January 18, 2011

Stanley Fish finds "a unity" to Sarah Palin book "America by Heart," but "it is not one Palin proclaims or works out discursively."

NYT readers will have their Sarah Palin processed through the Mind of Fish:
Rather, the unity is conveyed by the quotations that carry the argument, long (sometimes two-page) quotations from an impressive variety of authors, quotations that are strong in isolation and even stronger when they are laid next to one another. The book is really an anthology. The author does not present herself as controlling or magisterial; she gives her authorities space and then she gets out of the way. Her performance mimes the book’s lesson: rather than acting as a central authority, she lets individual voices speak for themselves. Humility is not something Palin is usually credited with, but here she enacts it by yielding the stage as others proclaims the truths she wants us to carry away.
Sarah Palin is doing something that is, perhaps, pure genius, and it takes the brilliant professor to say what she is doing so that the ideas are apparent even to New York Times readers, who are well-defended against the notion that Palin is anything but stupid. Even slapped in the face by Fish...



... they resist. I'll be the professor translating the diverse items into a unity for your easy consumption: NOOOOOOOOO! Favorite way of saying "no": surely, the book was actually written by Bill Ayers some ghostwriter.

23 comments:

dont tread 2012 said...

We can all learn something from Monty Python.

Really.

Henry said...

The comments to Fish's essay are priceless. They run about 99-1 against. Against Palin. Against Fish. A few against America. At least one against Frank Capra.

Most of the complainers seem to think that claiming the book was ghost-written (it had to be) is a killer argument.

Fish: "The book has a unity"
Complainer: "Don't you know the book was ghost-written?"

*poof* the book disappears.

knox said...

The comments over there are going to be a hoot to read.

PaulV said...

Amazing, a fair review and it drives the readers of NYTimes batty. Thanks.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Surprising. After what Palin did to those poor halibut I expected Fish to be out for revenge.

Big Mike said...

Well of course some backwoods female who didn't attend an Ivy (or at least Berkely or Stanford or Wisconsin or maybe Northwestern) can't possibly have written a book by herself.

QED!

shoutingthomas said...

Still, as an account of one woman’s love for her country, it is strong enough, and to read it is to understand the appeal she has for so many, an appeal that may have been clouded, but has not been eclipsed, by what happened in Arizona.

What happened in Arizona? Huh?

I really am looking forward to the day when Palin is president.

It's going to be a lot of fun.

Henry said...

What comment should I recommend?

Should I go for one of the dozens that employs bad grammar to accuse Palin of being illiterate:

She's barely literate, little interested and frankly just too gosh darn stupid to lead. [uh, sic]

Or should I go for one that accuses Stanley Fish of being a duplicitous right-wing agent (not an honorable right-winger like David Frum). This one, for instance:

The only benefit from your effort today is that you'll never again be able to hide your lack of analytical acumen or your excess of knee-jerk right wing partisanship behind the facade of phony highfalutin scholarly-sounding rhetoric.

The Worm Annoyer strikes again.

Richard Dolan said...

Fish takes obvious delight in zinging the NYT gospel, and doing so using an academic prose style and lit-crit essay form that really sends them over the top.

And his ending is the best of all: "And then there’s a bonus, the appearance and explication of the word 'refudiation.' It is very well done, and with the appropriate measure of self-mockery, but I will say no more and leave you to experience its pleasures for yourself."

The pleasure comes as much from laughing at all the stiffs who refuse to get the joke. Self-mockery (really here the ability to see how others see you and then using it to advantage) is just the quality needed to refudiate the Palin-haters in style. She's Dorothy throwing cold water on the witches who want to steal her ruby slippers, and then watching them melt away from their own now-exposed empty nastiness.

t-man said...

"Slapped in the face by Fish..."

I just want to say how much I appreciate your writing.

cubanbob said...

Henry said...
The comments to Fish's essay are priceless. They run about 99-1 against. Against Palin. Against Fish. A few against America. At least one against Frank Capra.

Most of the complainers seem to think that claiming the book was ghost-written (it had to be) is a killer argument.

Fish: "The book has a unity"
Complainer: "Don't you know the book was ghost-written?"

*poof* the book disappears.

