My Kind of Expert

AVC: There was an editorial in The New York Times yesterday by David Brooks [“The Class War Before Palin,” 10/9/08], a conservative columnist, about how the Republican Party has rejected intellectualism and devoted itself to sort of ruling from the gut and painting the other side as a bunch of pointy-headed elitists.

JH: Yes, anti-expertise.

AVC: Exactly. And I couldn’t help but think of your “resident expert” persona as the comedic personification of that. Is this the right time to be you, in a way?

JH: It’s a lot better time to be me now than it was in 1948, because I wasn’t born then. That would have made it more challenging.

As I’ve said, I am someone who values knowledge, actual knowledge. I also value stories and fiction a whole lot, and that’s where the fake knowledge comes in. I am someone who values truth?actual truth as opposed to “truthiness.” I am also someone who has been trained in deconstruction in the literary theory department of Yale University, so I am someone who is tempted to believe that no absolute truth is possible. And in a very weird way, my leftist postmodern leanings and relativism has put me directly in line with the contemporary Republican Party. The very idea that there is no truth, but only the filter of narrative through which truth is invented is something I learned at the feet of the most leftist professors at Yale and am learning again from Sarah Palin during the Vice Presidential debate, and I find that very disorienting. [Laughs.]

–John Hodgman, author of The Areas of My Expertise and More Information than You Require, in an interview with the Onion AV Club.


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