Decadence is on the rise, says Matthew Platts
No doubt, dear reader, from time to time you will have followed that traditional route of students; up Clifford Street, past the tower, and into the Gallery. Now, here is a pop quiz for all of who you have been there recently – what was the original purpose of the building that houses the Gallery, the York Dungeon and other bastions of culture? No? Time’s up. Blazoned on its fascia is the original purpose of the building: the York Institute, founded in 1827 as York’s abode of art, science, and literature. Now the Gallery, abode of Northern Soul and cheesy chips. Vive le difference!
For it seems that the times, they are a-changing. The York Institute has become the Gallery. Vanbrugh has become, well, Vanbrugh and some of the residents of an area of campus in St. Lawrence Court, have become the cast of Lord of the Flies. That’s right. These particular students have satisfied the main plot element of Watership Down in shooting down a fluffy bunny with a trusty 22 air-rifle and skinning it in preparation for the pot. How delightfully primitive!
Primitive indeed; so much so that I would like to reiterate: at least one student has taken out a rifle, shot a rabbit, killed it, and skinned it. With the intention of eating the damn thing. Now, normally, human beings being the squeamish creatures they are, they like to pretend to be rather above that sort of thing. If we really must eat rabbit (and I don’t), then we have the good taste and decency not to relish it. We hire butchers to prepare the meat, we do not eat the meat raw, we do not eat the meat with blood.
In short, we may eat meat, but we have the good taste not to like the fact that it’s meat. The modern trend, notwithstanding the Atkins Diet, is to eat less meat and to pay attention to proper farming conditions and animal welfare. This is a sign of an advanced civilisation. Yet the times they are a-changing, and this atavistic act is a haunting thought. For the reference to the change of use of the Gallery is deliberate. Once the centre of enlightenment, now the centre of intoxication and license.
Decadence is growing. I don’t want to sound like Richard Littlejohn – partly because I’m not. I am as progressive as you would like me to be. I’m not a bigot or a prude – but I can’t help but think that society is changing for the worse. In years gone by, people would be oppressed by tradition and close-knit spying networks. We are now oppressed by commercialism in products and ideas. A uniformity which brings in its wake a disassociated, disillusioned and arrogant populace happy to do anything they like to relieve the boredom. The Crazy Frog drags happy slapping behind it on its coat-tails – so, too, does it bring the home-shot and home-skinned rabbit.