A notes file for reading “The Madness of Crowds” by Douglas Murray

1. Notes

1.3. The Royal College of Psychiatrists considers that sexual orientation is determined by a combination of biological and postnatal environment factors.’

‘There is no evidence to go beyond this and impute any kind of choice into the origins of sexual orientation.’

It is not the case that sexual orientation is immutable or might not vary to some extent in a person’s life. Nevertheless, sexual orientation for most people seems to be set around a point that is largely heterosexual or homosexual. Bisexual people may have a degree of choice in terms of sexual expression in which they can focus on their heterosexual or homosexual side. It is also the case that for people who are unhappy about their sexual orientation – whether heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual – there may be grounds for exploring therapeutic options to help them live more comfortably with it, reduce their distress and reach a greater degree of acceptance of their sexual orientation.

1.4. American Psychiatrist Association: kinda same thought: homosexuality is something totally obscure.

There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.

1.5. Douglas is speaking about the “Hardware vs. Software” issue.

This debate is very close to myself. My life in Edinburgh was incredibly miserable. Why? I am an “industrious man”. I love what I do. I love learning. I love research. I love trying new things and I like trying foreign cultures.

Why did I feel so horrible, miserable and inefficient in Edinburgh? Why is it that I only managed to switch to the production mode in Russia, and even more in China?

Is it hardware or software?

It seems to me that “nurture” and “environment” cannot be classified as purely “hardware” or software. “Firmware” perhaps? I am not sure though.

1.8. All women have something that heterosexual men want. They are

holders, and wielders, of a kind of magic. But here is the thing: gays appear in some way to be in on the secret. That may be liberating for some people. Some women will always enjoy talking with gay men about the problems – including the sexual problems – of men. Just as some straight men will always enjoy having this vaguely bilingual friend who might help them learn the other language. But there are other people for whom it will always be unnerving. Because for them gays will always be the people – especially the men – who know too much.

1.9. The utility of such groups is obvious: their ‘highly diverse struggles:

urban, ecological, anti-authoritarian, anti-institutional, feminist, anti- racist, ethnic, regional or that of sexual minorities’ give purpose and drive to a socialist movement that needs new energy. What is more, unless they cohere together these groups might just pursue their own agendas and their own needs. What is needed is to bring all these movements under one umbrella: the umbrella of the socialist struggle.

1.10. Laclau and Mouffe write of ‘what interests us about these new social

movements’ and explain how it ‘leads us to conceive these movements as an extension of the democratic revolution to a whole new series of social relations. As for their novelty, that is conferred upon them by the fact that they call into question new forms of subordination.’

1.11. An example of a shitty sentence.

The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural tonalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.

1.13. an example of people deliberately and lazily adopting simplified misrepresentations of

what other people are saying in order to avoid the difficult discussion that would otherwise have to take place

1.14. The confusion that Nicki Minaj acts out here is representative of a

whole host of other things in our culture. It contains an unresolvable challenge and an impossible demand. The demand is that a woman must be able to lap-dance before, drape herself around and wiggle her ass in the face of any man she likes. She can make him drool. But if that man puts even one hand on the woman then she can change the game completely. She can go from stripper to mother superior in a heartbeat. She can go from ‘Look at my butt, waving in front of your face’ to ‘How dare you think you can touch the butt I’ve been waving in front of your face all this time.’ And it is he who must learn that he is in the wrong.

1.16. The survey found that only 9

per cent of British women used the word ‘feminist’ to describe themselves. Only 4 per cent of men did. The vast majority of people surveyed supported gender equality. In fact a larger number of men than women supported equality between the sexes (86 per cent versus 74 per cent). But the vast majority also resisted the ‘feminist’ label.

1.19. Why cannot we still buy some robot that would grow us food at the window?

Like, I do not eat that much stuff. Could I just buy a robot shelf, stock it with fertilisers, connect to a wire, and be done with it? It may even be outside of the city, and would send me food with a drone.

2. Summary

2.1. So far I have found several things that Murray constantly ignores.

  • The unimaginable hardness to fit your own standards in the world where everyone sees everyone. Part of this madness is due to the fact that in the past everyone could carve for himself a place where he could be a “king”. That was a family and a circle of friends. Now you have the whole world to compete with.
  • The hardly imaginable hardness to reach any decent level of proficiency in anything. Too many academics know nothing, but are still academics. And the whole life is not enough to learn what is required for an academic to be an academic. And the competition for the positions in fields that are less complicated is billions per place.
  • The thing with discussing the “trans” issue is that many people don’t care about it. One of the things with “public discussions” is that they do not represent anyone.

