New Pugs Club Member?

Our cleaning lady in France brings her dog with her. The dog has been a great solace to her during a difficult stage in her life. She bought her from a breeder who used her as a mother of puppies, but since she (the dog) was well past her peak fertility, the breeder had no further use for her and ...

For Goodness’ Sake

Some years ago, in Australia, I appeared on a platform with a prominent intellectual, many times more famous than I. We were asked what it took to be good. The famous intellectual, who had had a brilliant career, answered that in order to be good, you had to be intelligent. When my turn came to ...

Hive Mentality

It is said that there is a world shortage of bees, but it has not so far affected our house in France, where most summers, when we return, we find a swarm that has constructed a nest between one of the windows and its shutters. They are magnificent and elegant constructions, these nests, and they ...

Why AI?

Today I received a most kind, unsolicited offer on the internet to “amplify my potential” with, or by, ChatGPT. At my age, however, I think it’s a little late in the day to “amplify my potential”: I have reached, or failed to reach, whatever little potential I ever had. The kind offer ...

All the Charm of Hyenas

Driving through what my sister-in-law calls la France morte—the France that is dead—my wife and I were struck by the peculiar gloom of so many of the small country towns that would once have provided services for the farmers of the surrounding agricultural areas. Now the towns’ principal ...

Bus Stop Blues

Politeness is a virtue. But, as with all virtues, it becomes a vice when carried too far. It is not merely that it can be oleaginous; it can be pusillanimous, the cowardly avoidance of uncomfortable disagreement when such disagreement becomes necessary. These thoughts came to my mind at the bus ...

The Common Cukoo

World Gone Cuckoo

Sigmund Freud’s notion of a death instinct always seemed preposterous to me, but now I am not so sure. At any rate, there seems to exist a death wish, and in the Western world it has become almost a matter of mass hysteria. It takes various forms, each with its own rationalization. Man, after ...

Conversations With Cabbies

Many a foreign correspondent, sent to an obscure country of which he knows nothing but which has suddenly drawn the world’s attention to itself by a terrible but soon-to-be-forgotten crisis, has based his report from the country on what the taxi driver told him on the way from the airport to the ...

A Capital Offense

Last week I reviewed a book published by an American academic press—it hardly matters the title or author, for in the respect to which I wish to draw your attention they are almost all the same these days. With few exceptions, they capitalize the word black when it refers to a person, while ...

Martin Amis

Martin Amis and the Lower Depths

When I learned that Martin Amis, the novelist, had died, I felt a stab of sorrow. I did not know him personally, and heard him speak only once, at the memorial service for an acquaintance of mine. He spoke well, but it was not an occasion for rhetorical brilliance. He behaved like a perfectly ...