18 December 2018

Getting one’s eye in at cricket

50 years ago people used to talk about ‘getting one’s eye in’ when playing a game. This was associated with scoring more freely.

My father told me of something that happened to him once when he was playing cricket. Usually the ball came to him so fast that he could not see it at all. On this occasion he suddenly found that he saw the ball floating towards him so slowly that he could see the stitches on its binding, and he found it very easy to hit it with his bat.

I have never heard anyone describing a similar experience. The expression ‘getting one’s eye in’ used to be quite common, at least in cricket, and may sometimes have been used to refer to something similar. My father was not particularly good at games, but he did have a high IQ.

11 December 2018

The risen Jesus: hard to recognise

Fresco by Giotto,
Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi
According to the Synoptic Gospels, the risen Jesus who was seen by his disciples was at first difficult to recognise. After the initial difficulty, however, the disciples seem to have had no doubt that it was indeed him.
Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying?’

‘They have taken my Lord away,’ she said, ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.’ At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary’.

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means ‘Teacher’). Jesus said, ‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.’ (John 20:11-17)
Possibly parts of the Jesus story are apocryphal. However, as Richard Bauckham points out, this particular element seems an odd thing to have invented if there was no factual basis for it.
I think this pattern of non-recognition followed by identification of Jesus, which we find in several of the stories of his appearances after the resurrection, is one of the rather odd features that make these stories credible as genuine testimony from those who experienced them. Would they have made this feature up? Why should they?

18 November 2018

Adopting male psychology

Most positions that disagree with feminism argue either that women are inferior, or that they are equal to, but different from, men.

A third possibility is rarely expressed: that women tend to adopt a certain kind of psychology which makes them less functional, in many areas, than men.

Two thousand years ago, somebody appears to have expressed the idea that women had the same potentialities as men, but could only realise them by adopting male psychology.
Simon Peter said to them: ‘Let Mary go out from among us, because women are not worthy of the Life.’

Jesus said: ‘See, I shall lead her, so that I will make her male, that she too may become a living spirit, resembling you males. For every woman who makes herself male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.’
(Gospel of Thomas, saying 114)

30 October 2018

Havelock Ellis: ability arouses hostility

Havelock Ellis
(1859 – 1939)
Every original worker in intellectual fields, every man who makes some new thing, is certain to arouse hostility where he does not meet with indifference [...]

It is practically impossible to estimate the amount of persecution to which this group of pre-eminent British persons has been subjected, for it has shown itself in innumerable forms, and varies between a mere passive refusal to have anything whatever to do with them or their work and the active infliction of physical torture and death.

Havelock Ellis, A Study of British Genius

For more on the topic of hostility to exceptional ability, see my colleague Charles McCreery's book The Abolition of Genius.

25 October 2018

The Cloister and the Hearth

The Cloister and the Hearth is a nineteenth century novel written by Charles Reade. It was once considered a classic of literature but is nowadays not widely read.

The plot is a fictionalised account of the parents of Erasmus — Gerard and Margaret — and the many obstacles that stand in the way of their relationship.

The book made an impression on me when I read it as a child. The authority figures in it are presented as largely hostile and unreliable. The comprehensive cynicism about social authority, and about its supposed benevolence, distinguishes the book from other nineteenth century novels.

It is even more in contrast with current literature.

In modern fiction, even if some part of the establishment is behaving badly, there is almost always some part of it whose behaviour accords with the ideal, in which many people would no doubt like to believe.

30 September 2018

St Anthony of Egypt

detail from:
Hieronymus Bosch (attrib),
Temptation of St Anthony
St Anthony of Egypt is considered to be the first of the ‘Desert Fathers’. These were early Christian hermits, ascetics and monks who lived in and around the Scetis desert beginning about the third century AD.

Anthony was born in Egypt in 251 to wealthy landowner parents. After his parents died when he was a young man, he gave away his wealth and went to a mountain by the Nile, where he lived by himself in an old abandoned Roman fort for about twenty years. While in the fort, his only interactions with the outside world were via a crevice through which food would be passed by local villagers. Those who came to consult him stood outside and listened to his advice.

According to Wikipedia, after passing many years in this state, Anthony one day
emerged from the fort with the help of villagers, who broke down the door. By this time most had expected him to have wasted away or to have gone insane in his solitary confinement. Instead, he emerged healthy, serene, and enlightened. Everyone was amazed that he had been through these trials and emerged spiritually rejuvenated. He was hailed as a hero and from this time forth the legend of Anthony began to spread and grow.
St Antony’s College, Oxford, is said to have been named after him.

I appeal for financial and moral support in improving my position.
I need people to provide moral support both for fund-raising, and as temporary or possibly long-term workers. Those interested should read my post on interns.

21 August 2018

‘The over-60s are not worth treating’

A version of this post was first published in 2007. It has been republished in the light of the Gosport hospital case.

The Daily Mail has reported that half of all GPs say that patients (victims) over the age of sixty are not worth diagnosing or treating. Of course, what GPs say has no necessary relationship to what they actually do. Telling the truth is not, even nominally, part of their remit. But it is likely that what goes on, and has been going on for a long time, is worse than they admit openly.

* * * * *

Some years ago there was a similar article revealing that, in the case of women, fifty-five was the age at which doctors thought them past bothering with.

Taking a short break at Boscombe in a seaside hotel, I was discussing this with a lady in her fifties, sitting opposite me at the breakfast table. She protested at so painful a topic being discussed, so I stopped talking about it. But this may illustrate both how demoralising the immoral power of the medical Mafia is, and why there is no sympathy with those who complain of it.

