This blog is supposed to be about food, but occasionally I come across an observation or a point of view in a field completely unrelated, that I find so striking or pertinent that I feel the need to share it.
I found the paragraph below in a collection of essays called Small Talk written in the 1930s written by Harold Nicholson.Nicholson was a man of any parts – diplomat, biographer, broadcaster, newspaper columnist and diarist, Member of Parliament, husband to Vita Sackville West and what used to be called a man of letters. In short, a thoroughly thoughtful, cultured, open-minded fellow, who observed his fellow humans with a certain quizzical irony.
The extract is taken from his essay called ‘English Cant’, and seems to me to capture the essence of the condition with which my Brexit friends wrestle.
’For in fact few foreigners take sufficient account of the cerebral indolence of the average Briton. They do not recognise that it is extremely painful for the Englishman to formulate a theory in advance, and that in every case he prefers to rely on instinct, even on intuition. His instincts all too frequently lead him into false positions, and he then tries to improvise a theory, or “policy” at the eleventh hour. The “feudal” or ‘power” element will have landed him, wholly unaware, in a certain position: he will then fall back upon the “Puritan” or “ethical” element within him to justify that position, being unable to state it in an intellectual or even logical terms. And the confusion the resulting can, perhaps justly, be defined as “cant”.