Born in Kansas City and raised in Midland, Michigan, Dan has also lived in Myrtle Beach, Vail, Martha’s Vineyard, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Taos, Durham, New York, Albuquerque and Denver in the US. He taught English in Seoul for three years, moved furniture in Barcelona for two and, for five years now, has been miserably ensconced in Brighton, England.
Dan, “People here can be very nasty, and in general are very unfriendly compared to the US. This is the only country on earth that hates children, and this shows in the behavior of an often mean-spirited populace. It hasn’t been the most welcoming of countries for me, though my serious depression problems haven’t helped. In short, the upper classes, as Oscar Wilde noted, are unspeakably vile, and would be laughable if they weren’t so dangerous, nasty to the core and the very opposite of life-affirming. The middle classes, like their counterparts everywhere, buy the government line unquestioningly and are dangerously stupid. The lower classes are down to earth and friendly.”
At 48-years-old and with a wife and two kids, Dan’s unchecked days are over. No more motorbike ride through Spain and France, serial girlfriends or coital vacations in the Philippines and Thailand. Marriage is gravity and kids mean both joyous, most profound life and dragging your own coffin to the grave.
Though we had been communicating for years, we only shook hands for the first time before my reading at the ICA in London. The next day, we prowled around the Ecuadorian embassy, de facto jail of Julian Assange for 41 months and counting. Costing more than £11.1m, half a dozen cops had been kept outside 24/7, but they had been removed just days earlier. On the next block was Harrods. To celebrate Christmas, larger than life-sized puppets jerked in huge windows. Like a dangled being herself, a cleaner glided among them. On the ground floor was the shrine to Lady Di and Dodi, complete with a bronze statue of the chased-to-death couple dancing. Dodi had his shirt open to show off his hairy chest. From their grasped hands, a seagull was about to take off. It was kitsch meets outraged grief.
I had visited Brighton three years earlier. When it comes to any distant place, it’s always safe to assume you’ve seen it for the last time, so it was good to be back. Anywhere you’ve been has become a part of you, so a return is not just a homecoming but a completion of self. A man who travels too much misses the entire world. There wasn’t much to look at on the train ride from London. English houses tend to be brown or gray. Brighton’s, though, deploy more colors to cheer up the soul.
Ah, nothing beats having your face pelted nonstop by a cold drizzle as you lean into a stiff wind while walking along a pebbled beach! In Norfolk and Suffolk, I had had this pleasure many times. In Cromer, I nearly fell down an embankment. During my two days in Brighton, Dan and I would just roam and talk. Tired, we would pop into a pub.
“This is very rare for me,” Dan confided. “I usually just drink at home. It’s too expensive to go out.”
“These pubs are too nice, Dan. Where are the crappy bars for old men?”
“There aren’t any.”
“Every society, every community, must have crappy bars where old guys can just sit for hours.”
“Guys in their fifties should be seen as elders and be treasured for their wisdom. They shouldn’t have to work. They should only be consulted.”
“They should get all the virgins.”
“That too.” More seriously, Dan pointed out, “Just about everyone I know here only works part-time, maybe fifteen hours a week. A friend of mine, my age, is a baby sitter. She also has a radio show, but isn’t paid for it. Another woman I know is a sex therapist. She’s forty. I live in a bubble here and know little of the decadent pleasures of rich London transplants. Many people I’ve befriended, I met at the unemployed center. They’re all on the dole, very politically astute, my types.”
Mostly unemployed for five years, Dan is taking classes to become a gardener. He slung beer and served curry dishes during two brief stretches of work. He has also shoveled and pushed wheel barrows at a community garden. Being a father is also a full time job. “This is not only incredibly hard work, but literally the most important on earth. All dads should have a free pass till their kids are at least five. So yes, I do work. I’m just not paid for it.”
He also wasn’t paid for three articles published at a high profile American political webzine. “I was so naïve. I thought they were going to send me a check!” He, Rachel, four-year-old Ralph (named after Nader) and one-and-a-half-year-old Freddy occupy a two-room flat owned by Rachel’s mom. Their rent is way below market price. A rich man’s playground, Brighton is super expensive. “Many people complain how much it has changed for the worse. Not so long ago, it had a much more carefree, edge of the earth, radical feel. It was much more fun.” Brighton is England’s version of San Francisco, but with far fewer homeless. By the Marina, there’s a nudist beach that’s almost entirely gay.
In the States, Dan worked as a furniture mover, line cook, waiter, bartender, bag boy, copyeditor, secretary, bank clerk, whitewater guide, lumber yard grunt, assistant manager in a Ralph Nader organization’s office, magazine room attendant at a library, childcare worker in a shelter for teenagers and bell hop.
Dan received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Temple University. He taught himself Spanish and is reasonably fluent. He can get by in Korean. Once a week, a Spanish woman comes by to teach Dan’s kids Spanish for an hour and, in exchange, gets an hour of English lesson from Rachel. Before five years old, a child shouldn’t be exposed to any image or even mention of violence or death, Dan believes, and no one of any age should be lured into the adulation of absolute power, so no fairy tales involving kings, queens, princes or princesses for Ralph and Freddy.
Dan, “I’m against all forms of authoritarianism. I have many strong ideas about how to try to bring children up in this nightmarish world. First, give them all your love, AND ATTENTION. Next, try to learn from them: they’re not screwed up (like you) yet, at least little babies aren’t. Try to get back on their wavelength, then RIDE IT. Have no preconceptions, e.g. that boys shouldn’t wear dresses or especially that they should be doing this or that at any given time. In short, it’s best to be an open-minded, free-thinking, creative, loving philosopher. And, of course, don’t let them watch TV.”
