Little Knots of Agony
It’s Harder Than You’d Think

Reheated (36)

For newcomers, more items from the archives. A flavour of what goes on here.

Two Balls Bad, No Balls Good.

The Guardian’s Mike Power denounces the barbecue patriarchy. It’s “sexist,” “ugly” and “oppressively penetrating.” 

According to Mr Power, there’s nothing uglier than the sight of menfolk indulging, often knowingly, in a clichéd male behaviour – cooking for friends and family, and making sure that everyone is having a good time. “This grilled-food gender split is ubiquitous, odd and unacknowledged,” says he. This may strike readers as a bold, indeed preposterous, claim to make. One of the rituals of the barbecues I’ve attended is the good-natured parodying – one might say acknowledgment – of precisely those conventions. “Man make fire. Man cook meat,” etc. Perhaps we’re to imagine that only the keen social observers who write for the Guardian have ever noticed such things or found them worthy of amused comment. More to the point, it doesn’t seem to have occurred to Mr Power that quite a few people, male and female, actually enjoy the role-play opportunity of the barbecue - the theatre, the ritual, the fun. Even – heresy! – gendered fun. But hey, the point is that some of you heathens are still arranging your leisure time and social gatherings in a way of which our Guardianista disapproves. Your barbecues aren’t being gender balanced in the way he would like. 

I’m Sorry, But Your Utopia is Just a Little Creepy.

On sacrificial children and the “anti-family.”

The endlessly entertaining Laurie Penny – who entertains us for reasons she doesn’t quite comprehend – pointed her readers to a breathless endorsement of the fatherless family. New Enquiry contributor Madeleine Schwartz dubbed this non-nuclear unit the “anti-family,” thus signalling its countercultural radicalism and general sexiness. We were told, based on nothing much, that “a couple cannot raise a child better than one [person] can.” Apparently, the “diffusion” of the family unit – which is to say, absent fathers, hardship and subsequent dependence on the state – “is one of the most exciting things to happen to the American social pattern since sexual liberation.”

He’s So Liberal, You See.

Make way for George Monbiot. Being a socialist, he’s better than you. 

George, after all, is known for his immense modesty, as when he expressed his contempt for those who dare to disagree with him, all of whom were waved aside as dullard conservatives struggling with racial phobias. “The other side,” he announced, is “on average more stupid than our own.” Guardian readers - known far and wide as The Great Thinkers Of Our Era™ - were told in no uncertain terms that “conservatism thrives on low intelligence” and “appeals to stupidity.” “Conservative ideology,” said George, “is the critical pathway from low intelligence to racism.” And all of this in contrast with liberals such as himself, who are allegedly “self-deprecating” and “too liberal for their own good.” 

Improving Us From Above

Robert and Edward Skidelsky want to save us from all the nice things they enjoy and that we shouldn’t want.

“Why don’t more people aspire to living a good life?” asks our architect of tomorrow, before blaming Margaret Thatcher. Why doesn’t the rabble want what he knows is good for us? And what’s good for us, apparently, is not earning more than Mr Skidesky deems “enough.” It seems we shouldn’t want to travel the world, as Mr Skidelsky does, or sunbathe by the pool at the Caracas Hilton, as Mr Skidelsky did, or own a house as comfortable and spacious as his. “Keynes never owned a house in his life,” we’re told. “Neither for that matter did Virginia Woolf.” And so why should we, the little people? Mr Skidelsky imagines his inferiors “living good lives, surrounding themselves with beauty.” It’s just that he’d rather we didn’t get to own much of it, or have enough money to make more of it happen. Utopia, you see, will “require some restriction.”

And by all means plunge into the greatest hits