The Breakfast Table

Shallow is the New Deep

Can’t we just be shallow? And who is Richard Artschwarger? These are both sincere questions.

I actually think it would be nice to start a magazine called Shallow that assessed things based solely on their superficial aspects. I know InStyle already does this (and delightfully, in my opinion). But I mean things that magazines usually assess with a view to uncovering their true relationship to the meaning of life in contemporary America, which includes almost all things. An explication of the true relationship of things to the meaning of life in contemporary America is, in my experience, a positive obsession on the part of magazine editors, even if the thing is, say, Jean-Claude Van Damme. No one who has not toiled in the field of the entertainment profile can really appreciate how oppressive this can be. I understand that as oppression goes, this is probably not very high on the Amnesty International list. Forgive me. I wasn’t thinking that you were of course, until recently, the oppressor. Perhaps your life now is something like that of the Russian nobility in exile?

In any event, the superficial aspect of things is not necessarily trivial or without meaning. That is why Shallow will be subtitled: “The Magazine That Frankly Acknowledges That Giuliani Will Never Be President No Matter What He Does to Times Square Because He’s Mean and It Shows.” Americans don’t vote for meanies. Unless the only other candidate is a weakling. Meanie trumps weakling. I’m thinking of Bush-Dukakis. This has no implications for the meaning of life.

You know, I started this whole piece of shtick because I wanted a framework to say something in defense of Christopher Hitchens, and something else in defense of Bret Easton Ellis, and something else about an article I read six months or so ago in which Joseph Wambaugh’s use of metaphor was repeatedly illustrated with examples that were in fact similes, which drove me mad. But I didn’t quite manage to provide myself with one. (A framework.) Are you ostentatiously avoiding the passive-aggressive songs-with-sidewalk-in-the-lyric challenge? I don’t know if I mentioned it, but I personally can name at least five.

By the way, you rock.