The Deep Wisdom of Celebrities


We’ve neglected the arts of late. That simply won’t do:

“Trees are like human beings,” says the performance artist Marina Abramovic. “They have intelligence. They have feelings. They communicate with each other. And also, they are perfectly silent listeners. You can complain to them.” And letting out your frustrations about a dire 2020 to a tree is exactly the advice the artist is giving the public.

Ah, the practical and the profound, together at last.

The participatory performance Complain to a Tree is the latest addition to the “Abramovic Method”—a series of exercises developed by the artist for practicing being present—which she will reveal on a new Sky Arts programme. Abramovic is taking over the TV channel for five hours on 5 December, to teach audiences about performance art.

At which point, regulars of this parish may feel a little superior, more culturally elevated, given their familiarity with said artistic form.

But back to the humanoid trees:

Don’t immediately hug the tree.

No, of course. That would be foolish.

Just feel the energy of the tree. Even not touching it but just holding your hands a little bit above.

Much better.

And then complain your heart into it. This is the whole idea.

The entirety, one might say. The total vastness of the idea.

Continue reading "Barking" »

I Question The Location Of The Toilet Roll Holder

“I’ve lost every set of keys I’ve ever owned,” she admits.

Before you say it, yes, I know. I’m veering towards the catty. But the fact that it even exists possibly tells us something

Laurie—who’s currently in a good place with her mental health and says she’s lucky to have found treatments that work long term—isn’t claiming that everything will be great if you could only just rearrange your house in a particular way. But she knows from experience there are alternative therapies and ideas that can help, in addition to traditional treatments. Including, but definitely not limited to, arranging your house in a certain way.


Laurie has heard that raw wooden surfaces and the presence of wood in the home can lift one’s mood, so she’s made sure to include wooden decor elements, from furniture to twigs, branches, and a dead tree she found on the side of the road she thought looked nice.

Perhaps she’s smashing bourgeois values via the medium of celebrity lifestyle features.

Today’s Word Is Optics

So anyway, there’s a large, lavish room in which wealthy and statusful people are giving each other prizes. Then, rather incongruously, a particularly wealthy and statusful person steps onto the stage and shouts “Fuck Trump!” At which point, the other wealthy and statusful people rise to their feet, applauding, and whistling, and cheering. As if something terribly brave had just taken place.

And those doing the applauding, and whistling and cheering, seem oblivious to the message being sent by this display. Specifically, that “Fuck Trump!” translates as something like: Fuck Trump and all of the people who voted for him.” Some of whom, perhaps many of whom, may have grown tired of being openly and gleefully disdained by people much richer and more statusful than themselves, their self-imagined betters, and who may find their only obvious recourse to such disdain is to vote for Donald Trump again.

Via sH2 in the comments.

And Then Twitter Hurt My Feelings

Another contender for our series of classic Guardian sentences, in this case a subheading

Until social media manners catch up with the real world, some of us will have to delete the [Twitter] app just to feel safe.

Just to feel safe. From Twitter. Which, we’re told, is “only happening on your phone” and “where no one is actually touching you and you are not in a corporeal sense under threat,” but where being laughed at or called names is “an incredibly visceral experience” for grown men and women.

By way of damning illustration, we’re steered to the sorrows of the actress and writer Lena Dunham, 28, who has “gone dark” on Twitter and is currently “trying to create a safer space” for herself, “emotionally.” Oddly, no mention is made of Ms Dunham’s own attention-seeking pronouncements and outright fabrications, including a false claim of rape involving an identifiable man, and which attracted much of the attention she now finds so unflattering. Guardian readers are thereby left to suppose that the consequent mockery and vitriol, and threats of legal action, were some inexplicable ex nihilo phenomenon.

The author of said piece is Ms Brigid Delaney, a novelist and Guardian features editor whose estimation of her own brilliance and entitlement to taxpayer subsidy entertained us not too long ago. 

