Sunday, March 18, 2007

A Mild Manifesto

Talking of Robert Crampton, he discusses man-dancing in his Beta Male column and, like Think of England, advises sticking to Hitch’s rule.

He also nicely summarises a point of view to which I heartily, repetitively, and occasionally infuriatingly for others, subscribe.

And back in the bogs Steve says there should be a revolution, and Gary and I say what are you talking about, and Phil smiles in a scholarly way and says, well, Hackney does have a fine radical tradition, and Steve says take over the City, the banks, something big has to change, and Gary and I say, yeah, but, c’mon, nothing big does have to change, does it? Something small perhaps, pave over the lawn, get a new stepladder, something medium maybe, do out the loft, carve out that extra bedroom, but nothing big, not really, because isn’t life pretty good as it is?

I think I shall call it Pragmatic Optimism. It states that as rubbish as some things are, and as right and proper as it is to point out rubbishness where it exists, all things considered it’s still better than it ever was, and better than it still is for nearly everybody else.

There is the Death Nausea of course - that’s always there lurking in the background - but you learn to live with that and otherwise as hard as I try to joing in with general pub grumping, the heart is rarely in it.

(Unless stricken by a head cold or that peculiarly acute kind of hunger that only comes on shopping trips with the missus, of course. (So much for free will.))


Peter Burnet said...

Oro's got to you, hasn't he? Time was when this kind of "count your blessings" stuff came in soft religious inspirational tracts. A little went a long way, that's for sure, but these secularist versions are something else again. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse can be bearing down, but you guys just recite Bliss was it that dawn to be alive when they announce CPU capacity has been doubled or long distance telephone charges to Thailand have been halved.

I try, Brit, I really do. I've been marvelling of late at the wonders of the juices now avalaible to us. In my youth it was a choice between cans of overly-thick, sour orange, grapefruit or tomato, but now I stand wondrous before all the mango-pomengranate-field berry-cranberry-whatever perms and cons I can choose from. All delicious. Surely, I say to myself, these are the best of times. But you secularists take away with one hand what you give with the other, and soon I'm awash in la nausee again and pining away for the 18th century.

Oroborous said...

Well, that's the thing: There's absolutely no reason to think that the Four Horseriders of the Apocalypse are bearing down, and plenty of reason to believe that they are not.

As for la nausee, going back to the 18th century would be a great way to get rid of that mental anguish, since the odds are pretty good that death would come swiftly, making the fear of it moot.

Brit said...

Oro is utopian, Peter is dystopian. I don't have an 'opianism.

joe shropshire said...

Oro is once-born, Peter is twice-born. The world used to be ordered for Peter, now it is a utopia for Oro, or as close as we can figure out how to make it. But there will always be once-borns and twice-borns. (I'm going to view that linkback the way a vampire does an open screen door, so if the invite is inadvertent, say so.)

Brit said...

Everyone is welcome, Joe. Orrin's line was to delete comments, and then eventually commenters. I've got no interest in doing the latter.

Without context you were impossible to fathom. The post in that thread explained a lot.

Peter Burnet said...

I don't have an 'opianism.

Of course you do, the most popular one. Two parts we're-on-the-right-track optimism and (collective) self-congratulation to keep radical critiques at bay and one part there's-still-work-to-be-done pessimism to add a lustre of pensiveness and convince yourself you aren't beholden to Oro's toys. Oro gives the welcoming address to the new crop of MIT undergrads, I do the third year philosophy seminar on the Decline of the West and you're the guest speaker at the stockbrokers' Christmas dinner.

We all use filters, my friend.

Brit said...

No, because opianisms are about the future, right or wrong tracks and goals.

David said...

I'm proudly atopian.

Peter Burnet said...


Then I plead not guilty. I have a long and honorable history of mis-calling the future, of which I am very proud.

Duck said...

I always fear the Discombobulation, so I can't get too optimistic. I try to stem my natural pessimism with the thought that things can always get worse. Like, I could have been born in the 18th century.

Ali Choudhury said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ali Choudhury said...

I think things will generally turn out allright although there's a decent risk they won't.

I call it the School Of Don't-Angst-Too-Much-Over-Things-
-Like-A-Decent-Purchase-For-The-XBox 360.