Almost everyone nowadays spends an inordinate amount of time looking at phone and computer screens, and there are examples in modern medical literature of consequent physical harms. How long can it be before a new disease is discovered (Dalrymple calls it Screen Separation Anxiety)? With all the attendant legal issues, of course.
…it would be easy to list the criteria for the diagnosis of SSM in the normal manner of the DSM: Severe or incapacitating anxiety on being separated from screens for more than two hours, with at least three of the following: a) Excessive time spent looking at screens (except for work); b) Reduced normal social interaction because of time spent looking at screens; c) Inability to concentrate on anything except a screen; d) Preference for screens over all other activities; e) Anger at suggestions that less time should be spent looking at screens; f) Inability to refrain from looking at screens when one or more is nearby.
AND at least one of the following: 1) Serious interference with social or work performance; 2) Insomnia caused by proximity of screens consulted through the night.
Read the rest at The Spectator
Explaining that a spiv is “a person who dresses nattily, lives well even in hard times for others, and makes his living by disreputable means”, Dalrymple argues at Salisbury Review that spivvery is endemic to modern Britain:
You have only to read the Financial Times’ Saturday supplement, How to Spend It, to understand how much of our economy is in essence a spiv economy. The supplement is aimed not at people with more money than sense, but at a group of people far, far worse: people with more money than taste, for whom Sir Philip Green (if he still is Sir Philip) is a leader of fashion.
At Taki’s Magazine, Dalrymple addresses a phenomenon we’ve seen clearly in the States with our ongoing presidential campaign: the false choice between political correctness and offensiveness, as if the only possible response to propaganda were vulgarity.
There is, in fact, a worldwide dialectic at present (as perhaps there always was) between humbug on the one hand and offensiveness on the other. I am not sure which is worse. When it comes to an election between the two, are you to prefer Pecksniff to Abhorson or Abhorson to Pecksniff? One averts one’s mind from the choice, even though one must choose.
Read it here
Apparently there are still people out there who care about the rock band Oasis and Liam Gallagher, so Gallagher was interviewed in the Sunday Times. In Taki’s Magazine Dalrymple offers this anecdote about his attendance at an Oasis concert in a journalistic role:
I asked the publicity staff for the Gallaghers whether they did not think it odd that they should hand out earplugs to reduce the volume of a musical act, which surely was something above all to be heard; but this was a world in which, while superficial defiance or insolence was de rigueur, irony was evidently in short supply.
Unsurprisingly, it turns out Gallagher is still the rude, self-centered jerk he has long been known as. But of most concern to Dalrymple is the following:
But by far the most depressing aspect of the interview is that The Sunday Times is directed at the upper 5 or 10 percent of the British population, by both education and income. Whether the editors have estimated the cultural interests of the readership correctly, I do not know; but if they have, the end of civilization, at least in Britain, is nigh.
Some thoughts in the Salisbury Review on Theresa May’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference:
One method of deciding whether or not an utterance is a cliché is to enquire whether anyone would assent to its negation. For example, Mrs May intoned in her speech that she wanted a Britain in which everyone played by the same rules with every appearance of belief that she was actually saying something; but would anyone declare that he wanted a Britain in which people played by different rules, as in a return to a feudal state?
Or again, when she said that she wanted a Britain in which everyone had the opportunity to be everything they (sic) could be, would anyone say that, to the contrary, that he wanted a Britain in which only a small handful of people had the opportunity be all they (sic) could be, and the rest could go to the devil?
After watching a new production of Bellini’s Norma, Dalrymple muses on modern opera:
It often seems to me that the first qualification for producers of operas these days is proneness to severe lapses of taste, a kind of epilepsy of the judgment, or even a complete absence of aesthetic common sense. Orgies, if not actually a compulsory element of any production, are at least very frequent, however inappropriate they may be to the story or production as a whole. It is as if the plots of operas are not sufficiently melodramatic without the addition of a little light pornography.
Read the rest at Taki’s Magazine
Dalrymple explains in New English Review that he tried to keep a notebook of the little lies he encountered daily. One day this entailed simply copying the list of ingredients from the “Naturally Fresh” salad dressing served by various airlines:
Water, soybean oil, tarragon vinegar, olive oil, multidextride, salt, dehydrated onion, sugar, mono- and diglycerides, spices, dehydrated garlic, dehydrated red and green bell pepper, nonfat dry milk, xantham, guar (food fiber), lemon juice powder.
To which, having copied it down, I appended the note:
This year’s harvest of multidextride has been exceptionally good.
Dalrymple writes at Salisbury Review on the beauty of finding the right word:
The morning after my arrival I was trying, without much success, to find main entrance [sic] and to go from thence to the room in which the conference I had come to address was being held. I came to a cross-road of two identical corridors and looked around me, trying to find some clue as to which direction to take. I must have looked bemused, for a guest was just about to enter his room, saw I was uncertain which way to go, and said, ‘Quite.’
What admirable concision! How much that one, beautifully-chosen word expressed!
Joseph Stiglitz is a celebrated economist, a Nobel Prize winner in fact. You would expect his public pronouncements to evince deep reflection and logical consistency on economic matters. Nope. It reminds Dalrymple of an interview he conducted with South African communist Joe Slovo years ago:
I had expected him to be able to fend off my question with ease by means of some sophisticated rationalization, the exposure of whose untruth and bad faith would have taken more time than I had at my disposal. But no, he was just not very clever.
Dalrymple at Taki’s Magazine
When it comes to politics, the internet and social media have created “not a Socratic dialogue but an outpouring of bile”, says Dalrymple at Salisbury Review…
This is a powerful reminder (and, as Doctor Johnson said, we need more often to be reminded than informed) that hatred is often the reverse side of the coin of humanitarian sentiment. Those who claim to wish humanity well often in practice wish their neighbour ill.
Read the rest here