Category Archives: infantilisation

The spirit is weak: the flesh is willing

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 10.02.00Commitment, says Dalrymple (from 9:55),

automatically, though voluntarily, precludes many other possibilities.

Many people today, he points out,

want to keep their possibilities open for the rest of their lives, as if they were seven years old.

Commitments, it is true, were sometimes broken because

the flesh is weak, however willing is the spirit. But now we’ve reached the stage where the spirit is weak and the flesh is willing. The results are not delightful to observe close up.

The collectivist rot in Britain

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 07.54.19An infantilised people

Its sense of irony, writes Dalrymple, once protected the British population

from infatuation with utopian dreams and unrealistic expectations.

But the English are sadly changed.

A sense of irony is the first victim of utopian dreams. The British tolerance of eccentricity has also evaporated; uniformity is what they want now, and are prepared informally to impose. They tolerate no deviation in taste or appearance from themselves.

The pressure to conform

to the canons of (lack of) popular taste has never been stronger. Those without interest in soccer hardly dare mention it in public. A dispiriting uniformity of character, deeply shallow, has settled over a land once richer in eccentrics than any other. No more Edward Lears for us: we prefer notoriety to oddity now.

The English are no longer sturdily independent as individuals, either. They now

feel no shame or even unease at accepting government handouts. (40% of them receive such handouts.)

Many Britons

see no difference between work and parasitism.

They are left with

very little of importance to decide for themselves, even in their private spheres.

The State

  • educates them (at least nominally)
  • provides for them in old age
  • frees them of the need to save money (doing so is in many cases made uneconomic)
  • treats them when they are ill
  • houses them if they cannot afford housing

Their choices

concern only sex and shopping.

No wonder, says Dalrymple, that the British

have changed in character, their sturdy independence replaced with passivity, querulousness, or even, at the lower reaches of society, a sullen resentment that not enough has been or is being done for them. For those at the bottom, such money as they receive is pocket money, reserved for the satisfaction of whims. They are infantilised. If they behave irresponsibly it is because both the rewards for behaving responsibly and the penalties for behaving irresponsibly have vanished.

Such people

come to live in a limbo in which there is nothing much to hope or strive for and nothing much to fear or lose. Private property and consumerism coexist with collectivism, and freedom for many people means little more than choice among goods. The free market, as Hayek did not foresee, has flourished alongside collectivism.

The MTV of museums

Exhibits at the Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism, Leningrad

Exhibits, Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism, Leningrad

Dalrymple pays a visit to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa,

a giant amusement arcade.

Wording on one of the exhibits invites Dalrymple to

hold a sound-shell to your ear, press the button and hear some freaky, weird stuff about nearby creations.

Exhibits

Exhibits, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington

Here are some of the museum’s hectoring slogans:

  • Everyone has a place at our place
  • Where there are people there is art
  • Is it treasure or junk? Everyone has an opinion
  • Home is where the art is

These, says Dalrymple, are

a little reminiscent of the museums of religion and atheism in the Soviet Union.

If, he writes,

one has the mentality of a child of limited intelligence and curiosity, one might have been amused or kept out of trouble for a while, but nothing more.

Not a museum at all

What sort of person runs such a place?

Certainly not a curator, because no detailed knowledge of any subject is necessary. A casino owner, perhaps.

This travesty of a museum is

the institutional exemplar of the lowest common demoninator turned into official cultural policy.

As a small concession, on the third floor,

in a bare concrete gallery, ill-lit and unadvertised, there are two rows of paintings. There are no signs to say what they are, or who they are by. For a small and young nation, not entirely sure of its cultural identity, New Zealand has a considerable tradition of painting: but the visitors to this gallery are made to feel that, by visiting it, they are doing something almost illicit. There is a dirty-postcard feel to the gallery.

Children’s tastes should be educated and not indulged

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 22.40.33The postage stamps on a couple of letters Dalrymple receives cause him ask whether the French posts are

merely reacting to, or creating, public taste.

He finds the message of the stamps

bureaucratically condescending and infantilising.

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 22.40.49The stamps’ crudity of design and colouration

is part of a general trend to the use of such designs and primary colours. One has only to think of McDonald’s restaurants or the logo of Toys ‘R’ Us.

Children’s toys

E.H. Shepard

E.H. Shepard’s rendering

are now largely of plastic in the brightest reds, blues, greens and yellows. Public playgrounds have slides and climbing frames in the same colours.

The iconography of Winnie-the-Pooh

has changed from the subtle and tender drawings of Ernest Shepard to the crude and highly coloured Disney drawings.

Children

are attracted naturally by bright colours, of course. That is why their tastes should be educated and not just indulged, or we will end up with a world of Bonnes vacances.

Disney

The Disney version

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 23.06.24Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 23.09.22

Anglo-Saxon gastronomic impoverishment

British culinary imbecility British culinary imbecility

Dalrymple writes:

I happen to dislike prepared foods, though more on æsthetic than on health grounds; I see what people choose and am appalled by their choices, which seem to me to be those of overindulged children who have never matured in their tastes.

He has

no real objection to regulation of the sugar content of prepared foods, provided it was done on intellectually honest grounds. Those grounds would not be that people are incapable of acting other than as they do, but that they are too idle to cook, their tastes and pleasures are too brutish, their habits too gross, for them to be left free to choose for themselves. Someone who knows better must guide them.

I don’t shit in doorways

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 08.14.30I don’t piss in my pants.

I get on, I validate.

The things that piss Dalrymple off

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 08.20.45The targets in Petit traité d’intolérance: Les fatwas de Charb are often worthy ones, writes Dalrymple.

In ‘Death to instructions written in the first person!’, Charb complains about the increasing tendency of authorities in Paris to issue directives thus. Buses do not say on their liquid crystal screens ‘Validate your ticket or face a fine’ but ‘I get on, I validate.’

This

infantilises the population and turns the city into a giant primary school.

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 08.33.01It also

adds its mite to the miasma of untruth in which we now increasingly believe that we live. For the fact is that many people get on and do not validate their tickets; on a crowded bus in Montreuil recently I was, in fact, the only person who validated his ticket, which made me feel like one of those persons in a Bateman cartoon. And on the Paris Métro one often sees young people vault over the barriers to avoid payment, and no one ever confronts them.

Washington’s grab for power

To treat addicts as people to whom something has happened rather than as people who have decided to do something is, writes Dalrymple,

to infantilise them. It is another small step in the transformation of the population into wards of government….This…is what some politicians hanker for, a people without powers of decision for themselves, a people without resilience.