Much as Boris Johnson tends to lead with his chin, …

and notwithstanding his being of too undiplomatic a disposition for the high office he held until recently, or, moreover, his exhibitions of egregious buffoonery, he is nevertheless emphatically right about the dangers entailed by recent assaults on freedom of speech, be it ever so offensive. It is, of course, possible to argue one’s case “sans toucher aux personnes”, but to choke the human voice is the worst of all follies. The poisoning is effected incrementally, as are doses of arsenic, a metaphor I’ve borrowed from Victor Klemperer’s Lingua Tertii Imperii, a compelling examination of the artificial denaturing of language during the Third Reich. Klemperer demonstrates this to have been a process of which the young were scarcely aware until its toxicity had already taken effect, hence the appropriateness of the metaphor “Arsendosen”. If there is a difference, it is that the current insanity was foreseeable as early as 1985, at least by me, because I remember expressing my apprehensions when teaching in Strasbourg. LJ

We need a campaign for free speech to take on the professionally offended
— Read on www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/11/04/need-new-campaign-free-speech-take-professionally-offended/

The age of envy: how to be happy when everyone else’s life looks perfect | Life and style | The Guardian

The competition is in the mirror. Gratitude for the opportunity of being alive is proper to our condition. Envy is nothing new, indeed it is an error as old as the world, though it is true that people are now seeking the wrong axis through self-scrutiny and in social media, nor is the answer generally to be found in the vapourings of the lifestyle articles of the Guardian. The confessions of the first paragraph are ugly revelations, better dissembled, since they are of limited objective interest. Seek wisdom, not status. Study for the joy of discovery, learn a few languages, take some exercise and don’t look for rewards. Delight in the success of others and help them to achieve it; often, their progress will bring burdens of responsibility you would prefer not to shoulder anyway. That is their affair. The author of this article, who feels she is doing something important, could have learnt the rudimentary grammar of a language in the time it took to write this commentary on our times. Envy has always been the enemy; my father, who possessed little that he hadn’t forged by his own effort, by-passed it altogether by taking pleasure in birdsong, gardening and playing the flute. The implicit message of this article is that the author has been aspiring to be her own axis; this is a cardinal error, known as that of the “moi désaxé”, or the misplaced axis of the self. If there is no longer a being external to us in whom to invest our faith, there is still the business of studying the accumulated knowledge of our forebears in science and in the arts, an endeavour that will free us from solipsism. This is an endless cure for envy. LJ

Social media has created a world in which everyone seems ecstatic – apart from us. Is there any way for people to curb their resentment?
— Read on www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/oct/09/age-envy-be-happy-everyone-else-perfect-social-media

UN says Facebook helped fuel Rohingya ethnic cleansing

Damning, if true. Social media will have a lot to answer for in due course, I fear. They clearly assist populism, by their very nature, whether this be that of the right or of the left, the latter being of greater immediate concern in the UK. People should stay at home and read Dickens, in particular Barnaby Rudge, in which the development of the Gordon Riots from a mere innocuous folly to acts of widespread arson in contempt of the rule of law are eloquently demonstrated to be imputable to the necessarily headless nature of the mob. Therefore, beware all mobs. Social media, notwithstanding benevolent intentions and doomed regulatory initiatives, engender mob behaviour. This may start in mere intellectual vacuity, through the false association of democratic freedom with the claim that self-expression, be it ever so ugly, ignoble or base, is legitimised, but what is held in store has the character of an enduring menace. LJ

The United Nations has accused Facebook of playing a “determining role” in stirring up hatred against the Rohingya Muslim minority in Burma.
— Read on www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/03/13/un-says-facebook-fuelled-rohingya-ethnic-cleansing/

“L’homme à la vessie incontrôlable”! INFO TF1/LCI – Quand un voyageur pressé d’aller aux WC déclenche un branle-bas de combat au sommet de l’Etat – LCI

Actualités FAITS DIVERS: FAIT DIVERS – Les médias marocains ont simplement évoqué un simple et banal “incident”. Mais d’après nos informations, un récent vol de la compagnie Royal Air Maroc entre Casablanca et Paris s’est pourtant transformé en affaire d’Etat. La faute à un passager furieux de ne pas pouvoir satisfaire ses besoins naturels. Au point de pousser la France à faire décoller en urgence 2 avions de chasse.

— Read on www.lci.fr/faits-divers/info-tf1-lci-quand-un-voyageur-presse-d-aller-aux-wc-declenche-un-branle-bas-de-combat-au-sommet-de-l-etat-2093071.html-20180713-%5B%5D-52e350e5a127e941451fa8c8b0f82805@1-20180713070932&_ope=eyJndWlkIjoiNTJlMzUwZTVhMTI3ZTk0MTQ1MWZhOGM4YjBmODI4MDUifQ==

