Thursday, March 16, 2017

Who is Philip Terzian?

Who is Philip Terzian and why is he saying those things about me?

Recently, I came across the following review comment on the Amazon page of my book, The Last Psychoanalyst. According to Amazon the author, one Philip Terzian is not a verified purchaser.

I quote his comment in full:

A self-described 'life coach' and 'relationship coach' is professionally unqualified -- and in this case temperamentally unsuitable -- to sit in judgment of Sigmund Freud. Caveat Emptor.

Apparently, Terzian does not like me. Trust me, I can handle it. Equally apparent is his profound ignorance about who I am. By the evidence of his absurd remark, he believes that since I am practicing today as a life coach and a relationship coach I am “unqualified” and “temperamentally unsuitable” to judge the great Sigmund Freud. 

I do not know what it means to be temperamentally unsuitable. It’s a garbled expression, unworthy of serious consideration. Do you consider your temperament suitable or unsuitable? I do not know what Terzian knows about my temperament, but I suspect that he knows as little about it as he knows of my professional background.

Think of it, this man took it upon himself to dismiss my book with an ad hominem argument, without even bothering to figure out who I am. One understands that ad hominem arguments are the first recourse of the intellectually challenged, but still, how much effort would it have taken to do a Google search, to check my website or my blog and to discover—doubtless to his chagrin—that I know a great deal about psychoanalysis, have written extensively about it, have reviewed books about psychoanalysis in numerous publications and practiced psychoanalysis for decades. 

If Terzian had anything resembling intellectual curiosity he could have glanced at my Amazon page and discovered that I have written several books on the subject.

Alas, he was not inclined to do so. Thus he, who has no authority to say anything about Freud, dismisses my views because he was too lazy to check on who I am.

It’s a sad commentary on Philip Terzian.

Needless to say, I was curious to find out who the man was. Imagine my surprise when discovered that he is a serious conservative intellectual, a distinguished journalist, currently the literary editor of The Weekly Standard. His expertise seems to lie in politics and foreign affairs.

In short, he knows nothing about Freud or about who is or is not qualified to judge the great Sigmund Freud. Note that, in his Amazon comment, Terzian takes pains to offer up Freud’s full name, a sign of idolatrous respect.

So, what is going on here? If I may venture a hypothesis, I would suggest that his critical dismissal just might have something to do with the fact that I posted about the Weekly Standard, in particular about a review of a book on Freud, a month before Terzian wrote his comment on Amazon. Link here.

In my post’s title I suggested that the Weekly Standard, great conservative publication that it is, had been suckered into publishing a fawning review of a man whose thought is a pillar of radical leftist theory. And that the magazine gave the assignment to a professor of women’s studies from Mount Holyoke College. I don’t know who assigned the review but still, the editors of the Weekly Standard ought to know better than to promote leftist thinking. 

My own views are easily accessible. You might also examine Eli Zaretsky’s book, Secrets of the Soul, for a different analysis of Freud’s influence on the radical left and the American counterculture. Of course, anyone who knew anything would know that Herbert Marcuse and many Marxists of the Frankfort School were perfectly happy to find intellectual sustenance in Freud’s writings.

Like I said, the Weekly Standard got suckered. It’s what happens when you don’t know what you don’t know. How much of a problem is it that leading figures of the conservative intelligentsia do not know their way around the world of ideas, especially the world of serious theory? I consider it a serious problem, one of the reasons why conservatives have difficulty answering many of the arguments put forward by radical leftist thinkers. If journalists have the required level of expertise, they should consult with those who do and not dismiss those who are qualified to write about Freud.


trigger warning said...

Dont take it personally. It's not just you. The Weekly Standard, National Review, and, indeed, several contributors to the WSJ editorial page, have gone 'round the bend with what appears to be chronic TDS.

Republicans didn't listen to them!!! Shame!!!

I think they've been breathing the pure, thin air of the Pundit Aeries too long, and have a collective case of the whirlybeds.

They can be safely ignored.

Anonymous said...

"How much of a problem is it that leading figures of the conservative intelligentsia do not know their way around the world of ideas, especially the world of serious theory?"

Where does one go now to acquire such skills when the institutions that would have given you the skills are now against you learning them?

Ares Olympus said...

I've only reviewed a few technical books on Amazon, and even there I didn't use my real name. Philip Terzian is a unique enough name that it seems a good guess that he is who you think it is, and it does say he lives in Washington DC, along with 9 other reviews since 2008.

There's a "comment" option on reviews, and I've seen authors try to defend themselves there, and overall it doesn't seem worth while, and the author usually comes across as unduly sensitive.

Calling an author unqualified does seems a weak argument, although I suppose it shows in the status world "analyst" is held high, and "coach" is held low.

The "low status" side I see isn't in any reviews, but the publisher "CreateSpace Independent Publishing."

I've talked to a couple authors about self-publishing and I've heard good arguments that there's higher integrity there since you don't have to conform to the content pressures publishers use to warp a book to a certain smaller narrative that is perceived to increase sales.

And I suppose the advantage of going through a publisher is they'll setup reading sessions at national book stores, and that allows an author to talk directly to potential readers, and can even expand a message wider than those who will actually read a book. And sometimes it almost seems the book is itself merely a "prop" for speaking tours.

Dennis said...

The "National Review" and the "Weekly Standard" are establishment magazines. These are people who will do anything to keep their "creds" with the establishment in Washington DC. The "Beltway Boys" so to speak. I would suggest that they are not principled conservatives at all. Basically "Never Trumpers" who probably voted for Hillary if one is to believe some of the information floating around.