AN EXPERT ON THE CRITERIA OF JUDGING ARTISTIC BEAUTY
“Since the 1960s and all the rest, we have a new kind of art which is repudiating beauty and putting ugliness in its place. I’d say it’s an ‘art of desecration’” which looks to “desecrate the human form” - the late Sir Roger Scruton
There is a mental giant who has contributed quite a lot on this blog recently who’d probably claim, like he claimed with Elizabeth Lev, that anything the late Sir Roger Scruton had to say about art and beauty is simply one person’s opinion, nothing more ....and Sir Roger’s views on art and aesthetic philosophy is in no way more significant or more valid than the views on art and beauty of a 16 year old boy obsessed with misogynistic and homophobic rap lyrics and pornographic Japanese comics.
Scruton: “Intelligent people don’t see a problem in seeing that there can be truths which lie beyond the reach of scientific argument and there can be truths whose content was only revealed through a way of living – that’s the task of theology and philosophy, to make that clear,” he says. “But ordinary people don’t see religion in that way. For them it’s a matter of basic certainties. Certainties are very hard to rediscover once they’ve been lost.”
1. There are many intelligent people who do not subscribe to the notion of "truths which lie beyond the reach of scientific argument." There are many who do, and I count myself among them. It is unfortunate that Scruton seems to have chosen to describe those who disagree with his views as unintelligent. It is an unnecessary and, probably, unhelpful slight.
2. Divinely revealed truth gives us certainty. For example: the Lord Jesus has overcome the power of sin and death. Created nature, itself an expression of the Divine, gives us certainty. For example: every living thing eventually dies.
Those who seek certainty from other sources will, eventually, be disappointed. Is is "certain" that this kind of painting or music or architecture is "best" or "most beautiful"? No, that is not certain. Is this or that author or singer or this ballet dancer is the "best"? This, also, is not a certainty.
Artistic expressions of any kind change over time for a variety of reasons. In architecture, form tends to follow function. The flying buttresses, as beautiful as they may be, of the Gothic style cathedral largely disappeared when the useful function of steel in construction was introduced. When painters "invented" linear perspective (maybe Brunelleschi or Masaccio) much of what had been certain in painting changed. Paul Cezanne understood and represented perspective in a different - not necessarily "better" or "worse" way.
Scruton's views are significant expressions of his preferences, his judgments, his likes and dislikes. Many would agree, many would disagree.
I am a person who has been declared legally a “reasonable man” and I hearby declare and affirm that while my sanity and common sense is not sufficient to definitively judge what is great art, my sanity and common sense IS sufficient criteria for me to objectively state which attempts at sacred art are NOT likely to confuse, sadden or shock almost all who first view it and also will NOT almost simultaneously launch a 101 mocking jokes !!
Next year I am willing to offer my services to the Vatican free of charge as an expert on distinguishing so-called sacred art that has the capacity to both offend and upset large numbers of believers and elicit worldwide mocking laughter from those sacred artworks that do not have that very rare capacity.....
Dear Anon at 2.53pm,
I am amazed at your learning AND your insights!
I myself have completed second year university courses in intersectional feminism, critical race Theory and critical fat studies.....
Would you agree with me that all that can be said about all Mr Scruton’s published books, essays and articles on art, aesthetics and philosophy is that all they contain is the ideological assertions of a straight, white, western male seeking to maintain the oppressive, racist, western patriarchy and notions of whiteness and that even the reputation of the now late Mr Scruton as a significant philosopher and intellectual is fundamentally and merely a cultural and linguistic construct in the service of the power still held by traditionally privileged and oppressing groups in the UK and the USA?
I eagerly look forward to your opinion of my learned insights, dear Anon!
I'm sorry, who is "Sir Roger," and why does he get away with calling himself an "expert," and why does his opinion matter to any of us?
You almost match here the wonderful Titania Gethsemane McGrath in her latest book and on on Twitter!
You know Titania? The militant intersectional feminist, vegan, eco sexual woman, who regards herself as a better poet than Shakespeare....and who wrote a groundbreaking dissertation on technopaganism and the corrosive nature of cis-masculine futurists! .....?
By the way, I wonder if the recent superb Vatican nativity scene could be classified as non cis-gender technopaganism ? Possibly?
I’ll have to ask dearest Titania her opinions on this...
Isn’t it wonderful to have another Woke contributor here who in over 3,000 recent words on this blog has in part articulated an intellectual foundation for the slam poetry of Titania McGrath to indeed be regarded by scholars as at least equal to Shakespearean sonnets !!
