Theodore Dalrymple, “Reasons to be Cheerful”, The Spectator, 13th December 2003.
Tuesday, 18 August 2009
Wednesday, 8 July 2009
 Brian Eno, “A New Politics”, Comment is Free (The Guardian’s weblog), 8th July 2009.
Tuesday, 7 July 2009
Wednesday, 1 July 2009
“With respect to the theological view of the question; this is always painful to me.— I am bewildered.— I had no intention to write atheistically. But I own that I cannot see, as plainly as others do, & as I shd wish to do, evidence of design & beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent & omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidæ with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice. Not believing this, I see no necessity in the belief that the eye was expressly designed. On the other hand I cannot anyhow be contented to view this wonderful universe & especially the nature of man, & to conclude that everything is the result of brute force. I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws, with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of what we may call chance. Not that this notion at all satisfies me. I feel most deeply that the whole subject is too profound for the human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton.— Let each man hope & believe what he can....“Certainly I agree with you that my views are not at all necessarily atheistical. The lightning kills a man, whether a good one or bad one, owing to the excessively complex action of natural laws,—a child (who may turn out an idiot) is born by action of even more complex laws,—and I can see no reason, why a man, or other animal, may not have been aboriginally produced by other laws; & that all these laws may have been expressly designed by an omniscient Creator, who foresaw every future event & consequence. But the more I think the more bewildered I become; as indeed I have probably shown by this letter.” .....“I cannot believe that there is a bit more interference by the Creator in the construction of each species, than in the course of the planets.” .....“The mind refuses to look at this universe, being what it is, without having been designed; yet, where one would most expect design, viz. in the structure of a sentient being, the more I think on the subject, the less I can see proof of design.” .....“There is no evidence that man was aboriginally endowed with the ennobling belief in the existence of an Omnipotent God. On the contrary there is ample evidence, derived not from hasty travellers, but from men who have long resided with savages, that numerous races have existed and still exist, who have no idea of one or more gods, and who have no words in their languages to express such an idea. The question is of course wholly distinct from that higher one, whether there exists a Creator and Ruler of the universe; and this has been answered in the affirmative by the highest intellects that have ever lived.” .....“My views are far from clear . . . I can never make up my mind how far an inward conviction that there must be some Creator or First Cause is really trustworthy evidence.” .....“I feel in some degree unwilling to express myself publicly on religious subjects, as I do not feel that I have thought deeply enough to justify any publicity.” .....“It seems to me absurd to doubt that a man may be an ardent Theist & an evolutionist. . . . What my own views may be is a question of no consequence to any one except myself.— But as you ask, I may state that my judgment often fluctuates. . . . In my most extreme fluctuations I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God.— I think that generally (& more and more so as I grow older) but not always, that an agnostic would be the most correct description of my state of mind.” 
 Björn Ulvaeus, “Religion and schools don’t mix”, Comment is Free (The Guardian’s weblog), 30th June 2009. (I am aware that the quotation comes from some pop-entertainer, but I feel it is worth adding my tuppence-worth to the rebuttal, since the view seems to be quite widely assumed.)
 C.R. Darwin, Letter to Asa Gray, 22nd May 1860, published online at Darwin Correspondence Project.
 C.R. Darwin, Letter to Charles Lyell, 17th June 1860, ibid.
 C.R. Darwin, Letter to F.J. Wedgwood, 11th July 1861, ibid.
 C.R. Darwin, The Descent of Man; and Selection in Relation to Sex, Vol. I. (London: John Murray, 1871), p.65.
 C.R. Darwin, Letter to F.E. Abbot, 6th September 1871, published online at Darwin Correspondence Project.
 C.R, Darwin, Letter to John Fordyce, 7th May 1879, ibid.
Monday, 29 June 2009
Sunday, 28 June 2009
Friday, 26 June 2009
“[I]t is elitist . . . to assume every history student is going to have come across such a term.” 
“The use of the term ‘despotic tyranny’ excludes students of a lower ability.” 
“I have been offered a place at Cambridge to study English literature and I was not familiar with the word ‘despotic’ at all despite intensive revision and reading around the topic.” 
“I understand that to be an A level history student you need to have a wide grasp of specialised vocabulary but can i realy be blamed for never hearing the word despotic before? I have never read it, let alone had it taught to me and i was under the impression that exams should be based on a student’s knowledge of a topic not on their knowedge of a word.” 
“This was an exam on Hitler and history . . . not on swallowing a dictionary.” 
 As reported by Alexis Thompson, “History students confused by Hitler ‘despotic tyranny’ exam question”, News Shopper Online, 19th June 2009. (H/T: Laban Tall, “The Best Educated Generation in History”, UK Commentators (weblog), 26th June 2009.)
- “HistoryStudent”, “JohnS”, “Bexleystudent09”, “cmarie”, “Mother Sidcup”, commenting on Alexis Thompson’s report. (I have spared the reader a rash of sic-ness.)
