Reading this, it struck me that watching Kenny Goldsmith try to think is like watching Keanu Reeves try to act. The lack of basic skills is no bar to either man making a tidy income, because each has stumbled into a style of performance that requires no talent—a value-free type of entertainment that speaks both to the canny cynicism of their self-presentation and to the low expectations of their audience.
We live in an era much like the early days of patent medicines and cure-all health foods; you know, back when Grape-Nuts prevented appendicitis, tuberculosis, malaria, and tooth decay; when Dr. Varon’s liniment cured colds, asthma, and measles; and Clark Stanley’s Snake Oil (a mix of kerosene, camphor, and turpentine) got rid of rheumatism. Today we have “Language poetry” and “Conceptual writing” and their many cognates flying the flag of the avant-garde, which is really the flag of certain uneducational ainstitutions. The flag depicts a hip-looking figure, played by Keanu Reeves (he does men and women equally well), tossing a flailing male deer into the air—symbolic of turning a quick buck—on the way toward a sinkhole in the distance, which symbolizes the hoped for destination of all Ph.D’s, the Golden Sands of Tenure.
One can only say, with a tightness in the throat meant to pass for genuine emotion, “Hail and farewell.”