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Archive for the ‘Enlightenment’ Category

A treasure trove of Jewish history is sitting in a North York basement – Canadian Jewish News

Posted: February 11, 2020 at 3:50 pm


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One normally wouldnt consider North York a place where riches lie beneath the ground, but David Birnbaums basement tells another story.

Neatly arrayed, floor-to-ceiling, in crammed bookcases, filing cabinets, metal shelves, bankers boxes, document cases and bulging manila envelopes is a veritable treasure trove that libraries around the world would love to get their hands on.

Theres an Indiana Jones-ish vibe to pulling a dusty tome from a shelf, its leather binding cracked and decaying, or peering at fragments of a centuries-old Hebrew manuscript in a dim light.

Its hard and seems crass to put a dollar value on a collection this remarkable. Its worth millions, Birnbaum told The CJN. Were looking for a good home where it will be properly catalogued and digitized.

Thats easier said than done given the collections sheer size. But of late, two local scholars have embarked on a campaign to convince the University of Torontos Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library to acquire the storied Birnbaum Archives.

The collection centres almost wholly on two giants of 20th century Jewish thought and scholarship: Nathan Birnbaum (Davids grandfather), a hugely influential figure in European Jewry who died in 1937, and Solomon Birnbaum (Nathans son and Davids father), a world-renowned scholar of Yiddish and Hebrew who died in 1989 in Toronto at age 98.

The archives also hold the writings and artworks of two more of Nathan Birnbaums sons: Menachem, an artist who was murdered at Auschwitz in 1944, and Uriel, a writer and artist who died in 1956.

A stones throw from David Birnbaums house lie the papers and vast writings of his late brother Eleazar Birnbaum, an expert in Arabic, Persian and Turkish who taught at the University of Toronto and died last October at the age of 89.

Theres more: Eleazars and Davids brother, Jacob, was a key founder of the movement struggling on behalf of Soviet Jewry in the 1960s.

By any measure, this was a productive family.

Yes, they were all very prolific, understated David, who trained as an architect and worked as an environmental planner for the Ontario government. Hes curated the archives for 31 years, and now, at age 86, agrees its time for a permanent home where their contents could be preserved and studied.

Asked the size of the archive, which is spread out on two floors of his unassuming house, David sits back in his kitchen chair and thinks. It amounts, he said, to 5,200 letters, between 50,000 and 60,000 papers, documents and manuscripts, and some 3,000 books, which have been meticulously catalogued by whether they are by Nathan, Solomon, Uriel or Menachem, about them, or mention them.

A further 2,000 scholarly books, some of them rare, are in Solomons library.

Among the letters are 18 carefully preserved, handwritten missives from Theodor Herzl to Nathan Birnbaum (the two would have a falling out), and an invitation to speak co-signed by Albert Einstein. The correspondence alone represents a whos who of 20th century Jewish history: Letters to Birnbaum from Sholem Aleichem, Chaim Nachman Bialik, Max Nordau, Martin Buber, and I.L. Peretz, to name a few.

Scribblings, photographs, newspaper clippings, poems, personal notes, its all here.

The material would interest scholars for years to come, wrote Prof. Naomi Seidman, of U of Ts religion department, to the Fisher Library recently. We would love to see the Birnbaum Archive housed on the University of Toronto campus, not only for our own research, but also for the opportunities it presents to showcase the remarkable lives of this singular family.

Remarkable barely begins to describe Nathan Birnbaum. Born in Vienna in 1864, he championed a spectrum of radically opposed movements, according to Kalman Weiser, a professor of Modern Jewish Studies at York University.

Birnbaums life was a series of progressions some might say a trajectory first, as a leading figure in the Zionist movement well before Herzl (Birnbaum is credited with coining the term Zionism), then as an architect of Yiddish-based cultural autonomy for Eastern European Jews (he organized the landmark 1908 Yiddish language conference in Czernowitz, modern day Chernivtsi, now in Ukraine), and finally, as a leader in the staunchly anti-secular, anti-Zionist Agudath Israel party. He died in Holland.

Nathan Birnbaum was a pivotal figure in Jewish nationalist thought and Orthodoxy, whose chameleon-like transformations mirrored European Jewrys responses to the challenges posed by post-Enlightenment forces, noted Weiser.

His whole life consisted of what a Jew was, David Birnbaum said.

Solomon Birnbaum was also a maverick intellectual: An Orthodox Jew who authored the first modern grammar of Yiddish, written in the trenches of the First World War, and who devised an ingenious Yiddish spelling system that was introduced in Orthodox schools in Poland in the 1930s.

After fleeing to England in 1933, he became an expert in Hebrew paleography (the study of ancient writing systems and deciphering historical manuscripts) and epigraphy (the study and interpretation of ancient inscriptions.)

In 1947, he was able to date the Dead Sea Scrolls accurately by studying their scripts well before radiocarbon dating.

He came to Toronto to join his sons in 1970 and spent his remaining decades continuing his research into the evolution of the Hebrew alphabet, and lesser-known Jewish languages, such as Ladino, Bukharic (spoken in central Asia) and Yevanic (in Greece).

The output of father and son was staggering; it seems as though they saved every scrap of paper in their lives. How it all survived the Holocaust is another conversation.

The depth and importance of this archive cannot be easily exaggerated, noted the American scholar Jess Olson in his 2013 biography of Nathan Birnbaum.

The archives are indeed a big deal, said Weiser, who also favours their acquisition by U of Ts Fisher Library. Its the ideal place.

But essentially, it all comes down to money. A benefactor is needed to purchase the collection and donate it.

For Birnbaum, the treasure obviously strikes close to home. Rather than a dry impersonal historical record of well over 100 years of European Jewish history, he said, the archive reflects the experiences of those who actually lived that history.

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A treasure trove of Jewish history is sitting in a North York basement - Canadian Jewish News

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February 11th, 2020 at 3:50 pm

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UH To Honor Beethoven with Two Week Music Festival – Houston Press

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Beethovens music has a knack for embedding itself in our DNA. If the human brain came hardwired with a pre-set music library, his greatest hits likely loom atop that short list. With a limitless legacy and a persona bolstered by melodic achievements of legends echelons, it makes sense why the University of Houston is observing the 250th anniversary of the composers birth. Set to begin on February 17, UHs Moores School of Music will welcome internationally acclaimed guest artists, scholars, and panelists to Beethoven 250 UH 2020, a two week long festival devoted to Beethovens sestercentennial.

I think these moments give us a chance to come together as a community and to celebrate the greatness of human achievements, says Dr. Courtney Crappell, Director of the Moores School and Associate Professor of Piano and Piano Pedagogy at UH.

