How does it feel to live in a time in which the grand establishment newspaper of record will publish, with grave seriousness and implicit nodding approval, the self-pitying posturings of a crazy who has created a personal identity and political ideology based on maladjustment and futile, self-destructive efforts to rebel against Nature and Reality?
Next Thursday, I will get a vagina. The procedure will last around six hours, and I will be in recovery for at least three months. Until the day I die, my body will regard the vagina as a wound; as a result, it will require regular, painful attention to maintain. This is what I want, but there is no guarantee it will make me happier. In fact, I donâ€™t expect it to. That shouldnâ€™t disqualify me from getting it.
I like to say that being trans is the second-worst thing that ever happened to me. (The worst was being born a boy.) …
I feel demonstrably worse since I started on hormones. One reason is that, absent the levies of the closet, years of repressed longing for the girlhood I never had have flooded my consciousness. I am a marshland of regret. Another reason is that I take estrogen â€” effectively, delayed-release sadness, a little aquamarine pill that more or less guarantees a good weep within six to eight hours.
Like many of my trans friends, Iâ€™ve watched my dysphoria balloon since I began transition. I now feel very strongly about the length of my index fingers â€” enough that I will sometimes shyly unthread my hand from my girlfriendâ€™s as we walk down the street. When she tells me Iâ€™m beautiful, I resent it. Iâ€™ve been outside. I know what beautiful looks like. Donâ€™t patronize me.
I was not suicidal before hormones. Now I often am.
I wonâ€™t go through with it, probably. Killing is icky. I tell you this not because Iâ€™m cruising for sympathy but to prepare you for what Iâ€™m telling you now: I still want this, all of it. I want the tears; I want the pain. Transition doesnâ€™t have to make me happy for me to want it. Left to their own devices, people will rarely pursue what makes them feel good in the long term. Desire and happiness are independent agents.
As long as transgender medicine retains the alleviation of pain as its benchmark of success, it will reserve for itself, with a dictatorâ€™s benevolence, the right to withhold care from those who want it. Transgender people have been forced, for decades, to rely for care on a medical establishment that regards them with both suspicion and condescension. And yet as things stand today, there is still only one way to obtain hormones and surgery: to pretend that these treatments will make the pain go away.
The medical maxim â€œFirst, do no harmâ€ assumes that health care providers possess both the means and the authority to decide what counts as harm. When doctors and patients disagree, the exercise of this prerogative can, itself, be harmful. Nonmaleficence is a principle violated in its very observation. Its true purpose is not to shield patients from injury but to install the medical professional as a little king of someone elseâ€™s body.
Let me be clear: I believe that surgeries of all kinds can and do make an enormous difference in the lives of trans people.
But I also believe that surgeryâ€™s only prerequisite should be a simple demonstration of want. Beyond this, no amount of pain, anticipated or continuing, justifies its withholding.
Nothing, not even surgery, will grant me the mute simplicity of having always been a woman. I will live with this, or I wonâ€™t. Thatâ€™s fine. The negative passions â€” grief, self-loathing, shame, regret â€” are as much a human right as universal health care, or food. There are no good outcomes in transition. There are only people, begging to be taken seriously.
Personally, I think that we sane and normal people have a lot more reason for melancholy based on sheer embarrassment over the contemptible intellectual state of our culture and establishment than does some nutcase who does not like the sexual characteristics he was born with.
I fail to understand how Society and the medical profession and government are all supposed to adapt to whims connected with sex on the part of an infinitesimally small number of deeply neurotic malcontents without feeling exactly the same obligation to “take seriously” and accommodate the wishes of every madman who thinks he is Napoleon.
Do you see common ground between you and Michel Houellebecq, with his critique of Western liberal societies, combined with no justification for reactionary alternatives like Islamist or Russian ones?
Yes, definitely. Crazy as it may sound, I have much respect for the honest liberal conservatives like Houellebecq, Finkielkraut, or Sloterdijk in Germany. One can learn from them much more than from progressive liberal like Habermas: honest conservatives are not afraid to admit the deadlock we are in. Houellebecqâ€™s Atomised is for me the most devastating portrait of the sexual revolution of the 1960s. He shows how permissive hedonism turns into the obscene superego universe of the obligation to enjoy. Even his anti-Islamism is more refined than it may appear: he is well aware how the true problem is not the Muslim threat from the outside, but our own decadence. Long ago Friedrich Nietzsche perceived how Western civilization was moving in the direction of the Last Man, an apathetic creature with no great passion or commitment. Unable to dream, tired of life, he takes no risks, seeking only comfort and security, an expression of tolerance with one another:
A little poison now and then: that makes for pleasant dreams. And much poison at the end, for a pleasant death. They have their little pleasures for the day, and their little pleasures for the night, but they have a regard for health. â€œWe have discovered happiness,â€ â€” say the Last Men, and they blink.
Brett Stevens notes that the birthrate of Europeans (and that of the more elite sectors of the American population) has fallen below replacement and he blames Modernity itself.
