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Yo! Douche bag!

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The Social Animal by David Brooks, a New York Times columnist and right-wing talking head, combines fictional narrative, studies-have-shown pop psychology and conservative social satire in unusual ways. Thomas Nagel calls it ‘a moral and social tract… hung on the life stories of two imaginary people, Harold and Erica’. Here are ten of its weirdest sentences:

I’m writing this story, first, because while researchers in a wide variety of fields have shone their flashlights into different parts of the cave of the unconscious, much of their work is done in academic silos.

Imagine a man who buys a chicken from the grocery store, manages to bring himself to orgasm by penetrating it, then cooks and eats the chicken.

He wore a scruffy three-day growth of beard on his face, and his hair was perpetually shaggy, like one of those sensitive stud novelists at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

She still thought it was a sign of social bravery to be a crude-talking, hard-partying, cotton candy lipstick-wearing, thong-snapping, balls-to-the-wall disciple in the church of Lady GaGa.

With his friends he was all ‘Yo! Douche bag!’ but in parental and polite adult company he used a language and set of mannerisms based on the pretence that he’d never gone through puberty.

Erica was suddenly consumed by a burning desire to be a business leader.

Like most women, she got lubricated even while looking at nature shows of animals copulating, even though consciously the thought of being aroused by animals was repellent.

He was tall, and since one study estimated that each inch of height corresponds to $6000 of annual salary in contemporary America, that matters.

‘This hand reaching to touch me across the table is not quite like my mother’s hand. It’s more like the hand of other people I wanted to have sex with.’

The result was a pair of satisfying climaxes, and eventually, through the magic of the birds and the bees, a son.

Comments on “Yo! Douche bag!”

  1. Joe Morison says:

    ‘Imagine’ begins the second sentence. Well, something very similar was imagined 42 years ago in Portnoy’s Complaint, except that there it was liver not a chicken, it was bought and cooked by his mother not him, and the whole family ate it. That seems to me to be a far more impressive bit of imagining.

    • pinhut says:

      “Imagine a man who buys a chicken from the grocery store, manages to bring himself to orgasm by penetrating it, then cooks and eats the chicken.”

      If the man is the US and the chicken is Osama Bin Laden, I can well imagine it. And the mob, high on cooking fumes, chanting BBQ BBQ BBQ.

  2. Fatema Ahmed says:

    This made my day. I was expecting to see a set of glorious front-page puns this morning about events in Abbottabad but the British tabloids have been very disappointing. It’s very restrained of Nagel not to mention the writing as he nudges Brooks’ arguments out of the way. I’m glad someone else has.

  3. outofdate says:

    Then again it’s probably true that the stud novelists in Iowa are perpetually shaggy, else they wouldn’t be stud novelists now would they?

  4. loxhore says:

    Let me guess, there’s something reassuring to Brooks about the idea of an immutable human nature that just happens to lean conservative

    I wonder if what Brooks means is she thinks it’s brave to snap her thong while talking crude, while partying hard, which would I would’ve thought be understandable, and which I along with Brooks (‘She still thought’) cannot approve of – just because of the risks involved – or if the presumed bravery is in being the sort of person to do these things (not necessarily simultaneously), which is less, and which I’m not so inclined to punish with patrician contempt

  5. gringo_gus says:

    The ghost of Chief Constable Anderton is a’haunting

  6. SpragueD says:

    The author valiantly read an entire David Brooks book so that we did not have to. I will be forever grateful.

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