Retractiones

I am, it must be confessed, an abject incompetent. Take, for instance, the Idlepost I uploaded yesterday. My purpose was, paradoxically, to recommend Charles Dickens, as something to read while the Batflu continues. Sneakily, I suggested that he is very entertaining, and in a “non-highbrow” sort of way, to those who may have tired of Hegel. He will fill many hours with delight — by a delicious escape, into another world in space and time. He will excite both laughter, and tears, for the person who might like a break from merely wanting to kill certain politicians. He is a joy to read, as chocolate truffles are a joy to eat, if you happen to like chocolate truffles.

But sometimes I am too paradoxical by half. I don’t know what effect my little electronic paper may have had, on non-Dickens readers. But I stirred a hornets’ nest among the Dickensians. I seem to have diverted that natural hatred of politicians, onto myself. Several have chastised me, in terms I would reserve for Justin Trudeau. Perhaps, in future, I should try to “paradoxically recommend” some other novelist.

That I was, unparadoxically, also trying to put in the reader’s head, that Dickens has contributed to the demoralization of our world, was on the surface of my essay. In this respect, I was acknowledging¬†this author’s great power. The reduction of hard moral fact, to mushy simper and what we now call “empathy,” was partly his doing. I detect it even in the unpleasant vibrations of BLM rioters, and other agents of our Left.

They “protest” things that, indirectly, they learnt to protest from the kind-hearted Dickens; subjective hysterias about the world being unfair. Of course it is unfair, as it has always been, and to everyone who has been living in it. But unfairness is a whim, compared to sound moral judgements, and the reticence that should accompany them. We cannot make the world “more fair” by rioting. Dickens, incidentally, agrees with me on that.

He was among the writers (and artists generally) who contributed subtly to our post-Christian worldview, based on emotion, not remorseless thought. Who made, say, Christmas about giving presents to little children, rather than centrally about the birth of Christ. That doesn’t mean his works should be suppressed. On the contrary, they should be read and enjoyed, with this thought in mind. He moralizes, but in a way that may actually subvert morality, by substituting “feelings” for the hard truths, which are to die for.

My title today is out of Saint Augustine — R√©visions, as the French say. This does not (necessarily) mean taking anything back. Rather, trying to make things clearer, in restatement.

*

On the other hand, there are things I should just apologize for. Yesterday, for instance, I finally took some aging donation cheques to my bank (almost all foreign). The delay was untoward. I had put off entering a financial institution, under (Red Chinese) Batflu circumstances, for longer than was conscionable — causing anxiety to several readers who asked if their cheques had ever arrived. They did, almost certainly; the Canadian post office is not quite as bad as its reputation. (Hardly anything is.) Forgive my procrastination. And thank you most vociferously for your patronage. Especially you foreigners, in Natted States and Australia.

As I mentioned above, I am abjectly incompetent, and this applies to many thank-you notes that I have failed to write. Often I condemn myself for “good intentions,” though I find it more comfortable condemning others. If gentle reader never received thanks for a splendid donation, he may be assured that I intended to send them. But he has a remedy: to never send me money again. That will teach me. And in the meantime, I can starve.