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Index: Currente Calamo

This is our unstable world.

Michael Blackburn: ‘Sometimes I get the feeling that there are other, deeper, more subterranean forces at work, that cannot be ascribed purely to changes wrought by technology, politics or religion. The latter may just be the excrescences of those deeper forces. Without going all Spenglerian it seems obvious there is an arc to all empires and civilisations, of birth, development, achievement and then decay.’

Our mechanical life.

Michael Blackburn: ‘It’s no wonder so many young people leave school semi-literate and semi-numerate. How can you teach literature, for example, when you have to present pupils with fragments of a book only, and are actively discouraged from getting them to read the whole book? (I have two examples of this told to me recently.) ‘

This thing of darkness.

Michael Blackburn: ‘At the moment the situation is one of atomisation and fragmentation. But, disparate as all these idiocies are, if you put them together you have the left’s New Promethean society. I was going to say the New Man, a concept so beloved by both fascist and communists in the twentieth century, but these days “man” is unacceptable…’

Teaching by provocation.

Michael Blackburn: ‘hat many students are uneasy with is literature that doesn’t fit into neat boxes: poems whose syntax is unusual or fiction that has no discernible genre or narrative, that sort of thing. Poetry remains something of an outlier so it is easier to get them into dealing with it. I make it plain that there is no money in it and no fame either, so some playful stretching of language and form is acceptable as long as you accept permanent obscurity as your fate. Luckily this often works and ups the conversion rate.’

Clean up your ocean!

Michael Blackburn: ‘Slat is a brilliant example of entrepreneurial individualism applied to the kind of problem normally “solved” by corporate, state intervention. Clearly this annoys some people, who prefer the dominant collectivist approach to every problem. When “something must be done” they automatically turn their eyes to the state. ‘

Attention countryphiles: we are not all countrymaniacs.

Michael Blackburn: ‘There are smells too, pungent ones. If you’ve lived near a chicken farm you’ll know what I mean. Late summer there’s muck-spreading, of course, which is exactly what it sounds. And sometimes you’ll drive past a field which emanates the stench of something unspeakable — just as well, since you’ll never know what it is.’

A plea for decorum.

Michael Blackburn: ‘Call me Mr Cynical but I suspect Magid’s real passion is for himself, and he doesn’t appreciate the fact that the position of Mayor is something of itself and nothing to do with his own ego. A bit more decorum would serve him better and prevent what I believe will be the reaction to his posturing when he has left the post, namely embarrassment.’

The Horror of the Patriarchy.

Michael Blackburn: ‘This message, repeated so often that it has become one of those pseudo-truths beloved of the media, is always produced without scientific evidence; just as there is no scientific evidence that getting men to open up emotionally all the time results in better psychological health for them.’

Nostalgia: As good as it ever was.

Michael Blackburn: ‘The problem for the left with nostalgia is that the past did happen. It’s real. And even when some of it is “imagined” it is still composed of fragments of reality. More importantly it is an emotional response.’

1968 and all that.

Michael Blackburn: ‘Apart from their opposition to the Vietnam war I think the only things the students were complaining about that were related to reality were the old-fashioned methods of teaching at universities and the fact that living accommodation was segregated between men and women. Not exactly revolution fodder.’

I’m 25, give me my £10,000.

Michael Blackburn: ‘Again, we come up against the unquestioned assumption of all do-gooding, omnisapient, bleeding heart liberal types, that they can work out what needs to be done (because they’re clever like that) and that “we” (the taxpayers) must stump up for it.’

The drink.

Michael Blackburn: ‘It’s also about time I stood up and announced to you, dear reader, that my name is Michael Blackburn and I am not and never have been an alcoholic, though I was often called a drunk in my tippling days. Whatever large amounts I drank and for whatever length of time that lasted I never had what it took to be a full-on alcoholic — and I’ve known two people who did, literally, drink themselves to death.’

Are we all racists now?

Michael Blackburn: ‘The abominable and inexcusable treatment meted out to immigrants and their families over the decades is not in question. But the deliberate policy of the left in recent years of opening up the old wounds and pursuing a course of malevolent compassion, or rather malevolence masquerading as compassion in exploiting minority groups, is also abominable. ‘

Only for the lonely.

Michael Blackburn: ‘Theresa May begins to look more and more like Ted Heath, apart from going in opposite directions concerning the EU. She’s a bit soppy, and, like Cameron has done her best to change the perception of the Tories as the “nasty party” – a term which she coined herself.’

Jeremy’s wall.

Michael Blackburn: ‘Poor old Jeremy Corbyn didn’t have time to take a closer look at Kalen Ockerman’s mural, “Freedom of Humanity”, a few years ago, thus missing its anti-Jewish message and later embroiling him in accusations of being soft on anti-Semitism in his party. ‘