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First Prize, Second Hand, Third Rate

With difficulty, in a diminished capacity, or perhaps with an alienated attitude because I was watching good old Benny Hill reruns on the BBC America channel at the time, I have become somehow dimly aware that prizes have been awarded to someone for something—but not to the late Benny Hill.  Yes, the Powers, always clueless, have been running around strewing honors left and left, with their usual lack of touch and their customary excess of agenda.  Now, what was it I obscurely gleaned through all the impudent suggestions of those Hill-induced saxophone riffs?  What glimpsed I through the dark backward and abysm of time?

Well, I’ll tell you one thing: The mind-numbing predictability of the Nobel Prize in Literature this year could only remind me that I’d rather have a free bottle in front of me than the prefrontal lobotomy represented by Elfriede Jelinek of Austria, author of Bambiland, Lust, The Piano Teacher, and Women as Lovers, and professor as well of exhausted bromides, feminist clichés, victimological asides, and highly questionable political judgments.  The repellent interview published in the New York Times of November 21 was designed, I take it, either to substitute for a reading of her works or else, as in my case, to cancel any interest whatsoever in Elfriede Jelinek.  Karl Kraus (1874-1936) not only has (not to mention...

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