Theodore Dalrymple’s latest book for Mirabeau Press is his first book of maxims. Midnight Maxims is the result of Dalrymple’s recent sleepless nights in which he used those wee hours to write short statements of universal truths. Great writers throughout history, such as Francois de La Rochefoucauld, have used this form of writing, and Dalrymple has said in the past that he encourages young writers to focus on writing maxims because they clarify one’s thoughts. Many of Dalrymple’s essays already include these short and quotable lines (the ones here are all original).
There are 365 maxims here, one for each day of the year, but Dalrymple says these are not maxims of the daily inspirational type; rather, they focus on universal truths of human nature and, to some extent, contemporary society. I can imagine each one of these provoking a discussion.
Speaking for myself, this is already one of my favorite Dalrymple books. Although not intended as such, I think this book is a distillation of much (though certainly not all) of his thought and writing.
Midnight Maxims is available on various Amazon sites all around the world. US readers can go here and British readers here.
Over at The Critic, the good doctor considers some questionable words used for prisons after hearing about an execution carried out in the American state of Indiana.
But it could hardly be severe punishment unless executions were at least sometimes carried out, otherwise it would be known in advance that death row was not really death row.
Over at The Epoch Times, the dubious doctor reflects on the bizarre and vacuous modern celebrity phenomenon after hearing about someone formerly famous called Britney Spears.
Many people would rather be known for something outrageous than not be known at all: for them, a few minutes of fame or notoriety justify or validate an entire life. They are therefore more than willing to exhibit themselves to the world: they are eager to do so.
Once again at The European Conservative, the critical doctor contemplates the decayed state of Western music after reading a book about the Bataclan terrorist attack written by one of the survivors.
The second explanation is that the Western artistic tradition (in practically all fields) is exhausted, modernism having been both a symptom and a cause of that exhaustion. The kind of performance given by the EODM is a substitute—or desperate search for—originality, the romantic cult of the latter having been reinforced by our cult of individualism.
Theodore Dalrymple makes his triumphant return to the relaunched The European Conservative with an essay on his observations during a taxi cab ride through the mess that modern-day Paris has become.
This brings me by natural progression to the current mayor of Paris, Ms. Anne Hidalgo, and her effect on the environment, which is incomparably worse than that of the demonstrators whose mess could at least be easily cleared up, albeit that it still signified a complete absence of civic sense or virtue.
In this week’s Takimag column, the skeptical doctor comments on a Russian book that he recently picked up in France about a fictional plague set in Stalin’s USSR.
Many of us must have wondered whether the virus or the human response to it has done more harm (I leave aside the question of its origins). I think people probably have stronger opinions on this subject than perhaps are justified by the well-foundedness of their opinions. For every piece of evidence there seems to be a counter-piece of evidence. As so often, the best lack all conviction (even when, for political or practical reasons, they have to pretend to have it), while the worst are full of passionate intensity.
Dr. Dalrymple touts the success of the British Covid-19 vaccination program over at Law & Liberty. I am eagerly awaiting the deluge of reader responses to this essay, especially from our British readers.
The one undoubted human triumph of the pandemic so far is the development of vaccines in record time. The three main vaccines seem to be both safe and effective—unless, as believed by some, there is a giant conspiracy to deceive the people of the world.
The good doctor thinks back to his many trips to Haiti in his The Epoch Times column after hearing of the assassination of the country’s president.
Yet the travails of Haiti were far from over. Apart from what, in the context, one might call the normal political disasters that have attended its history ever since in won its independence from France in 1804, there was a devastating earthquake followed by a cholera epidemic and a hurricane of terrible proportions.
In his City Journal column, Theodore Dalrymple summarizes the results of recent French regional elections, and emphasizes the utter apathy of most voters in the twilight days of our feeble, morally bankrupt, and degenerate democratic regime.
If abstention were a political party, it would have secured a crushing victory in the recent French regional elections. Sixty-six percent of the electorate declined to vote in the first round, and 65.7 percent in the second.
Our disillusioned doctor laments the noticeable cultural decline among football fans over the course of his lifetime as he reflects on a photo of the Danish fan section at a recent European Championship match.
But the puzzle remains: why should people—especially those who are among the most fortunate who ever lived—deliberately make themselves look as ugly and menacing as possible, often by means of painful self-mutilation?
The dissenting doctor castigates the overused adjective “world-class” by politicians and bureaucrats over at The Critic.
Whenever any British politician uses the word “world-class”, which is with lamentable and increasing frequency, the humble citizen would be well advised to replace it in his mind with “fraudulent”. At best, “world-class” is a phrase used by people with brains of tinsel; more often it is an attempt to mislead people into accepting a rotten present on the promise of a supposedly glorious future.