Category Archives: New York Times

An American ninny in Paris

A breathless New York Times booby on a visit to the French capital writes that the barbaric Centre national de la danse building (Jacques Kalisz, 1972), at which she

stared open-mouthed

for a long, long time,

radiates childlike exuberance.

Dalrymple remarks:

Anyone who can see childlike exuberance in such a building is capable of seeing the milk of human kindness in a Nuremberg Rally.


Handmaiden to the wholesale collapse of æsthetic judgement

A silly woman from the Times newspaper of New York gushes on a visit to Paris as she ‘gazes in awe‘ at the ‘ugly-beautiful’ modern buildings. Dalrymple comments:

They are not ugly-beautiful; they are ugly, without any æsthetic qualification, and grossly dysfunctional to boot.

From fear of making an unequivocal judgment that might cause her to be branded conservative, backward-looking, or naïve, this New York Times nincompoop acts, says Dalrymple,

as a praise-singer to the collapse of æsthetic ability and appreciation.


The racist New York Times

Leafing through a copy of the New York newspaper the Times, Dalrymple finds France’s World Cup win described as

a victory of multiculturalism over identity politics. Not only did the victory celebrations signal what the Times called France’s embrace of multiculturalism, but it pointed out that the all-white Croatian team represented a country that was hostile to immigrants from very different cultures from its own.

This, says Dalrymple,

assumes two things, one of which proves the truth of one of modern American liberalism’s main planks, namely that racism is more difficult to eradicate from minds than one might suppose.

  • The newspaper assumed that the French team was multicultural ­because six of its players were of African descent, as if the colour of their skin and culture inevitably went together: once an African, ­always an African, presumably for genetic reasons.
  • By implying that the French victory signals some kind of cultural superiority, it ascribes to mere sporting events the ­importance that totalitarian ­régimes used to ascribe to them: we are back to the days when the Soviet Union used the victories of Tamara and Irina Press in putting the shot, throwing the javelin, etc. (it still has not been quite decided whether they were truly ­female), to suggest the superiority of the Soviet political and social system.

Tamara and Irina Press

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

Kimmelman makes Buridan’s ass seem positively decisive

Silly ass: Michael Kimmelman

Silly ass: Michael Kimmelman cannot, or more likely dare not, decide

How fear of appearing reactionary can lead to absurd extremes of critical pusillanimity

Dalrymple comes across an article by Michael Kimmelman, architecture correspondent of the New York Times, about the new Whitney Museum. Dalrymple writes:

At no point did Kimmelman offer a clear indication of whether he considered the building good or bad, beautiful or ugly. Instead, he used locutions such as the following, compatible with any value judgment whatever:

It ratifies Chelsea.

The museum becomes . . . an outdoor perch to see and be seen.

Mr Piano’s galleries borrow from the old downtown loft aesthetic.

The new Whitney Museum: simultaneously a 'headache' and a 'signal contribution'

The new Whitney Museum: simultaneously a ‘headache’ and a ‘signal contribution’

They’re nonprescriptive places . . . that may prove to be the ticket.

They may end up a headache.

It is a deft, serious achievement, a signal contribution to downtown and the city’s changing cultural landscape.

The new museum isn’t a masterpiece.

It’s an eager neighbor.

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 09.03.42It exudes a genteel eccentricity that plays off the rationalism of Mr Piano, and of Manhattan’s street grid.

Dalrymple’s comment:

I have seldom read a piece of criticism in which the fundamental question was avoided in so pusillanimous a fashion, and in which the writer so delicately refrained from passing aesthetic judgment.

Why does Kimmelman not pass any judgment whatever on the building? Dalrymple suggests that it is a matter of

fear of disagreement or appearing reactionary.

Popularity of public hangings

Populist hangout: Tyburn

Populist hangout: Tyburn

Kimmelman makes the Pompidou Centre sound like a new, unpleasant cancer therapy

Dalrymple reports that the architecture critic of the New York Times has described the Pompidou Centre’s ‘breakthrough‘, namely ‘not just the inside-out factory aesthetic but the development of a populist hangout’.

Kimmelman forgets, writes Dalrymple

that public executions were also ‘a populist [or is it popular?] hangout’ and probably would be still if carried out.

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.

How the New York Times combines frivolity with the utmost dullness and earnestness

But do not expect the truth

Expect the world: in other words, expect telescopic philanthropy but do not expect good writing or reliable, truthful reporting

Do not expect elegance from the New York Times, writes Dalrymple. Moreover, its front page

resembles a particularly verbose Victorian tombstone.

Dalrymple cites some ‘sloppy and inelegant’ drivel emitted by one of the Times‘s representatively mediocre writers. Dalrymple makes us look at it in order to highlight the absence of genuine style and wit — and the looseness of language and thought — in that hubristic journal.

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 08.11.07But I say to Dalrymple that at least the drivel was all apparently the writer’s own, and in this respect the Times has advanced. For this is far from always being so, as the case of one of its celebrated reporters most embarrassingly demonstrated. We can never be sure that the reports, quotes, ‘news’ relayed by the Times are not fabrications.