Category Archives: Bowie, David

Flattery of degraded popular taste

Why, asks Dalrymple, should

a newspaper directed at the [apparently] most highly educated portion of a large population devote so much space to the posthumous adulation of [a second-rate, repellently self-aggrandising] pop singer, and treat his activity with such breathlessly awed veneration? Was it sincere? Was it insincere? Is it worse if it was sincere than if it was insincere?

He suspects that

in the extravagance of the coverage there is an element of flattery of the popular taste, that is to say a willing and dishonest suspension of judgment. You can criticise authorities all you like, but when it comes to criticising masses of ordinary people—there the critical faculty must halt.

The will forgone, the self dissolved

Hitler, writes Dalrymple, was offered this kind of abjection:

Like any girl, I’d like to touch him, wherever one went with him there was always a seismic shift, space and time changed.

These are words, says Dalrymple,

of natural, or at least willing, slaves who seek to dissolve their selves and forgo their will for that of some other person.

Apotheosis of the exhibitionist

Dalrymple endures a little of the output of the popular singer David Bownie so we don’t have to, and concludes that its principal characteristic is


The appeal of the lyrics, he says, is to people

whose idea of human suffering is the natural consequence of their own self-indulgence. And this is now a mass phænomenon. We live in societies in which an unprecedented proportion of the total of suffering is self-inflicted.

Incontinent drivel 


Coming across some feminine journalistic hyperbole and exhibitionistic gush about a second-rate rock exponent, Dalrymple reflects on the decline in the quality of the London newspaper the Guardian. He writes: ‘The Guardian used to be a serious organ, recognised as such even by those (such as I) who disagreed strongly with, or abominated, its general stance. But of late it has turned itself into a Hello! magazine for ageing bourgeois bohemians of the transgressive persuasion, with endless articles about the stars of popular culture. No doubt this now relentless downward intellectual aspiration is the result partly of a foolish commercial decision, like the Church of England’s decision to abandon the Book of Common Prayer: but again like the Church of England, there is probably an ideological element to it as well. And like the Church of England, the Guardian will lose its old congregants and gain no new ones.’