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Friday, May 29th, 2009

Time Event
10:24a
Ulysses by James Joyce
Here is the review I wrote for Joyce's ULYSSES:

Dear readers, let me propose to you a simple test. Below are three quotes from Ulysses by James Joyce, and a fourth written by a computer program with no human editing, merely random words strung together without sense. You tell me which is which:

1. Slowly I dream of flying. I observe turnpikes and streets studded with bushes. Coldly my soaring widens my awareness. To guide myself I determinedly start to kill my pleasure during the time that hours and miliseconds pass away. Aid me in this and soaring is formidable, do not and singing is unhinged.

2. Sinbad the Sailor and Tinbad the Tailor and Jinbad the Jailer and Whinbad the Whaler and Ninbad the Nailer and Finbad the Failer and Binbad the Bailer and Pinbad the Pailer and Minbad the Mailer and Hinbad the Hailer and Rinbad the Railer and Dinbad the Kailer and Vinbad the Quailer and Linbad the Yailer and Xinbad the Phthailer.

3. Pat is a waiter who waits while you wait. Hee hee hee hee. He waits while you wait. Hee hee. A waiter is he. Hee hee hee hee. He waits while you wait. While you wait if you wait he will wait while you wait. Hee hee hee hee. Hoh. Wait while you wait.

4. yes I think he made them a bit firmer sucking them like that so long be made me thirsty t1tties he calls them I had to laugh yes this one anyhow stiff the n1pple gets for the least thing Ill get him to keep that up and Ill take those eggs beaten up with marsala fatten them out for him what are all those veins and things curious the way its made 2 the same in case of twins theyre supposed to represent beauty placed up there like those statues in the museum one of them pretending to hide it with her hand are they so beautiful of course compared with what a man looks like with his two bags full and his other thing hanging down out of him or sticking up at you like a hatrack no wonder they hide it with a cabbageleaf

*

(It should be noted that this is the third time I have posted a review containing a quote from the book: the automatic filter which blocks out obscenity will not allow me to post my prior review here, because it contained a direct quote. That should tell the discerning reader something about this book.)
11:28a
Dumbledore is Witty, Gay and Brave!
In a recent post I expressed reservations about reading Harry Potter to my children, since JK Rolwing decided to betray my trust in her by publicly announcing that Albus Dumbledore, one of the best and most beloved characters in the book, suffered from homosexuality. Those who point out either that Dumbledore never acts on his impulses in the book, or that the affection for Grisenwald (or whatever his name was) was not portrayed sympathetically miss the point entirely, so entirely that the fall into the trap set by Rowling. The point of her comment was not to show that homosexuality is admirable -- even the most ardent pervertarians rarely say that -- the point is to show that homosexuals are nice and normal people, and that therefore to condemn their vices is intolerant.

The devil need not convince you wrong is right; he need only convince you wrong is not as wrong as it at first seemed. He need only convince you that you can not and dare not condemn the sin lest the sinner also be condemned.

A concerned readers asks: 

"What exactly are you saying here? We should not read books with gay characters? We should not read books where gay characters are admirable, honorable, or couragous. They can be included as long as they are villians? What?"

Here is what I am saying.

I want my children to grow up knowing right from wrong. Chastity is right: sexual perversion is wrong. Homosexuality is a sexual perversion, ergo wrong. My mission in life as a father is to tell them it is wrong, but also to train their passions so that they habitually reject it as a vice. The primary tool to train the passions is the imagination: children learn virtues through stories.

Now then, arrayed against me are those who call themselves the Enlightened. I call them the Armies of Darkness. Their mission in life is to corrupt my children, to teach my children that I am wrong, and to train the passions of my children so that my children habitually recoil from making any judgments about virtue and vice, which, in effect, encourages vice. Their mission is to make vice seem normal-- To make evil seem good.

The primary tool, nay, the only tool, that the Armies of Darkness can use is the imagination. No slave of darkness is  bold enough to actually debate the issue on a rational ground: those who attempt to debate it merely indulge in name-calling. Hence, debate is not a tool they can use for their goal.

The tool they use is the imagination: all that need be done to achieve the goal is to take some loathsome perversion, such as homosexuality, and to connect it, no matter how tentatively, to some beloved or amusing character.

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3:47p
On Philistinism
"I am so, so glad to know that my loathing for Ulysses is not because I am uncultured Philistine. I, perhaps, made it slightly farther than you, searching for the brilliance I was told lay inside, but if I did, it was not by much."

Philistine? The problem is that I am a philistine, and proud of it. I read an enjoy Pulp rubbish like THE SHADOW and DOC SAVAGE and children's books like HARRY POTTER and THE HOBBIT, not to mention comics by Alexander Raymond and Jack 'King' Kirby. I enjoy popular action-adventure garbage like Homer's ODYSSEY and patriotic pro-Roman propaganda like Virgil' AENEID, and horrific Jack Chick godbotherer Xtian tracks like Milton' PARADISE LOST. I am impressed with pagan filth like HYPERION by Keats and historically inaccurate drivel like IDYLLS OF THE KING by Tennyson. I also great the classics of great literature like Asimov's FOUNDATION series and Heinlein's STARSHIP TROOPERS.

