Category Archives: ignorance

Bildungsroman

Extract from the opening tale of The Proper Procedure and Other Stories:

The people couldn’t even speak or spell their own language properly, and hardly knew that any other languages existed. They knew nothing of their own literature and cared even less; their pleasures were coarse and brutish, their food revolting, their manners, if such you could call them, appalling. It was not so much that they lacked refinement, these people; rather they hated refinement and persecuted it wherever they found or even suspected it.

Reductio ad Hitlerum

The comparisons of Donald Trump with Adolf Hitler are, writes Dalrymple,

coming thick and fast.

People are far from reluctant

to compare others with Hitler in a non-metaphorical way, or to espy full-blown Nazism on the faintest of analogies.

There is, Dalrymple notes,

a vast and extensive literature to help Americans (and others) to know ‘what it was like to be Jewish in the time of Hitler’, much of it of sufficient quality to supply the imagination; and if really we can ‘start to imagine’ it after ten days of Trump, this would be testimony either to our ignorance or to our lack of imagination, or both—the very ignorance or lack of imagination that allows us to make such outrageously far-fetched comparisons in the first place.

A good tool but a bad master

Dalrymple notes that information (whether true or false) without perspective may be a higher form of ignorance — and a more dangerous form, insofar as it disguises itself as knowledge.

Ik wil alleen duidelijk maken dat informatie (of die nu juist of onjuist is) op zichzelf, als perspectief ontbreekt, een hogere vorm van onwetendheid kan zijn, en een gevaarlijker vorm in zoverre ze zich vermomt als kennis; en dat daarom een enorm magazijn van kennis op zichzelf niemand daadwerkelijk iets zal bijbrengen, hoe toegankelijk dat magazijn ook is voor mensen.

However long you browse the internet, it is no substitute for slow cultivation of judgment and a critical spirit, or for the development of a mature perspective.

Hoe lang je ook surft op internet, het kan geen vervanging zijn voor het langzame aankweken van beoordelingsvermogen en een kritische geest, of voor het ontwikkelen van een volwassen perspectief. Overmatig vertrouwen op gemakkelijk toegankelijke bronnen zou kunnen leiden tot een permanent oppervlakkige kijk op de dingen.

Colonic irrigation courtesy of the taxpayer

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 08.21.48The Department of Health’s tie-up with the Prince of Wales’s Foundation for Integrated Health is, writes Dalrymple,

an invincible alliance between bullying bureaucracy and social snobbery, between administrative cynicism and ignorant folly.

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 08.18.40Providing homeopathy on the NHS

is part of the persistent attempt by the government further to debase and demoralise the medical profession. The point is not to raise the status of alternative medicine, as Prince Charles has no doubt been gulled into believing, but to lower the status of orthodox medicine.

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 08.23.46This is because

doctors are trusted by the population, while politicians most certainly are not: therefore they, the doctors, represent a danger to the politicians. The people who will pay the price for the wicked folly of the Department of Health will be the British people, who will come to be treated by a professional body of uninterested timeservers while their rulers seek first-rate medical treatment elsewhere — that is to say abroad.

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 08.31.08Dalrymple has no objection to irrational whims involving

  • colonic irrigation
  • healing crystals
  • chakras in the earth
  • hopi candles

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 08.20.03But he sees no reason why he or any other taxpayer should fork out for them.

No doubt the Department of Health will present its position on alternative medicine

as being broad-minded and socially inclusive. There is another way of looking at it: the Department of Health is embezzling taxpayer’s funds for partially hidden, political purposes.

Charles II touches a patient for tuberculous swelling of the lymph glands

Charles II touches a patient for tuberculous swelling of the lymph glands

By all means

let the Prince of Wales spread propaganda for his brand of hocus-pocus. Let him touch people for the King’s Evil, if he and they so wish — the revival of the ceremony might add to the gaiety of the nation. But medicine is too serious a matter to be left to amateurs such as the Department of Health.