With the combined skill of Aristotle and Wittgenstein he has shown that anyone who tried to uphold the superiority of Shakespearean sonnets over Titania’s postmodern slam poetry would not have an intellectual leg to stand on !
Betty - Having read nothing of Scruton save what was posted here, I can't comment on his other works.
Have a nice day.
This is hilarious! I love how a tedious, verbose debate on by what standards something can be regarded as good sacred art has descended (or ascended?) into very clever, anarchic humour, mocking the madness of woke "scholarship"...and I love the allusions too...ie the names of characters in Evelyn Waugh novels. Well done!
I thought you were a minor character in Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honour trilogy? And Ivo, if my memory is working okay today, I recall that during your incarnation in Sword of Honour you were very far from being a “reasonable man” in any legal sense ....as in one of the 3 novels in this trilogy you were the brother of the aristocratic, old Catholic family type : Guy Crouchback......and you would sit in silence in your gentlemen’s club staring intently out the main window for endless hours, and you were regarded as quite loopy, until you went completely insane, locked yourself in a cottage and starved yourself to death......anyway.....welcome to Southern Orders Blog, in terms of standpoint epistemology - ie your wise view and special knowledge of the world as determined by being a member of an oppressed group, ie the clinically insane, - we especially look forward to your future contributions to this blog.....
No one is confusing Anonymous K with being a mental giant
I'd like to puncture this festival of anonymity by actually owning my comments by name.
I'll let the anonymous army sort out the validity of Scrutons comments, but I will admit that I enjoy his commentary and was saddened to learn of his death a few months ago.
Watching him illustrate his positions with visual examples is much more powerful. I recommend watching this video:
OOPS! Wrong Video! I meant to post THIS one:
Roger Scruton: Why Beauty Matters
Roger Scruton came to prominence in the 1970s as a heavyweight philosopher who happened to be - horror of horrors! - a conservative. The Left tried to make him out to be a maverick, but he did much to energize the intellectual Right which now seems to have the best of the argument, although the Left still dominates the world of academia and the media.
In the realm of aesthetics he is probably the most important philosopher since GWF Hegel lectured on the subject at Heidelberg and Berlin in the 1820s. However, his thought was wide-ranging and he was a talented pianist and composer.
An interesting reference to Titania McGrath, the creation of British comedian and satirist Andrew Doyle.
Andrew Doyle is more than a comedian and satirist. He is a former teacher, academic and playwright and holds degrees in English literature and a doctorate in early Renaissance poetry from Oxford.
Doyle more than anyone knows the extent that the Left dominates not just the world of academia but is also incredibly dominant in primary and high school education.
Have you followed at all what has recently being going on at Eton, of all places, with a teacher sacked for expressing critical opinions on radical feminist orthodoxy in his own time on social media? And a group of parents, of Eton students, deeply concerned about the progressive, leftist, Woke ideology, “akin to a religious fundamentalism”, being pushed on their sons; and how the present Eton headmaster has even allowed GLI workshops to take place at Eton where it is dogmatically put to teenage boys how terrible “toxic masculinity” is and how traditional views on gender have young males, especially, repeatedly acting in ways that are harmful to themselves and others.....
It is incredible how widespread this is and how most parents of school age children don’t have a clue about what is going on now in schools almost everywhere, including the private Catholic school my two daughters attend. It is easy to laugh at what “Betty Bollard” expresses in one lengthy sentence above, but “Betty” there largely sums up the ideology held by most people at present teaching our children everything from literature, history, religion and sex education...
In our diocese, 2 Catholic priests are attempting to fight against the basic ideology of modern, leftist gender studies (gender fluidity and gender as a social construct etc) influencing sex education in Catholic schools and fighting against Catholic children being resocialised to accept Woke, leftist cultural values and modern identity politics as established facts.
Thank you for enlightening me.
What I see here is that Sir Scruton is entitled to lecture us on beauty because he is
B) Enslish and
Because conservatives and the English have created so many of the beautiful things in the world, I guess. (Sarcasm).
Heaven forbid we consider the things created by an Italian homosexual (like Michelangelo).
I wanted to quote the following as what is described has to varying degrees occurred in government AND Catholic schools in our city over the past decade..
