Saturday, January 14, 2017

In which the pond endures Polonius but then perks up with an academic emetic ...


Talk about grim pickings this digital Saturday... throw in a typical fundamentalist Catholic contribution ...


... and no wonder the mental and physical humidity in Sydney - or is that the tumidity? - zapped the pond. 

No, that tumidity's not of the bulging, protuberant shape, kind, more the tumid political prose of the overblown bombastic our Gracie dog bothering kind.

No wonder the pond sought shelter with prattling Polonius ...


No matter what Polonius throws up, no matter how bleeding obvious, it's always a learning experience for the pond ...


Now all this - and the tedious more which follows - is true enough, but it entirely misses the point. 

What's interesting is the way history becomes mythos, as with Robin Hood. Whatever connection the Hood had to the real world,  most historical accounts have as much credibility as yarns about King Arthur and the Round Table ...
Now the pond doesn't want to go all Joseph Campbell on Polonius, but really he's such a tedious old bore that he routinely misses the point. Ned himself did his best to establish a legacy and gull the simple-minded, as a quick walri hunt here shows - or the gov.au site that got Polonius and others' knickers in a knot celebrates here

The ADB here, in the usual way, cuts to the chase in terms of the mythic element:

Beside Ned his three companions are shadowy figures and would have been soon forgotten without him. In the Bulletin, 31 December 1966, Malcolm Ellis described Ned Kelly as 'one of the most cold-blooded, egotistical, and utterly self-centred criminals who ever decorated the end of a rope in an Australian jail'. As the outlaws were undoubtedly murderers and robbers, they should have excited public detestation. Yet it did not turn out that way, and the hold the Kelly legend has on Australian imagination is too clearly established to be disregarded. However deplorable, the popular estimate of Kelly's killings of the police at Stringybark Creek accords with his statement, 'I could not help shooting them, or else let them shoot me, which they would have done if their bullets had been directed as they intended', while elements of farce surrounding the bank robberies at Euroa and Jerilderie distract attention from the gravity of the crimes. 
Clive Turnbull claims that 'Ned Kelly is the best known Australian, our only folk hero … Popular instinct has found in Kelly a type of manliness much to be esteemed—to reiterate: courage, resolution, independence, sympathy with the under-dog'. The legend brought into being the phrase, 'As game as Ned Kelly', for describing the ultimate in bravery, inspired numberless imaginative tales and folk-ballads, and has taken new life in Sidney Nolan's series of Kelly-gang paintings. The legend still persists and seemingly has a compelling quality that appeals to something deeply rooted in the character of the 'average' Australian.

Well yes, but this was a lot harder to do with the likes of the psychopathic Mad Dog Morgan, despite Dennis Hopper doing his level best, and the wicked Frank Thring converting his balls into a handsome tobacco pouch, or the unhappy Ben Hall, though many have tried to turn him into a legend too ...

This is hardly surprising - after all, it's now extremely fashionable to have a convict in the family tree, even if some of them didn't quite conform to the notion of being shipped to the colonies for stealing a slice of pie or a loaf of bread ...

These tedious pedantic old codgers seem intent in stripping all the fun out of history.

Now it's true that at the time the pond wouldn't have liked to have met Ned in a dark alleyway or while withdrawing cash at the local bank, but the same might be said for Squizzy Taylor or the feuding Tilly Devine and Kate Leigh ...

But now they're safely in the past, they're good subjects for a feature film or TV show ... and as soon as that happens, the impulse isn't to portray just a straight-forward blood-crazed psycho, but to make the lives interesting and human ...

Truth to tell, and like it or not, for at least some people Ned did become something of an outlaw outsider hero. Heck, there are still people who will run up the flag and salute the likes of Hitler, Stalin or Mao - indeed, in the United States these days, simultaneously supporting the Donald and Hitler is a task easily managed by the alt right ...

There's some deep cognitive deficiency in poor old Polonius, but the pond should let him prattle on to his inevitable conclusion ...


Well yes, if you want to resolutely sound like a tedious pedantic old fart, and even just to raise the notion that Ned and his gang might be expunged from Australian history is to sound remarkably silly.

You can't take the Mick Jagger out of Ned, or even the unhappy Heath Ledger, or even Ned out of Sidney Nolan paintings, though the pond didn't like any of these mythologising efforts overly much ...

