Suit Your Selfie

On selfishness and the selfie, from Taki’s Magazine:

The selfie is an example of the new social contract brought about by the social media: You pretend to be interested in me if I pretend to be interested in you. Thus, I agree to look at your selfie at Machu Picchu if you agree to look at mine at Angkor Wat. And this, after all, is as it should be, because it is a long way to go to either of those if no one believes you have been. A classic book is a book that everyone wishes he had read; a wonder of the world is a place at which everyone wishes he had been photographed.

Freedom and Art

The juxtaposition of two London exhibitions – one of Russian and one of American art from the early 20th Century – yields interesting contrasts:

Some of the similarities and differences between Russian and American art of their respective periods were, to me, surprising—none more so than the realization that the Russian artistic endeavor was not only more vigorous but also more varied than the American, despite the state’s monopoly as a patron from nearly the outset of Lenin’s regime. The new state brooked no opposition or even criticism, but at first it did not meddle much with the forms of artistic expression (civil war, economic collapse, and famine will distract even aspiring totalitarian regimes from the arcane disputes of aesthetic theory). I was reminded of Fidel Castro’s famous, or infamous, dictum, that within the revolution, everything was permitted, while outside it, nothing was. The more a totalitarian regime consolidates, the greater its control and the narrower its definition of what lies within the revolution; and this is precisely what happened in the Soviet Union, so that by the end of the period covered, only a single style of artistic expression—socialist realism—was permitted.

“Seek ye first the political kingdom”

One of the more interesting aspects of Dalrymple’s book Life At The Bottom – at least for Americans – is that his arguments about the causes of poverty avoid the racial dynamic that exists here, since in England’s case they apply largely to the native white population. On the website of the Library of Law and Liberty he does now address some of those issues, in reviewing the book False Black Power? by Jason Riley.

What remains indisputable is that the culture that has emerged, grown up, and been encouraged (or at least not discouraged) in the black neighborhoods of cities such as Chicago, Baltimore, Washington and Philadelphia, is inimical to progress of any kind. It follows from this that efforts to conjure progress or improvement by purely bureaucratic, administrative, or redistributionist fiat are doomed to time-wasting and expensive failure. In raising expectations that cannot be met, these efforts actually stoke the fires of conflict.

What is needed is something more akin to a religious revival than a government program, and this is only likely to happen if black leadership changes tack.

Internal Rot

A visit to the exhibition (login required) of the graduating students of the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts in Paris reinforces the uncomfortable (though familiar) conclusion: art is dead, useless, corrupt…..‬

But it is not globalization that has produced this effect upon artistic judgment; the rot is internal to the art world itself, as has been the rot in the humanities departments of our universities. Strange as it might seem for someone without religious belief to say it, the loss of belief that there is anything sub specie aeternitatis has rendered art trivial, no more than a kindergarten activity for adults who want to feel special and whose thirst for self-expression is greater than anything they have to express. Moral and aesthetic capital is not expended all at once, but gradually; it is run down steadily until none remains. As “felicità 17” demonstrates, none remains.

Read the piece for the descriptions of the students’ works and ponder: these are the‪ b‬est and the brightest.

Pop while you p*ss

Ugh. As noted in The Salisbury Review, you can now add public lavatories to the list of places where you cannot escape the oppressive imposition of pop music:

I have an aversion to rock music at the best of times. It seeps into the public space in the western world as martial music and political propaganda seeps into the North Korean public space (and all space in North Korea is public). Its enveloping sound irritated me greatly in the lavatory at Nîmes station.

The Case for Loafers

A rough calculation reveals that most of us may spend as much as two months of our lives tying and untying our shoes, reminding us that most of life is spent in banality:

But, you might say, this is only but a very minor part of life, and so it is. Unfortunately, life is composed of very minor parts. Think of all the other things you have to do, no more interesting than putting on your shoes and tying your laces. I have to shave every day, for example: There goes another month or two. And brushing one’s teeth, three times a day: Surely that is another month at least of earthly existence spent on an uninteresting routine. Seeking or preparing food, though it may end in pleasure, is yet another such task. Before long, one realizes that one spends a great deal of one’s life, probably the majority, on things no more interesting than putting on one’s shoes.

Stung by Anthropomorphization

In recounting a zookeeper’s memoirs published in 1944, Dalrymple acknowledges that mankind occupies a unique place in the hierarchy of Earthly beings, but admits that he still anthropomorphizes animals:

My belief, based I think on argument, that man is unique among the animals should make me proof against all forms of anthropomorphism of the Vera Hegi type, but in fact it does not. On the contrary, the moment I stop arguing that man is completely different from all other creatures, I invest practically every creature I encounter with human qualities, thoughts and emotions, down to the amoeba straggling under the microscope against a drop of acid or other substance noxious to it. I don’t go in quite for panpsychism, investing trees and stones with a mental life; I don’t hear strawberries scream in my mind’s ear as I bite into them, or hug trees, or speak to my roses, or anything like that. But insects I do think of as moral beings, there being some which are good by nature and some which are bad. I blame the nasty ones for their own nastiness.

Rule Reversal

Dalrymple reacts in Taki’s Magazine to Parisian taxi drivers who talk of returning to Africa for more freedom:

The lack of freedom in their daily existence of which the Parisian taxi drivers complained is, I think, the same lack of freedom that many other people increasingly feel in so-called free societies. And this is so whether or not the regulations and obligations that hem them in or straitjacket them make us richer or poorer, safer or less safe, healthier or less healthy. Freedom is freedom, and not another thing.

“Imprisoned” By Whom?

“Paris ‘inaccessible’ for the suburban young”, says Le Monde, and Dalrymple starts asking questions:

…what is the difference between appearing and being perfectly well-integrated? From this perspective, assimilation is strictly a question in the mind of the assimilated. Certainly, if you can appear perfectly well-integrated, you can be perfectly well-integrated—if you wish. The problem is with the wish not to be perfectly well-integrated, and not with the society into which you can integrate if you so choose.