Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 23, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

RETURN OF THE SOCK PUPPET....John Podhoretz vs. Lee Siegel is surely a cage match we'd all pay to see, but putting that aside, is there any truth to this particular assertion from Podhoretz?

On the other hand, this is Lee Siegel we're talking about — a person who has seen fit to say something nice, in my memory, of only one work of contemporary art.

This is, admittedly, not really something I care much about, but I'll confess to some curiosity. Is Siegel really that jaundiced? Was his infamously pretentious takedown of Jon Stewart, for example, really high praise by his standards? Does anyone with more knowledge of the Siegel oeuvre care to chime in on this burning question?

Kevin Drum 2:16 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (38)

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Does anyone with more knowledge of the Siegel ouvre care to chime in on this burning question?

apparently not

Posted by: Ugh on April 23, 2007 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK


GONZALES!

speaking of sock puppets...


Posted by: mr. irony on April 23, 2007 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Are you fucking kidding me?

Posted by: norbizness on April 23, 2007 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Does that count Seigel's praise of his own work?

Posted by: gfw on April 23, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Let's see -- Siegel wrote a glowing review of Reno 911. Was that the "one work" J-Pod's referring to?

Posted by: anonymous on April 23, 2007 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

He didn't like this either...

Faith of the Abomination

An independent documentary film created in Austin, TX about the experiences of a lesbian couple who went undercover as a heterosexual couple inside an Evangelical Organization. Tell us what you think!

Posted by: rapscallion on April 23, 2007 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

I think the Corner post is refering to Siegel's review of Eyes Wide Shut, in which Siegel complains that all the critics who hated it were dumber than Lee Siegel.

"I soon began to discover something even more startling. Not a single critic, not even those few who claimed to like Eyes Wide Shut, made any attempt to understand the film on its own artistic terms."


The review is here:

http://www.indelibleinc.com/kubrick/films/ews/reviews/harpers.html

Posted by: Ben on April 23, 2007 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

OT, check out a new post on my blog...

Posted by: Swan on April 23, 2007 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

This post

Posted by: Swan on April 23, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, that's who we're talking about? That guy is sophomoric.

I always feel sorry for the aging Ebert that he has to sit next to that guy. He reminds me of a really annoying kid I was friends with in highschool.

Posted by: Swan on April 23, 2007 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

I lay prostate to announce: I am a sock puppet of Kevin Drum.

(sock puppet means 'douchebag troll of' right?)

no?!

then, prostate again, I am not a sock puppet.

Posted by: Frickin Freq Ken on April 23, 2007 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Why should we really care about these two guys, whose catty remarks render them nothing more than a latter-day version of Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper, sans the outrageous hats?

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on April 23, 2007 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

John Podhoretz isn't fit to comb the lice out of my pubic hair. I know Lee Siegel and he's all that and a bag of Leon Wieseltier's coke.

Posted by: sprezzatura on April 23, 2007 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Lee who?

Should I know this guy?

Should I care what his opinons are?

I'm thinking the answer to both these burning questions is "fuck no!".


But, YMMV.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on April 23, 2007 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

More commentariat navel-gazing...Nice that you find it interesting 'tho, Kev...

Yawn.

Posted by: grape_grush on April 23, 2007 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus fucking Christ is there anything that is career ending these days?

Posted by: Linus on April 23, 2007 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

Get this, the definitive Republican,


"The most vicious signed attacks in South Carolina," writes Scherer, "have come from the otherwise marginal campaign of John Cox, a quirky certified public accountant from Illinois, who speaks of his lesbian sister when he discusses his opposition to gay marriage, and claims his father raped his mother when he discusses his opposition to abortion."

Posted by: cld on April 23, 2007 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

My roomate used to subscribe to TNR. "Italian Actress of the 1960s, delectability of," would be one of the very items in an index of subject Lee Seigel had kind words for.

Posted by: C. on April 23, 2007 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Lee Seigel did praise Norman Mailer's latest in an incredibly long and pretentious review in the New York Times Book Review.

Posted by: peep on April 23, 2007 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Damned dirty baseball caps!

Posted by: Royko on April 23, 2007 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

is there any truth to any particular assertion from Podhoretz?

Fixed it for you.

Posted by: Gregory on April 23, 2007 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

Frickin Freq Ken...Your prostate may hurt so much, it will render you prostrate. Just one little "r" can make a difference.