For the Houston community, we want people to be on our campus to experience it with us. Of course at [Moores] we are focused on our students experience. So for us to put this together on our campus, especially for the students who are with us right now at this moment in history...it gives us a chance to curate an experience for our students thats going to change them forever, says Crappell.

The festival will house residencies from the internationally heralded ensemble Formosa Quartet, and Hungarian violinist Kristf Barti, whose performances of Beethovens Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 61, in which he simultaneously plays the piece while conducting the orchestra from his violin (a feat he will repeat at his February 29 UH concert appearance) have garnered critical praise. Each week-long residency will include open rehearsals, masterclasses, and concerts open to both Moores students and the general public.

Im working to bring top musicians from all over the world to the school of music anytime we can do it, and every time we have the opportunity to do it, says Dr. Andrew Davis, Founding Dean of the Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts (home to the Moores School). He says that when he reached out to these artists, it was with only the festivals concept; the artists, in turn, chose the pieces to be programmed at the event, a decision Davis says helped maintain a collaborative spirit.

Im kind of a fan of letting the artist be the artist and not totally dictating what theyre going to do. So I give them the concept and let them go to work and theyve been really responsive. I think they put together a super exciting series of programs, says Davis of the performance calendar stacked with sonatas, chamber music, and the composers third symphony, the Eroica. Its enough to make any Houstonians Beethoven-loving heart skip a beat.

In curating the festivals lineup of guest artists, Davis prioritized the students musical needs, stressing the importance of these artists interacting with some of UHs most musically inclined Coogs.

We would not bring them to the school if we weren't confident that they would impact the students in a positive way. We're not going to bring people to the school who just have no interest in teaching and no interest in interacting with students and making an impact. We're going to invite people we know love students and love the teaching aspect of what they do. These big events are an opportunity to bring people like that to the school of music and simultaneously make a wider impact in the community because there's something here for everyone whether you're a scholar, a musician, a professional, an amateur, or just a fan of the music of Beethoven, it'll be a great two weeks for every one of those audiences, says Davis.

As UH maintains its influence as a research university, Davis wanted to add dimensions of history, philosophy, scholarship, and humanities to the festival - something, he says, he deeply values.

I'm really interested in working across disciplines and I really believe that its not all about the music; it's about the study of the music, the interpretation of the music, and all of the ways that you can connect the music to the other disciplines in the university.

Beethoven 250 UH 2020 welcomes Formosa Quartet to the Moores School of Music for a week long residency open to students and the public beginning February 17.

Photo by Sam Zauscher

Beethoven 250 UH 2020 will host some of the worlds top Beethoven scholars, including UCLAs William Kinderman, in a series of academic conferences and lectures designed to appeal to both scholarly audiences and the wider public. Guest speaker Kinderman will be speaking about the political aspects of Beethoven.

Beethoven was struggling politically in a way that resonates not only in our era, but you can probably find resonance in any era politically about the freedom of the individual, and how does the individual express oneself with freedom of speech, the freedom of emotion, and the freedom to be who you are?, says Davis.

I think there's a lot of resonance and a lot that we can take from Beethoven and his struggles as an artist and his solution to these struggles as an artist. I think there's a lot we can take from that that's informative for the way we live our lives, the way we deal with politics, and these issues today. Honestly, that's why I think we all study history, that's why we all go to the university - so you can get an education. You don't study history because its some artifact. You study it because it's real, it repeats itself, it goes in cycles, you learn from it, and it influences the way you make decisions. That's why you're studying this stuff; that's why we're doing that at the teachers level; that's why we bring Beethoven back and we really study him hard, says Davis, noting the composers status as a great intellectual figure in the history of the Western world.

Hes the first one that interrogates it really hard and goes beyond the 18th century Enlightenment to explore what's inside of you. What's going on with all these inner voices inside your head? What's going on on an emotional level, or a psychological level, and how do I express that in music? The enlightenment is all about ration, reason, and logic; if you can't explain it, then you don't need to be talking about it. Well, Beethoven is interested in [that]. Everything that happens on a real, human, emotional psychological level - how do I get at that in music? He's really the first one in music, I think, who really systematically explores that at a really deep level. That's what makes him the first romantic, and I think that's the essence of what makes him important.

Dr. Courtney Crappell echoes Davis perspective.

There are some figures in human history that loom large, and Beethoven's one of them. I know that sounds very grandiose but I don't think it is too much when we talk about Beethoven. You think of how significant his works are, and you think of even the most popular piece, maybe the most recognized piece in the world - the 5th Symphony. You can sit and listen to that work over and over. Every time you hear it, youre changed. You think about what humanity has accomplished together, and that's a signal that you've got a great piece of art. Something that can be revisited over a lifetime without growing stale, says Crappell, calling Beethovens music a touchstone.

If you're looking at something that explores beyond or breaks boundaries, well, you need a reference point to see how they're doing that. Beethoven provides that for us.

Crappell shines light on Beethovens cross generational influence, informing genres like musical theater and musicians such as Billy Joel and Elton John.

The musical aesthetics of Beethoven are present in all of them. You think about the core aesthetics he plays with, whether that's metric placements, the rhythmic syncopation, the longer durations of harmonies, or the harmonic progressions themselves; you can look at a piece of modern music and almost compare it directly to the music of Beethoven and find sometimes, you just change the piano - you can just change the left hand accompaniment patterns - and it sounds like Beethoven instead of Journey.

Dont stop believing in Beethoven at Beethoven 250 UH 2020. The festival runs from February 17 through February 29. For a full calendar of events visit uh.edu/kgmca/events/beethoven-250/.

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UH To Honor Beethoven with Two Week Music Festival - Houston Press

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February 11th, 2020 at 3:50 pm

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Mental Illness in the Enlightenment – PsychCentral.com

Posted: January 22, 2020 at 2:46 pm


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Im suspicious of histories that attribute 21st Century DSM 5 diagnoses to characters who lived long before such conditions were ever identified. But then again, manic depression certainly existed before it was named by Emil Kraepelin in the late 19th century, and major depression, once called melancholia, has always been with us.

I also have a fascination with explanations in literature of mental illness written before Freud. Freud left such an indelible mark on the treatment of diseases of the mind, and the language used to describe them, that its almost unthinkable that these diseases were both described and treated without his influence.

The Club: Johnson, Boswell and the Friends Who Shaped an Age, a book by Leo Damrosch, is full of such stories.

The Club tells of a group of key figures of the enlightenment who met weekly in a pub in late 18th century London to discuss and debate issues and ideas. The books main characters, Samuel Johnson and James Boswell, were troubled by what we would certainly call mental illness today.

Johnson wrote criticism and poetry, but is best known for compiling what became the most complete dictionary of the English language, first published in 1755. Boswell, a landed lawyer from Scotland, was Johnsons friend and biographer.

