Friday Ephemera
The Hum of Intellectuals

Reheated (29)

For newcomers, three more items from the archives.

No Ego Whatsoever, Just an Urge to Control

Ken Loach is selfless, heroic and countercultural. And so the state should force you to give him money.

Loach has said that he wants to make the British “confront their imperialist past” and in 1977 he famously rejected the offer of an OBE, supposedly on principle, denouncing the honour as “despicable… deferring to the monarchy and the name of the British Empire, which is a monument of exploitation and conquest.” However, this principled adamance did not inhibit the director’s 2003 acceptance of the Praemium Imperiale – the World Culture Prize in Memory of His Imperial Highness Prince Takamatsu. His Imperial Highness was of course the brother of the 124th Emperor of Japan, Hirohito, whose activities and ambitions were, it seems, altogether more moral and glorious. 

Postmodernism Unpeeled

A discussion with Stephen Hicks.

Writing in Innovations of Antiquity, Ralph Hexter and Daniel Selden dismissed “transparent prose” as merely “the approved mode of expression for the society and values of the newly empowered middle class.” In the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Mas’ud Zavarzadeh denounced “unproblematic prose and clarity of presentation” as “the conceptual tools of conservatism.” The rejection of transparency as “conservative” is particularly odd, since transparency makes a claim amenable to broad critical enquiry, and thus to public correction. Presumably, if you prefer arguments that are comprehensible and open to scrutiny, this signals some reactionary tendency and deep moral failing. On the other hand, if you sneer at such bourgeois trifles, you’re radical, clever and very, very sexy.

When Scolding is the Payoff for All That Piety and Angst

A Guardian journalist dares to send her daughter to a private school. Socialist vindictiveness promptly ensues.

Has Ms Murray not heard the sermon of Arabella Weir, whose definition of a “good, responsible citizen” still rings in our ears and swells our hearts? And who tells us that state schools are virtuous because they teach children “who to be wary of, who to avoid” and “how to keep their heads down,” (though how these things will be learned is oddly unexplored). And what of Kevin McKenna, a man no less pious, who tells us that parents who view the comprehensive system as inadequate – perhaps because of their own first-hand experiences – are by implication wicked and that such parental waywardness is intolerable and should be banned? Has Ms Murray not been told by those who know better that children aren’t special and should be sacrificed for society and the glories of socialism? Perhaps she’s been reading those surveys of state school teaching staff in which respondents report “a climate of violence,” “malicious disruption” and damage to personal property as “part of the routine working environment.”

Now stock up on canned goods and liquor and explore the greatest hits