The Daily Devil’s Dictionary: The “Soul-Baring” Nigel Farage
Dancing to the beat of Nigel Farage’s special brand of soul music.
The Daily Mail offers for our meditation a moral tale in the form of an interview. It recounts the tragic plight and pitiable fate of a famous politician who had the courage and talent to lead a successful campaign that resulted in the traumatic destabilization of his nation’s institutions. They bill it as a “soul-baring interview.” The soulful interviewee is none other than Nigel Farage, former head of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and the glamorous as well as clamorous bandleader of the Brexit campaign. The Daily Mail calls him “one of the most successful politicians of his generation,” who has also, as we learn from his confessions in the interview, “made many sacrifices.”
After Augustine, Rousseau and Thomas De Quincey, Farage joins the list of prestigious authors of confessions, recounting the unsettling narrative of his personal journey, in this case focusing on his post-Brexit melancholy. We learn, for example, that in contrast to De Quincey’s dependence on opium, Farage’s journey was fueled by “gin and adrenaline.”
Based on what we learn from the interview, here then is today’s 3D definition, inspired by The Daily Mail:
An adjective to describe a self-aggrandizing and self-pitying narrative, consisting essentially of complaints about other people’s attitudes and behavior
Literalists will insist that if one is to bare one’s soul, it is necessary to have one. Politicians are better known for selling theirs, precisely in order to become “one of the most successful politicians of [their] generation.” The same literalists would expect that if a soul is “bared,” it will become visible. Readers alone can decide whether they detect a visible soul after reading the interview with Farage. Or they can simply take The Daily Mail at its word, when it describes a critical moment in the conversation: “Farage falls silent. His soulfulness is unexpected.”
Until that dramatic moment, even The Daily Mail didn’t appear to take for granted the notion that Farage had a soul. Or at least the journalist didn’t previously have a clear idea of what — in order to be soulful — Farage’s soul might have been “full of.”
The interview offers us this telling revelation, where Farage does rise to the rhetorical level of an actual confession: “I feel guilt over any hurt I’ve caused.” Apart from the fact that this formulaic expression resembles every celebrity’s fake apology, in which what the apologist regrets is not so much the fault as the presumably misinterpreted reaction of the victims, Farage’s cavalier attitude is confirmed by what follows: “But whatever has happened in the past has happened.” And the devil take the hindmost!
Although The Daily Mail is one of the very rare popular news outlets to be deemed “unreliable” by Wikipedia, this article reliably reveals the newspaper’s political preferences. Using a military metaphor, The Mail admiringly describes the “mission” Farage has been committed to: “[H]e has spent the best part of his adult life rallying the troops to free us from the European Union.” The British daily elevates Farage to the status of the leader of a liberation army.
It is only fitting that the journalist also sees Farage as a martyr, claiming that “he has made many sacrifices/” We learn along the way that the noble liberator — no longer buoyed by a mission, too decisively accomplished, and subsequently abandoned by his (second) wife — is in a state of misery. This is intended, no doubt, to inspire our feelings of “pity and terror,” the components of Aristotle’s notion of catharsis in tragedy. Farage tells us very directly that he is “miserable.” Much like how the kindred spirit Ann Coulter appears to be on the other side of the Atlantic, when she tweets: “We singles live empty lives of quiet desperation and will die alone. Now Rubio is demanding that we also fund happy families with children who fill their days with joy.”
Earlier this year, Business Insider revealed Farage’s answer to the question of whether he would apologize if Brexit turned out to be a disaster. He refused to do so, claiming that no “tradition” existed “of politicians apologising in the UK.” As astute observers of cultural differences know, in England tradition will always trump both positive law and morals. Farage justifies his refusal to apologize with this remark: “I see hardly anyone resigning. I see hardly anyone apologising.”
Isn’t that what any decent martyr would say?
*[In the age of Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain, another American wit, the journalist Ambrose Bierce, produced a series of satirical definitions of commonly used terms, throwing light on their hidden meanings in real discourse. Bierce eventually collected and published them as a book, The Devil’s Dictionary, in 1911. We have shamelessly appropriated his title in the interest of continuing his wholesome pedagogical effort to enlighten generations of readers of the news.]
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.