Johnson led a life worth writing about. In and out of poverty, he lived with cast-offs from London society but remained a frequent dinner guest of influential members of parliament and ground-breaking lights in the arts. He suffered from terrible bouts of depression that kept him sick physically and mentally and kept his literary output low. He even ended up addicted to opium.

Through all of this he cultivated great friendships with people ranging from Adam Smith and Edmund Burke to George III, and he influenced some of the greatest minds of the west.

Johnsons trials with what was called melancholy were documented by Boswell in what is considered one of the greatest biographies ever written, The Life of Johnson. Boswell himself had periods of melancholy interspersed with times of high-energy and irresponsibility filled with trysts with prostitutes, lost money and drunken stupors.

Boswells grandiosity and impetuousness mixed with dark periods of guilt into behavior that would surely be called manic depression if he lived 100 years later.

Damrosch fills The Club with excerpts from the mens and their friends writing about flights of the mind and how personality and character are both developed and dismantled. While not ostensibly about mental illness, enough of the men and women featured in The Club suffered from poor mental health that the book serves as a great introduction to how psychiatry was first developed (much like the book Rush, which I reviewed here).

The 18th century was a time when diseases of the mind were still treated exclusively as physical diseases. Then science and philosophy set a very bright light on the notion and definition of the self. This is the point when mind/body unity was just beginning to break apart in western medicine and philosophy, and mental illness was soon seen as having causes and treatments that were not entirely physical.

Reading the thoughts and practices of the period covered in The Club tips us off to the fact that Freud and his theories were inevitable.

Damrosch has written an intellectual history of the sort that makes clearer where we are today, and how we got here. As the enlightenment elevated the individual and argued for rights independent of any state or church, the individual was left, in the case of morals and agency, to fend for themselves.

A new class of illness, that of the psyche separate from the body, was borne. As we place more emphasis today on mind/body medicine and seek to rejoin the individual mind to its physical space, its crucial to know how we got here, and what we learned along the way.

A history as well researched and written as The Club enables us to do just that.

APA Reference Hofmann, G. (2020). Mental Illness in the Enlightenment. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 22, 2020, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/older-bipolar/2020/01/mental-illness-in-the-enlightenment/

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Mental Illness in the Enlightenment - PsychCentral.com

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January 22nd, 2020 at 2:46 pm

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Countries failing to form enlightened immigration policies to miss out on the tech boom, says Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella – BusinessLine

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Countries that reject enlightened immigration policies are bound to miss out on the global tech boom, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said on Tuesday in an interview with Bloomberg.

Nadella expressed his views on foreign policies and their effect on the tech boom in an interview with Bloomberg during the World Economic Forums The Year Ahead event in Davos.

Bloombergs official twitter account (@business) had also shared a clipping of the interview where Nadella is seen talking about immigration policies and its effect on the technology industry with the caption, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella tells us countries that reject "enlightened immigration" policies will be the biggest losers when it comes to the global tech boom #wef20.

Nadella talked about US immigration policies and the potential of immigrants in contributing to a countrys growth.

To me even when I look at the contribution the immigrants even going forward can make is something that I think the United States should absolutely be tapping into, he said.

Talking about the recent developments in immigration policies of nations, Nadella said in the Bloomberg interview, Every country is rethinking what is in their national interest, borders are real, countries are thinking about immigration policies that help. But even in there they have to maintain that modicum of enlightenment and not think about it very narrowly.

Nadella had earlier expressed his concern about Indias Citizenship Amendment Act, calling it sad. The act that allows six persecuted minorities, except Muslims, to fast-track Indian citizenship has been dubbed discriminatory by many leading to anti-CAA protests across the nation with the Supreme Court of India reviewing more than 140 petitions filed against the Act.

Nadellas remarks had sparked furious debates across social media leading to an official statement being released by Microsoft on his behalf. Nadella had also expressed his hopes for a better state of immigration policies and more opportunities in India for immigrants in the statement.

My hope is for an India where an immigrant can aspire to found a prosperous start-up or lead a multinational corporation benefiting Indian society and its economy at large, Nadella had said.

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Countries failing to form enlightened immigration policies to miss out on the tech boom, says Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella - BusinessLine

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January 22nd, 2020 at 2:46 pm

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Respected Political Historian Cites Conservative Talk Radio, Fox News As The Downfall Of Americas Enlightenment Values – Blog for Iowa

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Its not just us saying it. Heather Cox Richardson is a respected political historian. Here is her bio:

Heather Cox Richardson is a political historian who uses facts and history to make observations about contemporary American politics. She is the author, most recently, of To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party.

Biography Im from rural Maine, was educated at Exeter and Harvard, and am now a professor of history at Boston College. I write books about the American past, and write articles about modern politics. The past informs my work on the present, not the other way around.

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Until the rise of talk radio in 1987 and the establishment of the Fox News Channel in 1996, we honored the Enlightenment values on which our government was founded: politicians had to attract voters with fact-based arguments or be voted out of office. But talk radio and FNC pushed a fictional narrative that captivated viewers who felt dispossessed after 1954, as women and people of color began to approach having an equal voice in society. That narrativeof a heroic white man under siege by a government that wants to give his hard-earned money to black and brown people and grasping womenhas led us back to where we started in 1776: a conflict between democracy and authoritarianism.

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Respected Political Historian Cites Conservative Talk Radio, Fox News As The Downfall Of Americas Enlightenment Values - Blog for Iowa

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January 22nd, 2020 at 2:46 pm

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Seeing White – The Neighborhoods

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Race! Its a sticky topic that many want to shy away from. Systematic racism is just as American as apple pie. It has been engravedinto the very founding of this countryand while weve overcome and overturned a lot of things, we still have far to go.

Unraveling Racism: Seeing Whiteness is the latest exhibition to open at the Norwest Gallery of Art on Grand River. Curated by Laura Earle, the gallery features 20 local artists, bothBlack and white. Earle was moved to create this project after seeing a large racial slur plastered on an Eastern Michigan University building outside of her studio window. I thought we were all over this, she said.

Thats when she decided to take a deep dive into exploring whiteness as it relates to systematic oppression and start a conversation between artists. A friend of hers said she should listen to the Scene on the Radio podcast from Duke University. She used the series entitled Seeing Whiteness as the foundation for the art exhibit. Her initial reaction to the podcast was devastating.

I had to take a break for several months because it hurt so much, she said as she fought back tears. It hurt to know I was complicit and I couldnt undo it. Its so hard to shake it all off.

The exhibit is set up as a journey through the conversations between the artists. Earle says in the beginning, it was hard and awkward to talk through the issues because the artists werent familiar with each other. One of the very first pieces in the gallery is a flag created by eggshells.

I felt the need to try to push through some of the separation and to try to build meaningful connections and relationships, Earle said.

