Stupidity and Ignorance, continued
I was writing the other day about the distinction between these two, and saying that people who make a business of presenting things to the public — radio and television presenters especially — should never be, or pretend to be, either, but all too often are. (Or do; I fear the grammar is going a touch awry here; I’ve been ill.)
It happens of course in print too; more and more since the great dumbing-down started about thirty years ago. One doesn’t even need to look for it; it jumps out at you.
A month or so ago I was looking through the big quarter- and half-page advertisements in the back of the London Review of Books. It has become the favoured publicity place of organizations connected with psychoanalysis, of which there is a bewildering variety, all of them with confusingly similar names, and all of them at each other’s throats instead of the throats of their common enemies. Just like socialist parties. An advertisement for seminars on Psychoanalysis and Politics said ‘It would be hard to underestimate the importance of Freud’s contribution to political thought’, so I sent an e-mail to Marjory Goodall, the lady who is arranging bookings, to suggest this might be a Freudian slip. She didn’t reply, or even acknowledge receipt of my message, and put the identical advertisement, with no correction, in the next issue of the LRB. So in her case we must add discourtesy to ignorance and/or stupidity. And I happen to know she is the secretary of the organization that, above all others in the world, is most responsible for the guardianship of Freud’s intellectual legacy. Oh dear.
In the same two issues of the LRB The Society of Analytical Psychology (allies? related in some way? Oh dear me no!) advertises some courses and talks, including one on ‘T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland’. Eliot’s poem is of course called ‘The Waste Land’, and one needs only a very little sensitivity to language, of which poetry is the quintessence, to see the crassness of this mistake. But I didn’t even bother to write to them: The Society of Analytical Psychology people are Jungians, so half the time they are off in La-La Land and cannot be judged by normal intellectual standards.
I think I should add that I have great respect for the works of Jung himself. Anyway, here is yet another picture of Sigmund, this time with his one-time close friend Carl Gustav:
Oh, dear: absurdly but no doubt significantly, I can’t find a photograph of just the pair together; this will have to do: