I feel dirty right now, and nauseated, having tried to read one of William Kristol’s editorials in the NY Times. Loathing and revulsion don’t cover the reactions I have to that man. I have despised him since he first came to my attention, back around 2002 when I started paying attention to the fact that there were evil people with power who really, really wanted us to go to war. I would say that I can’t believe the Times hired the guy, were it not for the fact that the Times credulously accepted the kinds of arguments Kristol and his ilk offered for why we should go to war.
Something else that made me feel dirty and nauseated was this article about the evil that is Facebook. I resisted Facebook for a very long time, but finally joined a few months ago, after people convinced me it was one of the more benign social networking sites out there. Wrong! It’s owned by some really dreadful people who are glad to give the CIA access to all your information. I looked into deleting my account, but it turns you can’t do that--you can only “deactivate it.”
But this is not a post about Kristol or the Times--or Facebook or spying. It’s a post about dirt and dirtiness and cleanliness, and Kristol et al is useful in that they show the way dirtiness and cleanliness are states of mind, the way things we think about can make us feel, genuinely (not just as a figure of speech), that we need to take a shower.
This isn’t a new idea. It’s covered quite well in Purity and Danger by Mary Douglas, a book about ritual filth and purity that I had to read in grad school and liked well enough that I read it again later, just for fun. I’m looking forward to rereading it this summer, both just for the fun of it and as research for an essay I want to write about that concept of contamination ever so important to childhood, namely, cooties.