The Blog

How to Love Yourself (and Grow Half a Brain)

How to love yourself (and grow half a brain)

The recent furore regarding Charles Saatchi and Nigella Lawson is a perfect example of what is wrong with all of us. The many fans of Ms. Lawson have been rushing to her defence on Twitter and portraying her as the victim in her very messy marital breakdown. In fact, nothing could be further than the truth.

Ms. Lawson is a breathtaking, magnificent specimen hence the reason for her spectacular popularity. Humans are hard-wired to appreciate beauty. A face that is pleasing to the eye elicits a positive response from the beholder. But Ms. Lawson is not blameless in her marital woes. For those of us who have been married for a long time and then divorced, it can be quite difficult to describe the moment when the camel's back broke. The disintegration of a marriage is a long process and it takes two to destroy what no one should 'tear asunder'.

The cult of worship of 'celebrities' goes too far. God must be well and truly dead for us to focus all our adoration on mere mortals.

I recently took issue with a-shall-remain-nameless 21-year-old who had been invited on a panel to expostulate her views on feminism. I asked on Twitter for someone to please enlighten me as to how a 21-year-old with no experience in life apart from participating in a televised baking competition which she lost, could have views if any, on the heavyweight issue of feminism. The blows that rained down on my head were fast and furious. Again the adoration of a human being elevated to a mythical status came into play. The tweets raged: how dare I and what qualified me to make that remark? I couldn't be bothered to respond back on Twitter (social media is too time consuming for us busy types) but here are a few reasons why: twenty-five years busting my guts in a man's world, being the boss of dozens of male employees in two global companies who took great issue with having to answer to a woman and being forced to earn their grudging respect, working so hard to keep a roof over my head that I had to choose a career over a family, having a boss who made it plain that if I didn't sleep with him I've be demoted (I quit that job pronto and found another - in those days we didn't run off screaming about sexual harassment) etc. I kind of feel qualified to have an opinion about feminism.

The 21-year-old sought to defend herself by stating that no one had said she was an authority on the issue and so it went on, a series of lame and capricious remarks in her defence which for a philosophy graduate showed a complete absence of reasoned thinking.

Our society idolises the mediocre - the WAG who snares a footballer and grows pneumatic breasts becomes something of an 'expert' whose views should matter. Journalists have made whole careers of their sad, pathetic, insecure lives- the 'me, me, me' style of writing in the first person only, where every last intimate, gory detail is paraded, has made these walking zombies wealthy.

But let's come back to the beautiful Nigella Lawson. She is highly watchable as she stirs the pot and bats her eyelids simultaneously. But she's not a chef. She's a cook but does anyone call her that? I remember when Ms. Lawson began her TV career (some years before I threw the TV out permanently). I was horrified at her gastroporn and believe me, I am no blushing violet. I'd lived in France for many years (with all that entails) and to go from an appreciation of the way food is grown, and a near reverence in the preparation and consuming of food to a salacious-in-your-face-dripping-with-sexual-innuendo-and-strictly-for-entertainment-on-an-extremely-vacuous-level approach, had me quite literally in hives.

I often allude in my writing about being true to oneself. Look around you. Not only is God dead but so too is the inner life - the introspective, reflective, thought-inclined self.

We have become too lazy to think. We absorb, not by a process of symbiosis which infers a co-benefit but as empty cells that are brainwashed into believing just about anything. The end result of a society where no one thinks for themselves anymore is Animal Farm. Remember that line about some of us being more equal than others? A handful soon recognises that the vast majority are somnolent and exploit that to their own benefit. It doesn't help that 'celebrities' like Russell Brand or Jeremy Paxman say they don't vote - it only reinforces what the powers-that-be want to hear: that the real issues in our society don't matter all that much.

I had a very good friend (then in his 40s) who joined a cult, sold his belongings, stocked up on canned food, went to live underground in the hills in Washington State while he waited for the end of the world. He truly believed what he had become. It took a de-programmer (a former cult member who had left the cult and reverted their own brainwashing) several months to change my friend back to his old self and to help him to relearn to think for himself. We laugh about it now some twenty years later. I can't really see the difference with the cult of celebrity today. Can you?

Photo and painting copyright S. van Dalen