June 30, 2006

"If It Feels Good, Do It"

IF YOU ARE AT ALL CONCERNED about the state of the Fourth Estate in the United States, you have probably followed the recent escapades of The New York Times with some degree of interest.

"Some degree" sums up my particular interest in the behavior of this peculiar institution which seems to have self-selected itself as a vehicle worthy of wielding a power we normally reserve for those named by our citizens in elections. Indeed, to some it would seem as if the Times has arrogated to itself, or more precisely to its publisher and editor (The first owing his position to a fluke of genetic lotto, and the latter owing his position to the clever pleasing of the former.), the right to say what is and what is not in our public interest. And from this self-conceived notion, from this reading of the First Amendment to extend only to those who own large media conglomerates, these two men also assume to themselves the right to knowingly risk the lives and well-being of the soldiers and citizens of this Republic at will.

To knowingly do so once might well be ascribed to a notion of freedom without responsibility that came upon both publisher and editor during the salad days of their youth. Indeed, as far as the eternally boyish 'man' known as "Pinch" is concerned, we have his own testimony on this from a recent commencement address where he reveled in his own hazy memories of those 'heroic' days of the hippy-drippy sixties. As one of those who helped, in a small way, invent those days, and unfortunately remembers them all too well, I would seek to disabuse the man-boy known as "Pinch" of his fantasy youthful heroics acted out as a shadow play within his cocoon of wealth.

I know less about Keller, the more mannish of the two, than I do about Pinch. Indeed I know only what I read into Keller's mind and motives from his own mewling and damp "Letter" published last week in the paper. In it Keller is given to "justifying" his latest insult against the Republic that has given him stature, insulation and millions. In a way, seeing how he compulsively betrays the nation, that letter alone is enough to get the small measure of this man, and his "boss," and the entire "smart set" in which they circulate.

For both of them, their behavior is enough to illuminate the dark perversion of the soul that overtook many who came of age in the era of VietWaterNamGate. If there is an aspect of tragedy in their preening it is only that many have lived long enough to rise to positions of unelected power in the media establishment so that their particular perversion of intellect and morality now have the power to stain the soul and honor of the nation itself. But this is as far beyond their comprehension as the very notion of "a nation." For once you are in the bubble of private jets, the nation seems very far below and very faint. After all, in the one world to come there will be, we are assured, no borders or boundries at all.

The various elements that make up the perversion that drives men like Keller and boys like Pinch are too well known to dwell on at length here. In the most general terms the perversion presents as an emptiness of soul, an abiding cynicism about the good that lies at the foundation of the nation, a smug waft of amoral sanctimony, an obsessive concern with the primping and feathering of the body, an immense self-regard for one's privileged set that justifies the notion that a few men can know better than a majority of citizens what is good for all, and a kind of intellectual pouting that is unremitting when the majority ceases to respect, patronize, and admire the trappings and outer glitter of the perversion.

Perversion -- The action of perverting something (turning it to a wrong use).

It might seem a bit strange to keep returning to the concept of "perversion" when speaking of a set of wealthy, established and seemingly polished people such as those that make up the management and most employees of The New York Times, but I have come to believe it is more apt than most realize.

Over the past few years the Times has become increasingly perverse when faced with the large issues of national security, real freedom from fear, and the need in historic terms for the United States, whatever its imperfections, to prevail and to dominate the world during this last long passage to a free world entire and whole. I've read just about every single explanation given for its increasingly extreme behavior. I have found none of them particularly compelling. None seem to explain what can be going on at the heart of the Times. All we can see is that that heart grows progressively darker as the months unfold.

While the ancient oath doctors take begins "First do no harm," it is increasingly clear that the parallel oath at the Times must be, "First do harm." In the end, this can be the only possible conclusion when one examines the unremitting effort on the part of this institution to undo and to obstruct every government initiative to secure the nation at home, advance its interests and influence abroad, and move -- as part of a policy to secure the safety and influence -- millions of previously enslaved people into freedom. By any human measure, the actions of Keller and Pinch, as the driving forces behind the Times, have to be seen as compulsively in opposition to security, influence and freedom. And in this element of compulsion lies the clue to their innate perversion.

