Wednesday, February 18, 2009
I find this story humiliating. Yookay made a few bits for the Kepler Telescope. What is humiliating is that this is even mentioned. Once we would have been angry that we didn't make the whole damned Kepler. It's like that Australian news angle on the inauguration - Michelle was wearing Aussie mascara or some such. But that's Britain now, a mildly irritating entity with a few good engineers and an unusually high proportion of terrible bankers. When Obama looks east, I suppose he sees the electoral necessity of Ireland, then Germany and France and then, well, Gordon Brown. This reminds me I was going to post on George Monbiot's complaint about the lack of an English parliament - if we'd had one, he says reasonably enough, there would never have been a vote in favour of the third runway at Heathrow. The Scots are more than happy to send more planes flying low over West London. I don't know if I care about an English parliament or not. But what struck me was Monbiot's insistence that he is a global citizen and that he is indifferent to England. (His ensuing point that he doesn't know what England means is unconvincing.) How can one be indifferent to the land of one's birth? One may hate it or love it but indifference hardly seems to be an option. The term 'global citizen' indicates the problem; it is a familiar trick of contemporary, secular thinking is at work. This is the trick of the atomised self. One can be indifferent to one's country if one thinks of oneself as an abstract unit that could have been born anywhere. Monbiot born in Peru would still be Monbiot. But, of course, he wouldn't. Like it or not, the human self is made, in large part, by the context in which it is born. Monbiot is very English as am I. And neither of us makes space telescopes.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 7:53 am