Category Archives: drivel

Uriah Heep meets Ayn Rand

The triumph of self-esteem over self-respect

Dalrymple writes that one of the worst and most unpleasant of human qualities is self-esteem.

He comes across, in a British newspaper (legacy-media journalism in the West has suffered a precipitous decline in quality in the last three decades), some unctuous drivel about ‘kindfulness‘. He likens such bunk to an overdose of the disgusting sweetened drink known as cherry cola. It nauseates him with its invitation to preen and to tell oneself that one is, despite everything, a good person.

Meta-elements and integrated morphologies

The dreadful Maria Fedorchenko: impenetrable drivel unworthy of the faculty of speech

Dalrymple says that it has to be given in full if the reader is to gauge the full monstrous absurdity:

The unit will continue its disciplinary project on the city, engaging with the interdependencies between disparate domains – imagination and reality, concept and form, text and image. We assert the urgency of the evolved visionary project that is rooted in a deep knowledge of the contemporary European city and architectural history. This year we will conflate several scales and levels of work on new models for ‘dis-continuity and coherence’, tackling urban ‘meta-elements’ as architectural diagrams and morphologies. Building upon our previous cities of multiplied utopias and artefacts, ruptured transfers, systems and frameworks and, ultimately, conceptual and spatial playgrounds in space-time, we will allow our pursuit of emerging urban models to inform new phases in the breakdown and re-integration of an architectural object itself. Our search will go beyond straightforward augmentation – of Hyper-Buildings, Super-Blocks and Meta-Streets – as we try to circumscribe and categorise architectural segments of the city. And we will also question previous shortcuts in scale and complexity – from containing diffused fields of architectural particles within mega-frameworks or variations on Arks, Babels and Arcologies, to enforcing and indexing systemic models of accumulation and growth – seeking internally coherent objects-devices that can also tackle fraught issues of monumentality and identity, agency and resilience. To do so, we will need to short-circuit current contextual demands with long-standing disciplinary pursuits – utopias and ideal plans, figure/ground and typology, diagrammatic system and formal assemblage – by exploring unlikely ‘friendships’ and mediations within the streams of precedents (from Filarete to Soleri and Koolhaas; from Boullée to Ungers and Krier). Combining creative methods and processes, we will ‘cycle’ between analysis and synthesis, creative withdrawal and critical re-engagement with the exchange platforms of the unit and the architectural culture beyond it. Emphasising aesthetic achievement and theoretical coherence (as seen in trademark ‘meta-drawings’ and final books), these catalogues of architectural ‘morphs and monsters’ will be embedded within robust Projects on the City – works that reaffirm architecture’s unique capacity to evolve and grow from within, and to effect profound change in the cities and the minds of the future.

Maria Fedorchenko: a mediocrity, a megalomaniac, a corrupter of youth, a spewer of contemptible humbug

Dalrymple comments:

Where there is no meaning, there can be no refutation; and if one asked the author of this verbiage what, for example, ‘coherent objects-devices that can also tackle fraught issues of monumentality and identity, agency and resilience’ meant (how would I recognise such an object-device that can tackle agency and resilience if it came walking down the street towards me?) one would provoke a torrent of polysyllabic gobbledygook that would make ‘Jabberwocky’ read like a witness statement. The author’s mind is like a food mixer, and she creates from pseudo-erudite words a verbal minestrone.

Despite its meaninglessness, it conveys something: the megalomania of the author and her dreadful ilk. She and they claim the right to design the physical world in which we live (because they know best, which is proved by the failure of others to understand what they write), and to mould the minds of the future. She and they are not just architects, but architects of the soul—as Stalin called writers ‘engineers of the soul’. Not satisfied with the supposedly humble calling of designing buildings that are graceful, beautiful, pleasing, harmonious, functioning, etc., they want to be philosopher-queens.

People of good intelligence might laugh at the nonsense, and in a properly ordered world they would be right to do so. It is worthy of nothing other than contempt. Unfortunately, we do not live in a properly ordered world: the lunatics are in charge of the asylum. Despite the most patent evidence of the writer’s terrible combination of mediocrity of mind and overweening ambition, she is a significant figure, a potential corrupter of youth.

Unctuous drivelling bilge from the UN

The United Nations parasites and their poppycock

In Geneva, Dalrymple is handed a pamphlet with the title 170 Daily Actions to Transform Our World, produced by the so-called Perception Change Project of the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG).

On the rear of the pamphlet are the words

The Sustainable Development Goals are humanity’s to-do list for a sustainable planet, a clear roadmap for a better future.

Dalrymple comments:

Are there people in the world who think in words such as these, or who have thoughts that correspond to them? If so, they are much to be commiserated with; it must be an affliction. Compared with UNOG’s totalitarianism, all other totalitarianisms—the totalitarianism of Stalin and his gulag, the totalitarianism of Hitler and his extermination camps, the totalitarianism of Pol Pot and his relocation of city dwellers to the rice paddies—were but local solutions to local problems. According to UNOG, about 6bn human beings have a uniform list of things to do that, presumably, they must all stick with a magnet to the door of their fridge.

To-do list for humanity

Here is one of the 170 things for humanity to do:

Conserve, conserve, conserve. When ice cubes are left over from a drink, don’t throw them away. Put them into plants.

Here another:

Once a month, have a coffee with a person who is different from you, whether in race, beliefs, culture or age.

