It is not so. Do not tell this again.

Next morning, while we were at breakfast, Johnson gave a very earnest recommendation of what he himself practised with the utmost conscientiousness: I mean a strict attention to truth, even in the most minute particulars. ‘Accustom your children (said he,) constantly to this; if a thing happened at one window, and they, when relating it, say that it happened at another, do not let it pass, but instantly check them; you do not know where deviation from truth will end.’ Our lively hostess, whose fancy was impatient of the rein, fidgeted at this, and ventured to say, ‘Nay, this is too much. If Mr. Johnson should forbid me to drink tea, I would comply, as I should feel the restraint only twice a day; but little variations in narrative must happen a thousand times a day, if one is not perpetually watching.’ JOHNSON. ‘Well, Madam, and you OUGHT to be perpetually watching. It is more from carelessness about truth than from intentional lying, that there is so much falsehood in the world.’

He was indeed so much impressed with the prevalence of falsehood, voluntary or unintentional, that I never knew any person who upon hearing an extraordinary circumstance told, discovered more of the incredulus odi. He would say, with a significant look and decisive tone, ‘It is not so. Do not tell this again.’ He inculcated upon all his friends the importance of perpetual vigilance against the slightest degrees of falsehood.

I’d love to have seen Johnson seen the twitters and whatsapps and facebooks of the world…

James Boswell, Life of Johnson.

“Masaje de almas”

La frase la tomo de la columna de Diego Jalón —yo leo a los otros columnistas para saber de qué va su rollo, y no como los que sólo se leen a sí mismos—. Diego Jalón la tomó a su vez de Ludwig Erhard, que también dice una cosa muy bien traída en un libro suyo:

—Sería carecer del sentido inmediato de las realidades pretender operar en exceso con llamamientos morales.

Lástima que Erhard ya no esté con el poder y la gloria y no haya podido darle este consejo personalmente a Suárez, porque Suárez no sabe idiomas —como no se cansan de recordarle sus enemigos— y no ha podido leerlo en el idioma de Rilke, que es como queda bien. Yo tampoco leo el idioma de Rilke, claro, pero leo a Rilke traducido por José María Valverde y me sale un buen poeta que no sé si es Valverde o Rilke.

Francisco Umbral, Diario de un snob (II), 1978.

Y Resentida, Débil, Perdida, Autoritaria y Mojigata.

En mi vida, el ocho de marzo nació como un día cualquiera. Un año descubrí, con curiosidad, que era el Día de la Mujer Trabajadora. No sé cómo, más tarde se convirtió en el Día de la Mujer, sin más, y me pareció bien, y me sentí orgulloso de formar parte activa de una sociedad que en un día así celebraba haber querido y haber podido conseguir la igualdad, arrinconar el sexismo y reivindicar lo femenino como exactamente igual de bueno que lo masculino.

Ahora se ha convertido en el Día de la Mujer Discriminadora, y el orgullo ha dado paso al desprecio —moral e intelectual.

Y a tener que volver a luchar contra la opresión del sexismo.

In my irresponsible hours

The pivot round which the religious life, as we have traced it, revolves, is the interest of the individual in his private personal destiny. Religion, in short, is a monumental chapter in the history of human egotism. The gods believed in—whether by crude savages or by men disciplined intellectually—agree with each other in recognizing personal calls. Religious thought is carried on in terms of personality, this being, in the world of religion, the one fundamental fact. To-day, quite as much as at any previous age, the religious individual tells you that the divine meets him on the basis of his personal concerns.

Science, on the other hand, has ended by utterly repudiating the personal point of view. She catalogues her elements and records her laws indifferent as to what purpose may be shown forth by them, and constructs her theories quite careless of their bearing on human anxieties and fates. Though the scientist may individually nourish a religion, and be a theist in his irresponsible hours, the days are over when it could be said that for Science herself the heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Our solar system, with its harmonies, is seen now as but one passing case of a certain sort of moving equilibrium in the heavens, realized by a local accident in an appalling wilderness of worlds where no life can exist. In a span of time which as a cosmic interval will count but as an hour, it will have ceased to be. The Darwinian notion of chance production, and subsequent destruction, speedy or deferred, applies to the largest as well as to the smallest facts. It is impossible, in the present temper of the scientific imagination, to find in the driftings of the cosmic atoms, whether they work on the universal or on the particular scale, anything but a kind of aimless weather, doing and undoing, achieving no proper history, and leaving no result. Nature has no one distinguishable ultimate tendency with which it is possible to feel a sympathy. In the vast rhythm of her processes, as the scientific mind now follows them, she appears to cancel herself. The books of natural theology which satisfied the intellects of our grandfathers seem to us quite grotesque, representing, as they did, a God who conformed the largest things of nature to the paltriest of our private wants. The God whom science recognizes must be a God of universal laws exclusively, a God who does a wholesale, not a retail business. He cannot accommodate his processes to the convenience of individuals.

William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902).


Family matters

What follows spoils the film The Unforgiven (1960), directed by John Huston and starring Burt Lancaster and Audrey Hepburn. You’re warned to stop right here.

A more interesting film than at first sight it may seem. It’s a very, very sour pill to swallow against conventionalisms —where brother and sister, although not biologically related, but reared together, choose sexual love over the fraternal’s (no wonder that, prior to that, the screenwriter has to get rid of the mother, otherwise she would’ve died right from the shock); and where honor (they shoot an enemy under a white flag) is set aside in the name of loyalty to the family and truth is completely disregarded when the aforementioned mother pushes forward the horse with the hangman on it just not to make it known.

You’d say all of that is happening in the wrong side of the story, the uncivilized Indians. Well, no —it’s all on the side of the whites, the starring party. And yet we will swallow it, the pill, because, in the end they’re right, and it’s not a happy ending.

Because in the end and at the bottom, they’re right.

PS. Based on a novel by Alan LeMay —the same one that sources the novel for the utterly disquieting The Searchers.

What he is having

The new unwritten rule in Hollywood, you know, is no nudity at all; but if there is any, it’s men’s. So we have now back, profile and even good front male nudity in the few films that dare show any skin at all.

I find it liberating for men. After all these years of being in the hidden, they can finally show what they’re most proud of. Bravo!

How long until your feminazi group of choice starts denouncing Hollywood’s rampant discrimination against women and vindicating the right of women and minorities to show tits and vaginas on the screen, just like their white male Western counterparts’ counterparts?