Sunk in a slough of despondency, I had decided to devote no more time to metaphorically gnashing my teeth over the hardly credible Muppet Show masquerading as our new government.
But … a friend, Chris R, also in despair, has drawn my attention to an excellent piece by Fintan O’Toole in the Grauniad. O’Toole writes for the Irish Times, and was on Channel 4 News last night offering some highly intelligent comment on the ‘new kids on the block’. You can read his piece here:
A brief extract: “Boris lies” is like Jonathan Swift’s “Celia shits”. Have I got news for you? No. Everybody knows already.
His (O’Toole’s, not Swift’s) thesis is that people want to be lied to; they want to be told that Boris will fix it. He has told them that it will all be alright, so they are prepared to suspend disbelief.
That masterful dystopian novel 1984 articulated the philosophy perfectly in the concept of Doublethink – the ability to hold two contradictory, mutually exclusive views simultaneously. God knows what Orwell would make of the current situation.
Then, I received an email from the London Review Bookshop who have just reissued a pamphlet: Boris Johnson, The Beast of B******, A Study in Depravity by Heathcote Williams. I have not read it yet, but I am intrigued: “Dishonesty, hypocrisy, incompetence, violence, ‘remorseless self-promotion’, racism: ‘a ruthless and often cruel ambition together with an elitism and a ferocious temper when challenged’” I blame Stanley Johnson …
The ‘Celia shits’ quotation is from Dean (of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin) Swift’s highly amusing poem The Lady’s Dressing Room which can be found here:
I have a simple message for any member of the Conservative Party who has conspired to bring about this farce: may you live to regret the part you have played in making this country the laughing stock of the entire world …
I am currently researching the writings of a 19th century cleric and JP, whose astronomical theories regarding Silbury Hill and the stone circles at Stonehenge and Avebury are so absurd, so completely beyond the realms even of science fiction, that in spite of his Oxford MA, I really do wonder whether he was educationally subnormal.
The Reverend Edward Duke was justifying his theory that the ancient Britons had built Silbury Hill – a large conical mound to the west of Marlborough – to represent planet earth, with the twin stone circles (now disappeared) at Avebury representing the sun and moon, and Stonehenge representing the planet Saturn …
Duke had read in a book, Recreations in Astronomy, that the earth is an oblate spheroid – a flattened sphere – and was concerned that people would argue against his designation for Silbury Hill, because a cone was quite unlike an oblate spheroid. He apparently ignored the devastatingly obvious fact that you cannot build an oblate spheroid of the size of Silbury Hill out of chalk and turf …
He said, in justification of his theory, ‘those early astronomers … may not have been quite cognizant of the shape of the earth …’ Quite so.
I was reminded of Mr Duke and his theory when reading the Daily Telegraph today – I do only buy it for the puzzles, but I could not avoid an editorial commendation on the front page:
Mr Johnson believes in B*****, but also in the greatness of this nation and what it is capable of. We urge readers with a vote to support him
I am a patriot, and I too believe in this nation. One of its great attributes is that it supports and nourishes people like Edward Duke and Boris Johnson. I am not at all sure though, that it could survive either of them becoming prime minister …
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs