Statement Concerning my role and aims in the Commission on Building More, Building Beautifully.
The architectural press has been predicting that I will use my position as chair of the above commission to impose a rigid stylistic conformity, and that my well-known love of the classical vernacular will become a kind of aesthetic dictatorship, compelling architects on pain of – of what exactly? – to build according to principles dictated by me.
In fact, in conjunction with the government and the civil service, I am putting together a group of commissioners and advisors who will represent a wide range of approaches. The purpose of the commission is not to dictate aesthetic values but to show how they might be placed at the heart of new developments. There is widespread public discontent with recent practice and a need to explore the ways in which people’s real needs and preferences can be reflected in their built environment.
Anybody with suggestions as to the nature of the problem and the best way to resolve it is welcome to contact me on this site. Meanwhile, when the commissioners and advisory board have been appointed, it will be plain that my own aesthetic stance will be only one input among many, to the exploration of design quality in all its aspects.
Welcome to my website, which is a guide to my professional life as a writer and philosopher. My CV provides detailed information concerning my career.
In 2015 I published two books, The Disappeared and later in the autumn, Fools Frauds and Firebrands. The Disappeared, published by Bloomsbury, has received wonderful reviews and you can read them in the reviews section. One I particularly like is from Douglas Murray at The Spectator. ‘It's a gripping, disturbing narrative dealing with abduction and abuse but also love, escape and a type of redemption’. It is about England, now.
In 2017 I published On Human Nature (Princeton University Press), which was again widely reviewed, and contains a distillation of my philosophy. I also published a response to Brexit, Where We Are (Bloomsbury).
Fools Frauds and Firebrands is an update of Thinkers of the New Left published, to widespread outrage, in 1986. It includes new chapters covering the Parisian nonsense machine – Lacan, Deleuze and Badiou – and some timely thoughts about the historians and social thinkers who led British intellectuals up the garden path during the last decades, including Eric Hobsbawm and Ralph Miliband. All in all a shocking performance, but comparatively mildly reviewed and, by my modest standards, a bestseller.
Notes from Underground, my novel chosen by Ray Tallis as book of the year 2014 in the TLS, received the bronze award in the Suspense/Thriller category in the 2015 IPPY awards. It was also nominated for the IMPAC awards. It has been translated into Czech and was launched in Prague, during the Forum 2000 conference in September of 2015. A Portuguese edition is now forthcoming.
On Friday 25th November 2016 I was knighted by the Prince of Wales at an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
The success of the MA in philosophy through the University of Buckingham has encouraged me to begin work on a graduate programme leading to M. Phil. and Ph. D. degrees. Applications are welcome, through the Registry at Buckingham. This summer we will also be repeating our ‘Scrutopia Summer School’ through the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester Park, delivering ten days of intoxicating eccentricity in the Gloucestershire countryside.
A special mention must go to Håkon Wium Lie for the fantastic drone footage of Sunday Hill Farm which can be seen at the top of this webpage.