From an article by an anonymous 18 year old former Eton pupil:
“.....a new boy arriving at Eton this year will have noted the prefects wearing school-issue Black Lives Matter waistcoats and have noticed how much of what was formerly painted Eton Blue is now painted BLM Black. In October, a Black History month was celebrated and during LGBT Pride Month the Rainbow Pride flag was was flown on the school’s official flag pole. At Eton now, homosexual people are not seen as individuals who happen to be gay, but as part of a monolithic community with the same aims, the same politics and the same beliefs. The great ‘awokening’ has fully arrived at Eton; it has now embedded itself in the school’s curriculum and policies. The teacher who was sacked for posting a lecture online which disputed Woke dogmas on gender and ‘the oppressive patriarchy’ was a brilliant and popular teacher. As it was wisely said last week: Eton is meant to be a bastion of learning and free speech - NOT a place for cult of Woke groupthink.....George Orwell went to Eton. What would he think? 1984 was meant to be satire, not a how-to manual......under the present headmaster, who many boys refer to as ‘Trendy Hendy’, 2020 will be remembered as the year Eton capitulated to the plagues of left-liberal society where intolerance is dressed up as tolerance, bullying is cloaked by moral self-righteousness and where there is now an uncritical acceptance of the doctrines of radical political movements.....”
I wonder how more people in ‘the Eton community’ are not aware that if ever the hard core anti capitalist, anti traditional nuclear family, Marxist activists who established BLM ever fully come to power places like Eton would probably be burnt to the ground.....the current changes could never atone for the fact this school produced over centuries political leaders, they believe, responsible for colonialism, slavery, oppression of women and the general persecution for centuries of racial and sexual minorities.
Would you claim that this young man is only regarded as a person entitled to lecture us on the recent “awokening” of Eton because he is:
A - conservative
B - English
C - conservative.
Actually, we don’t know if this young man is conservative; he may be politically centrist or even possibly moderately left of centre politically, but a young man who has problems with the ideology of the intolerant and extreme pathological Left. I think a distinction should be made between what remains of the sane, truly liberal left (which is primarily still concerned with unemployment and unfairly low wages etc) and the radical pathological Left, which is mainly made up not of working people but very largely made up of privileged, university educated middle class people. I thought the following quote says a lot:
Actually, nothing horrifies the leftist Woke elites more than the noises made by many working class people. Whether they are saying “Let’s leave the EU”, complimenting a member of the opposite sex on the street or shouting out to millionaire footballers to “Get up!” when they take a knee for BLM before a big football game.......again, the real sounds and statements of the real working class throng often have much of the chattering, middle class Woke elites reaching for their smelling salts !
Don't attempt to reason with the commentator who has posted (twice) using the sobriquet 'Sir K'. He has a serious chip on his shoulder regarding:
d) Academics generally
e) Anyone cleverer than he is.
It goes without saying that the last-named category represents a very large constituency indeed.
My older brother who is a successful trades-person and who attends the traditional Latin Mass this year told me he thought it wrong my liberal Catholic college was protecting me from so-called “Scary Ideas” and not sharpening by mind nor broadening my vision in any way. But I am proud my college in recent years has, for example, banned all texts and any speakers whose words could serve to invalidate the lived experience of women and oppressed sexual minorities.
My brother suggested I occasionally read a little from this blog, 1Peter5 and Father Z’s blog. The first time I forced myself to spend a little time reading the comments and the views expressed on these blogs I was overwhelmed and felt so troubled and triggered, so bombarded by highly discomforting and distressing viewpoints that I had to flee to our college’s Safe Space to recuperate......the Safe Space room, thank God, was equipped with cookies, colouring books, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies......
I have since, however, found some wonderful Catholic articles by progressive women at Patheos.Com that do not cruelly attack my dearly and closely held beliefs.
It is so bizarre that in real life there truly are in fact, in many US and UK colleges and universities, Safe Space rooms, almost like how “Monica” describes. The University of Chicago outraged many in 2016 when it went against this trend and informed undergraduates it does not support trigger warnings, will not cancel controversial speakers and will not condone the creation of intellectual “safe spaces” where students can retreat from thoughts and ideas at odds with their own. More common are the views of a professor at the University of Manchester who very recently actually wrote this rubbish : “University Safe Space rooms are essential subaltern counterpublics - that is, alternative discourse arenas where vulnerable groups can reconfigure and reframe their experience of the dominant patriarchal and often racist public sphere, with the ultimate aim of returning to to the public sphere better armed to combat their own oppression”.
