This may be the finest distillation of our current intellectual crisis that I've yet read or heard.
Proud of my friend George Packer on his well-deserved Hitchens Prize. His acceptance speech is a tour de force: “Why is a career like that of CH not only unlikely but almost unimaginable? Put another way: Why is the current atmosphere inhospitable to it?”
God, this is just brilliant. And why so rare? Thoughtful, original, honest and brave. The best and most important piece you’ll read for a long time. If I had the balls or talent, I’d like to think one day I might write something half as good
V good piece. "A writer who carries the thought police around in his head, who always feels compelled to ask: Can I say this? Do I have a right? Is my terminology correct? Will my allies get angry? —that writer’s words will soon become lifeless."
"A writer who’s afraid to tell people what they don’t want to hear has chosen the wrong trade."
“A writer who’s afraid to tell people what they don’t want to hear has chosen the wrong trade.”
"The enviable job of a reporter is to seek human situations that constantly confound your fixed ideas. But under financial as well as political pressure, reporting has given way to opinion, whose currency, which is certainty, is cheaper in every way."
From one of the best writers in America, this is extremely worth your time. It’s also worth the debate I’m sure it will generate
"Why is a career like that of Christopher Hitchens not only unlikely but almost unimaginable?" George Packer writes
My friend George Packer writes more brilliantly than anyone about fear that has crippled so many in our industry--and models the courage required to resist it
hard for me to think of a writer who better displayed the qualities packer is complaining about here than ... christopher hitchens
1/ I've been an editor for almost two decades, in print an online, and I’ve seen firsthand the tectonic shifts that have happened across this business. And, folks, I have some thoughts on this George Packer piece in the Atlantic.
"Certainty removes the strength of doubt, the struggle to reconcile incompatible ideals, the drama of working out an idea without knowing where it will lead, the pain of changing your mind."
"If you haven’t got a community behind you, vouching for you, cheering you on, mobbing your adversaries and slaying them, then who are you?" Superb George Packer on endangered craft of literary individualism - & a rebuke to Twitter's mob-like proclivities
Reading this George Packer essay, I kept involuntarily identifying the sentences that would get him pilloried by various twitter factions, which essentially supports his thesis.
George Packer's Hitchens Prize Speech: The Enemies of Writing - Via ⁦
George Packer's Hitchens Prize Speech: The Enemies of Writing - The Atlantic
"Fear breeds self-censorship, and self-censorship is more insidious than the state-imposed kind, because it’s a surer way of killing the impulse to think, which requires an unfettered mind." George Packer on the enemies of writing
"A writer can still write while hiding from the thought police. But a writer who carries the thought police around in his head… that writer’s words will soon become lifeless.” Superb piece in defence of free speech by George Packer in The Atlantic
This is stupendous. ‘George Packer's Hitchens Prize Speech: The Enemies of Writing - The Atlantic
"Why is a career like that of Christopher Hitchens not only unlikely but almost unimaginable?" George Packer writes
fabulous essay by George Packer: The Enemies of Writing
This is a must-read essay by George Packer. "Fear breeds self-censorship, and self-censorship is more insidious than the state-imposed kind, because it’s a surer way of killing the impulse to think, which requires an unfettered mind."
"Fear breeds self-censorship, and self-censorship is more insidious than the state-imposed kind, because it's a surer way of killing the impulse to think, which requires an unfettered mind."
This is the most sanctimonious essay I have ever read, which is odd because it is a denunciation of sanctimonious writing. ⁦⁩ is stuck in the same narrative frame, and can’t seem to get out of it. Students suck, old neo cons are heroic.
George Packer on the new editing-for-orthodoxy: "If an editorial assistant points out that a line in a draft article will probably detonate an explosion on social media, what is her supervisor going to do—risk the blowup, or kill the sentence?"
What is the enemy of writing today? Fear — of moral judgment, public shaming, social ridicule, and ostracism. The mob has the final edit
Lovely essay on free expression and good writing by Hitchens Prize winner George Packer.
YES, YES, YES to pretty much all of this.
Unlike Packer, I would like to thank ANY underpaid millennial editorial assistant who ever circled some dumbass sentence of mine that would have caused offense.
A lovely piece by George Packer about the need today for writers who don't write as members of a group, who are more focused on clear thinking than moral certainty. He quotes Christopher Hitchens: "It matters not what you think but how you think.”
A truly great Writer can pivot from how cool it was Hitchens never rethought his "heroic, revolutionary" advocacy for the Iraq War to lamenting "my students have come of age during a decade when public discourse means taking a position & sticking with it"
“As for the notion of standing on your own, it’s no longer considered honorable or desirable. It makes you suspect, if not ridiculous.”
"As for the notion of standing on your own, it’s no longer considered honorable or desirable. It makes you suspect, if not ridiculous. If you haven’t got a community behind you.. mobbing your adversaries and slaying them, then who are you?'
The enemy of writers: group think. Can writers still bond despite different world views? Christopher Hitchens could
Packer: “A writer who’s afraid to tell people what they don’t want to hear has chosen the wrong trade.” v ⁦
A provocative and much needed bit of wisdom about good writing from one of the best, George Packer: on the crushing weight of the need to conform to one's identity group
A writer who’s afraid to tell people what they don’t want to hear has chosen the wrong trade. | George Packer, The Enemies of Writing
"Fear breeds self-censorship, and self-censorship is more insidious than the state-imposed kind, because it’s a surer way of killing the impulse to think, which requires an unfettered mind."
'...went against a "consensus" on the subject of race.' From a George Packer piece bemoaning the loss of the lone male geniuses of inky yore:
Be still my beating heart…George Packer explores a fundamental question: “What are the enemies of writing today?” His words are achingly sorrowful…A moving lamentation of loss that most do not begin to understand or feel. 1/25
Please read this, whether you are a writer or a reader and especially if you are neither.
