George Walford: Notes & Quotes (62)

NIAT: ‘A reduction in road accidents is a good thing’ might seem to be an absolute truth, but no. Organs for transplants grow increasingly scarce, and surgeons blame the declining number of traffic victims. (Observer 19 Sept).

NIAT: ‘Nothing ought to be compulsory reading.’ (Alan Ryan TLS May 21, 9)

NIAT: Physical quantities like energy have a smallest unit, the quantum, beyond which they cannot be further divided. Measurement can be accurate only to the nearest quantum.

‘BLOOD and Soil.’ To one group, the essence of Zionism; to another, nothing but tetanus infection. (Avishair Margulit, Sent in by Peter Lumsden).

BERNIE Grant, MP, suggests offering blacks money to help them leave Britain. Eric Stockton replies: Why favour blacks? Pay the fares of all who may want to emigrate. (Lady Godiva).

LINKING occupation with ideology Robin Fox contrasts ‘reactionary’ archaeologists with ‘liberal’ anthropologists, ‘well known for their ingenuous dedication to any and all radical causes’.

FERDINAND Mount asks: If market socialism gets the best of both worlds, why is there so little of it around?

MIDLAND HIV workers outnumber their clients by about eight to one. (Jody Wells, Sunday Times 24 October 93)

NICHOLAS Culpeper, 17th Century herbalist, saw traditional Galenic medicine and the Royal College of Physicians (authorised to police the profession), as representatives of tyranny and the Norman yoke. Herbalist reform in medicine comes with reformist politics the way religious nonconformity accompanies political liberalism.

‘”YOU can’t break eggs without making an omelette.” That’s what they tell the eggs.’ (Randall Jarrell)

POVERTY: Developing world countries spent almost $150 billion on weapons and armies in 1988. (Paul Kennedy)

FOR a Spanish anarchist the religious authorities favoured, as usual, the death penalty, ‘always a surprising posture seeing as they made a very large mistake once.’ (J. Pilgrim, Freedom).

EARLY this century Tolstoi complained of the lack of real philosophy; Kant and Hegel one could respect while disagreeing; Nietzsche was a mere feuilletonist.

WHILE computers excel at detecting differences, the human mind derives its generalising power from its tendency to overlook them. (Hugh Kenner)

HUSH, hush, whisper who dare. Christopher Robin’s been taken in care.

S.i. ascribes the great religions to the ideology of Domination, linking them with the military. Even Buddhism: ‘In Sri Lanka Buddhist monks have taken up arms.’ (Malise Ruthven).

RADICALS tend to see the coming revolution in every change of popular taste. Alan Ryan assures us that rap and hip-hop are just another entertainment fashion, not the agents of a desired or feared apocalypse.

LAURA Ashley’s catalogue of country clothes shows an elegant model on a grassy hillside, dancing barefoot among the thistles, cow-pats and sheepdung.

EAMMON Casey, Bishop of Galway, broke his vow of celibacy, becoming a father. Another priest pointed out, in Casey’s favour, that at least he had not used contraceptives.

‘WE who are about to die salute you.’ The famous phrase is known to have been used just once, and then by condemned criminals. A successful gladiator could expect comfortable retirement.

BODY POLITIC sets out to bring sex back into socialism: ‘What’s the use of creating a perfect society if all we’re allowed to do is wear baggy dungarees and read Socialist Briefing?’

WAR has this frightful utility: it gets you out of the house. (James Fenton. He was speaking of kings).

PERMISSIVENESS has ended euphemisms? How about PC, with its polysyllabic circumlocutions in place of ‘poor,’ ‘blind,’ ‘fat’ and ‘ short?’

SUPPORT for ‘freedom,’ unspecified, includes support for the freedom to stop people doing things.

GOD himself cannot beat the ace of trumps with the two of hearts. (J. Moore)

ROBERT Conquest proclaims his membership of the Society for the Abolition of Models, Methodologies, Paradigms and Parameters. He invites to membership all who prefer the study of complex realities to the simpler task of reifying formula or fantasy.

AFTER hearing two eye-witness accounts of a motor accident you wonder about history. (Insurance underwriter).

TAKEN seriously, nonviolence brings problems: ‘It is very tiring to be worrying all the time that you may be harming some living thing.’ (A Jain monk in Gita Mehta’s A River Sutra).

‘Progress… is not always change from bad to good, or from good to better.’ (G.M.Trevelyan English Social History)

‘DEMOCRACIES compete badly with despotisms.’ (William Pfaff). Then why are most of the great powers more or less democratic?

SOCIETY is collapsing? It always has been: ‘I have lived to see things all as bad as they can be.’ (Dr. Johnson, 1788).

SINCE 1,000 BCE the number of autonomous political units in the world has been decreasing. Extrapolation of the trend gives unification of the planet by about 2300 CE. (Llewellyn, Ted C.)

THEORY of everything? Well, nearly. Being a theory of the physical world it would exclude a few little things like human and social behaviour.

PEACEFUL traffic on British roads kills many times more than rioters, gangsters, muggers, police, thugs, drug-pushers and IRA put together.

from Ideological Commentary 62, November 1993.