Christopher Hitchens Gives David Mamet a Baptism by Fire
As wars of wit go, you couldn't pick two more imposing contestants.
While most of the right is busy welcoming legendary playwright, screenwriter, and director David Mamet into the fold upon the release of his conversion testimonial, "The Secret Knowledge" (which Peter ably previewed here), the truly daunting Christopher Hitchens (whose loyalties lie outside of any conventional partisan lines) has taken to the pages of the New York Times book review with his sights set squarely on Mamet's temples. Just a few samplings of Hitch's Greek Fire:
This is an extraordinarily irritating book, written by one of those people who smugly believe that, having lost their faith, they must ipso facto have found their reason.
Quoting Deepak Chopra, of all people, as saying, “Our thinking and our behavior are always in anticipation of a response. It [sic] is therefore fear-based,” he seizes the chance to ask, “Is it too much to suggest that this quote contains the most basic prescription of liberalism, ‘Stop Thinking’?” On that evidence, yes, it would be a bit much.
In case by any chance we haven’t read it before, he twice offers Rabbi Hillel’s definition of the golden rule and the essence of Torah: “What is hateful to thee, do not do to thy neighbor.” As with Hayek’s imperative of choice, the apparent obviousness of this does not entirely redeem it from contradiction. To Colonel Qaddafi and Charles Manson and Bernard Madoff, I want things to happen that would be hateful to me. Of what use is a principle that is only as good as the person uttering it?
Hitch has drawn a line in the sand. Will Mamet cross? If only someone here was preparing an episode of Uncommon Knowledge where he could press the latter to weigh in on the former.