Janan Ganesh vs ‘Pop Culture Gurus’. American Skeptic comments

Who can resist the particular ‘brand’ of commentary that Mr. Ganesh offers, awash in a cynicism, that is his trade mark? In the present essay, the cast of characters is wide, within the very narrow spectrum of Pop Culture: he riffs on a Tradition inaugurated by American Dandy Tom Wolfe. But he extends this cast, in order to lend a much needed verisimilitude to his essay, with the inclusion of actual  philosophers Pinker and Dennett.

Peter Cook, Deepak Chopra, Oprah Winfrey , Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris Daniel Dennett. With the addition of Gwyneth Paltrow and America’s Dr. Pangloss Steven Pinker, even his hair gets an honorable mention!

Mr. Ganesh, like his mentor Wolfe is fascinated with surfaces, so his polemic features, for the most part, Pop Culture Gurus or their epigones and fellow travelers.  And their penchant  for producing analgesic aphorisms. These rhetorical exercises are about the business of producing endorphins in the brains of its readers,  but produces in the brain of  Mr. Ganesh a withering contempt.

But note that in Wolfe’s 2016 book ‘The Kingdom of Speech’ , he takes aim at both Darwin and Chomsky. He doesn’t waste time with the note takers, and popularizes of these theorists, but confronts them with the misplaced gusto of a ‘thinker’ utterly out of his intellectual depth. Two reviews of Wolfe’s  ‘Kingdom’ are revelatory:


Headline: His white suit unsullied by research, Tom Wolfe tries to take down Charles Darwin and Noam Chomsky


Mr. Ganesh is a gifted polemicist of the Sunday Supplement variety, in the Europe of the 19th and the early 20th Century he would  be called a feuilletonist.

One final thought: it doesn’t occur to Mr. Ganesh, that these Pop Culture Gurus might just be very distantly related to Kant’s compelling notion of self-emancipation from tutelage?

American Skeptic





About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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