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“A Frugiferous Shirt…”

 

I recently re-read The Green Man, a fanciful novel by the late British writer Kingsley Amis. In it he briefly describes his character’s visit to his old alma mater, the University of Cambridge, as follows:

I found a parking space only a hundred yards from the main gate. The outer walls bore chalked or whitewashed slogans here and there: COMMUNALIZE COLLEGE ESTATES, NUDE LIE-IN GIRTON 2.30 SAT., EXAMS ARE TOTALITARIAN. First one whiskered youth in a frugiferous shirt, then another with long hair like oakum, scanned me closely as they passed, each slowing almost to a stop the better to check me for bodily signs of fascism, oppression by free speech, passive racial violence, and the like.

Amis wrote that paragraph 50 years ago. Fascism, oppression by free speech, passive racial violence — truly, there is nothing new under the sun.

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There are 18 comments.

  1. Thatcher

    On my campus, they would have been wondering if he was a narc.

    • #1
    • March 12, 2018 at 5:54 am
    • 2 likes
  2. Coolidge

    A fruit-bearing shirt? So confused right now…

    • #2
    • March 12, 2018 at 7:54 am
    • 1 like
  3. Contributor
    Henry Racette Post author

    TheSockMonkey (View Comment):
    A fruit-bearing shirt? So confused right now…

    Think pictures of pineapples.

    • #3
    • March 12, 2018 at 8:07 am
    • 2 likes
  4. Member

    Henry Racette: another with long hair like oakum

    A trend-setter in the 1970s.

    From Wikipedia:

    In modern times, the fibrous material used in oakum comes from virgin hemp or jute. The fibers are impregnated with tar or a tar-like substance, traditionally pine tar (also called ‘Stockholm tar’), an amber-coloured pitch made from pine sap. Tar-like petroleum by-products can also be used for modern oakum.

    • #4
    • March 12, 2018 at 8:11 am
    • 1 like
  5. Thatcher

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    TheSockMonkey (View Comment):
    A fruit-bearing shirt? So confused right now…

    Think pictures of pineapples.

    • #5
    • March 12, 2018 at 8:21 am
    • 2 likes
  6. Inactive

    Henry Racette: Amis wrote that paragraph 50 years ago. Fascism, oppression by free speech, passive racial violence — truly, there is nothing new under the sun.

    It’s so disappointing, isn’t it? That these people use our natural right of free speech to tear down the systems that have enshrined such a noble and, in its day, revolutionary idea.

    I would only point out that freedom of speech had to be added in an amendment and this might tell us something about how difficult it was to contemplate in its day. Why wasn’t it in the main body of the Constitution? I suspect because it was controversial and spoken against even in those heady days.

    Much is made of our inability to think and act rationally nowadays — with all the psychological “studies” showing how emotional everything is. (BTW, I respect both Scott Adams and Jordan Peterson who often talk this way.) But, let’s not forget how having a rational basis for something was used so effectively by Thomas Paine during those crucial years. I’ll go further: what makes man truly unique among the beings on this planet is his ability to use his reason so effectively. It is the summum bonum of human life and freedom of speech is its natural right.

    • #6
    • March 12, 2018 at 8:54 am
    • 3 likes
  7. Coolidge

    Larry Koler (View Comment):
    It’s so disappointing, isn’t it? That these people use our natural right of free speech to tear down the systems that have enshrined such a noble and, in its day, revolutionary idea.

    I would only point out that freedom of speech had to be added in an amendment and this might tell us something about how difficult it was to contemplate in its day. Why wasn’t it in the main body of the Constitution? I suspect because it was controversial and spoken against even in those heady days.

    Not really. The Constitution didn’t originally include any bill of rights, and there was debate about whether or not it was appropriate to include one.

    http://teachingamericanhistory.org/bor/fed-antifed-debate/

    • #7
    • March 12, 2018 at 9:02 am
    • Like
  8. Inactive

    TheSockMonkey (View Comment):

    Larry Koler (View Comment):
    It’s so disappointing, isn’t it? That these people use our natural right of free speech to tear down the systems that have enshrined such a noble and, in its day, revolutionary idea.

    I would only point out that freedom of speech had to be added in an amendment and this might tell us something about how difficult it was to contemplate in its day. Why wasn’t it in the main body of the Constitution? I suspect because it was controversial and spoken against even in those heady days.

    Not really. The Constitution didn’t originally include any bill of rights, and there was debate about whether or not it was appropriate to include one.

    http://teachingamericanhistory.org/bor/fed-antifed-debate/

    Isn’t that what I said?

    • #8
    • March 12, 2018 at 9:36 am
    • 1 like
  9. Coolidge

    Larry Koler (View Comment):

    TheSockMonkey (View Comment):

    Larry Koler (View Comment):
    It’s so disappointing, isn’t it? That these people use our natural right of free speech to tear down the systems that have enshrined such a noble and, in its day, revolutionary idea.

    I would only point out that freedom of speech had to be added in an amendment and this might tell us something about how difficult it was to contemplate in its day. Why wasn’t it in the main body of the Constitution? I suspect because it was controversial and spoken against even in those heady days.

    Not really. The Constitution didn’t originally include any bill of rights, and there was debate about whether or not it was appropriate to include one.

    http://teachingamericanhistory.org/bor/fed-antifed-debate/

    Isn’t that what I said?

