Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The rest is silence: Bergman ar shlí na fírinne sa deireadh.


Cúpla sonra faoi shaol agus shaothar an mháistir scannáin


Ar fán is ar fiarán, i mullach na sléibhte, nó i ngreallach cois farraige san oileán iargúlta Faró, chumfadh sé radharcanna faoin domhan taobh amuigh, domhan nach raibh soléir do nuair a bhí sé ina chonaí sa Stockholm; ach eireoidh gach rud níos follasaí dó sa gcuideánachas an oileáin Faro. Níos mó ná aon stúirthóir eile, bhí tionchar ollmhór ag Bergman ar scannáin an domhain. Mar sin, ba lá mairgiúl gruama é nuair a d’éag Ingmar Bergman ar ochtó naoi bliain d’aois cúpla seachtain ó shin. Nuair a saolaíodh Ingmar sa bhliain 1918 bhí galar éin ag leathnú fud fad na hEorpa agus dfhulaing sé féin agus a mháthair ón nglar sin chomh maith. Ba sagart liútarach a hathair, agus bhí atmasphéar caolaigeannta, dian agus garg i dteaghlach an Bhergman. Theastaigh óna athair go mbeadh a chlann ina dhea-shampla go gach clann eile sa mbaile. Bheadh an tionchar sin fite fuite tríd na scannáin go léir nuair a thug sé faoi scannánaíocht tar éis an dara cogadh domhanda. Nuair a bhí sé dhá déag bliain d’aois, chaith sé tamall lena haintín agus fuair sé deis dul go dtí an pictúirlann sa Rasunda, áit inár d’fhéach sé ar scannán don chéad uair. Ina dhiaidh sin chuaigh sé go dtí an amharclann. Uair amháin tar éis dráma de August Srindberg- fear a mbeadh a thionchar le féiceáil sna scannáin Bhergman chomh maith- d’éirigh leis dul go dtí cul na stáitse. Chuaigh an taithí sin go mór i bhfeidhm air agus rinne sé omós di ina scannán Fanny agus Alexander . Léigh sé Strindberg, Dostoievski, Balzac, Nietzsche agus le gean do mhná bhí liason orageuse aige le cailín a bhí ina rang ar scoil. I 1934, chuaigh sé don Ghearmán chun a chuid Gearmáinis a fheabhsú agus d’fhan sé ansin le clann a raibh lé mhór acu ar pholaitaíocht Hitler. Bhí Hitlerachas an-láidir I Sualainn ag an am chomh maith, agus thosaigh a dheartháir an páirtí naizíoch sa tír. Ach bhí Bergman lán i gcoinne an chiníochais sin. Nuair a thosaigh sé a léinn acadúil san ollscoil i Scockholm i 1937, áit inar bhain sé céim i stair agus litríocht, chur sé roinnt píosaí drámaíochta i láthair de Srindberg agus Shakespeare. Bhí troid aige lena chlann ag an am sin mar gheall ar chaidreamh a bhí aige le aisteoir. Bhí sé in ann fanacht i mbaile nuair a bhrís an cogadh amach i 1939 de bharr galar broinn. Ach ar feadh an chogaidh, scríobh sé roinnt drámaí. Ag an am sin, bhí tionchar de scannáin fhrancach , stúirthóirí mar Jean Renoir agus Marcel Carné le feiceáil ina chuid saothair.


Chruthaigh Bergman genre áirithe a n-oibreoidh sé arís is arís ar feadh a shaoil. Tá sé deacair cur síos a chur ar an stíl sin, áfach. Féiceann muid i dtólamh cineál drámaíocht inmheánach, cinéal rúille búille intleachtúil agus tógann sé muid uaireanta go dtí domhan eile, ach i gconaí bíonn gnáthmhothúcháin an duine daonna i gceist aige. Bhí stíl scannáníochta ar leith aige; cosúil le drámaíocht Beckett, ritheann na radharcanna an-mhall agus téann an dolás, an sprocht, an t-éadóchas doreascartha i bhfeidhm ort. Ag caint faoina saothair uair amháin dúirt sé


‘is miniú iad mó scannáin faoi mó híomhánna’


Bhí innúileacht ar leith ag Bergmann chomh maith ar chur síos a dhéanamh ar mhothúchán agus phearsantacht an linbh, rud nár chonachas sna scannáin roimhe sin, go háirithe an chaoi ina thaispeánean sé an draíocht agus diabhar an linbh, rud atá tharr a bheith deacair a dhéanámh os comhair an cheamera.


Dúirt an stúirthóír francach André Techiné:


‘ l’opacité et la lumière clignotante de l’enfance n’avaient jamais été portés à l’écran avant lui. Il est le premier à avoir su donner à des enfants de personnages qui trimbalent avec eux, intact, le poids de charme et de mystère qu’il est si difficile de retrouver devant une caméra’



D’oibrigh Bergman go dtí deireadh a shaoil agus i measc na scannáin cháiliúil cosúil le Samhradh le Monika(1952)‘Seventh Seal(1956), Persona(1966), Súnna fiáin(1957), An Tost(1963) chur an scannán Solas an Gheimhridh i bhfeidhm orm; scannán eisíoch faoi shagart a chaillaíonn a cheideamh is ea é agus leiríonn sé an an t-eadóchas a bhraith daoine san Eoraip tar éis an dara cogadh domhanda. Is féidir a rá nár thig aon scannánóir riamh níos fearr ná Bergman coinníoll an duine daonna: pian leanúnach an domhain agus marbhchiúnas dobhriste na spéire.


Ar fán is ar fiarán- wandering and discontented


Iargúlta- isolated


Cuideánachas-loneliness, isolation


Gruama- gloomy


Doreascartha-inexpungable


Caolaigeannta- narrow-minded


Caidreamh- relationship


Ciníochas-racism


Gnáthmhothúcháin- ordinary emotions


Tionchar- influence


Diabhar-mysterious


Eisíoch-existential

marbhchiúnas dobhriste- obmutescence, extreme unbroken silence.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Ilghnéitheacht an ghrá: an scannán ‘Paris je t’aime’ sa Kino i gCorcaigh.




Cuireann sé isteach orm i gcónaí nuair a luaitear go bhfuil Páras ina chathair an ghrá a chiallódh go mbeadh substaint áirithe ag na Francaigh maidir le mothucháin, gean agus eros. Shil mé i gcónaí go raibh dóthain románsaíochta le fáil i mbeagnach gach tír, go mbraitheann sé ar an gcás ar leith. Mar sin, bhíos beagánín amhrasach faoin scannán nua ón bhFrainc ar na mallaibh darb ainm ‘Paris je t’aime’. Bhíos amhrasach nach mbeadh ach an cliché ceannean ceanna i gceist anseo arís. Mar i mo thuairim féin agus dar mó thaithi féin, níl na Francaigh románsúil ar chor ar bith. Ligeann siad orthu go bhfuil ach níl ann ach sotal agus bromuabhair i ndáiríre. É sin ráite, d’athraigh an scánnán seo mo mheon go han éasca. Is cnuasach gearscannáin atá i gceist anseo ó roinnt stiúrthóirí agus tá beagnach gach eagsúlacht, gach taobh den choincheap ghrá á taiscealadh acu. Is iad Walter Salles, Alfonso Cuaron, Tom Tykwer, Gus Van Sant, Wes Craven, Alexander Payne, Gurinder Chadhla agus Joel agus Ethan Coel na stiúrthóíri Tá gach gearscannán lonnaithe sa arrondissement éigin, le ocht déag in iomlán .Tagann an éagsúlacht chultúrtha agus éitneach sa bPáras amach go han éifeachtach chomh maith; feiceann tú lánúin de bhunadh aifreach; moslamaigh, chomh maith le daoine atá ag tabhairt cuairt i bPáras ar feadh tamaillín. Is petites vignettes simplí iad an chuid is mó de na gearrscanáin seo agus taiscealann siad na bealaí éagsúla a chuireann muid forrán ar a chéile sna mórchaithair, na eachraí neamhghnách a tharlaíonn go minic, mion-eachtraí agus timpistí uaireanta a athraíonn ár saol nuair a bhuaileann an coup de foudre muid agus titeann muid i ngrá.

Tá idir ghreann agus tragóid ins na scéaltaí seo agus caithfidh mé a adhmháil go raibh deoraí ag teacht orm níos mó ná uair amháin agus ní tharlaíonn sé sin go minic dom. An scéal faoi Aifriceánach a thiteann i ngrá le cailín a fheiceann sé i gcarchlos; is ceoldhráma beag tubaisteach álainn atá ann. Tá scéal eile faoi lánúin atá i ndólás tar éis bháis a mhic. Baineann an stiúrthóir usáid as an genre réalachais draíochta chun meascán mearaí samhlaíochta a mhic agus a n-intinn suaite féin a chur in iúl dúinn go truamhéalach.

Rud a thaitin go mór liom faoina scannáin seo ná go mbuaileann daoine le chéile ar na sráideanna an cuid is mó; ní chasann siad ar a chéile sna pubanna nó dioscós, nil aon alcól i gceist cosúil leis an tír seo. Oibríonn na scannáin go han-éifeachtach gan aon radharc gnéis freisin! Mar sin, tá macántacht dhaonúil ar leith sa scannán seo, rud a chuir i bhfeidhm orm; ach ar an taobh eile, taispeánann sé chomh maith cé chomh deacair is atá sé uaireanta chun casadh le daoine sa ville celibataire!

