Relevancies and Irrelevancies

by Jay Nordlinger

Today’s Impromptus includes many subjects, among them the Arab-Israeli conflict and the comeback of cursive. (Not related.) It begins with a reflection on Weirton, W.V. I wrote a piece from there in 1999: “Anxiety in Steel Country.” Someone said earlier in the week that it anticipated the election of 2016. There is something to that.

Anyway, let me publish a letter related to yesterday’s Impromptus, which began with some thoughts on what I’ve come to consider the most bogus of all words: “relevant” (and, by extension, “irrelevant”). A reader writes,

In political discussion, “irrelevant” usually means, “Your opinion is different from mine, and therefore I don’t have to listen to you.” Elsewhere, it means, “I’m not interested in that.”

In high school, my academic interests were science and math. Not until college did I discover a similar affection for literature, history, politics, etc. (Thank you, University of Dallas.)

In high school, I got good grades in all subjects except English. My senior-year English teacher asked me why. I told her that, because I was focused on science, her class was “irrelevant” to me. Of course, all I meant was that I wasn’t strongly interested.

It wasn’t until I was older that I realized I had told her that her field — the very thing to which she had dedicated her academic and professional life — was irrelevant (at least to me). Not my best moment.

In Monday’s Impromptus, I had a note about Stan Van Gundy, the coach of the Detroit Pistons. I said that I enjoyed his post-game remarks, usually because they were so blunt.

Well, last night, the Pistons got blown out by the Cavs. LeBron & Co. were utterly dominant. And what’d my man Stan say? “They were great and we were terrible. That’s how you get a lopsided game.”

The Corner

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