Saturday, 25 January 2020

The Colourblind Leading the Colourblind

Even Deborah Ross, the Spectator Film critic famous for her cutesy reviews, wrote this about the casting of Armando Iannucci's period piece, 'The Personal History of David Copperfield':
casting throughout, which is excellent, particularly as it will
infuriate some people (i.e. the white ones who are still determined to hang on to everything). and ....Aneurin Barnard as James Steerforth and the wonderful Nikki Amuka-Bird as Steerforth’s mother. (For those who will pathetically ask how Steerforth can be white when his mother is black I put it to you that it does not matter. This is all a fiction!)

Such attitudes imply that the defining parameters of the human condition - things like race, culture and biology - are meaningless accidents or erasable scribbles on a digital etch-a-sketch. Once erased we can remake the world in our own image satisfying and forcing on viewers the agenda of the racially homogenised, multicultural New Jerusalem achieved on our screens. This, of course, is the virtuous terminus which progressive thinkers envisage. In reality, though, what we are delivered is an irritating on-screen distraction (as the strange penalty for our education and cultural awareness) that would be the same if a film about 19th century India cast a white man who sounded like Ian Lavery as the Nawab of Oudh. It is as if the sacrifice of minor considerations like culture and history are worth it in comparison with what is put in their place. This amounts to a falsification. It is a reorganisation of reality according to an agenda carried out in the same way that a magpie assembles sparkly objects in its nest or a toddler rearranges the facial features on Mr Potato-Head. When grown-ups do this they call it 'curation.' The glories and interest of real nature, culture and history are not enough for these demi-gods. And, of course, the most striking contradiction of all? The undermining of one of the chief appeals of period drama - historical, furnishing, sumptuary and cultural accuracy which intelligent people are very interested in. The very object of the genre is royally defeated.

Illiberal Lab Rats Explained

"It is a truth universally acknowledged" that anyone of a conservative disposition and, therefore, leaning slightly to the right is hateful and that more than a whiff of sulphur attends them. Their hobby is likely to be cackling in harmony with their co-conspirators in a dank and shadowy side-street. As a result of this truth it follows, as night follows day, that, not only does the error of their nostrums require pointing out, but that they deserve to be humiliated and demeaned with extreme prejudice essentially for the sin of just being conservative. 
A stand-up comedian called Alex Kealy is touring his show - interestingly called 'Rationale' - in which he seeks to demonstrate that the only reasons anyone would choose conservatism is their innate hostility to reason. It all emerges from a primitive, id-motivated part of their being. The last thing such a choice would involve is considered rationality. To demonstrate this "scientifically" he enlists "Moral psychologist" (who that?) Jonathan Haidt who subjects real human beings to a street experiment where unwitting participants are asked questions that elicit how punitive they are on penal questions standing alternatively on a sweet-smelling pavement or next to a bin with a stink bomb placed in it. Those standing next to the stinky bin are all for hanging and flogging. Those on the aromatic pavement are all for sweetness, light, forgiveness and understanding. Ergo such right-wing attitudes can be explained entirely in terms of how disgusted one is feeling at the lizard brain level of physical senses and feelings. The last thing such preferences will be due to is reason. It's interesting to note also that what constitutes conservatism in such experiments is defined purely in terms of attitudes to the penal system as opposed to considered arguments on tradition, economics, political evolution, identity and belonging. It is also assumed propter hoc that no-one ever deserves real punishment.
Haidt's approach and Kealy's espousal of it, of course, treats humans as though they are not humans who are remarkable for their ability to make freely considered rational choices unlike any other creature in the animal kingdom. There is an assumption that we, and especially the right-wingers amongst us, are no more than lab rats. This amounts to extending beyond merely proving that right-wing attitudes are of no value to the punishment of them by the humiliation and demeaning of right-wing people as nothing more than primitive animals merely for being right-wing. The problem with this is that a demeaning model of what right-wingers are is applied to them to explain their behaviour in a kind of Skinneresque behaviourist experiment. 