The Enemies of Writing - "A writer who’s afraid to tell people what they don’t want to hear has chosen the wrong trade."
I read and loved this essay, then realized many people I respect and admire on here didn't like it, then felt nervous about sharing it. Pretty standard, actually.
“Groups save us a lot of trouble by doing our thinking for us.” Wise, nuanced essay about the psychology of free expression by George Packer at ⁦⁩ (h/t ⁦⁩).
“‘Views’ do not really count. It matters not what you think but how you think” is sort of an unhinged quote to pull from someone who loudly encouraged the Iraq war.
“A writer can still write while hiding from the thought police. But a writer who carries the thought police around in his head, who always feels compelled to ask: Can I say this?...Is my terminology correct?—that writer’s words will soon become lifeless.”
If you care about ideas, read this brilliantly written essay about the "stifling orthodoxy" that Twitter mobs impose, and the effect it has had on writing.
Good piece. When writers seek to write merely for the sake of expressing their allyship with some community or other, what they produce usually never rises above propaganda.
“A writer who always feels compelled to ask: Can I say this? Will my allies get angry? Will it help my enemies?—that writer’s words will soon become lifeless. A writer who’s afraid to tell people what they don’t want to hear has chosen the wrong trade”
This is perfect.
“A writer who’s afraid to tell people what they don’t want to hear has chosen the wrong trade.”
Fine tribute to Christopher Hitchens by George Packer, and a reflection on an intellectual world we’ve lost. “Why is a career like that of Christopher Hitchens not only unlikely but almost unimaginable?...Why is the current atmosphere inhospitable to it?”
I'm having a discouraging week, work-wise, and this was a validating if not optimistic read
This is very good. George Packer on the pressures facing writers in our age of public shaming, and the importance of not writing from a position of moral certainty.
The fear is more subtle and, in a way, more crippling. It’s the fear of moral judgment, public shaming, social ridicule, and ostracism. It’s the fear of landing on the wrong side of whatever group matters to you...because popular outrage has more weight.
"The notion of keeping [a] sentence because of the risk, to defy the risk, to push the boundaries of free expression just a few millimeters further out—that notion now seems quaint." Pushing.
I read and re-read this talk several times over the past few days.
Is it just me or does this piece absolutely reek of “people are finally holding me accountable for my views and I don’t like it”?
""The fear is more subtle and, in a way, more crippling. It’s the fear of moral judgment, public shaming, social ridicule, and ostracism. It’s the fear of landing on the wrong side of whatever group matters to you."
"... writers are now expected to identify with a community and to write as its representatives." Yes! This is a CURSE of the age. Thank you, George Packer.
Every word of this is worth reading HT
“The mob has the final edit.”
The Enemies of Writing: A writer who’s afraid to tell people what they don’t want to hear has chosen the wrong trade via
This is a well crafted but rather depressing piece about the impact of identity politics and cancel culture on the writing profession.
"Fear breeds self-censorship, and self-censorship is more insidious than the state-imposed kind, because it’s a surer way of killing the impulse to think, which requires an unfettered mind."
George Packer's Hitchens Prize Speech: The Enemies of Writing - The Atlantic - one of the best essays I have read. “A writer can still write while hiding from the thought police. But a writer who carries the thought police around in his head .......” wow.
George Packer, earlier this year, on the use of ‘moral clarity’ in journalism. “Its light is meant to overpower subjects, not illuminate them.”
George Packer (earlier this year) on the use of ‘moral clarity’ in journalism. “It’s light is meant to overpower subjects, not illuminate them.”
The Enemies of Writing. George Packer’s Hitchens Prize speech.
Moral certainty will sabotage your ability to be a compelling artist
This is about writing but it carries over to anyone trying to make art in 2020. Can not get it out of my head
Packer's diagnosis of the subtle but profound internal pressures helping to ruin journalism and commentary is exactly right, and many of the people dragging this piece are major parts of the problem.
“The job of a writer isn’t to tell you how to think, but what to think about” Can you think who said the above as you read this essay?
“the writer’s job will always remain the same: to master the rigors of the craft; to embrace complexity while holding fast to simple principles; to stand alone if need be; to tell the truth.” George Packer's Hitchens Prize Speech: The Enemies of Writing
The Enemies of Writing: A writer who’s afraid to tell people what they don’t want to hear has chosen the wrong trade, by George Packer via #journalism
The Enemies of Writing: A writer who’s afraid to tell people what they don’t want to hear has chosen the wrong trade, by George Packer via #journalism
See, I’m not worried about writing something that’ll piss off my fellow progressives. I’m afraid of getting dogpiled by the Anti-Woke crowd!
A wonderful essay from 's George Packer, who won last year's "The Hitchens Prize." After reading it, I can understand why he's not on Twitter.
"A friend of mine once heard from a New York publisher that his manuscript was unacceptable because it went against a 'consensus' on the subject of race..." Reminds me of when Google's Pichai fired Damore, saying his thoughts were "not ok."
"A writer who’s afraid to tell people what they don’t want to hear has chosen the wrong trade," George Packer writes
This is first-rate
Why the philosophy twitter feuds are so awful and no non-tribal point view ever gets heard
Oh my goodness, I didn't even know had a *new* piece out in this vein just today. Just a coincidence.
So good. George Packer on why writers should resist moral certainty.
"The writer’s job will always remain the same: to master the rigors of the craft; to embrace complexity while holding fast to simple principles; to stand alone if need be; to tell the truth."
"Why is a career like that of Christopher Hitchens not only unlikely but almost unimaginable?" George Packer writes