Posted by: Chris | November 16, 2010


A critique of sophistication.



  1. Yep. Hanson succumbs to his biases pretty hardcore in that one. It’s a delightful irony – his succumbing to bias – which he’s probably too busy spreadsheeting divorce rates to notice. No matter. Soon I’ll also be too busy – trading bon mots with the upper crust at the Knickerbocker – for his peccadillos to register.

    Another delightful irony is that, judging by the press its gotten, his most engaging post is the kind of light, intelligent (but not insightful) pabulum he thinks characteristic of the sophisticated set. His own paean to mono-dimensionality proves its thesis false (or, if you don’t want to interpret “uninteresting” to mean not of general interest, at least suggests that being sophisticated isn’t that bad).

    So much for tweaking. The actual problem with Hanson’s post is that it gets the normative reality wrong. It implies sophistication adds nothing of value (is uninteresting) and requires no talent (to be sophisticated one “simply must be ready to converse lightly…”). But the normative reality is actually a harmonic pluralism. Pluralism because sophisticates and obsessives both add value to the world (a quip-less world, like one in which nobody has any idea what he’s talking about, would be terrible); nor is sophistication a talentless enterprise (good quips are hard to come by). Harmonic because sophisticates and obsessives are both thinking of the other thank God I’m not like that guy!

    Hanson takes pride in having an unsentimental hold on reality. Unless he’s using “Bah Sophistication” to signal to his fellows that he’s one of them (and climbing their ladder in the process – a sophisticated move!), Hanson should probably the part of his worldview it represents, or stand guilty of hubris.

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