One of the artists featured in the gallery is Donna Jackson. She has three pieces in the show exploring how whiteness envelopes the daily lives of Black people, the dueling identities of being American with African roots and the beauty of Blackness.

Like Earle, Jacksons initial reaction to the podcast was anger, but she also felt enlightenment.Enlightenment isnt always this ahhh moment, she said. Enlightenment is knowing and then what are you going to do with knowing. Theres racism all around the world but American racismthey did top notch work on that.

Jackson explained that she was excited to do the work and have the conversations about how racismaffected her life but was shocked when she learned the origins of racism and whiteness.

Someone somewhere made a decision that because of what I look like, where I came from that I was less than! Thentheycreated a whole institution, structure and system to keep me in place so that they can have a life that they wanted, she said.

Throughout the process, Earle and Jackson both stated that the artists leaned on each other for support and that it shows as you move through the exhibit.

You can tell someone is learning compared to someone feeling and the difference is seen in work, Jackson said.

Norwest owner Asia Hamilton was more than excited to help Earle bring her vision to Detroit. I was like YEAH lets talk about this because you have a lot of things on your heart and this is an opportunity to tell white people what you really feel, Hamilton said.

As one of the onlyBlack people in her photography courses, Hamilton didnt even notice how race wasaffecting her career decisions. This is an opportunity to discuss race in-depth, Hamilton stated. She is glad the show is during the month of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.s birthday an honor tothelegacy of uniting people of all backgrounds.

Whiteness is not about your skin color. Its about this experience that has been developed to keep people in very horrible situations, Jackson said.

Unraveling Racism: Seeing Whiteness is on display now at Norwest Gallery of Art (19556 Grand River Ave.) until Feb. 2. Visitors will get a chance to get inside the minds of the artists during panel discussions on Jan. 19 and Jan. 20. For more information on the exhibition, visitwww.norwestgallery.com

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January 22nd, 2020 at 2:46 pm

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We put Jen Aniston and Gwyneth’s spirituality gurus to the test – Marie Claire

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Its a sweltering afternoon in Hollywood and Im navigating a grittier part of town in search of my soul. In truth, anyone searching for their soul in Hollywood should probably be directed to the nearest mental health facility, but Im on the trail of Harry the Healer, shaman to the stars.

As I pull up to the address Harry texted me, it appears to not exist, or is somehow hidden on the street of mostly run-down cottages. This is where celebs come for healing? Id expected a ritzy mansion given Harrys supposed clientele (his devotees range from screen vet Anthony Hopkins to Aussie Hollywood brat packers Todd Lasance, Liam McIntyre and Luke Mitchell). My stomach tightens. What the hell am I doing, going to a strange mans house on my own? I text my husband the address, just in case.

When I finally find the front door, Im greeted by a slim but muscular older man whose golden skin literally glows back at me as he leans in for a warm hug. Harry the Healer (real name Harry Paul) looks exceedingly healthy and happy.

He leads me to a dark treatment room where a massage bed glimmers under slowly flashing disco lights. Spa music plays and the air conditioning hums (thank God). I must be in the right place after all. Plus, Harry told me on the phone that he once got drunk with Chris Hemsworth; call me shallow but that counts for something.

While I wouldnt have assumed getting wasted would lead to spiritual enlightenment, this is Hollywood. Celebrities have long espoused their devotion to some form of spirituality, be it Madonna, Britney Spears and Demi Moore following Kabbalah or Tom Cruises obsession with Scientology. But while those are huge organisations with textbook religious studies, the current spiritual trend is getting more personal, and making superstars out of individual healers who are tapping into the worlds current obsession with all things woo woo and wellness.

Jennifer Anistons recent revelation that shes been partaking in goddess circles for the past three decades where she and her girlfriends sit in a circle and pass around a talking stick to help navigate major life events sparked a slew of internet headlines. And when Gwyneth Paltrow isnt spruiking vaginal steaming or Psychic Vampire Repellent, shes extolling the powers of her personal spirit guide and bro, shaman Durek who calls her his soul sis.

But why exactly am I here? Like most mums of young children, Im consumed by the needs of my two daughters to the point that Ive found myself asking, Who am I, again? Or rather, Who was I? Im longing to rediscover myself and, over the next two weeks, I plan to make like Gwyn and Jen and do some serious soul-searching.

In preparation for today, I watched a video of a shaman performing healing on a woman. She sits closed-eyed as he converses with spirits through her body, speaking rapidly in an African language, which then propels her into what looks like a nightmare of an orgasm. It looks horrific but Im oddly intrigued.

The main reason Im here, though, is to strengthen my connection to my mother, who passed away 26 years ago,and who introduced me to spirituality. I have many happy memories of perusing the aisles of Londons annual Mind, Body and Spirit Festival with her in my early teens, watching reiki masters and crystal healers at work.

And when Mum got cancer, after radiotherapy didnt help, she had electromagnetism therapy, which uses crystals to help balance energy frequencies in the body. Even her sceptical GP attributed it to her living for four years after her diagnosis and called it a miracle.

What would you say life is asking of you at the moment? Harry interrupts my thoughts. Youre not going to make me cry, are you? I blurt out. In the serene setting I suddenly feel emotionally vulnerable, which in real life I thankfully dont have time to. Probably, he smiles gently. I tell him of my yearning to connect with Mum.

Writer, Madeline Collins with her mum.

Were either connected or were distracted, Harry croons smoothly. The mind is connected to the breath so you need to be aware of your breathing. I rarely am. Shallow breathing, shallow life. If you start getting distracted, breathe and connect internally.

Were human beings, not human doings, he goes on. I love that. So when you authentically let go, youll get more than you dreamed of. He tells me of superstar clients who have the adulation of the world but still want to kill themselves. Remember, your opinion is the only one that matters. Try telling my kids that.

Harry reads that Im addicted to heavy-dense energy due to my habit of expecting things to go wrong so that I cant be disappointed, and that Im here because my soul and spirit is calling for me to elevate, let go and be free. Hes a wise man whos suddenly brandishing a huge vibrating machine. It looks like its straight out of the 80s, just like the disco lights.

Lets find where you hold tension in your body, Harry says, as he slowly moves the machine up and down my legs, over my stomach, across my heart and back again. Then, after asking permission to touch me, he begins to knead my jaw, which really hurts.

Hang in there, he says. Can you see your mum? Shes here. But hes mistaken. Behind closed eyes, I suddenly see the beautiful face and hear the voice of my friend and former flatmate, who died in 2018 of a swift and aggressive form of cancer.

I was so devastated when I learnt of her passing via her husbands Facebook page that I couldnt leave my house for a week.