1/18/11 10:17 AM

Has Obama's book disappeared?
Apparently from your observation of the NYT commenters is they have choice between believing Fish or their lying eyes.

Leo Ladenson said...

The funny thing is that Bill Ayers's authorship of Dreams from My Father could have been a campaign-ending revelation for Obama. Now, post-election, it will be nothing more than a whispered, historical footnote, like Ted Sorenson's authorship of Profiles in Courage.

bgates said...

Humility is not something Palin is usually credited with

That's true in the sense that "_____ is not something Palin is usually credited with", at least when it's the NYT doing the crediting, but I don't think I've ever heard an attack specifically on Palin's ego, perhaps for the obvious reason that what mothers of spoiled children and agents of Hollywood's worst call "a healthy self-regard" has been in vogue in the White House for a couple of years now.

traditionalguy said...

In a meritocracy society, your opponents must be said to have NO merit in any way whatsoever. What is so funny is the trouble the propagandists get themselves into when they believe their own story line. Fish, who can see that, is actually helping out the NYT readers. Maybe Fox News can hire Fish as a commenter.

t-man said...

I will say no more and leave you to experience its pleasures for yourself.

Fish's ending is priceless. Ke must know that very few of the NYT readers will read, or ever admit to reading or enjoying, a book by Palin.

wv: whama (wham + momma (grizzly?))

dont tread 2012 said...

The review is about what I expected. I've never read any book by Mrs. Palin but my sense about her since she was chosen and introduced by McCain was that she was genuinely a person more like mainstream America and not of the DC elite.

She does have a certain humility that is absent in many political types. Lets face it, to endure the rigors of politics you can't exactly be a wallflower - in general I think she's better suited for a leadership role outside the political arena, rather than represent one of the 2 'parties' we currently are stuck with.

wv -wayst

How many wayst 2 skin a cat

cokaygne said...

Fish is often like an in-house Rush for the NYT. The house conservatives, Brooks and Douthat, are brought out every week to dance like trained bears so that Times readers can laugh at them. Once in a while they let Tierney out of the basement but no one reads him because he deals in facts. Fish is not a conservative but, like Rush, he provokes liberals by confronting their illogic. As many here have noted, reading Fish and his apoplectic commentators is great fun.

rasqual said...

The media like to catch personalities in "deer in the headlights" moments, and Palin has seen her share of those. But in part, the media do not try this with their favorites. And a little-known secret: "professionals" at the game of avoiding those moments themselves, may seem invulnerable -- but they're not. They've simply learned how to appear confident and deflect the peril competently. And that's a problem, because we presume they're better than they are. Which explains much of our incompetent government.

R.L. Hunter said...

dont tread 2012 said...

We can all learn something from Monty Python.


And from this sketch we learn,

"If they bring a Trout you bring a Halibut"

Kirk Parker said...

Paul,

"After what Palin did to those poor halibut I expected Fish to be out for revenge. "

Nah, it just shows he's self-hating. But isn't that what you would expect from someone who spent most of his life in postmodern academia?

RuyDiaz said...

Read some of the comments: they don't want to know. Particularly galling are the comments about how Sarah Palin is too dumb to have writing the book. Which, of course, can be proven false by this profile, in the frigging New York Times website:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/21/magazine/21palin-t.html?pagewanted=3

"Three weeks after telling Malek that her life was difficult, Palin abruptly resigned as governor. Determined to reclaim her narrative and settle a few scores along the way, she enlisted the services of the Washington lawyer Robert Barnett, who negotiated lucrative book deals for both Clintons as well as George W. Bush. Palin surprised him with a packet of more than 20,000 words that she had already written about her childhood in Alaska. Palin spent the summer of 2009 hunkered down in a Del Mar, Calif., condominium working on her memoir with her communications director, Meghan Stapleton, and a book collaborator named Lynn Vincent. During the day, Palin took her laptop out by the condo complex's swimming pool and sat there writing in her sun visor and flip-flops, apparently unrecognized by the other residents. And she would stay up writing until 5 in the morning."

Fen said...

The NYTs deserves its readership

Kirk Parker said...

"The NYTs deserves its readership "

It still has one???

wv: prilmwkw -- Blogger's out of english words for captchas, and has started to import them from Poland and the Balkans.