Elsewhere (144)

Kevin Williamson on the ‘progressive’ racial narrative and its dishonesties: 

When former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani takes seriously the operative slogan of the Ferguson protests — “Black Lives Matter!” — and asks the obvious question — “Don’t they matter in the 93 percent of cases when the lives of black murder victims are taken violently by black criminals?” — the Left’s reflexive response is to denounce him as a racist. The Washington Post’s hilariously Orwellian fact-check column labelled Giuliani a liar even as it confirmed that his observation is, as a matter of fact, entirely true. […]

The reality is this: Black men, especially young black men, die violent deaths at appalling rates in these United States. But they do not die very often at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan, thugs reminiscent of characters from American History X, police officers of any race or motivation, lynch mobs, the Koch brothers, Karl Rove, Walmart, the Tea Party, Goldman Sachs, carbon dioxide, or any other bogeyman currently in vogue among so-called progressives. As Giuliani noted, blacks die violent deaths almost exclusively at the hands of black criminals. But attempting to accommodate that reality in any serious way does not pay any political dividends for the Left. It does not put any money in Jesse Jackson’s pockets or create any full-time jobs for graduates of grievance-studies programs.

See also the second item here. And of course this

Mr Williamson also wades into the deep waters of Russell Brand’s mind, where all things are possible:  

Mr Brand is fond of having himself depicted as Che Guevara, a figure for whom he shares the daft enthusiasm of many members of his generation. He frets that Guevara was “a bit of a homophobe,” but insists that “we need only glance at Che to know that that is what a leader should look like,” i.e., a bit like Russell Brand. Guevara was a mass murderer who shot people for amusement. The cause in which he fought was the cause of gulags and murder. There are today, at this moment, thousands of political prisoners being tortured in prisons that Guevara helped to establish, and millions foundering in the totalitarian police state he helped to found off the coast of Florida. But… sure, great hair.

And Charles Cooke on when students are left stunned and distraught by the workings of democracy: 

Some participants were so upset that the faculty had to bring in a counsellor to tell them that it was all going to be alright.

As always, feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments. It’s what these posts are for.

Meanwhile, in Showbiz News

Kevin Williamson pokes through the mental wreckage of writer and actress Lena Dunham:  

Lena Dunham is fond of lists. Here is a list of things in Lena Dunham’s life that do not strike Lena Dunham as being unusual: growing up in a $6.25 million Tribeca apartment; attending a selection of elite private schools; renting a home in Hollywood Hills well before having anything quite resembling a job and complaining that the home is insufficiently “chic”; the habitual education of the men in her family at Andover; the services of a string of foreign nannies; being referred to a homework therapist when she refused to do her homework and being referred to a relationship therapist when she fought with her mother; constant visits to homeopathic doctors, and visits to child psychologists three times a week; having a summer home on a lake in Connecticut, and complaining about it; writing a “voice of her generation” memoir in which ordinary life events among members of her generation, such as making student-loan payments or worrying about the rent or health insurance, never come up; making casual trips to Malibu; her grandparents’ having taken seven-week trips to Europe during her mother’s childhood; spending a summer at a camp at which the costs can total almost as much as the median American family’s annual rent; being histrionically miserable at said camp and demanding to be brought home early; demanding to be sent back to the same expensive camp the next year.

That’s the first paragraph. From there on in he’s less forgiving

Elsewhere (141)

Jim Goad is entertained by the vehement nuttiness of the Black Hebrew Israelites: 

When I say “hate group,” I don’t mean groups who are accused of being hateful; I mean ones that get right up in your face and tell you they’re full of hate… Framed as they are within this dreadfully medicated and morbidly smiley-faced modern world, I find such jagged incongruity hilarious. For two decades running — ever since a friend sent me a VHS tape of them harassing the fuck out of frightened passers-by in Times Square — my “favourite” hate group has been the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, notably the screamingly belligerent iterations that infest street corners in the Northeast and Midwest bellowing through microphones and megaphones about “crackers” and “faggots” and “so-called Negroes.” For starters, I like the way they, well… goad people. I also enjoy their pharaonic sense of couture, which is an odd mix of Arabian Nights and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.

