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John Gray on Desert Island Disks

And his first choice, Bowie’s “My Way” — i.e. Life on Mars. Though he came to self-awareness in the ’60s he preferred the harder-edged and more poetic ’70s. His one item: a lifetime’s supply of Marmite. Sound chap. ConservatismDavid BowieHistoryIsaiah Berlinjohn grayKirsty YoungLiberalismLibertarianismmarmitePolitical philosophyprogressstoicism

Forgetfulness: Making the Modern Culture of Amnesia

John Gray very warmly reviews Francis O’Gorman’s Forgetfulness: Making the Modern Culture of Amnesia. Trying to control culture from a rationalistic perspective is bound to frustrate: the upshot is that cultural marxists have to double down, manifest as even more authoritarian. Their whole project is akin to “pissing in the wind” but we pay a grim price…

Hobby Horses

John Gray discusses the reissue of A Guide to the Classics or How to Pick the Derby Winner in the Literary Review. For both authors, the point of betting on the horses was not so much profiting from the wager as the satisfaction that came from picking the winner. A Guide to the ClassicsGuy Griffithjohn grayMichael…

Fellow-travellers and useful idiots

John Gray in the New Statesman. Islamist movements fill this gap by combining hatred of the West with Leninist methods of remodelling society by force – a mix that some on the left evidently find appealing. authoritarianismjohn grayKoestlerregressive lefttotalitarianism

The Opium of the Intellectuals

What with the “communisants” (the priesthood and their bureaucratic Stasi-like enforcers) in charge of the academy, Raymond Aron’s classic The Opium of the Intellectuals (the original English translation freely available here), still has resonance. (Want to know more about Aron? — a good place to start is here and here and I’d highly recommend Aron’s wonderfully lucid two-volume Main Currents of Sociological Thought).…

Giacomo Leopardi

Leopardi is quite possibly my favourite poet, this despite my reading him in English and being aware that quite a bit must be getting lost. Anyway, David Bentley Hart reviews Zibaldone published a few years back pointing out in his review Leopardi’s paradoxical cast of mind as does the always insightful John Gray (second and third quotes) He had a particular…