Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Without God, man is not man, the poor are not poor in spirit, and the rich have no inward part.
John R. Harris:
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
John R. Harris:
We are all being gratified instantly these days, but we will all awake one day (if we haven’t already) to realize that we aren’t very gratified. The higher pleasures cannot be instant. Playing an instrument, or composing music for it, takes years of apprenticeship. Designing a beautiful building requires years of designing mediocre buildings, or elegant but structurally unviable buildings. Being an All-Star hitter or pitcher requires years and years of grinding practice. In contrast, any tall kid can succeed as a wide-receiver on his high school’s football team after a little coaching, and can extend his triumph to the school’s basketball team after football season winds down. I’m sure players in these sports view success with satisfaction, just as I’m sure those of my students who design Web sites are being honest when they claim that their work is an artistic outlet. As a culture, we sincerely do not suspect what deep, rich satisfactions we have given up in order to have the instant kind: collectively, we have not yet awakened.
Electronic life is severely reductive. It is usually timed, and has a window of only such-and-such proportions to communicate its message. It is also legion: there are so many shows and sites riding the air waves and pulsing through the wires that an offering must “type” itself to win a following. In the process, its component parts are also typed. White people are typed, too: the young, the old, parents, teenagers, “hotties” and “hunks”. the whole degrading and imbecilic panoply which parades before our children. Don’t think for a moment, either, that white kids abstain from trying to squeeze themselves into these stereotypes. . . . The television has played nanny now to two generations—and counting—which consider themselves obliged to “fit in” somewhere among commonly broadcast expectations.
—John R. Harris, The Black Female Coroner: Racism and Electronic Brainwashing, in The Blog of Virtues
The tattoo has a profound meaning: the superficiality of modern man’s existence.
The tattoo is . . . to the modern bourgeois what playing shepherdess was to Marie Antoinette. The woman whose tattoo was supposed to say “Fuck you” to her university did not really want to become the janitor of her faculty building, and probably would have very little to say to him. Egalitarians usually have a very strong sense of hierarchy.
—Theodore Dalrymple, Exposing shallowness, in The New Criterion
. . . the scale of a man’s evil is not entirely to be measured by its practical consequences. Men commit evil within the scope available to them. Some evil geniuses, of course, devote their lives to increasing that scope as widely as possible, but no such character has yet arisen in Britain, and most evildoers merely make the most of their opportunities. They do what they can get away with.
There is something to be said here about the word “depression,” which has almost entirely eliminated the word and even the concept of unhappiness from modern life. Of the thousands of patients I have seen, only two or three have ever claimed to be unhappy: all the rest have said that they were depressed. This semantic shift is deeply significant, for it implies that dissatisfaction with life is itself pathological, a medical condition, which it is the responsibility of the doctor to alleviate by medical means. Everyone has a right to health; depression is unhealthy; therefore everyone has a right to be happy (the opposite of being depressed). This idea in turn implies that one’s state of mind, or one’s mood, is or should be independent of the way that one lives one’s life, a belief that must deprive human existence of all meaning, radically disconnecting reward from conduct.
—Theodore Dalrymple, The Frivolity of Evil, in The City Journal.
I am always astonished by the way people always suppose that, if there were any justice in the world, they would be better rather than worse off. To the contrary, many should thank their lucky stars that there is no justice in the world: for otherwise they would die in prolonged agony.
—Theodore Dalrymple, Why equality of opportunity is impossible to achieve—but intellectual elitism can offer opportunity to all, in The Social Affairs Unit
A prison officer in the prison in which I worked, a man of Jamaican origin and therefore by no means culturally predisposed to such a conclusion, had found also that rock and baroque exerted quite different effects on the prisoners. The first agitated them to the point of violence, the latter soothed them to the point of docility. But he had difficulty in persuading the other officers of the value of his observations, for culturally they were themselves more inclined to rock than baroque. As to my proposal that the prison should echo to the sound of Gregorian chant, they thought it was merely a joke.
—Theodore Dalrymple on Why the Baroque is superior to Rock, in The Social Affairs Unit
One reason for the epidemic of self-destructiveness that has struck British, if not the whole of Western, society, is the avoidance of boredom. For people who have no transcendent purpose to their lives and cannot invent one through contributing to a cultural tradition (for example), in other words who have no religious belief and no intellectual interests to stimulate them, self-destruction and the creation of crises in their life is one way of warding off meaninglessness. I have noticed, for example, that women who frequent bad men - that is to say men who are obviously unreliable, drunken, drug-addicted, criminal, or violent, or all of them together, have often had experience of decent men who treat them well, with respect, and so forth: they are the ones with whom their relationships lasted the shortest time, because they were bored by decency. Without religion or culture (and here I mean high, or high-ish, culture) evil is very attractive. It is not boring.
I think the great disjunction between my father's expressed ideas (and ideals) and his everyday conduct affected me, and made me suspicious of people with grand schemes of universal improvement.
Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One's standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.
Childhood in large parts of modern Britain, at any rate, has been replaced by premature adulthood, or rather adolescence. Children grow up very fast but not very far. . . . They know by the age of 14 all they are ever going to know.
—Theodore Dalrymple interviewed by Jamie Glasov, in FrontPageMagazine.com