Saturday, 30 January 2021

Imagination and Wisdom

“Imagination is a poor matter when it has to part company with understanding.” Carlyle


“They only are wise who know that they know nothing.” Carlyle



Imagination is a paltry thing indeed,

If it appears when understanding ends.

But who can tell what dreams comprise?

Great fiction and great truth arise

Together, often, you will find.

Yet he is only wise who comprehends

He knows no thing at all and can’t succeed

In much, if aught. And yet what then?

Can he not dream and conjure from his mind

Such fantasies as comfort honest men,

Who knowing they know naught are therefore wise?


 

The Scientific Advisory Group For Emergencies



“The society exists for the benefit of its members; not its members for the benefit of the society.” (Herbert Spencer)


The Society of Scientists exists, 

One must remember,

For the benefit of each most worthy member.

It’s worthy members on the other hand,

Whose disciplines are of a great variety,

Do not exist to benefit society,

Surely this is something you can understand. 

You see our members really just advise,

It’s governments decide, though they are wise

And their decisions are identical to those

Great policies our scientists propose.






 

I Might Need A Hero (based on quotes from Carlyle and Spencer)


(“Democracy means despair of finding any heroes to govern you, and contented putting up with the want of them.”)


There are no heroes, I am in despair,

There’s only one great fool with bleached, blonde hair, 

And up with this I really cannot put,

So sweet contentment never fills my soul,

And yet I needs must keep my mouth closed shut,

And dream in silence, for each silly poll

Of men’s opinions shows I am alone,

And others, as imprisoned as am I

Rejoice in their confinement, and atone

For eating, speaking, meeting up with friends,

As for a mortal sin. They think that death

Stalks all the land, cuts short and makes last breath

More painful than the norm. And fear attends

Their every waking hour, and they spy

Upon their neighbours, whom they cannot trust

And treat them not with love, but with disgust.


(“The first duty of man is that of subduing fear”.)


Where is the man who might subdue their fear? 

The hero, not an actor, empty, fake,

With spiteful face behind a mask, and near

At hand a set of props, a graph, a chart,

Designed to prove there is no small mistake,

For he counts only exponential gains

And uses marvellous scientific brains,

To squash the worthless crying of the heart.


(“Hero-worship is strongest where there is least regard for human freedom”.)


Yet we must pause and question the idea

Of hero worship and the one great man,

Where freedom’s held as naught from year to year,

We needs must live as wisely as we can.

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

On Several Quotes By Thomas Carlyle

“The eternal stars shine out again, so soon as it is dark enough.“


“He who has no vision of eternity has no hold on time.”


Every day that is born into the world comes like a burst of music and rings the whole day through, and you make of it a dance, a dirge, or a life march, as you will.


Silence is as deep as eternity, speech as shallow as time.



When pitch dark night is black as Hell

And truth is crushed into the dust

Because men feel lies do as well,

And there are none whom one can trust,

Then each day born into the world

Comes like a burst of music, ringing through.

And we can make of it a dance,

A dirge, a march, a light romance,

A sorrow saturated blue,

Or mad whirl for a pantomime.

Yet we could also choose instead,

To listen to the silence, deep,

Eternal wisdom, long asleep,

And reconsider how we twirled,

Responding to the rhythmic day,

And think of careless things we said

And worse things we might think to say

For speech is shallow as is time.

When pitch dark night is black as Hell

And truth is crushed into the dust

Because men feel lies do as well,

And there are none whom one can trust,

And times seem dire and living rough,

And those in power, petty men

And all seems naught and naught sublime,

Then wait, for when it’s dark enough,

Eternal stars shine out again. 











 

On Three Quotes From Disraeli

 “There is no act of treachery or meanness of which a political party is not capable; for in politics there is no honour.”


“The tone and tendency of liberalism...is to attack the institutions of the country under the name of reform and to make war on the manners and customs of the people under the pretext of progress.”



“How much easier it is to be critical than to be correct.”



We’d stoop to any low, we would not care,

There is no barrel’s bottom we’d not scrape,

All treachery and meanness seem quite fair,

No need for argument, worse than red tape.

Easier to be critical than correct,

And since I am in power, and elect,

I needs must issue orders by decree.

In politics no honour can exist, 

The knife is more effective giv’n a twist.

