October 31, 2014

Now Playing

(Reviewed August 29, 2014)

A portrait of modern sanctity which — very oddly, in my view — asks not to be taken too seriously

(Reviewed August 27, 2014)

The movie it took twelve years to make — about a childhood that appears to be taking much, much longer

America: Imagine the World Without Her
(Reviewed July 31, 2014)

Another foray by Dinesh D’Souza into the lists in order to break a lance on President Obama — and Howard Zinn. At least the latter is effectively unhorsed.

(Reviewed June 30, 2014)

An austerely beautiful film by the Anglo-Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski that could hardly be a greater departure from his earlier My Summer of Love

ENTRY from October 29, 2014

Party On . . .

Remarkable. An organization rather vaingloriously calling itself "Intelligence Squared" tells me that it is holding, or has held, a debate on the motion: "Income Inequality Impairs the American Dream of Upward Mobility." Surely, you would think, even intelligence unsquared must be equal to the task of reasoning required to see that it is only income inequality that could make the American Dream of upward mobility possible in the first place — and thus that the motion is nonsense? Too bad I only received an invitation to take part in this nonsensical debate, now available as a DVD or podcast, on the same day it took place. I’ve got to think they really didn’t want my input after all but were only pretending to invite me because they thought I would be flattered by the pretense of my inclusion, even via spam, in such highly intelligent company. I’m not. I tend to agree with Stephen Hawking that "people who boast about their I.Q. are losers." Sorry Mensa. I have a slight curiosity to see if any of the IQ2 initiate were bright enough to understand that the content of their "debate" was a null set, as they would no doubt put it. But not enough to take the trouble to find out.

Meanwhile, Daniel Finkelstein, a columnist for The Times of London but at heart still a British election strategist writes of the insurgent UKIP challenge to the Conservative party over Europe and immigration that "the electorate is changing and becoming more culturally and socially liberal while the UKIP vote is intense and angry, but represents a growing proportion of an inevitably shrinking group." The "inevitably shrinking group" is old people, in case you hadn’t guessed. They’re inevitably shrinking because they’re dying off. "The problem for the Conservative party is severe," he continues. "It relies heavily (more than Labour, making its problem worse) on an older, culturally conservative vote that is shrinking, and yet if it seeks support among the growing sections, and sentiment, of the population it risks exacerbating its problems with UKIP. In the long run the answer is obvious. The Conservative party cannot choose the shrinking, ageing, groups over the growing, young ones. This way death lies. Literally."
  Full Entry

Media MadnessMy book Media Madness, is available for order from Encounter Books. Less a polemic than an attempt to understand the origins of the mass media’s folie de grandeur, the book is a warning even to those who are deserting the big networks, newsweeklies and large-circulation dailies not to carry with them into the more attractive world of niche media the undisciplined habits of thought that the old media culture has given rise to. To order this book, click here.

Honor, A HistoryAlso available, now in paperback, is Honor, A History, which was first published in 2006. A study of Western cultural artifacts, from the epics of Homer to the movies and TV shows of today, it is focused on explaining why Western ideas of honor developed so differently from those elsewhere — and especially from the savage honor cultures of the Islamic world. The book then goes on to trace the collapse and ultimate rejection of the old Western honor culture from World War I until the present day and to suggest the conditions that would have to prevail for its revival.

Recent Articles

Some Eminent Utopians June 30, 2014.
The new crop of revolutionary thinkers has rather a lot in common with the old one — From The New Criterion of June, 2014 ... Full Article

Requiem for the Chatterley Classes June 29, 2014.
High culture defers to low, it seems, only at the cost of its own annihilation — From The American Spectator of June, 2014 ... Full Article

Dean of Contradictions June 9, 2014.
The savage, satiric, sympathetic Swift — From The Weekly Standard of June 9, 2014 ... Full Article

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