Wednesday, 24 June 2009
Sunday, 21 June 2009
My politics comes from Marxism and feminism; it’s republican, it’s gay and it’s green. It isn’t about ‘good works’, but its works are all towards the good of society. And that can’t be realised without the most radical transformations. As these blighters approach their goal of the radical transformation of society and state in line with their savage atavism, the pitch of their antipathy increases. Where signs still exist of former ways of thought, a great hysterical anger is raised, and the hysteria becomes the greater the fewer the signs that remain. Sometimes, the more that society and state are transformed towards their ways, the more inclined they are to believe that success is slipping away, as their eyes fix jealously and narrowly on what still remains outside their control. Therein is hidden something old and primitive, a savage instinct, a contempt wholly without noble aspect, which is roused to frenzy at the sight of weakness; but therein is also something quite new: this savage atavism is cultivated and treated to every defence which sophistication can muster.
Retrogression, relapse—this is in general the ideal of this band who dare to speak of liberty and progress. They wish to be the future. That is one of their chief pretensions. That is one of the means by which they catch the largest number of simpletons. We have, however, seen in all individual cases that it is not the future but the most forgotten, far-away past. Degenerates lisp and stammer, instead of speaking. They utter monosyllabic cries, instead of constructing grammatically and syntactically articulated sentences. They draw and paint like children, who dirty tables and walls with mischievous hands. They compose music like that of the yellow natives of East Asia. They confound all the arts, and lead them back to the primitive forms they had before evolution differentiated them. Every one of their qualities is atavistic, and we know, moreover, that atavism is one of the most constant marks of degeneracy. At the disposal of these degenerates are all the advantages of their inheritance, and, like profligate wastrels, they fritter it away.
If one Googles my name, one will find tagged to it a blog called ‘The Joy of Curmudgeonry: The International Journal of Boundless Idiocy’ (31 January 2006). Refusing to provide his given name, the blog’s author calls her/himself Deogolwulf; and s/he names her/his residence Lancashire, England! (. . . but of course, that could be a sham address on the part of ‘Deogolwulf’!)
If one examines the content of the blog, it seems ‘Deogolwulf’ is one among several analytic philosophers engaged in deriding me as an ‘idiot’, but not only me: the International Journal of Baudrillard Studies, as the journal of idiots. Of course, that derision is marked in the very title of the blog, meant to refer to the IJBS. So s/he and his/her mates, like Paul Cossins, paint with a scatter gun, mocking not only me but the journal, those it publishes, and even Baudrillard himself and his work as ‘idiocy’. (Indeed, for explicit disparagement by ‘Deogolwulf’ of Baudrillard, see ‘his’ piece entitled ‘The Professor of Absurdity’, The Joy of Curmudgeonry, 9 December 2005: [citation link].)The denigration of me appears to follow this ‘logic’: how can a person teaching in an art history and theory department in Australia presume they have the right and ability to talk about and comment on Stephen Hawking, as I do so in my article ‘The Nutty Universe of Animation, the “Discipline” of All “Disciplines”, and That’s Not All, Folks!’, published in IJBS 3/1, January 2006?But here it is crucial for me to declare: while I am a bit miffed by the blog and its ridicule, to say nothing of its being tagged to my name, at the same time I find it and these derogatory pronouncements marvelous, wonderful gifts, for they help to establish my bona fides, as it were! One needs enemies, Alexandr, even jokers like these, whom I have clearly and powerfully provoked, as has Baudrillard, the IJBS and those who publish therein. For me, their mockery turns on itself, mocking only them. For me, the hilarious and derogatory term Cossins and ‘Deogolwulf’ deploy in ‘The Professor of Absurdity’ reverses on them, turning into a self-description: ‘taurocoprologists’. So, instead of replying to them in a direct manner with reasoned responses, instead of trying to engage them in scholarly debate, I choose to just have a good laugh, one at their expense. I know this is how Baudrillard did and would ‘reply’ to such close-minded, empty-headed abusive utterances. 
 Alan Cholodenko, interviewed by Alexandr Dyakov, “An Interview With Alan Cholodenko”, International Journal of Baudrillard Studies, Vol.6:2, July 2009.
Wednesday, 10 June 2009
The Mussulman has pegged his hosts quite well; and he has a good eye for an old and oft-performed play, which might this time be produced on a grander scale: liberals and social libertarians and other glib blighters destroy the fabric of a society, its authorities and moral strictures, its traditions and mores, its native bonds and communities, because such things repress the free expression of their bestial impulses, to which they are in thrall; whereupon, against a mass-collocation of barely personable and irresponsible individuals, and without effective defence from any social redoubts or moral depths, a stark power arises of necessity to set everything in order in the most direct fashion. The comedic aspect of this rather dreary play is that many of these liberal and libertarian blighters — the true believers rather than the cynical promoters — do not realise that they have any role in it at all, let alone a leading role. They are angered to hear otherwise; they believe that they are appearing in what is and what ought to continue to be a light musical farce or a drama of a base or mediocre kind, and are greatly surprised when the curtain comes down and the scenery is changed for the next act.
 Bilal H., addressing another commenter in the comments to Unity, “Cheers Tim, but we already know what Fascists are”, Liberal Conspiracy (weblog), 9th June 2009. (Some slight cosmetic changes have been made to the comment.)
Tuesday, 9 June 2009
Monday, 8 June 2009
“I guess you are ignorant of the fact that genetics tells us Homo sapiens originated in Africa?.....“Silly me, of course you are.” 
 “rickb”, commenting of Sunny Hundal, “The Hope We’ve Gained from the BNP”, Comment is Free (The Guardian’s weblog), 8th June 2009. (Corrected quotation: removal of additional definite article and of the capitalisation of “sapiens”.)