Category Archives: adolescence

Why politicians want to lower the voting age further

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Mila

Dalrymple notes that

the widening and lengthening of education has gone hand in hand with a decline in the civility of discourse.

Adolescence

is the age neither of good taste nor of wisdom, which no doubt is why some politicians want to lower the voting age even further. After all, what many politicians most value in voters is gullibility.

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A state of petrified adolescence

Dalrymple writes that Anthony Burgess, in his 1962 novel A Clockwork Orange, showed that he foresaw

the importance that the youth culture would attach to sexual precocity and a kind of disabused knowingness.

In a rape scene, Alex

meets two 10-year-old girls who, like him, are skipping school, in a record shop, where they are listening to pop music with suggestive titles such as Night after Day after Night.

Their education that afternoon

consists of repeated rape by an already experienced 15-year-old.

Anthony Burgess

Dalrymple notes that it would not have surprised Burgess

that magazines for 10- or 11-year-old girls are now full of advice about how to make themselves sexually attractive, that girls of six or seven are dressed by their single mothers in costumes redolent of prostitution, or that there has been a compression of generations, so that friendships are possible between 14- and 26-year-olds.

The precocity necessary to avoid humiliation by peers

prevents young people from maturing further and leaves them in a state of petrified adolescence. Persuaded that they already know all that is necessary, they are disabused about everything, for fear of appearing naïve. With no deeper interests, they are prey to gusts of hysterical and childish enthusiasm; only increasingly extreme sensation can arouse them from their mental torpor.

Hence

the epidemic of self-destructiveness that has followed in the wake of the youth culture.

Infantile political mania

To give way to political mania is, writes Dalrymple,

to ascribe to politicians more directive power over society than they possess, except under circumstances that, thankfully, are unusual in the West.

It is

to regress to childhood, a time when one believes in the omnipotence of one’s parents who, as adults, seem as if they can do whatever they like—a power to which the child believes he will accede merely by adding years to his age.

Dalrymple doubts, for instance, whether anyone other than an intellectual or, say, the London newspaper the Guardian

ever thought that America had changed utterly and unrecognisably overnight with the election of Mr Trump.

With regard to political apathy, Dalrymple says that it can

give rise to gusts of irrational hope, particularly among the young, who then invest their favoured political figure with the power, or the aura of having the power, to remove the source of all their frustrations (real as these might be).

The rise of Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn,

who thrill the young with their preposterous and dangerous notions, is proof of this.

Purveyor of drivel to the masses

A slob clad in a T-shirt

Dalrymple points out that Mark Zuckerberg

dresses like an incompletely washed slob.

Perhaps, Dalrymple suggests, Zuckerberg

rather fears to appear very different from the masses, in case they get the idea that his product is but a cynical ploy to exploit them.

Slobbery, Dalrymple notes,

is expressive either of an indifference towards others or of an active desire to insult them. It is the expression of a vanity of a different and far worse kind from that of dandyism. A slob is all-important to himself.

As there is slobbery in clothes,

so there is slobbery in manners, which often masquerades as informality.

One possible explanation of the refusal to don more dignified attire

is the desire to remain not forever young, but forever adolescent. Ever since the 1950s, adolescence has been regarded as the peak of human experience, and everything afterwards downhill. If adolescents dress in a certain way, then dressing in a certain way keeps you adolescent.

Trump’s adolescent reply to Streep’s drivel

screen-shot-2017-01-15-at-21-43-25It was only to be expected, writes Dalrymple, that Meryl Streep

should use the Golden Globes to prove her virtue by criticising the president-elect. Donald Trump is a target whom it is almost impossible to miss, and insofar as everyone needs an object of disdain and reprobation, he performs a valuable public service. Even quite bad people can, with some justification, feel morally superior to him in some respect or other.

Streep’s attack, Dalrymple notes,

was neither unexpected nor original.

If she had

come out in favour of Mr Trump’s Mexican wall, and threatened Mexico with war if it did not pay for it, her speech would have been marginally more noteworthy.

As it was, Trump’s response

was the more interesting. He seems to have a rhinoceros hide and a very thin skin at the same time.

Trump replied that Streep was overrated, presumably as an actress. This, says Dalrymple,

was a very adolescent reply. I know nothing of Ms Streep as a person, whether she is good or bad or something in between (as most of us are), and I am not interested; but she is a very good actress, and this would be so even if she were a Nazi, a Communist, a flat-earther, a vegetarian, a spiritualist, a sadomasochist, or a child molester. Her acting ability has nothing to do with the justification of her opinion (or lack of it).

For the president-elect to react

like a child in a playground quarrel is alarming. Someone should take his mobile phone from him. If there is one person in the world who does not have the right of spontaneous free public expression, it is the president of the United States.

God of the utopian adolescents

screen-shot-2017-01-04-at-17-25-17Herbert Marcuse, Dalrymple explains,

popularised the notion of ‘repressive tolerance‘, according to which the freedom to express any opinion without fear of retribution resulted in, or served, repression: it duped people into supposing that they were free. They could say anything they liked, but they lived in a society in which they decided nothing for themselves and in which they were straitjacketed by laws, conventions, moral codes, all to the material benefit of a small élite (Marcuse was some kind of Marxist).

screen-shot-2017-01-04-at-17-31-41This notion,

which was expressed in the dullest of prose, was appealing to utopian adolescents who

  1. wanted to deny that they were the most fortunate generation that had ever lived
  2. dreamed of a life completely without restraints on their pleasure

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Fidel’s fantasy of making the world anew — violently

Dictador Supremo: José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia

Dictador Supremo: José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia

Fidel Castro, writes Dalrymple,

was the José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia de nos jours. Yet Francia had one great merit by comparison with Castro and his admirers: he made no pretence that the régime represented democracy of a higher or better kind than the parliamentary variety. Francia did not pretend that it was a democracy of any kind, and came right out with it: his self-chosen title was Dictator.

