Friday, June 30, 2017

Blizzard of Indifference

Postcard ca. 1912, from

Former New York Times columnist David Brooks ("Tuners and Spinners") seems to be in Aspen this week braving the idea slopes with thoughtfluencers like Sherry Turkle, who says you should always bring your own bucket to the beach and let the other kids join you if they want, while kids who don't have a bucket risk being avoided because they're needy.

At Aspen, you're expected to have two buckets, I think, for dividing the world into two kinds of people, one for each bucket, and it looks as if Brooks forgot to pack his and had to borrow a pair from Cass Sunstein, who told him in the course of the week that people are either spinners or tuners. In the spinner bucket you put people who are fun, adventurous, and good at storytelling and hosting big parties, like Amy Schumer, Jack Nicholson, Quentin Tarantino, William Shakespeare, Albert Einstein, and Isaiah Berlin. In the tuner bucket you put those who hunger for deep connection and ask those four or five extra questions the way good listeners do, and may suddenly reveal a vulnerable part of themselves, or show up when you're down, for coffee one on one, even though they are not good at big parties, like Oprah Winfrey, Jake Gyllenhaal, Adele, Dante Alighieri, Marcel Proust, and Toni Morrison, and the fictional narrators of The Great Gatsby. All the King's Men, Brideshead Revisited, and A Separate Peace,  all of which are about spinners, which shows I guess that this is a good formula for a novel that will make it onto the high school summer lists.

You should probably marry a tuner, if you can't get hold of somebody who is simultaneously both, like Bill Clinton and Stephen Colbert, or possibly somebody who is longitudinally a spinner first and a tuner afterwards, like Oscar Wilde.

No, wait, he doesn't want to marry Bill Clinton. It turns out he just left his bucket at the hotel. Spinners and tuners are actually one kind of people, because they're outer-directed, and Brooks's new bucket is for the inner-directed, who are projectors, or heroes who project what's inside them to the surrounding environment and remain faithful to their ideal and carry on in spite of a blizzard of abuse or indifference, like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn or Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Or faithful to their psychosis, like Donald Trump, because "every social typology has to have a slot for Donald Trump." Fair enough. No word on whether it's a good idea to marry Solzhenitsyn.

I think that's pretty much the whole thing. If I ever get an invite to Aspen I'm going to tell everybody that there are two kinds of people, those who come to a big dinner party or one-on-one coffee with theories that there are two kinds of people, and those who meet such theories with a blizzard, or bucket, of indifference, as the case may be.

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