<2020-09-13 Sun 22:00> I have finished the book. It left me thinking. I do now really understand whether this book leaves the feeling of optimism or pessimism. It does leave the feeling that learning social sciences, and more importantly, learning how to … be an adult. Learn things that adults do and how real adults make decision by books and by choosing a referential group.

Learning Chinese in a proper way is becoming more and more urgent. Reading Derrida, Foucault, Chomsky and other people who contributed to confusion a lot is also important. And perhaps the opponents deserve more attention than friends. Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.

Gays are dangerous beasts. A couple of gays defeats a heterosexual couple at almost anything easily. (As the swan example indicates vividly.)

I do have a female-ish component that needs to be addressed somehow. Is there a cheap cheaty way out of it? Without much effort? Perhaps just some male beauty services?

I guess, I will not publish a review of this book.

Twitter culture is very, very specific. Be careful about it.

3. Words

  1. dementing :: in political, societal context — forgetting
  2. nicked the tripwire :: to nick mean touch lightly
  3. put yourself beyond the pale :: “beyond the pale” means to be outside the bounds of acceptable behavior, morality, or propriety (originally the Pale was the fence between Ireland under English rule and the rest of Ireland)
  4. shift mores :: “mores” refers to the customs, norms, and behaviors that are accepted as standard or conventional
  5. to strew :: means to scatter or spread things untidily over a surface or area
  6. fraught :: full of tensions, stress, and anxiety, usually about some social situation
  7. avowals :: open and honest statement affirming something (see vow)
  8. volubly :: speaking fluently, quickly, or readily
  9. demeaning :: behavior or treatment that is disrespectful or degrading
  10. unfurl :: unroll or unfold something, like a flag of a scroll
  11. punters :: British English for “customers”
  12. unflustered :: opposite of “flustered”, who is nervous, agitated, and confused
  13. whacky-backy :: British English for marijuana
  14. Jewess :: an outdated, slightly derogatory term for a Jewish lady (Russian жидовка)
  15. tribulations :: severe trials or sufferings; difficulties or troubles.
  16. snigger :: suppressed or partly concealed laugh, with a sense of superiority
  17. twitchy :: making small, jerky movements, often involuntary
  18. wracking :: torturous and painful for the brain, especially nerve-wracking
  19. scorn :: contempt or disdain for someone or something unworthy or inferior
  20. confrères :: colleagues/peers in professional context
  21. forbearance :: refraining from exercising a right, enforcing a penalty, or insisting upon an obligation, magnanimity, generosity
  22. kick up :: start up or initiate something, usually some resistance or disturbance
  23. opprobrium :: harsh criticism or public disgrace arising from shameful conduct, such as when the journalists write something bad about someone
  24. whiplash :: an injury to the neck, due to a sudden change of movement, such as in a car, also figuratively, a sudden change in society “cultural whiplash”
  25. hitherto :: “up to this (that) point” (things explained hitherto)
  26. tedium :: feeling or state of being bored and doing something tedious
  27. mores of the age :: customs, behaviours, and values of an era
  28. to be left in the wake :: to be in the middle of the consequences of something (say, a hurricane), (“wake” is a trail of waves after a ship has gone)
  29. quibbles :: minor objections, complaints, and criticism. “She never outright rejected my offer of a date, but always quibbled about particular circumstances, so we never met again.”
  30. dowdy :: unfashionable and lacking in style. (Like my wardrobe.)
  31. pulpit :: raised lectern in a church, also used figuratively as an “opportunity to give a sermon”
  32. to tout :: promote something vehemently, like street vendors
  33. knock-on :: secondary, indirect consequence, side-effect, “the knock-on effect of having a PhD is being admitted to a private chamber in the Lenin Library”
  34. emblazoned :: decorated with a bright, attention-seeking design, “my laptop is emblazoned with a Matrix code on it”
  35. asinine :: extremely foolish, stupid (lat. donkey-like) “He made asinine remarks and presented himself as a fool.”
  36. equanimity :: The state of calmness and composure. “Before a dangerous endeavour he maintained his equanimity.”
  37. imbibe :: drink alcohol, used figuratively as “absorb knowledge and ideas”
  38. assail :: The word “assail” means to attack vigorously or violently; to assault. “The castle was assailed by the enemy forces, who launched a fierce attack at dawn.” “The politician’s character was assailed by his opponents during the heated debate.”
