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« Showbiz People -- Mariel Hemingway | Main | Free Reads -- Corby Kummer on Slow Food »

February 24, 2003

Free Reads -- Jonathan Rauch

Friedrich --

In this month's Atlantic, Jonathan Rauch writes humorously about introverts (he admits that he's one) and extroverts.

Sample passage:

Extroverts are easy for introverts to understand, because extroverts spend so much of their time working out who they are in voluble, and frequently inescapable, interaction with other people. They are as inscrutable as puppy dogs. But the street does not run both ways. Extroverts have little or no grasp of introversion. They assume that company, especially their own, is always welcome. They cannot imagine why someone would need to be alone; indeed, they often take umbrage at the suggestion.

As you probably suspect, "up with introverts" is his theme. He mentions in passing how tragic it is that politics is dominated by extroverts. I'd push this idea a step further: I think it's tragic that politics is dominated by people who are interested in and care deeply about politics. Why entrust something so important to that awful bunch?

The piece is readable here.



posted by Michael at February 24, 2003


Awe come on dude...give the old lover of politics a break! Would you have a tooth pulled by someone who didn't care deeply about dentistry?

Geez...maybe the politicians aren't up to your standards. Maybe some elementary school teacher could handle the pressure- or my hair stylist. No, my brother the lawyer, my neighbor the builder...maybe I've totally missed your point. But who do you suggest? Who would venture into an occupation if they didn't care about it?

Posted by: laurel on February 24, 2003 6:55 AM

I remember two comments in this connection. The first is by William F. Buckley, who famously opined that he would as soon be governed by the first 100 names in the New York phone book as the U.S. Senate. The second is by John Cleese, who remarked that (successful) politicians are extremely manipulative people and asked 'Who--in their private life--would ever look to such people for help in solving their problems?'

I've often wondered if a lottery of citizens would do worse than elected politicians. While I'm not prepared to whole heartedly endorse this position, I would love to see it tested sometime--say, at the municipal government level.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on February 24, 2003 9:44 AM

Well, just for the fun of it I'll add this: I think that beating up on politicians is a well documented pastime. Personally I've noticed that those able to coin negative cliche`s for the masses are easy to find. I enjoy thinking in terms of solutions.

Taking easy shots at generic occupations seems to have become an acceptable replacement for the ethnic joke. Lawyers, politicians, clergy, journalists, police officers, etc...all common targets.

Which leads me to add, when one uses an occupation to negatively label all individuals in that field, they are overlooking any capable "first 100 names in the phone book" people that are already dutifully working.

Hmm...a solution! Maybe a Blowhard or two would like to run for office. Surely a couple of "B's" from the phone book wouldn't spoil the new government!

Posted by: laurel on February 24, 2003 4:37 PM

"Who would venture into an occupation if they didn't care about it?"

I can answer that question, Laurel. Anyone who would do ANYTHING for attention.

Posted by: j.c. on February 24, 2003 5:35 PM


Something to think about!

Posted by: laurel on February 24, 2003 7:15 PM

This reminds me of a passage in Hithchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, or one of the later books in the series, about Zaphod Beeblebrox as president of the galaxy.

In the future, it was recognized as unavoidable problem that if anyone was very keen on running the galaxy, that fact alone was a dead giveaway that he should by no means be allowed to do so.

Zaphod was the perfect president because, in contrast, he was totally uninterested in ruling, and really only interested in being on TV and giving press conferences, so he could fill the role without doing damage.

Posted by: alexis on February 25, 2003 6:55 AM

Hey Laurel, Good to see you back! And good to see someone standing up for politicans -- they can use a few people on their side.

The reasoning, such as it is, behind my impish crack is that politics is a somewhat different field than, say, graphic design. Graphic designers have an only minor impact on the rest of us, and if they don't do work that pleases clients, they lose business. Their ability to screw up large numbers of lives is pretty limited. What politicians do, on the other hand, can screw everyone's lives up really badly. Plus, they aren't really very accountable (they can be voted out of office, but the candidates in the next election will probably be very much like the candidates in the last one). Also, where if I become a cook it's probably because I'm interested in food (fairly harmless, and useful when it comes into contact with the marketplace), people who become politicians usually do so because they're interested in power (dangerous!). Which is why I, for what this matters, am all for just about any ruling, law or whatever that limits what politicans can do. It may prevent them from doing a few OK things, but it'll also prevent them from doing huge amounts of damage.

That said, it's not like anyone's looking to me for advice...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 25, 2003 2:13 PM

The article written by Jonathan Rauch published in the March 2003 edition of the Atlantic Monthly definitely employs a humorous approach in addressing the topic to be sure.

Is the article to be seriously taken at face value or, could there more to it or rather behind it?

Maybe those who have read the article should re-read it more slowly and very carefully.

However do not just read it, but question it carefully as well.

If one has not already done so yet, it may also be good to do some online research concerning these matters. Begin by simply doing a search using the term: introvert

Then go from there.

There are certain thoughtful questions to be posed and considered additionally.

They include:

1. What were the true intentions of the author when they researched, addressed and wrote about the specific topic?

2. What type of humor is it?

and then, depending on what the answers to those questions are:

3. How truly humorous is it for some?

For more concerning these matters, check out the recent blog post entitled "In Defense of Introversion" on Norsehorse's Home Turf.

Posted by: Morgan on February 28, 2003 4:33 AM

hey ppl...i think i'm the youngest hear...but um wut was i gonna say?.........O umm i want to find a immigration article by YOU mister Jonathan so um can someone plz help...thanks

Posted by: hugj on April 26, 2004 5:41 PM

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