When this lady went to her doctor she liked, no doubt, to maintain an uneasy fiction that she could trust him, rely on him to exercise his powers in her best interests (as understood by herself), and believe what he said.

She would wish to do this in order to relieve her anxieties about any symptoms she might have. However, doing this in the face of evidence to the contrary is likely to take quite a lot of emotional energy. Taking up emotional energy in this way is essentially decentralising.* Recognising that one is alone in a hostile world is, or may be, eventually liberating (although, no doubt, there are plenty of ways of doing it wrong).

The psychological social contract is what happens when the individual gives up his own drives to self-fulfilment and becomes the willing slave of social oppression, in return for the possibility of oppressing others, or enjoying the spectacle of their being oppressed by the social forces with which he has thrown in his lot.

Once a society has instigated an oppressive regime, such as the modern Welfare (Oppressive) State, there is no real possibility of reversing it, as an increasing number of people wish to believe in the ‘benefits’ they are deriving from it — including in many cases the opportunity to oppress other people — rather than face up to the terrifying nature of the threats to which they are exposed.

* For an explanation of the concept of centralisation, see here.

16 July 2018

Taxation and slavery

In the following extract* from a paper, philosopher Thomas Nagel expresses a libertarian attitude to taxation.

Some would describe taxation as a form of theft, and conscription as a form of slavery — in fact some would prefer to describe taxation as slavery too, or at least as forced labour.

It appears Nagel himself disagreed with this position. Nevertheless, the idea that taxation involves the involuntary removal of an individual’s property, and hence is comparable to theft, is a valid one.

Where tax paid amounts to half of a person’s income, that person effectively has to work, involuntarily, as much for the government as for himself.

* 'Ruthlessness in public life', reprinted in Thomas Nagel, Mortal Questions, Cambridge University Press, 1979.

28 June 2018

Patients starved to death

A version of this post was first published in 2007. It has been republished in the light of the Gosport hospital case.

In 1989, there was another life crisis when Marjorie’s mother, then in her 70s, had a series of increasingly severe strokes.
‘The hospital withdrew food and water and I watched her starve to death. My sister felt it was the kindest thing to do but my mother spent a week in agony. I felt utter grief and still haven’t dealt with it.’
(Daily Mail, 17 April 2007)

It is legal for an incapacitated patient to be denied artificial hydration and nutrition ... if doctors consider death to be in their best interest.
(Daily Mail, 19 April 2007)

It is legal, but it is still immoral (it is a strong violation of the basic moral principle*), for members of the medical Mafia to kill people by starving them to death. The assertion that it is legal is only making explicit the immorality which is already inherent in the medical profession, operating on the terms it does.

If an individual, or a relative or other person appointed by him, loses the right to decide for himself what is in his interests as he perceives them, the harm that may be inflicted upon him by the decisions made by the doctor to whom he has lost his autonomy, whether by accident or design, may clearly extend to extreme suffering or death.

* * * * *

Mr Cameron highlighted figures showing assaults on NHS staff running at 60,000 a year [...]
(from ‘Rudeness is just as bad as racism, says Cameron’, Daily Mail, 24 April 2007)

We are unfortunate enough to live in an age of legalised crime. State education and state medicine should be regarded as criminal.

Agents of the collective, such as teachers and doctors, are at risk from the resentment of their victims, who do not realise how thoroughly justified their resentment is.

In fact the victims should be opposing the principles of social oppression, not indulging in violence, which is seen as an excuse for even more oppressive incursions on individual liberty.

But the victims have been trained to believe that they would be losing free goodies described as ‘education’ and ‘health care’ (which have been paid for with money taken away from other people), so that they are ‘better off’ hanging on to these ostensible handouts, even with the great penalties which are attached to them.

* Basic moral principle: It is immoral to impose your interpretations and evaluations on anyone else.

13 April 2018

The statue of King Alfred and the aristocratic sculptor

Statue of King Alfred
by Count Gleichen (1833 – 1891)

The statue of Alfred The Great (shown above) located in Wantage, Oxfordshire was sculpted by an aristocrat, Count Gleichen.

Born in Langenburg, Germany, Count Gleichen joined the Royal Navy and became resident in Britain. He was related to Queen Victoria, being the son of her half-sister, Princess Feodora.

​In Germany he was known as Prinz Viktor zu Hohenlohe-Langenburg.

Photograph © Charles McCreery 2012

31 January 2018

Frustration by society

One of the strongest taboos is that on the concept of being frustrated by society. It is absolutely impossible, according to the ideology, for anyone to be suffering because they are given no chance to use their abilities.

One may ask oneself: what exactly would people like one to feel? They do not seem to be exactly keen on one expressing one’s state of frustration. They talk as if they expect one to be identified with the tiny scale of operation which is possible to one.

I think it is clear that what they mostly wish one to feel is humiliation. You are supposed to feel that not being given a chance to do things corresponds to a judgment which has been passed upon you. And that the judgment is right; that you are the sort of person who deserves no better than to live in a straitjacket.

You are supposed to identify yourself with this judgment to such an extent that you are interested in receiving congratulations on your small activities. This, presumably, is to encourage you to do more of them, as it is well understood that you can achieve nothing effective by doing so.

(from the forthcoming book The Corpse and the Kingdom)

I appeal for financial and moral support in improving my position.
I need people to provide moral support both for fund-raising, and as temporary or possibly long-term workers. Those interested should read my post on interns.