With delicious Lucianic irony, the great and gentle Erasmus, through the eyes of Folly and with the problems afflicting the sixteenth century Church in the crosshairs, prophetically describes, with a comprehensiveness that leaves little left to be said, the patterns of management and administration prevalent in the independent school system in the twenty-first century: “Whereas if there be anything burdensome, they prudently lay that on other men’s shoulders and shift it from one to the other, as men toss a ball from hand to hand, following herein the example of lay princes who commit the government of their kingdoms to their grand ministers, and they again to others, and leave all study of piety to the common people. In like manner the common people put it over to those they call ecclesiastics, as if themselves were no part of the Church, or that their vow in baptism had lost its obligation. Again, the priests that call themselves secular, as if they were initiated to the world, not to Christ, lay the burden on the regulars; the regulars on the monks; the monks that have more liberty on those that have less; and all of them on the mendicants; the mendicants on the Carthusians, among whom, if anywhere, this piety lies buried, but yet so close that scarce anyone can perceive it. In like manner the popes, the most diligent of all others in gathering in the harvest of money, refer all their apostolical work to the bishops, the bishops to the parsons, the parsons to the vicars, the vicars to their brother mendicants, and they again throw back the care of the flock on those that take the wool. But it is not my business to sift too narrowly the lives of prelates and priests for fear I seem to have intended rather a satire than an oration, and be thought to tax good princes while I praise the bad.” from “In Praise of Folly (Dover Thrift Editions)” by Desiderius Erasmus, John Wilson

The great & gentle Erasmus: “The fool, in undertaking and venturing on the business of the world, gathers, if I mistake not, the true prudence, such as Homer though blind may be said to have seen when he said, “The burnt child dreads the fire.” For there are two main obstacles to the knowledge of things, modesty that casts a mist before the understanding, and fear that, having fancied a danger, dissuades us from the attempt. But from these folly sufficiently frees us, and few there are that rightly understand of what great advantage it is to blush at nothing and attempt everything.” from “In Praise of Folly (Dover Thrift Editions)” by Desiderius Erasmus, John Wilson

Masterful Lucianic irony from the great and gentle Erasmus: “For what is there at all done among men that is not full of folly, and that too from fools and to fools? Against which universal practice if any single one shall dare to set up his throat, my advice to him is, that following the example of Timon, he retire into some desert and there enjoy his wisdom to himself.” from “In Praise of Folly (Dover Thrift Editions)” by Desiderius Erasmus, John Wilson

“For since according to the definition of the Stoics, wisdom is nothing else than to be governed by reason, and on the contrary Folly, to be given up to the will of our passions, that the life of man might not be altogether disconsolate and hard to away with, of how much more passion than reason has Jupiter composed us? putting in, as one would say, “scarce half an ounce to a pound.” Besides, he has confined reason to a narrow corner of the brain and left all the rest of the body to our passions; has also set up, against this one, two as it were, masterless tyrants—anger, that possesses the region of the heart, and consequently the very fountain of life, the heart itself; and lust, that stretches its empire everywhere. Against which double force how powerful reason is let common experience declare, inasmuch as she, which yet is all she can do, may call out to us till she be hoarse again and tell us the rules of honesty and virtue; while they give up the reins to their governor and make a hideous clamor, till at last being wearied, he suffer himself to be carried whither they please to hurry him.” from “In Praise of Folly (Dover Thrift Editions)” by Desiderius Erasmus, John Wilson. The great and gentle Erasmus.

“And as to the place of my birth, forasmuch as nowadays that is looked upon as a main point of nobility, it was neither, like Apollo’s, in the floating Delos, nor Venus-like on the rolling sea, nor in any of blind Homer’s as blind caves: but in the Fortunate Islands, where all things grew without plowing or sowing; where neither labor, nor old age, nor disease was ever heard of; and in whose fields neither daffodil, mallows, onions, beans, and such contemptible things would ever grow, but, on the contrary, rue, angelica, bugloss, marjoram, trefoils, roses, violets, lilies, and all the gardens of Adonis invite both your sight and your smelling. And being thus born, I did not begin the world, as other children are wont, with crying; but straight perched up and smiled on my mother. Nor do I envy to the great Jupiter the goat, his nurse, forasmuch as I was suckled by two jolly nymphs, to wit, Drunkenness, the daughter of Bacchus, and Ignorance, of Pan. And as for such my companions and followers as you perceive about me, if you have a mind to know who they are, you are not like to be the wiser for me, unless it be in Greek: this here, which you observe with that proud cast of her eye, is Philautia, Self-love; she with the smiling countenance, that is ever and anon clapping her hands, is Kolakia, Flattery; she that looks as if she were half asleep is Lethe, Oblivion; she that sits leaning on both elbows with her hands clutched together is Misoponia, Laziness; she with the garland on her head, and that smells so strong of perfumes, is Hedone, Pleasure; she with those staring eyes, moving here and there, is Anoia, Madness; she with the smooth skin and full pampered body is Tryphe, Wantonness; and, as to the two gods that you see with them, the one is Komos, Intemperance, the other Eegretos hypnos, Dead Sleep. These, I say, are my household servants, and by their faithful counsels I have subjected all things to my dominion and erected an empire over emperors themselves. Thus have you had my lineage, education, and companions.” from “In Praise of Folly (Dover Thrift Editions)” by Desiderius Erasmus, John Wilson. The great and gentle Erasmus.