Bhí stiúrthóirí as na Stáit Aontaithe chomh maith le stiúrthóirí briontanacha a rinne chuid de na scannáin seo, agus bíonn béarla á labhairt go minic da bharr. Mar sin, is dócha go mbeadh suim in sna scannáin seo ar an dá thaobh na mara atlantaigh. Ní bheidh na Meiricánaigh róshásta lena láitheoireacht i roinnt scannáin áfach: feictear turasóirí ramhar ag dul timpeall le T-léine a rá ‘We are the World.’ Ach déanann gach stiúrthóir iarracht ilghnéitheacht an duine daonna a chur in iúl. Mar sin, bhraitheas níos mó bá ná scigaithris sa scannán deireannach faoi bhean ó na Stáit Aontaithe a thagann go Páras chun saol nua a bhaint amach tar éis bhriseadh a caidrimh le fear sa Denver. Tá an scannán sin lonnaithe sa Rive Gauche.Is Meiricánach tipicúil í; caitheann sí brógaí spóirt agus bríste gear agus mar sin de. Cloiseann muid í mar tráchtaire agus insíonn sí a scéal dúinn in bhFraincis le foclóir agus gramadach réasúnta maith ach le cánúint mheiricánach. Cé go bhfuair alán daoine é sin an-ghreannmhar, measaim féin go raibh na stiúrthóirí ag iarraidh a mhalairt a thaispeáint chomh maith. Céard atá mícheart le cánúint mheiricánach? Bhí a teanga an-sholéir; nach labhraíonn chuid is mó de na Francaigh béarla le cánúint uafásach? Ar ndóigh, labhraíonn na Francaigh béarla léi agus sin an fhadhb sa domhan faoi láthair go ndúiltíonn an-chuid daoine sa Mhór-Roinn a dteangacha a labhairt linn; bfhearr leo a gcuid Béarla a chleachtadh agus ansin deireann siad go sotalach nach féidir linn a dteangacha a labhairt in aon chor! Níl aon amhras ach go bhfuair siad aisteoir den scoth don ról sa ghearrscannán seo. Tagann a daonnacht álainn, a fulaingt amach ach a brionglóidí agus a jeu d’espris freisin, ionas go chuireann sé gréim ar do chroí. Cé nach bhfuil grá ina saol deireann an bhean gur thit sí i ngrá le Páras agus gur thit Páras i ngrá léi. Do nóiméad bheag sa camera oscura thit mise i ngrá leis an bhean sin freisin mar chomhartha de uile-bhean a fhulaingíonn ar an domhan aonar seo. Ní fheicfidh muid scannán mar sin arís sar i bhfad.

Gluais / Glossary

  • Luaitear - it is mentioned
  • Amhrasach - suspicious
  • sotal agus bromuabhair - arrogance and haughtiness
  • taiscealadh - to explore
  • titeann muid i ngrá- we fall in love
  • macántacht dhaonúil - humane honesty
  • ilghnéitheacht- multi-faceted
  • scigaithris - satire, lampoon
  • mar chomhartha de uile-bhean a fhulaingíonn – as a symbol of every woman who suffers

Gearóid Ó Colmáin on Pornography, European Culture and the Irish Language

Jean-Léon Gérôme, Phryne vor dem Areopag 1861, Hamburger Kunsthalle












I recently read an article on the Irish language weekly Foinse about a new porn film being made in the Irish language. The idea of sex in Irish seems quite exotic at first. Instead of” yes, yes, yes”, one would have “sea, sea, sea, “and so on. One could imagine many other translations of sexual performance clichés that might appeal to one’s restless perversions but what exactly is the point of pornography? To be sure, if one were not certain as to what really happens when two people take off all their clothes and go to bed together, porn films might have some educational value. Of course, you would have to point out to those you were instructing that most people don’t have bodies that look like they were carved out of marble and that it is important to wear condoms, unlike the idiots in the porn film.


The problem with pornography is that it is just so profoundly boring and utterly pointless. I am reminded of the famous essay by the French theorist Roland Barthes, who wrote about the way in which the act of a strip-tease is a process of de-sexualisation. The more we see the less our expectation. The performance of taking off one’s clothes destroys its intimacy and instead we are left with an image devoid of content.

Modern European culture is saturated with sex. The joy of looking and breaking taboos is paradigmatic of the Western mind in general; we want to see and experience everything, and the egotistical ideology that subtends capitalist societies encourages this. The history of western art is replete with nudity, and, unlike the Moslems, we take great joy in seeing the naked, bruised body of our mythological saviour- figure. The problem, however, is that pornography’s logic is the logic of transgression and this transgression can continue ad infinitum, leading in some cases to violence and pedophilic abuse. How we control pornography is going to be one of the biggest challenges facing western societies in this century. It also raises troubling questions about the validity of the nuclear family as a basic unit of society. Is the monogamous family with the father as its head the only valid way to construct society? Is pornography a symptom of our anxiety about this?

In capitalist society sex has become an enormous industry; it drives most forms of advertising. However, behind most of this, is the prurient male gaze. Most of the world’s pornography industry is driven by male desire, male voyeurism. This is because capitalist society is predominantly patriarchal in structure. In such a context, women become objects of exchange or facilitators of exchange in the case of advertising. Even in the history of art, one sees this fascination with viewing the female body in its entirety, while the male genital organ is always covered. Even in the sixteenth century paintings of Lucas Cranach we see the vagina of Venus covered with a diaphanous veil, which only serves to focus our attention on what is beneath. But there is no such revelation in his portrait of Adam. The same rules apply to contemporary pornography: it is ok to show all the female body but not that of the male.

One could argue that the sexual impulse, as the primal life-force of the world, dominates the human psyche more than any other force. Even in societies where nudity is taboo, this ban on sexual expression is pursued with frenetic zeal. I remember the first book of the Greek historian Herodotus’s histories where he describes the rise and fall of the ancient Lydian Empire, which was in modern day Turkey. He tells the story of the lineage of King Croesus. The downfall of Croesus and his line occurred due to a sexual trangression by his ancestor Gyges, who was the servant of King Candaules. Candaules tells his servant Gyges that his wife is the fairest in the world and that if he does not believe him, he should sneak a look at her when she is undressing in her boudoir. Gyges, though reluctant at first, agrees but is caught be the wife of King Candaules, who encourages him to kill her husband and elope with her, usurping the regal line. Herodotus tells us that nudity was taboo for the Lydians, whereas the Greeks had little trouble with it. Here we see what is, perhaps, the first schism between the thinking of east and west in our attitudes to sex. We in the west still aspire to the aesthetic dimensions of the male and female nude as conceived by Greek sculptors such as Apelles and Praxiteles. The physical dimensions aspired to by most women and displayed obsessively across the mass media of the West approximate to those of the Greek statue of Venus de Milo in the Louvre in Paris. However, the inheritors of Ancient Lydia, today’s Middle Eastern countries, vehemently reject such corporeal worship. But in mankind’s obsessive uncovering and covering up of the human body, there is the same insuperable force at work, the life-force, the sexual instinct dominating human consciousness.

There is no doubt that the ‘sexyness’ is now an ubiquitous concept in Europe. Everything aspires to the conditions of ‘sexyness’. Even decisions to go to war are said to be on the basis of mendacious ‘sexed-up’ dossiers. For a language to appeal to young people it has to be ‘sexy’. To be sure, TG4 have inspired a whole generation of Gaelgeoirí with a keen interest in meteorology with their voluptuous weather-girls. The sad fact is that many of the men who watch the weather on TG4 can never remember the forecast! But would they appeal to us as much if they appeared completely naked in front of the camera? Probably not as much; there would be nothing left to imagine and we would eventually become bored. That is why the idea of Gaelporn is infinitely more exciting than its realization on screen. However, I could, of course, be wrong about this. We’ll have to wait and see. Coinnigí súil amach!

Tá an réabhlóid ag teacht





Every year it’s the same, droves of obstreperous kids bundled hastily into the car and dispatched forthwith to the Gaeltacht for the annual intake of culture and language. It’s part and parcel of being Irish and middle class. “We’re sending them off to the Gaeltacht” “Off to the Gaeltacht with ye, ye bloody nuisance” Nowadays its all about keeping those kids busy. Everything is organized, the life of man has become an infinite course.


As soon as a child can sit up straight he or she is consigned to some form of institute. Playschool; pre-school; primary school; summer school etc etc. There is no end to our society’s craving for institutional education. I should point out that I do not believe there is anything wrong with ‘sending them to the Gaeltacht’, just that, well, it does smack a little of Cromwell’s infamous ‘to hell or to Connaught!’ I approve of sending people to the Gaeltacht but the problem is that we need to think more about sending the Gaeltacht to our children and not just once a year. The Gaeltacht and Irish language and culture are not the sacred possession of certain parts of the country. Irish culture belongs to whoever participates in it. Most of the parents who send their children to the Gaeltacht make no effort to learn or speak the language to their children themselves. For them, it is comforting to think that there is a ‘place’, a kind of parallel world where Gaelic culture thrives, and that they can ‘send’ them there to imbibe this cultural elixir.

That is not to say that the education in Gaelic is not good. In many cases it is outstanding. Take Coláiste Lurgan in An Spidéal, Contae na Gaillimhe, for example; this summer college is run by Micheál Ó Foghail who has developed his own pedagogical methodologies using the latest computer software. This is one college where Béarla is taboo and one thing I noticed when I visited there last year is the satisfaction experienced by the students at their ability to speak the language. I remember Trevor Sargent making a speech to them as Gaeilge about the importance of our heritage, and thinking what a shame that the skills these kids learn here, this new way of expressing themselves, this other way of being, is abandoned for another year as soon as they leave for home. It is as though they feel that the language only exists if you are in the Gaeltacht, that it is impossible to speak it anywhere else. And for most of them this is the case. The fault lies with the parents who are too busy working to pay for the teach mór (big house) to attend Irish classes or teach themselves the language. Of course, one can’t just blame the parents, it is the ensemble of socio-economic conditions in this country which saps the creative energy out of our population.

The Gaeltacht is a wonderful place but we must stop viewing it as topography, as a particular place or location; we must make it a kind of psychography; this is one of my latest neologisms. What I mean by psychography is one’s own mental map. The language must become part of our state of mind again; it is not a question of where the physical boundaries of the Gaeltacht are; it is a question of when the language is spoken and how often. For in reality the language is spoken in little pockets of Gaeltacht all over the island every day from classrooms in Oileán Tóraigh to government departments, cafés and pubs in Dublin.

