I have long wondered what makes Janet Daley’s writing so tenebrously dull. A recitation of the fat stock prices would have more interest, the speaking clock subtler nuance. If she were to write about a kaleidoscope, it would be in black and white.
It can’t be because she’s American. Mark Twain was American and he wasn’t dull. Neither was Ezra Pound who wrote, “The reader deserves from time to time to be refreshed by shards of ecstasy.” Daley’s prose is as refreshing as a lorry-load of slurry.
Happily my puzzlement has at last been dispersed. Writing (about herself) this week in the Daily Telegraph, Daley says,
“Political argument and debate seem to me to encompass – or at least affect – almost everything that matters in the human condition. How we are governed defines our social relations, our life opportunities, our moral choices and our civil responsibilities. In democratic societies, there is a particular responsibility for people to make informed decisions, not only about who is to be in power but about the limits and function of government itself.”
See what I mean?
What does she know of politics who only politics knows?
Political conversation is not everything – not even “almost” everything – that matters in the human condition. What scope, beyond that of leisurely diversion, does her definition of what matters leave to art, literature, music, philosophy and even, God help us, theology?
We practise these things, Ms Daley, so that we do not die of politics.
Politicos themselves sometimes acknowledge this truth. Even Ken Livingston has his newts, John Major could be not inconsiderably interesting on the subject of motorway cones and Matthew Parris has written gaily about his exploits on Hampstead Heath.
I wonder if there is a cure for Janet’s political monotony?
I think there is. She could try writing her memoirs. Suggested title: Homage to Catatonia