Category Archives: idiocy

13 Dec

Our world of lying truths

Matt Hancock, a government minister, has just felt obliged to declare formally, ”Objective reality exists.” To his credit, he confessed to a certain shamefacedness about this but he added that he believes he had a duty to reassure us.

I find it hard to understand what Mr Hancock’s statement means. By “objective reality” does he mean truth? If so, then the proposition “There is such a thing as truth” is self-evident – a necessary proposition – because if someone attempts to refute it and says, “There is no such thing as truth,” then either that proposition is true or the one who states it is wrong. In either case, there is something that is true.

Actually, Mr Hancock’s laudable and public-spirited aim is to reassure us that in our new world of virtual reality, filled as it is with fake news, Bitcoins,  the dissembling worlds of Facebook and Twitter and computer games of such startling verisimilitude that so called “real life” pales by comparison, there yet remains something real, something we can trust.

I think our problem is not epistemological or metaphysical, but psychological and above all moral and spiritual. In our new electronic phantasmagoria, people have become indifferent to the notions of truth and reality. And this disposition has not been forced upon them: they have chosen it quite willingly. The interest of many is not truth and objective reality but images and sensations, and the rapid advance of technology enables us to create images and sensations of astonishing power.

Any “reality” is as good as any other. You choose! Seems? Nay, ‘tis.

Unfortunately, this world of willed illusion becomes also, by the operation of political correctness, a world of willed delusion. People don’t merely choose what to look at; they choose what to believe. Postmodern philosophers and theologians deny Mr Hancock’s (or God’s) truth and objective reality: they speak approvingly of things being” true for you” or “true for me.” And of course this just means we can’t talk about truth at all. The philosophers and theologians have been guided by the politicians who tell them not to insist that there is such a thing as the objective truth – because to do so might “offend” someone who holds to “a different truth.”

Welcome to the world of “equality” and “diversity.”

We have replaced the gospel of St John with the gospel of Pontius Pilate.

This is not going to end well. If we are no longer concerned to inhabit reality but instead we evaluate any image, any sensation, only insofar as it appeals to us, then we have no escape from a world of ubiquitous delusion. Jesus Christ referred to this activity as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit – which he declared to be the only unforgiveable sin. Unforgiveable because it is impossible to repent of it. If you say, “Lies be my truth” and “Delusion be my reality,” then you have chosen paranoid psychosis, madness – hell.

Allow me a personal recollection, please. In 1988 I began to write a novel about Tom and Lucy. These two young creatures of flesh and blood were increasingly drawn into a world which was all images and appearances. I found it intolerable and had to stop writing the damn thing: first, because some of the things that began to happen to Tom and Lucy were so horrific that they turned my stomach; and secondly, because it all sounded too far-fetched.

Well now, thirty years on, is it still so far-fetched?

If you are seeking a definition of the world we now inhabit, look no further than Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus where Mephistopheles, the Father of Lies, exclaims in terror and despair, “Why, this is hell; nor am I out of it!”

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08 Jan

The uncritical critics at SAOS

I don’t usually find myself in agreement with fascists and book-burners, but I do agree with the students of the University of London’s School of African and Oriental Studies (SAOS) – who are fascists and would-be book burners – when they say, “White philosophers should only be studied from a critical perspective.”

I would go further and say that all  philosophers should only be studied from a critical perspective.

The SAOS students’ statement only goes to show that they have no understanding of what philosophy is. Criticism and argument are the very substance of philosophy. In fact they are the requirements for the pursuit of the knowledge of every subject.

Of course there is a subtext here: the demand that white philosophers should be singled out for critical study implies that black and Asian ones should be studied uncritically.

Actually, it is not possible to study anything uncritically. When we begin to study a topic, the first question – I mean first in the sense of logically prior to – must be, “What is this subject about?” This opens up the critical process as one participant replies, “It is about X” and another one chips in, “No, it is about Y”

The SAOS students do not study black and Asian philosophers critically simply because they are not capable of doing so. They have proved their incapacity by their failure to understand the meaning of criticism.

Give these SAOS ideologues, bigots and thickos the credit for practising what they preach. For indeed they do not study black and Asian philosophers critically: instead they sit at their feet and swallow whole every half-baked morsel which emerges from the mouths of their heroes.

In fact their heroes are not philosophers at all, but ideologues and political propagandists and sloganisers just like the students themselves.

I began by expressing my agreement with the students of SAOS. Let me end by doing the same.

Yes, they should study more black and Asian philosophers. Let them start then with St Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430)

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26 Dec

The sport of blasphemy

“When beggars die, there are no comets seen; the heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.” We’re going to have to revise Shakespeare and for “princes” substitute “pop-stars.”

