Monday 26 December 2016

The Death Tape and Post-Fiction

The Death Tape was playing in the pub earlier - well, not tape these days, of course, but it was, as we gradually realised, a compilation of music by all the stars who have died this year in the Great Cull. So far this year, that is - not wise to talk too soon, when they're still dropping like flies: Rick Parfitt and George Michael in the past couple of days, who else before the year's out? George Michael was in the mix so this was a bang up to date compilation, and there were Bowie and Cohen and Prince and the Eagles (for Glenn Frey) and the less obvious likes of Bobby Vee, Merle Haggard, Prince Buster... What a year it's been for deaths - see Mr Appleyard's fine summing-up here.
 And it was an equally big year for Events, a year in which things happened - notably Brexit and Trump - that actually changed the landscape. Predictably enough, neither of these biggies was predicted by any of the pundits, aka 'experts' - the same experts who also unanimously failed to see the 2008 crash coming, and who before that insisted that Britain must join the Euro and, before even that, the ERM. The pundits, of course, carry on as if nothing has happened, seem to have learned nothing, and continue to predict what's in store for us. And the popular rejection of the consensus they represented is characterised as the birth of 'post-truth' (official Word of the Year) politics, a political climate in which facts count for nothing, and instincts and feelings dictate choice.
 There's something in this analysis, but not in the sense that's implied. The representatives of 'post-truth', it seems to me, are those who cling to the comfort blanket of the old exploded certainties, who cannot acknowledge that things have changed, that Brexit and Trump happened, and happened not because people had gone mad but because enough of them had stopped believing in a consensus that no longer reflected the realities of their experience. Who's deluded here? Who's in denial? It seems to me we're now living in 'post-fiction' times, and should be glad of it.
 Meanwhile I look forward to the Correspondents' Look Ahead on Radio 4 on Friday, in which BBC correspondents tell us once more what's not going to happen in the coming year.


  1. As an American, I won't comment on Brexit, but in regards to Trump, it's not just the pundits who've miscalculated. I can understand what his (sane) voters want and why, but if they think Trump will provide it, they will be bitterly disappointed. I'm no fan of Clinton, but we now have the most vulgar, most sociopathic, and blatantly disqualified president elect in recent memory, which cannot bode well for his time in office or for the future of our country.

    (My apologies for my pessimism, which you are welcome to counter.)

  2. The modern 'liberal' mindset had proscribed the right to articulate anything other, the modern liberal mindset which was equated with 'truth.' In that sense it stole or appropriated truth. That's why people stuck two fingers up at it. It wasn't really truth. It was, as you say, Nige, their fiction.

  3. Well said Guy - and Pavo, I largely agree with your assessment of The Donald as a person but am actually quite optimistic about how his presidency might turn out, and quite convinced that a Clinton presidency wld have been worse for the US and the rest of us. (And in terms of vulgarity, sociopathy and disqualification, there wasn't a lot to choose between these two candidates, was there?)

  4. I can't bring myself to agree with you that Clinton was the worse choice (my views on certain topics are a little to the left of yours), but yes, neither was a good option. That in itself worries me, but, as you've articulated, predicting these things is a mug's game.