However, all these trashy penny dreadful books I read, popular both my highbrow and lowbrow alike, have one thing in common. They have plot, character, drama, and moral purpose, and some even brush the heights of beauty with outstretched wing.

After Nietzsche killed God in an under-reported Deicide somewhere in the mid-1800's, however, the intellectuals and thinkers of the West turned away from everything wholesome, normal and good, and erected new and shocking idols to whatever was tasteless, meaningless, anti-heroic, and antinomian. ULYSSES by James Joyce is their paramount written work, even as NUDE DESCENDING A STAIRCASE is their paramount work in the visual arts. The point of their art is what that eminent modern thinker, Dr. Frost of the National Institute of Controlled Experimentation, would call 'Objectification'. The point of their art is to replace the natural human passions and appetites, which we have because we live on earth and yearn for heaven, for those which would obtain if we lived in hell and yearned for deeper hell: in poetry, clamor; in music, cacophony; in painting, smears; in novels, neurosis; in philosophy, unreason; and in all things, vice.

The real philistines took over the holy land, ejected the chosen people, and declared their worthless garbage to be wonders of wonders, and declared all the good and normal and wholesome works of art and literature to be populist trash unfit for their rarefied consumption: and they call us philistines and cowards, for not adoring their crude ugliness.

The reality is that we common folk with common tastes, we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. The literati of the elite world of literature, they are Pharisees, and no doubt when on the Judgment Day comes to the world of art, the Nine Muses of the Hippocrene will cast them into Tartarus, where there will be wailing and the gnashing of teeth.

The secret of the modern age, and the key to understanding the modern intellectual clime, is merely to realize that the lunatics have taken over the asylum.

These works of modern so called art are called art because and precisely because they are the opposite of art: they are insolent trash. They are deliberately ugly, deliberately untruthful, deliberately vicious. They are philistines at their most philistine, because they, not us, they, cannot appreciate what is beautiful, true, and virtuous in art .... or in life.
4:35p
A Retraction
One duty an honest man, especially one who brags he is a philosopher, dare not shirk is to admit he is wrong with the humility of a philosopher when proven wrong.  In a posting today, I expressed misgivings about letting my kids read all about Lavender Dumbledore.

The reader </b></a>deiseach heroically steps forth to drive away the harpies of error preying on my feast of thought.

"Chastity is right: sexual perversion is wrong. Homosexuality is a sexual perversion, ergo wrong."

No disagreement there.

And I do agree that the revelation of Dumbledore as gay did feel tacked-on and clumsy, a propaganda point rather than an integral part of his character.

However - we don't know that Albus was unchaste (the only jokes that could be applicable about the Dumbledore brothers' putative love lives were those about Aberforth being arrested for "performing inappropriate charms" on a goat."

Quote from Wikipedia:

"While speaking at Carnegie Hall, New York City on 19 October 2007, Rowling was asked by a young fan whether Dumbledore finds "true love". Rowling said that she always thought of Dumbledore as being gay and that he had fallen in love with Gellert Grindelwald; whether Grindelwald returned his affections, Rowling did not explicitly state. That love, she said, was Dumbledore's "great tragedy." Rowling explains this further by elaborating on the motivations behind Dumbledore's flirtation with the idea of wizard domination of Muggles: "He lost his moral compass completely when he fell in love and I think subsequently became very mistrusting of his own judgement in those matters so became quite asexual. He led a celibate and a bookish life."
 
This may indeed be protraying Dumbledore in a sympathetic light, but it is certainly not saying that being gay is a happy, wonderful experience and that gay love is all flowers and rainbows.

Catechism of the Catholic Church:

"Chastity and homosexuality

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,140 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." 141 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection."
 
Being homosexual need not be an evil in itself; it depends on how the person approaches that struggle. We have co-religionists who live chaste lives - try Eve Tushnet's or CourageMan's blog :-)

Indeed, I think this is a great opportunity to teach your children the Christian and Catholic approach. If we tell our children that all gays are evil, wicked, horrible people, as soon as they get older and go into the world and meet gay people who are not evil, wicked, horrible people, they will almost inevitably think we are full of nonsense and all our attitudes and beliefs about the sinfulness of the actively homosexual lifestyle are equally dunderheaded. And that's where we will have failed to teach them properly about the reasons for the Church's teachings and the nature of sin.

Teaching our children that it is not because the person is him- or herself evil, horrible, nasty and mean but that it is all about sin, our fallen nature, and the proper relationship of the soul to God is a different matter.

My comment: 

Well, who am I to argue with the Catechism? I owe Rowling an apology. She is not an agent of the darkness at all, but of the light, since she is showing both the harm that disordered appetites can cause, and displays clearly the correct and moral duty of a man suffering such disorder, which is to be chaste.

I must laugh at myself, and not because I am funny, but because I am wrong.


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