Author Archives: David Seri

Death: A Walk in the Park

Over at The Critic, our skeptical doctor recounts going on his daily permitted walk in Paris recently and happening upon an undertaker’s shop near a cemetery.

An undertaker’s window need not and should not be a page out of a pathology textbook. But representing death as a kind of pleasant afternoon outing or social occasion surely does not make for a mature attitude to death, which after all remains, despite a great deal of technical progress, the bourn from which no traveller returns.

Murderess with No Regrets

In a March article in The Critic, Theodore Dalrymple reflects on the long-awaited death of the vile wife of the viciously brutal Albanian communist dictator, Enver Hoxha.

Stories of her coldness and cruelty are legion and it is a moot point whether her ideological commitment caused her cruelty or her cruelty her ideological commitment. Certainly there was an elective affinity between the two.

A Matter of Chatter

The good doctor takes a book to a park in Paris and observes the 21st century around him in his latest Takimag column. Dare I say, quintessential Dalrymple?

In Paris, however, they have not yet opened the parks or gardens, for fear, I suppose, that people would fail to keep their proper social distance. Better, then, to let them crowd in the streets and breathe all over each other: Such is the faith that the government places in those it is called upon to rule. A modern democracy, we should not forget, is a people of the government, by the government, and for the government.

A Positive Thought

The good doctor attempts to maintain his typical cheerful positivity during the Wuhan pandemic over at The Critic.

In these dark times we must find reasons to be cheerful. An antipodean friend of mine, a psychiatrist, has found one: adolescent suicide attempts, or gestures, have practically disappeared from the face of the hospital. The real threat of death, as adolescents must suppose it to be, has caused them to realise that, after all, they don’t really want to die. Or perhaps they fear the somewhat dusty reception they are likely to get in hospitals if they turn up with self-inflicted overdoses or injuries.

Sins of Omission

In another May article in The Critic, Theodore Dalrymple points out a glaring example of the typical leftist misuse of statistics with the unquestioning support of the compliant left-liberal media.

If I were to say life expectancy rose in Britain during the Great Depression, which it did, quite steeply, no one would take me for an advocate an economic depression because I thought it would be good for health. But this is precisely what the deputy advocates with regard to rationing on the basis of the rise in life expectancy in Britain during the war. A little statistics is a dangerous thing, but it’s not the only method of suggesting falsehoods while suppressing truths.

The Quiet Liberation of Paris

Theodore Dalrymple reports in City Journal on Parisian life slowly returning to normal as the French authorities begin to ease the severe lockdown restrictions that were put in place to slow the spread of the Chinese bat flu.

No sooner were people allowed a little more freedom than the rail union, controlled by the Communist CGT, went on strike. Yes, life is definitely returning to normal in Paris. And when I look back on my own youth, I think that, were I young now, I might have joined that party on the banks of the canal.

No Cure for Impatience

The skeptical doctor assesses the dismal state of the latest Chinese coronavirus related scientific research in his Takimag column.

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 epidemic, I have observed a syndrome emerging in scientific research, namely publication of hopeful findings before there is any real evidence that the hope is well- or properly founded. One or other of the hopes may be justified in the end, but the syndrome is not in itself harmless if it raises false hopes, puts additional pressure on politicians, and leads to a misdirection of financial and other resources.

Catastrophism and Control

In the June edition of First Things, the good doctor returns with a Red Chinese pandemic related essay that covers two of his recent reads while quarantined in Paris.

COVID-19 will no doubt be mastered in time; there will be a vaccine, perhaps a treatment. But it will have dented mankind’s belief, or illusion, that it has everything under control, give or take a blip on the upward ascent to a life without suffering, the unpleasantly untoward or the unforeseen. For us after the epidemic, science will have strengthened its grasp but shortened its reach. 

Longing for Revolution

Theodore Dalrymple reviews Professor Daniel Chirot’s book You Say You Want a Revolution over at Law & Liberty.

The author of this short book, more extended essay than a history of revolutions in the two centuries that followed the French Revolution, sets out to explain why revolutions have so often been followed by slaughter on an unprecedented scale. Pascal said that he who sets out to be an angel ends a beast: to which we might add that he who sets out to create a heaven-on-earth creates a hell.

Empire of Conformists

In another essay at The Critic, the good doctor slays that most sacred of British cows yet again—the British National Health Service.

No doubt the prime minister’s praise of the NHS was politically shrewd — one casts no doubt on the perfection of the Koran in Mecca — but in the long run such praise does no service to the nation, which at some time or other ought to face up to the fact that its healthcare system is at best mediocre by comparison with that of other countries at a similar level of economic development, and that being ill and seeking treatment is a more unpleasant experience in Britain than in it is many civilised countries.