Strolling through the car-free lanes of downtown Brighton, we noticed many images of skulls and skeletons in shop windows. “They’re everywhere,” Dan scowled. “It’s a death worshipping culture.”
“But it’s death glamorized. These skulls are made to look cool.”
“Here’s a skull cracked in half, a half-eaten skull. That’s cool!”
“And look at these games. Almost all of them feature zombies!”
“I worry about my boys, what they will be exposed to.”
“Even this sign has a skull, and this one, too!”
“Like I said, man, it’s a death worshipping culture. Being here, I can see what makes up America. Much of it came from here. On bad days, I sometimes think these are the most vicious people on earth. They don’t just want to see you die, they want to kill you themselves!”
“Oh come on, man! I think the English are lovely. They do say lovely a lot.”
“I used to be charmed by them too.”
Nine years earlier in Diss, I visited the church where John Skelton had been a rector. In Ipswich, I chanced upon John Clare’s snuff box, displayed in a glass case. “I am—yet what I am none cares or knows.” Though he may be a black, keffiyeh or turban headed bastard, each English speaker is a child of England. It is remarkable, the hegemony of the Anglosphere. It has gone on for so long, many people consider it natural or even eternal, but it is certainly winding down. We’ve reached peak English.
Last week, a Malaysian newspaper wanted my take on the relative obscurity of Asian literatures. I opined, “International authors crave recognition in the English language, because that is seen as dominant. They want to be read by Americans and praised by American and British critics. They also want to be translated into the main European languages. Given the dominant position of the West in contemporary culture, this is understandable, but I think it’s time Asia started to pay more attention to itself, without caring too much about what white readers and critics thought. The Asian countries should translate and read each other.”
The sweetest part of my Brighton visit was simply goofing around with Ralph and Freddy. Well loved, they were joyous and loving, like all kids should be. In modern societies, too many children are raised and indoctrinated en masse, practically straight out of the womb, by indifferent strangers, and the tremendous harms from this neglect and abuse regiment have been ignored by nearly all.
Another pleasure was eating Rachel’s food. She is a sublime cook. “It’s like having a gourmet meal three times a day,” Dan admitted. One morning, we had a breakfast of egg, black pudding, cheese covered hash browns, creamed spinach and pancakes with fresh, just picked blueberries. Another night, though, we opted for some take out fish and chips.
Nearly all of the Brighton fish and chip joints are run by Chinese and double as Chinese restaurants. We were at Cod Father. The menu was huge and had golf bulbs all around, a giant makeup mirror featuring various stir fries and fish and chips instead of your glammed up face. In the glass case, pickled eggs and kimchi were offered. A poster pitched pukka pies. Waiting for food, Dan and Ralph sank into a maroon couch.
“Are you going to have the deep fried Mars bar with me, Ralph?” I asked.
“What is it?”
“It’s the worst thing ever, Ralph.”
“So why are you eating it?”
“Because I’ve never had it. Will you split it with me?”
Normally very talkative, Ralph was stumped. He looked at his dad. Dan smiled.
“It is so bad, Ralph, that as soon as you bite into one, you die!”
“So will you die then?”
“Most likely, but it will be worth it, since I’ve never had a deep fried Mars bar.”
At this point, I hadn’t known about Dan’s avoidance of mentioning death in front of his young kids. Still alarmed, Ralph asked the lady behind the counter as we were leaving, “Is he going to die from the Mars bar?”
“What?!” She looked insulted.
The night before I left, we went down to J. W. Lennon’s for its weekly Irish music session. There were a dozen musicians, but no more than six listeners at any one time, not counting us. One woman had been the top box accordionist in all of Ireland. I buy no CDs and avoid recorded music whenever possible, so this was wonderful. “In Toronto, Dan, I saw a band of four guys who might have been plumbers during the day. They weren’t singing covers but original songs. I’d prefer that to anything recorded. I don’t care if it’s Billie Holliday. If I want to hear Billie Holliday again, I can hear her in my head!”
As if enjoying a meal together, the musicians sat shoulder to shoulder around a large table. Moving back and forth from the bar, the waitress had a serene, blessed face and, soon enough, sat down to sing a beautiful version of “Factory Girl.” She smiled through the entire song. “Oh young man, have manners and do not insult me / For although I’m a poor girl I think it no shame.” Dan wiped his eyes, and so did I. Sharing stories and songs is such a basic need, yet many of us would rather be isolated, as much as possible, to enjoy our private song list and/or stare at a lit screen.
Borges joked that there is a type of English friendship that begins by avoiding intimacy then, soon enough, dispenses with conversations altogether. [“una de esas amistades inglesas que empiezan por excluir la confidencia y que muy pronto omiten el diálogo” from “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”]. He also thought the English suffer from “unreality.” I’d say that avoidance of intimacy and alienation have become practically universal, and it’s not because so many of us are bastards of England.
Since one should never withhold praise, I made my way to the waitress to tell her how much her singing had moved me and Dan. Later, we also made a few more friends, including the excellent guitarist who turned out to be the pub owner. Knowing I was American, he even sang two John Denver numbers and a Glenn Campbell. I couldn’t stop him. “Country roads, take me home to the place I belong. West Virginia, mountain mamma, take me home, country roads.”
Unprompted, a morbidly obese man laughingly said to Dan, “You know we hate you Yanks, don’t you?
