Very Good Paragraphs

From Ken Silverstein’s “The Tale of the Cables: Reading WikiLeaks as Literature” in the Feb/Mar 2011 Bookforum:

The WikiLeaks cables, in other words, read more compellingly as a kind of literature. True, they don’t exactly evoke Tolstoy, Graham Greene, or even John le CarrĂ©. But diplomats are trained to chronicle the same tics and quirks of character that masters of fiction carefully record—and often with the same aim, of penetrating the surface equanimity of the characters they depict in order to win through to some more essential truths about their motivations. There’s a reason after all, that the fictional world, like the diplomatic one, is governed by plots—and that both fields share a comfort with moral ambiguity and casual deception that you don’t find in most other endeavors. So it’s probably a good idea to approach the cables not as the work of grand strategies like George Kennan, but rather as something akin to the chill, satiric portraits brought off by Patricia Highsmith, who famously said she was principally “interested in the effect of guilt” on her creations.

You can read the whole of it here.