  39. gobbledygook :: “Gobbledygook” refers to language that is nonsensical, confusing, or overly complicated, often to the point of being incomprehensible. It’s typically used to describe speech or writing that uses a lot of technical jargon, bureaucratic language, or convoluted phrasing, making it difficult for the average person to understand.
  40. smattering :: “Smattering” refers to a superficial, slight, or scattered amount of knowledge or information about something. It implies a basic or limited understanding, often just enough to be familiar with a topic but not in-depth. The term is commonly used when someone knows a little bit about various subjects but not to a great extent in any of them.
  41. rife with :: The phrase “rife with” means full of or abundant in something, often used to refer to negative or undesirable qualities or conditions. When you describe a situation, place, or thing as being “rife with” something, it suggests that the characteristic is widespread, prevalent, or noticeably common within it. For example: “The old house was rife with mold,” indicating that the mold was widespread throughout the house. “The company’s culture is rife with corruption,” suggesting that corrupt practices are common and pervasive within the company.
  42. Slink :: The word “slink” refers to moving in a smooth, quiet manner, typically in a way that is intended to go unnoticed. Often, “slink” implies a sense of stealth or surreptitiousness. It’s commonly used to describe someone or something moving in a furtive or sneaky way. For instance, you might say, “The cat slinked through the room, trying not to attract attention,” to describe the cat moving quietly and carefully, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible.
  43. midriff :: “Midriff” refers to the region of the human body between the chest and the waist. It’s the area of the torso that is exposed when wearing clothing such as crop tops or low-rise pants. The term can be used in both anatomical contexts to describe this part of the body, as well as in fashion contexts to refer to styles of clothing that reveal this area. “Show his midriff.”
  44. segue :: “Segue” is a term used to describe a smooth, uninterrupted transition from one thing to another. It originally comes from music and performance, where it denotes moving from one part of a performance to another without a break. The word has been adopted more broadly to refer to any kind of smooth transition in conversation, narrative, or different sections of a work. For example, in conversation, when someone changes the topic smoothly and naturally, they are said to “segue” into a new topic. In a TV show or movie, a “segue” might be a smooth transition from one scene to another that maintains the flow of the narrative.
  45. witter :: “Witter” is a somewhat less common word, primarily used in British English, that means to chatter or babble pointlessly or at unnecessary length. When someone is described as “wittering,” it implies that they are talking a lot without saying anything particularly important or interesting, often in a somewhat nervous or agitated manner. For example, if someone says, “He kept wittering on about his vacation plans,” it suggests that the person was talking excessively and perhaps tiresomely about their plans.
  46. racked with confusion ::
  47. umpteenth ::
  48. lip-service ::
  49. tut-tut ::
  50. mangy-looking ::
  51. let-off ::
  52. risible. ::
  53. ineluctably ::
  54. leg-up ::
  55. heave-some ::
  56. tenuous ::
  57. discern ::
  58. compunction ::
  59. on the cusp ::
  60. pivoted on a dime ::
  61. surreptitiously ::
  62. anti-miscegenation ::
  63. imbroglio ::
  64. peroration ::
  65. regurgitate ::
  66. foment ::
  67. atone ::
  68. lampoon ::
  69. umpire ::
  70. condescension ::
  71. fad ::
  72. encroaching ::
  73. castigated ::
  74. dalliances ::
  75. ire ::
  76. surmised ::
  77. amped off ::
  78. mushing ::
  79. plaudits ::
  80. indignant ::
  81. porcine ::
  82. ordure ::
  83. slurry ::
  84. to tar ::
  85. crop up ::
  86. abasement ::
  87. schadenfreude ::
  88. quagmire ::
  89. recourse ::
  90. frailty ::
  91. rumbustious ::
  92. sidles ::
  93. qualms ::
  94. transpire ::
  95. aggravation ::
  96. flay ::
  97. opprobrium ::
  98. pugilist ::
  99. flicking ::
  100. pouting ::
  101. childhood haunts ::
  102. stand-in ::
  103. flaunt ::
  104. adumbrate ::
  105. unsnap a onesie ::
  106. doozy ::
  107. cowed by ::
  108. out of line ::
  109. vying ::
  110. derange ::
  111. animosity ::
  112. cuttlefish ::
  113. prelapsarian ::
  114. coy ::
  115. nixed ::
  116. frailties ::
  117. unruffled ::