I often wear a T-shirt that says ‘Tá an réabhlóid ag teacht’, the revolution is coming. I know it sounds like pseudo-socialist posturing but people notice and they stop and ask me what ‘reabhlóid’ means. I say reabhlóid is when someone goes out wearing an Irish language T-shirt and everyone wants to know what it means. That moment is revolutionary because the language itself is saying “I am revolutionary, I exist, I am coming not going”. Marx spoke of the spectre of socialism haunting Europe; Gaeilge too is a spectre but we must invoke it. That is what I mean by réabhlóid. For me these moments are microcosmic epiphanies of the move from Gaelic topography to Gaelic psychography, from Irish as a physical space to a mental event. Socio-cultural change always begins in our minds; it is about making the Gaeltacht a state of mind.

The Gaeltacht is ceasing to be spatial; it is becoming temporal and mobile. The internet is buzzing with new Irish language blogs, web-sites chat-rooms and international networks all the time. Gaeilge is online and ubiquitous; it is a signal coruscating throughout the world-wide web, and of all the Indo-European languages it has the most impressive linguistic resources to translate the terminology of this new cyberworld. Last week had more lugubrious news about a school in Mayo with just one ‘native’ Irish speaker. Again it is the ‘send them to the Gaelscoil’ syndrome where the parents believe that the language is simply a place, a kind of magical Tir na N-Óg making proper Gaels out of their young Óisín or Caoimhe, but this will only happen if the language is part of the home environment. I say it is time to send the parents to the Gaeltacht or even better, send the Gaeltacht to the parents. Maybe then they could stop mindlessly sending their kids hither and thither and allow them to express themselves in a different language. Now that would be child psychology in the best Gaelic tradition.

Gearóid Ó Colmáin on the roots of Ireland's Celtic heritage, and its Sanskrit origins

When the sun rises on the 21st day of June every year, throngs of new-age Celtic enthusiasts gather near the Hill of Tara for the summer solstice. They are no doubt motivated by a well- intentioned desire to revive ancient Druidic practices and ‘re-connect’ with our Celtic past. But the real significance of our Celtic heritage is only beginning to become clear to us, and it involves a journey which is not only historical but geographical as well; a journey which takes us across Europe and the Middle East into India and parts of China.
We are in the trail of one of the world’s great civilisations, which probably had its origins in the Caucasus or Anatolia (what is now modern Turkey), spreading eastward into India and westward throughout the European continent till it reached Ireland. I am talking about what scholars refer to as ‘Indo-European’, the parent language from which most European languages are derived.
The word ‘druid’ is comprised of two elements: ‘dru’, cognate with ‘drus’ in Classical Greek (both words used to name the oak tree), and ‘vid’, meaning ‘to see or to know’, comparable to the Latin ‘videre’ (both derived from the Sanskrit ‘vid’, which has a similar meaning). Therefore, someone who is a druid is an oak-seer, or oak-knower; in other words, someone capable of divining the innermost secrets of the universe.
The ancient texts of India are called the Vedic texts, from the same root ‘vid’. The interpreters of these texts were called Brahmins, and their occult knowledge was called ‘Vedas’, or wisdom. All the evidence suggests that the Brahmins of India and the druids of Eireann are cousins, and this is borne out by the astonishing similarities of Old Irish with the old language of India, Sanskrit. In fact, no other language in the Indo-European family shows such a close relationship. Just some examples will suffice to demonstrate this extraordinary affinity: naib (good in Old Irish) to noeib (holy in Sanskrit); badhire (deaf) to bodhar (deaf); names (respect) to nemed (respect) – there are many more.
But to come back to the cosmic divination I mentioned above, it is important to bear in mind that at the time, Europe was covered in forests, and that the oak tree was significant for many Indo-European cultures. I have written about this before, as I have about Danu, our great mother goddess whose breasts protrude from the hills of West Cork and whose waters flow where ever her name is known: the Danube, the Rhone, the Don, etc. She is also found in India. Rivers played a central role in divination and ritual, votive offerings and burials.
Perhaps an authentic reconstruction of druidic ritual in Tara this coming solstice might involve successive readings from the Rig Veda in Sanskrit, and perhaps the Song of Amghairghin the Druid in Old Irish – a song that, according to the scholar Peter Beresford Ellis, parallels the declaration of Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita:

Am gaeth im muir
Am tond trethan
Am fuaim mara
Am dam secht ndrenn

(I am the wind in the sea / I am the sea-wave upon the land / I am the roar of the sea / I am the stag of the seven fights)
That would be a ceremony worthy of respect.
And yet, even aside from the Hindu parallels, there is also a Buddhist connection. In an Old Irish manuscript found in Würzburg, Germany, the word ‘budh’ was given as ‘ point of fire’ and the ‘planet Mercury’ in the glossary. The basic meaning of the word ‘budh’ in all Celtic languages is ‘all victorious’ – ‘Buachaint’ in modern Irish means ‘ to win’. The name of the British warrior queen Boudicaa, who revolted against Roman rule in 60AD, is also derived from this root. The word occurs again in Sanskrit and means ‘to know’ or ‘to be enlightened’, giving us the term ‘Buddism’, while the name for the planet Mercury in the Vedas is also ‘Budh’.
I have to conclude that any ceremonies on the Hill of Tara which do not include Buddhist or Hindu incantations are little more than vacuous twaddle, for it is only through our encounter with these traditions, still very much alive, that we can begin to discover the possible meaning of our own. Perhaps then, as the sun descends on Tara, we can raise our heads to the skies and sing with Krishna – in Irish, croi (heart):

Among the Adiyas Vishnu I am/Among lights the radiant sun/Among the Maruts Marici I am/Among the stars I am the moon
Perhaps then, one could come down from Tara as, in the winged-words of the late John Moriarty, “a sage who comes back speaking Upanishads among us”.
For an archaeology of Irish and Hindi visit www.gaeltacht.eu

Gearóid Ó Colmáin on Ireland’s crisis of identity

When the week’s work is completed and the country is gripped by a Saharan thirst, bar stools shake all over the country as animated drinkers try to come to terms with themselves and their world through communal intoxication. In most countries this is referred to as a drink-problem or as anti-social behaviour; in Ireland it is called ‘culture’. But although there is much harmless good-will and mirth to be perceived in Irish pubs, there is an ineluctable truth in the old adage ‘in vino veritas’, there is truth in wine, or beer as the case may be, and this truth is not always palatable. Nevertheless, it spills out among certain circles when pints are poured; that is, the vexed question of the ‘effing foreigners’. One often hears phrases like “ there are too many fucking foreigners in this country or those bleedin foreigners are destroying our culture”.

But there were many aspects of the Irish education system in the past that laid the foundations for xenophobia. The prevailing ideology of the early Free State was that foreign influences were dangerous and corrupting. This conservatism is deeply ingrained in Irish culture. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Catholic Church encouraged cooperation with the British Imperial State and began to say mass in English to a populace who could not speak this language. This was one of the main reasons why the language died out in many parts of the country. However, as soon as the Free State was formed, the Church promoted the Irish language as it was perceived as a bulwark against ‘foreignness’. In both cases, the highjacking of Irish identity by a conservative institution hampered any attempts to escape from the nightmare of history. Thus, Ireland entered the post-modern world, the world of mass communication, the global village, without having had the chance to come to terms with modernity or its place within it. We have gone from an agrarian society under the yoke of a medieval church to a post-modern society under the yoke of mass media. In a multicultural Ireland with reactionary racist elements, the Irish language could be used as an emblem of pure-blooded celticity distinguishing us from the foreign intruders. It could then become an instrument of a racist nationalism.

But the reality is that the immigrants have shown more of an interest in the Irish language than the ethnic Irish themselves. Where they differ is that while they may learn English and embrace Anglophone culture, they do not abandon their own languages as our ancestors did. It is perfectly conceivable, then, that the future of Irish will be safer and more vibrant in the hands of the ‘New Irish’ than the Irish of the past. They might become yet become ‘hibernensis hiberniores’ more Irish than the Irish themselves, as the 11th century Norman invaders were called.

It is worth bearing this in mind as we approach one of Ireland’s great cultural events: Bloomsday. Bloomsday is celebrated on the 16th of June every year to mark that day in the Dublin of 1904 which Joyce immortalized in his book Ulysses. Leopold Bloom is a Dubliner of ethnic Jewish extraction, an outsider in his own city. He is attacked in a pub by such characters as ‘The Citizen’ whose dog speaks Irish! The Citizen scolds Bloom for not being ‘really Irish’. Joyce lampooned what he saw as the closed reactionary elements of the Gaelic Revival. His own view of the Irish predicament at the time is poignantly depicted in the opening chapter where an old woman representing Ireland (the Sean Bhean bhocht- the poor old woman) delivers milk to the students in the Martello Tower. She is addressed in Irish by an English man called Haines( la Haine is French for ‘hate’). She does not understand him and asks:

“is that French you are talking sir?”

When she is told that the gentleman is English and believes we ought to speak Irish in Ireland, she replies;

“sure we ought to…. And I’m ashamed I don’t speak the language myself. I’m told it’s a grand language by them that knows”.

No other chapter in Anglo-Irish literature reveals more profoundly, more incisively the paradoxical nature of the Irish psyche and the trauma of colonization. Although Joyce himself had little Irish, (he was apparently taught some Gaeilge by none other than Padraig Pearse), his Italian writings spoke favourably about the language revival in Ireland. Unfortunately, the magnum opus in Irish comparable to Ulysses in scale and profundity has yet to be composed. Joyce’s work is an attempt to take the temperature of his time and place, to capture the essence of his people in all their complexity. Even though it is set in Dublin, the work is uniquely cosmopolitan, almost prescient of today’s multicultural city. It is an odyssey of the mind probing the collective consciousness and perhaps our collective unconscious(although Joyce disagreed with Freud on these matters). His aim as set out in his previous work was to ‘ forge in the smithy of my soul, the uncreated conscience of my race’. The challenge for the artist of today is how to forge the uncreated conscience of the many races; many ethnicities, many languages that constitute our country and our world.

