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Queering Chesterton’s Wall 

The Critic is moving in a new direction: every direction

Artillery Row

We might fancy some children playing on the flat grassy top of some tall island in the sea. So long as there was a wall round the cliff’s edge they could fling themselves into every frantic game and make the place the noisiest of nurseries. But the walls were knocked down, leaving the naked peril of the precipice. They did not fall over; but when their friends returned to them they were all huddled in terror in the centre of the island; and their song had ceased.

G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

And that’s all very well, but recently we at the Critic have been wondering — what’s so bad about children huddled in terror? They certainly seem like less trouble than the ones currently running around our various abodes, screaming their heads off and breaking our most treasured possessions. Indeed we’ve started to ask ourselves questions that haven’t troubled us until now such as “Just how did all these children get here anyway?”

The Critic is being reorganised as a body without organs

The horrible answer, we regret to tell Critic readers who we know have delicate sensibilities, is sexual reproduction. Urgh. URGH. Yes we’re as disgusted as you are. Whether dashing off apologias for the heteronormative family or penning defences of the integrity of biological sex, we never once stopped to think that it might be associated with the grisly business we half remember being told about in biology lessons. 

We want to apologise, but more than that — and God knows the world doesn’t need more white tears — we want to do better. We want to listen. We want to learn. We want to, and this is hard for us, modernise

But once you start thinking, and start reforming, it’s hard to stop. Some steps were obvious: clearly gender is a spectrum, and trans women are women. We’re not sure what any of that means, but rather like a recovering alcoholic, the first step is admitting you have no control and surrendering to a higher power. 

The next stage was what we were really driving for: man (and in this case, we’re assured, it really is men) is destroying the natural world. We could give up bacon sandwiches and flights to Ibiza, but let’s be honest, these would be half-measures (and needlessly upset a number of our colleagues). No, the real solution was staring us in the face all along: we need to stop having children. 

So we have a new ethos, and a clear editorial line on the question of children (not seen, not heard and definitely not conceived). But there is work still to be done. New vistas have been opened up by the Critic’s post-modern turn. Walls are coming down, boundaries have been thrown into flux, categories have been blurred. Yes, you guessed it, we’ve hired management consultants. But fear not, these are management consultants from Central Saint Martins. 

The Critic is being reorganised as a body without organs. Nobody bothered to explain this to us, but it seems to involve consuming soft drugs in the office. The Magazine is getting a redesign: in a tribute to Marcel Duchamp all future issues will be printed on toilet paper. Bourgeois conventions are being torn up everywhere: in our boldest stroke against the capitalist system we are no longer “paying” for articles — free expression will flourish. Best of all we’re embracing the body positivity movement: we’re all going out for lunch, and we’re not coming back.

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