George Walford: Notes & Quotes (60)

IC 57 invited readers to send in new titles for IC. The limited response suggests that few find the present one bad enough to justify a search for alternatives and nobody, we are glad to say, proposed SISYPHUS.

ENGLISH Heritage, managing Hampstead Heath, have one excellent arrangement: small railed-off areas in which dogs can attend to what used to be known as the calls of nature, while children enjoy themselves on clean grass outside. Unfortunately they’ve got it the wrong way round; children wanting clean grass are restricted to the small areas while the dogs (most of them with their owners) roam free, merrily fouling the rest of the Heath.

THE RAMAYANA tells how Krishna, exiled by his father, consoles his mother Kausalya with examples of obedient sons, among them Parasurama, who beheaded his mother on command. Kausalya finds this no comfort. (Jonah Blank)

MERRIE England, Elizabethan times: ‘an England whose standards of hygiene decency and humanitarianism would make a modern sick.’ (E. M. W. ¬†Tillyard)

ECUMENISM: In a cult temple near Saigon, the Virgin Mary stands beside the inevitable Buddha; next comes a photograph of Winston Churchill and then a statue of Donald Duck. (F. Cioffi) TOURISM, and the services depending upon it, form the world’s largest and fastest-growing industry. That doesn’t mean there is no poverty; it does suggest that poverty, at least in the advanced countries, may be less general than is sometimes asserted.

WHAT do astrologers get on their birthdays? Prescience.

ISLAM came originally as a liberation, giving Muslim women autonomy and rights denied their Western sisters until this century. (Shusha Guppy).

POLITE conversation is rarely either. (Fran Lebowitz).

COMMUNISM: The detailed control of the economy envisaged by the revolutionaries (and attempted by the Bolsheviks) equates with trying to walk by moving each muscle consciously.

UNAWARENESS of the ideological pyramid has social effects, eidostatics often developing exaggerated ideas of the power wielded by reformers and revolutionaries, and of the danger they present. The result is repression which sometimes does more damage to the establishment and its objectives than the threat (largely imaginary) it is meant to counter.

PUBLIC Finance is to be provided for the arts, sport, heritage, charities and the Millenium Fund (whatever that may be) by a National Lottery. It sounds like yet another way for those able to manipulate the system to get their hands on money provided by others less able to afford it.

RELIGIOUS poverty presupposes a degree of economic security some of the wealthy laity would envy.

MEN have the best of it? British centenarians: 293 men, 2090 women.

FOOLISHNESS: It is very foolish to think that people who see the world differently from ourselves are stupid or wicked. (F. G. Bailey)

FEW accept the law of gravitation or have done so since its introduction. How many accounts have spoken of that apple attracting the earth? Yet the law states that every physical body attracts every other physical body.

CULTURE? Over 160 definitions of it have been listed by Kroeber & Kluckhohn in their paper: Culture: a critical review of concepts and definitions.

PEOPLE who propose to codify the British Constitution might consider the example of the American one. The document is manageable enough, with its seven articles and twenty-seven amendments. Its interpretation occupies 500 volumes of the reported decisions of the Supreme Court. (Geoffrey Marshall).

NIAT: Zen holds that only silence avoids violating the truth.

PEOPLE can be divided into drains and radiators. (Minette Marrin).

MATHEMATICS has given economics rigour, but alas also mortis. (Robert Heilbronner, quoted by John Hibbs)

‘WHENEVER I see a fellow look as if he was thinking, I say that’s mutiny.’ (Nelson’s Admiral Troubridge).

J. K. GALBRAITH has remarked that the function of economics is to provide jobs for economists; in much the same way, a principal function of each political movement, from conservatism to anarchism, is to provide occupation, interest and satisfaction for those whose assumptions it expresses.

‘NATURAL laws and natural systems emerge from the kind of analysis done by scientists in the natural world.’ (F. G. Bailey )

FREEDOM? Kenneth Minogue speaks of: ‘The almost Stalinist regimentation of political correctness.’ ‘The rigid uniformities of multiculturalism.’

ANYONE who still thinks that people smart enough to make big money are stupid enough to pay big taxes is beyond redemption. (Edward H. Luttwak)

WANT to know which set of beliefs a writer or speaker holds? Note which one s/he maintains to be non-ideological.

NIAT: Students of cosmogonies recognise several different ones. This indicates not muddled thinking but the recognition that: ‘man can only approximate final solutions; more important is to collect evidence and describe various examples.’ (Stephanie Dalley)

WHEN nervous visitors to Northern Ireland ask for safety advice one civil servant replies: ‘Always look both ways before crossing the road.’ The murder rate in the province is one-tenth that of Washington DC and considerably less than that of the USA as a whole.

from Ideological Commentary 60, May 1993.