According to the dictionary the definition of a paradox is: a seemingly absurd or contradictory statement or proposition which when investigated may prove to be well founded or true.
And: A two word paradox is an oxymoron. Got to love an Oxymoron for the name alone!
A classic contemporary paradox is the situation with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex who apparently left the UK in order to get some privacy from the press only to appear on one of the most widely watched television programmes in the world.
Closer to home the pandemic has encouraged many others to imagine that if they leave their busy lives in the city they will have a quieter and more enjoyable life in the country. A vision of the countryside as seen from a perfectly appointed holiday let is somewhat different from the noisy, muddy and often violent life they will find when then become full time residents. Farm machinery is loud and farmers start early in the morning. Soil produces vast quantities of mud and nature survives on kill and be killed. Quite apart from the gory road kill that decorates most country lanes there are the remains of sparrow hawk or fox kills to found on almost any country walk. And of course newcomers immediately want to change the many things they don’t like. The poverty stricken farmer down the road wants to convert his dilapidated barn into a house but the incomer wants to enjoy the view of this tumbledown building. Of course, if the objection is upheld the farmer may well sell to a rich entrepreneur who will use his clout and money to obtain planning permission for a hundred houses and in no time at all the beautiful, secluded idyll will be in the centre of a housing estate. A paradox indeed.
Another paradox a bit closer to home is the curious fact that I can sleep like a log on an uncomfortable sofa for hours with all the lights on and the television blaring but once I wake up and take myself off to my extremely comfortable bed I can lie in the dark tossing and turning for hours completely unable to fall asleep.
But all this pales against the madness of ‘woke’. As a society we prize free speech but now with the caveat that it has to follow what I refer to as ‘Islington’ guidelines. JK Rowling expresses an opinion – she is immediately pilloried on Twitter and in the media because she doesn’t conform to current ‘woke’ thought. Julie Burchill makes a joke but because it refers obliquely to George Floyd she is sacked by the Telegraph. GB News is a new television programme and I don’t know a great deal about it but apparently it claims to be right of centre – hardly in league with the BNP – however windy advertisers are pulling their ads. This could backfire as, although I have personally never been to Ikea, most of the people I know who go there have probably never even heard of Twitter and would be very unlikely to notice that GB news is being boycotted. Added to this is the modern custom of filling the media with the names and photographs of people who have been accused (however spuriously) of some historic sex crime. The cases are frequently dismissed as being the figment of a disturbed mind but not before they have irreparably damaged the lives of those they have accused. The paradox being that the so called ‘victims’ are permitted to remain anonymous but not so the ‘suspects’ who appear to be guilty until proved innocent.
And finally for the paradox that follows hot on the heels of Me Too and women demanding equality and respect – there are websites springing up all over the place where women can post ‘adult’ content for money. For example, OnlyFans is a subscription-based social media platform where users can sell and/or purchase original content—typically of the pornographic variety. When utilized as an adult site, users will post NSFW* videos and photos to their accounts, which are protected by a paywall. (*In case you are as innocent as I am NSFW means ‘Not Safe For Work’ – in other words DO NOT download on to your work computer!) I read in the newspapers this week that Kate Moss’s younger sister has signed up for one of these websites and as one of the ‘extras’ she is selling her knickers. I won’t go into any details (mainly because I neither know, nor do I want to know) but I think we can safely assume that she is not buying a multipack of sensible cotton briefs from M & S and selling these on! Poor Emily Davison throwing herself into the path of the King’s horse for this!
And before I go let me touch briefly on the paradox’s close friend the oxymoron. Surely, I’m not the only one who knows the sound of the deafening silence after dropping a terrible social brick. The first time this happened I was on the swing at school and I announced that I hated Miss Rogers for reasons now lost in the mists of time. Unbeknownst to me she was standing right behind me and I will never forget how the girlish chatter stopped abruptly and in the deafening silence that followed I knew that she was there. I continued to swing desperately as if the very act of swinging could make it all go away. Needless to say I had to stop eventually and apologise and the punishment can’t have been too bad as I remember nothing about it – only the deed itself.