The writing and worldview of the famous French writer Michel Houellebecq is the topic of Theodore Dalrymple’s latest essay in Quadrant.
Houellebecq is a chronicler of the exacerbated individualism (without individuality) that technocratic materialism results in when untempered by belief in the transcendent. But one of the reasons that he is able to chronicle it so well, so incomparably better than anyone else known to me, is that he partakes of it himself. His mode of dress—carefully chosen to look grubby, despite what by now must be great wealth—is in itself a message of exacerbated individualism: “I am not going to make an effort to make myself look agreeable just for you.”
The statue of Léopold Ollier in Les Vans, the small French town nearest to our skeptical doctor’s chateau, is the subject of this week’s Law & Liberty essay.
But as I have said, he is probably on his plinth safe because, Les Vans being a small, obscure and remote town, has not the weight of self-righteous semi-educated young people in it to form a fascistic mob to pull down, even to deface, so solid a monument to human greatness.
This essay on trash dumping in Britain is one of those Dalrymple pieces that I missed from last year. I invite our readers to peruse the other nine articles at Standpoint from the good doctor that may have been overlooked these past few years.
Britain is the litter bin of Europe: there is nowhere else like it, at least among countries with which we might like to compare ourselves. The best that can be said of Britain’s litterers is that they are very thorough: they litter not just the cities and towns, but seek out even the most remote beauty-spots, where seemingly there is no traffic, and leave their traces there.
Summer has arrived and so have the bees in the good doctor’s garden in France.
We have a huge fund of very angry people buzzing about in mobs looking for somewhere on which their anger can settle. It seems an epoch ago that it landed on #MeToo and turned all men into Harvey Weinstein. Then, under the direction of little Greta, who somehow managed to combine an autistic manner with hysteria, opposing tendencies reconciled no doubt by the ineffable self-pity of the privileged, global warming provided a temporary resting place. However, with the killing of George Floyd, climate change seems as passé as Mussolini’s spats.
For the July edition of New English Review, Theodore Dalrymple begins his essay with some clever and mature quotes from a young Alexander Pope before moving on to covering the dark and disturbing Romanian thinker, E.M. Cioran.
There are few of us, I should imagine, who would care very much to have their thoughts at the age of twenty about life, literature and the world, exposed to public view and widely disseminated. Our thoughts at that age, though no doubt essential to our personal development, were hardly worth having, or at least not worth communicating to others. In short, our thoughts were callow, shallow, hackneyed and unoriginal in the extreme, often uttered with that youthful combination of arrogant certainty and underlying insecurity which manifests itself as a kind of inflamed prickliness whenever challenged.
Our skeptical doctor skillfully tears apart yet another pathetic, politically correct essay from the standard liberal on the latest black criminal turned martyr over at Law & Liberty.
As an aside, the photograph at the top of the article is worth studying for the absurd signs carried by the apparently suburban, predominantly white, middle-class, American marchers. The two nominated for first and second prize for the most ludicrous are: “All lives won’t matter until black lives matter” (held high by a lady in the foreground next to probably her poor, indoctrinated daughter) and “Satanists against white supremacy” (in the hands of a younger woman clad in—what else?—all black toward the rear on the right side of the photograph). It is to our great relief that masks were worn by all these brave freedom fighters, although social distancing rules will need to more diligently enforced.
In his weekly Takimag column, the good doctor reflects on the farcical nonsense seen these days in street “protests” in the West and how these manifestations of manufactured, self-righteous indignation parallel those of the spoiled, self-absorbed French faux-revolutionaries of 1968. The more things change, the more they stay the same?
Theodore Dalrymple experiences the joys of online banking in his The Critic column.
Because of some new banking regulations, I discovered that it was more difficult for me to gain access to my own accounts via an online accounting system. Suffice it to say that it is an iron law of the universe that new regulations always make things more complex, never less, just as all attempts to reduce bureaucracy increase it.
Theodore Dalrymple returns in the June edition of New Criterion with a classic essay covering too many interesting subjects to list here.
No one will have failed to notice the rapidity with which the morally unthinkable these days becomes the acceptable and then, very soon afterwards, the unassailable. Once the formerly unthinkable becomes the unassailable, outrage is expressed by the guardians of the orthodoxy when the unassailable is in fact assailed by people who are deemed not merely mistaken in their views, but wicked or evil.
Similar to an article last week, the skeptical doctor calls into question the appearance of children at political protests in this week’s Takimag article.
Another example of the relation between sentimentality and brutality has been the use of very young children in demonstrations. There are videos of two girls, 9 and 7, one making a speech at a demonstration and the other marching in a demonstration, her pretty little face contorted with hatred, chanting a horrible slogan, “No justice, no peace” (a justification in advance of further looting, or worse), and making aggressive gestures.