George Walford: Notes and Quotes (57)

‘NOTHING’, said Henry James, ‘is my last word about anything.’

AUSTRALIANS, it appears from a remark by Anne Chisholm, refer to their Prime Minister as the Lizard of Oz.

ARISTOTLE held that virtue mattered more than formal laws. (Stephen Clark)

JAMES Ferguson, reviewing a recent history of anarchism, remarks that the first reaction of an anarchist to a new problem is not to throw a bomb but to write a book.

MUNICH’s most popular garden ornament: a gnome face down with a knife in its back.

SOME twenty new democracies or would-be democracies are emerging in Eastern Europe. This represents an advance, and one that matters.

PRESIDENT Boudiaf of Algeria was recently killed. The Observer informs us: ‘The assassination marked a serious breach in security.’

THOSE urging Third World farmers to return from cash crops to subsistence farming seldom show any wish to live in that way themselves. It reminds one of Lincoln’s challenge to the defenders of slavery: What is this good thing that no man wants for himself?

NEWSPAPERS have recently been featuring the shock-horror discovery that children at school get bullied; Giles had a cartoon in the Daily Express on the subject – on October 24th 1972.

PEOPLE who want to ‘cut the cackle and get on with the action’ need to be brought to see that sometimes there’s no action like cackle. (Mary Warnock).

ENCOURAGEMENT for the neglected author: George Steiner reminds us that Hegel’s Logik was ignored by the reviewers on its first appearance.

ROUND AND ROUND: The journal Green Spirituality tells us: Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come. But how can we tell which idea has arrived, except by seeing which is the most powerful?

WRITING of Aztec sacrificial victims Inga Clendinnen speaks of ‘the sweet weakening of autonomy.’ Widespread readiness to submit to authority suggests a wider application for the phrase.

MARK Guest reminds his readers that the incidence of rape increases with icecream sales. He asks whether we should ban icecream or look for an intervening factor (temperature).

AGAINST the common view of science as atheistic Richard Webster reminds us how much it owes to enthusiastic Christians seeking to confirm their faith and add to its glory; Descartes, Newton and Boyle among others.

‘MUCH that is useful would be prevented if all sins were strictly prohibited.’ (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, sent in by John Hibbs).

WRITING democratised what had been the esoteric, priestly preserve of knowledge, making it available to all.

SOUTH Africans display an interest in money and sex 50 times stronger than their interest in the fate of the nation. Reporting this, Simon Hoggart accepts it as evidence of normality.

SPURNING the Ayatollah and his fatwa, John Sutherland’s local bookshop stocks Satanic Verses. But American Psycho, condemned by the militant feminists, it does not stock and will not supply even to order.

G. K. CHESTERTON defended a hereditary chamber. True democracy means government by ordinary people and the members of a hereditary chamber tend to be notable for this quality.

CHARLES Murray: ‘The experience of slavery makes [American] blacks unique among races, in their own eyes and in the eyes of whites.’ American slavery ended over 125 years ago. How many blacks now alive experienced it?

QUALITY of life? By all means! But the quantity also matters. When evaluating a society the number of people it maintains has relevance, and so does their expectation of life. By these standards modern capitalism outperforms every other system tried.

WRITING on freemasonry Norman Hampson ascribes acceptance of its fantastic pedigree to ‘educated credulity.’ He parodies the attitude of 18th Century Masons: ‘We are all equal, and one of our members is an earl.’

HUMANITY made one bad mistake, and it may prove fatal: Unaware of our potentialities we set up shop on too small a planet.

REPORTING that Wall Street economists expect a stronger economic recovery than do the academic ones, Irving Kristol recommends that we trust the Wall Street people; they put their jobs on the line when making a forecast, the academics enjoy lifelong tenure.

COURAGE usually deserves approval, and IC has more than once expressed admiration of the Royal Anthropological Institute for holding to the title of its journal: MAN – in big black letters, with neither explanation nor apology. News now comes along the grapevine (from the TLS, actually) that this bastion is about to fall. Suggestions for a new title have been invited.

NOT SINCE 1910 have the liberals won a general election, yet as each one comes around there they are with their candidates. Evidently liberalism, like the other major movements, arises from a base deeper than the hope of office.

from Ideological Commentary 57, August 1992.