Monday, July 9, 2012

Quote of the Day

I came across this old interview with Theodore Dalrymple, when he's talking about his [thoroughly excellent] book 'Life At The Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass'

He describes perfectly the attitude of so many urban youths:
"It doesn't take long or cost much to have a small tattoo done," Dalrymple writes. "You can stigmatize yourself thoroughly in an hour or more for a mere fifty dollars. . . . Watching as yet untattooed young men browsing through the patterns in the parlor reception areas, I felt like a Victorian evangelist or campaigner against prostitution, an impulse rising within me to exhort them to abjure evil; but their adoption of the characteristic expression of the urban underclass (a combination of bovine vacancy and lupine malignity) soon put [an end] to my humanitarian impulse."
'Bovine vacancy and lupine malignity'. Is that not the best metaphor you've read in months?

At first I thought this was said in the interview itself, but on re-reading I think it's from the book. If he came up with that extemporaneously, it would put him up there with the wittiest men of this century (even if the humour is somewhat grim). As it is, it's still brilliant.

No comments:

Post a Comment