A pioneering work of classification of the varieties of sexual aberration

Dalrymple commends to his readers Richard von Krafft-Ebing’s 1886 magnum opus, though he concedes that it is somewhat

behind the times.

The number of orientations, Dalrymple notes,

has increased greatly, like the choice of restaurants.

The explicit is the enemy of the voluptuous

Orgies — you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all

Dalrymple notes that an orgy scene is now mandatory in opera productions,

just as doctoral theses in the Soviet Union used to need at least one quotation from Lenin.

Viewing the compulsory orgy scene in a production of Rigoletto (Giuseppe Verdi; first performed 1861), Dalrymple observes that orgies these days

are staged literally rather than suggestively.

It is as if, he says,

the ageing audience has to be reminded of what sex is.

Moreover, he points out, they are done up

like a tableau of Richard von Krafft-Ebing’s Psychopathia Sexualis [1886].

Richard von Krafft-Ebing, author of the dirtiest book ever written

‘Der unerwartet große buchhändlerische Erfolg ist wohl der beste Beweis dafür, daß es auch Der unzählige Unglückliche gibt, die in dem sonst nur Männern der Wissenschaft gewidmeten Buche Aufklärung und Trost hinsichtlich rätselhafter Erscheinungen ihrer eigenen Vita sexualis suchen und finden.’

‘The Paganini of ideas’

Michael Oakeshott, left, on Isaiah Berlin

Parole is disgraceful in theory and unworkable in practice

Justice should not be handed over to psychologists, social workers, or psychiatrists

The only thing parole is good for, writes Dalrymple, is

the employment of large numbers of officials engaged in pointless or fatuous tasks who might otherwise be unemployed.

The parole system is

inimical to the rule of law. To grant or withhold liberty on the basis of speculations, inevitably inaccurate, about what people might or might not do in the future is to reinstitute what amounts to a star chamber. A man is to be punished for what he has done beyond reasonable doubt, not for what some questionnaire or bogus calculation says he has a 70% chance of doing at some time in the future.

For this gross arbitrariness be avoided,

all sentences should be of a fixed length. If they are too short, so be it: they should be lengthened in future for similar crimes.

The merit of Trump’s characterisation of certain foreign countries

Dalrymple writes that the American president succeeded with his remarks in

exposing a contradiction in the minds of his opponents.

Those who objected to his language

were inclined also to object to his proposal to return migrants from those countries to their countries of origin on the grounds that—well, that those countries were as Mr Trump said they were, and that it would therefore be cruel and inhumane to return them there.

The language of stevedores

Insults these days, writes Dalrymple,

tend to be crude and vulgar. Ours is not an age of subtlety, however technically sophisticated it may be. We prefer the elephantine to the feline.

When Donald Trump

reputedly called certain countries by an epithet that I shall not repeat, he was only employing the type of language that, to my regret, is now in very common use even among intellectuals.

Dalrymple says that

we seem either to go in for the false delicacy of political correctness, speaking as if some words were as injurious law-hammers brought down on the skull, or employ the language of stevedores or of building workers.

The brutish Donald Trump

It is, writes Dalrymple,

true that Haiti is in many respects a terrible place, which is why so many people want to leave it. Yet it pained me to hear of it spoken of in such terms, because there is so much more to it than the vulgar epithet suggests. The history of Haiti is a moving one, the people valiant and their culture of enormous interest. I have been only twice, but it exerts a hold on the imagination that can never be released. The tragedy and glory of the country are mixed, and symbolise the tragedy and glory of human life.

If Dalrymple were a Haitian who had fled Haiti in search of a better and much easier life, he

should nevertheless not have been pleased to hear it spoken of in this dismissive way, indeed I would have been hurt by it. I do not presume to know how familiar Mr Trump is with Haitian history, culture, and so forth, although I have my suspicions; and of course he has principally to consider the interests of the United States and Americans, not those of Haiti and Haitians. But what he said was not witty or wise, it was hurtful and insulting. I cannot see the giving of offence by the mere employment of crude and vulgar language as anything but a vice, and it is difficult to say whether it is worse if the person employing it knows or does not know what he is doing. If he knows, he cannot care; and if he does not know, he is a something of a brute.

Dalrymple books a flight

Attempting to purchase an airline ticket online, Dalrymple finds that with each click of the mouse, the cost rises, until it reaches 25 times the advertised fare. He is

angered in a way that I should not have been if the final cost had been asked of me in the first place. I suppose that by now, having bought many such tickets, I should be used to the sharp practice, but I am not. It irritates me.

Dalrymple is aware that he will be charged a card fee even if he uses his debit card. But the airline finds a wheeze to misrepresent its fare. It charges £6 for a seat.

Could I have avoided this charge if I had volunteered to stand rather than sit? I could not: I had to have a seat. In what sense, then, could the original fare properly have been advertised at £X rather than at £X+£6?  In none that I could fathom. I have known British government ministers more honest and straightforward than this.

The website gives Dalrymple what it calls the ‘total cost’ and asks him to press the ‘continue’ button if he agrees to it. He does so, only to discover that the next page has added a further £6 — for reasons that he is unable to determine.

He comments:

Sharp practice, if not outright dishonesty, is bound to grow in a society in which personal trust and honour are replaced by law and the legal adjudication of obligations. Everyone then does what he can get away with, for a reliance on the law as the sole determinant of the permissible destroys all sense of shame. Small wonder that ‘Cheat, that ye be not cheated’ seems increasingly to be the rule by which we live.

Australia’s fauxpology

The situation of the Aborigines in Australia, writes Dalrymple,

was and is tragic, and would still be tragic even had the settlers behaved from the first in the best possible or morally ideal fashion. (It is not in human nature that they should have done so, least of all in a rough-and-ready and very young frontier society.)

He points out that

there is no obvious or easy answer to the problem of a Stone Age people who come into close contact with a vastly superior material culture. Neither total assimilation nor preservation in what amounts to a living ethnographic museum is a complete or satisfactory solution; probably such a solution does not exist, which is the tragedy.

However,

a blanket apology and the granting of group economic privileges is hardly the way to cultivate a sense of personal responsibility in a population now decimated by alcoholism and brutalised by family violence. Quite the contrary: psychologically, if not in strict logic, it will allow a man to beat his wife and blame history.