Tears roll down my cheeks as she answers a question Ive wrestled with since her death. I hadnt expected this and feel huge relief that Ive found some way to connect with my friend, who I never got to say goodbye to.

I leave Harrys hidden house with a sense of inner calm (and a strict recommendation to switch to pH-balanced alkaline water).

Im staring at Andrea Bendewalds chiselled jawline, trying to work out where I know it from ... its Suddenly Susan, the critically panned but oh-so juicy 90s sitcom. Recently, she had a bit part in Apple TVs Morning Wars, but today, shes guiding me in a full-moon circle.

Andrea is something of a circling savant she regularly leads circles for Jennifer Aniston, including at her 50th birthday getaway in Mexico. The actresses have been friends for more than 30 years; they both attended Manhattans High School of Performing Arts before moving to LA.

Jennifer Aniston with Andrea Bendewald.

Needless to say, my expectations are high as I rock up to DEN Meditation in Studio City, just over the hill from Hollywood. I enter the large, dimly lit room and see 12 other women setting up their place. Thankfully I fit in well in my no-label activewear. There are women of all shapes and sizes, none displaying the sports-bra-bursting boob jobs you often see in Hollywood wellness classes.

Andrea begins slowly beating a drum to connect us to our own heartbeat. Imagine theres a lotus flower at the top of your crown chakra, it opens up and a beautiful white light extends into the sky and the full moon were sitting under, she guides.

I try my best but my mind keeps wandering to where Id rather be: the beach. Luckily, attention soon turns to the talking stick, the centrepiece of circling, which Andrea describes as an interactive mindfulness practice and talking meditation. She encourages us to channel the fullmoons energy in positive ways, which can otherwiselead to anger and sadness.

Guidelines include no commenting on what someone else says, and whatevers shared in the circle stays there. If we hear something that resonates with us, were encouraged to murmur a-ho, a spiritually polite version of ken oath.

Each person holds the stick in turn and speaks their truth: overwhelmed mums; women feeling stuck from moving forward or going through dark times; those who find meditating lonely and came seeking a community from the circle. Its all relatable stuff and were a-hoing galore.

Im the only one who has an ugly cry, after speaking about Mum.

I feel a kinship with all the strangers in the room, yet dont feel the need to swap numbers when the circle ends. I leave vowing to return, despite the four-hour round trip. Goddess or full-moon circles may sometimes be dismissed as zany or frivolous (a common pattern when it comes to groups of females throughout history), but theres something undeniably powerful about women banding together and sharing their struggles to lift one another up.

Im still on a spiritual high three days later when I speak to shaman Durek on the phone. We couldnt meet in person due to scheduling conflicts, but Im determined to absorb his wisdom (he also counts Nina Dobrev, Selma Blair and Gerard Butler as fans).

I tell Durek about my mum and he speaks at breakneck speed, imparting all kinds of fascinating and life-affirming information I cant possibly keep up with. No wonder he has Hollywood enthralled.

Suddenly he tells me to tap my left hand three times. I eagerly oblige. Was he going to give me the connection to Mum I was craving? Gwyneth had lost her beloved father and she trusted him After a few more instructions, I feel a floating feeling throughout my body and my feet start tingling. But then Durek tells me a hawk has just landed outside his window and is staring at him, and that hawks signify a breakthrough to the other side.

Oooh, you just lost me, says my inner sceptic.

Not that I dont believe him. In grief, religion or any kind of healing, my motto is whatever works. And having taken time to focus, I feel more connected to myself than I have in years, and to Mum, too. Above all, Ive realised that pausing to breathe and be in the moment is perhaps the most powerful tonic for this often-crazy world. So while summoning ancient spirits isnt my thing, Im already counting down the days until the next full moon.

This article originally appeared in the February 2020 issue of marie claire.

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January 22nd, 2020 at 2:46 pm

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Roger Scruton on national identity and the legacy of communism – The Conservative Woman

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THE third in our series dedicated to the memory and works of the conservative philosopher Sir Roger Scruton. We are targeting the Conservative government with a series of lessons drawn from his writing. Will they start to listen to him now?

Lesson number three isthis Scrutonism conservatism is not a sin or a heresy, but a possible worldview, all the more interesting in being condemned by the communists and despised by the Western left.

It is to be found in the speech he gave on national identity and the legacy of communism this last June, when he was awardedthe highest State civilian honour for foreigners by the Polish President Andrzej Duda.

LAST week Sir Roger Scruton was awarded the highest State civilian honour for foreigners by the Polish President Andrzej Duda. Afterwards he spoke in the Polish Parliament on the legacy of communism and the emergence of new nationalist movements.

How comforting it is that at least one person out there understands and respects our basic needs and capacities as human beings but how sad that those listening to him most are in countries such as Poland. Its a speech that reveals the huge gulf there is between his intellect and vision and the strutting, preening pretenders who are in the Tory leadership race. His speech can be viewed and listened tohereand the full text is printed below.

But first aprcisof his main points:

The division besetting the continent today is no longer between totalitarian socialism and free democracy, but reflect new battle lines between adherence to the nation state, with its language, institutions and religious inheritance on the one hand and, on the other, the cosmopolitan vision of a trans-national order, a borderless economy and a universal law of human rights.

The legal and political institutions of our continent have turned in a cosmopolitan direction, not least in the former communist states. While the law and jurisprudence of the European Courts have filled the legal vacuum left by the Communist Party, enabling them to receive and protect incoming investment and thereby to enter the global capitalist economy with relatively little friction, there has been far too little awareness of its social and cultural cost.

Freedom of movement has meant a massive one-way shift of populations out of the former communist countries into the West, and in particular into Britain, which has set a very low barrier to entry. It is one cause of the Brexit crisis but has also had a serious demographic effect on the Vyegrad countries, which have lost many of the best and brightest of their young people.

The charge of populism is levelled against movements for national independence and national renewal largely in order to discount the vote of the many who support them.

The conflict between the left intelligentsia and human nature has shifted from the sphere of socialism versus capitalism to this new sphere, of enlightened liberalism (a universal and borderless political order, in which conflicts supposedly vanish because their cause national loyalties has been swept away) versus residual nationalism and the inherited sentiments of identity and belonging.

The EU was founded by people moved by that enlightenment idea, and who saw nationalism as the force that had unleashed the century of European wars. However, looking back, it is just as reasonable to see the idea of a universal and borderless form of politics as underlying the imprisonment of East and Central Europe by the communists. Nationalism of the German kind was certainly destructive; but so was internationalism of the Soviet kind.

The current situation should be seen as an opportunity and not as a crisis. After thirty years of confusion the people of Eastern and central Europe are beginning to understand that they are heirs to two great achievements: on the one hand, the nation state as a form of social and political identity; on the other hand the Enlightenment conception of citizenship, in which each assumes the full responsibilities of social membership under a shared rule of law. The two achievements are forced into conflict with each other, in part because the EU wishes to dampen or even destroy the national idea. But properly understood they are mutually dependent.