In Brighton, there’s an American Diner that’s swarming with Americana, including images of Mickey Mouse, Statue of Liberty, Elvis, Jaws, Ghostbusters, Johnny Cash, ET and Uncle Sam, etc. Shadowed by a condor, a California motor cop stands next to a Harley Davison and, everywhere you look, there’s Marilyn Monroe. This president’s plaything with dyed blonde hair, dead of a drug overdose, has become our most enduring symbol. Menu items include a Norma Jean Salad, Windy City Dog, Little Italy Bagel, fried chicken strips, Buffalo wings and chili con carne, but, unforgivably, no meatloaf or chicken fried steak. Placemats feature the stars and stripes, and most dishes arrive with a small flag.
Dan has gone back and forth about returning to the US. “Until I read your Postcards, which quickly bring me back to grim reality, I miss many things, though admittedly after five years I’m finally starting to accept England: we have friends now and it’s familiar, though it will never be true home for me. As for America, I miss my family first. I love the geography, the wildness of many parts (and people), the friendliness and genuineness of many Americans, also their idealism (this is mainly before the Great Brainwashing/Dumbing Down/ Final Destruction of the Family during the last 30 years). It seems to get worse and worse. Now, all TV is shit, for example, and the people are dumber and nastier than ever. No traces remain of the beautiful, hopeful, intelligent world of the 60’s and early 70’s. It often seems like a great trauma has befallen the populace–and it has, deliberately and systematically, e.g. with prescribed drugs, TV and education, etc.”
As for England, “Lots of little things get to me and often make me miserable or throw me into a rage: countenances on ‘superior’ faces (it would be impossible to be more supercilious than many middle to upper middle class English), little comments, cold people… Also, despite the generally unquestioning hyper-competitive, uber capitalist mindset, I think Britain is light years behind America in essentially everything. Does the loutish, boozed up culture contribute to this? Yes. Does being stuck in the past? Yes—not to say that I think EVERYTHING is wrong with preserving cultural continuity, or that new means good necessarily, but people seem generally so set in their ways here that there’s not the remotest chance of really inventive, outside-the-box thought occurring. Related to this is the lack of true joy in living. It is killed very, very early here as a general rule, though at least many people we know here is wacky, out there old Brighton. They’re trying their best to change this. Joy, love, purity of heart—these are what lead to ‘progress,’ which is probably nothing more than going back to a long forgotten natural state of happiness. Life shouldn’t be miserable!”
While I’m no progressive, I agree with Dan that we’ve lost a huge part of our core humanity and capacity for basic pleasures. In the name of progress, human nature has been deformed and beauty shattered, burnt or bombed into oblivion. It’s as if we can’t stand our magnificent heritage. Just look at what Europe did to itself in the 20th century. Visiting Prague for the first time, I was astounded to see what an intact, major European city should look like. As Lewis Mumford pointed out, man should study his entire past, even the most distant, for lessons on how to move forward. Instead of lunging ahead, he should walk backward as much as possible.
After Brighton, I returned to my teaching job in Leipzig, Germany. Each Monday, opposing camps in the refugee, immigration debate have to be kept apart by hundreds of black clad cops. Businesses suffer. The Christmas Market has just opened, however, so downtown is even more lively and charming than usual. Each day, thousands of people browse 250 stalls for sausages, gluhwein, chocolate, cheese, artisan soap, jewelries, candles or winter clothes, etc. There are two Ferris wheels and several merry go rounds. Here come giddy children riding a lion, a tiger, a camel. As in the Brighton pub, happiness is mingling with other people in a serene setting. Not everything is so idyllic. Beggars, most of them Eastern European, are scattered about. A shabbily dressed old German woman digs through a trash can for recyclable bottles.
With Turkey downing a Russian plane, we move one step closer to a global war. Turkey did not act alone. The US must prevent, at any cost, the economic integration of Eurasia, for should this happen, it would be the odd man out, an irrelevant sulk standing all alone in an Arctic of his own making. With 19 US military bases, Germany would be a missile magnet. Along with the erosion of their identity, already welcomed by many Germans, they risk being pulverized. A sticker in downtown Leipzig, “You say Deutschland, we say die!” The US Empire looted and slaughtered its way to the top. In its death throes, I fear it will unleash unprecedented mayhem.
Linh Dinh is the author of two books of stories, five of poems, and a novel, Love Like Hate. He’s tracking our deteriorating socialscape through his frequently updated photo blog, Postcards from the End of America.
“They should get all the virgins.”
In England, guys in their 50s ARE the virgins.
“This is the only country on earth that hates children, and this shows in the behavior of an often mean-spirited populace.”
Germans don’t really like children either.
That Dan comes across as pretty dislikable …if he thinks the English are horrible, maybe he really should f**k off back to the States. “Like I said, man, it’s a death worshipping culture. Being here, I can see what makes up America. Much of it came from here. On bad days, I sometimes think these are the most vicious people on earth” – lol, he seems blissfully unaware how many English over the last 70 years have regarded US influence on their country.
And when he was young, he went on “coital vacations” to Asia? Does it get any more decadent?
Brighton reminds me a little West Bank in Britain.
On April 9, the prosecution case against a Brighton Palestinian activist Yassir, member of Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) collapsed, when the presiding judge declared that the two Jewish accusers, Sandra Gross and Fiona Sharpe, belonging to Sussex Friends of Israel, lied in the court.
On May 17, 2014, the two pro-Israel activist complaint to local police that Yassir called them Nazis during a counter demonstration in front of EcoStream shop in Brighton.
