Last Post And Telegraph

So Conor Cruise O’Brien is dead, single-handedly wiping out Ireland’s internationally-known public intellectual population in the process.

Funny enough, I was browsing a collection of his essays last night. I will refrain from reading essays by anyone tonight, just in case. Then again, there’s always The War against Cliché by Martin Amis. I could delve into that.

The first book I read by him was States of Ireland, about a decade ago. I was impressed with it at the time, but at the time I was a moron, so I have no idea now if it is actually any good or not. The collection I was flicking through last night -Passion and Cunning: Essays on Nationalism, Terrorism and Revolution- is pretty much a load of crap, although there is a decent enough piece on Pope John Paul II and another on Nicaragua. Also an entertaining attack on John Podhoretz. The one about him breaking the academic boycott of South Africa hasn’t really aged that well, nor has the one titled Thinking About Terrorism, which should have been titled Not Thinking About Terrorism, or maybe Thinking About Terrorism: In Praise of Binyamin Netanyahu. On the Middle East, he classifies the PLO as a terrorist organization, and in the index under ‘Palestinians’ it says ‘see Arabs‘: a succinct enough summary of his thinking on the matter.

Bye then.

5 Responses to “Last Post And Telegraph”

  1. 1 Andy December 19, 2008 at 11:13 am

    Great summary. Although you could have thrown in Section 31 for good measure.

  2. 2 Andy December 19, 2008 at 11:45 am

    by the way, are you the hugh green who used to post on a tangled web and slugger?
    I alsways liked your contribution if so…

  3. 3 Hugh Green December 19, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    Thanks Andy. Yeah, that was me. I still leave the odd comment on Slugger O’Toole every now and again, but I stopped with A Tangled Web a while back because it was full of racist nutcases, and several Nazis, so it was becoming a waste of time. I like David Vance, though, his views notwithstanding.

    Section 31 was both ludicrous and anti-democratic. But one of the things that I read in that book the other night was O’Brien’s thoughts on how people read newspapers. He seemed to be of the opinion that there were lots of people who, unlike him, were basically stupid, and did not have the necessary powers of comprehension for engaging with complex matters. There was an ironic coda to this later on, when only an idiot could have taken his Sunday Independent columns seriously.

  4. 4 CW December 19, 2008 at 10:57 pm

    The Cruiser was chairman at an inter-schools debating contest at Trinity College, in which I took part for Omagh CBS back in 1991. Didn’t actually meet him though. Seems like a lifetime ago now. A few years later whilst at Queen’s I quoted him in an essay on Franco-Algerian writer Albert Camus’ (whom he was a noted scholar of)”L’Étranger” (The Outsider).

    I was no great fan of the man, but he was certainly a highly intelligent and erudite individual who had the courage of his convictions to go against popular opinion. I don’t think his obsession with media censorship while in the quaintly named position of Minister for Posts & Telegraphs acheived anything practical – and was probably counter-productive if anything,

    I also feel he lost much credibility by joining the rather pointless UK Unionist Party, which was little more than an extension of Bob McCartney’s ego.
    Still, he led a varied and prolific life and should be remembered for it.

  5. 5 JG December 23, 2008 at 7:47 pm


    I gave up on ATW for the very same reasons. There are some very reasonable regulars there, I really don’t know how they put up with it.

    I had to read a few of O’Brien’s essays on terrorism for a project I was doing a while back. Absolute drivel, and I really gave them a chance despite the fact that I detest the man.

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