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UC turf war: Beneath whose armpit dwells a ferocious goat?*

October 13, 2008, 8:48 pm

So I avoided these duties today by defending what I’d written yesterday from this. I don’t know what to make of that—the anger spills from, well, I’m not sure—but in the end, I’m blamed for present hate-mail from Atlantic readers and future hate-mail from American Conservative readers.  All because I considered Jeff Goldstein’s “disinterested” disquisition on the relationship of ghostwriters to their subjects insufficiently disinterested, what with it being a series of hypotheticals about Bill Ayers ghostwriting Barack Obama’s autobiographies and all.

Why would I think Goldstein’s interests weren’t disinterested?  Probably because he’s been postulating this here and that there about Ayers’ relation to Obama’s relation to Alinksy’s relation to the New Left and all things radical.  Admittedly, in the post I linked to—the disinterested “What If…?” about Ayers ghostwriting Obama’s memoirs—Jeff didn’t speak directly to his beliefs about Obama and the totalitarian state his victory will usher in.

He spoke entirely hypothetically and disinterestedly about the sort of material James Olney wrote brilliantly about in Memory & Narrative—a book I can’t recommend highly enough, for what it lacks in the faux-theoretical sophistication of insecure blowhards it makes up with genuine, old-school erudition—except unlike Olney, whose impetus was either Beckett or St. Augustine, Jeff felt compelled to share his wholly and entirely disinterested thoughts about life-writing after reading Cashill’s hackneyed “analysis” of Ayers and Obama’s memoirs.

What was I thinking, connecting what he’d been writing to months to his totally disinterested post about life-writing that just so happened to feature the same two figures who star in his drama of inevitable American decline?  I’m such a liar . . . but if you can bear with me for a moment, there’s a more important topic at stake here.  Jeff’s commenters have sunk to a new low:

Now they’re claiming UCI is a community college.  They’re making fun of the institution that made me a Doctor of Philosophy of Literature, and I won’t stand for it.  I’m this close to blowing all my gaskets and—

—what’s that you say?  UCI isn’t the armpit of the UC system?  Davis is?  I suppose my gaskets are safe then.  I can’t imagine anyone here taking offense to that.


*Via Insult incarnate.

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