The sheer delusional insanity of having zero insight that a left-liberal college campus in the western world in 2020 would have to be the safest place in history, the safest place in the world for any so-called “vulnerable groups”.
It is almost 4 decades since I attended a Catholic college. I can vaguely recall being taught how Thomas Aquinas at a 13th century university would present the best possible arguments an educated infidel could come up with that opposed core Christian teachings then set about countering those arguments. Imagine how many college academics and students would react in 2020 to having to fairly regularly, or even occasionally, hear the best arguments possible AGAINST the Woke elites’ dogmas on gender, race and identity?
but I don’t wish to reason with Sir K or Anon@2.53 and @5.30 but to enlighten them!
Sir Roger Scruton:
“A writer, or any person, who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is merely relative, is asking you not to believe them. So don’t. Deconstruction deconstructs itself, and disappears up its own behind, leaving only a disembodied smile and a faint smell of sulphur.”
Dear Sir K and anonymous at 2.53, some more enlightenment from a fine scholar and a fine man:
“Styles may change, details may come and go, but the broad demands of aesthetic judgement are permanent.”
“Take away religion, take away philosophy, take away the higher aims of art, and you deprive ordinary people of the ways in which they can represent their apartness. Human nature, once something to live up to, becomes something to live down to instead. Biological reductionism nurtures this ‘living down’, which is why people so readily fall for it. It makes cynicism respectable and degeneracy chic. It abolishes our kind, and with it our kindness.”
“It is an ancient view that truth, goodness and beauty cannot in the end conflict. Maybe the degeneration of beauty into kitsch comes precisely from the postmodern loss of truthfulness, and with it the loss of moral direction.”
Now, will you in an asinine way merely reply with something like:
“Some would agree but many would disagree with Scruton’s assertions....”
“All the above is based on Scruton’s personal, subjective understanding of ‘truth, goodness and beauty” and his subjective interpretations of ‘the higher aims of art’ and his subjective definitions of kitsch, degenerate chic and even truthfulness...” and so on.....?
“Styles may change, details may come and go, but the broad demands of aesthetic judgement are permanent.”
The problem with this statement is that to who make the aesthetic judgements, broad or narrow, do come and go. Beauty doesn't exist as some permanent, unchanging thing since beauty is determined by the person doing the judging. As John Noland noted in another thread, "...there is no reason to think that our prehistoric ancestors did not perceive beauty in the natural world before 'art' as we know it developed."
Was their aesthetic judgement the same as that of the art critics of the 1100s, the 1500s or today? Would critics from the 1700s agree with the judgment of an ancient ancestor regarding what is and what is not beautiful.
Scruton is fighting a battle he cannot win. Styles and taste change - they always have and they always will. He chooses to think that these are static, but history does not support that conclusion.
It is not just schools, colleges and elite universities, when some of the most prestigious scientific and medical journals in the world have jumped onboard the Woke elites' gender ideology train we are all in serious trouble.
Dr Debra Soh.
I suppose the reactionary old guard here also deny human caused global warming!
Don't you know Venus was once earth-like, but climate change made it unhabitable!
"Christmas Morning" by Titania McGrath.
"A December dawn approaches, twenty-fifthly,
Foulish in a hue of festive rancour.
The uppity sun retreats backwards,
A limpid bauble speaking fire into elfin ears, tinselpricked
By two tongues twisting on a reindeer's perineum.
We drink the day,
Like a damaged Glaswegian
Rinsing our mock-love in stagnant sherry,
Wringed from the liver of a chattering spouse.
Anonymous aunts are wording their slurs
And a weeping shepherd
Chews on the maggoty giblets of a rotting robin.
Comfort and joy are eggnogged into irrelevance and
We are the turkeys of time and Destiny is our stuffing."
Thank you Sir K and the radically relativistic anon above for validating my aesthetic taste that tells me this is a truly beautiful poem about Christmas and the equal of anything ever written by that overrated Dead White Male, William Shakespeare.
