Ideology: what is it and what’s bad about ideologues

An ideology is a compact and universal. It simplifies and organizes: in this sense it is like a theory. But it can be like old wives tales, or rules of thumb. It is not, therefore a theory. It is a set of answers deployable in many situations: a short cut to action.

An Ideologue is someone who takes their ideology seriously: for whom there are no doubts about the ideology, no need to test it, to confirm it, and, importantly, a person who sees the world through their ideology.

The ideologue is a politician in search of an electorate, an orator in search of an audience, a person who seeks not to understand and share this understanding or to convince with honest argument, but who seeks to convert: to convert others to their ideology. It has become a viral meme in their minds, and perverts their intellect, whatever it might be, to the cause of propagating the ideology.

What’s bad about that? Well, first of all, if you do not know the weaknesses or failing of their ideology, they will not tell you. If they can trick you into liking the ideology for reasons that are inconsistent even with their ideology they will. They care not for you, or your welfare, or even for their own, but for the welfare of their ideology. The world is in a terrible state when ideologues rule.

Buying Art: Spreading the market

I have been looking at paintings recently, and two things strike me: one is that even with lots of good examples of art to copy, most artists can’t even do a good copy or derivative work. Odd.

Second is that anything reasonable is around £500-£1000 – I imagine that is what is required to give the gallery 100% markup and the artist pay for the materials and earn £30,000 a year or so.

Now, to buy some paintings at one thousand to 4 thousand each is not a lot of money, but quite a risk: one imagines they cannot be sold back into the market for this kind of money.

And yet, if that is the case: where do they all go? Perhaps they are sold into the gallery and antique market again at half price or less, and so one never sees retail paintings in the “second hand” market.

Of course, some sell for much more: Picasso, Renoir… Ventriano.

So, what happens if you buy some examples of every artist when they are £1000 each? Buying the market, as it were?

Many will be worthless, but what is the distribution of values? How rare is Picasso? As rare as Einstein, one imagines. But then there are Vetriano’s, perhaps only as rare as good professors or large business CEOs.

It would be nice to know the distribution, and then to know the mean value of a painting: heavily influenced by these small tails of 100 million dollar Picasso’s, and $500,000 Ventrianos.

If you buy paintings at random, what will their mean value be? More or less than the average £1,000 charged for a competent artist’s work?

Of course you could buy wholesale, and selectively.

Another question: Were Picasso’s works ever cheap? Perhaps not. But perhaps so: Schopenhauer was not recognized until late in his life, Einstein was poor, and a patent clerk. So we do undervalue talent.

Perhaps the thing to do is to sponsor music, art and science competitions at school?

Perhaps i’ll do that.

Another reason to love Edinburgh – Ballet

Just back from seeing Cinderella, by the Scottish Ballet. Lovely performance: 50 people on stage, well choroegraphed, and Prince Charming was excellent: Not Nureyev, but still a very fit prince! And good performances by many of the backing cast. Plus a 30 piece orchestra to deliver Prokofiev’s delightful score. And all of that 100 yards from our restaurant! Magnificent.

Add to that the performance by Germany’s “Theater Titanik” in George St on the night before new Year’s eve, the pagan fires on Calton hill the night before, and the history boys live before that… well. It is just very pleasant. And that’s not to mention lectures by Joseph Stiglitz, Tom Devine, Antonin Scalia… hard to beat.