Theodore Dalrymple pays his respects to the famed journalist and historian, Paul Johnson, who passed away two days ago. Requiescat in pace.
It is customary to say of remarkable men that we shall not see their like again. Whatever may be the case with other remarkable men, this is likely to be true of Paul Johnson. It is unlikely that anyone will tackle so huge a range of subjects again with such knowledge and verve.
Over at The Epoch Times, Dr. Dalrymple reviews the case of a retracted paper from an academic journal of psychology dealing with the effects of abortion on women.
We live in an age of suspicion to a degree that I don’t remember from my youth—though I admit that my memory is fallible, and I may be mistaken in this. Perhaps we are no more suspicious of the motives of those with whom we disagree than ever we were, and we always thought that those who disagreed with us were not merely wrong, but evil.
Our astute doctor kicks off A.D. 2023 with a Takimag article pointing out the recent antics of the absurd, politically-correct Stanford language police. Apparently, the woke ideologues rarely ever sleep nowadays.
Stanford University has published, to much-deserved derision, a kind of index of prohibited words, that is to say words that could possibly cause anyone, even animals, distress. Of course, if you treat people as eggshells, eggshells is what they will become, especially if they derive some kind of benefit, financial or other, from their fragility.
In his last Takimag column of 2022, Theodore Dalrymple considers writing in an age of artificial intelligence, the career prospects for writers, and the problems associated with an overabundance of entertainment in the modern world.
I have long thought that entertainment, or rather the ubiquity of entertainment, is one of the greatest causes of boredom in the modern world. And boredom is itself a much underestimated state of mind in the production of human misconduct and therefore of misery.
In the January edition of New English Review, the good doctor tells his faithful readers of his aversion to spiders, the growing custom of keeping strange reptiles as pets, and witnessing an encounter between a spider and a moth.
I would like to wish our readers a Happy New Year and all the best for 2023.
As a social, or perhaps antisocial, phenomenon, the keeping of tarantulas is surely of some interest and even significance, especially if it is becoming an ever more popular pastime, as the number of commercial outlets for tarantulas (and reptiles) suggests. It bespeaks a society in which more people are leading isolated lives, in which they not only do they have no social life at home, but wish to have no social life at home, indeed want to protect themselves from the need or even the possibility of having one.
In the autumn edition of City Journal, the skeptical doctor unleashes on the ineffective and bullying British bureaucracy.
The opposite of frivolity is not seriousness but earnestness, which is, if anything, even worse than frivolity, for it persuades the earnest that they are working with the best of intentions and dissuades them from consideration of the actual effects of what they do. Earnestness is a kind of moral chain mail that protects against the slings and arrows of outrageous criticism. It also encourages an unholy alliance between sanctimony and self-interest. It dissolves the distinction between activity and work.
The City Journal has published one of the stories from Theodore Dalrymple’s book Grief and Other Stories.
Fantasy is all very well, it is better than nothing at all, but it is no substitute for reality. By middle age, Amos had had enough of it and its pretences. Why should he be condemned to a second-rate life just because, through no fault of his own, he had developed a unusual desire that, if fulfilled, would harm no one else? Every man has a right to fulfilment.
In his last Takimag column of the year, our favorite doctor touches on the ridiculously improbable, unethical, and farcical Qatari World Cup, and the complete equanimity with which he watched the England-France quarterfinal match in a provincial French bar.
I would like to take this moment to wish all of our readers around the world a peaceful, blessed, and merry Christmas.
The World Cup in Qatar attracted hundreds of millions of viewers, for whom entertainment was more important than the extravagant absurdity of air-conditioning the outdoors in a place as hot as Qatar so that the players should be able to play at all, the sheer waste resources on so ephemeral an event (Qatar is said to have spent $220,000,000,000 on preparing for the championship), and the lives taken during the construction of the stadium and other infrastructure.
Back at The Epoch Times, our critical doctor critiques the shallow, modern cult of the celebrity and what this phenomenon tells us about the trajectory of the overall culture.
Celebrity is a phenomenon simultaneously of great depth and great shallowness. It’s deep because it tells us something important about mass psychology; it’s shallow for the same reason it tells us how trivial or frivolous are many of our thoughts.
Our inquiring doctor wonders why the leftist Guardian refuses to get to the bottom of Britain’s largely self-induced energy crisis over at City Journal.
What is certain is that restrictive policies with regard to energy resources and exploration such as those followed by successive British governments, cowed by middle-class ecological warriors and perhaps influenced in another way by special interest groups, will lead in the near future to many preventable deaths, if they are not already doing so.