Another "experiment" cited triumphantly by Kealy, by Political Psychologist (who that?), Drew Western, concluded that explaining away the disgraceful behaviour of politicians we support is all to do with relieving the neural distress such things occasion for us. This time humans are presented as driven purely by a kind of robotic, chemically-determined, SOMA pleasure principle. They don't really like or admire humans, these people do they?
Of course, we can be sure that when Mr Kealy describes what he and his left-wing mates are he will adopt the more dignified western liberal model (largely evolved by, er, conservatives) that is more favourable to them and will rejoice in the freedom and sweet rationality that model affords them.
The problem with this investigation of humans by psychological 'study' is that it sets out, in that way that mentally-compromised (Oh, the irony!), scientifically minded, non-humanities people have, by assuming as a given that humans are less than human. As a result, surprise, surprise, as a self-fulfilling prophesy, it returns results that suggest we are less than human which might be expediently attractive when one is looking for something to apply to one's political opponents.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

A Schoolboy Error- How Come Educated People can be so Stupid?

There are two ways of looking at things. 1) Each human being is a clean cognitive slate or an empty vessel into which the commodity, education, is poured. The more in the vessel the more likely you are to think and vote correctly (Remain of course) and get it 'right'. Those with lower watermarks in their vessels can safely be considered as drones who are bound to get it wrong. 2) Education is merely a 'leading out' (as in the Latin sense of the word) of faculties that are already there in every human - to whit, the common sense and natural wit exhibited in bright children. This can mean that the relatively educated, in a formal sense, football stadium wit can show him or herself to be sharper than the graduate in Management Studies or some such and see instinctively, further into nature (in the form of his or her own nature) and Nature itself). This person may even be able to spot that academia, in all its cleverness, and the 'education' it now provides is labouring under a false model that goes against nature, economics and history and that this constitutes a schoolboy error that disqualifies its authority. He or she may even laugh at it.....

Friday, 17 January 2020

Creator versus Curator

Some words crystallise our overweening pride about who we are in the scientific age.  Curator suggests someone who can pick and choose from a range of options and features to bring together a pleasing display according to his own mind. When this principle is applied to human being counter to the old idea that that being is simply given by a creator who is not us (or even by evolution which is not us) we have the modern version of what we are; tinfoil creatures assembled by a magpie mind for passing amusement with no sense of the miraculousness or dignity of their own being. I think I’ll be Queer today and have my earlobe gouged and stretched. It’ll be a talking point for a while.

Irresistible Imperatives Created as a Means to Power - Climate

One way among several of looking at anorexia is to see it as the creation by 'sufferers' who feel powerless to create an unanswerable and irresistible imperative that gives them a way of manipulating and controlling those around them who care about their welfare. The logic is that the refusal to take sustenance creates a situation where the patient's very life is at risk. That being the case no one will dare to challenge, cross or disagree with the manipulations of environment and people that go on. This affords a precarious but real form of power.

The narrative created and incontestably 'established' by the right scientific authority on climate change is similar to this. Science plays a god-like role. What could be a greater controlling imperative than preventing the imminent destruction of the planet on whose proper functioning we depend for our lives. Who (on earth) would dare argue with that? What maniac would even think about resisting that? A free ticket is, thus, written to boss others around, direct their movements and conduct regarding how they travel, what they eat and wear and where and how they live. And all this while feeling tremendously good and pleased with yourself. You become a kind of Wizard of Oz.

What's not to like?