In September, while addressing a reception at his Labour party conference in Brighton, Jeremy Corbyn confided that he too has Jewish family roots.
Vagrants and drifters have no ties or connections to any community so their alienation from and contempt for those who do have a home and purpose in life is understandable. People like Dan ( and there are millions of them these days) are in for a terrible fall as government welfare states collapse.
I wonder what the point of that last paragraph is. The U.S. must act to prevent catastrophe in Europe, but hey! Let’s remember how bad the U.S. is. Whatever dude. Stick to interviewing homeless people, you ray of sunshine you.
I suppose I shouldn’t hate this guy, with his ridiculous projections and absurd self-justifications, he’s a victim of our unhealthy culture as much as anyone.
Nonetheless as someone much younger than he is. I can’t help but despise him. His alienation alienates others and is partially a choice. I feel very let down.
People who spend a whole lot of time complaining about the country they live in usually have something wrong with them. This guy said he has serious depression problems, so we should try to cut him a break.
Thanks, Linh. Like a lot of Americans, I’m an admirer of Britain’s influence throughout the world. Language, law, enormous colonizing energy, literature, etc.
I’ve worked with a few English ex-pats, and found them distant, evasive, competent, and too clever by half. I just plain disliked them, although none did me any wrong.
Yeah, I agree with some of the above commenters that Dan may not be the best reporter of English ways and attitudes.
Your last paragraph had me wondering, “Why’s this guy going all apocalyptic and stuff?” But, I have to admit, I can’t think of another country the past fifteen years more treacherous and more inept in the conduct of its military affairs and diplomatic relations, and less mindful of popular opinion among its own citizens and other countries’, than the United States of which I’m a citizen.
North Korea and a handful of other countries are nuts, but they’re not 800 lb. gorillas. Russia–eh, don’t know. I feel pretty crappy that I’m thinking that.
oh wise and youthful unz commenters, you are wisened grasshoppers beyond your years. perhaps in old age you can preside over a new inquisition.
How did he get a work visa?
That’s just Gross Aaron.!
Dan is married to an Englishwoman.
I think Dan has it all wrong. He went to England thinking if he virtue signalled–said lefty things, bashed US culture, etc– that the Limeys would accept him. This is a common mistake Americans make.
The English hate based on your passport, not the content of your opinions. If I lived over in that dump (not bloody likely) I’d simply troll them 24/7. Write an anti-English blog, mock their horrific food (I know, low hanging fruit), get on benefits, take full advantage of their generous squatting laws. If some Limey mug left for Malaga for a month, I’d be living in his semi-detached house when he returned. And he’d have to hire a lawyer and fight me for a month in court to evict me.
Man, sounds like fun. Maybe I should give it a go.
He’d probably be happier in London, where there are a lot more Americans, but I wouldn’t wish him on them.
I do find the southern English middle class particularly remote and hard to like. The middle class outside of the South-East are fine, though. The non-underclass white working class do tend to be more likable, even though the London working class are actually often quite nasty in some ways. I doubt Dan has met any of the English upper class, but the ones I’ve met have been fine. Their detachment from reality for the rest of us can be a bit annoying – “Of course, you *must* go to a stately home in the country for the weekend, London would be unbearable otherwise!” – but this is ignorance not malice.
Brighton is one of the livliest, happiest and friendliest spots in England. I know the Irish session quite well and have played in it. Brighton buzzes with every kind of life and creativity.
The writer is projecting his own malaise onto the town.
Brighton hates children??!!
What absolute crap.
bragadocius, i believe we might just get along. what you mention might just be the most fun one could possibly squeeze out of england. but here’s voltaire: ‘For, really, how can a good (Englishman) boast of loving his neighbor as himself, when for the sake of a little money he goes into battle to put a lead bullet into his head or to butcher him with a four-inch kriss?…Thus it can be said much more truthfully that he hates his neighbor as himself.’
Its interesting for me to hear from an American experiencing the England I know.
There is a lot of nastiness here and people can be mean-spirited.
I lived abroad for a few years, in a place where there were lots of Americans (although not in the USA) and I ended up preferring the company of Americans, I think at least partly because as someone once said “an Englishman cannot open his mouth without another Englishman despising him” and I thought that to Americans I was just a foreigner with a funny accent, which is a lot easier than going with a stereotype, or fighting against it, as most of the British there were middle middle-class. I was asked a number of times if I was Australian, so a number of Americans didn’t even recognise my accent as English, which was fine, I preferred being a blank slate to being a yob/idiot.
So yeah, I think Americans are friendlier, particularly red-state Americans.
Yes we are. Thank you very much!
I don’t know when the author was in Brighton, but the skulls thing might have been to do with Halloween – which is an American import. We didn’t have Halloween when I was a kid.
IMHO this is due to the BBC/Guardian media class view of Americans, which it seems is the same as the New York Times view. But the fact that the man laughed when he said it I think tells you that there isn’t any genuine animosity but people are encouraged to hate the ‘American’ stereotypes presented to them by the BBC/Guardian media classes. Obviously there are idiots who will hold individual Americans responsible for everything the USA has done or is supposed to have done, but you get those sort of idiots everywhere.
With that comment though, I will puff my chest up and point out that at least 50% of everything worth inventing was invented on this little island.
Waves flag, mumbles Rule Britannia
more on this rotten little dump by voltaire:
‘having invented so many admirable or useful things is it possible that we are no more than fools…let him leave us…and write verse on more poetic subjects
Obviously this man wouldn’t be happy where ever he went. Go ahead and take another coital vacation (or holiday).
