Category Archives: truth-blindness

No wonder Dr Johnson is not in fashion

Engraving from James Barry’s portrait (1778-80)

An incomparably greater psychologist than Freud, having no axe to grind and no sect to found

Samuel Johnson, writes Dalrymple,

  • contrived to be a moralist without moralising
  • was humane and charitable without sentimentality

This is a contrast to today, Dalrymple points out, for

we prefer mental contortions, self-justifications, evasions, rationalisations, and all the other methods of avoiding the truth about ourselves, to Dr Johnson’s discomfiting clarity of mind.

Johnson had a gift, Dalrymple notes, for saying things that were

both startling and obvious. As he himself put it, we have more often to be reminded than informed.

Johnson’s prose style

would no doubt strike many people (if they read it) as formal—we prefer expletives and the demotic now.

Blair’s psychodramatics

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 23.32.03The words good and bad faith, writes Dalrymple, have no application in the case of Tony Blair,

for just as a man who has no concept of the truth cannot be a liar, so Mr Blair, whose mind resembles the Goodwin Sands, is incapable of bad faith because he is incapable of good.

Dalrymple has long puzzled over Blair’s

particular psychopathology, which has irritated me because, while Blair is important, he is uninteresting – apart, that is, from his psychopathology.

Blair’s

cardinal symptom is a delusion of honesty.

He

believes himself to be an honest man, all evidence to the contrary.

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 23.50.04Along with his

peculiar truth-blindness

goes

an invincible sense of Original Virtue. No action by someone possessed of Original Virtue can besmirch him. He will always be able to reply to his accuser: ‘Surely you cannot believe that I acted from discreditable motives? Even if I was in the wrong, I was, in a deeper sense, in the right.’

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 23.51.56