    No, I think it’s almost the opposite of what you said. Jefferson argued that a bill of rights should have been included, because people were already accustomed to them. Americans had been adopting constitutions for their states since the Independence. Some of these included protections for freedom of speech (some said “press” instead of “speech”). Anti-Federalists argued for a bill of rights partly because it was already a common feature of their state constitutions. Federalists argued that the constitution could be ratified without one, because those rights were already protected. So both sides agreed that free speech was already protected. The disagreement was over whether additional protections were needed.

    • #9
    • March 12, 2018 at 10:10 am
    • 1 like
  10. Inactive

    TheSockMonkey (View Comment):

    Larry Koler (View Comment):

    TheSockMonkey (View Comment):

    Larry Koler (View Comment):
    It’s so disappointing, isn’t it? That these people use our natural right of free speech to tear down the systems that have enshrined such a noble and, in its day, revolutionary idea.

    I would only point out that freedom of speech had to be added in an amendment and this might tell us something about how difficult it was to contemplate in its day. Why wasn’t it in the main body of the Constitution? I suspect because it was controversial and spoken against even in those heady days.

    Not really. The Constitution didn’t originally include any bill of rights, and there was debate about whether or not it was appropriate to include one.

    http://teachingamericanhistory.org/bor/fed-antifed-debate/

    Isn’t that what I said?

    No, I think it’s almost the opposite of what you said. Jefferson argued that a bill of rights should have been included, because people were already accustomed to them. Americans had been adopting constitutions for their states since the Independence. Some of these included protections for freedom of speech (some said “press” instead of “speech”). Anti-Federalists argued for a bill of rights partly because it was already a common feature of their state constitutions. Federalists argued that the constitution could be ratified without one, because those rights were already protected. So both sides agreed that free speech was already protected. The disagreement was over whether additional protections were needed.

    OK, I get your point. Remember, though, that amendments — and that’s what we are talking about here — are part of the Constitution. With one proviso — they don’t need an absolute majority. That’s why it was done later — to put it off the table and get locked down all the things they could all agree on. Also, they had to get things finished and start the country.

    Do you see my point that the whole bill of rights could have been Article VIII. That’s all I’m saying.

    • #10
    • March 12, 2018 at 10:27 am
    • 2 likes
  11. Member

    Read this 1951 review of WFB Jr.’s “God and Man at Yale” in the Atlantic. We are fighting the same battles over and over and we are losing.

    • #11
    • March 12, 2018 at 3:29 pm
    • 3 likes
  12. Member

    Let me just say that Kingsley Amis

    was

    the

    greatest! From Lucky Jim  through The Old Devils. 

    Who else out there is a card-carrying member of the Anti-Death League?

    • #12
    • March 12, 2018 at 4:14 pm
    • 2 likes
  13. Inactive

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):
    Read this 1951 review of WFB Jr.’s “God and Man at Yale” in the Atlantic. We are fighting the same battles over and over and we are losing.

    That is the one consistent thing, isn’t it? This is why Obama and other leftists talk about the arc of history. They extrapolate this past string of their successes, lying all the time and fooling more and more of the people and gaining more and more power.

    • #13
    • March 12, 2018 at 4:17 pm
    • 2 likes
  14. Contributor
    Henry Racette Post author

    Hypatia (View Comment):
    Let me just say that Kingsley Amis

    was

    the

    greatest! From Lucky Jim through The Old Devils.

    Who else out there is a card-carrying member of the Anti-Death League?

    Yes, he was terrific. (Though I admit that I like his son Martin’s work even more.)

    • #14
    • March 12, 2018 at 4:28 pm
    • 1 like
  15. Member

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Hypatia (View Comment):
    Let me just say that Kingsley Amis

    was

    the

    greatest! From Lucky Jim through The Old Devils.

    Who else out there is a card-carrying member of the Anti-Death League?

    Yes, he was terrific. (Though I admit that I like his son Martin’s work even more.)

    What of Martin’s do you recommend? I couldn’t get through Time’s Arrow.  I know I did read, and like, one which starts out in a castle in Italy…..but no, I think “Kingers” will always be my fave. He and Larkin. A “sodding good read” as they woulda put it! ♥️♥️

    • #15
    • March 12, 2018 at 5:10 pm
    • 1 like
  16. Contributor
    Henry Racette Post author

    Hypatia (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Hypatia (View Comment):
    Let me just say that Kingsley Amis

    was

    the

    greatest! From Lucky Jim through The Old Devils.

    Who else out there is a card-carrying member of the Anti-Death League?

    Yes, he was terrific. (Though I admit that I like his son Martin’s work even more.)

    What of Martin’s do you recommend? I couldn’t get through Time’s Arrow. I know I did read, and like, one which starts out in a castle in Italy…..but no, I think “Kingers” will always be my fave. He and Larkin. A “sodding good read” as they woulda put it! ♥️♥️

    The two you mentioned, Time’s Arrow and The Pregnant Widow, are among my least favorites of his. His best, in my opinion, are SuccessMoneyLondon Fields, and The Information — all somewhat angry and often crude but, in my opinion, beautifully written.

    • #16
    • March 12, 2018 at 5:20 pm
    • 3 likes
  17. Coolidge
    TBA

    Henry Racette:

    “…bodily signs of fascism, oppression by free speech, passive racial violence, and the like.”

    The only thing different is that the colleges have invented so much more of ‘the like’.

    • #17
    • March 12, 2018 at 7:14 pm
    • 2 likes
  18. Contributor

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):
    Read this 1951 review of WFB Jr.’s “God and Man at Yale” in the Atlantic. We are fighting the same battles over and over and we are losing.

    • #18
    • March 13, 2018 at 10:06 am
    • 1 like