At the bottom of all the "explanations" and the "analysis" and the "criticism" and even the "adulation" of the editor and publisher's behavior, is something that I've come to understand is quite simple. Indeed, it is as simple as the force that drives and compels all perverse behavior, be it moral, intellectual or sexual; both the editor and publisher really enjoy how it feels. And they enjoy it, they revel in the pleasure of it, at the level of bodily sensations parallel to that of the orgasm. In common parlance, "they get off on it."

A more precise term for the feeling both the man Keller and the boy-man Pinch receive from their compulsive "news-making" activities is frisson, meaning "A moment of intense excitement; a shudder." A frisson has much to recommend it over an its more intense cousin. A frisson is more easily had than an orgasm and not nearly as messy. It can be shared in polite company and arrived at through writing or speech. To achieve a frisson does not absolutely require the couple disrobe, unless the two involved are also interested in frottage; which is properly described as " The act of rubbing against the body of another person, as in a crowd, to attain sexual gratification," or its secondary meaning, most interesting when applied to Keller and Pinch's means of attaining their gratification, that of " making a design by placing a piece of paper on top of an object and then rubbing over it." In any case, even a cursory examination of the actions of the Times over the past half-decade would confirm that there is a lot of rubbing of one thing against another in the highest editorial offices, even if it is limited to a frottage of sensibilities similarly malformed.

In any case, it can no longer be ignored that there is a whiff coming off the pages of the New York Times of late that carries with it all the mingled and cringe inducing odors of a miasma wafting out of a bar door flung open in New York's meatpacking district at four in the morning. All one can do when unexpectedly walking into such an arresting mist is to hurry one's pace, search for a cab and pray for rain before dawn.

And how would I know this, some may ask? Am I perhaps just imagining the state of a soul-dead perversion to be found in the bodies of the two men responsible for the thing that currently announces itself as "The New York Times;" that thing that lies stacked in those blue boxes that line the streets of New York at dawn, even across from those bars being hosed out in the meat-packing district? Unfortunately not. In this, I am beyond imagining.

As my friends know, and my readers and detractors have learned, I spent many years working within what is now so preciously called "the sex industry." My particular role in this dubious part of our "culture" was as an editor of Penthouse magazine. In that job I came to know about and witness the ins-and-outs of perversion in America on a level of granulation that was unavoidable. The net result, without going into a long series of vignettes of what I witnessed, was that I know the tones and the poses and the posturing of perverts to a degree I could do without, but there is no unseeing once seen.

One of the markers of perverts (And, yes, Virginia there are real perverts of all shades and shapes no matter how polite it may now be not to mention it.), is the compulsion to repeat the behavior that gives rise to the frisson no matter what the reaction is to the perverted behavior. When a pervert is deep in the grip of his perversion it really is a case of "Once the needle goes in, it never comes out."

It doesn't matter if the pervert is receiving praise from millions and condemnation from millions more, the behavior will compulsively continue.

It doesn't matter if there are a thousand reasons why the perversion is bad for the pervert and society, the pervert will always find a thousand and one reasons to justify it. Not only will he justify it, he will glorify it since it gives him, every time he yields to it, the frisson he seeks above all reason. To a pervert there is no such thing as a perversion, only a life-style choice.

And if said pervert can find, in a deliberate misreading of the Constitution, some phrase he can twist to assert his perversion is a freedom given by the founders, not to the people, but to him and him alone, he will become invulnerable to pleas of reason, of balance, of fairness, and of the good of the nation. No nation is more important to him than his continued unfettered freedom to practice his perversion at will without any hindrance. This is especially true when the perversion is packed with real power, and truer still if the exercise of the perversion actually diminishes that power. The perverts goal is not the "rescue" of some fantasy nation, nor the "restoration" of some happy 9/10 world, or of success or of profit. His goal is always the frisson.

And this is why I expect nothing in the way of amended behavior or a return to decency on the part of The New York Times. Once people are in the grip of their chosen perversion, there is no decency in them. Don't expect, ever, that the Times under Keller and Pinch will suddenly revert to decency. You will never hear the words "Sorry" or "We were wrong" coming out of their softly furnished offices high in the Times building. The most you will hear is, if you are very quiet, some shared heavy breathing just before the man and the boy-man do it again. And they will do it again. As soon as possible.

As the poet says, "Once a bear is hooked on garbage, there's no cure."

