Monday, May 14, 2018

In which dashing Donners has his Marine Le Pen moment ...

There's nothing like beginning the week with a cry of pain, a heartfelt rant, especially when it's dashing Donners having his 'Marine Le Pen/let them wear condoms' moment …

Ah like minds, and birds of a feather, how they always flock together.

The pond sometimes pauses to wonder why there's this constant shrieking and wailing, an endless, repetitive litany of fear and loathing, and began to wonder if it wasn't a form of death anxiety, or as the pretentious and the Freudians might call it, thanatophobia

Looking around at all the doom and gloom is a kind of presaging of the inevitability of death …

On second thoughts, perhaps this isn't the brightest way to start the week, and it's even more odd to find this sort of thinking present in your average Catholic fundamentalist, because it reeks of God abandoning them, as if She has suddenly become a feminist wraith …

But enough with the psychology, it's time to get on with the rant … which, it has to be said, while remarkably predictable, is also full of astonishingly predictable anxieties ...

Yes, it's the usual guff about supporting Western civilisation, whatever that might be, as a way of disguising a fundamentalist form of bigotry.

Hysteria is the name of the game, and Donners is good for a fine old lathering of foaming fear …

It's as if he'd decided on alternative Python lyrics …so we must always look on the dark side of life … and imagine the world and Orstralia destroyed ...

Speaking of knowledge of historical events, never mind that Donners seem to have disremembered the counter-reformation and its baleful attempts to set back the things gained in the renaissance and the reformation, never mind the Catholic church's repeated attempts to deny or push back against what was called enlightenment thinking, why all this endless blather about the Xians in general, when everybody knows they're a bunch of feuding splitters and schismatics, as dangerous and as barking mad as a bunch of Islamic fundamentalists … and as a result inclined to confuse and conflate.

So somehow the American founders and the Declaration of Independence gets dragged into proceedings, yet the pond might just as well cite alternative views of history …

“The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion.” 
 Those words,  penned in article 11 of the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli, are as succinct a statement as we have from the Founding Fathers on the role of religion in our government. Their authorship is ascribed variously to George Washington, under whom the treaty was negotiated, or to John Adams, under whom it took effect, or sometimes to Joel Barlow, U.S. consul to Algiers, friend of Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine, and himself no stranger to the religious ferment of the era, having served as a chaplain in the Revolutionary Army. But the validity of the document transcends its authorship for a simple reason: it was ratified. It was debated in the U.S. Senate and signed into law by President Adams without a breath of controversy or complaint concerning its secular language, and so stands today as an official description of the founders’ intent. (here)

And again:

“The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” —John Adams 
As we witness yet again the brutal and bloody consequences of religious intolerance in the form of ISIS, we have a majority of Republicans pining for a Christian America. Proponents of converting the United States into a theocracy do not see the terrible parallel between religious excess in the Middle East and here at home, but they would not because blindness to reason is the inevitable consequence of religious zealotry. Conservatives who so proudly tout their fealty to the Constitution want to trash our founding document by violating the First Amendment in hopes of establishing Christianity as the nation’s religion. This is precisely what the Constitution prohibits: 
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (here)

What was going around at the time of the American constitution was a hearty dose of good old Deism - the pond was astonished to find that these days the old EB lets some of its articles out into the digital ether, and there's one on deism here

The pond does its best to understand why Donners is so gloomy, but keeps on coming back to that Freudian thing and a Python perspective ...

Life's a piece of shit
When you look at it 
Life's a laugh and death's a joke, it's true 
You'll see it's all a show 
Keep 'em laughing as you go 
With tales of colonial woe
Just remember that the last laugh is on you …

Of course along with the thanatophobia  comes another deep rooted fear, which might be dubbed gastropod phobia … you know, fear of hermaphrodites and the rich diversity of sexuality let loose on the world …

Now the pond is impressed by dashing Donners insistence that there must be losers.

Not everyone can be a winner, and there must be losers, but as Donners is no Shakespeare, is he one of the death-fearing, slug-infested dropkick losers?

