Michael Wood's recent piece in the LRB touches - by way of Julian Barnes's The Sense of an Ending - on that "elusive stupidity of intelligent people." And by people, Wood means the British.
The essay is a funny one at times and includes lots of little insights into the English character. These include references to a "certain self-admiring obtuseness" as well as the belief - at least among some - that "deference" amounts to one's "due."
The best part of the piece comes at the end, though, when Wood turns serious and makes a quiet point about modern literature.
His suggestion amounts to the idea - in the work of Barnes and elsewhere - that fictional characters walk a fine line these days between "ironically miming [their] own helplessness" and "taking refuge in old and comfortable evasion."
To a certain extent, we all walk this line...