On Britain’s relationship with its intelligentsia

“What the British seem to like are television historians and naturalists, not public intellectuals. You can’t help feeling that’s because one supplies narrative and the other supplies facts, and the British are traditionally empiricists so they/we have a resistance to theory and to theoreticians playing too prominent a role in public life.

“Intellectuals do exist in this country and have existed. If you think of the Foucaults and Derridas in France, we have our Terry Eagletons and Colin MacCabes. People such as Niall Ferguson and Simon Schama: think of them what you will, but they’re not lightweights – though they’re not necessarily high-order theoreticians.

Blair and New Labour: I told you so

‘During the 1997 election I put up a handmade poster in the house where I lived that read: “A Vote for Labour is Not Necessarily a Vote for That Sanctimonious Git Blair.” I-told-you-so is never an attractive quality, but while my sign may have been factually incorrect, I was spot-on when it came to the man himself, which was why my tick was placed elsewhere in 2001, 2005, and will be again come May.

My body & soul

Are you healthy?
“I have the same sign on my office door that Field Marshal Montgomery had outside his tent during the desert campaign; it reads ‘I am 99% fit, are you?’ I’ve always been pretty fit. Even when I was a heroin addict I was a fit heroin addict.”

Read the rest of Will Self’s answers from the Observer’s My body & soul here.

My old man: a voyage around our fathers

This was published to celebrate Father’s Day, June 15 2008:

Will Self was born in 1961 and raised in an ‘effortlessly dull’ north London suburb. His father, Peter, held the chair in public administration at the London School of Economics. Self’s parents divorced when he was 18. He worked as a copywriter and a New Statesman cartoonist before his first collection of short stories, The Quantity Theory of Insanity, was published to critical and popular acclaim in 1991. Doris Lessing said of Quantity …, ‘absurdity unfurls logically from absurdity, but always as a mirror of what we are living in — and wish we didn’t.’

Chris The Saviour: Will Self on Chris Morris – The Observer, March 1997

Chris Morris’ Brass Eye turns satire into art of a very high order indeed

Will Self
Sunday March 9, 1997
The Observer

About halfway through Wednesday night’s final episode of Brass Eye (Channel 4), it began to occur to me that Chris Morris might possibly be God. The idea of a Morrisian deity is appealing for a number of reasons: it explains why the world is so consummately absurd it explains why there is little real justice to be had for the poor and the oppressed and it provides a convincing explanation for why public life in this country is dominated by talented mediocrities.