Gearóid Ó Colmáin on the Spectacle of the Bull and its Symbolism

If there is one thing that is synonymous with Spanish culture that distinguishes it from the other nations of Europe, it has to be bullfighting. Corrida de Torros or bullfighting is unique to Spain but the spectacle of the bull and its symbolism is not. The symbolism of the bull runs throughout Indo-European history and is probably pre-Indo-European, going back to the very origins of human civilization in the nebulous past known to us today as the Neolithic period around 9000 BCE when agriculture was developed but probably stretching back to the origins of symbol-making around 25000 BCE. The depictions of bulls in the caves of Lascaux in France are proof of the centrality and symbolism of the bull in pre-historic societies. In ancient societies the bull was perceived as a symbol of fertility and regeneration; it was also associated with the moon, its horns representing the crescent moon. It stands to reason in an agricultural society that the bull or ox would be revered as the key to the survival of the group, as it was used to till the land and provided meat and clothing for the tribe.

In ancient Egypt a black bull known as the Apis bull was kept for special ceremonies. It was associated with the fertility and creator god Apis; it was also identified with the sky-god Amon and Osiris the god of death. Osiris was said to be borne on the back of the black Apis bull, being ritually slaughtered and resurrected according to the seasons. The horns of the bull were often associated with the crecent moon while the its fiery temper invoked the regenerative power of the sun. The sacrifice of the bull was common in ancient societies such as Sumeria 3000BCE. Previously, primitive societies had sacrificed their king in order to fertilize and regenerate the earth. The sacrifice of ritual regicide was common throughout the ancient world. The king was ritually slane and his body-parts either eaten or strewn throughout the land .It is quite possible that the story of Christ, the sacrificial lamb, is drawn from the same tradition, as many key elements of this story are drawn from previous ancient religions such as Zoroastrianism. This would explain why people symbolically ‘eat’ the body and blood of this god- king at mass. The king as sacrificial victim was subsequently replaced by an animal such as a bull or horse. There is still a movement in Bullfighting today known as the ‘Veronica Pass’, which mimicks the wiping of Christ’s brow said to have been performed by Veronica as he made his way to Golgotha. The Persian god Mithras, a precursor of Christ, was also worshiped in the form of a bull. In Isreal the Canannaite Baal and his consort Astarte were incarnated as bulls. In Babalonia the gods Hadad and Enil were also bull-gods. Israelites often referred to God as the ‘bull of heaven’.

Ireland’s famous megalithic site is known in English as Newgrange. But the Irish name is ‘brú na bóinne’ which means the Boyne Valley. The word ‘boyne’ comes from the Irish ‘bó’meaning bull or cow; this is cognate with the Latin Bos whence ‘bovine’ and the Greek ‘bous’. Linguists claim that the root of this word approximates to the Sanskrit ‘gauh’ which mutated into ‘cow’, ‘Kuh’ and ‘krowa’ in Germanic and Slavic languages, while the ‘gu’ was replaced by ‘bo’ in the Celtic and Italic languages. In pre-historic Ireland the bull also played a major role in society. The great Irish epic An Táin Bó Chuailigne, or the Cattle Raid of Cooley, was said to have been caused by the desire of Queen Maeve of Connaught for the beautiful brown bull of Cooley, precipitating conflict with the province of Ulster. It is likely that the symbolism of the bull in Irish mythology is pre-Celtic but that our name for it is Celtic or Indo-European.

In India the bull is identified with fertility and fire. In the Rig-Veda Rudra the celestial bull fertilizes the earth with his sperm, while Agni, the god of fire is also incarnated as a bull. Shiva the destroyer rides a white bull called Nandin. Indra, too, is described as a bull god and there is the bull-god Vrishabha who spins the cosmic wheel. The very Urmyth of Europe itself begins with an encounter with a bull in the form of a god. Europa is abducted and impregnated by Zeus,(from the Sanskrit ‘dyu’ meaning ‘to shine’) in the form of a white bull; and, of course, there is the story of King Minos of Crete whose wife Pasphae copulates with a bull creating the infamous Minotaur. It is clear that Queen Maeve of Connaught and Pasiphae of Crete were overcome by a mysterious, sexual and ritual-symbolic taurophilia, whose origins probably preceded the formation of the Celtic and Minoan civilizations by thousands of years.

I recently attended a bullfight in Toledo. Spanish bullfighting stretches back to Celtic Iberia, whence the Irish are said to have been descended from the line of King Milesius. The ritual of bull slaughter was made into a spectacle by the Romans, who loved watching blood-shed. Animal rights activists regularly express their disgust at this ritual slaughter of our fellow animals. They certainly have a point, for the moral question with respect to animals other than ourselves is not whether they can think or speak but whether they can suffer. But I have to admit I enjoyed it. My mind looped from Brú na Bóinne, through Egypt across to India and back via Crete to a stadium in Spain, where the mysteries of light and darkness, life and death, the sky and the earth, in other words, the fundamental components of the human imagination were being enacted before me. In contemplation of the antiquity of this practice and its primordial relationship with man, my sympathy for the suffering animal was overcome by a visceral and primitive sense of the world-historical, the terrifying ecstasy of mythic ritual, the cold, dark, ineffable wonder of it all.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Mór Radharc


'Young Ireland' vs Old Ireland by Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin (see http://gaelart.net/)

He who fancies some intrinsic objection to our nationality to lie in the co-existence of two languages, three or four great sects, and a dozen different races in Ireland, will learn that in Hungary, Switzerland, Belgium, and America, different languages, creeds, and races flourish kindly side by side…
Thomas Davis.


Is bréag mór é gur choir go mbeadh náisiúnachas in aghaidh an ilchultúrachais. Síolraíonn an claontuairim sin don chuid is mó ó stair nua aimseartha na hEorpha agus an legáid de Nazional Sozialismus sa Gearmáin agus Nationalismo san Iodáil agus, an cineál ‘Fascismo’ a bhí i réim in Éireann gach re seal suas go dtí na seascaidí. Sa chathair ilchultúrtha, ilteangach darb ainm Baile Áth Cliath, feictear fear ag amharc aníos ó Fhaiche Choláiste i lár na cathrach, a bhí duine de na saoithe ba nua-aimseartha agus ba intleacthúla in Éireann dá linne, agus ba ainm do Thomas Davis. Protastúnach, réabhlóideach, file, uomo universale ba ea é agus de bhunaigh sé an páipéar ‘ The Nation’ i 1840. Ag an am, bhí an páipéar sin fíor-choitianta ar fud fad na tíre agus do thug sé léagas intleachúil agus cultúrtha chomh maith le dóchas polaitúil agus sóisialach do mhuintir na tíre. Bhí dearcadh leathan Eorpach ag Davis agus a chomhráidithe agus bhí sé mar intinn aige fuinneamh na tíre a mhúscailt agus cultúr nua-aimseartha a chruthú ó scartha den oidhreacht náisiúnta agus Éireann a chur ar ais i gcróilár de chultúir na hEorpa.

Ach i ré an Davis agus a leithéid bhí ciall agus fealsúnacht ag baint le gluaiseachtaí phobail, gluaiseachtaí chultúrtha. Sa lá atá inniu ann tá níos mó ‘spectacle’ ná ciall, níos mó ghlóir ná ceol. O thosaigh ‘Macnas’ ag sionsáil ar son na hÉireann breis is deich mblian o shin, is féidir linn iad a chloisteáil go minic ach níl morán le cloisteáil, faraor! Céard a cheapfadh Davis de sin? An mbeadh sé dearfach faoi threo cultúrtha na hÉireann?

Níl mé a rá nach bhfuil aon mhaitheas le sionsáil. Is cuimhin liom nuair a bhí mé ag teacht ar ais go hÉireann san Aerfort Charles de Gaulle I bPáras. Bhí oibrithe ag dul thart le drummaí agus bhí an glóir dofhulaingeach. Ba inimircigh formhór acu agus diúltaigh siad na leithris a ghlanadh. Sa chas sin, chur siad in iúl dúinn go han éifeachtach go raibheamar go léir ag brath orthu agus, ní raibheamar in ann a shéanadh go bhfuil an streachailt aicme fós beo. Bhí ciall agus cuspóir an-éifeachtúil ag baint leis seachas sionsáil páisteach dochríochnaithe.

bréag mór- big lie
ilchultúrachas- multiculturalism
claontuairim- prejudice
ilteangach-multilingual
nua-aimseartha-modern
fíor-choitianta- extremely popular
dearcadh- perspective
dearfach-positive
sionsáil.-drumming
inimircigh- immigrants

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Brigit: an Indo-European goddess lost in a Christian desert


Upon its arrival in Ireland, Christianity had to reckon, not only with the warriors, but also with the most powerful female religious figure in all of Irish history: Brigit, a figure who achieved the distinction of becoming a Triple Goddess, a Virgin Mother, a Lawmaker, a Virgin Saint, and finally, a folk image whose shadows still move over Ireland.
Mary Condren, The Serpent and the Goddess p55.

When I was a child in primary school we would gather reeds on the first day of February to make St Brigit crosses. It was an activity which demanded enough dexterity and craft to appeal to the restless mind of a child. We were told that Brigit was a saint. I understood this to mean that she was a real being who could perform magic, good magic or what the Roman Church referred to as ‘miracles’. She was, we were told, a nun, the pagan daughter of an Irish king who converted to Christianity through her association with our ubiquitously revered Patron Saint Patrick. But our education in Irish culture was poor as the inculcation of a ‘Catholic Ethos’ was seen as more important that the exploration of one of Europe’s most ancient mythologies. It was always made clear to us that Patrick was the ‘main man’ was it were, and that Brigit was to be understood as an important though ancillary figure in Irish ecclesiastical history. Of course, the celebration of Brigit as a saint is a distortion of her origin and possible significance for world cultures.