Our sole priority’s to cause despair,

Among the many whom do not agree,

With our fine, progressive, ‘liberal’ view.

My enemies shall somehow come to see,

Old institutions are much better when made new,

Reflecting something of the greatness which is me. 


 



Thursday, 14 January 2021

The Road To Hell Is Paved With Them.



“One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.” 

Milton Friedman


To make a judgement based on what men say

About their worthwhile plans and good intentions,

Is to prejudge and foolishly display

A childish hope. For men love new inventions,

Imagining the world can change its course,

They promise much and really do believe

Their policies and schemes will have some force,

But truly you should not be so naive.

For human nature mostly stays the same

And there is always crime, corruption, greed,

But men fool others, therein lies the shame

In politics it is in this that men succeed.

. 

On Twitter

 “Wherever the relevance of speech is at stake, matters become political by definition, for speech is what makes man a political being.” Hannah Arendt


Articulated matters are political,

You really know this very well.

And speech is always relevant. You’ll find

When man is free to speak and to be critical,

The system which allows him to be heard

Allows a certain mind, more analytical,

Than one supposes might exist among the herd

Of sheep one deems his followers,

To question his every word.

And questioning has never undermined

Our politics completely, that’s a fact,

And questioning must take the form of speech,

And speech requires our systems left in tact,

Which grant communication in full flow.

The place for bullying and over-reach

Is Hell

Where ‘Liberals’ go who do not wish to know.

Instructions From The Prime Minister



“The trouble with lying and deceiving is that their efficiency depends entirely upon a clear notion of the truth that the liar and deceiver wishes to hide.“ Hannah Arendt



Since truth, in this regard, is not a clear notion,

Then our deceits and lies are inefficient,

We can’t-be blamed, please put aside emotion,

And concentrate on how to comprehend

The world through counter-intuition,

I think you’ll find this helps you justify our end.

Our means, you’ll find of very little matter,

When once you understand the truth is vague,

So please be deaf, ignore the chatter,

Ignore those words which I myself may once have said,

On promises a man like me needs must renege,

Suppress the men who speak of freedom killed stone dead!

When all the world insists there is a plague,

Then who am I to disabuse them of this fancy

And speak of life and liberty, instead.




 

For Those Who Cheer On Power,

 

“Power and violence are opposites; where the one rules absolutely, the other is absent. Violence appears where power is in jeopardy, but left to its own course it ends in power's disappearance.” Hannah Arendt



Violence is opposite to power,

Where there is power that is absolute

Then violence is absent, till the hour

When it becomes an easy substitute.

When power is in jeopardy then force

Will fill vacated space and take control,

But mark the way this sequence always ends,

When violence is left to its own course

It takes on power’s mantle, but its role

Is not to reinstall what’s been displaced,

For violence seeks not to make amends,

Nor does it punish rightly the disgraced,

It’s power’s end that violence always brings,

And power has violence waiting in the wings. 

On Three Quotes By Hannah Arendt

 On Three Quotes By Hannah Arendt


“Action, as distinguished from fabrication, is never possible in isolation; to be isolated is to be deprived of the capacity to act.” 


“True goal of totalitarian propaganda is not persuasion, but organization of the polity. ... What convinces masses are not facts, and not even invented facts, but only the consistency of the system of which they are presumably part.” 


“Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow.”


We’ll keep the people isolated, now,

Remove their great capacity to act.

Until they’re vaccinated, anyhow,

Or some time there about, we’ll find a fact

To suit our worthy cause, as we see fit.

We are consistent in our endless change,

We seek not any real benefit,

We seek not to persuade, just rearrange

Society to show we are in charge.

We know that they’ll believe the very worst,

We’ll magnify absurdity, make large,

Exaggerate statistics, we’re not first

In doing so, nor will be last, we lie

To them because we know they don’t object,

Believing that our aim is to protect.

We’re right to act with cunning, for the sly

Have always governed and deception

When implemented well will guarantee

Success, and after all, they know they’re free:

They can vote, in another election.






Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Californianism

 “The rude, raw, 'let it all hang out' freedom of the Californian hippies was in fact the most censorious and oppressive of societies that I have encountered.” Roger Scruton


The Californian hippy, rude and raw,

And ‘let it all ‘hang out, man’, was an actor,

In truth he was the most censorious bore,

Thought oppression fitting for a benefactor.

