Our apologies

We appreciate our readers’ responses (here) to our request for questions to ask Dr. Dalrymple. The questions were uniformly excellent and covered a wide range of subject matter, reinforcing what Clint and I have always known to be the obvious intelligence and good sense of this blog’s readership, which is purely a reflection on Dalrymple himself.

We collected and condensed all of these questions and were excited about the opportunity to address them to Dalrymple, but unfortunately it did not work out as we planned. We set aside some time to interview him during our last few hours with him, but something else came up and we were not able to complete it. We did touch on many of these issues in the rambling discussions we had with him over the course of two days, and our Plan B was to document his statements from memory and report them here, but then we remembered that his comments were made in private and not as part of an acknowledged interview, and he had not consented to our publicizing them.

Given what he has said in writing, his answers to many of the questions we asked could probably be predicted, but our approach toward his life and views has always been to avoid publicizing any information that he has not chosen to publicize himself. We get a definite sense that he wants to express himself through his writing and otherwise maintain his privacy, hardly an unreasonable expectation.

If we are able to re-schedule the interview, or if he ever addresses any of your questions in his future pieces, we will let you know. We are sorry if we raised your expectations unnecessarily, and thanks for reading the blog.

21 thoughts on “Our apologies

  1. Gavin

    No, I don’t think that’s an unreasonable expectation on TD’s part at all, and it probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to many readers here. Thanks for letting us know. It was still interesting reading all of the questions – maybe he’ll see some of them and address them, albeit obliquely, in the future.

    1. Jaxon

      I basically second what Gavin said… Hope you guys had a great time ‘rambling’. It must be nice for him to leisurely discuss things with good intelligent appreciative company.

  2. Rob Martin

    Totally understandable and I’m sure no one minds at all. I’m not even sure that I want all the gaps filled since then there would be nothing further to speculate on.

    Even so, there is still something that interests me. It seems odd to me that TD let you go all that way to interview him, knowing that he wasn’t going to allow you to publish anything related to your conversations. Strange. Another hero of mine, Milton Friedman, once said that he never said anything off the record. Maybe TD was afraid his ideas would get mangled in the writing up process.

    1. Steve Post author


      We didn’t go all that way to interview him exactly, but just to spend time with him and his wife. We were there in 2008, and they have been inviting us back for the last few years, and we were finally able to go. Clint had the idea to do an interview a few days before we went. We enjoy going to the South of France anyway (who wouldn’t?), especially since Clint spent a year studying in that neck of the woods.

      Thanks for the kind comments, everyone.


  3. Jaxon

    I hope this is topic related enough, it relates mainly to the quality of discussion of Dalrymple readers. I know I fall short but hey, at least I’ve been spending more time recently (very recently) reading comments on the TD forum than posting them.
    They say it takes one to know one so I might be mistaken but it seems to me it’s only a matter of time before, say, Monday Books are offering to publish some, or even a lot, of what is being written there. I’m hugely impressed which of course brings into sharper focus my own short comings, which is great.

    Colin, do you sometimes forget to eat and drink?

      1. Jaxon

        Thank you for your reply Colin… I was actually a little apprehensive about what your response might be. Writing is obviously very important to you and I can’t reasonably expect people to appreciate how hard I try when I do have a habit of treating this blog as something like a port of call to errm… offload or alleviate frustration, feeling like I’m participating in something more elevated and edifying than, well, you know what.

        A bit of a long story, though I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re pretty much up to speed already… I was on the forum. hmmmm I recall (and I hope this doesn’t come across wrong) reading Gavin’s forum rules and a scene in Gladiator came to mind where Commodus says to his father Marcus Aurelius, something like ‘you sent me a list of the seven virtues once and I knew none of my virtues were on it’, he goes on to enumerate some very suspect virtues that he does possess… I hope mine, whatever they are, are not so suspect.

        But alas without going into detail I was somewhat careless and got banned – I’m quite sure this was the right decision, and is still the right decision, in fact I’m a little surprised by Clint and Steve’s forbearance, as it were… But hey, by all means guys, if I’m tempting providence here or at any time, you must feel free to delete my comments. (and they said they were rambling).

        You’re probably getting the picture and nobody need say anything in response to this as far as I’m concerned, unless of course they so wish, but I’m being a bit tedious I know. I’d rather they concentrate on the forum.

        I hope that make more sense than not.

        1. Jaxon

          When I say concentrate on the forum, I don’t mean neglect this great blog… here, allow me to dig a hole… one of my ‘virtues’

      2. Jaxon

        Actually Colin, if you see this I just want to add that I’ve only now finished reading your piece on economic problems with feminism and it’s … Well, it’s superb stuff, depressing also but impressive.

        One place where I work the ‘boss’ is a woman and I’m quite sure she’s got something like borderline personality disorder or whatever the jargon is. This may seem laughable but mercifully she’s so bad that virtually everybody would agree with that assessment, or something a lot less kind, and that means I was able to help instigate some changes that may yet make matters better.

        Contradictory as it may seem I kind of get along with her but that’s mainly because I decided early on in life to basically not embroil myself with so much of this perverse modern world. I’m a menial part time worker, so hardly a threat to the ego of ‘superiors’, though even this ‘lowliness’ is often not enough.

        Predictably virtually everyone this woman has employed over the years have been women, the only exceptions are ‘minor’ staff, where she has next to no choice in the matter.

