DAY 113: Goodwill

December 19th, 2014 § 0 comments

At this time of peace and goodwill, Christians and other denominations are frantically trying to appear in a positive light in particular:

1. Jorge Mario Bergoglio; (Pope Francis to you), who has been shuttling around and seems to have brokered a deal between the Yanqui imperialists and the oppressed Cubans, fifty years late. Who has sold out to whom? I give you an interview from The Real News Network, as is my temptation when I know nothing on the subject.

2. The European Parliament has voted (499-98) to ‘back a Palestinian state in principle’, whatever that means; and the EU court has taken Hamas off the ‘terrorist organizations list’ where they were placed during the post-9/11 hysteria;

3. Jewish Voice for Peace have issued an anti-occupation Hanukah message, and are staging Hanukah ‘Black Lives Matter’ actions against police violence.

4. So what are you waiting for, Netanyahu, Daesh, and other party-spoilers? Join in and let universal peace reign.


Today’s money-saving tip is a winner, for those of you who a) are finding Christmas shopping overpriced and b) haven’t got around to it anyway and will have to rush off and buy useless things which sow dissension in the family, as if there wasn’t enough at this time of year. Simply convert to Orthodox Christianity. shoppingI suppose you’d need to be some sort of a Christian to start with and you might have to take instruction. I can’t be bothered with these details. Since your Christmas Day will then be January 7th, you will be able to pick up heaps of cheap presents at leisuresales in the sales (the bit about leisure sounds a bit unlikely). And your Christmas music will be much improved if you replace those boring carols by John Tavener’s The Lamb, for example, or even by the St Gregorios Church of Trivandrum – how about those saris?

At the Movies

How dissatisfied most of us are (I speak for a small group of grumpy pensioners) with the fare on offer in the cinemas today! Whose decision was it to hand the making of the Hobbit movies to tired old Peter Jackson? I’ve – as readers will have been painfully learning – been watching films from the golden era of the 60s and 70s (Theorem was the last, if you want to know); and I naturally wonder why was Werner Herzog, who is still alive entering films in festivals and eating shoes, passed over? To quote a usually reliable source:

‘Herzog’s films often feature heroes with impossible dreams, people with unique talents in obscure fields, or individuals who are in conflict with nature.’ A comparison of the interminable journey in Fitzcarraldo with The Hobbit comes inevitably to mind. I’ll have to link you to the Fitzcarraldo trailer at this point rather than just showing a still, since you’ll need reminding of its magic. And Herzog would probably, instead of wasting money and annoying the critics by making three films, have made a single film three times as long. (He, I mean Herzog, recently released a short public-service style documentary, It Can Wait, demonstrating the danger of texting while driving, kmcmorris_hobbit_bagend_illustrationsomething which Bilbo should probably have borne in mind on the misty mountains and Fitzcarraldo never did – he preferred playing Caruso on the gramophone.)

And another thing:

Many readers will probably be wondering why I have given up space to a writer so deficient in sexual politics as Tolkien; a reviewer pointed out that The Hobbit Part III fails the Bechdel test (see earlier post) probably by having no conversations between female characters at all. They are obviously ignorant of the reams, nay kiloreams of work which has been produced in the field of hobbit gender studies over the past ten years, particularly by queer theorists – Esther Saxby and Jane Chance come to mind. Lacan, no less, has been cited as a witness in ’Of Hobbits and Lacan: Bilbo’s Journey to Reconnect With His Mother ‘ by Jennifer L. Massa: I cite the abstract:

‘According to psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, a child’s connection to his or her mother is essential in the early stages of the child’s life. In this paper, I will examine J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit (1937) through the Lacanian lens by analyzing protagonist Bilbo Baggins’ motive behind joining a company of dwarves on a dangerous expedition, which contradicts the docile nature of a hobbit. Baggins goes with the dwarves because of his childhood inability to connect with his mother

180px-The_Hobbit_-_An_Unexpected_Journey_-_Belladonna_TookBilbo’s mum, Belladonna Took (Sonia Forbes-Adam)

on a sufficient level due to her own suppression of her inner adventurous nature. Because Baggins does not have that connection, much later in his life he unconsciously seeks to follow in his mother’s footsteps by going on his own journey, and finally becomes one with his Took family heritage.’ I couldn’t begin to enter on so erudite a controversy, although it does seem to skip over the role of Gandalf – or is he, like the analyst, the channel for Bilbo’s reconnection with his mother?

We have trouble being proud if living in a miserably cold country; so here is a lesson in how to do it properly, in a much colder one, from the Icelandic of Gerdur Kristný:


Kuldinn býr mér
híði úr kvíða
færir svæfil úr
dúnmjúkri drífu
undir höfuð mér
voð að vefja um sig

Ég legði eyrun við
brestum í ísnum
í von um að
heyra hann hörfa
ef ég vissi ekki
að ég frysi föst
Ísinn sleppir engum

Landið mitt
útbreidd banasæng
nafn mitt saumað
í hélað ver

Patriotic Poem

The cold makes me
a lair from fear
places a pillow of
downy drift
under my head
a blanket of snow
to swaddle me in

I’d lay my ear to
the cracking of the ice
in the hope of hearing it
if I didn’t know
I’d be frozen fast

The ice lets no one go

My country
a spread deathbed
my initials stitched
on the icy linen



Here is the original (Thomas Arne) version of ‘Blow Blow thou winter wind‘, from Soprantastic, whoever they are (some hypercritical comments about the soprano’s dress).

While here is Fairouz singing ‘Ya Mariam al Bekr’, which has a cheesy Christmassy look to it. It may well be meant for the Coptic Christmas, and so (see earlier comments) need to be held over for three weeks.

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