Sunday, August 30, 2015

And so to a dose of the same old same old from Angela Shanahan ...

Of course it's not just celibate men who marry Christ, or the church, or some such other obscure mystical entity - as opposed to getting down and sharing precious bodily fluids and spawning children - who know all about the joys and virtues or marriage, and it would be remiss of the pond not to present this meditative Sunday a Shanahan rant from the sepulchre of the reptiles of Oz.

There's very little to say about the rant itself, so predictable and repetitive is it, except to note the appalling digital layout of the poem by right wing, Vietnam-war supporting, fundamentalist Catholic loving, Congress of Cultural freedom enthusiast, B. A. Santamaria devotee, one James McCauley.

There's more here on that strange, unhappy poet, including this lasting epitaph:

A significant and often controversial figure in the Australian post-War literary landscape, McAuley’s achievement as a poet has in recent years often been overshadowed by debates over his role as a right-wing intellectual. While unquestionably seen as a major Australian poet in his own time, it is a lasting irony that critical interest in McAuley’s work since his death has been largely eclipsed by the interest in his short-lived creation ‘Ern Malley.’

Indeed, indeed, but the Catholics hold on to their own, except when they stray from the flock a little, like James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, them and their offensive modernism.

‘In time, perhaps there will be a gradual reawakening of the Irish conscience, and perhaps four or five centuries after the Diet of Worms, we will see an Irish monk throw away his frock, run off with some nun, and proclaim in a loud voice the end of the coherent absurdity that was Catholicism and the beginning of the incoherent absurdity that is Protestantism.’ (Some more nice Joycean quotes here).

Or perhaps there might be an Irish referendum sooner than you think, James. What say you Sam?

“The earth makes a sound as of sighs and the last drops fall from the emptied cloudless sky. A small boy, stretching out his hands and looking up at the blue sky, asked his mother how such a thing was possible. Fuck off, she said.”

Oh dear, we don't seem to have started the Shanahan rant yet. But is that a delaying tactic or cheap titillation that will make the happy ending that much more fulfilling?

Hey ho, on we go:

Well there's very little to note here, except to repeat that remark about the barbarism of the layout. It is possible to find the poem properly laid out, here, in the site noted above.

It takes a fine act of hypocrisy to bemoan social media sludge and intimidatory elites and at the same time feel free to act like a literary barbarian.

Does it matter that Religio Laici was italicised, as was Hind and Panther?

Of course it does. Where would the amazing grace of Emily Dickinson be without the dash?

The barbarism, the maltreatment, is poignant in the context of Shanahan's unseemly rant about education, and the need for it to be about reality or, long absent lord forbid, knowledge. 

It would seem her idea of reality and knowledge is a godforsaken, truly ugly addiction to fucking over a poem.

You will note that the pond has skipped over all the usual bits about Orwellian thought police and thought fines and thought crimes and all the other usual blather about issues du jour and rubrics, while she guffaws into her bile and fear and loathing, as Catholics have been wont to do these past few thousand years.

As a correspondent noted in another context, recently, Corporal Jones covered all that with the general comment that, after having dished it out for so long, they don't like it up 'em, and they certainly don't.

The pond wasn't even tempted to bite on that generalist remark, the decision to scrap "religion, the hallmark of the old verities", despite the assumptions implicit in the remark.

Are we talking of a hallmark of the old verities, that old verity that Protestants are going to hell for their heresies, or are we talking of the younger verity that the Catholics are going to hell for their corrupt membership of the whore of Babylon? 

Are we talking of the verities of Islamics, Hindus, Christian Scientists, Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, Exclusive Brethrens, or Scientologists, all classified for some reason or another as religions, presumably with verities of certain ages, much like vintage ports, and that's before we get on to all the other Calathumpians ...

Around this time, when the matter of Christianity rears its ugly head, at some point in the proceedings the pond always reverts to Mark Twain, who said it in much wittier form so long ago ...

Religion had its share in the changes of civilization and national character, of course. What share? The lion's. In the history of the human race this has always been the case, will always be the case, to the end of time, no doubt; or at least until man by the slow processes of evolution shall develop into something really fine and high -- some billions of years hence, say.
The Christian Bible is a drug store. Its contents remain the same; but the medical practice changes. For eighteen hundred years these changes were slight -- scarcely noticeable. The practice was allopathic -- allopathic in its rudest and crudest form. The dull and ignorant physician day and night, and all the days and all the nights, drenched his patient with vast and hideous doses of the most repulsive drugs to be found in the store's stock; he bled him, cupped him, purged him, puked him, salivated him, never gave his system a chance to rally, nor nature a chance to help. He kept him religion sick for eighteen centuries, and allowed him not a well day during all that time. The stock in the store was made up of about equal portions of baleful and debilitating poisons, and healing and comforting medicines; but the practice of the time confined the physician to the use of the former; by consequence, he could only damage his patient, and that is what he did...
...During many ages there were witches. The Bible said so. The Bible commanded that they should not be allowed to live. Therefore the Church, after doing its duty in but a lazy and indolent way for eight hundred years, gathered up its halters, thumbscrews, and firebrands, and set about its holy work in earnest. She worked hard at it night and day during nine centuries and imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world clean with their foul blood. 
Then it was discovered that there was no such thing as witches, and never had been. One does not know whether to laugh or to cry. Who discovered that there was no such thing as a witch -- the priest, the parson? No, these never discover anything. At Salem, the parson clung pathetically to his witch text after the laity had abandoned it in remorse and tears for the crimes and cruelties it has persuaded them to do. The parson wanted more blood, more shame, more brutalities; it was the unconsecrated laity that stayed his hand. In Scotland the parson killed the witch after the magistrate had pronounced her innocent; and when the merciful legislature proposed to sweep the hideous laws against witches from the statute book, it was the parson who came imploring, with tears and imprecations, that they be suffered to stand. 
There are no witches. The witch text remains; only the practice has changed. Hell fire is gone, but the text remains. Infant damnation is gone, but the text remains. More than two hundred death penalties are gone from the law books, but the texts that authorized them remain. (He does the same for slavery, and more here).