For without national identity and the loyalty that stems from it, there is no way to build a society of citizens. Democracy and the rule of law are realities only if opposing sides can live with each other on terms. The great error of the communists was to eliminate opposition, to conscript the people into a unity that they had not chosen and were not allowed to question. The great benefit of democracy is that it makes opposition possible and also legitimate.

So-called populists are right to emphasise the nation state as the fount of loyalty. And their enlightened liberal opponents should acknowledge this, and cease to use the European institutions as a way to punish the governments that lean in this direction. And reciprocally those who wish to revive the national ideal, and to affirm the rights of national sovereignty, should listen to the voice of the liberal enlightenment, and accept that national sentiments must always be tempered by the recognition of others out there, who do not and cannot share them.

Speech in Full

It is a great honour to be asked to speak to this gathering, representing the Parliaments of the former communist states. And I welcome the opportunity to say something about the legacy of communism and what it means for us today.

I confess to being an anti-communist. During the 1970s and 1980s anti-communists were shunned in our universities in Britain. After all, we were attacking the revolution that offered to liberate mankind from the world-wide capitalist conspiracy. Our professors admitted that the Soviet Union had gone wrong; but it was wrong in practice, not in theory. We apologists for capitalism were wrong in theory, which was far worse than the mere accident of causing twenty million deaths and the extinction of individual liberty across half the globe. The fact that we were right in practice was barely noticed by our critics.

We have lived through all that, but it seems to me that the lesson still needs to be learned. Life was made hard for us by our nice colleagues, who repeatedly expressed their outrage at our nastiness, in order to put their own niceness on display. It was in those days that I learned just how nasty niceness can be. From the moment in 1980 when I came out as a defender of conservative values against the socialist orthodoxy, my life has been one long succession of attacks, designed to undermine my standing as a public intellectual. Teaching in the University of London was particularly difficult. Indeed, my first true experience of intellectual freedom was here in Poland, where I travelled to speak at conferences and private seminars, arranged by a small circle in Britain who, like me, were keen to make contact with their fellow dissidents behind the Iron Curtain. In Poland, the universal contempt for the communist system meant that students and professors were ready to discuss all the issues of the day. Conservatism, to them, was not a sin or a heresy, but a possible worldview, all the more interesting in being condemned by the communists and despised by the Western left. Travelling around the countries of East and central Europe in those days, carrying the message of an alternative philosophy, was one of the most liberating experiences of my life, the dangers and privations notwithstanding. I came to believe that I might be right in theory, and not merely right in practice.

Not surprisingly, therefore, I have followed with interest and concern the developments since 1989, and recognise that the moment of liberation from the Soviet yoke was not simply the end of old problems, but also the beginning of new ones. It is about these new problems that I wish to speak, and about the situation of our continent today, as we endeavour to co-operate in resolving them.

Before 1989 our continent was divided between totalitarian socialism and free democracy, and although the left-wing intellectuals defended the first of those, they all lived, if they could, in the second. Today the division is not between different areas of our continent. It is a division between two conflicting outlooks. On the one hand there is the adherence to the nation state, with its language, institutions and religious inheritance. On the other hand there is the cosmopolitan vision of a trans-national order, a borderless economy and a universal law of human rights. Both outlooks grew from the religious conflicts of the seventeenth century and both came to fruition in the Enlightenment. And the tension between them is enduring and unresolved.

There is no way to understand our continent today if we do not recognise that it is an association of nation-states, each with its territory, customs, language and indigenous religions assets that define the loyalty of its residents and their shared sense of home. But we must also recognise that the legal and political institutions of our continent have turned in a cosmopolitan direction. This is less true of my country, perhaps. But it is certainly true of continental Europe; and it is particularly true of the former communist states. The law and jurisprudence of the European Courts enabled the former communist countries to fill the legal vacuum created by the Communist Party. And this in turn enabled them to receive and protect incoming investment and thereby to enter the global capitalist economy with relatively little friction, and also, alas, with far too little awareness of the social and cultural cost of it.

There is, at the heart of the European project, an agenda which was set without reference to the specific needs and values of the European nations. Regardless of their social and religious inheritance, the people of Europe are being pressured to recognise rights that derive from abstract ideas of freedom and autonomy, and which defy the norms of the indigenous religions: rights to abortion, surrogate birth, euthanasia and so on, which are inevitably controversial in countries that have depended for their cohesion on their religious inheritance. These rights form part of the worldview of the governing elite, who can legislate above the heads of sovereign governments. Moreover, the governments of the European nations have been asked to renounce the primary right of sovereign states, which is the right to determine who resides within their borders.

The freedom of movement provisions of the Treaty of Rome were conceived at a time when the signatories enjoyed a comparable standard of living, with more or less full employment and similar welfare systems. There was no temptation to move, save for the specific purposes of an existing job. Now, however, freedom of movement means a massive one-way shift of populations, out of the former communist countries, into the West, and in particular into Britain, whose government sets a very low barrier to entry. This is one cause of the Brexit crisis. But it has also had a serious demographic effect on the Vyegrad countries, which have lost many of the best and brightest of their young people, at a time when both economic take-off and defence against the Russian threat require a full cohort of the young and a full commitment to rebuilding the national economy.

Furthermore the dissolution of borders has made it all but impossible to maintain a national immigration policy. The EU has tried to gain control of the situation by distributing migrants according to a quota system. But Mrs Merkels open invitation to the Syrians, the influx on the Hungarian border, and the big business of people-smuggling in the Mediterranean have between them made such a policy unviable. The situation is especially alarming for the former communist countries for the very reason that communism made it both impossible, and in any case unattractive, to migrate into them from anywhere outside the Soviet sphere. Hence this unforeseen price of freedom has come as an enormous shock, both politically and psychologically. Paradoxically communism, although established as an international movement and claiming to abolish all sovereign boundaries, helped to preserve the nation state. For the nation was an enduring reality around which resistance could shape itself and, when combined with the powerful resurgence of Catholic faith in Poland, proved decisive in the overthrow of the communist tyranny.

Resistance to mass immigration has attracted the charge of racism and xenophobia from the EU, with moves to expel Hungarys Fidesz Party from the EPP, and even to expel Hungary itself from the European Union. This in turn has hardened Viktor Orbns government in its attitude, and led to growing resistance to immigration throughout the region. The issue has also been absorbed into the wider conflict, between the national and the international perspective, itself reaching back into the past of our continent and into the dark and difficult emotions that tore the continent apart during the 20th century. The result has been a sudden and radical change in the language and direction of political conflict throughout Europe, with the European elite condemning the populism of national movements, which in turn condemn the elitism of the European political class. This conflict has played itself out with increasing anger and confusion in my country, between the proponents and the opponents of Brexit. And it seems to me to be vital now both to understand what is at stake, and to work towards a resolution.

