Monday, June 10, 2013

Once more to the unto the fear-mongering Paul Sheehan breach, dear friends, once more, and close up the wall with an assortment of French loons ...

(Above: you can always rely on the English and Steve Bell here to take a view on Le Pen and the French).

The pond is tired and bored, and in view of the impending Fairfax paywall, has decided on some new editorial policies.

What's that? Editorial policies? Pretentious? Moi?

Well that's just a fancy pants way of saying the pond will stop linking to Fairfax stories, or at least the bilious hysterical Chicken Little 'sky is falling' outpourings of generally grumpy Paul Sheehan.

Why waste time on ratbags? Why spend too much time in room 237?

When last we caught sight of Sheehan, back on Thursday, he was acting as a wet sloppy sentimental shill for The Voice. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, and there was music in the air. Hideous banal music, it's true, but music all the same.

True Sheehan wasn't to know that Oasis would win the JJJ top 100 with Wonderwall, or that Powderfinger came in a disappointing eighth and tenth, and hot favourite Gotye could only manage nine, while the Stones riff team The Verve placed fifth (and who on earth enabled Jeff Buckley at number three?). (Oh yes we could have given you a link to the Fairfax story, but instead of linking to the leeches, how about a link to triple J here?)

Sheehan could have mentioned that poor old Bernard Fanning now has his second solo album out in the marketplace (what's ARIA up to these days, here?) but as the pond noted back then, Sheehan has the middlebrow taste of a maiden Aunt. (Not that there's anything wrong with being a maiden aunt, or listening to Kamahl, just go to the outside toilet to do it, please).

Anyhow, anyone with a long memory will think back to the glory days of May 1968 and France and the de Gaulle administration being brought to virtual immobility as the result of student unrest and protests that spiralled into a wildcat general strike (as always, there's a wiki for you to walk down memory lane here).

At the time, there were chicken little conservative members of the commentariat running around announcing that the 'sky was falling down', and for a few moments there were a few wobbles, with de Gaulle on the run, but by the end of June, it was effectively over.

Once again the end of the world - devoutly wished for, bizarrely yearned for by the Sheehanites of the world - was postponed, at least in France ...

Never mind - nous sommes tous des marxistes - tendance Groucho - but it brings us to Sheehan this morning furiously scribbling Suicide a wake-up call for France and concluding his rabid fear-mongering diatribe thusly:

Another straw in the wind: the most famous citizen of France, Gerard Depardieu, has voted with his feet, away from the policies of President Hollande. He now resides in Belgium. 

What to say, apart from noting the fatuous stupidity of this straw in the wind.

For starters, Depardieu is just an actor, and he's no more famous that Brigitte Bardot and her weird animal-loving ways, or the legendary Jean Reno (or Jeanne Moreau or Jean-Paul Belmondo or if we're getting solemn, Truffaut and Godard and Chabrol and ... well anyone really except Luc Besson who should end his days directing The Voice).

Never mind, the point is Depardieu, who is up himself in much the same way as Sheehan seems to be up him, is just an actor, who scored himself a Russian passport and bunged on a do because he didn't want to pay tax.

Now if that's a straw in the wind, don't take your shotgun into the Irish countryside, because at one time it was packed with showbiz refugees anxious to avoid their homeland taxes, and so took up residence, encouraged by Irish tax breaks.

But let's wind back to the beginning, to Sheehan's first straw in the wind:

It was a Tuesday afternoon, May 21, but the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris was busy. About 1500 people were visiting or praying when a French historian, Dominique Venner, walked to the main altar, placed a sealed letter on the steps, then reached into a pocket for his gun. 
Venner, a conservative ultra-nationalist who as a young man had been jailed for violence against Communists, was 78, ailing, and had come to the extreme conclusion that French civilisation was dying and being replaced by an ''Afro-Maghreb culture'' and would give way to sharia law. The former colonies were overrunning the republic. In his final message before leaving for the cathedral, he wrote on his internet blog: ''Peaceful street protests will not be enough to prevent it … It will require new, spectacular, and symbolic gestures to wake up the sleepwalkers, to shake the slumbering consciousness and to remind us of our origins … and rouse people from their complacency … We are entering a time when words must be backed up … by new, spectacular and symbolic actions.'' 
He had his own spectacular symbolic action in mind. His timing was prompted by the passage, the week before, of a law legalising gay marriage in France. Venner regarded this as a key element in the dismantling of French culture. He also regarded the immigration of millions of Muslims as a demographic and cultural disaster for France. And he saw white French culture as being overwhelmed by Americanism.


