Lee Siegel, An Appreciation

The recently fired blogger for the New Republic is, in some ways, a treasure. He was dumped for writing for his own comments section under a pseudonym. But what's quite wonderful is what he actually wrote about himself. Here's an example unearthed by blogger JMW:

How angry people get when a powerful critic says he doesn't like their favorite show! Like little babies. Such fragile egos. Siegel accuses Stewart of a "pandering puerility" and he gets an onslaught of puerile responses from the insecure herd of independent minds. I'm well within Stewart's target group, and I think he's about as funny as a wet towel in a locker room. Siegel is brave, brilliant, and wittier than Stewart will ever be. Take that, you bunch of immature, abusive sheep.

Remember this is Siegel arguing that Siegel is wittier than Jon Stewart ever will be. Yes, I have an ax to grind. Siegel accused me of anti-Semitism in Harper's Magazine, using as proof my attacks on anti-Semitism. But I will miss his hilarious cultural criticism:

Pairs proliferate throughout the film, reminders of our double natures. A sculpture in Ziegler's house, seen at the beginning of the film, is of two figures, a winged one bending over another without wings; people lift both their arms and raise both their hands; there are symmetrical doors and coffee cups; in Ziegler's billiard room, you see two pineapples, a perfect image of the banal duality of our desires.

The following Slate diary won the Poseur Alert of the Year a while back. It's still a classic.

Lee Siegel, Lee Siegel, Lee Siegel, Lee Siegel, Lee Siegel, Lee Siegel ... Oh! There you are. This "Diary" creeps up on you in the most unguarded moments. I recently improved my condition from self-intoxication to self-obsession, and I was just doing some lunchtime exercises—I ate lunch around 1:30 today; my cat Maya poached some salmon from Citarella—meant to bring me to the next stage, which is self-absorption. Dr. von Hoffenshtoffen, whom I mentioned yesterday, devised these "identity calisthenics," as he calls them. I think they're helping, but this Diary, with its emphasis on "I," gave me a "soul hernia" (another Hoffenshtoffenian phrase).

How will we live without him?