A man who seeks to bring about great change,

Destroy convention, always rearrange

The world in his own image, one great mess,

Untidy, shabby, scruffy quite unkempt,

Holds everyone beneath his vast contempt. 


Abstract Freedom of Liberal Intellect

 "The abstract, unreal freedom of the liberal intellect was really nothing more than childish disobedience, amplified into anarchy." Roger Scruton


The abstract freedom of the intellect

Unreal, liberal,

Was really nothing more than childishness

And disobedience and disrespect,

Amplified into anarchy, 

Easy to refute,

Impractical, absolute.

Yet now we are asked to elect,

Politicians who seek to expand

The laws of this once great land

By turning every senseless demand

Into crushing statute.


In Group Behaviour.

“ Faking is a social activity in which people act together to draw a veil over unwanted realities and encourage each other in the exercise of their illusory powers.” (Roger Scruton)


As ape like creatures our proclivity 

To fake is a social activity.

And acting together to draw a veil

To cover unwanted reality

Which we cannot allow to prevail

If we wish to preserve our sanity

We succeed in maintaining faith, belief

Not only in our

Entirely illusory power,

But with the rearranging of chairs

On the decks of the sinking ship

We encourage others in the exercise of theirs,

And find to our great relief

That truth’s less important than friendship.

Friday, 8 January 2021

On Modern Moral Psychology

 All humanity consists of five main types.

You can class them on the fingers of one hand.

The nice ones are the lefties with their gripes

About the world not really being fair,

Because, I think you need to understand,

That this is how we neutral people judge.

The others are the nasty right wing sort,

Authoritarians and racists, homophobes,

Who ought to shuffle off this mortal coil,

Because they disapprove of 'others' and begrudge

The outgroup taking all their jobs

While at the same time moaning about benefits,

Paid out to shirkers, how they rant!

They don't like change, they're thick and toil

At red neck work, and don't like slobs,

But that's because they're racists, in the end,

Everything comes down to this, you comprehend.

The lefties are the caring, loving goodies,

Keeping standards low and hugging hoodies.

But I'm an academic and no slant

Of bias can be found within my work.

There's nothing that I claim I cannot verify,

By referencing myself, though this might terrify

Those who search for scientific rigour.

I do not give a toss, because I'm bigger

Than those morons on the right,

Who are not very bright,

What are they to me?  I'm Mr Big, I'm Mr Haidt


Or wait,

Perhaps I’m really Mr Haidt

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

On Listening to Oistrakh Playing Prokofiev.

 


Only a note, or two at most, are needed,

Before the brain is calm with satisfaction,

And intellectual stimulation, leaves behind

Deep peace, like God, washed all about the brain,

One feels refreshed, as after summer rain

And highly complex music has succeeded,

Where other types of human interaction

Have left me cold or left no trace upon my mind.



"There Is No Art To Find The Mind's Construction In The Face"

 "There’s nothing as significant as a human face. Nor as eloquent. We can never really know another person, except by our first glance at him. Because, in that glance, we know everything. Even though we’re not always wise enough to unravel the knowledge.” Ayn Rand


No art to find the mind within the face,

And all that can be known is known at first

The mind's construction always leaves a trace

And we see all, at once, the best and worst.

What other thing holds such significance

That we're equipped to comprehend it all

Within a single glance? With confidence

We can discern the spirit mean and small

The kindly heart, most warm and strong and true,

The intellect of sheer brilliance

The artist in his melancholy blue

The stoic with his strength, resilience.

 Yet oft ignoring what’s before our eyes,

We do not judge lest we might then despise.

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Lockdown 3 Based on Two Quotes By John Milton.

 “Thou can’st not touch the freedom of my mind”

“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven..” 


Though thou wouldst have me locked within a cell,

So like the virus thou wouldst keep from me

The mind is its own place, can make a heav’n of hell. 

Thou canst not touch the freedom of my mind,

Nor of mine eyes, for I am free to see,

Though thou wouldst have me child-like, mole-like, blind

Tis not within thy power. I comprehend

The limits of thy would-be endless reach,

Though thou might bind my tongue or gag my speech,

Though thou might seek to dull our frightened brains,

Thou hast not yet, and thus freedom remains,

For us to serve until our tranquil end.