I honestly believe the Vatican has not gone far enough with diversity, inclusion and equity with its nativity scenes in recent years since Francis became Pope. I have written a lengthy letter for my bishop to take to Rome on his upcoming ad limina (sp?) visit to the Vatican, which quotes the “radically relativistic anonymous” in support of my position, that the Vatican’s 2021 nativity scene by put together by a half dozen visually impaired multi racial transexuals and that by 2022 the Catholic faithful should by ready to rejoice at a nativity scene put together by Muslim asylum seekers who, by the way, regard Issa (Jesus) as a quite notable prophet, who as other prophets, lived before Muhammad, the final and greatest prophet. Now how is that for being ecumenical and truly inclusive! As the “radically relativistic anonymous” has reminded us we would be aesthetic philistines to think that styles aesthetic judgement do not and should not change..... I think the “radically, relativistic anonymous” must have mastered 2 key modern university texts - Hegel and Marx in a Nutshell AND Foucault for Dummies ! All art, you see, is like all ideas and concepts-art, literature, religion etc must all be regarded historically, as embedded in ways of life, as never timeless and unchanging but embodied in societies and institutions, in historical realities that change - this simplistic atheistic dogma is rightly drummed into the heads of all young people now who have completed philosophy 101 or history 101- how anonymous above (and Sir K ) regurgitates this in his own words for our benefit in the lead up to Christmas should be applauded !!!
Anonymous @ 3.51PM,
It takes less than a day to memorise these 3 great Truths of Woke applied postmodernism (and less than a college semester to internalise them into your core being) ie:
1. All nations, societies and cultures are worthy and deserving of respect, except those in functioning Western democracies which are all racist, sexist and just bad...
2. All truth is relative but the slogans of Woke applied postmodern scholarship tell us all how it really is....
3. All values are subjective, except racism, sexism and homophobia and transphobia which are objectively evil....
Dear Anonymous @ 3.51PM, you really are a firm believer in the Second Great Truth of Woke named above, yes?
Are you capable of appreciating or noting any slight contradictions in the above 1, 2 and 3 ? Especially 2 ?
You, with all humility, claim that history (is that Hegel’s capital H History?) does not support any of Sir Roger Scruton’s conclusions !
Logically, should you not have reminded us that your claim about History and Scruton’s views was just your personal opinion which according to any common sense, and the right understanding of standpoint epistemology, is not just a VERY skewed, personal, subjective opinion but VERY likely a ridiculously uninformed and flawed opinion too?
Anonymous @ 3.51PM,
You have inspired to reread parts of a few old texts this weekend.
I really can recommend Book 3, Modern Philosophy, ch 27, pp 748 to 756, of Bertrand Russell’s “A History of Western Philosophy” !!
Russell, though an atheist, was an honest and great analytical thinker, and if you grasp the points Russell made on pp 748 to 756 I think he will do a much better job than I can in showing you your basic arguments and points above are really quite seriously flawed.
(By the way, I have on and off read and reread this text since I was a teenager, I can remember as a Catholic teenager feeling great Catholic tribal pride that a famous atheist philosopher admitted that St Augustine, in pure philosophy alone, was a giant in Western philosophy, and who for example had a philosophical understanding of time that was greater than any Greek philosopher and greater than any modern philosopher, including Kant ! And Augustine (note in his understanding of subjectivism!) really anticipated Descartes’ famous Cogito over a 1,000 years before Descartes opened a book......and so on...
Russell as an atheist couldn’t really help making some criticisms of Aquinas but reading Russell on Aquinas, and his assessments of him, helped me to appreciate why centuries later Pope Leo XIII and others regarded him as The philosopher for Catholics for our modern era, or any future era.....)
Here is a very interesting interview with Andrew Doyle, the real-world person behind Titania McGrath, a character Doyle created for the purpose of parodying the wokeness movement:
Doyle describes himself as left-wing but culturally conservative. His interlocutor describes him as a classical liberal.
In the interests of promoting adult conversation, as Doyle himself advocates, I have three questions:
(1) How much of Doyle’s parody of the adherents of the wokeness movement/cult on the “left” also applies mutatis mutandis to the adherents of the Trumpism movement/cult on the “right” (and especially, to Trump himself)?
(2) Is the approach Doyle proposes superior to either of these?
(3) Is there an even superior, alternative approach to the one Doyle proposes?
The following poem is titled “Covington Boy” and was voted poem of the year at a number of US colleges. Are there no objective standards at all that show us that the poetry of Milton, for example, was and is, in fact, better poetry than this drivel?
A forked tongue concealed
by a schoolboy sheen,
Centuries of oppression distilled into a sneer.
The popish hellion
Lapping up Cherokee tears, dogly.
Like a death crab filched from Satan’s bucket,
His empathy frosted into a scab of hate.
As the mighty wampum warrior plays on,
Every drumbeat the throb of a heart unborn,
Genocided into oblivion by white rage.