The charge of populism is levelled against movements for national independence and national renewal largely in order to discount the fact that they enjoy popular support. This is what we have seen in the response of liberals in Britain to the Brexit vote. A majority voted for Brexit; but you can discount their vote by describing it as populist. For there are two ways of appealing to the people indirectly, through the institutions that safeguard the liberal voice, and directly, by asking them what they think. Direct appeal to the people is rejected as dangerous. After all, they do not know what they think, or if they do know, it is because they think the wrong things. Only when guided and tempered by a liberal constitution can the people be trusted, and that means filtering their raw emotions though a fine mesh of liberal hesitations, so that only a harmless stream of sentiment trickles forth.

The same charge of populism is levelled at the Law and Justice Party in Poland, and at Fidesz in Hungary. Both are accused of making too direct an appeal to the sentiments of the people, and in particular to their sentiments of belonging. Ordinary people cling to forms of membership that are local, bounded and difficult to translate into bureaucratic norms. Their values are shaped by religion, family, language and national history, and they do not necessarily recognise the force of transnational obligations, or universal codes of human rights, especially when those codes are in direct conflict with the specific obligations of family and faith. Populism is increasingly being used as a term of abuse, to dismiss the appeal to this kind of sentiment, even though it is a sentiment without which ordinary people might find it difficult to recognise their political obligations.

It seems to me that the conflict between the left intelligentsia and human nature has shifted from the sphere of socialism versus capitalism to this new sphere, of enlightened liberalism versus residual nationalism. What the liberals condemn as populism is really the attempt to retain old and inherited sentiments of identity and belonging. And what the people condemn as elitism is really the enlightenment conception of a universal and borderless political order, in which conflicts supposedly vanish because their cause which is the competitive network of national loyalties has been swept away. The EU was founded by people moved by that enlightenment idea, and who saw nationalism as the force that had unleashed the century of European wars. Looking back on it, however, it is just as reasonable to see the idea of a universal and borderless form of politics as underlying the imprisonment of East and Central Europe by the communists. Nationalism of the German kind was certainly destructive; but so was internationalism of the Soviet kind. Why not recognise that, in themselves, neither is more destructive than the other, but that each can become destructive when wound into a totalitarian project in which dissent is not permitted and the people are no longer allowed to express their views?

What I find most interesting in the new confrontation, however, is that the intellectual left has again assumed the high ground, is not prepared to concede the democratic legitimacy of the movements that it dismisses as populist, and is determined to frustrate any attempt by those movements to establish themselves in government. The same annihilating rage that was directed against conservatives like myself in the 1970s and 1980s is being directed now against the supposed populists, and not surprisingly there is a growing tendency of the populists to give back as good as they get. The resulting rise in temperature is one of the factors behind a loss of confidence in the EU, which seems to have precipitated a conflict that it cannot manage. And it is a conflict that is revealed in all the rapid changes that our continent is now undergoing.

This conflict is particularly important for the post-communist countries, since the one thing they lacked in 1989 was a clear idea of what they are, and what unites the people in a body politic. The communists had an agenda, in which the people were conscripted to a cause that was clearly unachievable and in any case hopelessly out of date. They offered no other concept of identity, than the all-comprehending purpose of the communist millennium. All those factors that might have persuaded people to adhere to that purpose culture, art, music, religion, history had been driven underground, and the joyless surface of everyday life contained no promise of a future other than this one. Inevitably, therefore, the people were looking for a new politics of identity, something that would hold them together as a we. This was the one thing the EU was unable to provide. It gave them an avenue into the global economy, and a route away from their home, but no new way of belonging where they arrived. As the disappointments accumulated, it is the hope of belonging that beckons. Where is home, and who defines it? Global capitalism is no answer, since it merely voids the world of loyalties and puts everything, human relations included, on sale. This surely is what is legitimate in those old leftist criticisms: that the human heart has no real place in the global economy, the heart that so many of us observed in those who fought the communist tyranny in your countries and who hoped that, when the mask of dictatorship fell at last, the smiling face of the nation would be revealed beneath it.

My view is that this situation should be seen as an opportunity and not as a crisis. After thirty years of confusion the people of Eastern and central Europe are beginning to understand that they are heirs to two great achievements: on the one hand, the nation state as a form of social and political identity; on the other hand the Enlightenment conception of citizenship, in which each assumes the full responsibilities of social membership under a shared rule of law. The two achievements are forced into conflict with each other, in part because the EU wishes to dampen or even destroy the national idea. But properly understood they are mutually dependent. And this is the task now facing us all, and you in particular. We must recognise that, without national identity and the loyalty that stems from it, there is no way to build a society of citizens. Democracy and the rule of law are realities only if opposing sides can live with each other on terms. The great error of the communists was to eliminate opposition, to conscript the people into a unity that they had not chosen and were not allowed to question. The great benefit of democracy is that it makes opposition possible and also legitimate. But this has the consequence that, in a democracy, more than half the people at any moment might be living under a government that they did not choose, maybe a government that they hate. What makes that possible? Why do democracies not break down, under the pressure of popular dissent? The answer is simple: they dont break down because the loyalty of the citizen is not towards the government, but towards something higher, something that is shared between all the citizens, regardless of their political beliefs and inclinations. This higher thing is the nation, the entity to which we all belong, and which defines the first-person plural of democratic politics. Without this shared we it is impossible for democracies to endure, and it is precisely by destroying this we that the communists were able to retain their grip on power, ruling as a pure they of dictatorship.

It seems to me therefore that the so-called populists are right to emphasise the nation state as the fount of loyalty, and that their enlightened liberal opponents should acknowledge this, and cease to use the European institutions as a way to punish the governments that lean in this direction. And reciprocally those who wish to revive the national ideal, and to affirm the rights of national sovereignty, should listen to the voice of the liberal enlightenment, and accept that national sentiments must always be tempered by the recognition of others out there who do not and cannot share them. This, to my mind, defines the task before you today, which is one of reconciliation between two pressing needs: the need to affirm national sovereignty, and the need to conform to the universal standards of citizenship. These are the two great gifts of the European political inheritance, and they are mutually dependent. We should stand against those who wish to prise them apart so as to condemn one or the other of them as an offence against the people. After all, it is the people who have most to lose from any conflict between them, and the job of the politician is not to stir up conflict but to soothe it. It is my hope that we have arrived at the point when this will be possible. Then, at last, the poison administered by the communists will have been flushed from the system.