Again the pond must apologise for being so easily distracted from the unreconstructed banalities of the conservative Catholic mind, still diligently pursuing homophobia as diligently as they once pursued witches and slavery.

But the point of the Sunday meditation is to marvel, so let us continue to be amazed and astonished, especially as there's now a Twainish skew to the perspective:

Stop right there. Love your neighbourhood witch as much as you love Julia Gillard?

Or some such thing.

Is that why she had to mention "religion" as a general concept, seeing as how many competing religions had many different understandings of human rights, but the most compelling articulation of rights, in a western context, came from the pagan, multiple-god worshipping early cultures of Greece and Rome... without the benefit of Judaic or Christian superstition ... Yes, they don't like the goddess of love up 'em do they Corporal Jones?

But it's always the way, when Catholics get to talking about such matters, that the Romans and their laws are swept from view, or the Greeks, with their alternative views on homosexuality, and all the other pagans are removed from sight, and at that point, it's easy to understand why actual history, and the teaching of it, rarely matters to those who can sense a chance to indoctrinate their children slipping from their hands.

But there, the pond said it wouldn't bite, and was bitten, so let's conclude the rant, and what's the bet there'll be a mention of "ordinary verities", by which we might conclude a confection involving pie in the sky bye and bye for those about to die preserving the wealth of the rich:

Well if sensible people can reach the same conclusions as Shanahan from that bald, distorted pile of statistical gibberish, it's no wonder that bloggers, feminist libertarians (whoever they might be) and academics bemoan the contribution of conservative Catholics to the understanding of the world of sexual and domestic violence, or indeed, to the plague of violence against children that ran rampant, uncontrolled and unchecked through the Catholic church itself ...

And as for that final lacerating thrust of petulant paranoid nonsense at the end, the tragedy is that some gays actually want to be part of the conservative, domestic, conventional, notion of a family ... one albeit without homophobia or misogyny at its heart. 

The long absent lord alone knows why, but then the pond is so addicted to marriage, it's tried it several times, a reality in this de facto age that seems to escape Shanahan, not to mention the celibate priests who avoid the activity altogether, preferring to cluster together in a homoerotic boys' club chanting to their long absent lord as a way of overcoming their fear of death with the hope of an eternity of time spent on the golf course and educational travel around the universe.

Enough of all that, it's time for a few cartoons from around the world, showing it's same old same old wherever it bobs up ...


  1. Ah, Angela Shanahan, the atheists friend. I wonder if this brain dead piece of work realises that it's women such as herself as much as pedo priests that have been driving us away from the Church for decades? Keep up the good work,Angela, you shuck.

  2. Some years ago Sister Ange had a weekly column in "The Canberra Times" for a while. I used to wonder why, given that the Crimes - though always worthily dull - was the closest thing Australia had to a slightly left-of-centre major newspaper, with an audience to match. I finally decided that it was a useful circulation booster for the paper; everyone I knew who read the paper read Angela's column, simply to be outraged by it and to violently disagree. A bit like the therapeutic purging of bile that can be induced by reading Piers or Miranda Divine. At least with Ange you just felt as though you'd spent a few hours kneeling in church listening to an interminable droning sermon, rather than that you'd just gone swimming in a sewage farm.

  3. I don't suppose Angela would be interested in reading this chapter from Engels about the 'nuclear' or monogamous family?

    "Thus when monogamous marriage first makes its appearance in history, it is not as the reconciliation of man and woman, still less as the highest form of such a reconciliation. Quite the contrary. Monogamous marriage comes on the scene as the subjugation of the one sex by the other; it announces a struggle between the sexes unknown throughout the whole previous prehistoric period."

    Engels has a lot more interesting and insightful things to say about the Christian monogamous marriage and predicts that

    "If now the economic considerations also disappear which made women put up with the habitual infidelity of their husbands – concern for their own means of existence and still more for their children’s future – then, according to all previous experience, the equality of woman thereby achieved will tend infinitely more to make men really monogamous than to make women polyandrous."

    "But what will quite certainly disappear from monogamy are all the features stamped upon it through its origin in property relations; these are, in the first place, supremacy of the man, and, secondly, indissolubility."

    I really like this final paragraph.

    "But what will there be new? That will be answered when a new generation has grown up: a generation of men who never in their lives have known what it is to buy a woman’s surrender with money or any other social instrument of power; a generation of women who have never known what it is to give themselves to a man from any other considerations than real love, or to refuse to give themselves to their lover from fear of the economic consequences. When these people are in the world, they will care precious little what anybody today thinks they ought to do; they will make their own practice and their corresponding public opinion about the practice of each individual – and that will be the end of it."

    1. Regarding Shanahan and McCauley: according to his biographers, this devout Catholic poet honoured marriage and family by having affairs. He also went mad as a result of a trip to new Guinea, when he became convinced he was possessed. It's also pretty obvious that the Ern Malley poems are far superior to anything he ever wrote under his own name.

  4. Don.t know if you do obituaries DP, but Oliver Sacks just died. He was a great man and writer. His "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" is a classic, and :"Awakenings" was turned into a brilliant film with De Niro and Robyn Williams.

    Vale the passing of a great man.


Comments older than two days are moderated and there will be a delay in publishing them.