When you read a newspaper after two weeks of shunning any,you may get excited at first (Bristol Myers develops anti-cancer medication without debilitating side-effects of chemo; professional hackers in Idaho are sabotaging Iran's nuclear program) before reality returns with a vengeance: twenty per-cent unemployment in Spain and Greece; Putin visits Merkel in Berlin to explain why Russia conintinues to support the murderous Syrian tyrant. (At the UN, only three countries voted against the resolution to condemn: Russia, China, and Cuba.) There is a chill in the air as the Dow Jones loses 250 points and the market is down for the year. Everone is afraid that a panic is just around the corner. This is the time for stoicism and a poker face. But then the news turns absurd, though in a macabre way, and the impulse to convert the ephemeral into an aesthetic product takes hold in the spirit of Paul Fussell, who died last week at age 88. According to Fussell, the decisively ironic tone of the modern temperament "originates largely in the application of mind and memory to the events of the Great War," World War I, the war to end all war. To the memory of Mr Fussell I dedicate this multiple choice of the week:
1) "Like the crusade to make all Americans homeowners, [the idea of college for all is] now doing more harm than good." Vocational training is better than "dumbed down college." Who said it?
a) An economist in the Wasington Post
b) "Square-jawed" Mitt Romney, who clinched his party's nomination
c) An old guy griping that things ain't what they used to be
d) Paul Fussell
e) Bernadette Peters upon being toild that she will receive a Tony Award on June 10 for her work in animal adoption.
2) When Ernest Hemingway defined critics as "men who watch a battle from a high place, then come down and shoot the survivors," he was thinking of
a) Brooks Atkinson and Howard Taubman of the New York Times
b) "The whole New York tradition, from Edmund Wilson to Susan Sontag"
c) Carlos Baker of Princeton University
d) Gertrude Stein and Sherwood Anderson (see The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas )
e) Hadley Richardson, Pauline Pfeiffer, Martha Gellhorn, and Mary Welsh
3) Which of the following didn't happen last week:
a) The impresarios of Indonesia canceled Lady Gaga's sold-out concert in Jakarta because her "needleslly provocative" advocacy of homosexuality makes her the "devil's messenger"
b) A Muslim woman argued in the Guardian that wearing the hijab is the ultimate feminist act
c) A New Yorker writer blogged that he was quitting Facebook because Mark Zuckerberg is a despot and you enter his pseudo-democratic realm at grave risk to your privacy
d) Levi Johnston, the father of Bristol Palin's baby, twittered his indgination to his 400,000 followers when John Edwards was acquitted
e) A poll of New Yorkers determined that 97% did not know why John Edwards was on trial but were sure that he is guilty, thus demonstrating that
1) The campaign finance laws are impossible to understand
2) Screwing your media adviser is one thing, impregnating her is another
3) Screwing her is one thing, doing it while your wife is accompanying you is another
4) Screwing is one thing, but doing her while your wife is dying of cancer is another
5) Nobody is afraid of looking ignorant
Extra credit if you can identify the fellow in the piocture and explaiun his relevance to this post.