Friday, 3 January 2020

Tyrannised by Minorities

Commissioned in 1866 by Khalil Bey, a collector of erotic art stationed as an Ottoman diplomat in Paris, Gustave Courbet’s famous painting, L’Origine du Monde, was owned at one time by the psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan, before being taken in lieu of a tax bill by the French state and placed in the Musée d’Orsay. The image, combined with that title, could not state more unequivocally and obviously what we all know – that the life of all of us was once dependent on a woman and her impregnation by a man via the sexual act.
From Courbet let’s move on to Thomas Aquinas about whom GK Chesterton wrote this in his St Thomas Aquinas - The Dumb Ox :
To (the) question “Is there anything?” St Thomas begins by answering “Yes”; if he began by answering “No”, it would not be the beginning, but the end. That is what some of us call common sense. Either there is no philosophy, no philosophers, no thinkers, no thought, no anything; or else there is a real bridge between the mind and reality.
So, Courbet’s point is an inescapable reality. Deny it and you might as well cease to exist.
From Chesterton let’s move on to Dr Johnson who was talking about the effects of drinking on people:
...let it be considered, that there is no position, however false in its universality, which is not true of some particular man.
Johnson reminds us that there is such a thing as universality in most spheres from which, by definition, a small number of exceptions diverge. Given that life is a good thing, the universal is usually deserving of interest not to say celebration and to apologise for it would seem ridiculous.
In spite of this, in our time, we are plagued by a tail-wagging-dog syndrome whereby we are more or less bullied into exhibiting a monomaniacal obsession with the exceptions (this is not to say that the exceptions do not exist, of course, or that their wellbeing is a matter of callous disregard to us). Whence this syndrome?
A preoccupation with ‘unfortunate’ minority groups is usually sold as big-heartedness, good manners and proper solicitude for the disadvantaged. When it is pushed to the extreme, though, one can’t help wondering, whether those minorities welcome the role in which we cast them as deserving “underdogs” or being subjected to such an ecstasy of caring by us. Do they ever, also, wonder why we are so eager to advertise our ‘correct’ disposition towards them or whether we are just using them?

To return to Courbet, sex affords excellent examples of such obsessions. We are constantly and doggedly reminded in news bulletins and BBC drama productions of the brave struggle of the LGBTQ community as though failure to regularly and actively ‘educate’ us in a far from subliminal way will result in some kind of catastrophe. When this strangely off-kilter emphasis is added to the welter of supposed sophistications and refinements now surrounding the subject of sex it is not surprising that we are confused about or have completely lost sight of what it actually is in the universal and original sense.
To return to philosophy, Aristotle invented the idea of the 'final cause'. The final cause of a house – what it is for- is to give shelter. The final cause of sex is to increase human being. What is the sine qua non of sex that allows it to fulfil this cause? What defines what it is without which it wouldn’t need to exist at all? The one thing that is required is heterogeneity or the ‘otherness’ of the two sexes to each other. This is because things are disposed such that unless one sex brings a gamete into proximity with the gamete carried by the other in order to create a zygote being does not increase. Without the male-female complementarity life ceases to be perpetuated. This what hetero means.

Because of this all humans swim in the element of sex in all their dealings, humanity is defined by being sexual and cannot be imagined otherwise.
To recap, by means of hetero-geneous sex (a tautology in my book as sex cannot not be hetero) the well of human being forms into the fountain of human life. It is incontestable that some of the water splashes to the pavement on the periphery as homosexual or transgender humanity (who, of course, also use sex as a vehicle for love). The mere fact that they are human means they should be accorded every respect and protection. However, to make them central at the expense of the hetero-sexual ‘community’ is to perversely prioritise those peripheral splashes over the thundering geyser issuing from the earth that propels them into the air and into life.

In the political sphere this might make us wish to reconsider recent events. It was just and admirable that, after centuries of discrimination, homosexuals were granted in 2004, for the purpose of according them the rights of kinship, hospital-visiting and inheritance that hetero-sexual couples enjoyed, admission to  the legal status of civil partnership. This addressed the needs of an important minority. However, curiously, in falling over itself not to appear to be ‘the nasty party’, David Cameron’s Conservative government then took this one stage further in the same-sex marriage bill in 2013. In doing this minority gay marriage was made the equivalent to the ‘universal’ hetero-sexual unions without which the gay ‘particulars’ would not even exist (even in vitro fertilisation mimics the hetero-sexual relation). In my view this happened, partly because of a Conservative government's strange wish to apologise for its conservatism but also for reasons of mawkish sentimentalism. One could also accuse the noisier members of the gay community who exploited their underdog status to the maximum in order to hog the limelight and elbow the givers of life off the podium.

As a result of all of this, in a bizarre over-compensation, we have re-configured society away from prioritising and celebrating first and foremost the universal. We have rejoiced in sidelining and dethroning nature itself, upon which the whole shooting-match depends all in the name of proving and loudly advertising the credentials of a brand of anxious, busybody solicitude that has little to do with our real hidden virtue. Mrs Jellyby comes to mind.

Monday, 23 December 2019

Not an Opposition

It’s not an opposition between being a sexual animal or a cerebral creature. You simply *are* a sexual animal who happens, by virtue of your brain and consciousness, to know that *that* is is what you are.