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The Metaphysical Club

Were I to write about Louis Menand's The Metaphysical Club today, I suspect that it would be at somewhat greater length than that of this page of five paragraphs from 2001. I'd launched Portico at the beginning of 2000, but I still had no very clear idea of what I was doing. The Metaphysical Club is a weighty (albeit lucid) tome that explores the most upholstered period in American thought; I think that I might say that American thinkers had no very clear idea of what they were doing - at least as writers.

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Times columnist Clyde Haberman wrote yesterday about reverberations both caused and likely to be caused by Oliver Stone's World Trade Center, a film that opens tomorrow. Noting that "the business of who gets to turn a dollar, and by what method, can be tricky," Mr Haberman wonders,

Would former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani be earning his many millions and contemplating a presidential race were it not for 9/11? Would his onetime sidekick, Bernard B. Kerik, be in demand as a security expert? Would George E. Pataki, who to our knowledge has never been referred to as “America’s Governor,” be seriously entertaining White House dreams?

Even more ouch-making:

What if a future filmmaker wishes to explore aspects of 9/11 that are not soul-stirring? What if some people trapped inside the twin towers are portrayed as far-from-noble figures? Or if a movie dwells on the catastrophic failure of communications between the Police and Fire Departments that occurred on Mr. Giuliani’s watch, a breakdown that was perhaps responsible for hundreds of needless deaths?

Ah, the higher opportunism meets political correctness. For Times Select subscribers, here's "On Movies About 9/11 No Offense."


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