any Review writer would agree with me here, even though he (or the rare she) has surely evaded the postmodern/Communist indoctrination of Literary Theory. But, please, catch me if I get too P.C.

To be continued -- if I don't stop getting all wrapped up in the ironic epxression of my vitriol I might start sounding like a Reviewer.

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