Tuesday, 13 March 2018

A Cultural Backwater

The literary world tends to be present-focused and fashion-minded, blind to tradition and fancying itself a sort of evolutionary culmination, much superior to the benighted past. In fact, it is a provincial village, a cultural backwater.
Patrick Kurp

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Pity Voyeurism

Much of what is aired as news is really pity voyeurism; the suffering of distant others (from disease, disability, war or natural disaster) packaged for consumption to make US feel nobler and better about ourselves without really lifting a finger.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Why aren't Wars Run Properly?

Watching the latest set of horrors unfold in Syria and the way it is reported I’m intrigued by how people view warfare in modern times. In the various Geneva Conventions worthy attempts were made to protect POWs and civilians from the worst excesses but they are only attempts and don’t always succeed in the ghastly chaos of war. One gets the impression now that when the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse appear over the horizon we expect them to wage the best possible war they can wage, to have stickers on the rumps of their horses saying, “How do you like my conduct of the war?” to adhere to the highest possible European industry standards and, as they quit the battlefield, to distribute feedback forms asking observers to put ticks against smiley faces if they feel the combatants have lived up to expectations. If anyone falls short of ‘the standards we deserve in the 21st century’ or if anyone’s rights were infringed we expect a public inquiry at the very least. Why, oh why can’t carnage and mayhem conform to the rules of etiquette we drew up so carefully in advance of such eventualities? Why don’t combatants take notice of our fussy attempts to control and micro-manage reality, keeping it within ‘safe’ bounds? Why isn’t War better behaved? Can it be that our precious mental exertions aren’t THAT important in these situations?

Leaked Preliminary Findings

Pressed by a tense and worried Laura Kuenssberg ("Prime Minister, can you tell us why human history has not provided us with the outcomes we deserve in the 21st century?") Theresa May swiftly announced a Public Enquiry.
Leaked preliminary findings suggest:
1) The Decline and fall of the Roman Empire was 'disappointing in many respects.'
2) The Ming Dynasty could have 'conformed better to accepted industry standards.'
3) The Third Reich 'could have been handled better.'
4) 100 million deaths under communist regimes 'failed to deliver according to expectations.'
5) Genghis Khan 'broke some rules.'
6) Attila the Hun 'failed to respect human rights now and then.'
6) The British Empire 'occasionally let itself down.'
7) Apartheid was 'regrettable.'
8) We have a right to expect better........so, strategies will be..........going forward...

Thursday, 22 February 2018


Grim Hill, staggering like Atlas, but under the lowering thundercloud of his erudition, dares us to feel comfortable or happy.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Epistemology (It's easy for you to say that!)

These days the mere possession of a human consciousness, a sense of moral likelihood and an approximate idea of the parameters of the human condition - what is and what isn't feasible - do not equip one to actually 'know' anything. Before you know anything it has to be mediated through a panel of professional scientific arbiters who have corralled (and usually monetised) that particular area of reality. When they are good and ready they'll 'let you know.'

Monday, 5 February 2018

Schrödinger's Feminism

You could argue that accepting the fact that human beings are sexual animals in exactly the same way as baboons or elephants are is to accept the human condition and human nature for what it is. Men are animals, women are animals the only difference from other creatures that are animals being that we know  we are animals. Accepting things for what they are is usually a wise thing to do and, it could also be argued, one of the bases of conservatism – adjusting to reality and nature as it is. In this sense, conservatism is actually nothing at all.

In spite of this, when it comes to the women at the Presidents’ Ball or the women on the grid in F1 or on the oche in darts competitions we suddenly get high-minded and feel we are above the open sexual display which one gender of other 'lower' animals usually indulges in. It involves the base ‘objectification’ of women (who, nevertheless, seem to be perfectly capable of projecting their personalities while disporting themselves thus).

And yet, when Myleene Klass gets her kit off in the Sun or Billy Piper appears in “Diary of a Call Girl” it’s all about celebration and ‘empowerment.’ This might seem to suggest that, suddenly, we are back to accepting that women have a sexually gendered role in a sexually reproducing species and that we should enjoy observing the sexual signals their bodies give off. It's all part of rejoicing in the glory of life after all and we wouldn't want to be prudish would we?

So, it seems, when it suits us, we can entertain two utterly conflicting narratives at the same time. It was interesting to see Camilla Long in the Sunday Times recently suggesting that, perhaps, all that is going on here is good old-fashioned evolutionary competition. If beautiful working class girls can be kept out of the race with high-minded moral strictures, then that’s a few less for the middle class and the luvvie class women to compete with. Cynical and pragmatic in the final analysis and oh so 'survival of the fittest.'