Modernity is killing us. As Plato intuited, the problem with bad systems is not solely that they are inept, but that this ineptitude shapes people. It causes people to despair. They then die out, much as Western Europeans are in Europe and North America. Why strive if life is fundamentally empty, miserable, and filled with neurotic worry?
Just as with animals, when we are in a good environment, we thrive; when we are confined, hopeless, cornered, despairing, miserable, or in pain, we will ourselves to death. Western European people worldwide have been living in a state of constant hopelessness since the end of WW1, but our doubt about life itself goes much deeper.
Modernity arose with the French Revolution. Away went the little villages ruled by gentle lords, the customs and culture, and the sense of purpose and faith in life itself that quelled our existential suffering. Before the Revolution, we knew we were doing the right thing if we lived according to our tradition.
After the Revolution, in came bureaucracy. Cities replaced the towns. Mass culture and mass mobilization replaced intelligent leadership. There was constant infighting, from the politics of elections to the churn among companies trying to decide who would control large swathes of the economy.
Our once-intelligent society had become shocking dumb. Not only did the stupid but obedient thrive in the age of managerial control, because every manager loves a low-risk worker even if that worker is not particularly good at anything, but all public opinions had to pander to a crowd with the collective intelligence of the audience for an amusement park.
Spread by social coercion, this stupidity quickly absorbed every institution in the West so that they got dumb together. Government got dumb at the same rate that the church, art scene, schools, professionals, corporations, and non-profits did. We kept pace as we rushed into the abyss.
By the time 1968 came around, ready for the coup de grÃ¢ce, the West had given up on itself for three generations. They had nothing to believe in because modern life was really not all that much fun. Sure, it was prosperous, but everyone spent their time in mindless unnecessary jobs, maintaining glitchy gadgets, babysitting third world or low caste labor, dealing with government and our crazy fellow citizens, filing paperwork, and otherwise being forced into confronting the tedious, ugly, and faith-crushing every day.
This delighted the Left, who are fundamentally neurotics that are motivated by a desire to destroy everything beautiful, good, and true because they do not detect those things in themselves. Solipsism, it turns out, is a form of neurosis where we mistake ourselves for the source of reality itself, when we are really only mirrors.
Our modern world makes us hate life. We spend way too much time working in jobs that are jails, then must live in ugly cities where most people are neurotic or otherwise low-grade mentally disturbed, and participate in a process of life that is designed to humble, humiliate, bore, and subjugate all of us. No wonder people are not reproducing.
Qaisar Mahmood, a Muslim born in Pakistan, is the new head of the Swedish National Heritage Board. This is an extremely anomalous appointment, since he readily admits that he has not read anything about Swedenâ€™s cultural heritage. But his new job is not really about preserving and protecting Swedenâ€™s cultural heritage and historical sites at all.
Qaisar Mahmood, who once rode his motorcycle around Sweden in an apparently failed attempt to discover what being Swedish consisted of, is using his position as head of the Swedish National Heritage Board not to highlight and celebrate that heritage, but to downplay Swedenâ€™s cultural heritage and history, and to create a false narrative that will help compel Swedes to accept mass Muslim migration. He says he doesnâ€™t want simply to alert people to Viking artifacts and the like, but to use Swedenâ€™s history to â€œcreate the narrativeâ€ that will make Muslim migrants â€œpart of something.â€
We have already seen how that works. Remember the fake news story about the Viking burial cloth bearing the word â€œAllahâ€? Last October, a Swedish researcher gained international headlines by claiming that burial costumes from Viking graves dating back to the ninth and tenth centuries had been found to be inscribed with the name â€œAllah.â€ The intent of this was obvious: to convince Swedes that Islam had always been a part of Sweden, all the way back to the days of the Vikings, and so they should not be concerned about the mass Muslim migration that was now bringing Sweden unprecedented rape and other crime rates. Islam has always been a part of Sweden! Stop opposing mass Muslim migration!
The Viking burial cloths didnâ€™t really feature the name â€œAllahâ€ at all, as Stephennie Mulder, an associate professor of Medieval Islamic art and archaeology at the University of Texas at Austin, proved shortly thereafter, but by then the damage had been done. The idea had entered, however dimly, the popular consciousness: the Vikings were really Muslims. Islam is Swedish. Sweden was Islamic before it was Christian. The Muslim migrants are Swedes.
The â€œAllahâ€ Viking burial cloth propaganda offensive was one manifestation of what Qaisar Mahmood and others like him are doing. There is no Muslim history in Sweden, but Qaisar Mahmood is working to change the very idea of cultural heritage and fabricate fictions about a historical Muslim presence in Sweden in order to advance his political and sociological agenda.
Qaisar Mahmood, as a Pakistani, of course has no Swedish heritage of his own. His admitted lack of knowledge of Swedish heritage and history ought to have disqualified him from his position, but this is how Sweden is obliterating itself and committing cultural and national suicide. After all, Swedes appointed Qaisar Mahmood to this position. It is Swedish leaders who want to destroy Swedish cultural and national identity.
KML Royal Super Constellation, cabin interior design by Henry Dreyfuss, from Revue der Reclame, 1954. Netherlands. Source. Pic 2/5: Club Lounge Pic 4: The Flying Chef offers a 7-course champagne dinner.
