Lee Siegel is God

September 3, 2006

Profound Things I Noticed After Watching Vivid Vixens 13

Filed under: Our Evil Culture — sprezzatura @ 1:02 pm

If you turn the letter Q around, squint at it closely, and then put two little ^’s above it, it looks somewhat like a cat.  And this reminds me that last night, Lee Siegel’s cat, Maya, turned into a woman, and we engaged in a number of lewd acts which, for professional reasons, I will not go into at this time.

It was fortunate that the sex came when it did, as The New Republic has now turned off the free cable package that they heretofore were paying for, and right in the middle of A Stranger Among Us, too.

A Stranger Among Us is one of the most moving, playful, and complex movies I have ever seen.  I love the way Sidney Lumet expresses the film’s deep themes of social and psychological doubleness by having the title not really refer to anything, as the movie is told through the eyes of a tough, no-nonsense cop played (as if she was born to play it) by Melanie Griffith.  A lesser director would have gone with the title I Among the Strangers, but not Lumet.  The touching tale of this cop going undercover in a community of Hasidic Jews, set in New York City, a city that I happen to love, is touching and lovely, and not at all a cruddy rip-off of Witness.

And yet people did not like this movie.  Some wags even took to calling it Witless.  How can that possibly be?

I believe the startling truth is that not one person in the entire world–save for Lee Siegel–made any attempt to understand the movie on its own artistic merits.  Instead, the critics savaged its “wooden acting” and “tedious plot” and “craptacular script.”  And I realized that something that had been stirring around in the depths of our sick and twisted culture had risen, like swamp gas, to the surface.  After years of vindictive, leveling memoirs of artistic figures which served to make them appear actually human, instead of as the demigods they were; after countless novels, plays, films, paintings, and installations constructed to address one social issue or another, instead of leaving things well enough alone; after dozens of books have been published proclaiming the importance of the “great books” and “humanist ideas” to such a point of inflation that the effect was to blunt the specificity of great books and of original ideas, when they should have just  left those books to erudite Upper-West-Siders–after the storm of all this self-indulgence had passed, a new cultural reality had taken shape.  Our official arbiters of culture have lost the gift of being able to comprehend a work of art that does not reflect their immediate experience; they have become afraid of genuine art.  Thank God there are people like me and Lee Siegel to show them all where they have gone horribly, horribly wrong.

Genuine art makes you stake your credulity on the patently counterfeit.  It takes you by surprise. And for art to take you by surprise, you have to put yourself in the power of another world–the work of art–and in the power of another person–the artist.  Then, you have to ignore everything you know about entertainment, culture, plot, storytelling, and craftsmanship, and simply accept every piece of art on its own terms.  Then you have to tell yourself that despite the fact that your very gut tells you something is a piece of crap, that it is in fact a lovely, perfect rose.  Then, you have to drink some absinthe.

At a time when we are surrounded by movies about killing, and movies about murdering, and movies about slaughtering; by cheap caricatured reflections of human life; by dishonest and money-driven and career-driven drivel at every turn; by columnists who create sock-puppet versions of themselves; by people who think they, and not I, are able to decide for themselves what they should like–at a time like this, you’d think someone would have given a genuine work of honest art its due. Oh, how I wish I were in Poland.

 

 

September 2, 2006

Lee Siegel!

Filed under: The Splendor of Siegel — sprezzatura @ 10:12 pm

Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…Lee Siegel…

You Know What Bugs Lee Siegel and Me?

Filed under: Our Evil Culture — sprezzatura @ 10:03 pm

Perhaps nowhere in the entire universe does light shine as particularly brilliantly as it does in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. (Do you see how I mentioned that it was the Upper West Side of Manhattan? That’s so you rubes in flyover country can follow along.) The light is at once diffuse and focused, in the way that light plays in the hair of the 16-year-old Uma Thurman of my mind. The light illuminates the miasma created by the combination of taxis, hobos, and pastrami peculiar to New York City, until blessed sunset brings us to night.

Then, everyone comes out to play–the Hispanic kids from somewhere other than where I am, and old people, and young professionals, and here’s where I’d insert some dazzling simile that would truly destroy the pretentions of that schmuck, Ezra Klein, but I can’t because I’m too distracted by…T-SHIRTS.

How odious the sight of these benighted things! Next to them, a baseball cap is practically a white coat with tails. It was bad enough when they would simply bear slogans–“Big Johnson’s Surf Shop,” for example, or perhaps “Hard Rock New York.” But now people will wear T-shirts that have no writing on them at all.

The blank T-shirt insinuates that perhaps not all of life is about saying things. And wearing a T-shirt in inappropriate places–like while playing tennis, or moving furniture–says that you are a person who doesn’t feel the need to wear a suit and tie.

I could go on and on, but Lee’s imaginary cat is yowling again. Oh, the difficult life of sprezzatura. T-shirts and imaginary cats, oh my.