He smirks and glowers
Lip corners curling like a whip
Cracking ‘cross a red back
The MAGA-capped beastboy
The unshaven terrorist
In my dreams a limping squaw weeps
For the majestic buffalos of the Great Plains,
Ghost dancing bootlessly in the strangling night
As the godless face of a blackhearted manlet
Splits open wide
And smirks my dreams to death.
I believe most of the above has been an “adult conversation”,
“.......if ever the hard-core anti capitalist, very anti traditional, nuclear family, Marxist activists who established BLM ever fully come to power places like Eton College would probably be burnt to the ground. The current changes there now could never atone for the fact this school produced over centuries political leaders, they believe, responsible for colonialism, slavery, oppression of women and the general persecution for centuries of racial and sexual minorities.”
I thought after reading this of those pathetic, lefty liberal Catholic and Anglican priests and bishops who came out in support of BLM and took a knee etc. Likewise, are they completely unaware that if ever the BLM leadership ever obtained more power and a greater following it is likely Christian churches and cathedrals would be burnt to the ground because, these radical Marxist activists believe, nothing could atone for the Christian churches for centuries preaching an ideology and forming the political leaders in the West responsible for slavery, colonialism and the terrible of oppression of women and people of colour and LGBT people for centuries.
Christian churches and cathedrals burnt to the ground.....
As has occurred in the past century (when Marxists, anarchists and Trotskyites etc rule) in Russia, Spain, Mexico and the Ukraine etc....
It might be good to remember that even when history does not repeat itself, it often rhymes...
There is an alternative approach to laughing at Andrew’s Doyle’s comedy - satirical performances and satirical books etc.
One could read some serious books on this subject; ie books that both dissect and explain the origins of the worldview of modern Social Justice Warriors, books that intelligently explain why this worldview is not only useless, but obnoxious, toxic and dangerous.
For example, “The Madness of Crowds” by the conservative journalist and author, Douglas Murray, who was a friend of Sir Roger Scruton; or read the absolutely brilliant “Cynical Theories” by James Lindsay and Helen Pluckrose; or read “Irreversible Damage” by Abigail Shrier.
As a father of two teenage girls, I can really recommend reading “Irreversible Damage” which has the subtitle - The transgender craze that is seducing our daughters. Apart from researching the transgender craze among increasingly large numbers of teenage girls in the past decade (there are some private girls schools in the USA now that have close to 20% of the teenage girls there identifying as transexual or “non binary” etc) Abigail Shrier explains the various ways a lot of the different types of craziness on social media can have a harmful, and sometimes disastrous, impact on teenage girls.
Anonymous at 8.25PM,
I believe I can add to your 3 points summarizing the ideology of "Wokeness" - the creed of progressive and generally atheistic middle class "intellectuals" on a moral crusade to reshape the world in their own image -
That is, that language does not describe reality but constructs reality.
Also, it is good to remember that almost all ideologues in the West, with their modern creeds, in the last 150 or so years have almost always ended up hating true religion.
Anonymice at 8:27 a.m. and.11:08 a.m.:
It may be more adult, but I wonder how meaningful a conversation it is. To be sure, it bashes wokeness in a “clever” way. So, yes, it’s cute. But it doesn’t really break out of the old binary pendulum swings, does it? My questions attempt to do that but, alas (as the great Boris Johnson would say), no-one else seems willing to go there. Not that I am surprised in this forum. Oh well, I tried.
One last attempt, then:
“One could read some serious books on this subject; ie books that both dissect and explain the origins of the worldview of [Trumpism], books that intelligently explain why this worldview is not only useless, but obnoxious, toxic and dangerous.”
Discuss with reference to my first question. Depending on your answer, discuss my second and third questions.
Sorry, I should have posted that last one as "Anonymouse 2."
Anoymous at 11:08 a.m.:
I just read the beginning of “Irreversible Damage” on the Amazon “Look Inside” function. I understand your concern about your two teenage daughters. This said, "adult conversation" would presumably have to address this statement by the author:
“This book is not about transgender adults, though in the course of writing it I interviewed many—those who present as women and those who present as men. They are kind, thoughtful, and decent. They describe the relentless chafe of a body that feels all wrong, that seems somehow a lie. It is a feeling that has dogged them for as long as they can remember. . . .They have very little to do with the current trans epidemic plaguing teenage girls.”
