THE BLOG

Eight-Hundred-Year-Old Jong Responds to Callow Youth Taibbi

04/11/2008 01:59 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

One of the great things about being eight-hundred years old is the sense of perspective it gives. Not as old as Sappho or as old as Herodotus nor Aesop but old enough to see boy wonders like you come and go.

So I ask you: What exactly is the point of talking about body deformity rather than ideas? We live in a time when great chunks of Antarctica are floating off into the sea, raising sea-level beyond what scientists predicted even a few years ago; when people are being tortured despite our heritage of the Magna Carta and the Constitution. How does it serve us for you to take cheap shots about age, looks, body fat or any other physical characteristic of men and women?

It's the easiest form of ridicule. It takes little wit and much malice. Plato was ugly. Aesop was a hunchback and slave, Sappho was swarthy and dark -- but who cares? Bodies rot. Ideas can change the world.

I love your tirade about how much malice you've spat at male politicians as well as female. Congratulations. You are an equal opportunity insulter. But insults are not arguments.

I am sure you've never read my books or you wouldn't be echoing the most vulgar and simplistic book chatters in calling me "a sex novelist." Besides, what is wrong with sex or novels? Nothing in my book. Your writing smacks of ignorance and insecurity. You lean on insults because ideas evade you. Propaganda often relies on physical mockery. Remember the stereotypical images of Jews the Nazis circulated? The hooked nose, the thick lips, the swarthy complexion, the protuberant eyes? None of these things can undo the genius of Sigmund Freud or the many other geniuses banished by the Nazis. Similar caricatures were used against African-Americans. And against women. It's a very low form of discourse. You don't even have to know how to draw.

If you were my writing student, I'd challenge your reliance on physical mockery and ask you to find better ways of arguing your points. I'd try to engage your brain not your spleen.

As for my age, I love being eight-hundred years old and still here.

This Blogger's Books and Other Items from...