Another went down in the night. First thing I heard on the wireless on waking – accompanied by several sample blasts of noise. The air waves will be infested with hysterical “tributes” all day long.

The adoring journalists and broadcasters can’t quite get the nomenclature right though. They refer to these dead cacophonists as “artistes” and “musicians.”

That can’t be right.

Ah but suddenly they hit on the right word and describe their dead heroes as “iconic.”

Spot on. Blasphemous, yes. But still spot on. For an icon is something you may worship. And pop-stars are what the devotees of our debased culture worship.

And the object of worship says as much about the character of the worshipper as it does about itself. What we worship defines us.

Show me what you value, and I will tell you what you’re worth.

I think I shall show uncharacteristic reticence and say no more.

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11 May

Howzat?

They’re funny folk in Manchester. This week they staged an anti-terrorism practice in a shopping centre – a pointless exercise if ever there was one. Afterwards Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan from Greater Manchester Police said:

“The scenario for this exercise is based on a suicide attack by an extremist Daesh-style organisation.However, on reflection we acknowledge that it was unacceptable to use the religious phrase Allahu Akbar immediately before the mock suicide bombing, which so vocally linked this exercise with Islam. We recognise and apologise for the offence that this has caused.”

And there was I thinking that quite a bit of the terrorism perpetrated in Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, Yemen, Nigeria, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Indonesia – to mention just a selection of preferred venues – is by Muslims.

Furthermore, I seem to remember that Allahu Akbar is the terrorists’ preferred manner of address while they are killing us.

But in the light of ACC Garry’s grovelling apology, I realise I must amend my thinking.

If I’ve only ever seen white swans, this doesn’t mean there are no black ones. And even if all the terrorist attacks I’ve seen reported involve the shout Allahu Akbar from the attacking Muslims, this does not entitle me to associate that particular war cry with Islam.

Next time a night club is attacked or a shopping centre bombed, I should bear in mind that the murderers might be Methodists. In which case, they might very well accompany their murderings with the blood-curdling cry, “The Women’s Bright Hour will meet on Wednesday afternoon.”

Or a terror attack might at any moment come from members of Sussex County Cricket Second Eleven with the shout of “Howzat?”

Or, if the terrorists were from Yorkshire Cricket, there would certainly be the more formal injunction, “Bang it in – yon bugger dunt like the short stuff!”

Or fans of the much-missed Ronnie Corbett screaming as they wield their machetes, “And it’s goodnight from me!”

But no – Garry is quite right to apologise to Muslims. Associating an attack with Islam could well damage community relations.

And perhaps damage them even more severely than any terrorist attack

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31 Aug

Is the faux-estuarine seer here?

The brilliant faux-estuarine seer Rev’d Dr Giles Fraser came on Thought for the Day for our further enlightenment. Of such incandescence was his thought that the wireless was briefly on fire. He started by talking about the Notting Hill Carnival – that annual celebration of druggery and thuggery before which honest men board up their shops against the looters and at which  the police traditionally ignore gross acts of violence and the ingesting of illegal substances – out of respect for diversity and our multicultural utopia

Come to think of it, the carnival is mono- rather than multi- and the word culture is inappropriate here unless, I suppose, we are using it according to the usage of the pathology lab..

But the BBC’s in house semi-sacerdotal Trot went on to discover a far more profound meaning of carnival. After much ferretting around in the archives of the bleedin’ obvious, the seer took us back to the carnivals of the Middle Ages, to the Feast of Fools, the Festival of the Boy Bishop and the Lord of Misrule. Gratuitously, and out of the copious resources of his unsearchable understanding, Dr Fraser informed us that these were high days when the usual hierarchies were turned on their heads, the lowly were exalted for a day or a weekend and the high and mighty were put down.

The seer thought that this was a jolly good thing and that we could all – especially the church – do with a lot more of this role-reversal.

What he failed to notice, however, is that the reason we don’t keep these feasts of social inversion, insubordination, rudeness and ubiquitous oikishness as special days in our calendar is because our society, and particularly the church, is now like that all the time.

Perhaps, Dr Fraser, the Church of England and the rest of the nation might actually invert the inversion and, for just a couple of days in the year – it would be impossible to do it all the time of course – be serious, dignified, noble, reverent, God-fearing and proper?

By the way, I wonder if, when he becomes leader of our great nation and inaugurates misrule as a fundamental principle of society, Jeremy Corbyn will appoint the faux- estuarine seer as his chaplain?

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