Category Archives: lucidity

They tremble in Molenbeek

Lucid: Eric Delbecque

Lucid: Eric Delbecque

Picking up a copy of the Paris newspaper the Monde, Dalrymple comes across a lucid article by Eric Delbecque, who is described as head of the pôle intelligence stratégique de Sifaris and a member of the conseil scientifique du Conseil supérieur de la formation et de la recherche stratégiques.

Dalrymple draws attention to the following passage in Delbecque’s article:

Témoigner de notre soutien sans faille à la Belgique et demeurer lucide dans ce combat de long terme sont nos priorités. Notre arme? Changer enfin de posture mentale dans la lutte antiterroriste et penser autrement: vaste programme.

Dalrymple comments:

So now you know. I bet they’re terrified down in Molenbeek. Henceforth the infidels are going to think differently. From now on they’re going to be lucid. If we don’t look out, they’ll withdraw our citizenship from us after we’ve blown ourselves up—like they almost did in France before the parliamentary opposition to the bill.

An MBA’s idea of intellectual seriousness

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 09.19.55Dalrymple writes that there are two ways

for prose to impress more than it should: by incomprehensibility and by portentousness.

In another post, we looked at how Dalrymple views incomprehensibility as exemplified by the contents of an academic criminological journal. In this post it is the turn of portentousness, a good specimen of which is the British, or mid-Atlantic, Economist news-magazine. The Economist, Dalrymple explains, is

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 09.52.49dull and self-congratulatory,

characterising itself as of

the extreme centre.

Its reports at the front of the magazine do not always coincide with the economic data at the back, and its prognostications are belied by events, yet it manages to convey the impression that the disparities, insofar as it acknowledges them, are

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 09.51.56the fault of the events rather than of the Economist,

and that the world has a duty to be as the Economist says it is and will be. The articles are written anonymously, which is

intended to create the illusion that the magazine speaks from nothing so vulgar as a perspective, but from some Olympian height from which only the whole truth can be descried. It is the saving grace of every such magazine that no one remembers what he read in it the week before. Only by the amnesia of its readers can it retain its reputation.

Dalrymple finds the Economist‘s style dull, and asks how it is that

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 09.38.08correspondents from Lima to Limassol, from Cairo to Kathmandu, write in the same fashion, as if everything that happens everywhere is fundamentally the same.

The Economist, writes Dalrymple, is about as amusing as a speech by David Cameron. Its prose

is the equivalent of Ikea furniture, prefabricated according to a manual of style; it tries to combine accessibility with judiciousness and arrives only at portentousness.

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 09.41.59Dalrymple wonders who reads the Economist, and what for.

I suppose there is a type of functionary who does not want to be caught out in ignorance of the latest developments in Phnom Penh, or the supposed reasons for the latest uprising in Ouagadougou. The Economist is intellectual seriousness for middle management and MBAs. To be seen with it is a sign of belonging to, and of identifying with, a certain caste.

But at least the Economist

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 09.59.15is comprehensible—even, in its way, lucid. Publications for academic intellectuals are far worse.

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 10.01.39

They got that right

They got that right