The pond only asks this because it seems perfectly reasonable to look at works of art and analyse their meanings.

It's easy enough to discover then, that Stephen Spender once wrote of an alternative view of Eliot …

...The other view is that he was a once-revolutionary poet turned reactionary in politics, narrow-minded (and anti-semitic) in his culture, and obscurantist in religion. In case this second view seems overstated, the reader can consult the correspondence columns of the NewStatesman a week after Eliot's death. And I may add that when I said recently to a well-known Oxbridge don that I thought it strange that no member of the cultural branch of the present government - neither Miss Jennie Lee nor Lord Snow - had attended the Westminster Abbey Memorial Service to Eliot, he replied that it was entirely appropriate that a man with the liberal views of C. P. Snow should have abstained from paying homage to the author of the unfortunate Burbank with a Baedeker: Bleistein with a Cigar … (Encounter, April 1965 - three cheers for street libraries and CIA funding - the pond is currently hoping its efforts will be recognised).

Of course that talk of Burbank goes a long way back and is remembered at The Independent here

...Dannie Abse remembers sitting in the hall a row behind Eliot in the Thirties, when the Jewish poet Emanuel Litvinoff read a poem entitled "To T S Eliot". Litvinoff used Eliot's language against him: 

I am not one accepted in your parish. 
Bleistein is my relative and I share  
the protozoic slime of Shylock, a page 
in Sturmer, and, underneath the cities, 
a billet somewhat lower than the rats. 

Abse recalls that the poet Stephen Spender rose angrily to shout that Litvinoff had "grossly offended Tom Eliot who was the most gentle of men", but that Eliot, to his credit, had quietly murmured: "It's a good poem, it's a very good poem." 
"It was an effective attack," says Abse, for whom Eliot's poetry is "scarred" by its anti-Semitic sentiments. "The vicious obscenities of those poems don't make literature any more than pornography makes literature."

But there you go, as always when Donners gets going, soon enough the pond is straying, with Pythonish pleasure, into American deism and Eliot's antisemitism …

Perhaps there's a little more to be discovered than dashing Donners finds doing a simplistic rant about the glories of western civilisation. Why as the bible itself puts it ...

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy feminist sister's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Perhaps the pond should have stuck with a more recent example of the noble Xian democratic world vision mindset at work, as evoked by Rowe, with more Rowe here


  1. Well I'm just a weeny bit stunned. In his diatribe Donners states "...the unique strengths and benefits of Western civilisation" (note the lower-case 'c') and later refers to "Western civilisation" several times.

    Whatever happened to "Judeo-Christian Western Civilisation" (note upper-case 'C') ? Don't tell me that the Leftie "long march through the institutions" has already overcome the Donnelly (and his 'god').

    Though he does gone on to later mention, just once, "Western civilisation and Judeo-Christianity" it just isn't the same. Oh, another Wingnut Trope bites the dust ?

  2. Nice work DP. I liked the "fear of death" model for reptile behaviour. Here you have the most basic existential anxiety - some folk react by coming to terms with it, or at least learning to live with the uncertainty, other cope by dreaming up an invisible friend who cares just for them.

    Similarly, Western Civilisation is another invention to provide comfort to the insecure. What does it really mean? It is really just large number of very different groups with very different attitudes and outcomes driven along by contingent events. Donners likes to believe that some sort of agency is at work, that there is a direction and inevitable progress, driven, of course, by Judeo-Christianity (Progressivism). The other possibility is that all sorts of factors including dumb luck drive things along and there is nothing inevitable about progress.

    Mind you, if you do make progress you can always link it to Christianity because the rack & the stake tended to move other religions out of the picture.

    Lastly, "the new trinity gender, ethnicity and class". FFS, this is what Donners (and the reptiles in general) are all about - Jacob's Ladder with a white, christian, anglo male perched on the very topmost rung. It must be a very insecure position judging by the sense of persecution and the reaction to any criticism.

    Here endeth the rant.

    1. Well Bef, mate, if we can't get at least a little bit animated by a rapturous, raving reptile, what is there left in life ?


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