Castro was the darling of the intellectuals

partly because, like them, he was so slovenly in appearance, partly because he represented their wish fulfilment (inside every rebel there’s a dictator trying to get out). To rant for hours in front of a captive audience unable to answer or object: what greater bliss for an intellectual?

Admiration for Castro in the West was, of course, from afar. Dalrymple points out that Castro’s admirers

would not have found the régime they affected to admire supportable for a single day.

The admiration in the West

for Castro and his appalling sidekick and potential rival, Ernesto Guevara, was essentially frivolous, more a question of style than of substance. It was the promise of eternal adolescence that the two revolutionary egotists held out that rendered them so attractive at a time when adolescence was regarded as the finest of the seven ages of man.

Alberto Korda with his photograph

Alberto Korda with his photograph

Dalrymple notes that

if the photographer Alberto Korda had not snapped Guevara in an uncharacteristically romantic pose (usually he looked dishevelled and unwashed), the cult would not have existed. This was the face that launched a thousand T-shirts, not to say berets, badges, posters, coffee mugs, car stickers, and other items of kitsch.

Dictador Dalrymple would force

anyone guilty of wearing a Guevara T-shirt to read 20 pages of his writings, which make those of Leonid Brezhnev seem like P.G. Wodehouse.

When Dalrymple contemplates

the printed acreage of praise of Castro by Western intellectuals, I recall the words of Thomas Carlyle with regard to what he calls the gauchos of Paraguay:

These men are fit to be drilled into something! Their lives stand there like empty capacious bottles, calling to the heavens and the earth. ‘Is there nothing to put into us, then?’

Dalrymple:

Yes, there is: fantasies of omnipotence, fantasies of making the world anew, with us in charge.

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Revolutionary egotists

Bob Dylan’s drivel

screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-23-42-55Dalrymple notes that the nasal whine of Bob Dylan, the popular singer, is

the sound of spoilt middle-class-adolescent self-pity.

His supposed poetry is

not merely bad, but authentically awful.

The lines he excretes are

sub–Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

Enduring some of Bob Dylan’s atrocious doggerel, Dalrymple is reminded of what Dr Johnson said when asked whether he thought that many men could have written the poems of Ossian. ‘Yes, sir,’ he said, ‘many men, many women, and many children.

Perhaps next year, says Dalrymple,

the Nobel prize in literature could be awarded to Hallmark Cards.

The dictatorship of libertinism

Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 17.34.55The life’s work of Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister, who has died aged 70, was, writes Dalrymple,

a phænomenon of sociological and social-psychological significance, at least in the Western world.

Lemmy was to the end a rebellious adolescent, emerging as

a senile rebel who could never bear to leave his adolescence behind, proud of his degeneracy unto death. In this, he was an authentic representative of modern psychological development: a short period of precocity followed by a long one of arrested development.

Lemmy is quoted as saying:

I founded the filthiest rock group in the world.

There is in these words, says Dalrymple,

an undoubted tone of self-congratulation. He had done something not just filthy, but superlatively filthy, and therefore, according to his own inverted scale of values, outstandingly meritorious.

Lemmy once said:

If one day we come to live near you, that will be the end of your lawn.

In other words,

ugliness will be my beauty, and furthermore I will impose it on you.

Interviewed once in a place where smoking was prohibited, Lemmy is quoted as saying:

I’ll need another reason not to smoke than that it’s forbidden.

Thus

he was the sole authority as to when, where, and whether to smoke. Others counted for nothing.

When, writes Dalrymple,

one acts a part for long enough, it ceases to be a mere act and one becomes what one pretends to be. The result of careers such as Mr Kilmister’s is to encourage a culture or subculture, almost unique in my experience, lacking all beauty, value, virtue, charm, or refinement. Its apotheosis would be the dictatorship of libertinism in which personal whim would play the part of the supposed word of God.

Hitch’s hormone-disturbed historiography

Christopher Hitchens: lifelong adolescence

Christopher Hitchens: lifelong adolescence

Lying not far beneath the surface of neo-atheist books, writes Dalrymple,

is the kind of historiography that many of us adopted in our hormone-disturbed adolescence, furious at the discovery that our parents sometimes told lies and violated their own precepts and rules. It can be summed up in Christopher Hitchens’s drumbeat in God Is Not Great: ‘Religion spoils everything.’ What? The St Matthew Passion? The cathedral of Chartres?

The emblematic religious person in the neo-atheist books

seems to be a Glasgow Airport bomber—a type unrepresentative of Muslims, let alone communicants of the poor old Church of England.

It is

Amply proved his mettle

Amply proved his mettle

surely not news, except to someone so ignorant that he probably wouldn’t be interested in these books in the first place, that religious conflict has often been murderous and that religious people have committed hideous atrocities.

So have secularists and atheists, and

though they have had less time to prove their mettle in this area, they have proved it amply. If religious belief is not synonymous with good behaviour, neither is absence of belief, to put it mildly.

In fact, says Dalrymple,

one can write the history of anything as a chronicle of crime and folly. Science and technology spoil everything: without trains and I.G. Farben, no Auschwitz; without transistor radios and mass-produced machetes, no Rwandan genocide.