(Reviewed August 29, 2014)
A portrait of modern sanctity which — very oddly, in my view — asks not to be taken too seriously
(Reviewed August 27, 2014)
The movie it took twelve years to make — about a childhood that appears to be taking much, much longer
America: Imagine the World Without Her
(Reviewed July 31, 2014)
Another foray by Dinesh D’Souza into the lists in order to break a lance on President Obama — and Howard Zinn. At least the latter is effectively unhorsed.
(Reviewed June 30, 2014)
An austerely beautiful film by the Anglo-Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski that could hardly be a greater departure from his earlier My Summer of Love
ENTRY from November 20, 2014
"Know thyself" — in the words of the ancient Greek maxim that was inscribed outside the Temple of Apollo at Delphi and once known to all who received the education of a gentleman. It would have been good advice for Matthew Norman, a columnist for London Independent, who apparently did not receive such an education. He writes today with an almost unbelievable smugness and condescension of his own, of the recent death of Sir William Dugdale, an uncle of the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, that he typified his class’s remoteness from everyday life and sympathy with ordinary folk.
In a deeply nebulous way, Sir William’s life hints at the PM’s enduring failure to connect on a gut level with the electorate. Crudely put, the problem is the hoary one of class. But a more nuanced analysis might identify that condescending, patrician attitude towards the rest of us which, however seemly in Sir William’s time, renders his nephew by marriage off-puttingly anachronistic.
What seems particularly to have got up Mr Norman’s nose about the late baronet is this statement in his memoir Settling the Bill (2011) — which the snooty columnist is careful to tell us was privately published. "The thing is, and the Labour Party underestimate it," wrote Sir William, "if you ask the working classes who they want to lead them, they prefer to be led by a duke. I know it’s an unpopular thing to say these days. However, I have learned this from my own experience."
My book Media Madness, is available for order from Encounter Books. Less a polemic than an attempt to understand the origins of the mass media’s folie de grandeur, the book is a warning even to those who are deserting the big networks, newsweeklies and large-circulation dailies not to carry with them into the more attractive world of niche media the undisciplined habits of thought that the old media culture has given rise to. To order this book, click here.
Also available, now in paperback, is Honor, A History, which was first published in 2006. A study of Western cultural artifacts, from the epics of Homer to the movies and TV shows of today, it is focused on explaining why Western ideas of honor developed so differently from those elsewhere — and especially from the savage honor cultures of the Islamic world. The book then goes on to trace the collapse and ultimate rejection of the old Western honor culture from World War I until the present day and to suggest the conditions that would have to prevail for its revival.
The Forgotten Honor of World War I .
October 15, 2014.
On the differences between the rationale for entry into the First World War of Britain and the United States and what they portend — From The New Atlantis of Spring, 2014 ...
Talking to Themselves.
September 30, 2014.
The media just don’t seem to be able to see beyond their naive constitutional attachment to government by brainiacs — From The New Criterion of September, 2014 ...
Oneself in Others.
September 22, 2014.
The unintended consequences of reading George Eliot — From The Weekly Standard of September 22, 2014 ...