Culture

The Corner

‘Relevant,’ They Say. Blech.

In my Impromptus today, I have a variety of issues, including South Korea: What does the impeachment of its president say about its system? And, for that matter, about people?

I also have a note about health-care policy: Kick it from Washington to the states? And about Steve King, coupled with Viktor Orbán: the New Conservatism? And about Clayton Yeutter, late of the Reagan administration, and late of this earthly realm. He was a father of NAFTA, and an all-around neat guy.

But my column begins with what I’ve come to consider the most bogus of words: “relevant.” For years, I have heard, “How can we make Shakespeare and Beethoven relevant today?” Oh, come on.

In a concert hall the other week, I noticed that Igor Levit’s bio states that he is “one of the most relevant pianists of his generation.” A nonsense word, nothing but.

And when people tell you you are “irrelevant,” because of your views, they mean … what? That you’re not popular? Not powerful? Wrong?

I believe that “relevant” is a cousin of that other bogus notion, “the right side of history.” (I took care of that one, I hope, in a 2011 essay, here.)

Anyway …

I want to close this little post with a letter, an e-mail, just because I find it amusing, and think you might too. In my Impromptus yesterday, I mentioned Stan Van Gundy, the coach of the Detroit Pistons. A reader writes,

I don’t know anything about Stan Van Gundy, but I remember his brother Jeff from when he coached the Knicks. I thought Jeff Van Gundy looked the least like a basketball coach of any coach I had ever seen. He reminded me of a guy who won the silent auction for “Coach the Knicks for a Day” at the B’nai B’rith dinner.

LOL, because true.

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