Many of you will be familiar with the words ‘brigade’ and ‘briggant’ the latter denoting a warrior, a former a group of warriors. The word is also common in the Romance languages. ‘Brigantia’ in Latin came to signify ‘strife’. The Gaelic etymology of her name signifes ‘high’ or ‘exalted’ one. But Cormaic in his ancient dictionary derives it from breo-saigit, a fiery arrow. This would account for her association with fire but other etymologists connect it with the Indo-European root ‘bhregh’ meaning ‘swelling, increase, high’ The nuns of the convent in Kildare associated with Brigit continued to light fires in her honour before Pope Adrian IV ordered the Norman invasion in the 12th century.
Brigit was around long before the rise of Christianity. The Celtic genesis myth tells us that in the beginning there was darkness and primeval chaos. Out if this darkness, there arose the waters of the goddess Danu. Danu gave life to an oak tree named Bíle. Two acorns fell from this tree forming Dagda, the Good One and Brigit, the Exalted One. Brigit became the embodiment of the mother goddess Danu and it was she who sent her children to the land where the western sun sets, Inisfáil or the isle of destiny ie Ireland. Brigit is an Indo-European fertility goddess related to other goddesses such as Minerva, Juno, and Isis. She gave her name to the county Kildare, which means the Church of the Oak.

It is clear that the ecclesiastical scholars who wrote about Brigit tried to ignore her Indo European origins. This was simply the attempt by a new patriarchal religion to gain control over the potentially chaotic forces of nature. Henceforth, Brigit, the Mother Goddess, Brigit the warrior would become a passive and docile nun subservient to the will of the masculine church. Many of the stories about Brigit were expurgated from the Christian versions, such as when she made a woman’s foetus disappear. Another story recounts how a man came to her complaining about his wife’s frigidity. Brigit’s cure was so effective that ‘the wife gave exceeding love to him, so that she could not keep apart from him, even on one side of the house; but she was always at one of his hands’. She did hold high esteem in the Celtic Christian Church however, where it is said that she even became a bishop, though this was subsequently played down for obvious reasons. Now that the ideology of Patrick’s church has become more of an historical phenomenon than a contemporary one, the gods and goddesses of Irish mythology may offer us invaluable insights into the ways in which man has related to the earth and to himself in the form of imagined deities. In terms of her dynamic, immanent and multi-faceted nature, Brigit towers over St Patrick and it is a shame that 1st of February is not celebrated as the national day. For it was Brigit who told the Tuatha de Danaan, children of Danu to head for inisfáil, the isle of destiny, Ireland. and the Tuatha de Danann are a potent reminder to us all that Ireland is founded on immigration. She herself lies scattered throughout world cultures, a truly multi-cultural multi-ethnic symbol of human imagination. St Brigit’s Day or Lá Fhéile Bhríde in Irish, was known as Imbolc in pre-christian Ireland. Imbolc means ‘in belly’ and refers to the fertility of mother earth in spring. As the global womb now swells warmer each year, perhaps Brigit, as the ‘fiery arrow’ of human activity, may yet reveal her meaning to us. But by then, of course, we will have returned to darkness.

Téamh domhanda agus comhchruinneán beatha traochta


Humans on the Earth behave in some ways like a pathogenic organism or like the cells of a tumor or neoplasm. We have grown in numbers and disturbance to Gaia, to the point where our presence is perceptibly disturbing….the human species is now so numerous as to constitute a serious planetary malady. Gaia is suffering from Disseminated Primatemaia, a plague of people.’ James Lovelock


'....die vollends aufgeklaerte Erde strahlt im Zeichen triumphalen Unheils' Adorno/Horkheimer

Le blianta fada dúradh go raibh téamh domhanda ag tarlú ach níor thugadar morán aire do.D’athródh an domhan beaganín ach dealraigh sé nach raibh cúis a bheith imníoch. Bhí sé de nós ag alán daoine fonóid a dhéanamh faoin gComhaontas Glas agus trodairí timpeallachta eile agus iad i mbun feachtais chun ár meabhraíocht a ardú fá dtaobh de. Is léir anois go bhfuil cursaí i bhfad níos measa ná shíleamar deich mbliain ó shin. I bhfírinne, tá sé truabhéalach go bhfuilimid ag iarraidh srian a chur ar an bpróiseas anois agus léiríonn sé cé chomh diongbháilte is a táimid chun ár mhaireann ar an mbith a shábháil. Ní féidir a shéanadh a thuilleadh go bhfuil géarchéim phráinneach i gceist anseo, agus is ceann de na teamaí é atá ag cur eagla ar na Stáit Aontaithe anois, tír atá ag fullaingt arís ó tornadaí agus stoirmeacha millteanacha.



Ach an bhfuil sé ró-dhéanach anois chun an damáiste a laghdú? Tá saineaolaithe fós á rá go féidir linn an phróiseas a athrú chun cobhsaíocht aimsire a chur i bhfeidhm. Go deimhin, beidh alán impleachtaí taidhleorachta, eacnamaíochta agus polaitiúila i gceist anseo. Conas a chuirfidh siad in iúl do na tíortha neamhfhorbartha a bhfuil ag brath ar ola chun a ngeilleagar a fhorbairt, go gcaithfidh siad bealaí eile a aimsiú?



Nuair a fhéachann tú ar chás na Braisíle, tá sé follasach ó fada an lá nach bhfuil an rialtas ag coinnéal srian orthu siúd atá ag leanúint ar aghaidh le defhoraisiú os rud é go bhfuil daoine fós in san rialtas a dhéanann brabús as na tairgí soy bean sa reígún. Beidh i bhfad níos mó brú á chur ar tíortha mar sin as seo amach agus beidh athruithe suntasacha de dhíth ar fud an domhain.
Ach an rud nádúrtha é go bhfuil a leithéid ag tarlú? Os rud é go bhfuil daonra domhanda ag fás an t-am ar fad, d’fheadfadh a áiteamh nach bhfuil i gceist anseo ach céim eile san éabhlóid an duine daonna. Tá homo rapiens ag éirí ró-mhór don domhan. Sa chaoi sin d’fheadfá a rá go bhfuil sé nádúrtha go leor. Tá an iomarca daoine ar an domhan agus déanann an duine daonna níos mó dochar don bplainéid ná aon aimhní eile.



Ar ndóigh, brisfidh cogaí agus gorta amach de bharr easpa achmhainne chomh maith. Agus b’fhéidir nach mhairfidh gach sibhialtacht nua i bhfhad a thogadh le déanaí de bharr brabúis ola, cathracha cosúil le Dubaí mar shampla. Ach is féidir an fhadhb a fhéiceáil go soléir má fhéachann muid ar na staitisticí daonna amháin. Fiú ma ghlacann muid go mbeidh laghdú breithe as seo amach de bharr ghnéithe sóisialacha agus méadú de ráta báis mar gheall ar ghorta, bhreoiteacht agus chinedhíothú, ardóidh daonra de 6 millúin duine go dtí 7 nó 8 million i mbliain 2050. I lár na fichiú haoise scríobh na fealsaí gearmánacha Theodor Adorno agus Max Horkheimer ina leabhar cáiliúil darb ainm ‘ Dialectik der Aufklaerung’,

seit je hat Auflaerung im umfassendsten Sinn fortschreitenden Denkens das Ziel verfolgt, von den Menschen die Furcht zu nehmen und sie als Herren einzusetzen.Aber die vollends aufgeklaerte Erde strahlt im Zeichen triumphalen Unheils

‘Ba ea an aidhm a bhí ag léargas de shíoraí sa chaill is coitinne de smaointeachas forbatha, ná fáil réidh le heagla agus an duine a chur dul chun cinn mar mháistir. Ach is léir go bhfuil an domhan léirithe go hiomlán ag taispéaint comharthaí caithréimeacha de thubaiste.’

Bheadh sé doiligh argóint a dhéanamh anois ar son leargais toisc go bhfuil an chinéal réasúin sin fons et origo de thubaiste ollmhór atá ag tarlú timpeall orainn. Tá na saineolaithe ag maíomh go féidir linn stop a chur ar theas domhanda más thig linn symbiosis cobhsaíoch a chothú sa chomhchruinneán beatha, ach ní éireoidh muid a leithéid a chur i gcrích muna n-athrófar inneal an domhain, caipitleachas liobrálach. Ach faraor, níl sé sin ag tarlú.
Gluais
Meabhraíocht- consciousness
Truabhéalach- pathetic
Géarchéim- crisis
Diongbháilte- determined
Brabús- profit
Saineolaithe- experts
chomhchruinneán beatha- biosphere.
Tubaiste- catastrophe

In search of the Leprechaun

How strange it is that so many people all over the world are familiar with the figure of the leprechaun. It has become the most effete cliché in our vacuous tourist industry. Yet very few people know what it means, where the word comes from. I got a call from a friend in Talinn recently who was entertaining Estonian friends. They said they were familiar with the leprechaun. My friend who is Irish wanted to check the origin of this myth with me, so I explained the origin to him again. Leprechaun comes from the Irish Lugh an Lamh fhada, Lugh of the long hand, who was the god of light and wisdom. In Irish mythology, Lugh defeats the evil warrior called Balor of the Evil Eye in the internecine battle that would become known as Cath Magh Tuireadh, or the Battle of Moytura. In this battle the forces of good represented by the Tuatha De Danann, the children of the goddess Danu, (an Indo-European figure originating in India and flowing through Europe in the form of the Danube), and the Fomorii, those who dwell ‘fo mhuir’ beneath the sea, the forces of evil who were led by Balor. Balor’s evil eye destroyed everything it looked upon. Lugh kills Balor with a sling which gouges out his enormous eye. When the battle is over, however, Domnu the nefarious Doppelgeist of Danu, utters the following admonishment to Danu

‘all life is transitory. Even your children are not immortal, my sister. The time will come when they will be defeated. The time will come when no one will want gods and goddesses to nurture them, when they will be driven into the darkness, like my children have been this day’

The words Reich in German, Rí in Irish and Raj in Hindi are cognate with the English word ‘reach’. Rí is the Irish for King. One’s kingdom was one’s reach, that which one held. Reich in German means exactly this. The verb ‘ereichen’ means to reach or attain. Lugh was one of the most revered gods in Irish mythology. He was the father of Cúchulainn and gave his name to places as diverse as Ireland’s smallest county, County Louth and Lyon in France, both derived from Lugdunum, or the fort of Lug. His feast is still in August which is Lughnasa in Irish. In the Middles Ages, the notion of a pagan God commanding so much power and respect was anathema to the zealous monks who were transcribing the myths. So they changed his name to Lugh Chromain, little stooping Lugh. Through corruption this became the ridiculous Leprechaun. What this case shows is that cultural symbols can become caricatures of themselves through the changing ideologies of history.

