Category Archives: sensation

Indispensable faculty in those who would produce great art

Joyce’s Ulysses on one of the shelves of the personal library of Theodore Dalrymple, Ardèche, 2017

Dalrymple points out that self-censorship

does not at the moment enjoy a very happy reputation. It is associated in our minds with an avoidance—a cowardly or dishonest avoidance—of difficult or dangerous subjects: the intellectual nullity of contemporary Islam, for example, or the nature of transsexualism.

However, he argues that the faculty of self-censorship is

indispensable in those who would produce great art.

It is the sense

not merely of what should be left out, but of what should not be said.

Without self-censorship, we enter

an arms race of vulgar sensationalism.

El Greco, El expolio, 1577-79, sacristy of Toledo Cathedral

Inside the mind of a Belgian suicide bomber

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 09.11.50Watching some Swiss television

for the first and possibly last time,

Dalrymple views a report on Muriel Degauque, the first white European suicide bomber. Born and raised in Charleroi, she was a child of ordinary working-class parents.

The television underlined this with lengthy shots of her dreary childhood neighbourhood. Even a few seconds looking at it on a screen was almost enough to provoke an existential crisis.

Her life was unremarkable, said the television report.

She was average at school, then worked in a bakery. People who knew her emphasised that she was an ordinary person—the last kind of person to act in such an outrageous way. There was nothing in her life out of the usual. True, she went through a period of sexual promiscuity and drug-taking, but when she converted to Islam—cut to a Muslim area of Brussels—she gave up drugs and was faithful to her Moroccan husband. So really, the commentary concluded, the whole episode was mysterious and inexplicable.

But only, writes Dalrymple,

in the sense that all human conduct is, in the last analysis, mysterious. Actually, the suicide bomber reminded me of the lost and bewildered young whom various Christian sects would look for as they scoured our streets, trawling for recruits into their all-embracing communities. These communities happened to make lots of money for their founders but really did rescue some young people from the gutter.

The television commentary

made no connection between Degauque’s promiscuity and drug abuse on the one hand and her subsequent conversion to a murderously puritanical form of Islam on the other (she wore the most extreme of veils).

Yet it requires little imagination, says Dalrymple, to make such a connection,

for one interpretation of her former life was that she sought to fill a void, a lack of purpose or interest, with sensation. Once the self-defeating nature of this was obvious to her—and nothing suggests that she lacked intelligence, despite her mediocre academic background—she became vulnerable to a ‘complete’ answer to life’s problems. Her death demonstrated, to herself and to others, how deeply (or desperately) she believed in it.

Her problem—a lack of meaning in her life—is

far from unique. Millions of people are in the same or similar position. That is why Europe cannot afford to be complacent about it.

Loathsome poll-tax-funded purveyor of pap

The idiot's lantern

Moral idiot’s lantern

The corrupt British state broadcaster

The contempt of the upper echelons of the BBC for the intelligence of the British public could not be better illustrated than by its website, writes Dalrymple.

His experience of those working at the lower levels of the organisation

is of intelligent, dedicated and often talented people frustrated in their wish to do a good job by the mandate from the top to produce prolefeed, a pabulum of sport, gossip, celebrity and trivial sensation.

Compared to the BBC’s website, the Daily Mail‘s is

like a work of the deepest and most serious scholarship.