[Brighton buzzes with every kind of life and creativity.]
Yes, it’s positively gay.
Some more ideas for trolling the English: start a “teeth of Britain” photo blog, modeled after the “People of Wal-Mart” site that the Daily Mail knuckle-draggers get such a kick out of. Offer them a Cadbury Egg Creme if they’ll smile for you–and they just might! God the laughs and clicks that would produce, I’d do that in a heartbeat. Or I might just do a selfie pissing on the Cenotaph, i.e., their non-ironic monument to the British murder machine. The Limeys take that stuff quite seriously, and that would drive them absolutely batty.
I’m glad England got saddled with this malcontent.
To be fair Dan doesn’t *get* Britain
The southern English are on the whole an unpleasant bunch. Northern England, like Liverpool, is where the nice ones are, probably due to the Irish presence 🙂
I wonder whether the person called Dan in this story approved the publishment of this article? Depression, unemployed, vacations in South East Asia, carrying your coffin to the grave. All in all a rather unpleasant picture
When is your Postcards book coming out in paperback? I want to get it for Christmas. Thanks.
Where did you find that bizarre purported quote from Voltaire who lived for 30 months in England from 1726 and wrote admiringly of it in “Letters on England” having associated there with both literary people and leading members of the ruling classes? He was very enthusiastic about what France and other authoritarian countries could learn from England. So I wonder where you misunderstood something which belongs in another’s mouth.
I have visited England about 30 times always enjoyably and lived there for perhaps 65 months in all but I don’t have the confidence to generalise as you do. You don’t seem to have the agreeable personality and empathy of a Linh Dinh (such a nice man that he even puts up with the wretched Dan for more than half an hour) so I wonder what basis you have for confidence in your derogatory generalisations. (I don’t suppose you credit your prejudices to active use of your intellect on a large sample of experiences).
Australians have to get used to travelling a lot and living far from home – though less so perhaps in recent years at the beginning of the Chinese Century – and we are not surprised by the insular ignorance of others from large countries. The English are bad enough but Dan (and perhaps you) seems to evidence a straitened and mentally impoverishing upbringing which leaves in control primitive and limiting prejudices about that mysterious world beyond America. Dan’s problems seem to be deeper given that he has wandered pretty aimlessly about the world for years.
in the philosophical letters, japanese catechism, look it up. the japanese represent the english.
Thank you very much for your interest. The book was scheduled to be published in mid January, but it is delayed. This is how it often goes. Seven Stories Press hasn’t given me a new publication date yet but I’m assuming it will be in the Fall of 2016.
wiz and others,
i am, no not oz, but dan. yes, THE dan. many of the comments here, and not just the comments but the judgements and hit and run character assassinations, are ignorant beyond belief. ask linh how miserable a person i am. did he find it in any way–any way at all–strenuous, difficult, unpleasant, or in any way negative to hang out with me for two and a half days? some of your comments on britain are intelligent–some of you flat out agree with me–most are not. your readings of the article are shallow to say the least. do you really think i grew up in a mental straight jacket, or whatever you called it? ignoramuses! i conclude that subtlety is not a strong suit for the average unz reader. you mostly sound like a bunch of jackass reactionaries. if you were to meet me in person, i believe there’s not a single one of you that wouldn’t eat your words, you rotten little internet commenters.
Yes, I’m well aware of the Aussie predilection for aimless travel. One of my brothers in law is a dimwitted Aussie who slings food in a kitchen. Why he thought it would be useful to travel from cane toad land to the States to take a job as a line cook is somewhat beyond my comprehension. But that’s Australia for you. You guys aren’t very bright, have contributed almost nothing to world culture yet have very large chips on your shoulders. Oi oi oi!
Aimless babble is more the “wizard” ‘s thing than aimless travel.
” you mostly sound like a bunch of jackass reactionaries.”
Well, so what? What’s wrong with being a reactionary? In any case, this is a site where far worse than “reactionaries” congregates (like hardcore antisemites and Holocaust deniers)…maybe Linh should have published his article about your life somewhere else.
And seriously, I don’t know about your life (you don’t come across as a very happy person) and if you’re suffering from depression I’m sorry about that…but in this article you come across like a perfect example of an immigrant constantly whining and moaning about his adopted country. Such people aren’t popular, anywhere. And it’s even worse when it comes from an American, citizen of the hegemonic world power…Americans dissing other countries…not cool at all.
I think Linh really did you a disservice with this article…the way it’s written makes it unlikely most readers (at least here) will feel much sympathy for you.
I think you must mean the “Philosophical Dictionary”; the “Philosophical Letters” or “Letters from the English” is his meditation on his English travels and their customs, while the Dictionaire Philosophique is riddled with dialogues with imaginary Orientals.
In any event the quote you offer is very garbled, and hardly reflects Voltaire’s evident enthusiasm for English institutions and letters.
I fear the same. And I fear that those death throes may be just around the corner.
LOL. I like Yorkshire folk, who are not at all Irish!
