April 17, 2014

Now Playing

Le Week-End
(Reviewed April 11, 2014)

An unfunny comedy whose reason for being appears to be a celebration of the extravagant self-pity of its central character

(Reviewed April 8, 2014)

More evidence, if evidence were needed, that the movies are not very good at re-imagining the myths and legends of the past, especially not Biblical ones

The Past (Le Passé)
(Reviewed March 27, 2014)

Another example of old-fashioned, plot-driven movie-making for grown-ups from the director of A Separation

Grand Budapest Hotel
(Reviewed March 18, 2014)

Impossible to be taken seriously, the movie is nevertheless quite a lot of fun, mostly because of its star.

ENTRY from April 11, 2014

"If you insist upon fighting to protect me, or ‘our’ country," wrote Virginia Woolf in Three Guineas, a book which Theodore Dalrymple thought ought rather to have been called How to Be Privileged and Yet Feel Extremely Aggrieved, "let it be understood, soberly and rationally between us, that you are fighting to gratify a sex instinct which I cannot share; to procure benefits which I have not shared and probably will not share. . . For as a woman, I have no country. As a woman, I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world."

Writing in The Guardian, Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett quotes these words and heartily approves of Mrs Woolf’s view of war and patriotism, noting that "the feminists of the past did not want equal rights in a man's world, they wanted a new world entirely." Fair enough. Yet this fantasy of "a new world entirely" is cited as a qualification or mitigation of her also approving of proposals to admit women to military combat units. Though "women on the frontline is a victory for equality," she thinks that "those of us who still hope for peace and justice should not lose sight of that vision."

What’s wrong with that statement? "That vision," otherwise the utopian pacifism of Virginia Woolf, ought to be pretty obviously as incompatible as anything can be with service in a front-line military unit. It amounts to Fifth Columnism to seek a place in a military combat unit while harboring not only pacifist beliefs but a higher loyalty to women or "the whole world" than to one’s fellow soldiers or "our" country, the country they have been sent to defend. I wonder how many of today’s advocates of women in combat roles share this mistaken belief that they can hold on to their utopian beliefs along with their rifles?
  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

Enviable positions March 31, 2014.
When politics is all a matter of good guys and bad guys, it’s only a matter of time until the bad guys become Nazis — From The New Criterion of March, 2014 ... Full Article

The Naked and the Dead March 31, 2014.
Some entertainers who dare to take on, or at least to ignore, political correctness — From The American Spectator of March, 2014 ... Full Article

Unhappy Anniversary February 28, 2014.
Wars in history and history wars in Britain and the U.S. — From The New Criterion of February, 2014 ... Full Article

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