Saturday, 18 December 2010

From Vivian Grey to Dorian Grey- what changed?

Beating kids is important. It's what Civilization is about. But, for some strange reason, a lot of kids don't like being beaten. Worse, their Moms and Dads- especially the horny handed blue collar sort- show a regrettable tendency to thrash the school-master unmercifully if he lays hands on their little dears.
It's no good complaining to the Village police-man or the Curate or whatever. Teachers are considered a good punching bag for the rising generation of farm hands.
For this reason, school masters throughout history have wanted to educate the children of the elite, or- even better- become Professors of some sort.
This is because, traditionally, it is okay to beat the kids of the elite and talk poisonous hateful shite at the University level.
I recall my young friend Disraeli writing what I thought quite a promising little roman a clef- Vivian Grey was its name- in which the hero pulls a pistol so as to inflict revenge upon the usher who'd given him a flogging in the School Room. But, by taking umbrage at a mere usher and treating a puerile punishment as a personal affront- Disraeli gave the lie to the notion that he was indeed 'a man of fashion'.
Only children of the lower orders resent a flogging.
Wilde's Dorian Grey is a horrible example of what happens to a blue blooded gentleman (his aristocratic maternal grand-father had gotten his father killed in a duel) who hasn't had the stuffing beaten out of him at Public School. But, by then, it was already too late. Schoolmasters had become a sentimental bunch- Wittgenstein, the last of of the Cambridge sadists, plied his cane only  in Austria, till that is, his old School-fellow, Hitler purified Aryan pedagogy of its last trace of a grand Civilizing mission- and Saki, bewailing England's inevitable collapse in 'When William Came' puts the blame squarely on the shoulders of the lower orders whose Moms wouldn't let them be flogged. 'Our Alf- he never done it!' they'd squawk, the slatterns and their 'Our Alf, he never!"' became the dirge of Old England's winding sheet.
More generally, I maintain, the West ceased to exist the moment kids refused to take a beating. Indeed, with the mass production of cheap flick knives and bicycle chains, a fundamental plank of Western Thought, Western Culture, simply ceased to exist.
It is in this context that Post Colonial Theory has a contribution to make. It mourns the violence it invokes as constituting its episteme in precisely the same way as any other random thing you can think of, only don't forget to add in something about the far deeper violence, nay genocide!, involved in Globalization and how like isn't it ironic that something or the other happened on Twitter and anyway I will now write a book about- not Gramsci, I did that last week- urm, Gandhi and passive revolution or something.

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