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 08.26.10Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 08.24.31Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 08.19.33

My hand shakes; I want to interrupt, to shout

Zeven Hoofdzonden (detail), attr. Jheronimus Bosch, c. 1485 or after. Museo del Prado

Zeven Hoofdzonden (detail), attr. Jheronimus Bosch, c. 1485 or after. Museo del Prado

Dogmatism, writes Dalrymple,

is the reaction of those who want to know best but suspect that the metaphysical foundations of their supposed knowledge are shaky. Ambiguity disturbs them: how can there be rational criticism founded on argument and evidence, when at the same time there is no disputing taste? The solution to the tension is to stand behind a stockade of indubitable truth.

The search for certainty

is much more important than the search for truth. I know a man, an eminent writer, who has changed his opinion many times in his long life, often by 180°, but never admits to having done so. He has held every successive opinion with angry intransigence. Challenges by people of another opinion make him turn red with rage: they do not merely differ from him in opinion, they are attacking him personally. It is not true that bigotry is the exclusive province of the ignorant and stupid; there is the clever and well-informed variety, the more dangerous because the less easily recognised.

Dalrymple does not exclude himself.

When someone expresses an opinion that is very different from my own, I often feel a mounting tension, though the subject may be one that, if I am honest with myself, is of little importance or consequence to me. Certainly it cannot harm me that someone thinks differently from me about it; yet my heart begins to beat wildly, and I am sure that my blood pressure has risen. I feel an excitation, I tell myself to keep calm but I don’t succeed; my hand shakes; I want to interrupt, to shout. I am not defending truth, but my opinion. Generally I succeed in controlling myself, but occasionally I do not, especially when my interlocutor is young. I immediately feel ashamed of myself afterwards; I even feel ashamed that, at my age, I am still so little capable of detachment.

Sickness of the modern aesthetic

Moseley School of Art, Birmingham. W.H.Bidlake, 1898. Closed 1975, building now owned by the Association  of British Muslims

Moseley School of Art, Balsall Heath, Birmingham. W.H. Bidlake, 1898. Closed 1975, premises owned by the Association of British Muslims

Dalrymple writes that the main purpose of the art schools of the West appears to be

to corrupt youth.

The art schools

imbue their students with the gratifying notion that originality unhindered by the weight or chains of the past is the highest goal at which they can aim, in the achievement of which ignorance will be a positive aid.

This explains why the exhibits in the graduating exhibitions of art schools

resemble the productions of kindergartens. Rare is the talent that can survive an art school education.

Muslim moral, economic and social sordor

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 23.36.38

Milestones, 1964, founding text of Islamo-Trotskyism

The pain of being in possession of the highest truth yet finding oneself sunk in squalor

The only deliverance, writes Dalrymple, lies in Islamo-Trotskyist permanent revolution, of the kind espoused by Sayyid Quṭb سيد قطب, until the whole world accepts Mohammedanism.

  • All that is not Islamic must be hated and contemned
  • Mohammedanism is the one true religion
  • All that existed before Islam was mere جاهليةǧāhiliyyah or ignorance
  • Real as against pseudo-peace necessitates the acceptance everywhere of Mohammedanism
  • Islam in one country is untenable, just as, for Trotsky, socialism in one country was untenable
  • No consideration whatsoever is due the polytheists
  • A merciless war against the polytheists not only can, but must, be fought

The Dalrympian attitude

  • Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 09.13.54There is no fixed doctrine to which one must subscribe
  • Man is fallible
  • Regress is as much to be feared as progress is to be hoped
  • Human action always has unforeseen consequences
  • Prudence is a virtue
  • Ignorance is always greater than knowledge
  • Those who came before us were as intelligent as we
  • Tradition contains wisdom as well as irrationality
  • Life cannot be lived according to a preconceived plan
  • Wickedness lies in wait for all of us
  • Man is imperfectible