Robert Godwin enhances my observations @ One Cosmos: The Agony and the Apostasy: On Pulitzer Prizes and Prize Putz Louses "The joy obviously doesn't come from the journalistic aspect--which is dubious at best--but from the transgressive component. It is the transgression that creates the perverse pseudo-journalistc thrill."
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Posted by Vanderleun at June 30, 2006 12:48 AM | TrackBack
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

I was wondering where the perversion meme was coming from...I didn't know you'd been an editor for Penthouse.

But it certainly fits the NYT right now.

Posted by: Eric Blair at June 30, 2006 4:55 AM


Well said. Thank you for sharing your insights.


Posted by: RunningRoach at June 30, 2006 6:45 AM

Perverted is the right word and term. Gerard, you have aptly diagnosed and named the beast.

The sadness and melancholy of this is almost overwhelming, at times.

Posted by: David at June 30, 2006 8:22 AM

Power, especially the power to screw other people over, is more addictive than heroin.

Posted by: Michael Andreyakovich at June 30, 2006 9:41 AM

Thanks for repudiating the Times so eloquently. Hope someone at that institution reads what you've written.

Posted by: Alexandra Greeley at June 30, 2006 12:17 PM

In Psychoanalytic use, perversion, along with its traditional understanding as a "turning ... to a wrong use" of the sexual apparatus, has also come to mean a particular kind of disconnect between cause and effect, an impairment of reality testing involving the outcome of an action. In this way, the behavior of the Times quite clearly represents a perversion of their "news" function; they show a complete disconnect between publishing their story and its effects, not only on our nation's security, but on their own well being (as the Times's stock price continues to tank.)
An interesting choice of meme, perversion.

Posted by: ShrinkWrapped at June 30, 2006 3:14 PM

"amoral sanctimony"

Trenchant observation. Nice essay.

Posted by: jdkelly at June 30, 2006 3:24 PM

I read the Pinch New Paltz speech and I knew he was hippy-dippy. Didn't know he was trippy too till you went Rick James on his blue bucket.

Posted by: Steve Shields at June 30, 2006 8:10 PM

I've been reading you for some time without commenting, Gerard, and find myself transfixed. A Blog with sense, and well-written too. The Internet is not a wasteland after all, it seems.

I find it interesting that you use the term "Frisson" to describe the delightfuly obscene thrill experienced by the Media staffers you write about.

I recollect this word being used by a military historian to describe the feelings of horror that genteel southerners felt at the thought of another Santo Domingo ( http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part3/3narr5.html ), which was looked upon by them as a descent into bloody barbarism.

How applicable this is to the NYT and their casual disregard for the future of this nation! A few people deciding for themselves that their mercenary journalistic interests trump the security interests of 300 million people.

Frisson indeed. It's a pity we don't fight duels any more, isn't it?

Posted by: Christopher at June 30, 2006 8:22 PM

The popular theologian C.S. Lewis remarked that evil is always a good thing perverted, a virtue inordinate in form or amount. It is not self-existent, but must always find some good thing to bend and ruin.

Posted by: Assistant Village Idiot at June 30, 2006 9:07 PM

Excellent description of the dark power behind the NY Times.

Posted by: Ben USN (Ret) at July 1, 2006 2:06 AM

Hell of an observation. Well written.

Posted by: MM at July 1, 2006 9:41 AM

When you can't win the big issues like Iraq and Global Warming and the Deficit then wrap yourself in the flag and scapegoat the NY times for the nation's problems.

Posted by: Love at July 3, 2006 10:31 AM

When you uncritically read AMERICAN DIGEST or One Cosmos, you are participating in someone else’s metaphysical dream, not your own. And it is generally a sick dream with horrifying, infrahuman assumptions about reality.

Posted by: projection-Bob at July 6, 2006 1:58 PM

Hahahaha G$d said "let there be light" so what?!

Jeez that article was good for a laugh. You condem the media for condeming Imus for speaking his mind? Then How it is that you can condem the NY Times for speaking theirs. Please....try harder im seeing far too many weak spots in your argument. Cheap poor and shoty but hey your old, and you will be dead soon.. hopefully. So what i said it?!

[Dear Perez, Seek professional help.]

Posted by: Jose alejandro perez at April 18, 2007 3:26 PM
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