Friday, November 25, 2005


Theodore Dalrymple

I feel lucky whenever I happen upon a new essay by Theodore Dalrymple, as if I just found a twenty dollar bill on the sidewalk. Here are links and samples from recent essays.

Drug Quandaries:
No doubt laws have always been on the books whose purpose is more to promote discretion among those who break their precepts than to enforce strict adherence; but widespread, open, and profitable lawbreaking will before long exert a corrupting effect upon the whole of society.
The Suicide Bombers Among Us:
It need hardly be pointed out that rap music—full of inchoate rage, hatred, and intemperance—does not instill a balanced or subtle understanding of the world in its listeners. It fills and empties the mind at the same time: fills it with debased notions and empties it of critical faculties.
Truth vs. Theory:
One of the merits of this passage—and it is characteristic of Shakespeare that the merits of his writing should be so multiform, combining in equal measure truth, humanity, tolerance, wisdom, understanding, love, irony, and poetry—is its beautiful and accurate description of delirium.
Law Isn't Enough:
I tried to point out some of the cultural meanings of the vogue for tattooing. First, it was aesthetically worse than worthless. Tattoos were always kitsch, implying not only the absence of taste but the presence of dishonest emotion.

Second, the vogue represented a desperate (and rather sad) attempt on a mass scale to achieve individuality and character by means of mere adornment, which implied both intellectual vacuity and unhealthy self-absorption.

And third, it represented mass downward cultural and social aspiration, since everyone understood that tattooing had a traditional association with low social class and, above all, with aggression and criminality. It was, in effect, a visible symbol of the greatest, though totally ersatz, virtue of our time: an inclusive unwillingness to make judgments of morality or value.
Truth vs. Theory has a misprint: infra dignitatum, which should be infra dignitatem.

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?