Wrestling with the Ghost of your Father

Or – how to be the Lion King, the Top Gun, or the rightful ruler of Denmark.

The animated classic, The Lion King, the Reagan-era air force blockbuster, Top Gun, and the essential Shakespearean tragedy, Hamlet, are all about the same thing: how do you make atonement for the absence of your father?

It’s a strange theme. Yet it is an idea so ubiquitous – from the Bible, to the Odyssey and the Aeneid, to the TV show Lost – that clearly it carries some residual vitality which requires our attention.

Why do so many of our most popular works of art have to do with losing one’s father and attempting thereafter to come to terms with his spirit?

Whenever something keeps coming up in story and myth, my literary instincts tell me that the idea is probably too primal or too close to our own experience to be expressed in any other way. So perhaps the best way of understanding this strange notion of wrestling with your father’s ghost is to look at the stories themselves. Continue reading

Five Books to Understand the Modern World Part Four: ‘A Tale of Two Cities’

We all live on the road between two cities – the city of God and the city of Man – between reality and a hopeful vision.

There’s a reason the Dark Knight trilogy is the only set of superhero films worth watching – they are more than comics on film – they contain and allude to a real literary mythology.

The best of them from a pure storytelling point of view, is the final film, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’. What happens during times of revolution? How can true peace be achieved?

The answer is – by means of a hero.

And to tell the story, to recount a Gotham completely destroyed, the screenwriter Jonathan Nolan turned to the fourth book I think we need to read to understand the modern world, Charles Dickens’ ‘A Tale of Two Cities’: Continue reading

The Revelation of Black Panther

‘Black Panther’ and the strange reason why young people are literally burning western civilization down.

The Revelation of Black Panther

Have you heard of the film ‘Black Panther’?

It recently became the most successful movie ever in the US domestic market. Apparently it’s not bad – probably much better than other serious money-spinners like ‘Avatar’ and any Star Wars film.

I haven’t seen it. I haven’t watched a single Marvel superhero film. Not my thing. But what has fascinated me, is the political outpouring of love for the film. The fact that the film celebrates a black hero (with a militant, more real-life Black Panther-esque villain to oppose him) has made it what young people call ‘woke’ – which is just a trendy way of saying ‘politically correct’. Finally, black kids can have a real hero on the silver screen.

But what struck me in the midst of all the hype is the fact that by no stretch of the imagination is this the first major film with a black lead. And it is thus a real mystery why everybody is pretending that it is. Continue reading

Can the ANC put the land grab genie back in the bottle?

‘It is no exaggeration to say that on President Ramaphosa’s shoulders rests the future of the African continent.’ Lord David Owen, former UK Labour MP and Cabinet Minister, The Daily Maverick.

Maybe it was the sudden upturn of illegal land occupations. Or the continued revelations of the torture and violence perpetrated against farmers. Or the shock of the international press. Or meeting new Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa and hearing about his plans to bring back white farmers to his country.

I suspect that it might have been seeing the DA, along with many of its newfound black allies, stand up to the nakedly racist and fascist rhetoric of Julius Malema, that maybe jolted Ramaphosa and the ANC leadership back to reality.

You cannot simply seize land in a fragile democracy and expect stability and order to remain. Continue reading

Do you come from a land down under?

If western civilization is to be saved, we must battle for the soul of test cricket.

For me, test cricket is the only sport still worth watching.

Just the timetable of a day’s cricket is entrancing. Based on the routine of an English manor house, action only gets underway after ten. You break for lunch after only one session of two hours, followed by another session before afternoon tea. The calling of stumps at around six gives you enough time to shower and change for dinner. No need to rush – the next morning will be leisurely. What a day. Continue reading

‘White Privilege’ is a bad idea for everybody

Recently, I was told that as a white, straight, English-speaking, able-bodied, Christian man (it gets worse – I am Catholic to boot), my type has had its day, and now it is time to cede power to the ‘Other’. To our PC society, this may sound like a good plan, but in truth, it is a pre-cursor to social disaster.

The notion of white privilege is predicated on the idea that society is ultimately entirely about power, and class or demographic conflict, in which there can be only winners and losers. And that’s no way to build a society.

So let me be as clear as I can be – this type of identity politics will destroy our civilization. We need to cut it out before it’s too late. Continue reading

Ramaphosa and Malema are both lying to the country

Together, the ANC and the EFF are attempting to alter the Constitution in order to allow for state grabbing of land. For both party leaders, Ramaphosa and Malema, the issue at stake is not justice, but power.

Part One

Cyril Ramaphosa was meant to be our messiah, the second coming of Mandela.

But now he is working with Malema to turn our country into Zimbabwe, a country with 90% unemployment.

Both have signed onto a motion to begin the process to change Section 25 of the Constitution which forbids expropriation of private property without compensation.

Malema asserts that this is only justice after centuries of colonial dispossession. Ramaphosa argues that this is necessary for radical economic transformation.

Both really see the issue as a means to maintain or gain power, and to capture the faction of the population which believe Mandela’s reconciliation project has either not worked or was a sell-out of the revolution right from the start. Continue reading

How I Changed My Mind on Affirmative Action

Or, how I left the upside down.

I used to think I kind of understood affirmative action, BEE, quotas etc.

The argument made me feel good about myself as an enlightened white person. I now realise that made me a kind of intellectual accomplice of some of the worst ideological thinking present in our country.

Initially, accepting affirmative action seemed like the pragmatic thing to do in the post-apartheid era. Of course, we need to pay for our sins. Of course, we need to create an aspirational class of black executives and sportsmen.

I still think there is a pragmatic argument to be made here – especially from a white perspective. Yet philosophically, it is more important now for the whole country and the whole world to break the spell of identity politics. Continue reading

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