Note to readers

These “Essays in Idleness” have had a run of twenty-one months, with what success their author cannot gauge. He has become displeased with the format of them, and will, should God permit, soon resume, after making a few simplifying changes.

The chief one is to eliminate Comments. I can imagine objections from the Commentariat, so will provide a thread for them below this post, where each member will be allowed one good swing of his bat, as in the old Fall Fair smash-the-jalopy contest. (Please leave a quarter for each additional swing.)

Let me provide three arguments, each of which could be cleverly refuted:

First, and most obvious, this site is under frequent attack from that class of censorious busybodies whom I affectionately describe as “communists and perverts.” The Comments threads give direct access to mount “denial of service” campaigns. As well they open the portal to routine spam that creates mountains of administrative clutter. I may still get shut down from time to time, but not so easily. (I think once again of the Duke of Wellington, who had iron shutters affixed to the windows of Apsley House in London, so that whenever the filthy democratic mob came to put out his windows, he could close the house into a tight masonry shell.)

Second, the moderation of Comments requires time and energy I am no longer willing to expend. This has been constantly increasing, not only from the number of Comments, and their growing length, but from the overall tone, as members hurl abuse at one another, while drifting far, far away from the topic at hand. Many of the Comments, although themselves reasonable, require editing to make them fully comprehensible to native readers of English, and to impose a consistent house style against typographical distractions. This is wearying, and I should rather spend such time as I can devote to this website writing “Essays in Idleness,” than playing Speakah, or otherwise preventing the threads from going rancid. (Lately, indeed, I have been getting abuse myself from those impatient to see their views displayed, or outraged that I have deleted this remark or that. Were I to please them, I would have to carry some “device” with me everywhere and always. I refuse to be enslaved by electronic gadgets, however.)

Third, and most subtly, I have found that the very existence of Comments alters the nature of what I am writing. For what I intended, from the beginning, was not to inspire public debate, but to make the kind of idle observations any individual reader could take or leave. I am trying to operate on the reader’s mind, not on his mouth, throat, or intestines. The nature of a conversation is changed in anticipation of hecklers.

I was told when I began that, in order to attract readers, I must absolutely provide a Twitter feed (plus Facebook, &c); that I would need enticing “graphics”; that Comments “build readership” along with any other form of “participation” or “interactivity.” What I discovered in my three-month Twitter experiment, not entirely to my surprise, is that such tactics do indeed attract “eyeballs.” But naked, sexy women attract more, and tabloid hysteria dominates a market, in which drooling ignorance has become quite acceptable. Who wants to “compete” in an environment like that?

Readers who scan at half-attention are no more use to me, than they are to themselves. I don’t mind if I lose them all, and would be happy to tap the dust off my flip-flops and move on to the next electronic town. I certainly cannot wish to prostitute myself for customers who are anyway loath to pay. (Ten dollars through PayPal the week before last; twenty the week before that, &c.)

But those who wish to speak to me directly may reach me by email, as many already do, and I will try to keep up with them. Many of the most astute comments have arrived in that way, and in future posts I will sometimes excerpt such correspondence. To be sure, I am glad of many of the people I have met, whom I would not have met otherwise. My email link will remain on the “About” page.


In the meantime, everyone is instructed to be virtuous, and my Canadian readers to exhibit true patriot love on this one hundred and forty-seventh Dominion Day — Le Jour de la Confédération — with pennants flying (“One Flag, One Fleet, One Empire”) and ideally, a slice of deep-dish maple-syrup apple crumble pie, and a generous wedge of sharp, five-year Ontario cheddar.

God save the Queen and Heaven bless: the Maple Leaf forever!