Clive Bell Is a Fathead

by George Bernard Shaw, The New Republic, 21 February 1922

[In his article, The Creed of an Aesthete (in our issue of January 25th), Mr. Clive Bell said: “Mr. Bernard Shaw … is not an artist, much less an aesthete … he is a didactic.” He referred to Mr. Shaw’s rejection of the Darwinian theory because, by depriving Beauty, Intelligence, Honor of their divine origin and purpose, this theory deprives them of their value. To Mr. Bell’s mind, Mr. Shaw feels that “if Life be a mere purposeless accident, the finest things in it must appear to everyone worthless.” The sooner Mr. Shaw knows that this is not so, the better, says Mr. Bell, and proceeds to explain his own creed: “always life will be worth living by those who find in it things which make them feel to the limit of their capacity.” “The advantage of being an aesthete,” he declares, “is that one is able to appreciate the significance of all that comes to one through the senses: one feels things as ends instead of worrying about them as means. … Whatever is precious and beautiful in life is precious and beautiful irrespective of beginning and end.”]

As will be seen in the above article, my friend Clive Bell is a fathead and a voluptuary. This a very comfortable sort of person to be, and very friendly and easy and pleasant to talk to. Bell is a brainy man out of training. So much the better for his friends; for men in training are irritable, dangerous, and apt to hit harder than they know. No fear of that from Clive. The layer of fat on his brain makes him incapable of following up his own meaning; but it makes him good company.

Continue reading “Clive Bell Is a Fathead”

How Much Is Enough?

Lord Skidelsky, Emeritus professor of political economy and Dr Edward Skidelsky, lecturer in philosophy tackle the questions: What constitutes the good life? What is the true value of money? Why do we work such long hours merely to acquire greater wealth?

Continue reading “How Much Is Enough?”

Political Fear

Sasha Lilley of the highly erudite Against the Grain interviews Corey Robin, author of the brilliant Fear: The History of A Political Idea. Also check out Robin’s superb essay on Hannah Arendt, and his commentary on Barack Obama’s recent capitulation on the debt deal.

Fear dominates our society. Fear of crime, fear of the poor, fear of foreign terrorists, to which we might add fear of our government and fear of our bosses. For some liberal thinkers, fear serves a purpose. It’s supposed to pull us all together so we can find some kind of social solidarity in an atomized, alienated world. Corey Robin discusses the problems with that notion and talks about the places where fear truly lurks in our society.

Gods That Always Fail

Each day over the next week we’ll be publishing one of the six lectures on the theme of ‘Representation of the Intellectual’ that Edward Said recorded in 1993 as part of the annual BBC Reith Lectures.

The sixth lecture is titled: ‘Gods That Always Fail.’


Gods That Always Fail (30 mins): MP3

Speaking Truth To Power

Each day over the next week we’ll be publishing one of the six lectures on the theme of ‘Representation of the Intellectual’ that Edward Said recorded in 1993 as part of the annual BBC Reith Lectures.

The fifth lecture is titled: ‘Speaking Truth To Power.’


Speaking Truth To Power (30 mins): MP3

Professionals and Amateurs

Each day over the next week we’ll be publishing one of the six lectures on the theme of ‘Representation of the Intellectual’ that Edward Said recorded in 1993 as part of the annual BBC Reith Lectures.

The fourth lecture is titled: ‘Professionals and Amateurs.’


Professionals and Amateurs (30 mins): MP3

Intellectual Exiles

Each day over the next week we’ll be publishing one of the six lectures on the theme of ‘Representation of the Intellectual’ that Edward Said recorded in 1993 as part of the annual BBC Reith Lectures.

The third lecture is titled: ‘Intellectual Exiles.’


Intellectual Exiles (30 mins): MP3

Holding Nations And Traditions At Bay

Each day over the next week we’ll be publishing one of the six lectures on the theme of ‘Representation of the Intellectual’ that Edward Said recorded in 1993 as part of the annual BBC Reith Lectures.

The second lecture is titled: ‘Holding Nations And Traditions At Bay.’


Holding Nations And Traditions At Bay (30 mins): MP3

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