Sense on the Dollar

In this week’s Takimag, the good doctor turns his gaze toward the irresponsible and profligate monetary and fiscal policies pursued by most Western governments seeking to square that proverbial circle in an attempt to win the next election.

For many years, the policy of several Western governments has been, by various subterfuges, to live beyond their means, to spread largesse they do not have, to put off the reckoning to another day, to deceive the electorate into thinking that what cannot continue will nevertheless continue, and moreover continue forever.

Houellebecq’s Omelette

In the May print edition of First Things, our favorite doctor turns literary critic as he reviews the latest book by the ever interesting Michel Houellebecq, titled Anéantir (Annihilation).

As Chekhov conveyed boredom without being boring, so Michel Houellebecq conveys meaninglessness without being meaningless. Indeed, his particular subject is the spiritual, intellectual, and political vacuity of life in a modern consumer ­society—France in this case, but it could be any Western country. One gets the point early on in his oeuvre, but his observations are so acute and pointed that his variations on the theme are always worth reading. Houellebecq reveals the absurdity that often lurks behind the ­commonplace.

What Happened in the French Election

In the April edition of First Things, the perceptive doctor summarizes for us the recent French presidential election and the possible consequences it may carry for the next one.

Narrow constitutional legitimacy without the wider kind is now a problem for many Western democracies. In France, however, there is a further problem, and successive presidents have wrestled with it in vain. People dislike their state but expect everything of it. They want its benefits and protections but hate taxes. They want reform but no change.

Epic Proportions

In this week’s Takimag column, Dr. Dalrymple considers the obesity epidemic while remembering his first and only “epic” breakfast, which took place while visiting a prominent Dagestani Islamist with a penchant for Armenian brandy.

One thing I have noticed: Obese people can be almost evangelistic for obesity, as if to justify themselves. If everyone is obese (or many people are), no one is obese, and individual responsibility is thereby abrogated. Fat people tend to have fat dogs, at least on my straw poll. We live in a world that is becoming like that of a painting by Fernando Botero, with the humor taken out.

An Absurd Suggestion Regarding the Casting of Actors

The dubious doctor rebukes the latest woke leftist nonsense regarding the selection of actors at the Royal Shakespeare Company in England over at The Epoch Times.

Here at The Skeptical Doctor, we sincerely hope that wokery will die a swift and spectacular death, so that we can move on to rebuilding European Christian civilization from among the ruins.

I think rather that Wokedom is analogous to diseases such as Kuru and Creutzfeldt-Jakob in humans and scrapie in sheep, caused by particles called prions that infect the brain and cause it to degenerate, resulting in strange and disturbed behavior ending in death. Unless a remedy is found, what will die, however, is not an individual human being but ultimately a culture and a civilization.

Election Bumpf

The May issue of The Critic features a blistering critique by the dissenting doctor of the demagogic leftist politician, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, and his unworkable socialist policies.

No lie appeals more to the dissatisfied than this, offering as it does the illusory hope of a confiscatory solution to life’s little problems. The best that can be said of it is that it permits the dissatisfied an access of hatred and moral outrage, which is always enjoyable and gratifying to experience. 

Frogs and Fouquet

In the May edition of New English Review, our inquisitive doctor strolls through the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris and discovers a curious tomb of a young Frenchman.

There is nothing like a cemetery, of course, for recalling to oneself the tragic dimension of life, the dimension that our constant busyness and pursuit of distraction is designed to veil from us, and that is largely successful: except that the tragic dimension will sooner or later take its revenge on our attempted insouciance.

No News is Bad News

In this week’s Takimag column, our perceptive doctor considers human happiness, the folly of following the news, and a poem by Thomas Gray.

People are addicted to news that has a deleterious psychological effect on them but that they are impotent to affect. No doubt some will claim that they follow the news in order to be prepared for the worst, but not only can they not avert the worst were it to happen, but often they will prepare for the worst when the worst will not happen, thus wasting their substance on chimeras. Foresight is all very well when it is accurate, but it is often disastrous when it is not.

The Face of Civilization?

In his Law & Liberty column, Theodore Dalrymple contrasts the changing form and worsening aesthetic of well-known Russian dissenters from the elegance Turgenev to the unsightliness of the bizarrely named Russian rapper, Face.

Neither Turgenev nor Face may be representative of the protest of their own times; still, the fact remains that the refinement of Turgenev would not be possible now, nor would the deliberate and self-conscious ugliness of Face have been possible, or even thinkable, in Turgenev’s time. Something has changed in human sensibility, and not only in Russia.

Three Impossible Promises Before Breakfast

Our favorite doctor finishes reading the manifestos of all 12 French presidential candidates and recounts the grueling ordeal over at Quadrant.

Most people say, moreover, that elections make little or no difference whoever is elected: everything remains the same, the ship of state, like a great tanker, cannot change direction but merely the crew on the bridge, all drawn from a class separate from the rest of the population (the political class), with its own interests and class solidarity that transcend apparent ideological differences.