Saturday, March 17, 2007

Thoughts on St. Patrick's Day

"Ireland is a great country. It is called the Emerald Isle. The metropolitan government, after centuries of strangling it, has laid it waste. It's now an untilled field. The government has sowed hunger, syphilis, superstition, and alcoholism there; puritans, Jesuits, and bigots have sprung up.

"Proverbially and by nature our peasants walk in their sleep, closely resembling fakirs in their froglike and renunciatory sterility. I think they are the one people who, when they are hungry, eat symbolically. Do you know what it means to eat symbolically? I'll clear it up for you in no time; the peasant family, a big roomful of them, sit around a rustic table as if it were an altar. In the middle of the table, suspended on a string from the ceiling, is a herring which could feed the lot of them. The headman arms himself with a potato. Then with it he makes the sign of the cross (my Tuscan friends say 'He makes the big cross') high up on the back of the fish instead of just rubbing it as any hypocrite would do. This is the signal, and after him, hieratically, each member of the family performs this same trick so that at the end the members, that is to say the diners, find themselves contemplating a potato in their hands, and the herring, if it doesn't get eaten by the cat, or rot, is destined to be mummified for posterity. This dish is called the indicated herring. The peasants are gluttons for it, and stuff their bellies full."

– from James Joyce’s course material, used while teaching English to Berlitz students in Trieste, in 1906. From Richard Ellman’s James Joyce, p. 217.


H. Rumbold, Master Barber said...

Great quote. Reminds me of the Rude Pundit. Imagine Joyce with a blog.

H. Rumbold, Master Barber

Anonymous said...

The Luck of the Irish

"If you had the luck of the Irish
You'd be sorry and wish you were dead
You should have the luck of the Irish
And you'd wish you was English instead!
A thousand years of torture and hunger
Drove the people away from their land
A land full of beauty and wonder
Was raped by the British brigands
God damn! God damn!
If you could keep voices like flowers
There'd be shamrock all over the world
If you could drink dreams like Irish streams
Then the world would be high as the mountain of mourne
In the 'Pool they told us the story
How the English divided the land
Of the pain, the death and the glory
And the poets of auld Eireland
If we could make chains with the morning dew
The world would be like Galway Bay
Let's walk over rainbows like leprechauns
The world would be one big Blarney stone
Why the hell are the English there anyway?
As they kill with God on their side
Blame it all on the kids the IRA
As the bastards commit genocide
Aye, aye.. genocide
If you had the luck of the Irish
You'd be sorry and wish you was dead
You should have the luck of the Irish
And you'd wish you was English instead
Yes you'd wish you was English instead"

-John Lennon

Anonymous said...

One imagines what wildly modernist antics had ensued once these Joycean code-talking students were released to the English-speaking world...