You know you're in the hands of a nutter when Americanism is the issue du jour. By all means make a joke, but blow out your brains ...?

What to do? Well of course Sheehan promptly ignores the idle chatter about Americanism, and instead choses to rabbit on about the vast threat Islamics pose to France, because ... well because that's the Sheehan Islamophobic way ...

As for the significance of the matter, what he's seizing on and exploiting is an ailing ultra-conservative loon who decided to blow his brains out ...

As a straw in the wind, that has as much resonance and meaning as the painful and futile death of Yukio Mishima by way of seppuku (naturally Mishima has his own wiki here) - another ultra-right wing nationalist who thought he'd stage a coup d'état but who instead ended his life in a pitiful way (was this where his dream of ritual suicide would eventually leave him?)

Now you can if you like read the rest of Sheehan's piece, but please note that it reveals a lot more about his own obsessions, fears and loathings than it does about France.

And remember it's the business of the conservative commentariat to stir up alarm, and everything is grist to that mill. Unemployment, recession, right wing extremists, left wing extremists, Muslim hordes, the Euro, and political violence - a couple of stabbings, and never mind that on an average weekend in Sydney streets and pubs, you could see that violence and double it ...

And naturally the penultimate capper to Sheehan's closing note on Gerard Depardieu fleeing to Belgium is  ... seemingly unaware that British hit men go to Bruges after killing a kid while shooting a priest - oh wait that's just a movie and amazingly it didn't star Depardieu, how could they have resisted his vast talent ...

Let's start again, and naturally the penultimate capper to Gerard Deparieu fleeing to Belgium has to be ... da dah ... gay marriage:

The fraught nature of French politics explains why the campaign for gay marriage has been noticeably more volatile in France, with large hostile demonstrations and a suicide in Notre Dame Cathedral.

Now a sensible scribbler might have taken the time to note that anyone who thinks gay marriage and Americanism are the most serious problems facing France has to be in the grip of senility.

Sad, and with a sad futile pointless ending, without any resonance, and really without much in the way of general significance, as the rest of the world goes on about its business... unless you happen to be in the fear mongering business, in the manner of a Sheehan ...

Perhaps it says something about the virulent right-wing in France and its assorted phobias, a strain of wing nuttery that last had its fullest flowering during the days of Vichy ... and in those days, it wasn't a lone forlorn loon blowing his brains out in Notre-Dame, it was the French collaborating in the shipping of Jews to the gas chambers. It has always lurked in the eccentric French psyche, much as Stalin worship has never quite been eradicated ...

So where have we reached? Well until Sheehan decides to blow his brains out in St. Mary's cathedral, as a protest against gay marriage and Islam, the pond will just keep on keeping on ...

Second thoughts, no need for such extreme measures. He can just keep on watching and scribbling about The Voice, and senility will do its thing ...

(Below: madness takes many forms)


  1. On the subject of PRISM, Sheehan on Friday’s The Drum said this: “People have to remember that government agencies consist of human beings with limited budgets and resources and they don’t give a damn about you unless you’re not paying your taxes, otherwise just get on with your life”.

    The US spy agency whistleblower, Edward Snowden, has said "I'm willing to sacrifice all of that [career and loving family] because I can't in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they're secretly building”.

    Here are two quotes, one applicable to Edward Snowden from Mahatma Gandhi who said “the law of sacrifice is uniform throughout the world. To be effective it demands the sacrifice of the bravest and the most spotless”.

    And this quote from Aesop is applicable to Paul Sheehan “Fine clothes may disguise, but silly words will disclose a fool”

  2. No more Christopher Pearson to 'humiliate'. Does that mean you can focus more on my own bête noir, the Bolter?

    Savvas Tzionis

  3. Well we mustn't speak ill of the dead.

    But Bob Ellis manages it - within a few hours of Christopher Pearson's death he manages to post a joke about Pearson raping and murdering boys and storing them in his fridge.

