Loving Life

In his weekly Takimag column, our favorite doctor meditates on life, human nature, and the flies on his bedroom ceiling.

Why is it that we can appreciate a fly as an individual but not in the mass? Some, of course, would say that the same goes for human beings. Shakespeare loved individuals (without that love, he could not have had such insight into them), but he despised mobs.

Thinking on Inking

Over at The Critic, the skeptical doctor admonishes the absurd academic who recently wrote a book attempting to philosophically justify the disturbing rise of tattooing in the Western world.

The author goes some way to recognition of the essential contradiction of the modern vogue for tattoos. On the one hand tattoos still retain some association with the rebellious, the marginal and the antinomian; on the other, they have become so commonplace that they can no longer be considered unconventional, but another manifestation of herd-like behaviour.

The Art of Omission

Over at City Journal, our dubious doctor calls out the standard left-liberal hypocrisy when it comes to complaining about the perceived rise in anti-Jewish sentiment among those on the political right, while conveniently neglecting to mention the growth of Islamism among Muslims in Europe.

The omission, symptomatic of ideological blindness or a misplaced delicacy, is even more remarkable because Birnbaum’s son, Jean, a journalist for Le Monde, has published eloquent books on the refusal of the French Left to recognize the religious element in Islamist terrorism, notably A Religious Silence: The Left in the Face of Jihadism and The Religion of the Weak: What Jihadism Says about Us.

Be Your Own Advert

In this week’s Takimag column, Theodore Dalrymple admonishes Norman Mailer’s self-promoting tendencies as a precursor to our own self-aggrandizing era.

It was all rather disgusting, but it worked like a charm: He immediately had offers of jobs aplenty, though of course his real worth as a doctor remained precisely the same. Reticence, which is to me a far more attractive quality than boastfulness, will get you nowhere, and nothing must be left to speak for itself. You must blow your own trumpet, if possible louder than anyone else’s.

A Mob Pulls Down a Statue and a Jury Threatens the Law

Over at The Epoch Times, our reasonable doctor stands up for order and the rule of law in the face of more BLM acts of vandalism and destruction—this time in Bristol, England.

The verdict in a court of law had undermined or was in complete contradiction to the concept of the rule of law or even of the need for law at all. If citizens could carry out acts of revenge with impunity in the name of justice, what need would there be for such cumbersome procedures as trials?

Learned Stupidity

In his weekly Takimag column, the skeptical doctor assails the idiotically green ideologues in western European countries, beginning with the German government’s absurd decision to close down all nuclear power plants in the country.

There are those who see behind the closure a sinister Russian plot, Mrs. Merkel—they say—having long been a Russian agent (she grew up in the German Democratic Republic, was a prominent member of the communist youth movement, and learned fluent Russian). The less power Germany generates for itself, the more dependent it becomes on Russia. But this hypothesis is redundant: All that was required for such a decision to have been made was a homegrown militantly self-righteous movement of spoiled brats who have never known hardship, irrespective of the recent history of their country.

This Christmas

In his second January New English Review essay, our nostalgic doctor thinks back to his visit to Romania toward the end of the vicious, communist regime of Comrade Ceausescu in 1989.

There is still some discussion as to whether his overthrow was a revolution or a coup d’état. Actually, the two theories are not completely incompatible: even if the outbreak of protest in Romania was planned by prominent members of the regime at a time when communism was crumbling elsewhere, hoping thereby to preserve the regime’s fundamental nature and thus the privileges of its nomenklatura, the coup, if that is what it is, ushered in changes that proved revolutionary in effect and scope.

Hospital

Dr. Dalrymple starts off the new year with two essays in New English Review, with the first one concerning two of his more memorable hospital visits, famous novels set in hospitals, and hospital poetry.

In my day, patients routinely stayed ten days or two weeks after such an operation; they resumed life gingerly, as if their operative wound were always in danger of coming apart, and generally felt pretty gruesome for quite a time afterwards.

Nowadays, by contrast, a stay of two days in hospital is exceptional, and patients are ushered out of the hospital doors as soon as they will not die if sent home.

The Tender Age

Last week’s Takimag column has our aging doctor recount for us what a literal pain it can be getting old. Our best wishes go out to Theodore Dalrymple for 2022 and beyond.

Until recently, I thought myself all but immune from the travails of age; like death itself, I believed that aging applied to others, not to myself, and was almost a sign or consequence of personal defect. But now the prospect of a severely limited life is very real to me: I have taken what the French call un coup de vieux, a blow of old age, such as I have sometimes noticed, with disapproval amounting almost to a moral judgment, in others.