Peter Risdon on purity, extremism and the madness of Russell Brand: 

The narcissism of much of the middle class left is tautological, considering that they are people born into above average affluence who still feel they should get other people’s money because their art, or environmental campaigning, or political thought – rather than their need for subsistence – merits it.

Brian Micklethwait offers a handy tip: 

If someone starts to offer you unsolicited advice about how to improve whatever it is that you are doing, immediately ask if they are prepared to get involved and implement their suggestion themselves. If the answer is yes, listen to what they have to say. If the answer is no, stop them right there and change the subject.

And Maetenloch mulls the utopian blueprint of a certain feminist bedlamite: 

Now before everyone gets too excited I have to tell you that there’s a drawback to it: About a half of you are going to have to be killed.

We also learn that, without men, “women’s life expectancy would rise to 130 years at least.”

As usual, feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments. It’s what these posts are for.

We Mustn’t Let the Poor Have Nice Things

Today the Guardian shares the wisdom of millionaire socialist and noted fashion crone Dame Vivienne Westwood

Clothes and food should cost much more than they do in Britain to reflect their true impact on the environment, Vivienne Westwood said on Wednesday night. Speaking at a Guardian Live event at Chelsea Old Town Hall hosted by columnist Deborah Orr, the controversial fashion designer said: “Clothes should cost a lot more than they do – they are so subsidised. Food should cost more too – you know something is wrong when you can buy a cooked chicken for £2.”

Westwood also declared that capitalism was over.

Ms Westwood, whose PVC handbags can occasionally be found marked down to a mere £400, was noted here previously, in May 2008, when Conservative politician Boris Johnson became London’s mayor. Naturally, the Guardian invited several leftwing Londoners to share their views on this terrifying development. Ms Westwood expressed her indignation in suitably colourful terms:

Boris as mayor? Unthinkable. It just exposes democracy as a sham, especially if people don’t vote for [leftwing rival] Ken [Livingstone].

Our foremost titan of handbag design appeared to have difficulty grasping the concept of democracy, which entails the possibility that other people – perhaps a great many of them – will have preferences that differ from one’s own. Still, there’s an almost charming megalomania to Ms Westwood’s belief that a system which allows people to vote on those preferences must be a “sham” when the people doing the voting disagree with Vivienne Westwood.

Elsewhere (137)

Daniel Greenfield learns of more racism that’s invisible to the sane: 

Are there not enough black people who build ships in bottles? There must be something racist about it. It couldn’t possibly be that black people aren’t as interested in building ships in bottles.

Remember this

Roger Kimball on that pernicious little tool in the White House: 

Just yesterday, the president of the United States… stood before the United Nations and heaped praise on Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, a Muslim cleric who has endorsed a fatwa calling for the murder of U.S. soldiers. Yep, Bin Bayyah is Obama’s candidate of the week for the prize of being a “moderate Muslim.”

And Heather Wilhelm weeps at the suffering of “Goodwill Ambassador for U.N. Women,” Ms Emma Watson: 

While Watson, to her credit, did give a few shout-outs to actual oppression around the globe — child brides and uneducated girls in Africa, specifically, along with an admission that “not all women have received the same rights I have” — her speech [to the U.N.] was an unfortunate reflection of the “we’re all victims,” zero-sense-of-proportion mishmash that makes up modern Western feminism. If you don’t believe me, here is what Emma Watson, Hollywood actress, actually complained about before a body of 192 member states, some which have more terrifying dictatorships than others: 1. She was called “bossy” as a child; 2. She was sexualised by the media as a young movie star; 3. Many of her girlfriends quit their sports teams because they didn’t want to grow muscles.