Heh, we love that sort of stuff – especially the blog & trolling.
you’re correct, it should have said ‘dictionary’, not ‘letters’. both are direct quotes. the second is admittedly a bit garbled as i was trying to add it within the 5 minutes given to change an entry. in my penguin classics version, the first quote is on page 100. in full: ‘For really, how can a good Japanese (Englishman) boast of loving his neighbour as himself, when for the sake of a little money he goes into battle to put a lead bullet into his head or to butcher him with a four-inch kriss? He exposes himself to being butchered and to receive lead bullets. Thus it can be said much more truthfully that he hates his neighbor as himself.’
the other quote i will now expand and give in full, from page 102:
‘The Recina (Racine) you mention is himself a great visionary. Doesn’t this poor Indian (Frenchman) know that we taught him what light is; that if the true movement of the planets is now known in India, it is thanks to us; that we alone taught mankind the basic laws of nature and the infinitesimal calculus; that, to descend to things of more general use, the people of his country learned only from us to make junks on mathematical principles; that they owe us even the woven stockings with which they cover their legs? Having invented so many admirable or useful things is it possible that we are no more than fools, and that a man who has versified other men’s fantasies is the only wise man? Let him leave us to do our cooking, and write verse, if he must, on more poetic subjects.’
as to whether or not this ‘reflects Voltaire’s evident enthusiasm for English institutions and letters’, judge for yourself. i’ve not read his letters from england. for me, all that matters is that the quote rings true, and to me it does. there are many others for whom i don’t have easy accesss to direct quotes, but who felt much the same: marx and frank lloyd wright come to mind.
to the german,
you said yourself that there’s nothing wrong with being a reactionary. i have nothing to say to that, but that i am in disagreement, for the most part. the questioning of jewish domination of the media and much of banking by a confused and very troubled–but honest–person, is to me perhaps a step towards sanity. as to holocaust denial, i’ve only seen a small amount of presented evidence and will withhold my opinion–for one thing, this is a jailable offence in germany (and worldwide in the near future?). do you see anything wrong with THAT? please, no one send a bunch of vitriol my way for these past two comments–i simply don’t know.
you say it’s a big no-no to ‘whine’ about one’s adopted country. you try being an american in england. first off, you’re hated everywhere you go. the hate vibe’s intense here, even if they don’t know you’re american. it’s a hateful people. i only allowed my quotations to stand because i think this dialogue is necessary, considering the colossal damage anglo-saxons have done and continue to do unabated worldwide for so many centuries. nothing has changed! can it ever? i’m not hopeful, but i want to break the ice with my comments, which are based on daily reality. very silly of me to expect anyone at all to agree with me–i don’t care. you, like the english it sounds, are honest reactionaries. fine. i know that (about the english anyway). americans, you will be shocked to hear, ARE NOT. for some small backup to this statement, i direct you to wilhelm reich–there’s even a short documentary, ‘who’s afraid of wilhelm reich’, where the quote can be found (i can’t remember it).
did linh do me a disservice? perhaps: i don’t translate well into such a format. i need to write books, and perhaps will.
thank you for your honest response,
An old guy on welfare who believes he is better than everyone is unhappy?! Say it aint so!
I feel sorry for your kids and would be happy to say that to your face. They deserve a better role model. Get a job and you might find some of the self respect you are missing.
hey big macho mike, go f*ck yourself–and i’d be happy to say that to YOUR big mug
” as to holocaust denial, i’ve only seen a small amount of presented evidence and will withhold my opinion–for one thing, this is a jailable offence in germany (and worldwide in the near future?).”
What am I supposed to make of that comment? Sorry, but statements like “I’ve seen only some of the evidence” make you sound like you think there might be some merit to Holocaust denial…there isn’t any, the crimes committed by the German Nazis are among the most well-documented in history. One can of course debate how those crimes should be commemorated or if they should have any relevance today, but about the basic facts there isn’t any uncertainty whatsoever.
And while it’s unfortunate that you’re treated rudely in Britain, I think a certain degree of anti-Americanism is legitimate and to be exspected there…Britain’s been a vassal state of the US for a long time now, and naturally many British people, both right- and left-wingers, resent that state of affairs, as well as the creeping Americanization of culture.
to german reader,
i’ve only looked a tiny bit at holocaust deniers, such as ernst zundel, who, for his beliefs, is now in a german jail with i think a five-year sentence, or the british historian david irving. both of them are convincing, but as i already said, what do i know?–and, i don’t want to discuss it for that reason.
i disagree with your opinions of britain. i think the english–british is a ridiculous term, lumping scottish, welsh and irish in with anglo-saxons–are, quite simply, racists. by this i mean that deep down they ‘know’ they’re superior. they built their empire, they’re proud of it. they beat the germans, etc. read gobineau of the 19th century, the ‘father of racism’. it hold true today. yes, i know lots and lots who aren’t racist–women anyway.
they despise americans: the ones that beat them, not that i’m in any way proud of that especially as my ancestors weren’t even in the country then. i despise many americans too, the ones with the whiny voices who yap on about every topic under the sun thinking they’re so educated. really they’re just guardian readers, many of them. britain, it seems to me, is no vassal state. all the people here–and this has been confirmed to me, though i already knew it, by an intelligent english guy–all they really care about is getting the empire back, in name as well as in fact. do you think the german queen of england is a powerless figure head? i do not. for curiosity’s sake i went to the royal wedding a few years ago, an unfathomable, to me anyway, flagrant display of power.
Good point, I sorta meant the celtic West, from Cornwall up to Cumbria..
Ah Southerners are ok of course, they can just seem a bit unfriendly to outsiders. It’s an unintentional function of their way of speaking, I know it doesn’t reflect any lesser kindness about you fellas 🙂
“all they really care about is getting the empire back, in name as well as in fact.”
? It’s true that Britain’s political elite has an unhealthy obsession with Britain “punching above its weight” (which leads them into being junior partners to whatever idiocy the US comes up with), as well as with that Commonwealth nonsense (mostly harmful to Britain)…but you want to tell me that average English persons you talk to think there’s a realistic chance of the British empire being resurrected? I find that hard to believe.
