I'm halfway through Ian Parker's entertaining profile of self-promoting Egyptologist Zahi Hawass. You gotta buy the dead tree New Yorker to get it, which will be hard, because it's last week's. If you subscribe you can read it online. Sorry folks, I'm behind on my reading.
Anyway, on Friday I came home and read the lede aloud to Kenyatta. I think this graph describing Hawass' steez, and Parker's initial impressions is, well, beautiful:
He appears to be enlivened and empowered by battles with enemies, real or imagined: overseas archeologists, foreign museums, amateur theorists who speculate that the Pyramids were built by lizards, other "assholes." And he enjoys making provocative announcements in which his force of character must carry listeners past skepticism, as when he says he is about to find the body of Cleopatra, or make a German museum return its bust of Nefertiti, or somehow copyright the shape of a pyramid. When I met him, this summer, his dominant conversational tone was rebuttal laced with invective and self-regard, built on the premise--it has some merit--that the international standing of Egypt is powerfully connected to the standing of Zahi Hawass. He has no doubt that his fame is a national asset.
Powerfully connected. Kenyatta made a good point that I'd missed while waxing about this graff--the word choice doesn't just directly mirror Hawass, it mirrors him indirectly also. His "dominant conversational tone" his "force of character" and, again, the notion that Egypt's standing is "powerfully connected" to Hawass. The words "dominant," "force," and "powefully" aren't directly describing the subject--but they actually mirror him.
Anyway, I love the muscle on display here. What can, I say, I'm a word-geek. Not big words and vocabulary geek, but a rhythm, texture and color geek. (The phrase "powerfully connected" just sounds good to me.) Read the piece. There are precious few great reporters in this business. And there are even fewer who can be bothered to with finer points of sentence-making.
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