RTE Féile Cheoil bheo. Harmonienlehre sa Cheoláras Náisiúnta.

Bhuail mé an bóthair le diograis aréir. Bhí mé ar mó bhealach go Baile Átha Cliath chun freastal ar an gceolchoirm sa Cheoláras Náisiúnta de John Adams, duine de na mór-chumadóirí na linne. Ach le meascán de bhrú an tsaoil, agus siléig ba chóir a adhmháil, níor shroich mé lár na cathrach go dtí 8 a chloig. Ba mhór agus géarchúiseach mó dhíomá is mé ag iarraidh mó ghluaisteán a locadh agus Bernhad Clarke, an díograiseoir par excellence i ndomhan ceoil ag tosnú an cheolchoirm a chraoladh beo ar Lyric FM. D’fhan mé cúpla nóiméad agus bhí me curtha faoi dhraíocht ón gcéad nóta de chuid a shaothar Lollapollousa. Ní raibh mé ró-eolasach faoin gceol siúd roimhe sin seachas corshliocht a cloisfinn ó am go chéile sa chlár Nova I Lyric FM. D’oscail sé le dráma agus fuinneamh agus bhí sé soléir go rachfainn i bhfad siar i mó shamhlaíocht agus chéadfa dá n-éistfinn leis go deireadh. Ach le turas fada i mo dhiaidh is mé cúpla kiloméadar ón gCeoláras le déanamh, chinn mé ar iarracht a dhéanamh ar a laghad chun teacht isteach ar chúl.

Bhí an t-ádh liom agus mé ag teacht isteach ar an príomhdhoras an fhoirgnimh.Shúil mé díreach chuig an fháilteoir. ‘ An bhfuil ticéad curtha in áirithe agat a dhuine uaisle’ a deir sí ‘níl’, deirim,’ ach is dócha go bhfuil ticéad ar mo chara istigh dom’. D’fhéach sí go neamhchúiseach orm agus thug sí ticéad dom saor in aisce cé nach raibh m’ainm ar aon liosta. Bhí an píosa fós ar siúl nuair a fuair me mó shuíochán ar chúl na hamharclainne ach d’éisc mé go hiomlán lena dara chuid darb ainm Harmonienlehre. Is tagairt do Arnold Schoenberg é an saothar seo inar ndéanann Adams iarracht an lámh in uachtar a fháil ar Schoenberg le cinéal harmonia a chruthú lena theanga cheoil thagarthach féin. Ba ea ‘minimalism’ an t-ainm a thugtar ar an gceol de chuid Adams cosúil le Philip Glass Steve Reich, ach i bhfírinne, tá a cheol i bhfad níos suimúila ná a chomhghleacaithe súid. Agus sa Harmonienlehre taispeáineann Adams cen fáth nach dtaitníonn na nótaí lom míbhinn de Schoenberg le mórchuid na n-éisteoirí. Éiríonn leis chomh maith, an ‘Lehre’ a thabhairt do Schoeberg faoi chumadóireacht. Cruthaíonn Adams téagar ilshraitheach lán de hathruithe túin agus éiríonn leis bríomhaireacht a fháil a chuireann Mahler agus Wagner in iúl ina mhothúcháin agus Stravinsky sa chaoi inar gcruthaíonn sé teannas agus claochchlú fuaime. Léiríonn sé sa phíosa seo chomh maith nach bhfuil ‘minimalism’ cúi don chinéal ceoil atá i gceist anseo. Fuair Adams inspioráid don chéad ghluaiseacht sa bhroinglóid inár shamhlaigh sé gluaisteán ag teacht aniar ón bhfarraige de chuan San Francisco go dtí an spéir. Ta tagairtí do Parsifal de Wagner chomh maith agus tá an ceol tagarthach agus lán de bhríomhaireacht shaibhir an t-am ar fad. Críochnaíonn an saothar leis an ngluaiseacht darb ainm ‘Meister Eckhardt and the Quackie’ agus tagann na nótaí éagsúla go dtí pointe lárnach ag dul timpeall an eochair E Mín. Níl aon focail eile don saothar seo ach magnum opus agus ba ocáid speisíalta í seo a d’fhanfaidh I bhfad I mo chuimhne agus toisc go bhfuil airgead fágtha dom, beidh oíche eile san Cheoláras Náisiúnta sar i bhfad.

Seachtain na Gaeilge, Irish week

This week is seachtain na Gaeilge, Irish week. For many of you, this will come as a surprise.Most of you are unlikely to have heard much of the language spoken in the cafés, pubs and shops of Ireland’s busy thoroughfares.Even though there are many events on all over the country, sometimes it feels as though the language exists in a sort of a parallel universe, irretrievably lost in the ether of our nation’s collective unconscious, surfacing furtively every now and then by deftly disguising itself as English. Even though the language is written all around us, it requires an effort to actually perceive it. In a sense, the notion of a bilingual place name is somewhat perplexing. A place should have a name. That is all. When we provide anglicized versions next to the names we are immediately negating the possibility of linguistic consciousness being awakened every time we utter that place name. We pronounce its meaningless English version. This not only distorts the word but it deprives that place name of dignity. A place with the dignified name of An Obair meaning, The Work, mutates into the meaningless and ignoble ‘Nobber’. An Uaimh meaning The Cave, becomes the insipid sounding Naven. Most place names thoughout the country contain some sort of meaning yet most people are unaware of this. It is often argued that foreign nationals would not understand or be able to read the place names if they were only in Irish, but this is nonsense. English literacy is one of the most irregular and illogical in the Indo-European language group. Why would Gallimh be any harder for a Polish person to pronounce than Galway? Should the French anglicize their place names so that foreigners will be able to understand them better? Of course not. The French are far too proud of their national language, and besides, the absurdity of the suggestion would soon be ridiculed. If monolingual placenames were introduced, it would not only raise our own awareness of the language but that of visitors to Ireland, most of whom are interested in the country’s language and culture. It would also bring us closer to the language in our daily lives, making the cúpla focail an effortless daily phenomenon. Everyone educated in Ireland has some smattering of the language. Yet one rarely hears ‘dia dhuit’ or go raibh maith agat or slán. Why? I suppose it is not natural for a predominantly monolingual society to consciously introduce the words and expressions of another language into common speech. Yet, what about the role of the state, what about the public sector? Public sector? Did I not see that advertised in the January sales? One of the difficulties with the state project of linguistic regeneration is the diminution of the very state itself. Privatisation of public services has made it increasingly difficult to implement policies that are not motivated by the formula of profit and loss. Yet, the attitude of the public bodies to the language is still lax and uncommitted. It is a requirement that all workers in public libraries, the Garda Síochána, county councils, have a sufficient command of Irish to be able to do their business through that medium. The problem here is lip-service without speech. Why am I not greeted by ‘dia dhuit’ when I am accosted by a Garda, or when I go to get a book out from the library, or when I ring up the county council looking for information? Why can’t we have a situation where I am not embarrassed and self-conscious for speaking Irish? The cúpla focail are not difficult. Yet, why is it not part of the training and practice of public bodies to reflect the aspirations of the constitution of the state? Why will debates in Dáil Éireann and the Seanad be conducted in English this week? The state policy allows for the potentiality of Irish instead of its actuality. In other words, if I ring up the county council and I am greeted with ‘hello, how can I help you?’changing the language to Irish involves a conscious effort on my behalf becoming an object of communication rather than a means.If the bilingual legislation were implemented it would revolutionize Irish culture introducing colour and grace into the banalities of everyday communication, bringing the language out of the night and back to where it belongs in the cold light of day. Whether we like it or not, the spectre of Irish has not gone away you know. As long as we the multi-ethnic people of this island call ourselves Irish, the language question will remain inextricably linked to our sense of identity.

Dialann na hainnise

On entre, on crie, c’est la vie,
on crie on sort, c’est la mort’
Racine


Tá mó tríocha bliain ag teannadh liom. Ó shroich mé fichiu is a haon bliain d’aois níor theastainn uaim aon cheilúradh a dhéanamh ar mó bhreithlá. Ba scéal eile é nuair a bhí mé i luisne na hóige is mé ag tnúth leis an tsaoirse a bhainfinn as a bheith níos sine. Ach níl aon chúis a bheith dearfach faoin athrú ama. Tagann an saol, tagann an bás; idir an dá linn tá a lán streachailt agus fulaingt le cur suas leis sular dtéimid ar shlí na fírinne. Sin sin. Nílim a rá nach bhfuil suairceas ar bith ann. Faigheann muid suairceas mar shampla, nuair a dhéanaimid chomhriachtain don nóiméad beag bídeach, b’fhéidir, nó ag éisteacht le ceol cumhachtach drámatúil cosúil le Wagner nó Mahler, más féidir linn ‘suairceas’ a thabhairt ar an gcinéal soláis a fhaigheann muid as Liebestod nó Das Klagande Leid!