Now, if, for instance, Ms Watson had directly addressed the representative of each member country in which women really are treated appallingly – and listed that country’s sins in graphic detail – I’d have been more than happy to applaud. But that didn’t happen, and was never going to happen. What we got instead was a piece of flimsy theatre that we’re expected to applaud anyway. It’s the U.N., after all. But it seems to me that if you’re going to use a U.N. gathering to shame backward cultures and their various representatives – shame them into change - it’s best not to appear clownish and morally frivolous while you’re attempting it. And if you want to highlight real oppression in the world – say, women being disfigured by Muhammadan savages – it’s probably best to avoid moaning about having once been called “bossy.”*

Ms Watson’s feminist credentials have been noted here previously

*Added via the comments. Feel free to share your own links and snippets below. 

Elsewhere (134)

Gay Patriot ponders the twilight of The Patriarchy

It’s interesting that the feminists chose Chicago for their “Smash the Patriarchy” message, because nowhere has the Patriarchy been more successfully smashed than in the inner cities. Households led by fathers have become exceedingly rare, single women raise families without husbands, and very few people participate in capitalist enterprises; the inner cities have become radical feminist utopia. How’s that working out for them?

Eric S Raymond does some impolite maths

That 2% [of the U.S. population, i.e., black males aged 15-24] is responsible for almost 52% of U.S. homicides. Or, to put it differently, by these figures a young black or “mixed” male is roughly 26 times more likely to be a homicidal threat than a random person outside that category – older or younger blacks, whites, Hispanics, females, whatever… 26 times more likely. That’s a lot. It means that even given very forgiving assumptions about differential rates of conviction and other factors, we probably still have a difference in propensity to homicide (and other violent crimes for which its rates are an index, including rape, armed robbery, and hot burglary) of around 20:1. Any cop who treated members of a group with a factor 20 greater threat level than population baseline “equally” would be crazy. 

A long discussion ensues.

And Robert Stacy McCain probes the deep feminist philosophy of Ms Emma Watson

Emma Watson is the actress most famous for her part in the Harry Potter movies. More recently, she has become “Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women,” a job that evidently requires her to say silly feminist stuff on Twitter, e.g.: “Gender equality not only liberates women but also men from prescribed gender stereotypes.” Ri-iiight. Because what guys really need is to be liberated from “prescribed gender stereotypes.” All the hot babes like Emma Watson are crazy for guys who don’t fit “prescribed gender stereotypes,” right? So you will probably be surprised to learn that Emma Watson is dating a bald scrawny impoverished poet  the biggest jock at an elite university:

The 23-year-old former Harry Potter film star has recently begun dating a fellow Oxford University student named Matthew Janney… Janney, 21, is not only a student at the prestigious institution, he is also a star rugby player for their varsity team. Despite his prized athletic skills, Janney has also been recognised for something else: his looks. According to the report, the college student was named “Oxford’s most eligible bachelor” and “best looking player” by the university’s rugby team’s official Twitter account.

In other words, an Alpha male, the epitome of “prescribed gender stereotypes” from which Emma Watson says we need to be liberated.

As usual, feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments.

The Land of Make Believe

People must drop their standard of living [so] the wealth can be spread about. There’s a long way to go.

Spied over the weekend, the insights of millionaire actor, Jeremy Irons

He dismissed the idea that a recovery in consumption would help Britain out of recession: “You walk down the high street and it’s just clothes, clothes, clothes. How many clothes do people need?”

The above is immediately preceded by this:

Irons, who owns seven houses, including a pink castle in Co Cork, Ireland, believes a new economic vision is needed in the wake of the global financial crisis.

In fairness, Mr Irons describes his castle as “the colour of fresh rust.”

Launching himself as a green campaigner, Irons has revealed plans to make a documentary about sustainability and waste disposal, likening himself to Michael Moore, the controversial film maker, although “not as silly.”

Readers will be  heartened to hear that Mr Irons aims to be less silly than an overweight socialist who insists “capitalism did nothing for me,” while owning an agreeable Upper West Side apartment valued at $1.27 million and a spare, and no less agreeable, lakeside house in upstate Michigan, and whose estimated fortune is a mere $50,000,000.