More Theodore Dalrymple October 20, 2005Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
Via Laban Tall’s blog, excerpts from an awfully good piece about Theodore Dalrymple, whose writing never fails to impress me while making me feel deeply wicked and degenerate at the same time. From the piece comes this:
“Lost in the Ghetto” starts: One of the terrible fates that can befall a human being is to be born intelligent or sensitive in an English slum. It is like a long, slow, exquisite torture devised by a sadistic deity from whose malevolent clutches escape is almost impossible.
Hauntingly well said. There’s also this:
Before he moved to Birmingham in 1990, Mr. Daniels* worked as a doctor in various parts of Africa, Latin America, and the Pacific. All his work has been with the indigent, but he denies any missionary impulse. He has traveled all over the world and, North Korea aside, says the “mental, cultural, emotional, and spiritual impoverishment of the Western underclass” is the worst he has seen.
I am not so well-travelled, and daren’t nearly claim a quarter of his life experience and intelligence, but I have to agree. Having worked with some pretty desperately-off Russians in St. Petersburg, I always thought the level of impoverishment Mr. Dalrymple mentions was not as bad there as in England. (Obviously economically it was worse.) And whereas Mr. Dalrymple appears to chiefly put this down to the woes of British education, I can say that I’m sure that why things weren’t so impoverished in Russia was precisely because education was still held in such high regard (although I’ve got a feeling this may be changing for the worse). I never failed to be impressed in Russia by the level of articulation. Yes, people could talk nonsense, but the mental faculties still seemed sharp… On the wickedness front, I worry, of course, as an atheist, hearing the opinion of someone you respect confirm that much of this is due to a lack of spiritual discipline. I still want to think that I can be as morally ‘correct’ as a believer. Encouraging words from saintly, older-than-mid-30s atheists would be greatly appreciated!
*(Theodore Dalrymple’s real name is Anthony Daniels)