Category Archives: Essays

Drink a Rum

In the January issue of New Criterion, our favorite doctor takes us on a fascinating tour around two Parisian train stations, the city’s most famous cemetery, and the island of Haiti.

We would like to wish our readers a happy, healthy, and peaceful New Year.

On this occasion I drank too much rum too quickly and the next morning I felt like a bear who had been stung in the head while trying to extract honey from a hive in a tree. What better way to overcome a hangover than to take a walk in Père Lachaise, the cemetery not a hundred yards from our apartment, the most visited cemetery in the world but never overcrowded?

US Embassy in London Suffers From Originality and Other Vices

Our favorite doctor lambastes yet another grotesque example of the distasteful modernist school of architecture over at The Epoch Times.

Such straining after originality, in fact, is commonplace, that is to say profoundly unoriginal; personally, I would place any modern architect who strains after originality, that is to say the attempt at novelty for its own sake, under preventive detention, to forestall further uglification of the world. In this case, it would be hard to design a building that did more to undermine the prestige of the United States.

Diego Maradona Was Not a Victim

The reaction of the English left-liberal press to the recent death of the communist cokehead prole and Argentine football idol, Diego Maradona, is called into question by Theodore Dalrymple in his The Critic column.

He was a tragic figure, a man who did not put the fruits of his natural talent to a use that brought him much happiness. The tragedy was in the choices he made and in their consequences, by comparison with the choices that he might have made. The fact that they were his choices is what made his life tragic. If he had contributed nothing to his addiction or to his private life, he would no more be a tragic figure than is a broken vase or a punctured tyre.

Boko Haram and the Joys of Destruction and Self-Righteousness

The good doctor reminisces about his trip to Nigeria more than 30 years ago and discusses the emergence of the brutal Islamic terror organization Boko Haram over at The Epoch Times.

I had not the faintest inkling that, a quarter of a century later, the areas through which I had passed without a care in the world would become the center of one of the most vicious terrorist organisations in the world, the Boko Haram, responsible for tens of thousand of deaths, millions of displaced people, the kidnapping in 2014 of more than 200 schoolgirls with the intention of enslaving them and, at least if its claims to the “credit” are to be believed, of 330 schoolboys or more in the state of Katsina (who have now mostly been freed).

Pick Your Pronoun

A book critiquing the French government’s inept and contradictory responses to the Wuhan pandemic gets the dubious doctor thinking in his weekly Takimag column.

The books about the COVID-19 epidemic continue to pour off the presses, faster even than I can buy them, let alone read them. Most of them are discouraging, that is to say disparaging about the various efforts of Western governments to deal with the crisis, pointing out the anomalies, U-turns, inconsistencies, scientific errors, moral cowardice, and so forth of our so-called leaders. Every author is particularly hard on the government of his own country, though the results in many countries are very similar and the difference in the statistics are probably within the margin of error of all such measurement. Besides, there may well be factors outside the immediate control of governments that might account for any real differences.

The Ever-Downward Coarse

Our favorite doctor takes a trip to an antiques market in search of new books to add to his vast library while contemplating the increasing proletarianization of English (and much of Western) culture.

I would like to wish all of our readers a very Merry Christmas.

Unfortunately, affectation when continued long enough becomes authentic habit, and now in Britain the relentless march of downward cultural aspiration has borne fruit. To a natural national propensity to lumpenness has been added an ideological approval of coarseness and a hatred of aesthetic refinement, with the sole exception of culinary art.

‘Passionate’ Belief in Freedom of Speech and Multiplying Orthodoxies

Over at The Epoch Times, Theodore Dalrymple examines the latest example of politically-correct censorship from his native country’s publishing industry.

Nevertheless, for a non-Moslem, the respect Moslems express towards Mohammed appears very similar to worship. They seem, indeed, much more offended by detractors of Mohammed than by common-or-garden-variety atheists who deny the existence of God, and their insistence that Mohammed was an exemplar for all humanity to follow makes criticism of Mohammed a criticism of the religion itself. He has therefore to be defended tooth and nail, as if he were divine.

Nature Hates a Vacuum Cleaner

The good doctor battles an army of flies with a vacuum cleaner in his country house in this week’s Takimag column.

I have only ever met one man who truly loved flies. He was an entomologist and spoke of them with deep affection. (I also met a mosquito-man once, and he loved mosquitoes in the same way.) He wrote a book about flies with the most beautiful illustrations. They are, indeed, creatures of exquisite beauty when seen close up—unlike humans, who often improve with distance.

NHS Propaganda

Our skeptical doctor chastises the appalling NHS propaganda he encountered recently at a station in London in his article at The Critic.

The NHS has long been mediocre at best, and was never successful in its egalitarian ambitions — even if you accept those ambitions as legitimate or praiseworthy in themselves. Hence we are indoctrinating our children ideologically to a lifetime of acceptance of the mediocre or even of the third-rate: which, as a result, will undoubtedly be their inheritance. 

Subjectivization Empowers Individual Feelings, Bureaucrats

The preposterous halting of a Champions’ League match last week in Paris due to players refusing to play on after an alleged racist comment by one of the referees is the subject of the dubious doctor’s latest column at The Epoch Times.

As it is, we now live in a world in which the utterance of a single word in a foreign language that few understand and which might or might not have been used with a derogatory intonation, but which was not in itself necessarily derogatory, and was used in circumstances that are as yet unclear, is enough to set off an outpouring of canting self-righteousness, and possibly to ruin a man’s career.

Needless to say, this is not a world in which freedom will flourish.