Every so often you get fatuous twits of the Polonius kind attempting to set the record straight on all the psychos who litter the American west, and there's plenty of them. Whoever wants to turn George Armstrong Custer into a hero rather than a fool should go at it, and the same goes for anyone who wants to cast Paul Newman as the left-handed gun Billy the Kid.

The pond, having been trained to like westerns by a dotty father, could go on endlessly about this mythologising, which nonetheless has had profound implications for the American psyche. In the old days, the sheriff used to confiscate guns to ensure his town stayed quiet - these days the general populace is a psychotic, heavily armed mythological creature ready to stand ground, and shoot to kill ...

Now the pond knows that finding fodder for a column is always hard, but why didn't Polonius write about the impulse to mythologise?

Don't answer, the pond knows ...it's because he's got the imagination and vision of a gnat, and is as far removed from the artistic and aesthetic impulse as the pond is from the inner city elite doings of the Sydney Institute ...

Well, not wanting it all to be a wash-out for a meditative weekend, this attempt at trolling caught the pond's eye:


Of course that's just click bait of the reptile kind, but the good prof can be found at Melbourne Uni at his "Find the expert" page,  and the pond learned long ago it should holler for a marshall ...


It was around this time that the pond realised that the reptiles had gone seriously awry.

Academic whimsy and the mocking of both politicians, as if the pond was watching that episode of The Wire where the immortal line, "they always disappoint" was uttered?


Well yes, but if Rex gets the chance to bung on a do with the Chinese over the South China sea matter, talk of continuity might be a little misplaced.

Let's hope it was just some good old-fashioned sabre rattling, and soon things will settle down, rather than the Donald trying to imitate the actors in Dr. Strangelove ...

But meanwhile, the pond had to endure the cruellest Lynchian thrust of all ... making the same point as the pond about how automation and robotics are going to make all this blather about employment so much hot air ...

Year to year, fewer people will be involved in making stuff, doing agriculture and all the rest of it. Sheesh, the pond can't even pick a decent argument ...

What next? Will the Lynch now twist the knife in the pond by making cultural references in a way that Polonius might find totally obscure?

 

Oh dammit, a suggestion that reality and TV might be slightly different? What Ned and his mythos aren't quite the same as what actually happened?

And then to end with a quote that the pond would like to pilfer ... what, now the pond has to settle for "a plague o'both your houses"?

It was too much, and far too cruel, a most unique* form of reptile torture (* usage licensed from News 24), but at least it was an emetic that removed all memory of prattling Polonius from the pond's mind, and that has to be worth something ...

Throw in a prescient Pope, and, huzzah, we can all be sure that the Titanic is running smooth and true, and remember, there's more papal insights here ...




6 comments:

  1. So our LynchTim is a mere Associate Professor. Which in more honest days of yore was just a 'Senior Lecturer', or the lowest level at which basic tenure was possible. So why is Timmy so low in the pecking order ?

    Not enough published papers perhaps ? Trouble getting his little efforts through peer review perhaps ? If this effort of his is typical, I can understand why that might be.

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  2. Sully of Tuross.Jan 14, 2017, 5:17:00 PM

    Ahh the Prattling Polonius, we would be lost without him.
    I'm looking forward to him dressed in black on Insiders doing his best to curl up inside himself and leaning away from the lefties on the panel, frown ever ready to take offense and insisting on getting the last word in.
    I was so lucky last year when in one "Final Observations" segment he reminded us all that the coming week would include the anniversary Sir Percy Spender's death.

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    Replies
    1. Ah Sir Percy, and not just pointing at the porcelain, as Bazza might say ...

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  3. Hi Dorothy,

    “Moreover, there is no evidence that at the time of starting his criminal career Ned Kelly was a Fenian. In other words, he did not embrace the Irish revolutionary cause. In any event, most of the small farmers of Irish Catholic background in Victoria supported the kind of gradual reform leading to Home Rule embraced in Ireland by the likes of Daniel O’Connell (a Catholic) and Charles Stewart Parnell (a Protestant).”

    It’s a shame that the tedious Gerard couldn’t digress a little and explain which organisation was responsible for dashing Parnell’s hope for “All Ireland Home Rule” which in turn led to another 100 years of sectarian violence.

    Hint Henderson is a devout follower and apologist for this organisation.

    http://www.irishexaminer.com/viewpoints/analysis/charles-stewart-parnell-felt-full-brunt-of-the-church-over-his-personal-life-424349.html

    DiddyWrote

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    Replies
    1. "Henderson is a devout follower and apologist for this organisation."

      He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.
      [Proverbs 13:20]

      Delete

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