DAY 27

February 13th, 2013 § 0 comments

It seems appropriate that the wicked pope Ratzinger should announce his resignation on Mardi Gras. Will it be a carnival for the liberationists whom he has persecuted? It’s tempting to speculate on the release of subversive energies…

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The Temptation of St Antony

The blog naturally relies, for authoritative explanation of shit that’s going down in the Church of Rome, on its comrades in liberation theology – the names of Gutierrez, Sobrino, Boff, Küng, et al come to mind. However, it has failed to locate their twitter feeds, or any calls for a ‘Catholic Spring’ to descend  into the streets and occupy St Peter’s Square. What happened to the option for the poor, then? Let’s hear from you, guys, gals and indeed LGBT Catholic activists wherever you are!

Back to the issue of drones, recently highlighted by the hearings on John Brennan’s nomination as CIA director (“These strikes are legal, they are ethical, and they are wise.”) I refer you to the Guardian’s comment for an account of what he said, or didn’t say. At the same time, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) have filed a lawsuit (Al-Aulaqi v. Panetta) challenging the government’s targeted killing of three U.S. citizens in drone strikes far from any armed conflict zone.

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Abdulrahman al-Awlaki (pictured), a 16 year old boy born in Denver, was killed in a US drone strike in Yemen while eating dinner at an outdoor restaurant with his teenage cousin. The CIA claim that his father (killed a fortnight earlier) was a dangerous terrorist – but can one become so dangerous at 16? Maybe the lawsuit will give the answer.

Changing the subject as usual, I have been concerned about whether Polonius had a facebook account. Those interested in the answer to this question will have to wait for my forthcoming article ‘Those friends thou hast’, in the Online Journal of Shakspeare Studies. He was, indeed, (I will argue) deeply concerned with the ownership of friends, with losing them (through borrowing/lending, etc); he exercised a rigid parental supervision on Ophelia’s account, forcing her to un-friend Hamlet and delete his posts.

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Ophelia (Classic Theatre)

But his most interesting point for Facebook scholars (who?) is ‘To thine own self be true’. Why? This principle, the motto of the humanists in Red Lion Square, seems to be important in the construction of spam filters. From what I hear Facebook, or its robotic slave, scans all posts you send; and if they are not in some algorithmic sense ‘true to yourself’ (match up with Facebook’s idea of your profile) they are binned as spam. Ophelia naturally had difficulty with Hamlet’s incoherent postings, as scholars have had ever since.

This message is worth taking seriously, and I have been nervously scanning this post for evidence of self-untruth which WordPress might query. One could, of course, post an obscene comment in Basque or Quechua just to see what happened to it. I am in two minds about a rather dubious line of analysis about Peter Huhne, comparing him – naturally – to Oedipus whose criticism of his father’s driving opened up a whole can of worms. Perhaps I shouldn’t have raised the subject. I’m open to feedback on this.

Since this is the eleventh anniversary of the day when Shaker Aamer (last British prisoner) was transported to Guantanamo, here’s a poem from his children.

Hear our Cry

Help us bring our father home
Brothers, sisters come along

He has never done anything wrong
He is innocent, that is well known

Locked up far away in a no entry zone
He’s been tortured, he’s been torn

Do you know how we live on our own
Struggling, thinking where do we belong

We have missed him for very very long
We can’t see him, we can’t phone

We try to be patient but we can’t go on
All we can do is cry and mourn

When will he return, no signs are shown
We wish after night, comes new dawn

Let us remind you we are not alone
Allah Almighty keeps us strong

I found out about the poems from Guantanamo from Judith Butler (hey Jude!)’s recent Frames of War. To sign the petition for Shaker Aamer go here.

But let’s return to the carnival for the music – and Louis Armstrong’s ‘Saints‘ seems to be associated with Mardi Gras. Plus, naturally, Tom Lehrer’s unforgettable ‘Vatican Rag‘ – the only copy I could find which wasn’t blocked on copyright grounds. Shame on you, owners of Tom’s copyright! Free up his songs!

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