"The World As We Have Created It Is A Process Of Our Linking" Edition
Obligatory shilling. This week I wrote for my paying subscribers about the wave of church burnings across Canada and the subsequent media minimisation.
Gerontocracy watch. Sam Ashworth-Hayes reflects on inter-generational inequality:
When political parties begin to orient themselves along demographic lines, those who find themselves continually on the losing side may no longer find that democratic government is a desirable instrument towards given ends.
It would be foolish to claim that old folk have it easy across the board. Consider, for example, the scale of care home abuse. But Conservative reliance on pensioners is remarkably short-sighted - for the party and, more importantly, for Britain. I mean, what are you asking young people to conserve? Because the triple lock on pensions is not about to bring them flooding to your cause.
The 360 degree test. Ben Southwood reports on the campaign for beauty in urban design:
Buildings that were considered ugly or upsettingly utilitarian by aesthetes of the time are often treasured now. My colleague Dr Samuel Hughes calls this the 360 degrees test: if you ever come upon a Victorian building you consider ugly, perform a single 360 degree turn and you will invariably see a modern building so much worse that you find it easy to forgive the Victorians.
Teflon Coren. In the aftermath of professionally obnoxious middle-aged man Giles Coren expressing his satisfaction towards the death of left-wing journalist Dawn Foster, Foster's fellow left-wing scribe Mic Wright wonders what it would take for Coren to be fired. I am not about to spend my fleeting time on Earth trying to force people out of their jobs but it is interesting how much some people get away with. Coren has called a fellow journalist a paedophile and threatened to beat him up, written (without humour) “fuck the Poles”, spread libellous claims about the Duke of Cambridge, joked about raping and killing his neighbour's son and cheerfully trampled on a privacy injunction. Ninety-nine percent of people would have been fired for any one of these things but Coren has continued grumpily reviewing restaurants and making documentaries about hotels. Am I a little jealous? Of course I bloody am. But I also cannot help wishing that someone with this untouchable status put their luck to less deranged and more interesting uses.
Dopamine-sloshed glorified comments section. Perhaps Giles Coren should read Matt Purple, who is no fan of Twitter:
It may be that we one day regret turning our public square into a dopamine-sloshed glorified comments section overseen by an evil corporation that seeks to carve up and profit off of our attention spans like so many securitized subprime mortgages. But until then, here we are. And so it is that I just spent a day caring that a conservative organization I do not give a damn about uninvited from their conference a porn star I did not know existed.
I suppose it is a dopamine-sloshed glorified comments section. But on the other hand, consider the quality of the articles above it.
The birds began to die. A sad, lovely essay by Elizabeth Bruenig:
I took their feeder down, though I could feel them watching me curiously from the eaves. I wanted to apologize to them, as ridiculous as that sounds. I’m sorry, I imagined saying to them. I love you, but I can’t help you now, only hurt you. Eventually, the sickness will pass, and I’ll refill my bleached feeders and turn them out again, and I’ll stand at my kitchen window and watch the birds go about their business. Until then, we’ve got to carry on.
A great soul. Becca Rothfeld elegantly and incisively reviews a new book about Simone Weil:
Of course, this is not to say that domestication has no uses. Many half-crazy and half-brilliant philosophers have been the beneficiaries of judicious resuscitations. Still, would-be domesticators would do well to distinguish between their own reconstructions, contrived to satisfy to the wants of the moment, and their best efforts to work out what the thinkers at issue actually meant or believed. Weil can be secularized—her insights can be reworked so as to come apart from her theological commitments—but she herself would almost certainly reject such an intervention.
Home front. This week I had the absolute pleasure of meeting one of my readers in my hometown as he passed through Poland. (Thanks for coming Karol!) I often wish I could more easily meet up with my readers, and people I read, but it is a silly thought. I like smaller towns, and especially my own, and also if I had lived in London, or New York, or even Warsaw I doubt I would have got anywhere as a writer. I would have been too overawed. Plus, if I lived there now, having got at least somewhere, I would be in serious danger of hanging around one too many parties and falling in love with my own flatulence.
Still, if you are ever passing through Silesia, let me know!
Have a lovely week,