Dagger in hand

A man of prodigious fortune, coming to add his opinion to some light discussion that was going on casually at his table, began precisely thus: "It can only be a liar or an ignoramus who will say otherwise than," and so on. Pursue that philosophical point, dagger in hand.

--Michel de Montaigne, Of the art of discussion.

Stab back: cmnewman99-at-yahoo.com


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Thursday, June 13, 2002

You know, I've found myself thinking a lot lately about the similarities between la Fallaci and another woman writer whose work I greatly admire while having some serious reservations about. Let's see if anyone can guess who I'm thinking of. Here's a list of descriptions that work equally well for either of the two:

* She was born outside the U.S., and lived as a child through one of the cataclysmic political events of the 20th century, an experience that left her with an implacable sense of good and evil that would animate her thought for the rest of her life.

* She worships the virtues of courage and integrity and regards "manliness" as the highest of compliments even though she is also a principled feminist.

* She regards left and right as being ultimately two sides of the same coin and has both criticized and been savagely attacked by each side throughout her career.

* She developed her own highly idiosyncratic writing style that people either love or hate.

* Her writing includes commentary on current events, sprawling novels, passionate and devastating polemics, and an unfortunate tendency to adopt the ex cathedra tone of assumed moral authority.

* She wrote books that became huge sellers while being disdainfully dismissed by reviewers.

* She was an avowed atheist.

* She remained childless.

* She ultimately adopted New York as home.

And the prize for the first person to write in and tell me the obvious answer is... Well, I don't know. What would you like?

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