Jack Cashill — the man who claims his literary sensibilities rival those of a latter-day Auerbach — proves yet again, again, to have problems being intellectually honest. In “Obama Does Best When He Says Nothing,” Cashill compares the President to “Chauncey Gardiner, [who] is the protagonist of Jerzy Kosinski’s 1971 prescient satire, Being There, which was later made into a movie of the same name, co-scripted by Kosinski.” Because his ethos, such as it is, relies so heavily on the impression that he is a man of letters, he neglects to inform the reader that the quotations he draws from Kosinski’s “prescient satire” are not, in fact, in the novel. They are, however, in the film. As I am the last person about to denigrate film as a medium, my point here is not to belittle Cashill for quoting from a film, but simply to note that, like most disreputable literary critics, he believes his credibility relies on always being the first to “lose” a game of Humiliation.*
He taught them a game he had invented as a postgraduate student, in which each person had to think of a well-known book he hadn’t read, and scored a point for every person present who had read it. The Confederate Soldier and Carol were joint winners, scoring four points out of a possible five with Steppenwolf and The Story of O respectively, Philip in each case accounting for the odd point. His own nomination, Oliver Twist — usually a certain winner — was nowhere.
“What do you call that game?” Melanie asked Philip.
“That’s a great name. Humiliation …”
“You have to humiliate yourself to win, you see. Or to stop others from winning. (96)