Thursday, October 10, 2002

INTERNET-STYLE DEBATING BREAKS OUT: The great Postrel sent us over to Charles Paul Freund's wrapup of a debate on the future of the WTC site, memorial-wise. It's all interesting, but here's the part of Charles's wrapup I found notable:

Wieseltier, the longtime literary editor of The New Republic, responded that "There is something a little grotesque in the interpretation of ground zero as a lucky break for art." Lower Manhattan, he thought, should not be "transformed into a theme park for advanced architectural taste." The challenge of Ground Zero was spiritual, he insisted, and he suggested it be left as a void. Wieseltier invoked Jewish tradition, which he said mourned not through things but through words and ritual.

Libeskind shot back. "It is the specialty of shallow people," he said, "to think that literature can replace true space." People live in places, he said; they don't live in language. That idea was derived from Heidegger, and was "a Nazi notion."

Writer Nuland, who argued for a quiet garden, told Libeskind that he was "offended by the thought that there will be a piece of architecture on that spot." According to Nuland, "architecture is about the architect." Libeskind dismissed Nuland's point. "You have a fascist idea of architecture that comes straight from Ayn Rand," he told him.

So within this debate we have people dropping Ayn Rand --the Internet-debate equivalent of chemical warfare--and then the dreaded N-bomb, "Nazi," the ultimate thread-closing weapon. Not to mention the term "fascist," and if you've ever seen a thread that makes use of Ayn Rand, fascism and Nazis you know that thread is about twenty pages long and you're about to go wallow in some goofy goofy territory. I'm glad to see hifalutin literary dorks are spending too much time on the Internet, but that's no reason to start borrowing USENET debating skills.

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