I’ve just read Adam Gopnik’s typically charming and insightful essay “The Corrections: Of abridgments, commentaries, and art” in the latest (Oct. 22) New Yorker, and I heartily recommend it to you if you have the physical magazine—alas, it is not online. But there is a sentence that is probably yet another sign that I am irrevocably behind the times when it comes to ever-changing English grammar. Here it is:
The tale of how the guy who played Superman on a cheap, forgotten TV series shot himself lacks the grip of tragedy, even pop tragedy, which demands, after all, that the hero once counted.
(He is discussing Hollywoodland, “the intelligent, brilliantly acted… yet unbelievably dull story of how the fifties television Superman, George Reeves, killed himself or was killed in a very minor Hollywood scandal.”) Now, in my dialect, the verb demand requires the pathetic remnant of what was once the English subjunctive: I demand that you go, He demanded that she be executed, or in this case which demands that the hero once have counted. Does Gopnik’s version sound perfectly acceptable and mine stodgy and archaic, or do you share my sense of what demand demands? (If the latter, do you too get regular solicitations from AARP?)