Category Archives: Essays

Epic Proportions

In this week’s Takimag column, Dr. Dalrymple considers the obesity epidemic while remembering his first and only “epic” breakfast, which took place while visiting a prominent Dagestani Islamist with a penchant for Armenian brandy.

One thing I have noticed: Obese people can be almost evangelistic for obesity, as if to justify themselves. If everyone is obese (or many people are), no one is obese, and individual responsibility is thereby abrogated. Fat people tend to have fat dogs, at least on my straw poll. We live in a world that is becoming like that of a painting by Fernando Botero, with the humor taken out.

An Absurd Suggestion Regarding the Casting of Actors

The dubious doctor rebukes the latest woke leftist nonsense regarding the selection of actors at the Royal Shakespeare Company in England over at The Epoch Times.

Here at The Skeptical Doctor, we sincerely hope that wokery will die a swift and spectacular death, so that we can move on to rebuilding European Christian civilization from among the ruins.

I think rather that Wokedom is analogous to diseases such as Kuru and Creutzfeldt-Jakob in humans and scrapie in sheep, caused by particles called prions that infect the brain and cause it to degenerate, resulting in strange and disturbed behavior ending in death. Unless a remedy is found, what will die, however, is not an individual human being but ultimately a culture and a civilization.

Election Bumpf

The May issue of The Critic features a blistering critique by the dissenting doctor of the demagogic leftist politician, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, and his unworkable socialist policies.

No lie appeals more to the dissatisfied than this, offering as it does the illusory hope of a confiscatory solution to life’s little problems. The best that can be said of it is that it permits the dissatisfied an access of hatred and moral outrage, which is always enjoyable and gratifying to experience. 

Frogs and Fouquet

In the May edition of New English Review, our inquisitive doctor strolls through the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris and discovers a curious tomb of a young Frenchman.

There is nothing like a cemetery, of course, for recalling to oneself the tragic dimension of life, the dimension that our constant busyness and pursuit of distraction is designed to veil from us, and that is largely successful: except that the tragic dimension will sooner or later take its revenge on our attempted insouciance.

No News is Bad News

In this week’s Takimag column, our perceptive doctor considers human happiness, the folly of following the news, and a poem by Thomas Gray.

People are addicted to news that has a deleterious psychological effect on them but that they are impotent to affect. No doubt some will claim that they follow the news in order to be prepared for the worst, but not only can they not avert the worst were it to happen, but often they will prepare for the worst when the worst will not happen, thus wasting their substance on chimeras. Foresight is all very well when it is accurate, but it is often disastrous when it is not.

The Face of Civilization?

In his Law & Liberty column, Theodore Dalrymple contrasts the changing form and worsening aesthetic of well-known Russian dissenters from the elegance Turgenev to the unsightliness of the bizarrely named Russian rapper, Face.

Neither Turgenev nor Face may be representative of the protest of their own times; still, the fact remains that the refinement of Turgenev would not be possible now, nor would the deliberate and self-conscious ugliness of Face have been possible, or even thinkable, in Turgenev’s time. Something has changed in human sensibility, and not only in Russia.

Three Impossible Promises Before Breakfast

Our favorite doctor finishes reading the manifestos of all 12 French presidential candidates and recounts the grueling ordeal over at Quadrant.

Most people say, moreover, that elections make little or no difference whoever is elected: everything remains the same, the ship of state, like a great tanker, cannot change direction but merely the crew on the bridge, all drawn from a class separate from the rest of the population (the political class), with its own interests and class solidarity that transcend apparent ideological differences.

The Provocation of Fragility

Over at The Epoch Times, the good doctor observes some ridiculous new notices in the London Underground warning of the grave offense that is staring of a sexual nature—however that may be interpreted.

Perhaps the most sinister aspect of the whole notice is its appeal to anonymous denunciation, again whose main purpose is to create an atmosphere of fear, vulnerability, and mistrust in the public, the very atmosphere that totalitarian regimes love and create. What the authorities want, consciously or subconsciously, is a population whose individual members fear to look at one another and therefore fear to converse, for such a population can’t oppose whatever is imposed upon it. Complete atomization, though without individuality, is what’s being aimed for.

Squaring the Circle

In this week’s Takimag, the dissenting doctor revisits the usual problems with the British criminal justice system after hearing of the life imprisonment sentence handed down to a man found guilty of bludgeoning an elderly man to death.

Perhaps I am an excessively vengeful person, but if Sable Thomas had killed someone near to me, I would have derived some satisfaction, been assuaged somewhat, if he had been sent to prison for the rest of his life without possibility of release except on his deathbed. But it wouldn’t be “closure.”

The Wisdom of Long White Beards

In the May edition of New Criterion, the skeptical doctor is tasked with reviewing a book by Dominic Green about the rise of modern spirituality, which began in the 19th century.

Thus Green is no Whig historian recounting Man’s smooth and constant ascent to a present realistic appreciation of his place in the universe. Rather, he is an ironist, demonstrating what we ought by now to know in any case, though we need to be constantly reminded of it, namely that ideas do not have to be good, or even clear, to have profound effects on human history. For me, life is too short for Emerson, but that does not mean that he was not a very important figure in his day.