Category Archives: disorder

In Britain, abuse will be tolerated

Compared to the old days, writes Dalrymple, England

has managed the difficult trick of being both much richer and much nastier.

He remembers an Indian doctor in the hospital where he worked half a century ago,

whose exceptional sweetness of character inspired the instant affection of all who met him, telling me that he considered Britain the most civilised country.

No one, Dalrymple points out,

could make that mistake now, not for an instant, for even at the airport at which he arrived he will have noticed prominent written warnings to the British public that violence or abusive behaviour towards staff will not be tolerated: meaning, of course, that in most instances it will be ignored.

From having been among the most self-controlled populations in the world, the British

have gone in half a century to being among the least self-controlled.

Dalrymple notes that the British population is also

the most spied-upon. Britain has almost as many closed-circuit television cameras installed as the rest of the world put together, but they seem to have hardly any effect on the general level of civility. Testifying quite often in court as an expert witness in murder trials, I am astonished to discover in the course of those trials just how much of British life now takes place on camera: every Briton, indeed, spends more time on screen than the most ubiquitous of film stars, whether he knows and approves of it or not.

At the same time,

menace and incompetence have become the twin characteristics of British officialdom.

Dalrymple reflects that societies fall apart when (among other causes)

their ruling élites, political and intellectual, lose faith in their own right or duty to prescribe standards. They become Hamlet-like: the native hue of resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought, and they become persuaded that generosity of spirit and broad-mindedness are the only true virtues, even if they result in paralysis in the face of disorder, with all the accompanying miseries of those who suffer it.

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.