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Roger Scruton on national identity and the legacy of communism - The Conservative Woman

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January 22nd, 2020 at 2:46 pm

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Nobody is woke – The Spectator USA

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The word woke has quickly degenerated into a meaningless term of abuse. Nobody says I am woke these days, at least not seriously. Its like claiming to be a keen nanny-statist or bien-pensant.

At one level, then, wokeness exists only so that journalists like me and social media warriors on the center or right can fight it.

Its not just the word that has become hackneyed. The whole idea of being woke suddenly alert to racial or social injustice is not real, and never was, and therefore the movement against it is similarly fake.

Right-wingers have the same concept and call it redpilling; in both cases, it means a sort of lobotomized enlightenment for people who enjoy feeling aggrieved. Scratch the surface go beneath the endless viral spats between trolls on social media and you realize that nobody means what they are saying. Nobody is redpilled. And nobody, come to that, is woke.

This occurred to me the other day when I saw a clip of Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu explaining on British morning television why white people are not allowed to ask for evidence of racism against Meghan Markle. They dont have the lived experience of black people, said Shola, so they must agree that the Duchess of Sussex is a victim of bigotry end of. What crap, I thought to myself, as I felt the familiar righteous aggravation bubbling inside me. Then I realized that Ive met Shola: we did a podcast together ages ago about Donald Trump. Shola was quite combative during the recording, but sweetness and light when the microphones werent on. Im not sure she really believed what she was saying: its just her gig, her media market. There is a massive appetite for woke talking heads because media consumers are so hooked on the feelings of anger that they generate. Maybe I am wrong, but I dont believe that Shola, in her heart of hearts, is utterly convinced of the words she spouts about white privilege. Its a schtick that helps pay the bills. Shes like a stand-up comic who specializes in offending people. Except instead of being un-PC, she is ultra-PC, which is even more offensive to larger numbers of people.

The same thought strikes me when I look at social media. Many of my friends spend hours virtue-signaling (another word that is fast approaching redundancy) on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. But if I ever ask them about it, theyll explain that they only shared the sanctimonious meme because everyone in their office did, or they just thought that is what you have to do. They dont really believe all women, they just think thats what you say online. Its like theyre all agnostics in the Middle Ages. Its easier to repeat the litany than go against the grain.

Theres often a profit-motive, too. I know a woman (who shall remain nameless) who spends her time promoting her feminist bona fides on Instagram. She posts endless shots of herself with cod-motivational messages about her body shape, the #MeToo movement, or the importance of her orgasms. She used to be a close friend so I always found her Insta-feminism particularly cringe-inducing.

Then, at a wedding recently, we had a cheering, drunken rapprochement: we bonded over how awful Instagram is. She only does it, she said, because she is trying to find her way as an influencer one of the few career avenues open to cash-poor Gen X mummies in suburbia (now that is a feminist issue worth raising). The woke version of herself wasnt true: it was a digital career move.

Heres another example: I once did another podcast about the royals and mental health campaigning with the Telegraphs Bryony Gordon, who knows Prince Harry and is herself a mental health campaigner. I took the perhaps fogeyish line that the royals should probably not spend quite so much time talking about their struggles. Bryony disagreed, but politely. Like Shola, she was charming off-mic, before and after. We both seemed to understand that, while we may disagree, the media is just a game and no need for bad feelings. A few days later, I saw on Facebook that Bryony had written a post essentially calling me a **** for demeaning the mentally ill.

Again, I may be wrong, but I dont think that was the real Bryony. Thats the Facebook Bryony, the Bryony who is just developing her brand as a campaigning media personality. The real Bryony isnt truly woke. Shes rather nice, all said.

At some point the mask becomes the man, as in the story of the Happy Hypocrite. We are what we emote. If we spend our lives hectoring and censoring each other online, that will eventually bleed into everyday life.

But its useful sometimes to remember, as we all gorge on offense culture every day, that most people dont mean it and nobody is really woke.

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Nobody is woke - The Spectator USA

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January 22nd, 2020 at 2:46 pm

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What does woke mean and what is a wokie? – Metro.co.uk

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Laurence Fox says he enjoys to be mean to the wokies (Picture: BBC)

Actor Laurence Fox has rifled many features recently after claiming on Question Time that being called a white privileged man is racist.

His controversial comments continued when he revealed to The Delingpod podcast that he broke up with his too woke girlfriend over her opposing views on the Gillette advert last year.

He explained: I dont know how we ended up together.

It was a very short relationship. We were walking down the road and she was talking about how good the Gillette advert was. I just looked at her and went, Bye. Sorry, I cant do this with you.

The Gillette advert which addressed issues of toxic masculinity, bullying, sexual harassment and the objectification of women was celebrated widely.

But Fox felt it was too much and claims to have broken up with his partner because of their opposing opinions.

In November last year, Fox also admitted hes becoming increasingly intolerant due to his views.

He said: I say, Can we just get on and not be mean to each other? But I feel compelled to be mean to the wokies.

But what exactly does wokies mean?

The word wokie has been floating around in the past decade and prior to that describing anyone aware of social injustices.

But in the last few years, terms such as social justice warrior and wokies have been used derogatorily to poke fun at those sensitive to these issues.

According to Urban Dictionary, a wokie is someone who wants kudos for performing wokeness enlightenment.

It explains: A wokie is an individual who is woke, someone thatemitshigher grace and does not shy away from sharing his or her insights on the topic, regardless of the actualpossession of said knowledge.

While wokie is more of an insult, woke originated with a racially political end by Black Americans which makes it difficult to unpick from race.

It became a watchword around 2009 for the Black Lives Matter Movement a call to arms against the various racial injustices still occurring in the US and beyond.

Musician Erykah Badu is said to have brought the term alive in popular culture by singing I stay woke in the 2008 track, Master Teacher.

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Fox feels wokies play the race card too much.

Ironically, he claimed to be the victim of racism when he was called out for white privilege.

And yet he has lambasted minority groups which has been inferred by social media users as a thinly-veiled attempt at racism from his part.

He has since become a poster boy for anti-wokeness claiming that those enlightened on subjects of race and social injustice are now boring.

Despite his unpopular take, Fox received support from fellow controversial speaker Piers Morgan.

Similarly, Morgan has also claimed to be a victim of racism following comments from people calling him gammon.

Since all the outrage, Fox has claimed he would be taking a break from Twitter yesterday.

He tweeted: Right, super fun as all this has been, Im going to take a day off from winding up the wonderful wokies. Have a lovely day everyone.

He then resurfaced with various other tweets, one referring to himself as Wokey McWokeface.

MORE: Laurence Fox dumped too-woke girlfriend over supporting Gillette ad as he finds support in Piers Morgan

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What does woke mean and what is a wokie? - Metro.co.uk

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January 22nd, 2020 at 2:46 pm

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