Archive for the ‘The Joy Of Curtain-Twitching’ Category

The Hudibras Strategy

C.S. Lewis was unusual among the Christian moralists of yore in holding that one ought to be cautious in condemning others for yielding to temptations from which one did not oneself suffer. In the modern idiom, one needs to have been there. In his case, he explained, the two “sins” to which he felt no […]

Others-Denial Is More Fun

St. Paul taught us to see vice and wickedness, alas! not as the sum of a person’s actions, but as an existential state of that person, independent of and both temporally and logically prior to those actions. The chief function of a person’s behaviour thus becomes to inform us about that deep and essential state […]

Reforming The Sheikh

An academic writing about Mills & Boon romances tells us that English ladies venturing into the tropics to create a racier erotic narrative ‘never lose their moral foundation. The heroines normally wind up reforming the sheikh.’ One would like to ask this scholar whether the conventions dictate that only the English have morals, or whether […]

I Eat My Peas With Honey

Young people who encounter the whole Ogden Nash ditty may wonder at the conclusion, that the honey serves to keep the peas on the knife. Whoever eats peas with a knife, they may ask? We eat them with a fork, scooping them up with the concave side. That is certainly what I do, as I […]

Who Disapproves, Wins

Once upon a time King Haakon of Norway visited a rural district where the farmers drank their coffee from the saucer. Now, there is a certain sort of social climber who would have ostentatiously drunk her coffee in the genteel manner, so as to show the wretched peasant what true refinement was; the king, of […]

The Social Exclusion Algorithm

If, to a jaundiced eye, men may appear to be mere programs for fighting, fucking and boasting, to what simple program may women – in the name of equal treatment – be reduced? If you had to model female behaviour in a few lines of Basic, what would be the output? Preening and attention-seeking would […]

The Cheshire Blamer

It is a grave error to believe that habitual or devoted blamers blame only because there is something to be blamed. Such people blame because they gain their emotional satisfactions therefrom, and the more catholically they blame, the more manifold their emotional satisfactions. For example, the pleasure to be derived from blaming your husband is […]

The Hapsburgs, Victorians And Us

I think the following, which I found in my notes, comes from Stefan Zweig: “Since it [public morality, one assumes] searched without interruption for all that was ‘improper’, it found itself in a constant state of alert; to the world of that day ‘decency’ was always in mortal danger, in every word and in every […]

Creating One’s Face

When we are young, we have the faces our parents gave us, but when we are old, we have the faces we deserve. Habitual expression of feelings and attitudes are the engravers, and the most powerful is not laughter or even worry, but censoriousness. Who has not seen old people whose mouths turn permanently downwards […]

Work For Its Own Sake

The puritan compact, whereby a good or pleasure is sacrificed in order to rise on the moral hierarchy, need by no means involve sex. A close second in the currency of self-congratulation is unnecessary work. One must always take the trouble of helping little old ladies across the street – especially when they don’t actually […]