He thinks there are far too many humans, that we are a plague on the planet and a rapacious horde, and that our desires for a better society will inevitably end in mass murder. How can such a misanthrope get out of bed every morning?
Spiked Online reviewer, Tim Black, literally takes the skewer to Gray’s Anatomy, the just-published collection of essays and selected writings by English philosopher and author, John Gray. Black continues:
If, like writer Will Self, you loved every misanthropic moment of Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals, or like novelist AS Byatt you gleefully devoured the equally cheery Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia, then John Gray’s latest, Gray’s Anatomy, a selection of his articles and essays published over the past 30 years, will once again leave you poised, noose in hand, excitedly contemplating the sheer wretchedness of human existence.
All the classic Gray components are here: the contrived aphoristic wisdom; the tedious, derivative anti-Enlightenment riffs; and, knitting it all together, the pompous insistence that humans, forever deluded by a mistaken, Christian-inspired sense of their uniqueness, will, in striving to shape the world in their image, only bring misery upon not just themselves but every living thing on Earth. ‘The peculiar flavour of modern mass murder’, Gray trills, ‘comes from the fact that it has so often been committed in the name of creating a new world’.
For those less willing to embrace Gray’s one-sided vision of human history, in which barbarism eclipses civilisation at every point, his lugubrious disdain for all things Homo sapiens might seem a little absurd. After all, John Gray is to all intents and purposes a human being himself; he’s not, despite his namesake’s claim, from Mars. All of which raises the question: knowing what he knows of the absurd futility of existence, literally how does he live with himself? One can only assume that, given the depth of his inhuman insight, he’s somehow exempt from the charges he levels at his kind.
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