Great Writers Care About Words.
Recently I weighed in a bit on behalf of my favourite writer, Mark Steyn- on threads like this one at Tim Worstall's. I'm sure he'll recover from being pushed out from the British press; in fact I'm sure he'll be back before long, but no-one should be taking liberties with a writer as good as him, least of all the DT and the Spectator.
Anyway, today Steyn has produced another gem for one of his newer syndicators, Macleans, where he writes about books. I loved this observation about the debasement of language:
'When the British hostage Ken Bigley met the same fate, his brother Paul complained that Tony Blair had "blood on his hands." This seemed an especially unworthy accusation when anyone with an Internet connection could see the relevant snuff video with Mr. Bigley's blood on the hands of his killers. Indeed, the key difference between the participants in this conflict is that on one side clichés about "blood on his hands" and "calls for the defence secretary's head" are just that, and on the other they're for real.'
It reminds me of some of George Orwell's concern about the overuse of metaphor in his Politics and the English Language, and this care about language seems to be one that distinguishes great writers from exploiters of words.
Saturday, March 18, 2006
Posted by ed thomas at 5:27 PM
Friday, March 17, 2006
Knowing Where We Stand: Melanie Phillips has lined up a nice snap shot.
As far as I can see it there's only one good thing about the extremism of tolerance and the tolerance of extremism in Britain today: there's certainly a lot for us critics to work with; so much so it's overwhelming.
Meanwhile, Glenn Reynolds says he thinks the Beeb might have pulled her socks up. I think I'd agree with him on that (I was looking at a neat and tidy website today, wondering aimlessly what to be scathing about), but where the BBC have led, others now require no prompting to follow; it's this kind of agenda shaping which makes the BBC the loathsomely self-satisfied organisation it is, and regenerates its desire to shape the agenda anew- which it inexorably does.
I liked this part of another of Melanie's analyses, of the increasing 'choice' of marital states on offer in the West:
'causes and symptoms are inextricably fused so that they all reinforce each other. The more alternative lifestyles become ordained as mainstream, with dissidents treated as social pariahs if they try to uphold traditional moral norms, the more those moral norms are undermined'
She might have added, 'the more the agents of that alteration of perception are encouraged to contemplate the next frontier of attack'. I think what I have in mind is a media appetite, rather than a conscious desire- certainly I don't have in mind a media with any coherent intellectual purpose; in their dreams, perhaps.
I am minded to quote Shakespeare (after googling-up my memory, that is) when I think about the media and our cataclysms of social change:
'Why, she would hang on him, as if increase of appetite had grown by what it fed on.' -Hamlet, I. ii. 144-145
Posted by ed thomas at 7:31 PM
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
But maybe I have been missing things...
Like this from the clever Mr Tall, a draw-latching rogue as some know him, but an astute and valued fellow blogger to me (is there a contradiction there?).
I realise that I'm well out of date on this (it being a news item from about a week ago), but it seems important, in the light of the excision of Mark Steyn from the British press. I heard that Steyn made an appearance on the BBC recently- it would make a nice coup for them if they could sneak him back onto their books somehow. (Of course S.T. Editor Sarah Sands has got the boot too, which is interesting, though I've never valued her journalism. Her picture has always pleased me though).
Anyway, Laban was drawing attention to an interview in the Telegraph with Patrick Sookhdeo, a prominent CoE figure and convert from Islam. The interview was fascinating; but I only read it via Laban's pasting of it onto his blog as the Telegraph has long since yanked it. It was essentially outlining the way the behaviour of Muslims in the UK was following a pattern laid down in the era of Khomeneian radicalism (that's my thought, anyway), in 1980. Rule number one: never dilute your presence.
But I think we need to put this in some kind of context, for it's the context which agitates me.
Let's Beebify it, for a min:
Now, I've no time for Pat Robertson, a US religious celebrity, but I suspect that's why the BBC chooses him to provide a newsworthy story concerning allegations of Islamic plots for world domination. After all, Dr Sookhdeo would bring things too close to home, and Robertson is easily swatted away.
The fact that the Muslim faith does plot such a domination, a political domination, is ignored by the BBC. Instead, they parrot the line that Western tolerance has failed, which is both counter to any reason in the light of terrorist atrocities against the West, and morally defeatist.
The fact is that it is not just by reading the Koran, or by listening to your average Imam, that one can get a general impression of a kind of pressure towards Islamification being exerted. One can get much more specific instances, as Scott Burgess has pointed out regarding the Muslim Brotherhood.
To take a recent example, the leader of the Danish Imams, Abu Laban, met with the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sheikh Qaradawi, during his rabble rousing tour last year.
Here I do not need to suggest conspiracy, I need merely to point to it. And meanwhile the entire British press is heading, along with British Government, down the path of appeasement, willing to sacrifice anything in their conviction that they will find peace if they only apologise to the right people.
Posted by ed thomas at 12:11 PM
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
The 'we are the enemy' theorists.
But first, it's good to be back. Originally I had blogger woes, a kind of 'PACman' phenomenon, for which their email apology was bare comfort. Then, my ISP 'upgraded' my connection. Mmm. Three weeks later, they told me they'd issued me with the wrong password for the new connection, though that was a secondary, follow up problem to their initial failure to run through procedures properly. Mmm.
But things aren't much different, though I've only just discovered that Milosevic is dead. First I saw something about his 'widow', and slowly it dawned on me that he was no more.
Tragic though, is that Mark Steyn seems to have been dumped, or is imminently to be dumped, by both Telegraph and Spectator publications. The news comes through the Guardian Newspaper, in the form of a sympathetic-style commentary from a notebook-type columnist. The Guardianistas will know they've gained a victory, and are channeling their good news through a token sympathist.
The tragedy though is more because Steyn really can write. Not only that, but he has a kind of clarity and sinuous thinking which only genius has, and that's why the boneheads at the Tele and the Speccie couldn't stand it. Steyn's a friggin' genius, for crying out loud! You don't do that to genius unless you're secretly culturally suicidal.
Anyway, to topic, and my beef with the media, specifically the BBC.
Melanie Phillips points out the latest outrage, or should it be idiocy? The Beeb's attempt, via risible leech Michael Crick, to draw an equivalence between Israel's acquisition of the bomb and Iran's.
I know some who would demand an argument that demonstrated the non-equivalence of the two, rather than condemning Iran out of hand. Sorry, I'm not offering that, and I do condemn Iran out of hand. If fantasists want a nice even balance to history and politics then who can stop them theorising such equivalences? Balance is a mantra, a religious thing, a guilt trip where guilty parties are to be found within the story of the West, excepting themselves and their kindred spirits of course as the heroes of the piece. The new Beeb charter is a recipe for more of the same.
Clive Davis also notices something interesting: it's the freedom of interpretation which culturally western leftist conspiracy theorists (I use the term loosely for all those who think that secretly the faults of our culture and history are the root of all world problems today) allow themselves with other culturally western people's actions.
Sickening. Really. And the Telegraph has sacked Mark Steyn. Idiots.
Posted by ed thomas at 9:24 PM