Friday, September 03, 2004

I spoke too soon!

It turns out there is at least one example of interesting convention coverage in the blogosphere. To make it interesting, the folks at Crooked Timber channeled the ghost of Emile Durkheim. From the grave, Durkheim comments on Zell Miller's RNC speech and subsequent interviews. Well not really, but using a passage from The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, the Timberites provide an original explanation of Miller's behavior. Here is Durkheim's passage, in full:

The force of the collectivity is not wholly external; it does not move us entirely from outside. Indeed … it must enter into us and become organized within us … This stimulating and invigorating effect of society is particularly apparent in certain circumstances. In the midst of an assembly that becomes worked up, we become capable of feelings and conduct which we are incapable when left to our individual resources … For this reason all parties — be they political, economic, or denominational — see to it that periodic conventions are held, at which their followers can renew their common faith by making a public demonstration of it together … In the same way, we can also explain the curious posture that is so characteristic of a man who is speaking to a crowd — if he has achieved communion with it. His language becomes high-flown in a way that would be ridiculous in ordinary circumstances; his gestures take on an overbearing quality; his very thought becomes impatient of limits and slips easily into every kind of extreme. … Sometimes he even feels possessed by a moral force greater than he, of which he is only the interpreter … This extraordinary surplus of forces is quite real and comes to him from the very group he is addressing. The feelings he arouses as he speaks return to him enlarged and amplified, reinforcing his own to some degree. … It is then no longer a mere individual who speaks but a group incarnated and personified.

Kind of makes you wish Durkheim was reporting for one of the news networks, doesn't it?

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