Saheli*: Musings and Observations
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
 
A Cracking Voice

There's a particular genre of opinion column that either must have a name, or should have one. It's a rant against some sort of sociopolitical or sociocultural phenomena, a contemptuous dissection of why the new trend represents fuzzy or hypocritical thinking, how it is not what it appears to be, etc. . It's an excessive debunking of the conventional wisdom that is one of journalists' particular rights. It requires a biting wit and an ability to make fun of people even if they're being earnest, but especially if they're merely pretending to be earnest. It's the bread and butter of the backpages of magazines like Time & Newsweek, and a speciality of Slate. It's designed to either get you nodding in furious agreement, part of a writer-reader conspiracy of self-satisfied superiority, or work you into an inarticulate rage, furious but unable to respond. It's rare that it leaves you with tears in your eyes.

But I have just read exactly one such column, Timothy Noah's on Slate, and I think it's a remarkable example of how far Slate has gone in pushing the envelope on personalizing its writers' voices and capitalizing on their emotions. I feel that it would be disrespectful to steal Timothy Noah's mournful thunder, so you'll just have to go look at it. Suffice it to say I found the conclusion to his most recent column to be heart-seizing even though I saw it coming. I read Slate pretty often and knew of the recent events of his life. I had even thought about sending him a note, just because I feel like I know and like him (and many of his colleagues at Slate)-- not just because I enjoy their writing so much, but also because they allow themselves into it a little more often than conventional writers. You can almost hear their actual voices in their writing, and therefore it's no wonder that sometimes those voices crack. I finally decided sending a note would be kind of ridiculous, since that's the only reason I had to send the note.

But it's a remarkable person who can inspire a pining so strong that its secondary shockwave, transmitted by a few fairly ordinary lines of text on an electric display, elicits a tear in a person on the other side of a continent, someone who is otherwise completely disconnected from the source. Whatever else one does with one's life, being that kind of person seems like a fairly decent goal.
 


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Saheli Datta started this when she was a journalism student at Columbia in New York. Now she lives in the Bay Area. *Old people call me R. New people, call me Saheli. Thanks! My homepage. Specifically, my links. Email me: Saheli [AT] Gmail [dot] Com

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Blogs I Read (Or Try To)
113th Street
american footprints(Nadezhda & Praktike)
ANNA's Diary
Apartment Therapy
Armchair Generalist
Back To Iraq 3.0 (Chris Albritton)
Dave Barry
The Bellman
Mine's On The 45 (Brimful)
Campaign Desk (CJR)
ChennaiCentral
ClimateBoy
Combing the Sphere
Crooked Timber
Daily Dose of Imagery
The Daily Rhino (Bong Breaker)
Dark Days Ahead
The Decembrist
Brad DeLong
Atanu Dey on India's Development (Deeshaa)
Daniel Drezner
Ennis
Ephemera
Cyrus Farivar
Finding My Voice
Forsv
Neil Gaiman
Ganesh Blog
Geeky Chic 2.0 (Echan)
Geomblog
Green Ink!
Heliolith
Alexandra Huddleston
Iddybud (Jude Nagurney Camwell)
Indeterminacy
India Uncut
InSpiteOfEverything
Intel Dump: Phillip Carter et al
The Intersection (Chris Mooney)
Jesus Politics
John and Belle Have a Blog
Mark A. R. Kleiman
KnowProse (Taran Rampersad)
1Locana
Maenad (Nori Heikkinen)
Scott McCloud
Mind Without Borders
Electrolite: Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden
Corey Pein
Political Animal(Kevin Drum, formerly Calpundit)
Kevin G. Powell
QuakeHelp (South Asian Quake)
Radiation Persuasion (Nick)
Reneebop
Rhinocrisy
Scott Rosenberg(Salon.com)
Rox Populi
Felix(&Rhian)Salmon
samVaad
Nick Schager
Idea Spout: Daniel Sanchez
Sepia Mutiny
Amardeep Singh
Snarkmarket (Robin Sloan & Matt Thompson)
South-East Asian Earthquake and Tsunami Blog
SreeTips: New To Sree
Steprous (Bear)
Robert Stribley
Subjunctive.net:klog
Talking Points Memo: Joshua Micah Marshall
Tech Policy
TiffinBox
A Tiny Revolution
To The Teeth
TreeHugger
Unfogged
VatulBlog
Venk@
Manish Vij
Vinod's Blog
War and Piece
Nollind Whachell
Wonkette
WorldChanging
Matthew Yglesias:Old
Yglesias:Tpmcafe
Zoo Station:Reuben Abraham
Ethan Zuckerman
Zwichenzug



Some Categories

Blogs focusing on policy, politics, and national security:
Armchair Generalist
Back To Iraq 3.0 (Chris Albritton)
The Decembrist
Brad DeLong
Daniel Drezner
Eschaton(Atrios)
Green Ink!
Iddybud (Jude Nagurney Camwell)
Idea Spout: Daniel Sanchez
Informed Comment: Juan Cole
Intel Dump: Phillip Carter
The Intersection (Chris Mooney)
Irregular Analyses
Jesus Politics
Mark A. R. Kleiman
Liberals Against Terrorism(Nadezhda & Praktike)
Political Animal(Kevin Drum, formerly Calpundit)
Talking Points Memo: Joshua Micah Marshall
War and Piece
Wonkette
Yglesias:Tpmcafe

Photo Blogs
Daily Dose of Imagery
Ephemera
Alexandra Huddleston
Radiation Persuasion (Nick)
TiffinBox

Columbia Journalism Folks
Apartment Therapy
Back To Iraq 3.0 (Chris Albritton)
Campaign Desk (CJR)
Ranajit Dam
Cyrus Farivar
Alexandra Huddleston
InSpiteOfEverything
Corey Pein
Nick Schager
Zoo Station:Reuben Abraham

Literature, Fiction and Entertainment
Dave Barry
Neil Gaiman
Electrolite: Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Scott McCloud


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