Category Archives: Carr, David

The tedious New York Times

Pedantic layout

Pedantic layout: Dalrymple likens the front page of the Times to a particularly verbose Victorian tombstone

One does not, writes Dalrymple, look to the New York Times

for elegance of writing, perhaps not even for mere accuracy, though its layout looks as if it was designed by a professor of Aramaic philology at the University of Göttingen in about 1880. Pedantic layout, loose (though dull) writing: that more or less summarises the Times.

Loose Times writer: Jayson Blair

Loose and dull Times writer: Jayson Blair

Dull Times writer: Michael Kimmelman

Loose, dull and pusillanimous Times writer: Michael Kimmelman

Loose, dull and drug-addled Times writer: David Carr

Loose, dull, pusillanimous and drug-addled Times writer: David Carr

Out of this nettle, we pluck this flower

Nose for a story

Nose for a story

Drug addicts are a protected species

Dalrymple comes across an article in the Guardian reporting the death of a New York Times columnist, a man named Carr. Dalrymple writes that Carr

was a man unknown to me, either personally or through his writing, though a passage of his work quoted in the Guardian’s article, presumably selected as a representative sample of his style and wit, does not encourage me to read much further in his work.

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 08.07.17He says of the sample:

This is to writing what T-shirts are to dress: sloppy and inelegant.

In the monster's clutchesCarr, apparently, had been a cocaine addict and dealer,

but out of this nettle, addiction, he managed to pluck this flower, a regular column in the New York Times.

The Guardian describes Curr as having ‘escaped the clutches of drug addiction’. Dalrymple writes:

By the words ‘escaped the clutches’ is really meant ‘decided to stop taking’, and good for him, say I, well done, though it was not so well done to have addicted himself in the first place.

Addiction, writes Dalrymple,

is not, except in very rare circumstances, something that happens to you, but something that you do.

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 22.27.59Addicts like Carr emerge as

a protected species, protected, that is, from the reach of that most vicious of all human propensities — but one which is both inevitable and necessary — the propensity to make moral judgment. Unlike, say, financiers or rapists, they know not what they do and therefore merit no reprehension. In our sentimental world, reprehension is taken to be synonymous with the withdrawal of all sympathy or understanding.