Category Archives: anonymity

Moral delicacy on Facebook

All we want is attention

All we want is attention

The internet and Facebook, Dalrymple notes,

are certainly bringing into prominence the intrinsic decency and sense of fair play of the English,

as well as their

refined use of language.

He cites the Facebook contributions that greeted the reduction of the sentence given to Lee Kilburn. Mr Kilburn, Dalrymple explains,

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 11.58.04is a 42-year-old man of previously good character who was driven to distraction by children who constantly knocked on his door and ran away. His wife had just been diagnosed with a brain tumour. Mr Kilburn chased one of the children who had knocked on his door, and there are two versions of what happened: he says he ran after her, grabbed her and she fell, he fell on top of her and she broke her nose on the ground; she says he punched her and broke his nose.

Mr Kilburn admitted that he had lost his temper and was in the wrong, but denied that he had intended to injure the girl. The judges agreed that there were mitigating circumstances, freed him from jail and suspended his sentence. One response on Facebook to the judicial decision read as follows:

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 11.59.15I’d go inside [i.e. be admitted to prison] just to wrap a quilt round his neck and stab the **** in his skull until his head is drained, no remorse, no mercy, dead! His cell would be covered in red.

Dalrymple comments:

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 12.00.42The moral delicacy of the man who wrote this is evident from his refusal to spell out the four-letter word he wanted to use to describe Mr Kilburn. The line has to be drawn somewhere.

He asks:

Did people have sentiments such as the above before Facebook enabled them to be expressed anonymously in public, or did the possibility of expressing them in public anonymously call them forth?

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 12.02.49

Rottrollen (detail), 1917. John Bauer. Pen and wash

 

The charm of cheap hotels

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 08.00.16The place to be

Between a meat warehouse and a furniture depository

Dalrymple writes that he much prefers

a standardised hotel (the same from China to Peru), with mass-produced pictures of puppies or poppies and showers the size, and often the shape, of a coffin.

He is attracted by the

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 08.08.11anonymity, the fact that there is no social rôle to play, that one is left entirely alone, that there are no demands on one, that — provided one turns one’s telephone off — one is cut off from the world.

Some time ago, mistaking the date of his flight by two days, Dalrymple

had to stay in such a hotel for three nights, and I have rarely enjoyed a stay anywhere so much.

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 08.11.10More recently, he stayed at a cheap hotel near Marseilles airport.

It was situated in between a furniture depository and a frozen meat warehouse. From my balcony, I could observe the traffic passing on a flyover, and listen to its roar. The air outside was polluted, a grey-purple haze hung in the sky over the earth as far as the eye could see, it smelled awful, and no pedestrian ventured along any of the roads leading to the warehouses and distribution centres of the area. How ugly our modern civilisation is, the price to pay (I suppose) for its abundance. And yet I love staying in such hotels in such areas.

The airport hotel: realm of Pure Being

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 07.52.51The monasteries of our time

Dalrymple points to

the dialectic between the frightening disorder of pullulation and the antiseptic order of the airport hotel.

After a date mix-up at the home airport and then the cancellation of a connecting flight at the transit airport, he puts up in airport hotels. He writes:

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 07.55.48

There is nothing to be done in that place

I loved my three nights in these utterly impersonal surroundings. What happy hours I spent stretched out on my bed reading detective novels! (I had taken the  precaution of bringing several old-fashioned green and white-covered Penguins.) I had no computer with me and switched off my mobile phone. I was almost as incommunicado as it is possible to be in the modern world: and this in the middle of an airport through which scores of millions of people pass annually!

Spiritual retreats

Dalrymple’s enjoyment is related to

Pure being: Fairmont Vancouver airport hotel

Pure Being: airport hotel, Vancouver

the anonymity of the place, and a release from the need to be somebody or play a part. There was no social pressure whatsoever; there was no need to pretend or to try to please. Airport hotels are the realm of Pure Being. They are places of spiritual refreshment or retreat. They are the monasteries of our time. Guaranteed nothing to do, no one to meet, perfect calm, food bland enough to reduce eating to a physiological function.

Idiot’s lantern

The one thing you must not do, of course, is

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 08.07.59

Impure Being: Las Vegas

turn on the television that is kept in the modern equivalent of the commode, the television cabinet. How easily the heavenly peace of the room can be turned into one of the circles of hell: at the flick of a switch.

To put the guest-monks out of the way of temptation,

perhaps the television could be removed for the duration of their stay; though more advanced souls could have them in their rooms, much as the Mahatma slept with young girls to test his chastity.