Re your point 1. I have read very many attempts at humorous, mocking imitations of Trump, Trumpism and Trump supporters. Quora, for example, has hundreds of such attempts. And in my humble subjective opinion, and many others, the vast majority of such attempts are lame, often pathetically lame. I agree with the great comedian John Cleese, hardly a conservative voice, that there probably is no truly funny “Woke humour”. It is easy, actually, to mock the 100 plus attempts at great humour based on Trump’s hair, his complexion and the size of his hands etc. I agree also with what the left of centre, musician Nick Cave has said about this too, re the dark, grim, sanctimonious, humourless and unforgiving nature of the Woke outlook and Woke worldview.
Also, that quote you provide re “Irreversible Damage” and words written by its author is so incomplete to be quite misleading. Of course, the author claims that the majority of trans people are kind and decent people who just want to quietly live their lives BUT the author always go on to make it very clear that another category exists, ie: that hard core trans activists exist, and that they cause much harm and their influence can be extremely harmful towards vulnerable young women and teenage girls.
As well, back to Trump and Trump supporters. How can all the very, very different tens of millions of US citizens who voted for Trump in 2 presidential elections for many different reasons be realistically and effectively moulded into a stereotype that can be laughed at and mocked in the same way the much smaller but influential, radical middle and upper middle class Woke activists be effectively and hilariously mocked?
And the reality is with this category it is amazing, how the author Douglas Murray intelligently shows, that one can hear such a Woke middle class activist rave on about “transphobic bigots” and so on and then know with near 100% certainty what their views will be on a dozen other “culture war’ issues.
To finish, I find your use of the word “cute” and putting clever into inverted commas regarding Doyle’s humour more than a touch patronising; Patronising not just to Doyle but the vast numbers who find his humour and satire hilarious and brilliant.
Your words above surprise me, especially at 5.25.
When you finish some claims with "not that I am surprised in this forum."
What did you mean there?
Too many Trump supporters here? Too many conservatives here? Too many dim, unintelligent people here?
I am surprised by this in part because you have chosen for years to visit this blog, this forum and make regular contributions and take part in discussions and debates etc...
Why have you bothered to do that for years but now appear to hold dismissive views about this forum and or the majority of people who contribute to this forum?
Also, what surprised me was how VERY quickly you decided and announced that it looked like no one here was willing (or able) to engage with the points you were making. This all seemed a bit strange to me,to be honest.
You of all people here should be aware of the madness of Social Justice Warrior thinking that occurs in colleges and universities and then goes onto to have a toxic effect in the wider community. How the term racism gets redefined to mean power plus prejudice and racism is then understand in such a way that almost all white peoples can’t help being racist; and that if a white person claims he or she is not racist that is somehow, in their warped thinking, just further proof of that person’s racism and their “white fragility”.....Or to ask for evidence why a particular situation, why a particular interaction among people, has to be racist, or to ask for evidence why a particular outcome was solely the result of racism etc is claimed to be racist !! This is sheer insanity. Isn’t that what scholars and students at any college are meant to do?! ie: ask for evidence for any claim.
Or how wrong and stupid it is to regard any same-sex-attracted individual, a person, an individual, who happens to have a homosexual orientation, not so much as an individual but a member of some monolithic LGBT+ community where everyone basically has the same beliefs, attitudes and political views.
How can anyone not see the stupidity and madness of Social Justice Warrior types claiming any black man who votes for a Republican candidate somehow ceases being truly a black man ?! Or not see the further depths of stupidity and madness when these people want to kick the likes of Germaine Greer and J K Rowling out of the Church of Feminism because they disagree with the very recent claims of radical trans activists?!
Or to call concerned parents “homophobic and transphobic bigots” simply because they don’t want their children exposed to the dogmatic claims of modern gender studies “scholars” via an anti bullying school program.......
You write a lot of words, none of which responds to my questions, which are a good faith attempt to move this conversation forward to a better place than our country inhabits politically today. And they are intended to be serious questions about substance, not about mocking one side or the other.
You fault me for saying “not that I am surprised in this forum” and find it strange that I did so. Well, prove me wrong by responding to my three questions. But if you choose not to, please tell us why.
As for a monolithic approach, are all those who might be sympathetic to the points the wokeness movement makes as monolithic as_you_make them out to be? For example, I am hardly an adherent of the wokeness movement, but I do include a component on cultural awareness and cultural competence in one of my courses. And I have learned from doing so and from what my students have taught me, on all sides.
Have you read the interview with Doyle for which I posted the link?