Posted by: jrw on April 23, 2007 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, two guys bitch slapping each other? Must be a slow news day.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 23, 2007 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking from some experience (Siegel once tole me to get a life, some love, and some medication), he does actually hate just about everything except Eyes Wide Shut. Baseball caps, blogofascists, etc. etc. Actually, with the exception of Stanley Kauffman, who just hates most movies, I think all TNR critics are required to particularly despise the medium about which they write. It's one of the myriad ways in which they maintain their contrarian reputation of which they are extremely proud, for reasons that baffle the heck out of the rest of us.

Posted by: jfaberuiuc on April 23, 2007 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Oops, I'm thinking of Roeper, right...

Well, anyway, Roeper sucks.

Posted by: Swan on April 23, 2007 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

Oeuvre. (Or Œuvre.)

Posted by: ~~~~ on April 23, 2007 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

Who the fuck is Lee Siegal anyway?

I never heard of him.

Posted by: angryspittle on April 23, 2007 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

Eeeek. Eyes Wide Shut is basically the only move that I've ever turned off before the end. Who cares about the deeper meaning of the movie if watching it is like nails on a chalkboard/the scraping of ice/the rubbing of styrofoam?

Posted by: Karmakin on April 23, 2007 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

Is this what they mean by meta?

Posted by: klyde on April 23, 2007 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

How much does he pay for his haircuts?

Posted by: Kenji on April 23, 2007 at 9:03 PM | PERMALINK

...and yet they fired Spencer Ackerman for not being Marty Peretz's butt boy.

Posted by: Reality Man on April 23, 2007 at 11:04 PM | PERMALINK

Wait, who are these people, and tell me again why I should care?

Posted by: The Eye of Ra on April 24, 2007 at 5:18 AM | PERMALINK

Well, Seigel is nuts about the Sopranos. Plus he thought everyone was way too mean to Mel Gibson after the whole anti-semitic thing.

Though I can't be sure if the latter was a genuine opinion of his or if he was just filling his "whoopee, I'm so contrarian!" quota for TNR.

Seigel is a good writer, but his basic problem is that he just has contempt for everyone around him. In this way he just seems like an immature critic, and I would have thought he was one of TNR's younger writers had I not known better. Even after he was unmasked as a sock puppet (another sign of immaturity), he said he just did it to show his contempt for the readers of his work and their lame attempts to express themselves. Oh, now we understand. It was sophisticated commentary. Nice one, Lee.

I really doubt Lee has grown up that much after 9 months of sitting in a corner, but I barely read TNR anymore so he can write away as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by: sweaty guy on April 24, 2007 at 5:32 AM | PERMALINK

"Actually, with the exception of Stanley Kauffman, who just hates most movies, I think all TNR critics are required to particularly despise the medium about which they write. It's one of the myriad ways in which they maintain their contrarian reputation of which they are extremely proud, for reasons that baffle the heck out of the rest of us."

hah! Totally right. Back when I had a subscription to TNR last year I used to love reading/writing the fake TNR headlines of the future. "Down: the new up?" etc, etc.

Posted by: sweaty guy on April 24, 2007 at 5:38 AM | PERMALINK

Siegel wrote all that and never noticed that the movie is an hommage to James Joyce.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on April 24, 2007 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Wow, I never associated the Harper's article of Eyes Wide Shut with TNR's Lee Siegel.

I haven't seen EWS, but I think he did make some good points about critics reviewing the marketing of the film rather than the film itself ("the least erotic orgy ever!").

Posted by: Chippy Gaw? on April 24, 2007 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

I actually thought that his Dave Eggers piece had a good point: that, in telling, the story of Sudan's genoicide as a novel, drowns out the voice of the Sudanese protagonist completely, and we get to hear Egger's voice instead.

That said, Siegel, is the most pretentious writer I've ever read -- that's for sure. The "Eyes Wide Shut" piece was a complete howler and brought out his worst aspect: he tends to portray himself as the sole defender of "culture" as all other critics around him fall dead. But some of his good pieces (well, actually only three that I recall, and yes, all of them are take-downs): his piece on "Sex and the City", his piece on "queery theory" (anthologized in the book "Theory's Empire"). All of these have their typical passages of Siegelian over-reach but the fundamental point is sound.

His last one on Norman Mailer's latest novel on Hitler, went completely over my head.

Posted by: shreeharsh on April 25, 2007 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

I followed Linus's link to that NYT Magazine interview with Lee Siegel. First time I ever saw a picture of Siegel. I was amazed to see he appears to be about 45. He writes like he's 17.

Posted by: nemo on April 25, 2007 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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