Speaking of Ireland (While One Still Can)

Ireland, whose most influential modern artist described its capital, a century ago, as “that hemiplegia or paralysis which many consider a city,” and which seems to have been a country on the edge (or further) of collapsing into some strange combination of drunken suicide and murderous self-indulgence for centuries, finds whatever life force it has left (not at all paradoxically, but rather characteristically) in a sort of nostalgic pseudo-mythology — let us call it medievalist kitsch. That fantasy world of foggy feminine voices and enticing green simplicity is a necessary veil with which a country hides a ravaged and craven face, before the mirror most of all. A built-in quasi-historical fantasy world would be a very pleasant escape indeed, if your reality were a petrified forest of nihilism and self-absorption, i.e., a collectivist totalitarian submissiveness saved from the deepest levels of tyrannical practice only by a congenital national idleness and desuetude.

Saved from it so far, I ought to have said. However, the land of leprechauns and elves — i.e., diminutives of superficially human appearance — is currently on a fast track to manifest in law all that it has become in spirit. Specifically, it is advancing laws against “hate speech” that are explicitly designed to establish serious legal punishments for any and all speech that might cause anyone to stir against the ever-evolving, ever-tightening Marxist tribunal that monitors right thinking and officially protected sensitivities on a daily basis, in Ireland as throughout today’s fading world. 

The moral paralysis Joyce defined, and which he felt was the inescapable essence of his country, has found increasingly literal and aggressive means of self-perpetuation, exploiting the methods and theory of socialist authoritarianism to pour seas of quick-drying cement over its already largely immobilized society. Poor Joyce, poor Yeats, and above all, poor Jonathan Swift, his call to skepticism and moderation about the irrational excesses of the Enlightenment now buried beneath layers of forgetfulness thicker than the snow his countryman Joyce describes as falling faintly and faintly falling upon all the living and the dead. Their homeland’s spirit is gone, reduced like all else to mere foggy images in the nostalgic, medievalist kitsch of a modern fake folklore.

And of course we are all wandering into that same imaginary forest, soon to disappear into the self-anaesthetizing dream of our own tribal mythologies, equivalent to that of the Celts, the elves, and the hopelessly drunken leprechauns, as a few dreamers of a different sort arrange our collective enslavement with tethers made of lies about universal justice, perfection, and a stable peace.

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