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On the Rules of Engagement and Trashy bios

Brien, Brien@WatchRock.net wrote:

On Wed, 14 Jun 2000 16:38:08 GMT, Pogo Possum, Ph.D. wrote to Kinbote:
>>>>Your use of the word "pseudointellectual" is interesting.  Does it
>>>>mean that you think I am pretending to be intellectual or does it mean
>>>>that you don't recognize the legitimacy of the areas of learning from
>>>>which I draw my insights?  Care to elaborate?

>>>Does this mean you're ressurecting Chas from your KILLFILE,
>>>Pogo, or should I continue to be the bridge between you two?

>>Like a bridge over troubled water...
>>On the subject of this thread : Unlike the vast bulk of such books
>>on the market today (which rely heavily ir rentirely on anonymous
>>sources), Bane's "trashy book" is CRAMMED witrh references and
>>statements from people who actually identify themselves and references
>>to PUBLIC records which nail down dates and places Laura wants to keep
>>Using Kinbote's description of Bane's book as "trashy" we might well be
>>led to think Woodward and Bernstein's articles were "tabliod crap". What
>>do you want Charles, video tapes as well as pictures?

>I can understand a general disdain for the kind of biographies
>about celebrities and other current popular figures, that are more
>or less thrown together from press clippings and a few interviews
>with contemporaries of the subject. Whether sympathetic, hagiographic,
>or a grand slagging, they're usually undocumented, superficial, and,
>well, trashy.

>According to Chas, however, there is a more important principle at
>work, his so called rules of engagement, where any attempt to parse
>a persons thinking, beyond their public words, to gain some insight
>into or make some sort of assessment of their character and personality
>is little more than a vain attempt at character assassination. That
>Ms. Schlessinger does this very thing daily seems to escape him.

I didn't invent those Rs of E.  That's Mitch's product.  It would be silly to claim that we can never gain any insight into the mind of another person.  99% of serious thought consists of attempting to do precisely that.
I merely wish to see it done tastefully.
As to the fact that Laura does it, well, that's her job.  People call *her* and ask her opinion.  She's not hanging around a newsgroup posting thousands of articles smearing callers.  She is interpreting the significance of a caller's dilemma, placing it in a larger context and commenting on it, and then moving on.
(Now, if you're refering to DL on the APA or the ALA or GLAAD, etc, you may have more of a point.  But I'm not sure what I'm supposed to say about it.  I don't think I've ever claimed that DL is perfect.  I merely think the show --for all its flaws-- has genuine value.)
>I'm wondering if Chas feels this way about biography in general, and
>not just about pop biographies like Bane's, or worse, Kitty Kelly's.
>Do the Rules of Engagement only apply to his ox du jour, or would
>he also defend John Winthrop from Edward Morgan, or Abe Lincoln
>from Carl Sandberg?

Obviously there are good bios and bad bios.  A sympathetic,
philosophically sophisticated, fully informed reading of a person's mind and actions, that places that person inside a three-dimensional world of culture, history, politics and religion, is radically
different from petty, nastily insinuating, one-sided gossipmongering.