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Congratulations to Night Jack

Paul Mason | 09:59 UK time, Friday, 24 April 2009

In the kerfuffle of Budget Day, followed by the Death of New Labour and the Death of Nice Conservatism, Man United's win over Portsmouth, the IFS predator strike on Alistair Darling and Susan Boyle's makeover I forgot to congratulate Jack Night, whose blog Night Jack deservedly beat Idle Scrawl to the Orwell Prize. I was tipping him to win and wish now that I had backed him. The Orwell Prize people have not yet supplied an "Orwell Prize: Loser" jpeg to go on this blog so the old one will stay there till the tech team can take it down.

Jack is a working police detective. Night Jack's value lies in the truthfulness of what's described and the honesty with which the author confronts his own reaction to events. Leaving aside "turning writing into an art" that is the essence of what Orwell did in books like Homage to Catalonia and Road to Wigan Pier. Jack uses concepts that could never appear on a mainsteam media-hosted blog, such as the Evil Poor and he does not spare us from the mundanity, squalor and pointlessness of most crime, and allows us to understand better its complex causes.

He's suspended the blog to write a novel. I hope, amid the wrecked lives and chip wrappers, he finds time to read Chandler's The Simple Art of Murder. Chandler advises detective fiction writers to create, as hero, "a man who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid"; ie, not a Gene Hunt.


  • Comment number 1.


    "I believe that as bloggers we are mostly short levers in the political world"

    "Nobody has found the magic key to reliable rehabilitation yet."

    Some quotable worthy, should have orated: "The short levers of democracy" so that we could keep quoting him. The voting slip (as I have often posted) is an even shorter 'lever' than a blog.

    The 'Magic Key', insofar as such exists, is MATURITY OF THE INDIVIDUAL. Culturally, we are in pursuit of ultimate nihilism, of which, bulging prisons are a symptom. It is not RE-habilitation we need, but optimum HABILITATION at the outset of each, individual, life. (This is not empty rhetoric - details elsewhere.)

    There you go Jack - the answer is always on the Newsnight blog.

  • Comment number 2.

    yes the idea that adulthood is something one has to choose is seen as fascist buy the usual hand wringing everyone is a victim brigade.

    not gene hunt?

  • Comment number 3.


    ''It is not RE-habilitation we need, but optimum HABILITATION at the outset of each, individual, life.''

    I agree with that very much and #2 also. But that is not possible when 'choice' has been sold for a long time as a high value goal in society.

    On one level personaly I find choosing between about 50 brands of soap powder with various celebrities grinning at me from the packets a rather confusing, perplexing and pointless experience for no obvious benefit in terms of how the clothes look when i take them out of the washer.

    On another level our children ( except those in the increasingly eroded faith schools or private institutions) are bombarded with a 'choice' of defining life values, expected to choose something good and apply it between a whole range of culturer, religions and value systems. They call it 'teaching diversity'.

    It is too much for a fresh spirit on this planet to handle, so they dont, they descent into self gratification and the road to nihilism. That is not their fault, it is the fault of a spineless education system. We need to learn that racism is not the same thing as creating and holding onto a vlaue system fit for its time.

    As I said in an earlier post this crisis is not actually about economics or money, they are just the symptoms, as they always were.

    At its core this is a failure of something far more worrying. It is a failure to develop a philosophy fit for a world that we are in the process of changing beyond recognition. A philosophy we can teach to our children and in so doing give them the best chance of making this place what it can be.

    If we do not do that it could have terryfying consequences and probably will as I dont see anything coming along to change it on the horizon.

    Just take a step back look at the world, see what is happening by degree, the growth of outdated fundamentalism simultaneous with the spread of powerful technology.

    We have alittle time but not much but noboddy ever listens to me because i am crazy remember.


  • Comment number 4.

    Suggest you keep your 'button' on the site for as long as Iain Dale keeps his..

    Who knows, by then we might have the national debt under control...

  • Comment number 5.

    ~3 Jericoa ,

    If you are looking for a philosophy why not have a look at Richard Rorty, Contingency, Irony and Solidarity. ( 1989 Cambridge, isbn 0-521-36781-6 ) ?

    It might be best to start at chapter 4, before tackling the rest of the text.

    (Incidentally there is a chapter dedicated to Orwell too.)

