The grandest view of Gstaad and the surrounding Saanen valley bar none — and that includes the vista from my high-up-on-the-hill farm — belongs to an imposing house that was originally a sanatorium but is now a home for the blind. It’s ironic that it is located where only eagles dare, but its residents are unable to view the sights. Such are the jokes that fate plays on mankind.
I had just finished a very hard training session and was looking up the mountain at the blind people’s home, which looks like a very luxurious hotel from the outside. My heart went out to the poor folks inside, blind to the magnificent valleys, streams and mountains that surround them. For me, there is nothing worse than losing one’s sight, although Helen Keller might have had something to say about that. Some of you young whippersnappers may consider me blind, insulated from the internet-dominated world as I happily am. I decided that I will never learn to text, tweet or use Facebook, although I do know how to file copy and send and receive emails. Yippee!
I acknowledge that being a Luddite is a form of blindness to the modern world, but I hate modern technologies and the immediate pleasure they afford. Apparently, smartphones stimulate the production of dopamine, the stuff that plays a role in addiction. But as I’m already addicted to booze and beautiful women, the last thing I need is a hard-on for a device next to my ear. I know, I know: this makes me a non-person. Well, anonymity may be a mortal sin nowadays, but it’s still a luxury for some.
I recently read somewhere about Socrates and Wittgenstein both having an obsession about ‘knowing oneself’ and found myself rather surprised at having something in common with those two chappies. Soc, Witt and Taki: all three looking to be honest about themselves. Socrates and Wittgenstein both believed that philosophy was as much an exercise in self-honesty as it was an intellectual endeavour. Taki agrees. I know that I’m lazy as hell, and I admit it. I know that I go weak at the knees when I see a beautiful young woman, and I admit it. I know that a good wine or an old scotch whisky is irresistible, and I admit it. Just as I know that I can’t refuse a gamble if challenged, or a fight if told I’m too old and weak to rumble, and I admit it. Which makes me an equal of Socrates and Wittgenstein — and if anyone disputes that they can go to hell. ‘Nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself,’ wrote Wittgenstein in 1938. ‘Nothing is easier than not deceiving oneself,’ wrote Taki in 2018. I leave it to Spectator readers to decide who between the two of us is the greater philosopher. Old Socrates, of course, remains no. 1.
And now let’s get down to more serious business, such as how to stay cheerful as the days dwindle: September, October… This time of year used to be a downer for me. The tennis was finished, the Riviera summer crowd had gone back to the cities, and there were rumbles from home about what I was going to do with my life. Head for South Africa or Argentina was the answer. Keep the summer going at all costs (that’s how I began playing polo, incidentally). But at least I never felt pain, stress or terrible sadness, as is the case for 154,000 people in 145 countries around the world who have been surveyed over at least a decade about their emotional lives. According to the poll, 2017 was the most miserable year on record. Taki the philosopher advises the 154,000 depressed ones in 145 countries either to charter a large yacht and sail down to Argentina, or go to Cape Town and pay for a photo safari with my Rhodesian friend Hannes Wessels. It is as easy as pie — or fake news, for that matter.
And speaking of the latter, did you know about the three blind mice whose names begin with ‘M’? Maureen, Michelle and Maggie, the three stooges — actually, better yet, the three old hags – who write for the NY Times and who present their opinions as news reports. If that’s news that’s fit to print, then I am an ‘M’ too — Monica Lewinsky. All three stooges hate Trump, and Maureen thinks that Trump has also ruined Australia by being friendly with the new Prime Minister, Scott Morrison. (‘He dooms children to detention centres,’ she bleats.) The other two Ms are going nuts, but really nuts, that the Donald is still in the White House and trying to place an alleged sexual predator on the Supreme Court.
As everyone who has not overindulged in dumb pills knows, the left now acts as if it were under the spell of evil space aliens. They’ve discovered a lefty academic whose vague memory might keep a Trump appointee off the Supreme Court, and is trying to pull this bullshit with a straight face. Who was it who said something about ten guilty people going free being better than one innocent going down? What truly bothers me is that these very same people, like Dianne Feinstein of California, don’t lift a single finger to help the women and children being slaughtered with American weapons in Yemen, because the Saudis have got to them in the old-fashioned way. So they sit in judgment with the smug superiority of a proctologist inspecting a patient, while an innocent man goes down.