"A Room of One's ZONE" Edition
Obligatory shilling. I wrote for my paying subscribers about creativity and why the word “creative”, as a noun, boils my bile. I also re-published some of my old short stories.
Conservative clichés. Back when my career was little more than a gleam in an editor’s eye, I used to write earnest essays about the “meaning of conservatism” and so on. I hope they had some value but I feel a bit like I was posing as a somewhat smarter, better, more sophisticated human being than I am.
I also feel like they were too vague. Conservatives rightly deplore “abstractions” in the sense of sweeping theoretical constructs divorced from objective facts but we often like them in the sense of fuzzy clichés with appealing connotations.
That applies to David Brooks’s recent Atlantic essay about falling in and out of love with conservatism. It is full of Burkeish bromides about the “little platoons” and civic virtues, and the dangers of social engineering and radical change. Wait a second: in such an intensely globalized, technological age, would it not take radical change to foster localism and the renewal of tradition?
There is a fundamental disconnect between “philosophy” and “reality” here. Brooks writes that “wisdom” and “soulcraft” are “formed within families, churches, communities, schools, and professional societies.” Okay, but families are increasingly fractured, fewer people go to church and schools are stifling achievement in the name of equity while progressive teachers push their values onto kids. I don’t blame Brooks for not having all the answers for this. (I don’t.) But his platitudes are little more than philosophical muzak.
Symptoms and causes. Aris Roussinos assails the useless Conservatives:
Conservative MPs whine about ‘wokeness’ on Twitter instead of using their parliamentary majority to repeal the raft of New Labour legislation that foisted a Blairite shadow government on the country; the dense web of state-funded quangos, NGOs and bureaucrats that sets the tone of British political discourse and frustrates Tory policy at every turn. No wonder Tories win elections and yet are amazed they can’t change Britain’s political culture: they waste their energy fighting the symptoms while subsidising the causes.
The Dolezals. Ed West (subscribe to his Substack!) reflects on the curious phenomena of white academics posing as members of ethnic minorities:
This might somewhat undermine the argument that America is some uniquely-sinful racial hell; there weren’t that many people masquerading as Jews in Russia under the tsars, or Helots in Sparta.
War and meaning. Ross Douthat considers Christopher Hitchens as a symptom of decadence:
At the end of Waugh’s novels, Crouchback ends up disillusioned: He meets a Jewish refugee in the Balkans who speaks of the “will to war” in 1930s Europe, the way "that “even good men thought their private honour would be satisfied by war.” She asks him: “Were there none in England?”
“God help me,” Crouchback answers, “I was one of them.”
Let us go then… “Prufrock”, the eclectic newsletter of the author and critic Micah Mattix, was a big influence on THE ZONE so I am glad to see it has been resurrected at the Spectator World.
Home front. As you can see, it is snowing in Poland. In many ways, snow is an enormous inconvenience. It is hard to walk across. It sticks to your feet. It has to be shovelled from your drive (unless, like me, you live in a flat in which case you suddenly feel rather smug). When it melts it turns into a miserable black sludge. But while it lasts it is extremely beautiful, and beauty is worth inconvenience.
Have a lovely week,