Wednesday, 10 December 2008


“Young people only appear in the media to receive the blame for breaking Britain, and as the subject of longwinded tracts that label us apathetic and materialistic” — says yet another youngster in the media bemoaning the “negative” image of youth, i.e., whichever image does not excuse or praise the vices and inanities thereof. “Most of us care”, says our young female scribbler, “but feel so disempowered by these stifling truisms.” [1] Apart from indulging in the usual pathetic exaggeration, is she telling us that these labels are stifling but self-evident truths, or is she too apathetic to pick up a dictionary? Or is my usage too old?
.....Often in the eyes of the liberal press, the young can do no wrong — “like a multitude of little popes with the power of infallibility” [2] — and almost every journalist-intellectual therein feels the urge to flatter them, and makes little effort to resist it, such that he can hardly get through a lengthy description of some particular youths without at some point having described them as “very bright” or “fiercely intelligent”, particularly if they are also utterly stupid, poor, and criminal. I suppose, given the strength of this urge, we ought to congratulate any journalist who manages to resist it.

[1] Lily Kember, “Lily savaged”, Comment is Free (The Guardian's weblog), 10th December 2008.
[2] Fyodor Dostoevsky, “One of Today’s Falsehoods”, 1873, in A Writer’s Diary, Vol.1 (1873-1876), tr. K. Lantz (Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 1994), p.282.


Dude said...

Your usage is not old at all; her usage must be part of the new vocabulary being implemented in Britain.

Gott strafe England.

Deogolwulf said...

"Gott strafe England."


Sky Captain said...

I've got a youf living in the flat next door.
He is a neurotic, fear-adduced, delusional nuisance.
And every facet of his miserable 'personality' is the result of careful crafting by the educashun sistum.

James Higham said...

the youth are guilty, as charged but the guilty who produced the situation where they were thus spawned could do with a good stringing up, not wishing to be violent on a dull Friday or anything.

Sean Jeating said...

'Wenn sich der Jüngere zum bösen Wege neigt / trifft Schuld den Älteren, der es sieht und dazu schweigt.'
Rückert, 'Weisheit des Brahmanen' 16. Book 2 No 13 (1837-1839)

Trying to translate:
When the younger tends to the evil path, / the older is to blame who notices it and remains silent.

Anonymous said...

A truism can be true but still irrelevant. Thus some truisms really ought to be excluded.

E.g. Consider the following misleading rhetoric:
W.B.Yeats was Irish.
All Irish are drunks.
W.B.Yeats was a drunk.
All drunks ought to go to Hell.
To Hell with W.B.Yeats!

Now, that all Irish are drunks and that all drunks ought to go to Hell might be truisms -- at least to some thinkers.

However, W.B. Yeats has redeeming qualities that should not be ignored.

Thus, some self-evident truths should be excluded from discussions of W.B.Yeats.

Sean Jeating said...

Ha ha, Anon - good one.

Deogolwulf said...

Indeed, nicely put, Anon.

Mr Jeating, thank you for the introduction to Rückert.