        Where she lacks in competence (most areas) and enthusiasm (most areas) she makes up for with a certain amount of shrewdness but especially a talent for humiliating people… stepping on toes etc.

        But what’s more, the second in command, a woman that I actually quite like; jjust the other day the issue of moving a large object came up, it marks the floor. I suggested that if moving it is going to be a fairly regular occurrence then they/we should consider getting skates (I think that’s what they’re officially called). Right from the word go I felt a certain tact would be require lest I come across as… well, taking initiative. I pointed out that in the other place where I work we have an almost identical situation and do use skates, really it’s utterly banal.

        So simple (though there could conceivably be some unforeseen complication), but no, even from this relatively sound ‘second in command’ there had to be this absurd tone of officiousness and she even said ‘it’s a great idea but…’ as if she had to be delicate, or something (perhaps my writing this suggests she was right, the reader may decide). This is hilarious, It’s NOT a great idea, get real, it’s merely a moderately sensible suggestion.

        I have a male colleague in the other job and we’re frequently engaged in significantly more demanding problem solving… And okay, I do sometimes feel I need to be a little careful about making suggestions but for the most part there’s a much more free and easy collaboration. I don’t know, maybe I sub consciously precipitate some of the difficulty I speak of, but even if that is the case I think it’s a reflection of the general climate, the age, that you speak of.

        Hey, as ever, no need to reply but wanted you to know your writing is important.

        1. Jaxon

          And Caleb, very insightful stuff… I know, I’m so crawly-bum-leg. The forum generally, there’s got to be a series of books in the making there, but maybe that kind of defeats the benefits of not creating more paper or something. There’s a lot to be said for good books still though, surely

        2. Colin

          Sorry for my delay in replying, Jaxon. I’ve only just remembered posting my last comment here and checked the thread! You replied a few weeks ago now…

          Yes, the forum (and writing in general) is important to me. Thank you for saying that my writing is “important”. That’s quite a compliment!

          I agree there has been a lot of good stuff written on the forum. As for compiling a book – I don’t know what kind of readership such a book would have? The number of people who would be interested in reading it would surely be very small.

          1. Jaxon

            No need to apologise Colin but thank you anyway.
            Of course you’re probably right about readership/demand.
            I’ve regularly quoted and linked to Dalrymple, not least on BBC Points Of View, Moral Maze (I think that’s what it was, Sunday morning programme, but it’s over a year since I watched TV) and Guardian CIF, and more besides.

            Then there’s friends and colleagues and of course this is often not appreciated so I’ve got some sense of potential readership and as you know, it’s hardly encouraging, but you must keep at it is how I feel on the matter.

          2. Jaxon

            I’ve had many, perhaps largely idle, notions of writing books over the years.

            One such, though I resent the matter and the idea of being associated with it, I’m seemingly daily confronted with a kaleidoscope of possible titles etc.

            The most likely candidate thus far is:
            Sex Sells and it’s Costing the Earth

            Having read a lot about climate change, and as it happens I’ve never remotely thought unlikely that human activity is a major contributor to any such warming… My pessimism in such matters, all matters, though somewhat predating, was rather deeply inscribed in my teens on encountering Born Again Christians.
            One in particular, who had a knack for drawing on dire real world portents to reinforce the legitimacy of the Book of Revelations.
            The Pascal wager thingy, though I knew it not by that name, I knew it well in my bones but alas I could not submit, I was doomed.

            But I get sidetracked… My point is that I am eminently qualified to dedicate a whole chapter to not merely climate change but the tragedy of the commons, Ecological Debt etc It will be three words long:
            Cause Not Effect
            with a photo

            Okay, that’s seven words. That ‘chapter’ should probably feature on the cover.

            Another potential title for the book is Lekonomics or It’s the Lek Stupid!


            And then perhaps a chapter heading could be
            Hooking Up, Yangin’ Out
            I’ll have to do a lot research yet, of course, basically I think Robert Nozick did a relatively sophisticated treatment of an idea that I believe features in the Gorgias whereby there’s this question that if you have an itchy backside and derive great satisfaction from scratching it all your waking life, could this constitute for a life well lived? Something along those lines… Doubtless Nozick had something more like Brave New World in mind, basically if you could hook up to a pleasure machine, would you?

            The Yangin’ out part has to do with the paradox whereby although the crude, base, aspects of human sexuality tend to be, well, hardly enhanced, but perversely accentuated, the finer vital, cultivated, gender differences (the yin and yang) are dissolved, collapsed.

            And so it goes… There’s much, much more where that comes from, I’m currently gradually making my way through Shakespeare with all this in mind. One of, perhaps the most, important thing I’ve found so far is in The Tempest, Miranda and Ferdinand… But I say no more on that. Oh, and loads of Jane Austen.

            I’d doubtless make many passing observations, one such recently… I was watching a thing on YouTube where George Galloway in his righteous indignation mode about Arab states and the West says something along the lines ‘something that we’re overlooking here…’ And he spells out ‘O-I-L’ to which I’d say, and he’d perhaps agree, he left out S-P-E-D as in sp-oil-ed. Nations of the hooking-up spoiled are indeed creating tremendous demand on their governments to keep the bread and circuses hedonic treadmill turning… But frankly that would be more like a rather glib aside I suppose.

          3. Jaxon

            Cause, not effect. I suppose that ought to be… he hee, three words and I still can’t get it right, that’s hilarious. I’d drop the apostrophe from yangin also and doubtless a million other things but hey I’m NOT writing a book

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