Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Absurdist Politics

As Peter Heath observed some decades ago in his wonderful book The Philosopher's Alice, Lewis Carroll was not a writer of nonsense but rather an absurdist, and a Carrollian character is absurd precisely because he does not blithely depart from the rules but "persists in adhering to them long after it has ceased to be sensible to do so, and regardless of the extravagances which hereby result." When Carroll's characters assume the authoritative tone, the opinions they express are invariably ridiculous, but those opinions "are held on principle and backed by formal argument... The humor lies not in any arbitrary defiance of principle, but in seeing a reasonable position pushed or twisted by uncritical acceptance into a wholly unreasonable shape.
-David B. Hart, "Daniel Dennett Hunts the Snark," First Things, January 2007

Hart writes this of a pop-atheist writer, but he could have said this of local anti-Ladies' Night crusading lawyer Steve Horner

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