13 September 2011

notepad: September

The purpose of mediocratic ideology is the same as that of Marxist ideology: to make life impossible for genuine intellectuals, i.e. those who might generate real cultural progress. To mask the issue, an ersatz system of high culture has been built up, designed to perpetuate and reinforce the ideology, and to ensure no assistance is given to those whom the system carefully excludes.

• My suggestion that the current age of turbulence has parallels with Weimar Germany, rather than (as Professor Niall Ferguson once theorised) with 1820s Britain, was recently echoed by a rising journalist, apparently of a conservative persuasion.
The journalist hinted at the risks of replaying a similar chain of events — which, as is known, culminated in the seeking of scapegoats for social and economic woes — then went on to finger bankers and other members of the affluent classes as suitable targets for opprobrium.
I think the journalist must be a member of the New Right: he made no suggestion that the problems we face might have something to do with the tireless dissemination of pseudo-egalitarian ideology over the last six decades, preferring himself to follow the popular course of blaming “capitalism”.
[13 Sep]

• Not a good idea these days to appear in any way frustrated.
The ideologically correct pose is a chirpy insouciance, though you are permitted to garnish this with a degree of grumbling, and of course it is desirable to display a kicky commitment to ‘change’ of the approved kind (not too much, or it could be interpreted as a displacement from sex).
Taking things too seriously, minding about one’s position, worrying about the possibility that Western civilisation is being gradually wrecked by a combination of ineptness and mauvaise foi — these are signs of maladaptation, and (if sneering and shouting down fail to deter) liable to lead to the psychiatrist’s chair.

• Expensively educated literati, not apparently lacking in the self-approbation department, attacking Julian Fellowes for being a “snob”?
Columnists going into overdrive to reassure us that it really was frightfully beastly in the olden days (no NHS; having to doff your cap at nobs; etc.)?
Must be Downton Abbey time again.
[19 Sep]

• I hope someone will soon write a book entitled The Triumph of the Media Class, explaining who (in reality) gets to say what goes, and how totally out of touch with ordinary people’s lives this class is.
If it were not out of touch, we would (for example) be reading more about interesting social phenomena that one can easily spot in any high street, such as the fact that everyone now looks exactly the same.
Or is Fleet Street’s self-imposed censorship so severe that even such superficialities are regarded as too ideologically incorrect to mention?

• Amazing: a BBC1 general science series that entertains without stupefying.
I had not caught Bang Goes the Theory before, now in its fifth series, but with iPlayer available via set-top boxes there is more scope for sampling.
Not bad, and certainly beats Sky’s Jackass-ish Brainiac and Channel 5’s slightly manic How Do They Do It? for watchability.
[26 Sep]

aphorism of the month:

In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is lucky to escape with his life.
Celia Green, The Decline and Fall of Science

food for grey cells:

fighting debt with debt

The author of this blog is an unsalaried academic. Like his colleagues, he is excluded from the academic system because of the way that system is currently run. (The phrase “sausage factory” was recently used by a government minister, expressing part of the problem.) As a result, he is unable to write in detail about intellectual issues to which he could be contributing, and has to limit himself to brief blog comments.

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