Thursday, October 31, 2013

This Post is Secretly About Diction

By Robert H.

Leo Strauss argued that truly ground breaking thinkers have had to disguise their work ever since Socrates got hemlocked by the idiot masses.  Just so, Strauss thought many important texts were written on two levels: 1. with an exoteric meaning, a straightforward reading acceptable to prevailing sentiment, and 2. With an esoteric meaning, a covert reading that advances arguments too troubling or unacceptable to be openly shared with mainstream audiences and local elites.  The esoteric meaning is revealed through the author sprinkling in symbols, deliberate contradictions that weaken his straightforward argument, etc.

I bring it up because, in a Straussian critique of Straussian scholarship, Tyler Cowen has been writing tongue-in-cheek Straussian reviews of popular films.

I bring that up because the AV club just published the first straight-faced Straussian review of a movie I've ever seen in the mainstream press.  Apparently Ender's Game, a pulpy science fiction movie about space Harry Potter also being Space Horatio Hornblower (sorry, Honor), is a bad movie because it is actually a subtle attempt to advance intentionalist ethics, the very thing Charlie and I have been arguing about in a sports context.  The review is really an epic exercise in writing horses---; I highly recommend it.

Protip: The esoteric meaning of this post is that I like saying the word "Straussian."

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