Triumph of the extroverts

(I am deliberately ignoring the American election and leaving it to my colleague, Owen, to write about it tomorrow, offering his take on it from Britain. Robert)

“Does anyone live a life of quiet despair these days? The question struck me with some force, one Sunday evening last summer, when I found myself on the Leatherhead bypass. These proud detached villas, still with their net curtains and tidy front gardens, were exactly the sort of houses where people sighed in Betjeman’s poems over missing the fun. Brief Encounter territory.

But our modern world is one of clamour and din. Everyone is busy shouting into their mobile phones, or chanting the name of Jeremy Corbyn, or sobbing on telly because their cake didn’t rise. Extroverts have taken over. Quiet despair has been all but forgotten, like headscarves or sardine-and-tomato paste.”(Cressida Connolly in The Oldie)

Ms. Connolly is joking, of course, a very English thing to do, and something disappearing in America, except for Saturday Night Live. Actually, despair is alive and well in America, and it concerns the vulgarity, coarseness and disagreeable-ness (is there such a word?) of modern life now the country is “Great” again. Actually, they would rather it wasn’t so “Great”. Rather, they wish it would stop multiple wars it isn’t winning, reduce the “defense” budget, tax the rich, introduce a rational health service, and do other nice, epicurean things for real, flesh and blood people.

But all that’s a bit threatening to conservatives, who are never happier than when they are learning that so-and-so earns fifty thousand times what they earn and pays ten per cent tax on it. John Betjeman should have written a poem about illogical and irrational thought, not extroversion.

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