    Who knows, we might agree that we don't actually need another hero, Gene Hunt or otherwise ?

  • Comment number 6.


    Ahh if only I had time to read!

    Between raising a young family, holding down a full time job, paying the bills (mostly) and my posting habit here and elsewhere I can't remember the last time I read a book, I manage to read most of the Economist most weeks and that is about it.

    I do appreciate the thought though and will add it to my list of books to read I seem to be collecting here !

    I appreciate nothing of what I write is likely to be new, it is new to me though, most ideas are already out there just waiting for the right time.

    The type of hero we would need in the worlds particular developing situation is a scientific impossibility anyway so I am with you there, we can not need something that is not possible??.

    Now there is a question...

  • Comment number 7.


    In the mists of time, heroic figures would turn up on various continents. They are often recorded as 'bringing farming and knowledge of maths, astronomy etc'.

    In short, they messed up the sustainable subsistence enjoyed previously.

    Got to be careful with heroes - some seem short on philosophy!

  • Comment number 8.

    what is a hero?

    in Homer the hero is the person who has a knowing connection with the divine and lives in response to that.

    so the model of the hero shows how to live that life connected to the divine.

    these days 'the hero' is debased into people who have power or money or beauty etc and spend their life bickering for no real reason. The divine and its role and implications are usually ignored. TV soaps anyone?

  • Comment number 9.

    ~6 Jericoa

    "the worlds particular developing situation is a scientific impossibility anyway so I am with you there, we can not need something that is not possible??.

    Now there is a question..."

    In which case maybe Wittgenstein's famous proposition No7 could be more relevant to you :-

    What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence.

    (Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus 1974 Ed)

  • Comment number 10.

    # 9

    I had a quick look, a regurgitation of Platos Cave as far as I can see which I much prefer I have to say. So much more can be captured in a simple story than a book full of words few could ever understand (but that does not mean they are stupid).

    But to return to Platos Cave what of the 'prisoner' that was freed, who escaped the cave, saw the sunlight outside and returned to explain to the other 'prisoners'.

    He found he could not, they thought him mad, they did not even want to be released to see what he had seen for themselves.

  • Comment number 11.

    ~10 Jericoa

    Plato's Cave commonly been interpreted as an allegory for Plato's theory of ideas.

    Plato's metaphysical ideas are just the sort of thing pragmatists like Rorty disavowed and sort to dissolve. However over the years Platonic idealism has been an influence for many types of fundamentalism.

    Is this Platonic sort of overarching Philosophy we are to understand you are currently seeking ? If so the cure could well be worse than the problem !

  • Comment number 12.


    Im am not seeking anything, that in itself is self defeating.

    I can not engage with you about Rorty or Platonic idealism or its influence on fundamentalism because I have no idea about any of that and I have never heard of Rorty. All I would say on that score is I object to fundamentalism full stop......there maybe a circumstance in which I dont object to fundamentalism but that would only be temporary I am sure :)

    I just read philosophical stuff sometimes and in no particular order and to no particular structure and form my own particular view on it at that particular time. If you are looking for a philosophical debate based on
    knowlege of various texts I am definately not you man !


  • Comment number 13.

    Jericoa (#12) You just keep writing as you do. It's fine.

  • Comment number 14.

    Night Jack has deleted his blog and today the High Court has refused a temporary injunction preventing The Times from revealing his identity. Would the police authorities really go so far as to dismiss him? Worse still would they also see that he never receives his pension?

    Those in power can be vindictive - just to prove that can.

  • Comment number 15.

    It's typical, I always meant to read his blog and today, after reading about The Times to expose him, I thought I'd have a read and it has been deleted!!! Thank you very much The Times!

  • Comment number 16.

    Typical - Eady is all for the right to a 'private life', unless one is 'shaking the tree' of authority.

    How will we find out about malfeasance now ?

    I'm expecting a kick at the door from the rozzers any minute...

  • Comment number 17.

    RE: 14, 15, 16

    I just discovered this too. When Night Jack won the Orwell Prize I didn't realise quite which aspect of "Orwellian" he was in line for. At the risk of pushing Mr Mason aboard the next cattle car to the Gulag I'd like to quote ...

    "Night Jack's value lies in the truthfulness of what's described and the honesty with which the author confronts his own reaction to events."

    Yes, I can see why Lancashire Constabulary would need to put a stop to that.


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