‘The big education for me is that civilisation is fragile and can be destroyed in a heartbeat' - Jeremy Brade, former peacekeeper in Sarajevo.

Saturday, April 03, 2021

Intellectuals

I am still reading Tuvia Tenenbom, who describes himself as a 'recovering intellectual,' and would like to share this with you. The clever people here in Tel Aviv seem to be a universal type: one who cannot see past the end of his nose but confidently looks down it at you.

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I sit down with a number of leftist intellectuals, university professors and such, for dinner in quite an exensive restaurant, and talk with the nicest-looking of the bunch who holds the title of 'political psychologist.' The first thing she says to me is this: 'I am a liberal, super liberal, and I'm an atheist.' When the waiter comes she orders café latte, but being an intellectual that she is, she can't just order latte without making it tasteless. Her latte, she tells the waiter, should contain coffee without caffeine and milk without fat, and be served in a clear glass.

Her speciality, she informs me, is religious extremists, mainly settlers. The settlers, she declares with authority and certainty, are idiots. And when I ask her if she read any of their literature, just to make sure that they are 'certified nuts,' she tells me that she doesn't have to do so since she has read many of their detractors who quote them, and this is more than enough.

In addition to her settler expertise, she tells me that she's also an expert on Judaism, which she classifies as a 'pagan religion.' I ask her if she has ever studied Judaism, a question that makes her raise her voice in anger. For years and years and years, she yells at this offender of her high stature, she has been studying Judaism over and over and over. I light up a cigarette, inhale and exhale, look at her and ask her: Could you tell me, please, what the 'Vision of Isaiah' is? That's the most basic question one could ask and any student of Bible 101 could have answered this question in his sleep, but this learned lady has no clue. What vision? What Isaiah?

I am befuddled by her lack of knowledge but everybody at this table asserts beyond doubt that I lack the mental capacity to understand higher concepts. They pound me with super brainy words of no meaning, and I sip my Chivas Regal I reminisce about one of my favorite rabbis from the day of old, a genius by any standards: 'He who cannot explain his thesis in simple words is he who has no thesis.'

4 comments:

Mark Wadsworth said...

Ah well, at least he was allowed to smoke.

Sackerson said...

JD comments:

I'm sure you are familiar with Orwell's view...."Some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals believe them."

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/393527-some-ideas-are-so-stupid-that-only-intellectuals-believe-them

Question: Why are metropolitan middle class socialists such as Tony Benn, Antony Crosland, MIchael Foot,etc described as being intellectuals?

"The clever people here in Tel Aviv seem to be a universal type: one who cannot see past the end of his nose but confidently looks down it at you." I once saw that attitude described as anthropological as if the working class were a lost tribe up the Amazon to be studied and 'saved' from their primitive ways.

Sackerson said...

'Why are metropolitan middle class socialists such as Tony Benn, Antony Crosland, MIchael Foot,etc described as being intellectuals?' - in order to discredit them so as to continue selling the 'common sense' guise of the blether that has ruined most of the nation.

Except I think Crosland can't have been much of an intellectual if he thought closing grammar schools was a blow for equality.

Paddington said...

While I saw my fair share of 'educated idiots' in my 40 years of higher education, including the associated government departments, I am wary of tarring all 'intellectuals' with the same brush.

Once again, consider how much of the modern world is a product of universities, many of them in the US, and most of the rest in the English-speaking former British colonies and Western Europe: solid state physics, computers, the internet, polymers, etc.

It is of great sadness to me that too many who wind up in higher administration at universities come from disciplines which are of dubious rigor - film studies, gender studies, education, communications, etc. The people who are good thinkers and scientists either don't want to leave their interesting work, or get rejected for not being 'team players', i.e. they disagree with someone's per ideas.