Martha Nussbaum Will Not Read Your Blog

by zunguzungu

In the Chronicle (via), we find that Martha Nussbaum doesn’t mind reading trashy literature, and is sort of bemused that anyone would expect otherwise:

Q: What are the guilty pleasures in your media diet?
A: The phrase “guilty pleasure” implies that one is supposed to feel guilty if one does not read only highbrow materials, but why? I read mystery novels on airplanes, but I don’t feel guilty about it. Some are really well-written, and the ones that are not, I just don’t enjoy.

Seems reasonable. She reads what she likes, and screw you if you want to tell her what she should or shouldn’t read. She can judge for herself! But then when it comes to new media, she gets all straight-edge:

Q: Do you read blogs? If so, what blogs do you like best?
A: I have a principle of never reading or writing for blogs. Occasionally I do write at a specific invitation, but I never read one.

Q: Do you use Twitter? If so, who do you follow?
A: Never

So many “never”‘s! It’s a really weird move. I’d love to know where it comes from, or rather, I’d like to note that it comes from nowhere, in sharp contrast to the careful reasoning of the previous point. It is the argument from self-evident truth: she does not read the blogs because she does not read the blogs. The fact that, as was pointed out on the twitter, she was not quite so horrified by the blogs when she wrote for one in 2008 is interesting, but not itself the point: she can read or write what she wants. And perhaps she simply said “principle” when she really meant something else. But if there’s a principle, let it speak! Otherwise, since she will not read teh blegz, let her read Milton:

To the pure, all things are pure, not only meats and drinks, but all kinde of knowledge whether of good or evill; the knowledge cannot defile, nor consequently the books, if the will and conscience be not defil’d. For books are as meats and viands are; some of good, some of evill substance; and yet God in that unapocryphall vision, said without exception, Rise Peter, kill and eat, leaving the choice to each mans discretion. Wholesome meats to a vitiated stomack differ little or nothing from unwholesome; and best books to a naughty mind are not unappliable to occasions of evill.