Monday, July 14, 2008

Intellectuals

Is this the most laughable list ever created? What, after all, is an intellectual? Dawkins is in there and I seem to remember he came top of some previous Prospect poll. But, love him or hate him, I can't imagine any definition of 'intellectual' that captures him. I would have thought, for example, that scope/range was one essential attribute, but he has none. And, on this latest list, where's Roger Scruton, John Gray, James Lovelock or Nassim Nicholas Taleb, all friends of mine and all, if the word must be used, intellectuals beyond the imaginings of almost everybody on this list? 'Intellectual' is such a sweet-sounding, seductive word that people just can't leave it alone. 'Thinker' doesn't come close, though 'smart ass' might work if we are to justify the Prospect list. I have one other nomination - Brother Mouzone from the second series of The Wire. He's a real intellectual, a voracious reader who, in his spare time, is one of the most ruthless killers on the eastern seaboard. A glaring omission, I'm afraid, Mr Prospect.

16 comments:

  1. Yes Bryan, laughable if not risible. Off course you had to make your vote from a pre-selected shortlist, which will inevitably end up reflecting the bias of the Prospect selectors.

    I'm sorry, but when blovators and such self-satisfied polemicists as Christopher Hitchens and Dawkins are added to the list you have to ask yourself what is the definition of intellectual we are supposed to be adhering to?

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  2. Dawkins on a list of intellectuals? Ho hum. What a list.

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  3. I am not an Arsenal fan, but I was still surprised to see that Arsene Wenger didn't get a mention.

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  4. I totally agree, Bryan. And we should know, Failed Intellectuals that we are!

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  5. It's the inclusion of Ignatieff in lists like this that I've never been able to fathom. Has there ever been a commentator who so obviously filters his views through a purely vicarious 'experience' of the world? Intellectual my arse.

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  6. I also am repeatedly disappointed not to see my friends on these types of list.

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  7. One man's intellectual is another man's dilettante.

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  8. i've always found the word a bit risible, after first encountering it in one of Adrian Mole's teenage diaries, where he proudly boasts of reading the Guardian and being 'an intellectual'.

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  9. I am embarrassed: I do not know who nine of the top ten intellectuals are! Who voted on the list?

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  10. And where the hell is Julie Burchill?

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  11. With one or two exceptions, a pretentiously risible list.
    Susan says it all: and she IS an intellectual, take it from me. Her comment puts the list in its place.

    I guess it is just one of those things to get the publication talked about. A sort of upper crust marketing exercise.

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  12. They forgot Billie Piper.

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