The Buck’s to Blame

The ability of governments to get everything the wrong way round is so commonplace that it should no longer surprise us. It is as if they feared to solve a problem lest they should have nothing to do. The Iraqi government is the latest of many to announce that it will henceforth abandon the U.S. ...

Open Letter From a Closed Mind

For the moment—though for how long, one does not know—the Oxford University Press is sticking to its guns. Good for it! In these days of moral cowardice that is both profound and widespread, even a cartilaginous backbone seems like a rod of iron. The Press says that, despite protests, it will ...

All Things Being Equal

It goes without saying that there should, for reasons of social justice, be full representation of all demographic groups in all human endeavors: for example, in scientific fraud. There is, apparently, a lamentable underrepresentation of women in biomedical research papers subsequently retracted ...

Rich in Kitsch

Hell, wrote Jean-Paul Sartre, is other people; in which case purgatory must be other people’s taste. Every time I feel my misanthropy flagging, I go down to the local bric-a-brac warehouse, grandly called an antiques center, and remind myself of just how dreadful taste can be. It is not merely ...

The Garden of Eden with the Fall of Man by Jan Brueghel the Elder and Pieter Paul Rubens, c. 1615

Oh, the Humanities!

A friend of mine kindly sent me the brochure of a conference of art historians that has just been held at University College, London, which claims to be one of the best academic departments of art history in the world. This claim naturally put me in mind of a line from a poem of Gerard Manley ...

Prince Harry

Gone Mental

Of all the open invitations to fraud ever issued, the concept of mental health must have been among the most successful. In the past, there was the idea of mental hygiene, which conjured up images of experts pouring disinfectant into people’s minds and giving them a good clear-out, but it was ...

Palais Rohan, Bordeaux

A Riot in Bordeaux

As I hope to be able to work till my dying day, I am perhaps not the right person to animadvert on the present disturbances in France about the raising of the retirement age from 62 to 64. My work has always been pleasing to me, and it remains so; I even manage to delude myself sometimes that it is ...

Fuel for Thought

These days, everybody—by which I mean every person who considers himself intelligent and educated—must have an opinion about everything. It would be socially irresponsible, even antisocial, not to be able to opine on each of the thousand burning questions of the day. The natural result is that ...

Remember Dr. Hodges!

The most affecting e-mail I ever received was from a distinguished philosopher of my acquaintance. “All is well,” he wrote, “except that I am dying.” He was not the kind of man to write such a thing unless it were true, and he did indeed die three months later, of cancer. He was a few ...

What Lies Beyond

I do not think ahead a great deal, much less am I a prophet, but I do take credit that for some considerable time I have wondered what would come next when people grew bored with the fashion for transsexualism. I plumped for incest, but Spain, blazing the way to the total liberation of man from all ...