"Time Is Almost Up! Save 40% On Your Latest Order" Edition
Obligatory shilling. I wrote for UnHerd about celebrities, China and the myth of “fuck you money”.
Cummings and goings. Many people have offered their takes on Dominic Cummings this week, from qualified praise to heated opposition. I liked the emphasis on intellectual eccentrics that he encouraged - and that was hysterically opposed. I worry, though, about the potential for opposition to prevailing wisdom congeal into alternative dogmatisms. For example, I wonder how effective shutdowns and masks - both of which I backed - will turn out to have been. Of course, it is easier to remain undecided when you do not have to make decisions.
Exit. A gun-crazed, Trump-worshipping spin-off of the Moonies are building a commune in Texas, according to Vice. Meanwhile, the great Santi Ruiz reports that a deranged black supremacist group are building a commune in Colorado, called “Hammer City”. Theroux-baiting cults, Petri dishes for a future of separatist politics, or both? Let us at least hope no one is poisoning the soda supplies.
A duty not to think. Freddie deBoer attacks leftists’ refusal to confront unpalatable truths:
Many seem to think that their duty, as defined in the past year of post-George Floyd America, is to simply pretend that crime does not exist as a political issue. They do this supposedly in the name of Black people, ignoring the fact that policing remains popular in the Black community, which is sensible considering that you are more sensitive to property crime when you have less money to replace property and more sensitive to violent crime when you are more likely to be the victim of violence.
I am sensitive to how people of all camps utilise ideological nonconformists from their opposing sides - “even the liberal New Republic”, “even the conservative National Review” et cetera - and don't want to reduce deBoer to an anti-left leftist but I appreciate his independent-mindedness.
Loomers. Some years ago I wrote a piece critiquing the generation of British authors that included Martin Amis, Ian McEwan and Salman Rushdie as “the Loomers”. Matthew Purple takes that ball and runs with it in an interesting piece for American Conservative.
The original jackass. A fantastic interview with Johnny Knoxville - perhaps the greatest showman of the last twenty-five years. Have many other Hollywood performers have been willing to be hit by a car for the love of the game?
Cultural vandalism. Writing for The Mallard, Lola Salem addresses the profound negativism in European high culture:
If our national institutions systematically deflect from the conservation of what makes our cultural backcloth and, ultimately, our identity, we are now in a legitimate position to wonder why we should preserve them in return.
Neurotic men like Ross were not exhausting fun-sponges but lovably vulnerable. Naïvete in the style of Joey or Phoebe made you not abused and exploited but charming. On-off relationships like Ross and Rachel’s were not destroyed but cemented by having a baby. You could be mean, capricious or spiteful, and it was a foible your friends loved and forgave, not something that got you ostracised.
Of course, I was bound to enjoy the article - I’m a fan of Seinfeld. To be fair, if we are critiquing believability I wonder how many viewers of the show where nothing happens came away imagining that you could look and act like George and still attract a string of beautiful girlfriends.
Ivory showers. King's College London has apologised to its staff after committing the unpardonable outrage of including a photo of Prince Philip in an email bulletin. Of course, it is the right which is fomenting cultural war, unlike these balanced, truth-seeking scholarly types who are merely seeking unqualified cultural surrender.
Have a lovely week,