Dalrymple overfulfils the target:

When it comes to having a coffee with a person who is different from me, I overfulfil practically every day of my life. I have more than one coffee a day with my wife, who is different in gender (as we must now put it), culture, and beliefs from me. I do not wish unduly to boast, but everyone I meet seems to be different from me; in fact, I never meet my clones. And I leave it to readers to decide how easy it is for nomads of the Ogaden to meet their Swiss bankers or some Canadian lumberjacks for their monthly coffee.

Dalrymple asks:

What to do about the unscrupulous hypocrites of UNOG and its Perception Change Project, who imagine that when they are producing this unctuous drivelling bilge they are working rather than parasitising the humanity to whom they give to-do lists?

Dialogue of the Dalrymples

Dalrymple and his wife, also a doctor, have put up at an hotel. It is one of those hotels

in which television is a compulsory accompaniment to breakfast: not a boiled egg without an interview with a gormless footballer or a report on the weather 2,000 miles away relayed with fatuous facetiousness.

He asks the waitress at least to turn the sound off, which she does. However, Dr (Mme) Dalrymple says that Dalrymple

should not have asked, for two reasons.

One, he ought, especially at his age, to accept the world as it is; and two,

perhaps there are others in the room who want to listen to the state-sponsored drivel (it is the BBC).

But Dalrymple argues that his right to silence

exceeds anyone’s right to listen to (or hear) drivel. If they want drivel, they should listen to it in privacy and not impose it on others.

He suggests

a law in which any form of electronically relayed noise is illegal in the presence of any person who does not want to hear it.

Dr (Mme) Dalrymple’s response to this proposal is not recorded.

Clinical governance

Dalrymple remembers a remark by a Bristol professor, that this term

is untranslatable into any other language, including English.

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 13.51.23

A descent into drivel

Dalrymple on a book full of

demotic jocularity

through which

a strong vein of intellectualised humbug runs

by a would-be philosopher whose

vocabulary and tone are of the mid-Atlantic.

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.’

 

Pop music leaks everywhere like poison gas

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The Hook of Holland

It is impossible to escape it, writes Dalrymple, who is travelling by ferry to Harwich from Hoek van Holland. It is also, he says, hard to avoid

the malign flickering of huge screens, relaying drivel at a volume exactly calculated to make it impossible alike to follow it or ignore it. It is as though the ferry company believes that no passenger can bear to be alone with his thoughts, not for a second. Perhaps it is right; I have noticed that people brought up in an age of continuous entertainment find silence disturbing and even frightening.

Prophylaxis against our own thoughts

Screen Shot 2015-12-26 at 08.15.00Dalrymple points out that in many public places, electronic entertainment of a deeply unpleasant kind is compulsory, including

The assumption by the management of these places, he writes, is that rather than being left to our devices, we must have the gap in our minds filled with

  • the weather forecast
  • share prices
  • football results
  • sex scandals
  • scenes of war
  • episodes of soap opera
  • cookery programmes

The stimulation

acts on the mind as a food mixer acts on vegetables.

The secret of the British economic problem

English cuisine

Emetic: English cuisine

A service economy without the service

The British no longer have the faintest idea how to prepare or serve food, either in establishments they are pleased to call restaurants or in their own homes. According to W. Somerset Maugham, the only solution when in England is to eat breakfast three times a day. But the English can no longer manage with minimal competence even to prepare a halfway-decent breakfast.

British eating houses, bar-grills, cafés and other places where dining (of a kind) goes on, from the humblest truck-stop to the most exalted, starred restaurant, are easily the worst in Europe. It is better, for example, to go to bed hungry than to risk an evening meal at, say, an English public house.

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Suburban Tudor

The Moon Under Water it isn’t

Dalrymple is reminded of this when, hungry one evening and with no other dining establishment in the vicinity, he enters a pub (which, like many from the 1920s and 1930s, is built rather pleasingly in the suburban Tudor style), and is greeted by

the flashing lights of fruit machines

and

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 10.45.20numerous large flat screens disposed in such a way that it was impossible to escape them. It was as if one had a duty to watch.

Drivelscreens

At least, he says, they

were all showing the same thing — a football match, football being a 24-hour activity.

Dalrymple dare not complain. British popular culture is

crude, unpleasant and inescapable; if you criticise it, you are taken for an enemy of the people.

The Codfather. Bon appétit!

The Codfather. Bon appétit!

The smell in the pub

was of stale beer and even staler fat in which standard British prolefood had been fried.

He peruses

the grubby menu, a triumph of quantity over quality. The fish dish was called The Codfather, size trumping taste. Everything came with chips, of the frozen variety.

Soupe à l'oignon

Soupe à l’oignon à l’anglaise

The table is

sticky and long unwiped.

Dalrymple orders soup. It is

packet soup which had not been properly dissolved, so that it had little balls in it that if bitten exploded into a kind of salty dust.

He orders steak, and asks for it to be rare. When it comes, it

would have been regarded as incinerated in any other country.

Fried mushrooms: at least their own weight in fat

Fried mushrooms: at least their own weight in fat

The fried mushrooms

contained at least their own weight in fat of some type.

The next morning

I woke with a strange and unpleasant taste in my mouth.

The meal

The flashing lights of fruit machines

The flashing lights of fruit machines

wasn’t even cheap.

This is the vital point. British food is not just atrocious — it is execrable value.

During the meal,

the man who had taken my order came over to my table.

Everything all right?‘ he asked.

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 11.02.01‘Yes, very good,’ I replied.

Dalrymple concludes:

The slovenliness, the bad quality, my pusillanimity: voilà the secret of the British economic problem.