George Walford: Notes & Quotes (64)

EXPEDIENCY: the ideology in which conscience comes as a still, small voice saying somebody may be watching.

LIBERAL reformers of the 19th C feared an extended franchise: ‘The masses were then, as now, more conservative than their champions: (Peter Gay in The Cultivation of Hatred).

AN ideology is a way of organising reality.

ANOTHER driver leapt from his car and threatened her. She poured the baby’s watered orange juice down the front of his trousers: ‘Oh, look,’ she said, ‘you seem to have had an accident.’

‘PROGRESS’ – the optimists’ term for change.

‘WHEN I want a peerage I will buy one, like an honest man’ (Alfred Harnsworth, later Lord Northcliffe).

GLOBAL warming? That was last week. Fashionable reformers now worry about the male sperm count. But there’s usually a spoilsport: Professor Ian Stewart: ‘there is no evidence in these data for a significant decline in sperm number.’

COLERIDGE killed off two hundred men because one had shot an albatross. Now that’s taking ecology seriously.

COMPARISONS: If A is worse than B, then B is better than A. The ideology of the speaker decides which gets emphasised.

CIRCULATIONS: Sun 4 million, Daily Mirror 2.5 million, daily. If any anti-capitalist or anti-state journal sells one million copies annually IC would be glad to hear.

‘UNCENSORED’, a supplement to the Observer, proved unpleasant in parts, otherwise dull. Has the censor hidden from us no more than this? Or, was ‘Uncensored’ censored?

SOME NHS hospitals have withdrawn some treatments from patients over 65. Should we still feel superior to the Eskimo, leaving their old folk to die in the igloo while the sledge goes on?

MAURICE Godelier, anthropologist: ‘Is the West the mirror or the mirage of the evolution of humanity?’ If the West demonstrates evolution at all, it is of society rather than humanity.

‘YOU and the Lord have made a grand job of this garden!’ ‘Yes. You should have seen it when He had it all to Himself!’ (David McDonagh).

The aura of condemnation surrounding ideology arises from the recognition that as a set of assumptions, ideas and so on, an ideology imposes restrictions on arbitrary freedom. That by doing so it brings within reach achievements otherwise unattainable is less easily seen.

SOME Buddhist sects hold that the gods are unable to attain enlightenment because of the distracting behaviour of the goddesses. (Michael Cook)

LOSSES by the American air travel industry over the past four years have exceeded all the profits made by US airlines since powered flight began.

‘ABRAHAM Lincoln was born in a log cabin which he built with his own hands.’ (US college student)

STEPHEN Fry explains God’s decline: He used to get Bach, George Herbert, St. Augustine. Now it’s people with ginger whiskers and a diploma from King’s College London.

GODFREY Smith reminds us that in the dictionary the four-letter word comes between frustration and fulfilment.

‘PLANNING the sewerage of Utopia.’ It’s a sneer, but Utopia without sewers would lose much of its attractiveness.

JOHN Keats notes the tendency of intellectuals to love mankind in general while despising their neighbour in particular.

FEMALE circumcision arouses horrified protest; not so the more common mutilation of the male. This is not always a lighter operation; the radical version used by the Dowayo causes severe malformation often enough to affect their birthrate, killing some and bringing infection to others.

SCIENCE means precision: A team on the Berkeley cyclotron detected about one anti-proton for 100,000 events.

NATIONALISM: An Ossi to a Wessi: ‘Hello; we are one people.’ ‘So are we.’

REMEMBER ‘Potemkin’ villages? Potemkin was supervisor of public works to Catherine the Great; when time was short he had her inspect only the facades of the new towns on her itinerary.

TODAY’S news wraps tomorrow’s chips.

RAW Statistics: A small school scored 100% with its university applicants. General astonishment – until it was discovered that it had only put one contestant forward.

HOLY Communion falls into a special category of cannibalism called theophagy, the Eating of Gods.

PRACTICALLY all chickens have been domesticated. Or, from the other side, a bird species has managed to persuade a mammal species to take over the hatching and rearing of its young.

FREEDOM is a polysemic term.

‘ANTHROPOLOGY largely neglects the individual to deal in generalisations. Generalizations always tell a little lie in the service of a greater truth.’ (Nigel Barley).

from Ideological Commentary 64, June 1994.