Nach mbeadh an bréag a dheireann beagnach gach sagart de gach reiligúin agus a thugann siad ‘flaitheas’ air, nach mbeadh sé sin cosúil le bheith ag bualadh craiceann le Kyle Minogue , ag togáil coicain is ag éisteacht le Ride of the ‘ValKylies’ ag an am céanna don chéad uair? Agus mhairfeadh sé de shíoraí de shíoraí! De de de dah dah de de de dah dah de de de daaaaaaaaaaah! Ní bheadh aon post-coitus, nó aon adagio níos mó, just súnas síoraíoch, allegro fortissimo! Agus má tá sé cosúil le sin, cén fáth nach gcuireann muid deireadh lenár saol anois agus ar aghaidh linn go dtí na Kylies dár mbrionglóidí! A consumation devoutly to be wished? Ní hea, tiocfaidh an adagio ar ais agus an iarchollaíocht leis!

Ní he go bhfuilim dolásach faoi dheireadh mó hóige, is ró-mhinic a shileann muid go mba am úr shimplí neamhurchóideach í ár n-óige ach nach raibh buairt is sceon is nausea céanna againne ag an am sin nuair a thosaigh muid ag foghlaim faoi na rialacha neamhchiallmhare den domhan mór seo? Cén fáth go shileann muid deor is screadeann muid nuair a bhreitheann muid? When we are born we cry that we are come to this stage of fools arsa Lear an Rí. Cé chomh minic is a chaoineann páistí nuair a thugann siad faoi ndeara nach gclíonn an domhan lena réamhchoincheap, agus cé nach dtugaimid aon luach ar a gcaoineadh neamhchiallmhar súid, tá a bpian chomh scéinúil sin is a bheidh sé i rith a shaol ach le athrú amháin; le himeacht ama beidh siad ábalta réasunú agus beidh an fhulaingt níos mó dá bharr.


Ní mór dom a admháil anseo nach bhfuil aon saíocht nó fealsúnacht bailithe agam go fóill as mó thuras tríd an domhan. Agus tá fhios agam freisin go bhfuilim an eoraip-lárnaithe i mo dhearcadh. B’fhéidir ba chóir dom turas fada a dheánamh anois i bhfad siar ó theorainn na hEorpa. Uaireannta is turas fada an saol, scaití is turas beag é. Ach taisteálann gach duine ina haonar le ticéad aon-bhealach chuig an bás. É sin ráite ní féidir a shéanadh go gcaithfidh muid glacadh go bhféadfadh ár shaol a bheith i bhfad níos measa agus níos measa fós. Muna gcuirim isteach orainn le mó headóchas, tagróidh mé do Shakespeare arís.
Better thus and known to be contem’d,
To be the lowest and most dejected thing of fortune,
Stand still in esperance, lose not in fear
The lamentable change is from the best
The worst returns to laughter.
The wretch that thou has blown unto the worst
Owes nothing to thy blasts.

Ní bheidh aon chóisir agam ar son mó bhreithlá. Beidh faoiseamh éigin agam agus an solás go bhféadfadh gach rud a bheith níos measa. ‘ but whose can say I’m at the worst, I’m worst than ere I was and worse I may be yet, the worst is not so long as we can say “this is the worst”. Agus ar ndóigh ní bheidh muid in ann é sin a rá sular stopann an traein cibé áit cibé am.

The Contradictions of Capitalism





Modern bourgeois society with its relations of production, of exchange and of property,
A society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like the sorcerer, who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world, whom he has called up with his spells
.
Marx and Engels- The Communist Manifesto


As election placards are hoisted throughout the country urging the masses to vote for this or that party’s bogus policies, their own particular tint of the same colour, the spectre of Ireland’s recent industrial past has once again reared its ugly head: unemployment. For a while, it seemed that this problem was a class room matter, something which the insouciant nouveau riche of the Celtic Tiger generation read about when studying economic history. The consensus of the last few years has been that Ireland has become one big happy middle class family. Everyone has money, so it seems. Therefore any talk of real left-right politics is scrupulously circumscribed. However, this year’s political concert rehearsals have been surprised by an unexpected cacophony: unemployment. Could this become an election issue before the curtain is raised in a few months time? The announcement of new job losses in Cork last week came as a shock to those who faithfully imbibed the government’s economic propaganda; ie those who had got married, bought property and booked their two weeks in the sun.



Today’s Ireland is a nation of multinational mobile companies who set up shop when wages are low and abscond when better opportunities arise elsewhere. As Marx and Engels put it
‘The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere.’

It is well known that the most central feature of capitalism is the boom and bust phenomenon. Marx and Engels spoke of ‘ the commercial crises that by their periodical return put on trial, each time more threateningly the very existence of the entire bourgeois society’. For a while now we have heard that the property market, the internal combustion engine of the Irish economy, may be showing signs of slowing down. This is hardly surprising, as those who are building the houses, ie the property developers are renting them out at inflated prices, flagrantly ignoring the needs of the majority of the population.


The whole property market has become a bauble for speculators and millionaires, instead of shelter for the populace. The average couple is forced to work over a 40 hour week to satisfy the lucre-lust of the multinational conglomerates who run this country, and to repay the borrowed money which they need to keep the whole property charade going. With all the stress, fast food and convenience foods become more common with their resultant ill-health, diabetes, depression, heart disease etc, the maladies of the hypercapitalist era. But not to worry, the government provides. That is to say, it provides for those who can pay for everything has its price. It seems the answer to the pathetic joke that calls itself the Health Service Executive is to build more private hospitals where people with money can get top service while the rest of us are consigned to death. After all, privatization has proved to be an astounding success, it’s most outstanding examples being the M50 toll bridge (subsequently bought back by the government at an astronomical price) and Eircom. But fear not, there’s plenty more on the way.


Eircom deserve special mention here. Many of those made redundant who are living in rural parts of Cork will find it harder to look for new jobs as they do not have a broadband internet connection. Ireland has one of the worst records in the developed world for the provision of broadband. We are at the bottom of the European table here, shamelessly traipsing behind countries such as Finland and Estonia. Eircom have recently announced a new initiative to provide an ubiquitous broadband service but such pronouncements have been dogged by procrastination on monetary grounds for years now. Eircom will not connect rural areas as they do not deem it profitable enough to do so. There was a time when Telecom Eireann existed to provide good communication for the state. The aim of the company then was to provide a service for the people. Eircom’s goal now is simply to make a profit. Service has nothing to do with it. The problem here however, is one of pure myopia. If I may allude to Marx and Engels once more
‘constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones’.
The government by failing to ensure the provision of the internet to every citizen of the state has weakend Ireland’s ability to be a competitor in the global information economy. What we have in the case of Eircom is an example of capitalism being hoist by its own petard, which is of course its very essence.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Gearóid Ó Colmáin on the Stealth Service Executive.

The Irish political landscape is becoming progressively bleak. Is there any way of getting rid of Fianna Fáil? How should we understand this world ‘fáil’, is it our destiny to have them or their destiny to have us? Are the people who run the worst health service in Europe, the feidhmeanas na seirbhíse sláinte ( the Health Service Executive), those comatose administrators of Hades, to be reinstated again?

There was much ado about the government’s National development plan last week with tonnes of money being flaunted. But it has been clear for a long time that there is a discrepancy between the possession of huge sums of money and the acumen required to convert it into an efficient administration. You are probably taking more of a risk entering some of our hospitals now than a lengthy sojourn in Chernoble! The word hospital in Ireland has come to signify that place you go to get sick! The Swedish word for hospital is ‘sjukhus’, literally ‘sickhouse’ like the German ‘Krankenhaus’. The irony is that these countries have health services that work! Another problem with the Feidhmeanas na Seirbhíse Sláinte is that it is generating so much bad publicity. This too could have serious consequences for our mental health. Have you felt that ineffable sense of despair every time you tuned into Prime Time on RTE recently with its interminable reports of sick people whose condition worsened once they entered the doors of the HSE? Bad news about the health service is making this country ill!

If this shambolic government is re-elected I suggest they change the name of Feidhmeanas na Seirbhíse Sláinte to DSE, The Death Service Executive. They could run a chirpy advertisement campaign which would go along these lines: ‘Are you having trouble dying? Get to your nearest hospital now and we’ll put an end to your misery. With overcrowding in our waiting areas, infectious diseases spreading rapidly and a conspicuous absence of specialists, we’ll have you dead in no time. The DSE, sponsored by Dante’s Inferno Ltd. Abandon all hope ye who enter in!’.

On a more cheerful note, all of this could end. But it should seem obvious to muintir na hÉireann that the Fianna have got to go! So what’s the alternative? Well, seeing as our only true socialist leader James Connoly was shot 90 years ago, and Irish democracy has always been a charade since then between two right wing parties, each trying to right wing the other out of power, our only hope now is in Fine Gael. Yes, Fine Gael, those rural crusaders, those harbingers of , harbingers of something, possibly, maybe? Can we put hope in Fine Gael? This is a silly question as they have no policies, no solutions, no coherent ideology other than questionable beliefs in some form of pan European Christian homogeneity with a celtic gloss. Fine Gael, wasn’t that the party who had a brief fling with that raving catholic fascist Eoin O Duffy in the 1930s? I’m afraid so. But to be fair they’ve calmed down a bit since then. Nowadays, all they are saying is that we should have a debate about immigration, which is code-language for ‘When we get into power we’ll send those effing foreigners home’. Again to be fair, I rather like Enda Kenny and I don’t think he is a xenaphobe. But there are plenty of xenophobes out there who vote for Fine Gael and he knows it. Every vote counts when you’re desperate! Poor Enda, his heart must be broken after Labour’s Pat pulled a Rabbite out of his hat yet again by equivocating about whether he would share power with Fianna Fáil, after telling the electorate that he would never ever do so. Yes, Rabbite was eloquent on Questions and Answers a while back with his pompous ‘’ what part of no don’t you understand?’’ So what part of no. yes/no no/yes, maybe, possibly if and when, don’t we understand? Seeing as Labour and Fine Gael seem to have squandered their chances of ousting Fianna Fáil, one can only hope that An Comhaontas Glas, the Green Party gets into power. Seeing as it is now accepted that the global heat is on and that Noah’s Flood is due for a come back, it might be prudent to vote for the Greens. You would probably still get Fine Gael, but at least you would get Fianna Fáil out. As well as that, we might get a public transport service and a health service that works. Imagine that! The thought of Fianna Fáil getting back into power again is the thought of the Stealth Service Executive, the oil dependent economy, the plutocracy whose motto is ‘don’t get sick if you need a public hospital’. It’s time to take the ‘fáil’ away from the ‘fianna’ and give it back to the people!

