Thursday, August 07, 2008

It is not often that the Archbishop of Canterbury is your fellow blurbist ...

by J J Cohen

... but such is the case with this forthcoming book, a volume I highly recommend. Helen Cooper, Jeffrey Cohen, and The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, agree: it's good stuff.

6 comments:

Matthew Gabriele said...

And don't forget to run out and buy this book too...

Jeffrey J. Cohen said...

Matthew, congratulations! This book looks terrific.

My favorite line of Kessler's blurb is its opening: "Like Bill Clinton’s, Charlemagne’s reputation was tarnished at the end of his reign by allegations of moral impropriety ..."

Karl Steel said...

I like the Kessler blurb, but, to be a pedant, it's inaccurate. Lewinsky broke in Jan 1998, and the impeachment stuff happened about a year later, but his reputation stayed pretty high through the whole period, and he even ended higher than he began. If I'm reading the data correctly, the Lewinsky thing correlates to a great improvement of Clinton's reputation, which I suppose can be some kind of cold comfort to Edwards...

But I wonder if we can salvage the analogy by distinguishing the Charlemagne damned to hell by the clerks and Clinton damned by the mass media from the popular, canonized Charlemagne (clerks be damned?) and the popular Clinton?

Matthew Gabriele said...

Thanks, Jeff!

Karl, you're generally right but I think you can argue that Bill's reputation was sullied by the affair and that his approval ratings increased because of what almost everyone perceived (rightly, in my opinion) as a ham-handed attempt by the Republicans to baselessly impeach the man.

But that's neither here nor there. My main point, if there is one, is to make sure you buy my book -- even if I don't have any bishops or archbishops endorsing it...

Jeffrey J. Cohen said...

Though Karl I think this also gets at what you were arguing in your most recent CD GM post: about the heterogeneity of any historical moment. While it is true that any particular figure or historical movement or whatever can be enduringly popular (or not) in the aggregate, there will also be small and potentially disproportionately powerful clusters for whom that is not true at all ... so that "popular or not" or "heretical or not" or "tarnished or not" is always going to take a huge amount of qualification to get at the full complexity of its historical realities. Here's where someone like Bruno Latour can be very useful, with his stress on the perpetual war within a meaning-network to determine the truth of an event, an object, a figure: any victory, any consensus, is likely a difficult one, likely a temporary one, and likely a stability in which knowledge and belief aren't really separable.

Karl Steel said...

Matthew, yes I did sneak by a substitution of (unquantifiable) 'reputation' for (quantifiable) 'approval rating.' And, Jeffrey, thanks for the smart comment: very much lemonade from lemons there.

And, most importantly, Matthew's main point in re: Archbishops still stands!