NIAT: ‘Perfect co-ordination is achieved only when there is nothing to co-ordinate.’ (C. N. Parkinson).
NIAT: Bob Black offers a statement (from Harpo Marx) which is absolutely true, not in any way false, questionable or even conditional: ” .”
NOTHING washes whiter than Persil.
CAPITALISM causes war? Might as well say that computers cause calculation. War was around long before capitalism appeared.
RECOGNISE anything? ‘a package of precepts that forbids adultery but makes no mention of rape, that tells us to observe the Sabbath but does not forbid torture, that expects me not to covet my neighbour’s wife but which places no restriction upon her coveting her neighbour’s husband…’ (Eric Stockton, in Lady Godiva).
ROBERT Graves reported having met, in America, a man of his own age, better off than himself, whose income came from lecturing about him.
ACADEMIC subjects must be difficult of access to laymen ‘ – otherwise, what would we have to teach them?’ (Ernest Gellner)
CUSTOMER to flowerseller: ‘Yes, they are for my daughter’s coming-out.’ ‘Oh, that’s nice. What was she in for?’
STOCKING the shelves of a supermarket to suit the varying tastes of customers calls for greater flexibility and sensitivity than voting and debate can offer. ‘Surpluses, shortages and rationing are the familiar results of political intervention.’ (F. Mount)
BURKE, a conservative, maintained that since everything is connected with everything else we must proceed delicately and cautiously. Radicals draw the contrary conclusion, that since everything is connected, to change anything we must change everything. (Alan Ryan)
WHAT would we like for Christmas? Shares in the Inland Revenue.
INTELLECTUALS pay more attention to their internal debate than to the external world they are supposed to be talking about. (Tony Judt)
ADVENTURERS’ conversation: ‘Tell me, old boy, what’s it like, eating dog?’ ‘Oh, much the same as cat, you know’.
‘UNTIL retirement age, cars are our most likely killers.’ (Rosalind Coward)
TECHNOLOGY has given the police cameras for traffic surveillance, with photoflash to record violations. It also offers drivers numberplates which defeat these cameras by reflecting the flash.
‘THE editor’s indecision is final.’ (George Seddon)
EXPLAINING that in America a funeral ‘vault’ is a sealed container for the coffin, there known as a casket, Jessica Mitford sums it up: an American funeral vault is a casket with a gasket.
SALESMEN of urns for cremated ashes have been known to warn prospective customers that ashes not properly cared for are open to many risks, including that of fire. (Jessica Mitford)
MONA Lisa, smiling as if she had just dined on her husband. (J. G. Ballard).
ANARCHISTS oppose government because it defends freedom – the freedom to coerce, to oppress and exploit.
DOCTORS and lawyers, in medical or legal difficulties, turn to other doctors or lawyers for help. Social workers, in the sort of trouble with which their profession undertakes to deal, are unlikely to turn to other social workers for help. ‘It is an inescapably de haut en bas relationship.’ (Paul Barker)
EXPEDIENCY: German historians speak of Resistenz, meaning partial resistance to Nazism when it seriously interfered with the way people lived. They distinguish this from Widerstand, general resistance on principle. (R. Evans)
HISTORY, a.k.a. the survivor’s revenge.
RECIPROCITY: We acknowledge the notice of IC in further too, with their comment that anybody who mentions them deserves to be noticed. (This can be kept up till the Revolution).
PRECISION meets Reform: Matthew Arnold regarded his friend, Arthur Hugh Clough (‘Say not the struggle naught availeth…’) as an intellectual prevented from writing beautiful poetry by his concern with the destabilizing activity of radical politics. Arnold opposed to this an aesthetic of ‘fixity’; classical literature, he maintained, pointed towards ethical stability. (I. Armstrong)
CONSERVATISM: Defending the imperfect against the untried.
‘LIKE all great anti-rationalists Chuang-tzu has his reasons for not listening to reason.’ (A. C. Graham)
FORAGERS spend so much time sitting about because their way of life offers them nothing more interesting to do. Rather than freedom, it shows their subjection to natural limitations.
COMMANDMENT for the popular press: Thou shalt not omit adultery.
REGULAR armies liberated the general population from military obligations, releasing energy for commercial, industrial, intellectual and artistic creation. (John Keegan, The Mask of Command)
‘An authentic reproduction is a genuine oxymoron.’ (Ada Louis Huxtable).
‘TRUE liberty consists of coming and going in peace, reflecting, and above all dining at usual times.’ (Delacroix, sent in by Margaret Chisman).
SINCE 1900 more Americans have died in fires than in wars.(Sunday Times)
HUMANITY began in freedom from social constraints and has used that freedom to impose them upon itself.
ERIC Stockton asks: ‘Is it merely an accident that religious nonconformity and political liberalism have often been embraced by the same people?’
from Ideological Commentary 61, August 1993.