Excuse Me, I Have to Go Feed Lee Siegel’s Imaginary Cat

Filed under: The Splendor of Siegel — sprezzatura @ 4:41 pm

Lee Siegel’s cat (aloof and self-assured, like Uma Thurman at age 16. Poor Maya! Poor beautiful, cool Uma!) requires feeding.

You may ask why I, spezzatura, must go feed the cat, when clearly she is first, imaginary, and second, not my cat, but Siegel’s. To the first, I can only state that the great Siegel himself saw fit to pour her a bowl of milk, and–what’s that, Mayachka? You would like some tuna, too? Well, it shall be done.

As to why it is me feeding the cat, to paraphrase Dostoyevsky, the formula two and two make five does not mean that I am, in fact, Lee Siegel. I simply am watching Siegel’s cat while he does what he does best–order his imagination around, so as best to understand the great danger of the baseball-cap-wearing, blogofascistic young punks like Ezra Klein.

What’s that, Mayissimissima? You say I should drop the whole act, that I’m in danger of appearing to be a few bricks short of a load? To use the vulgar blog term, WTF? I feed you, and this is the thanks you give me? If you weren’t Siegel’s imaginary cat, I would refuse to take you for a walk.

Of course, I am not Lee Siegel. For Lee Siegel would never stoop to pretending to be someone else–he is far too grand a person to do such a thing. Indeed, Siegel once noted the utter futility of pretending to be something one is not:

As for the dark Internet tales, maybe Stephen Glass has his finger on the viscera of the time. He has sensed that in a commercial society that constantly stimulates the libido and makes satisfaction the highest criterion of success, any shortcut to satisfaction is permissible. Lies become a consumerist tool. Their effectiveness as a tactic earns them the quality of truth. And the libido makes no distinction between past, present, and future. It exists in an eternal present, in which each successive lie displaces the previous one and becomes the only reality. In a different age, Glass would be like one of Nabokov’s madmen, deranged frauds who have an artistic temperament but not the artist’s rational will. In our moment, the Glass-type is becoming more and more common. The Internet must be full of them.

No question, this is one of the truest things ever to be written. The brilliance of Siegel proven once again.

So, Robert Farley, You Think You are of Lee Siegel’s Caliber, Do You?

Filed under: The Splendor of Siegel — sprezzatura @ 3:15 pm

Some two-bit hack derives some schadenfreude from Siegel’s demise, and credits the blogofascists:

Siegel is precisely the kind of voice that is most endangered by the blogosphere. He’s written a number of interesting things for a number of different publications over the years, but nothing that distinguishes him to the degree that someone would seek out his work. In the pre-blogospheric era, this was enough to help him achieve a mild degree of fame and a profound degree of self-importance.

One might think this would be reason enough to end the tyrrany of the blogofascists once and for all, but Farley doesn’t seem to mind:

It seemed to me, reading Siegel’s rants about the blogosphere and popular culture, that he was raging more than anything else at the loss of his own status as an authoritative voice. In denouncing Kos, or Kincaid, or people who wear baseball caps, what seemed to come through more than anything else was a frustrated “Listen to me!!!! Why aren’t you listening to me!?!?”

Well, why aren’t you listening to Siegel?  The man is only a man of profound wit and wisdom.  This Farley character may or may not be a pedophile, but I suspect he is, and that’s what’s dooming the Democratic party.

Thank You, Poor Man Institute

Filed under: Free Lee Siegel! — sprezzatura @ 3:01 pm

As one might expect, the academic community is rallying behind that brave, brilliant, and witty writer, Lee Siegel. The Poor Man Institute has already organized an anti-blogofascism concert. Take that, you bunch of immature sheep.

You’re Not Fit To Defragment Lee Siegel’s Hard Drive, Ezra Klein

Filed under: The Splendor of Siegel — sprezzatura @ 2:49 pm

As one of Lee Siegel’s greatest fans, I was truly dismayed to see that The New Republic has suspended a writer of unusual vigor. I truly cannot understand how Franklin Foer could silence the man who coined the term “blogofascist.” I ask myself: is it not enough that Siegel has created an invisible cat? Is it not enough that he, and only he, was able to discern the true genius of Eyes Wide Shut? Who could possibly make still the voice of the man who Uma Thurman was unable to seduce?

And then I realize: it’s those young, madly ambitious blogofascists.

Specifically, it’s that awful suck-up, Ezra Klein.

Kline thinks he has ignited in Siegel a “white-hot rage.” Oh, no, Ezra. Lee Siegel’s rage is beyond anything you can imagine. How do I know? As I said, I am a huge fan of Siegel’s oeuvre, and I know him better than anyone I can think of. Ezra, how many neologisms have you coined, hmmm?

You’re a wincingly pretentious writer, Ezra. And if you knew how much I knew about things, you’d crap your pants.

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