Thursday, June 01, 2006

Bloggers as fastidious, mass-murdering nerd wannabes?

In The New Yorker this week, Adam Gopnik writes in “Headless Horseman: The Reign of Terror Revisited” about a couple of new books on the French Revolution and its aftermath -- “The Terror: The Merciless War for Freedom in Revolutionary France” and “Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution.” Gopnik is particularly intrigued by the infamous Maximilien Robespierre, and “what Robespierre represents.”
… the ascent of the mass-murdering nerd—a man who, having read a book, resolves to kill all the people who don’t like it as much as he does. There is a case to be made that the real singularity of the Terror was the first appearance on the stage of history of this particular psychological type: not the tight-lipped inquisitor, alight with religious rage, but the small, fastidious intellectual, the man with an idea, the prototype of Lenin listening to his Beethoven as the Cheka begins its purges. In normal times, such men become college professors, or book reviewers or bloggers. It takes special historical circumstances for them to become killers: the removal of a ruling class without its replacement by a credible new one. In the confusion, their ethereal certainties look like the only solid thing to build on.
Bloggers?! Ouch. It's possible to imagine mild-mannered college professors harboring murderous urges. And, of course, book reviewers are always fair game. But bloggers? Has Gopnik had a recent run-in with some bloggers and their "ethereal certainties"? Or does this go beyond Gopnik? Is The New Yorker as an institution starting to get nervous about potential competitors out here in the blogosphere? Inquiring minds want to know.

No comments: