a long read on the Cold War origins of the historical consensus on the American founding, with reference to the 1619 Project, the Iraq War, 9/11, and claims on objectivity and fact: https://newrepublic.com/article/160995/consensus-approach-history.
https://williamhogeland.substack.com/. This one is for paying subscribers — but there’s free stuff there too, so poke around, maybe you’ll want to sign up!
… two new public posts on HOGELAND’S BAD HISTORY.
[First, some news: I’m posting even less frequently on this blog, because I have a new venture that has me posting quite often: the twice-a-month newsletter HOGELAND’S BAD HISTORY, where I read the weirdness of the American past into the weirdness of our current crisis. Check it out! And if you like what you find there, please subscribe.]
A few days ago I did one of my “is this thing on?” bad-standup bits on Twitter — an early-Larry-David clear-the-house thing, the kind of thread only I think is funny — goofing on a notion, widely shared in the middlebrow literary culture that produced me, that U.S. presidents should be devoted readers of books.
The rant was inspired by the Times’s piece “What Books Should Biden Read? We Asked 22 [!] Writers,” though by “22 Writers,” I think they meant “22 authors of books.” David Frum and Madeleine Albright, who have professions other than Writer, were among the contributors, and the piece is just the kind of pretentious device that I spend my life working against, not only as a citizen of a country with serious problems that need addressing, in part via the presidency, but also as 1 Writer, of many things, including books, with a difficult relationship to the literary culture of my time.
By “difficult relationship,” I mean something like this. I can’t really be expected to believe that Yascha Mounk really thinks that “as Joe Biden sets out to combat a different set of injustices, [John Stuart Mill’s ‘The Subjection of Women’] can help point his way toward a vision that shows how much we all stand to gain from a more just society — especially if we emphasize how that future will allow us to focus on the affections and aspirations we share, not the petty interests and narrow identities that divide us.” I think I’m forced to conclude, just from the heavy-breathing sentence structure, that Mounk is trying to say a number of things not about Biden, or even about Mill, but about himself, which would be fine, if whatever it is he’s trying so hard to say were simply said, instead of clumsily embedded in a fake recommendation.
That mood of seriousness — or “seriousness,” as Susan Sontag once put it — drags the whole piece down, as signaled by the fact that every one of the 22 Writers recommends a nonfiction book. That makes the enterprise nakedly unserious, to me.
So my jokes in the ranting Twitter thread — or “jokes,” in the young-Larry-David meta way — had, like a lot of other jokes and “jokes,” a sincere motivation. I knew when I said “I don’t care what books a president reads or doesn’t read — I don’t care if presidents read books at all,” that I might draw more irritated bewilderment than laughs, but even had my crack succeeded in being funny, it would have been “funny cuz it’s true!” because the point is not that I don’t care, but that I wish nobody else did either. I think these tropings by the book-oriented, middlebrow intelligentsia, regarding the presidency, and regarding books, represent a problem both cultural and political.
These are the people who think of their values as the antidote to Trumpist anti-intellectualism. I think they’ve helped get us where we are now.
I always forget, but here it is: https://williamhogeland.wordpress.com/2013/12/17/christmas-story/
TRUMP, GEORGE WASHINGTON, AND THE FRAUGHT ORIGINS OF THE PRESIDENTIAL PARDON: a public post on https://williamhogeland.substack.com/.
… is up on HOGELAND’S BAD HISTORY, this one for paying subscribers only. There’s some free stuff too, though, so if you haven’t subscribed, poke about and see what you think!
Another free, public post at my newsletter HOGELAND”S BAD HISTORY, this time on the long, strange history of religious freedom in America and the latest religious-freedom opinion of the new SCOTUS majority: WHAT WAS FREEDOM OF RELIGION?. This newsletter is a new venture — if you like it, maybe you’ll subscribe.
A public post on Giuliani’s recent antics, from the frightening to the hilarious and back again, with reference to the weird sleazeballs of the Harding administration, posted on the site for my newsletter: HOGELAND’S BAD HISTORY. This is a new project — if you like it, maybe you’ll subscribe.
… with J.G. Michael of Parallax Views. Less about Independence Day than about my work in narrative founding history as a whole. This was a fun one. (Some occasional Zoom audio distortions on my end, but I don’t think they’re too annoying.)