Dalrymple’s book The Examined Life, first published in 2011, was a fictional satire that made fun of the modern focus on health and safety, a focus that often seems to place health above all other considerations. With the spread of COVID-19, the book now seems more relevant than ever, and as a result, it has been republished in a new edition. It is available globally on all Amazon sites, e.g. here in the UK and here in the US.
Dalrymple has said that satire is nowadays prophecy, and although he did not predict a global pandemic, it does seem that the outlook satirized in The Examined Life has spread along with the virus.
‘Why are you wearing that mask?’ asked one of the security guards.
‘Germs, of course,’ I said. ‘They’re ubiquitous.’
‘You what?’ he said.
‘Ubiquitous – they’re everywhere.’
‘They are for us, too,’ he said, ‘and we’re not wearing masks.’
Exactly the same argument as the doctor uses when I raise the subject with him.
‘It was of no consolation to the victims of pneumonic plague during the Black Death that there were millions of other victims, was it?’ I said.
‘The Black Death?’ said one of the security guards to the other. ‘What’s he going on about?’
In this week’s Takimag column, the good doctor gets nostalgic thinking about following football in the England of his youth. Those were the days, my friend…
The tickets were cheap and the crowds were large, much more proletarian than they are today, and on the whole better behaved, almost even genteel. Expletives were far fewer, and when the referee made a decision against the home team, the crowd would exclaim, “Referee!” When you look at pictures of the crowds of those days, you see people much more civilized than they are today, though the wealth of crowds has increased enormously.
Which vices of well-known persons are acceptable and which are strictly forbidden in our relativistic, post-modern age? Dr. Dalrymple explores this question in his latest The Epoch Times column.
And this omission in the book suggests to me that the penny still has not fully dropped in the minds even of clever and otherwise decent intellectuals (Sapiro is an eminent academic, a specialist in the relation between literature and the political engagements of authors) that communism was evil root and branch, intrinsically as it were, from the very first, and not merely an ideal that went a little haywire in its application.
Our favorite doctor considers some of the possible economic and social consequences of the post-COVID world in his Quadrant column.
In summary we may say that unfunded government and personal expenditure, which creates the illusion of wealth and social security, necessitates low interest rates, low interest rates favour asset inflation, asset inflation favours the already possessing classes, which in turn leads to social rigidity and frustration down below in the lower reaches of society. Social classes rigidify into castes, and many people become fatalistic without contentment. But fatalism without contentment can undergo a sudden change, the emotional equivalent of a gestalt-switch, and become insensate rage.
The headline of the skeptical doctor’s Law & Liberty essay sums up the dangerous direction that is increasingly being chosen by much of the pitiful excuse for a ruling elite in the Western world.
Trying to eliminate antipathy, dislike, ridicule, and insult from the human heart and mind is a task to make that of Sisyphus seem like an afternoon stroll: precisely the type of task that authoritarian governments love, for it gives them the locus standi to interfere ever more intimately with the lives of their subjects.
The mice in Theodore Dalrymple’s house launched an attack on some of the books in his vast library in this week’s Takimag column.
And then there is the opposite impulse, also satisfied by Storr’s thesis, namely that to elevate those suffering from mental disorders to make them superior to those who do not. Indeed, there was a best-selling book about the mental disorders of great leaders that maintained that Churchill’s relative prescience or clear-sightedness about Hitler was the consequence of his inclination to depression and therefore to pessimism, which in regard to Hitler was fully justified. Therefore the last shall be first, and mental disorder is, if not good for you, at least a precondition of great achievement and a proof of sensitivity. I think this is Romanticism, or wishful thinking, thinly disguised as psychological depth.
Over at The Epoch Times, the dubious doctor comments on COVID-related governmental fiscal policies, as well as one of the more preposterous wealth tax ideas from—who else—British academic economists.
The purpose behind it is thus social reform, not the meeting of an economic necessity. The crisis is an opportunity: to advance the centralization of power and the permanent boosting of government powers vis-à-vis the population.
Our good doctor has officially endorsed the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in his column at The Oldie.
For the moment – and one can speak only for the moment, all information being provisional – the vaccine seems a good thing. I would take it because I have nothing to lose, except my life.
The skeptical doctor’s last 2020 The Epoch Times column deals with the prediction and prevention of pandemics.
Man is the only creature, as far as I know, that derives some strange pleasure from the contemplation of his own extinction, at least so long as it remains theoretical.
Over at Takimag, Dr. Dalrymple recounts witnessing two dogs attacking a wild boar near his French estate, following which he draws some parallels with the worst politics of mankind.
Was this fight not a metonym for a horrible political movement, founded by a megalomaniacal scoundrel, vicious but not devoid of courage, to be taken up when safe to do so by a baying multitude? The large dog was a kind of Lenin, while the smaller stood for all his followers and henchmen. No doubt one could easily think of other parallel cases.