Fish in a barrel, I know, but never mind. The sorrowful Madeleine Bunting today:
[H]ow many of us see stars on a regular basis? Or remember the feeling of getting wet or cold? Or see the thick darkness of a night free of city street lights, or hear the call of an owl at night?OK, let's reckon up. See stars on a regular basis? Yup. Remember the feeling of getting wet? Too right. Remember the feeling of being cold? Check. See the thick darkness etc? That one, fair enough - not too much of it. Hear the call of an owl at night? Often. So it's four out of five. And I'm not living in some field in Herefordshire or on the side of a Scottish mountain; no, this is in Manchester, one of the larger conurbations in Britain.
It's the school of opinion journalism that tells you you can produce any feeble generalization you want, in order to bemoan the sorry state of things today. From Bunting's keyboard it regularly delivers such goodies. She it was who gave you that we now 'seem more anxious, and fearful than ever' - and 'how isolated and fragmented our lives are'. And she, too, who lamented the 'mindless absorption in passing desires'. With a fecundity that is hard to match, she has also told it that:
The increasing impatience of consumer cycles means that anyone who is not devoting inordinate amounts of their weekend to shopping and browsing magazines is just not cutting it.And she has worried (in the same place) about today's 'anti-natalism' - 'a bias against having babies'. It's enough to make a person feel glum.
Really, I don't want to come across like someone who thinks we live in the best of all possible worlds. There are problems. But does Madeleine not know anyone who leads a good and happy life?