I am waiting.
I have over years often very much respected and appreciated, and at times learned from too, your many contributions to discussions and debates that have taken place on this blog.
I am sorry if I was too verbose in my reply to you at 9.34PM but that was my honest attempt to respond to some of the points I thought you were making.
It may be helpful to agree on an understanding or an attempted definition to what you refer to as “the wokeness movement”.
My colleagues and I, for example, are against modern capitalised Social Justice because we are generally very much for real social justice. All of us, like the vast majority of thinking people, have no problems with anyone concerned with addressing and redressing REAL social inequalities, particularly where it comes to issues of class, race, gender and sexuality, and particularly when these go beyond the reach of legal justice.
The “Wokeness movement” however is something VERY different to this. Here is an attempt to define or describe this movement and it’s intolerant and authoritarian ideology which has spread to many parts of the academy and even to primary and secondary education and even to seep into broader society to the point where backlashes against it - both reasonable and reactionary- have come to dominate our political landscape.....
“People in this movement have a very peculiar view of the world, and one that often even speaks its own language. They use everyday words differently from the rest of us. When we speak of “racism” for example, they are not referring to prejudice on the grounds of race, but rather to, a racialised system that permeates all interactions in society, yet is largely invisible except to those who have been trained in the proper “critical” methods that train them - and enables them, ie: the “woke” - to see it.........these scholar-activists really represent a wholly different CULTURE, embedded within our own. Intellectually they are in their own world, they are obsessed with power, language and knowledge and the relationships between them. They interpret the world through a lens that detects power dynamics in EVERY interaction, utterance and cultural artefact - even when they aren’t obvious OR REAL. This is a worldview that centers social and cultural grievances and aims to make everything into a zero-sum political struggle revolving around identity markers like race, sex, gender and sexuality......and they also interpret all sociological interactions in the MOST unhelpful and in the most cynical way possible.”
It is possible, and will be good, for true liberals - from the political left, right or centre - to oppose this ideology, which actually opposes science and reason, with its flawed assertions that society is simplistically divided into dominant and marginalised identities and underpinned by invisible systems of white supremacy, patriarchy and heteronormativity- to oppose an ideology that does not want people treated as individuals and to instead urge recognition of our shared humanity in the face of the woke movement’s divisive and constraining identity politics....
How is that for a start in defining what we mean by “the woke movement” ?
Thank you for your response. I only mentioned the number of words because I thought I was conversing with one Anonymous making three posts and not three Anonymi. It would help to know which it is.
I don’t think irrational extremism on the left or the right is helpful or healthy for our body politic. If the wokeness movement represents irrational extremism on the left, then (for me at least) Trumpism represents irrational extremism on the right. But it is virtually impossible to get anyone on this blog to criticize Trumpism except occasionally from the perspective of partisan politics (which is itself part of the problem).
Can we agree, then, that neither movement takes us where we need to go, so that we can then talk about how best to address the real social justice issues you mention in your third paragraph? Perhaps the study just published by the LSE, claiming to demonstrate that 50 years of “trickle down” economics have done nothing to help anyone except the wealthy, will get us started on the issue of class and economic inequality:
Thank for for your reply.
I am sorry but I am now quite busy with preparations for Christmas to write much here. But I do wish to say you touch, in a way, on a VERY important point. The radical, Woke, pathological Left is notorious in its massive neglect of issues around class and economic inequality. This reality was a major factor, (along with the abortion on demand - that is tantamount to infanticide - policy my former party embraced) in my leaving a moderately left of centre political party after almost 30 years a member, and moving to a more centrist, even more centre-right outlook and voting for conservative political candidates for the first time, in my mid 50s.
Perhaps like you, I am at home in neither of the two major political parties. As a good friend and colleague of mine has eloquently explained, contemporary politics just perpetuates false identities that sever us from our truer selves--and this should be of major concern to every Catholic. But despite my disillusionment with the parlous state of contemporary politics, I am hopeful that it may still be possible though various strategies to salvage liberal democracy.
For me, then, Trump is just another symptom of the problem, not a solution, quite apart from his antipathy to the rule of law and autocratic impulses. And regarding this latter point, give Trump free rein (or should that be reign?), and there won’t be a liberal democracy to salvage! Even now he tries to steal the election fraudulently by accusing others of doing so, despite every court in the land to which he has turned rejecting his spurious claims. Has the man no shame, no honor, no decency (well, we know the answer to that one, don’t we?).
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