The First Thing
This is a pretty great review. I do love a sarcastic book review at least once a week. The reviewer, in this case, seems to really hate the book. Here’s how it ends:
“I’ve argued that humans have evolved to be fundamentally sociable creatures,” Bregman writes – as though this is a brave thing to argue, though absolutely no one in the world disagrees with it – “but sometimes our sociability is the problem.” Well, sure. Gun-toting anti-lockdown protesters in the US are being sociable; so are criminal gangs and far-right activists. On the other hand, because things are more complicated than such books allow, sometimes being anti-social is the problem. Bregman unwittingly provides a perfect illustration of this when he goes to meet the director of the hippy school. “Drummen is one of those people who never lost his knack for play, and who has always had an aversion to rules and authority,” Bregman writes admiringly. “When he comes to pick me up from the railway station, he leaves his car parked flagrantly across the bike path.” So this maverick pedagogical hero, who loves freedom from rules, is actually a dysfunctional egotist who unthinkingly restricts the freedom of others. Any cyclist who had to navigate around this buffoon’s vehicle that day would have been just that little bit less inclined to agree that people are fundamentally good-hearted.
Bit abrupt, but really, what can you expect when the poor person had to both read the book and then write about it?
The Second Thing
This is more important—a brief history of door handles. Really, the perfect size.
There was a brief renaissance in door-handle design in the postmodern era, when it became a ‘typology’ and hundreds of ironic or referential designs were launched only to disappear again with fashion. Handles became rather like chairs, with consumers and architects wondering how many more designs the world actually needed. Nevertheless, exquisite and unexpected designs occasionally emerge and each generation finds something new in the everyday. Architects and designers such as 6a, Jasper Morrison and Mark Pimlott have reinterpreted traditional types, while Aldo Bakker has exaggerated existing, familiar forms to create something new and sculptural. And yet. Despite the plethora of thoughtful designs, almost every door handle you will see today will be cheap and ill-considered. Modernism managed to make a fetish of the handle, but economic reality has always proved a formidable obstacle.
Yes, that’s totally true. I feel in some sense that we bought this house for the door handles, without consciously knowing it. They are all different, and some are so old that I’ve had to take them off (which is very inconvenient it turns out) and every now and then google variations of “how can I fix the very old mechanism in a very old door handle” but then never get beyond that. Sometime, when I’m covered with free time, I’m going to attend to this very important question. Truly, the badness of modern door handles is just another sign of the apocalypse. You might have thought it was something else, but it isn’t.
The Third Thing
I did maybe watch this twice in the wee hours. It is making its way all over twitter and is pretty epic. Basically, many big tall police officers are being taunted by a small white person—female if you care about that sort of thing. She is explaining to them their own racism, at length. They try to walk away after a bit, but then one comes back and tells her about Jesus. It’s about as fruitful a “conversation” as one would imagine.
I love this. pic.twitter.com/ueASgcaaH1
— Phil Johnson (@Phil_Johnson_) June 25, 2020
I think one of the most horrid things about life right now is how ugly everything is—not just the feel of a cheap door handle, although I’m sure one things leads to another, but the idea that one human person would yell at another one, shouting over the pleas to listen because the other person is thinking about the same thing only from a different angle, and the one who is shouting is, herself, feeling virtuous about it, like she had done a good and right thing. I mean, I’m old enough to remember when people rightly didn’t enjoy it when religious groups did that sort of thing, like those horrid people at that church, what were their names? Maybe these are them. Gosh what an ugly website name. But rage is all the rage now, and morally good or something, instead of trying to speak calmly. I know I shouldn’t say that—in itself to say we ought to try to be “civil” is racist. I saw that on twitter somewhere else.
Anyway, file the little episode of a white person being allowed to scream about a black person that the black person is racist under What A Stupid Time To Be Alive. Have a lovely morning if you feel like it.