Buffoon gets bitch-slapped

I’ll be honest, the Nation is in the normal run of things not a publication I read very often, and that’s deliberate on my part. It goes back to too many years of being much too annoyed at the Dude’s pronunciamentos, although that’s a little unfair as he’s long since gone.

Likewise, I would normally not take much notice of a new book by Bernard-Henri L’Oréal, far and away the most aggravating of the Nouveaux Philosophes. (Glucksmann is probably just as offensive politically, but at least he doesn’t do that hair-flicking thing.) The news that BHL had a new book out on the moral bankruptcy of the left excited me not at all, since it seems to be a variation on the man’s long-running theme of proclaiming himself the conscience of the left while simultaneously dumping enormous buckets of shit over everything the left has historically believed in.

My curiosity was piqued somewhat by a rather strange review from Nick Cohen. As usual these days, this says rather more about Nasty Nick than it does about his putative subject, but the theme is that the Nouveaux Philosophes are the French analogue to Britain’s Decent Left. This manages the remarkable feat of actually lowering my opinion of the Nouveax Philosophes.

However, I note that BHL has now been taken to task in a manner befitting, and in the Nation no less. (Hat tip.) The assassin in question is the estimable Scott McLemee, and while Scott’s always worth reading, this finds him in top form, not least on the great Yankophile’s invincible ignorance of American politics. And all I can say about that is, it’s probably better than the old windbag deserves.

Bernard-Henri Lévy. Because he’s worth a good kicking.


  1. harpymarx said,

    September 29, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    And with hair like that too….

    Indeed a buffoon and pompous with it. My fave line has to be: “a desert of sorts, a deafening silence, a cosmic ideological void”.

  2. ejh said,

    September 29, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    Who wrote that? Paul Morley?

  3. JM said,

    September 29, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    “Anti-Americanism”, “Islamofascism” — has BHL been talking to MAH? I suppose it’s not entirely improbable that they share the same coiffer, and have the occasional natter under the drier. (Oh dear, I fear that I’ll be plagued by that vision for some time to come…)

  4. jp said,

    September 30, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    hear a way-too-polite debate with BHL and Zizek here:

  5. Luton Diesel said,

    September 30, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    I nearly fell off my chair laughing when, in a ‘news’ item last week on the book in question, the Guardian’s woman in Paris, Angelique Chrisafis, referred to the linen-suited one as ‘leftwing philosopher Bernard Henri-Levy’. Maybe she thinks that co-author Michel Houellebecq makes BHL look ‘leftwing’.

  6. Luton Diesel said,

    September 30, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    NB the book puffed in the Guardian last week, is, I have just realised, not the one to which you refer, but a Socratic-dialogue-type thing between BHL and Michel Houellebecq, which promises – rather tragically – to be all the world of French publishing can offer up this year as the affaire of the rentree. Houellebecq, having initially been mistaken for an ironising leftie (a ‘stalinist pornographer’, as he was – probably apocryphally – dubbed), was outed long ago as a reactionary in the manner of Celine (also – because Voyage au bout de la nuit was a searing critique of capitalist industrial society – initially mistaken for being ‘de gauche’). But unlike BHL, a funny one, who can actually write.

  7. September 30, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    some good stuff on (against) the “Nouveaux Philosophes” and their environment by Jaime Semprun: http://rive-gauche.seltsamer-zusammenschluss.org/ (sorry, in German)

  8. Phil said,

    September 30, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    A pro-Situ writes: when does this date from? I hadn’t heard anything from either Semprun or Nautilus for, oh, 15 years or so.

  9. Phil said,

    September 30, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    (Still can’t read the damn thing, mind you.)

  10. Madam Miaow said,

    September 30, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    Blimey, you had me thinking I’d missed some philosopher called L’Oreal!

    I think therefore I coiff …

  11. October 1, 2008 at 8:27 am

    @ Phil:

    the stuff was originally published in 1976 under the title Précis de récupération, illustré de nombreux exemples tirés de l’histoire récente, the German translation (only parts of the French original) is from 1979 … Edition Nautilus is still alive and well, also the Nautilus Bookshop

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