    Since removed, but doubtless recoverable.

    But Pearson remains an enigma. How can he have been a rabid supporter of rightist Catholic views whilst being a self-confessed homosexual?

    And all the while maintaining that condoms and priestly marriage are mortal sins?

    DP - I need your wisdom. How can is it so?

  4. The pond routinely speaks ill of the dead Anon, but sadly the matter of Christopher Pearson is ineluctably mysterious.

    I never had any time for him when he roamed around Adelaide being a rabid lefty as well as an ostentatious gay - anyone who had a kind word for Pol Pot did nothing for me.

    And then he turned rabid Catholic conservative and fundamentally anti-gay, which is to say fundamentally anti-himself and his sexuality. It led him to be celebrated by people who would otherwise have disliked him intensely but what a self-loathing price to pay. My only guess is that he felt the need to make up for his left wing excesses, but sadly right wing excesses don't balance the account, they just add to the load ...

    It's ironic that his last column should have been a farewell to Howard Twelftree/John McGrath, a much more engaging and straightforward and coherent example of an Adelaide foodie, who contributed much to Pearson's Adelaide Review. It's easy to shed a tear for McGrath, much harder to worry too much about Pearson, as we all head down the road to shuffling off the coil. He did much damage with his fellow travelling in his later years ...

    So it is so because it is so, but it should never have been thus ...

  5. re. Bob Ellis' sick joke about Pearson. He's now denying he ever posted it. When confronted by a complaint he says this -

    "mct June 10, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    Bob, you are a total disgrace. I read your vile piece of verse.

    Truly, why??

    Bob Ellis June 10, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    What piece of verse? About
    Pearson? Where?

    Please quote it."

    Well here it is -

    "There was a joke about Chritopher (sic) Pearson current in the late 1990s. It was almost certainly without foundation, and it went:

    ‘He’s a horrible man. He not only rapes and murders little boys, he keeps them in the fridge.’"

  6. There's nothing to be said about Bob Ellis that Bob Ellis hasn't already revealed about himself.

    But that cache checks out, and it looks convincing, and so the pond will let it stand as a rebuke to Ellis. It's one thing to describe Pearson has having kind words for Pol Pot and Pell - because he did - but quite another to drag in a sleazy poem which no doubt for some Adelaide evokes memories of the unhappy fate of prominent lawyer who ended up in a fridge in a house in Greenhill Road Parkside... The pond doesn't find the Truro murders a source of humour either ...

  7. I actually like Ellis' writings - they are (usually) erudite, entertaining and well-written if sometimes over the top. His books and plays aren't half bad either.

    But what pissed me off what that he posted it, deleted it, then pretended he'd never posted it.

    Beware the Google cache.

  8. The pond has had too much contact with Ellis in the flesh to use the word like. To talk about Ellis in the Ellis way, ninety five point seven per cent of what he says is open to statistical misrepresentation ...

  9. DP - the eternal dilemma. You can love the works while despising the person. See Fry on Wagner, or my dad on Tchaikovsky, or Bolt on von Karajan.

    Or Peter Garret on Bolt for that matter.

  10. Pearson was so poisonous in his own writings - check the Hindmarsh Island and Stolen Generation subjects he trawled - and so deliberately personally affronting to those involved - it really would be hard to maintain any sort of dignity upon his passing.

    His entire later life was consumed by a series of misguided and bitter missions - largely stirring from his deep self-loathing, his desire for some form of acceptance by conservative society and a rather tragic need for spiritual reassurance that drove him into the arms of the Latin mass loons.

    Pearson is such a complex test-tube of motives and failings, so odious personally and pretentious in print - one can hardly imagine a tide of anything other than relief that he has gone. His toadying to Abbott and the conservative forces he ached to be embedded in, his gluttony and "enforced celibacy" the end he was almost a sort of joke pulled on the unwitting.

    His true home wasn't Rome, or leading the Culture Wars - it was in a quarter page of bile on a Saturday in the midst of all the spite and slef-righteous sleaze that is The Australian.


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