December 12th, 2010

breaking bad

Triumph of the dumb

I think that the experience of the coalition is a big lesson that people who present as clever can be out-thought by people who present as stupid. That being aware that you are intelligent can lead you to make big mistakes. This is partly why I am interested in the current politics: it's like watching a big parable about the hubris of high IQ. It's not a sin to privately think 'I am quite smart' but it's a mistake to think that the clever models you create within your mind are watertight boats to sail in the real ocean.

Andrew Rawnsley has an article about it today.
This idea will eat away at Nick Clegg's authority over his party and ultimately prove fatal for the coalition if it hardens into a fixed view of how this government works. The idea is that the Lib Dems have become the coalition's fall guys, the hapless human shields for David Cameron and George Osborne, the useful idiots of the Tories.

This is clear to me, and that the Lib Dems have been outsmarted by the Tories is clear to me. Despite being, person for person, a lot smarter. I think it's because they have too complex a model, with too many factors, whereas the Tories have a very simple model, which they are simply implementing. Just running a machine which eats up the Lib Dems like fuel.

I'm not sure to what extent Clegg is complicit in this. I imagine there has been no overt discussion of complicity, but I wonder to what extent becoming a Tory peer (a thought he must have entertained) makes him feel sick, or makes him feel quite nice. But further I am not sure to what extent Cameron's clique are playing a straight bat with Clegg. That is, are they really trying to create a centre-right party (or a permanent coalition which functions as one), by jettisoning the right of the Tories and the left of the Lib Dems? This is what many people think is the covert aim, and it might be what Clegg and his immediate team imagine will happen.

I am not convinced. I think it is possible that the model is even simpler, and even more ruthless than this. It may be that Cameron's people want to get in, make some money*, and fuck off. They may not really have any long term aims at all - let the country sort itself out, let the Tory party and the Lib Dems go to hell, they will be long gone. And then they will have outsmarted us all.

* By this I mean 'set up a system that directs money in a certain way', not 'write themselves cheques'
breaking bad


I just saw Patrick Stewart as Macbeth on BBC4. I came online to urge you to watch it on the BBC website, but it doesn't seem to be available. I almost missed it myself. 7.30 on a Sunday evening? I only just got back from walking in the Peaks, and flicked the telly on and it was just starting.
Shot on location in the mysterious underground world of Welbeck Abbey in Nottinghamshire, the film is set in an undefined and threatening central European world. Immediate and visceral, this is a contemporary presentation of Shakespeare's intense, claustrophobic and bloody drama. Patrick Stewart won Best Actor and Rupert Goold Best Director in the Evening Standard Theatre Awards for the stage production and both Stewart and Fleetwood were nominated for Tony Awards for their performances.

I thought it was really frightening. The most horror-like Macbeth I have ever seen. Very scary and oppressive. This horrible insane fascist curse. Recommended if you get the chance to see it.

I was talking to my sister about Shakespeare today. We know several people who have learning disabilities, who really enjoy Shakespeare. My nephew went to see John Simm's Hamlet with me, and he loved it. One of my sister's friends has a son with Downs who went to see the Tennant Hamlet, and apparently he loved it as much as I did.

So I think virtually any person could enjoy Shakespeare, and poetry in general, if there wasn't such an oppressive expectation that it's worthy, or almost a test, no wonder people hate that. I think people with learning disability could be more free than most to relax and enjoy the play, because they aren't as oppressed by other people's expectations. I know learning disability is a very broad category, but I think you know what I am saying.