Monday, January 27, 2014

"Mr Speaker, the President of the evening's entertainment"

Readers and movie-goers recall
John Le Carré's definition of
a fanatic as a man who is con-
cealing a secret doubt. The
only problem with this allur-
ing formulation is its univer-
sal application. We need not
look, it seems to me, for the
links between meticulous tep-
idity in the most exposed pos-
ition of leadership in modern
life, and an excruciating dis-
dain for engagement in its ob-
ligations. We can recognise a
careful fellow as the connois-
seur of complication he would
like to seem; in another life,
a watchmaker. 

Ah, but when the world's most exalted practitioner of secret doubt - who knew, how little that he heralded so nobly of the faith of others, would imperil his manicure - keeps company with the media's most exalted connoisseur of it, in the re-luctances of Gorbachev, it is unseemly to speculate on who is courting whom, who enacts the fanatic to the other's admiring manipulation. Delectations wink their expedient ways between stories, all the time.
I read the wrong New Yorker, the one of Shawn's back pages in the writings of Herbert Warren Wind. Lad finds himself in a difficult bunker, of course he reaches for a wedge. But he follows through. He doesn't hustle a caddy to mourn the rules of the game.

John Le Carré
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
op. cit.

Herbert Warren Wind
Following Through
  Golf Writings from 
  The New Yorker
Ticknor & Fields, 1985©

David Remnick
Lenin's Tomb
  The Last Days of the
  Soviet Empire
Random House, 1993©

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