Obligatory shilling. This week, for my paying subscribers I attempted to drill down on one specific pathology of “woke” politics: framing universal human weaknesses and evils as being unique to “white supremacy”.
Also for my paying subscribers, I wrote a bonus post responding to Paul Crowley about arguments, morality and porn.
Also for my paying subscribers, I wrote an extra special super bonus post about Ernest Hemingway, Chris Benoit and brain damage in history and culture. Sometimes I write 75% a piece and realise that editors are going to ask how it is relevant or newsworthy. And then Substack comes in.
European super greed. Plans for a “European Super League”, presumably created by the most internationally recognisable clubs to cash in on global markets, have caused uproar across the football world. There are interesting parallels with broader political and economic issues here: greed at the expense of principle, scale at the expense of place, and market concentration at the expense of competition. But also with broader political and economic issues, actions will speak louder than words. Will aggrieved supporters vote with their feet, stop supporting the big clubs, and start to back the little guy? Perhaps. But I'm not sure I would bet on it.
Face value. A pretty young woman who became popular on Japanese social media networks for taking photos of herself with her motorbike has turned out to be a middle-aged man using FaceApp. This is creepy, but, one must admit, also hilarious: he knew he could get more attention as a babe than as himself.
Less amusingly, a man profiled by Vice for “colourising” photos of the victims of the Khmer Rouge has been exposed for adding smiles, perversely and absurdly, to their faces. That we cannot take images at face value is almost too obvious to say. We have all seen the photos of Stalin with and without Yezhov. But the simultaneous sophistication and accessibility of tools of visual imposture will create a vast and rich new field of fakery.
Religion and modernity. The always interesting commentator Razib Khan discusses India and Hindu nationalism:
Just as Salafism and Islamic fundamentalism is a reaction to modernity and development, so Hindu nationalism is less an atavism than a new movement that emerges from a synthesis of traditional Indian religion with the modern world and its demands.
OxyConsequences. At American Conservative, Helen Andrews reflects on the Sackler family and the opioid epidemic:
The point is that the opioid epidemic was something that was done to Middle America. They “trusted the science,” as we are now constantly exhorted to do. OxyContin was marketed to them and subsidized for them as a safe alternative to morphine by people who knew that it was not.
Having a normal one. Professional idiot Jameela Jamil has attempted to mock concerns about putting young children on puberty blockers by insisting, bizarrely, that when she was at school “loads” of girls were prescribed them to treat “very heavy periods”. Whenever some radical, ahistorical agenda is being pushed, progressives are very keen to frame it as normal and unexceptional and its opponents are weird, obsessive, pathetic, mean et cetera. You're concerned about children being put on drugs amid the unprecedented rise in cases of a little-understood condition? What is wrong with you?
The grandest tapestry. Elena Attfield writes movingly for Athwart about the silent harms of light pollution:
As the great Macarian Homilies exhort us, the created Sun and Moon cry out to be seen, “given for man to gaze upon and be filled with awe.” Similarly, wrote the American transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson, do each one of the stars evoke for man the grandeur of God that is impressed into the world around him.
Peterson and God. Jane of Ubique Naufragium Est has a take on Jordan Peterson's elusive agnosticism, and agnosticism in general, that is warmer than mine, and touchingly expressed:
Gratitude, for Peterson, is the greatest thing you can feel, and more often than not you have to make yourself feel it. In the interview with Rubin, still in near-constant pain following months of grave illness, he wept as he said so.
Gaddafi, Existentialist. My friend Charlie Nash sent me his little book exploring the Libyan eccentric as a sort of international exemplar of what Colin Wilson - apparently his favourite author - called “the outsider”. Step back from his moral record and the Colonel was certainly a fascinating historical figure - fascinating because of how against history, in the deterministic sense, he seemed.
Have a lovely week,