Thursday, October 30, 2008

Critchley on Obama

Excerpts from an interesting essay, based on what must have been a fascinating speech by Simon Critchley to the American Political Science Association, as reproduced in Harpers (making it even more interesting!)...

Critchley is a philosophy professor at the New School in NYC. He provides some combination of provocative observations-- and/or the claims of an armchair psychologist.

He opens with this poignant bomb: "There is something desperately lonely about Barack Obama's universe."

Then after talking about Obama's eloquence in speech and in writing, he writes:

After watching countless speeches and carefully reading his words, I have absolutely no sense of who Barack Obama is. It's very odd. The more one listens and reads, the greater the sense of opacity....I found myself repeatedly asking: Who is this man? I don't mean anything sinister by this. It is just that I was overcome by a sense of distance in reading Obama, and the more sincere the prose, the greater distance I felt. He confesses early on that he is not someone who easily gets worked up about things. But sometimes I rather wish he would. Anger is the emotion that produces motion, the mood that moves the subject to act. Perhaps it is the first political emotion.

This is a different angle on my prediction that Obama would be more talker and actor-- than act-er-- as president.


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