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Wednesday, September 08, 2004


It didn’t take long for hyper-alert postmodern blogger/reader Tristero to discern that my previous post on David Gelernter was in fact a hoax.  Damn Tristero and his whole shadowy underground society!


(he writes)

in cyber-homage to the great modern masters Jorge Luis Borges and Vladimir Nabokov, Bérubé goes to the enormous trouble of faking a right wing screed and then commenting upon it.

In his post, Bérubé discusses an op-ed improbably entitled “Bush’s Greatness,” composed, Michael tells us, by Yale Professor David Gelernter, a real person known for his unusual opinions.  To provide an extra frisson of verisimilitude, Michael even hacked up a very convincing simulation of the Weekly Standard website upon which Bérubé has embedded the complete text of “Bush’s Greatness.” Ars longa, vita brevis, you betcha!

How did Tristero pierce the veil, you ask?  Well, it appears that at a crucial point in the simulation, my parody of right-wing nuttiness simply jumped the shark:

But then, alas . . .

The article becomes too clever by half. “Professor Gelernter” slips into a rant, devoting paragraph after mind-boggling paragraph to an elaborate comparison of the country of Iraq to . . . Kitty Genovese.

The senses reel at the weird, unexpected juxtaposition of images. A woman bleeding to death and screaming, her only witness the immaculate lawns of Forest Hills. Superimposed over her horror-struck features we perceive an hallucination of Islamists, of fascists, of mercenaries, of American neocons, of God knows what else, all of them clamoring for power, all of them crawling on their bellies in an oil rich Hobbesian landscape.

And thus slips Our Satirist’s mask.

For ‘tis a fact: No rightwing nut, no matter how deranged, no matter how clever, would ever come up with such a completely original (albeit idiotic) comparison.

OK, so Tristero nailed me.  No hallowed skein of stars can ward, I trow, who’s once been set his tryst with Tristero!  But, dear readers, even though I know some of you are tired of finding layer after layer of annoying postmodern irony on this humble blog, I confess that I really thought I could pull this one off with impunity.  Honestly, after my post-convention discovery of Roger Simon’s convention coverage, in which I learned that my parodies of Koch-kissin’, Zell-lovin’ bloggers were but pale shadows of the self-parodies of Koch-kissin’, Zell-lovin’ bloggers themselves, I figured I could attribute any number of bizarro-world lunatic ravings to the wingnuts (even a comparison of Iraq to Kitty Genovese!) and nobody would be the wiser.  So with a little help from my English Department colleague Charles Kinbote, I downloaded the Eystein Reality Generator, an open-source device that tinges any website simulacrum with an eerie pale fire, and put together my elaborate Weekly Standard parody in the course of an afternoon.

And I would’ve gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids and your weird “Don’t Ever Antagonize The Horn” cult!!!

Instead, Tristero has gone ahead and ripped off the mask.  And so today I find in my emailbox a “cease and desist” letter from the legal firm of Warpe, Wistfull, Kubitschek and McMingus, signed by somebody named Metzger.  It reads, in part:

Dear Michael Bérubé:

We have been informed by our client that your weblog has provided a misleading and possibly fraudulent hyperlink to what purports to be the Weekly Standard website, and that you have made available, by means of this hyperlink, an essay which purports to be an article by Yale computer science professor David Gelernter.

Intellectual property law with regard to Internet websites is admittedly unsettled on matters such as this, but it is our opinion that this hyperlink constitutes actionable copyright infringement as well as material misrepresentation amounting to fraud.  By suggesting that the Weekly Standard would publish an essay so deranged as to compare Iraq to Kitty Genovese, you have done material harm to the Weekly Standard and its reputation as a legitimate journal of conservative opinion and political analysis.

We will shortly be in touch with your attorneys regarding this matter.  In the meantime, our client requests also that we advise you to stop doing your William Kristol impersonation at dinner parties.  Mr. Kristol’s smug, supercilious demeanor is an integral part of his distinctive ‘branding’ as a media personality, and may not be imitated, adopted, or parodied without the express written consent of the Weekly Standard.

So thanks a lot, Mr. Tristero sir.  I hope you’re happy now.

Posted by Michael on 09/08 at 10:30 AM
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