My students are know-nothings. They are exceedingly nice, pleasant, trustworthy, mostly honest, well-intentioned, and utterly decent. But their brains are largely empty, devoid of any substantial knowledge that might be the fruits of an education in an inheritance and a gift of a previous generation. They are the culmination of western civilization, a civilization that has forgotten nearly everything about itself, and as a result, has achieved near-perfect indifference to its own culture.
Itâ€™s difficult to gain admissions to the schools where Iâ€™ve taught â€“ Princeton, Georgetown, and now Notre Dame. Students at these institutions have done what has been demanded of them: they are superb test-takers, they know exactly what is needed to get an A in every class (meaning that they rarely allow themselves to become passionate and invested in any one subject); they build superb resumes. They are respectful and cordial to their elders, though easy-going if crude with their peers. They respect diversity (without having the slightest clue what diversity is) and they are experts in the arts of non-judgmentalism (at least publically). They are the cream of their generation, the masters of the universe, a generation-in-waiting to run America and the world.
But ask them some basic questions about the civilization they will be inheriting, and be prepared for averted eyes and somewhat panicked looks. Who fought in the Peloponnesian War? Who taught Plato, and whom did Plato teach? How did Socrates die? Raise your hand if you have read both the Iliad and the Odyssey. The Canterbury Tales? Paradise Lost? The Inferno?
Who was Saul of Tarsus? What were the 95 theses, who wrote them, and what was their effect? Why does the Magna Carta matter? How and where did Thomas Becket die? Who was Guy Fawkes, and why is there a day named after him? What did Lincoln say in his Second Inaugural? His first Inaugural? How about his third Inaugural? What are the Federalist Papers?
Some students, due most often to serendipitous class choices or a quirky old-fashioned teacher, might know a few of these answers. But most students have not been educated to know them. At best, they possess accidental knowledge, but otherwise are masters of systematic ignorance. It is not their â€œfaultâ€ for pervasive ignorance of western and American history, civilization, politics, art and literature. They have learned exactly what we have asked of them â€“ to be like mayflies, alive by happenstance in a fleeting present.
Our studentsâ€™ ignorance is not a failing of the educational system â€“ it is its crowning achievement. Efforts by several generations of philosophers and reformers and public policy experts â€” whom our students (and most of us) know nothing about â€” have combined to produce a generation of know-nothings. The pervasive ignorance of our students is not a mere accident or unfortunate but correctible outcome, if only we hire better teachers or tweak the reading lists in high school. It is the consequence of a civilizational commitment to civilizational suicide.
Fewer than 1 percent of papers published in scientific journals follow the scientific method, according to research by Wharton School professor and forecasting expert J. Scott Armstrong.
Professor Armstrong, who co-founded the peer-reviewed Journal of Forecasting in 1982 and the International Journal of Forecasting in 1985, made the claim in a presentation about what he considers to be â€œalarmismâ€ from forecasters over man-made climate change.
â€œWe also go through journals and rate how well they conform to the scientific method. I used to think that maybe 10 percent of papers in my field â€¦ were maybe useful. Now it looks like maybe, one tenth of one percent follow the scientific methodâ€ said Armstrong in his presentation, which can be watched in full below. â€œPeople just donâ€™t do it.â€
Armstrong defined eight criteria for compliance with the scientific method, including full disclosure of methods, data, and other reliable information, conclusions that are consistent with the evidence, valid and simple methods, and valid and reliable data.
According to Armstrong, very little of the forecasting in climate change debate adheres to these criteria. â€œFor example, for disclosure, we were working on polar bear [population] forecasts, and we were asked to review the governmentâ€™s polar bear forecast. We asked, â€˜could you send us the dataâ€™ and they said â€˜Noâ€™â€¦ So we had to do it without knowing what the data were.â€
According to Armstrong, forecasts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) violate all eight criteria.
â€œWhy is this all happening? Nobody asks them!â€ said Armstrong, who says that people who submit papers to journals are not required to follow the scientific method.
Harry Mount is frustrated to find that most tailors have succumbed to the two-button suit trend.
Last week I walked along Jermyn Street, spiritual home of the gentlemanâ€™s suit, and noticed something shocking. The jackets in the shop windows had lots of materials â€” tweed, cotton, wool â€” in all colours, shades and checks. But every single jacket had two buttons.
When did tailors get so boringly uniform? Why has the three-button suit â€” the classic style that dominated the 20th century â€” been wiped off the map? As a diehard three-button man, am I a fogeyish dinosaur, a walking Bateman cartoon: â€˜The Man Who Wore a Three-Button Suit in the 21st Centuryâ€™?
I seek solace (and a new three-button suit, in storm- grey, 13-ounce birdseye wool) from Tina Loder, a tailor for more than 30 years, and one of the few women tailors on Savile Row. â€˜Weâ€™re going through a two-button cycle, just as we went through a three-button cycle a decade ago,â€™ she says. â€˜Two buttons signal a casual informality and egalitarianism.â€™
But what if I donâ€™t want to look casually informal and egalitarian?