As for English people being anti-American, well, a lot of it may seem unfair, but maybe you should try seeing things from their perspective? Britain’s “special relationship” to the US is an unequal one, and there’s plenty of reasons for resentment there; English patriots also have good reason to be wary of American cultural influence.
As for that stuff about the royals…sounds like old-fashioned American republican aversion to European royalty…which I don’t think should be terribly relevant in this day and age (frankly that could be said about much of your argument…the British empire’s long gone).
If you think the English as a people are horrible (and you seem to actively dislike them as a nation), it’s probably not a good idea to live in England.
“all the people here–and this has been confirmed to me, though i already knew it, by an intelligent english guy–all they really care about is getting the empire back”
Hahahaha, I got a good laugh out of that. Lee Rigby’s head was hacked off on a crowded English street, and no one lifted a finger to help him. Too scared! These are the sturdy people who are going to whip the “Commonwealth” back into shape? The Brits are delusional. Unless it’s an “empire” of people on disability.
i didn’t say getting the empire back, in that form anyway, was realistic. then again, why not? it’s irrelevant to me anyway, the world is completely orwellian. i completely disagree about the cultural influence thing. well, not completely. still, english influence in america has been colossal, from the country’s inception of course. but the modern cultural influences are huge, especially in music, tv shows or copies of them, even films like bond. also, in hollywood the ‘classier’ characters, great masterminds etc often have british accents. not to say the american influence isn’t here–i think at least some of it is good, to help take the edge off the great nationalistic feelings of so many. britain has indeed changed a lot in the past 50 years. as to aversion to royalty, i also disagree. as i said, i think they are indeed extremely powerful, and my personal belief–backed by no evidence and i’ve never investigated, or even heard anyone else say it–is that they’re still reeling from ‘the one that got away’, and are now getting it back, slowly slowly, softly softly. they’re buying up land in america, and going there to my knowledge completely unconstitutionally on a regular basis, not to mention the mass media constantly buttering up the american population to accept their benevolent presence. but whatever–my point, which i may not have made yet, is that i think the whole world is in lockdown: we haven’t, in my belief, the slightest chance of creating a better world. these people are pure evil. that is my belief. so do i live in england or the u.s.? well, for now, who’s got the healthcare? besides, i couldn’t even get my wife to listen, at all, to my arguments for moving back for several years. now she’s willing to listen after an enjoyable trip back earlier this year. but admittedly america is more insane by the second, as is mentioned by me in linh’s article. apparently it is mandatory to give all kids age two and above some 80 vaccines. again, absolute, pure evil.
i must stop now. thanks for writing, but i am too busy to continue. cheers
Sathanaz unintentional? pah! 🙂
Cumbrian celts are English or rather Welshish since the word English didn’t exist back when. But there be Vikings in them parts too, Norwegian ones.
Who are Yorkies? Danes? But weren’t they Harried?
Much Norman influence in Lancs – prob why they talk in questions to this day.
I think the trouble is that he seems to have the standard left-liberal world-view, and landed in a gay young people’s town with the standard liberal-left world-view, and he thinks Brighton is England. It’s about as un-English as you can find.
If Dan wants to find somewhere relatively inexpensive, be surrounded by nice English people, and educate his kids non-violently, he needs to go to somewhere like Clynderwen in West Wales, where 70s hippies and the local Steiner school have spawned a largeish (though geographically scattered) expat community, very few of whom alas have learned Welsh.
if you believe that story about lee rigby….
well aware that brighton is unique in england, the rest of the country for the most part, at least small towns and countryside, are reactionary. who cares if it’s gay people’s town, as you call it?
but i’ll give you this: i do have a standard liberal world view, from roughly 100 years ago. the new liberal view, as opposed to neo-liberal, is that of the guardian reader. i believe in decency. there is extremely little in the world today, as evidenced by the vast majority of these comments. obscene wealth i don’t believe in. slavery, including wage slavery, i don’t believe in. thuggery i don’t believe in, whether personal or international. a military structure to society i don’t believe in, which obviously includes the workplace. i could go on, but would rather not continue wasting energy.
It seems to be right on the border between Wales and England-beyond-Wales.
Or Hebden Bridge area.
But saying that, I know folks who live near Brighton who did just that (nice English people, and educate his kids non-violently), to the point of not allowing water-pistols when the kids were young.
You’re right about the left-lib vs lib-left thing though.
There’s as many sub-cultures in Britain as there are life preferences. It’s just a question of finding the right stream to swim in.
But you believe in “gay people”, which liberals 100 years ago did not. Check out Henry Labouchère.
i don’t ‘believe’ in gay people, it’s not something i give a thought to (unlike the modern liberal guardian, independent or nyt reader who feels so relieved to have obama in there to save the gays as he bombs the shit out of half the world), and am well aware of the progress in that area in the past century. not to split hairs, though it seems i must, but i didn’t mean to say i would like to be a victorian gentleman, or any gentleman for that matter, nor do i wish to go back to that period–i don’t idolize it in any way, except for the labor movement. this, incidentally, sets me apart from middle england, who not only want to go back to victorian times but never left them. i know, i know, there are just so many sub-cultures here.
i would add several other things, such as i don’t believe in property, or an individualist society, or, for that matter, steiner. cheers
ps i’ve just changed my mind completely and now really love great britain to bits. the people are now very cheerful, warm and welcoming. together, we’ll root out the terrorists in world government.
