Thursday, February 12, 2009

I don't know...

How one could possibly determine what the best John Holbo post at Crooked Timber is. But if the question is "what's the best John Holbo post-plus-ensuing-comments-thread, I think we may have an all-time winner: Lewd and Prude, riffing on the old Amartya Sen argument about the impossibility of a Paretian liberal and the parable of Lewd and Prude
But what really impresses me is the story itself. It’s timeless and speaks to all ages and sexes and classes of society. Why has no one developed it? I want Lewd vs. Prude comics. In each installment, Lewd acquires a new pornographic novel and, with child-like enthusiasm, attempts to get Prude to read it. Meanwhile, Prude is busy trying to destroy it – burn it, dynamite it, bury it, sink it beneath the waves, send it by post to Australia. But the efforts on both sides invariably cancel out. In the final panel, Prude sits down to read. Again.

We could have “Lewd and Prude on Holiday”, “Lewd and Prude Go Ballooning”, “Lewd and Prude at Baffin Bay”, “Lewd and Prude in the Big City”, “Lewd and Prude at Sea”, “Lewd and Prude and the Doctor’s Orders”, “Lewd and Prude at the Opera”. (I think comics would be best, but mere prose may, just may, be a match for such high occasions.)

It will be much better than “Spy vs. Spy”, because Lewd and Prude obviously have a somewhat dysfunctional, asymmetric-yet-mutual love. It’s like “Krazy Kat”, with a pornographic novel playing the role of the thrown brick. And yet: this brick will have subtly different moral properties! Will there be some sort of Offica Pup figure? Perhaps a pained, Millian liberal who can see it is all going nowhere very impressive. But this will be Offica Pup without a jail, because – strictly – there is no inconsistency with liberalism. (How sublime!)

That's brilliant enough, as one would expect from John playing with this kind of material. But you've got to read the comments and see what Rich Pulasky gets up to.

Monday, February 09, 2009

I haven't had time

to blog about the connections between our partisanship symposium and the Senate's silly display of bipartisanship for its own sake. But see: Ross Douthat, djw, Matt Yglesias, etc.