Well,if we take over the US then
we will have an empire of fat ,dumb ,handicapped people.
Speaking as an Englishman I would say you seem to be a truly hateful individual. You should show more respect to people who pay your bills. I think you are a very good example of a parasite who despises himself and ultimately resents the people who provide for you.
Your view of English people is absolutely driven by Hollywood propaganda. English people don’t constantly dream of reclaiming the empire,we are very pragmatic. This pragmatism or realism can seem “cold” to delusional people who for example move to another country but don’t have any marketable skills and then spend years battling a “depression” and living off the wages of their girlfriend and the wealth of the locals!
Chin up, Dan. Stiff upper lip an’ aw. I live in a suburb of Boswash and have for sixty years, amongst the worst smegmatics in the world; self-centered, smug, and largely ignorant hypocrites with a thin veneer of sophistication, living large on federal gravy while soaking in gossip and popular culture. I don’t see how the English could be worse; at least they used to have a culture that didn’t die with Samuel Clemmons.
What a depressing piece. What mean spirits on parade in the comments.
Jesus. This has been a f**king disaster of a read. Think I’ll go hang myself.
thank you for exemplifying what i couldn’t quite put into words. i’m not concerned with any of this, it is all a sideshow. i made a throwaway comment or two about living in england, they were put in an article, and now this little shitstorm. there’s not a single ounce of me that is ‘absolutely driven by hollywood propaganda’. i haven’t been to the movies in many years, i don’t even do dvd’s, i don’t watch t.v. or listen to cool music.
additionally, i am very glad to hear i have no ‘marketable skills’–the market, and those who follow and live it, make me sick. the english are pragmatic because they are brainwashed–please, please, not everyone by any means, just your average middle english like yourself. i understand that you buy into the system created to keep a few in absolute power, through mainly private property and all the hell that follows.
these thoughts have seriously concerned me since i was a boy, but these thoughts rarely trouble the average englishman. cheerio now
I love it! Keep the hatred coming Luke! I can almost see you in your tracksuit and trainers, watching “Xanadu” (Britain’s favorite movie) on your 1989 VCR. With halfwit jizz stains like yourself populating Albion, I don’t think we have much to worry about. (Now your psychos who emigrate here like Elliott Rodger, they’re another story)
oops, Clemens, from a hundred years ago, when America died, by its own hands.
“We don’t care what your name is, boy, we’ll never turn you away.”
i feel slightly disturbed. i had to look up eliot rodgers, then i remembered him.
but i am disturbed because he literally looks like about one in five dudes that are always passing my mansion, i mean house.
You do seem to fantasize about Englishmen a lot;I assume that in no way reflects on any sexual hang-ups!
I think you need to concern yourself more with your own country than British people ,but maybe facing that hard reality is too much for you so to distract yourself you attack a country of which you quite clearly know nothing.
I don’t hate you,I don’t wish you dead, I just don’t respect you. Generally people with the kind of hatred you have are normally in a very difficult situation e.g dangolbaslica and are venting because they are unable to escape their hellish life. It is not normal to be like the way you are and if this conversation could be in any way productive it would be with you seeking help.
You seem to deal in stereotypes and telepathy. You are a very lazy thinker i.e does it not occur to you that very few people like the system but accept that the consequences of impotent raging will only affect them and not the system, and so they make the best of the situation? Your rebellion has done what exactly? If you had done more with your life you would be in a better position to advocate for your world view.
There’s also this typical American arrogance-you’ve lived in the UK for a few years but lecture me about the British class system. The racialism of Americans is always there with you people: this constant need to invest irreducible characteristics to various ethnic groups.
Does it occur to you that your tendency to generalise may be a contributory factor with your depression? People with mental health problems tend to read too much into things and overgeneralise about events or people. If you tried to be a bit more open-minded it might help you with your mental health problems.
“I think you need to concern yourself more with your own country than British people”
Says the Englishman commenting on an American website, on a story involving an American living in the UK.
The comedy just writes itself, doesn’t it.
your tiresome commentary is, well, tiresome. i’d rather not have a pissing match with you–i wouldn’t like you, nor you me. so what. but here’s some lazy thought from a hard english realist (and aren’t you all?):
–you seem to know much about me, e.g. that i ‘deal’ in stereotypes and telepathy
–you also know that i’ve done nothing with my life. from your point of view, and the society of dunces, this is true. luckily i have at least some self respect–i have stuck to my beliefs. you don’t like it, you think i should get on with it like everyone else, i have had this argued to me many times, all of these arguments end in disagreement. i understand you and legions like you just get on with it. this is my point precisely, that with these legions doing what they ‘should’ there was, is and will always be a great buffer between the malcontents–i am proudly one, and they’re the only people i truly admire–and the absolutely powerful. how do you feel about being brainwashed all day every day–not to be too presumptuous, unlike you, but you watch a bit of telly? i am completely and forever at odds with ‘you people’–a favorite term of mine, too, i must add. i don’t mean only the great mediocrities of middle england, but of everywhere else too. to give you another sweeping generalization–and why not?–i not only think you are the lazy thinker, or more precisely that you don’t think much at all, but that your kind shows very little interest in others. your sweeping generalization of my ‘typical american arrogance’ and ‘racialism’ makes my point. but i’m sure you know, as all english do, soooooooo much more about america than i do england.
i’ll leave it at that. you stick with you great deep thoughts and i’ll stick with my shallow, bubbly, racist american ones. cheer-cheer-cheerio dude