Gearóid O Colmáin on The Colonized

‘Every time the question of the language surfaces, in one way or another, it means that a series of other problems are coming to the fore: the formation and enlargement of the governing class, the need to establish more intimate and secure relationships between governing groups and the national-popular mass, in other words to re-organise the cultural hegemony’.

Antonio Gramsci.

This year sees the accession of two new member states to the European Union, Rumania and Bulgaria. Two more languages, two new motifs to the great symphony of European polyglossia (many tongues). 2007 will also be the year in which official documentation of the EU is translated into Irish. It took our governments long enough to insist on the implementation of this legislation, and it shows how far we have matured since our own accession to the euro club in 1973. But just how important is it to have EU documents in Irish? To the common man or woman it is of little consequence. Why then, should so much money be spent producing literature that very few are going to read? It has symbolic importance, but is this good enough? Is it sufficient to awaken this country from its cultural slumber, its socio-linguistic malaise, the trauma of its nebulous past? Will we hear Gaelic spoken in Strasbourg and Brussels? Spoken Gaelic loud and clear.That is all that is required now. Rumours of the language’s death have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Irish language literature is flourishing and our Gaelscoileanna are among the finest in the country. Now is the time for assertion and confidence. We are one of the most rapidly growing multicultural counties in Europe with well over a hundred languages spoken in our schools. We are also a country that has emerged, albeit scared and wounded, from the nightmare of history. Many who have joined us from overseas (dream dár slua thar thoinn tháinig chugainn- some have come from across the wave- Amhráin na bhFiann, national anthem), have experienced colonialism and many speak minority languages.This should make us more sensitive to the existence and importance of foreign languages in our midst .Indeed, our situation is unique in Europe; a post-colonial country, now one of the richest nations in the world, still coming to terms with a history that was experienced for the most part in a language that is now foreign to so many of us. We are foreign to ourselves. This could be the greatest lesson of any cultural history. But we will only comprehend its meaning through openness and dialogue with other cultures.The Poles, the Bulgarians, the Rumanians, the Slovenians, the Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians etc have much to teach us about language and identity. Their integration and the continued interest in Irish language and culture shown by our immigrant communities portend much hope for our future. As Europeans we must resist the increasing hegemony of English throughout the EU. This is in all our interests. Europe has much to learn from Ireland in this respect. We have perhaps even more to learn from our African emigrants, whose histories and diverse cultures, languages and traditions were obfuscated through centuries of western misunderstanding.


We must not relapse into the kind of bureaucratic approach to the Irish language criticized by one of our greatest Gaelic writers Martín Ó Cadhain. Ó Cadhain contended that
‘Henceforward the Irish language movement would have to play an active role in the struggle of the Irish people to fulfil the aims of the 1916 manifesto. This is the reconquest of Ireland, the revolution, the revolution of the mind and the heart, the revolution in wealth distribution, property rights and living standards.’

This struggle is is far from complete, but now Europe has reclaimed the Gaels. The real reclamation must start here and now through the simple use of our beautiful foclóir Gaeilge! Athbhliain faoi shéan agus faoi mhaise daoibh!

TG4 mar Teilfís na hEorpa: An bhfuil rogha eile ann d’aonghnéitheacht, aonteangachas? ( Gearóid O Colmáin)

Óm sceol ar ardmhagh Fáil ní chodlaim óiche
‘s do bhreoigh ga bráth mé dála a pobail dílís;
gé rófhada atáid ‘na bfhál ré broscar bíobha,
fá dheoidh gur fhás a lán den chogal tríothu.
‘Om Sceol Ar Ardmhagh Fáil’

Séathrún Céitinn



Céard a cheapfadh Seathrún Céitinn dá n-amharcfadh sé ar ‘ardhmhagh fáil’, ar Éirinn inniú? Ó bhuníodh an saorstát i 1922, theastaigh ó na húdarais fuireach ó gach rud coimhíoch, gach rud a gcruthódh easaontas tríd díospóireacht a ghríosú i measc na ndaoine. An bhfuil sé sa chiall sin gur chóir dúinnn ‘broscar bíobha’ de Sheathrún Céitinn a thuiscint, nó an bhfuil brúscar ar leith i gceist anseo? Céard é bunús den bhrúscar din, cárbh as dó agus an bhfuil aon chaoi inar féidir linn fáil réidh leis?

Bhí mé ag féachaint ar an teilfís aréir, ag dul ó stáisiún go stáisiún ag iarraidh rud éigin súimiúil a aimsiú. Níl sé éasca sa lá atá inniu ann. An rogha a bhí agam ná clár meiricánach nó clár ceanann céanna méiricánach eile! Fiú amháin I TG4? Fiú amháin I TG4. sea, fiú amháin I TG4! Is ea an consensus communis faoi láthair ná go gcaithfidh tú an seafóíd sin a chraoladh má theastaíonn uait go leor airgead a bhailliú chun do stáisúin a choinnéal beo. Níl aon dabht ach go bhfuil an ‘seafóídeacht’ de chultúr na hÉorpa tar éis tarlú le teilfís réaltach ag dul o neart go neart. Ach má fhéachann tú ar Arte nó TV5, tá I bhfad níos mó chultúr agus níos lú de ‘bhroscar bíobha’ ó na Stáit Aontaithe, bolscaireacht de chultúr agus de shocaí atá fíordhifriúil den chultúr atá againne san Eoraip. An bhfuil alán den chogal sin ag fás tríd ár gcultúir éagsúla faoi láthair? Níl aon amhras ach go bhfuil. Agus is cúis imní í do gach éinne agus ní amháin sa tír seo, ach don Eoraip ar fad, cé go bhfuil an fhadhb is mó sa tír seo.

O bhunaídh TG4 deich mbliain ó shin, tá sé tar éis clú agus cáil a bhaint amach mar staisúin chultúrtha inar féidir linn cláracha faisnéise, cláracha intleachtúla den chéad rang a fheiceáil. Beidh an stáisúin neamhspleách an bhliain seo. Tá suil agam go mbeidís in ann níos mó chultúr a chraoladh agus níos lú brúscar. Ba chóir go gcraolfaidís níos mó chláracha i dteangacha éagsúla, níos mó ilteangachas, gan a bheith ró féin-lárnaithe. Má tá rud ar leith á cháineadh faoin gcultúr gaelach sa tír seo, is ea go bhfuil an iomarca Gaelgeoirí ag caint faoin nGaeilge, faoin nGaeltacht, ag caint futhú féin. Níl aon leighis don circle viceux ach ár dtreoir intinne a leathnú amach fad fad na hEorpa, mar i bhfírinne, is sa Mhór-róinn atá tuiscint agus bá maidir le cultúr agus oidhreacht le fáil. Mar sin, ba choir an ‘broscar bíobha’ a lúann Céitinn a thuiscint i gchomhthéacs den chaoi inar bhfuilimid ag brath ar chultúr Sasanach-meiricánach amháin, agus ár meon sáinnithe ina Weltanschaunng cúng frithintleachtúil. Ergo, mholfainn dá gcraolfaidís cláracha i bPolainnis, i Laitvís, i Liotuáinis agus mar sin de. Dá bhrí sin, béimid in ann muid féin a lonnú i gchomhthéacs oiriúnach dúinn mar phobal mionlach na hEorpa, atá níos cosúla do mhuintir na Seice, nó mhuintir na Laitve ná d’Éireann mar a tá sí faoi láthair is í gan teanga agus féinthuiscint.

Gluais

At the news from Fál’s high plain I cannot sleep.
I am sick till doom at the plight of its faithful folk.
Long have they stood as a hedge against hostile trash
But a lot of cockle has grown up through them at last.

dá n-amharcfadh sé- if he were to view
theastaigh ó na húdarais- the authorities
coimhíoch- foreign, exotic.
easaontas- dissension
a aimsiú- to find
seafóídeacht- stultification, dumbing down
ilteangachas- multilingualism
ár dtreoir intinne- our mental direction
Mhór-róinn- the continent
Weltanschaunng cúng frithintleachtúil- narrow, anti- intellectual worldview.

Coimhlint i Somáile: ruaigeadh na moslamach agus dul chinn cinn na foréigne ( Gearóid O Colmáin)

Is docúl go síolraíonn moréis na n-Éorpach ó shibhialtacht na n-Gréig fadó. Chum na Gréagach an focal ‘barbaroi’ chun cur síos a dhéanamh do Pheirsis, mar gur shíl siad nach raibh inti ach bar bar bar! Ní raibh morán meas ag na Gréagaigh do dreamanna eile, afach, cé is moite de na Ceiltigh.Dúirt na Gallaigh a bhí lonnaithe san Anatolia le Alexander nach raibh eagla orthu roimh éinne. Ach shil na Gréagaigh go raibh dream eile ina chonaí níos faide ó dheas tharr na Ejiptigh, agus an t-ainim a thug siad orthu, ná Aetóipigh. Dúirt Homer gur ndeachaigh na déithe go dtí an Aetóip gach bliain chun feis a chéilúradh ar feadh dhá déag lá. Shíl Herodotus go raibh Aetóip ina theorainn an domhain. Dúirt sé chomh maith go raibh na Ethiopaigh ceann de na daoine is dathúila ar domhan. Is cinnte anois go raibh sé ag caint faoin régúín sin. Is meascán de chultúr sean, ard, morga é An Aetóip. Tá suas le 82 teangacha á labhairt sa tír, ach is iad Amharic agus Béarla na teangacha oifigúila. Is tír í an Aetóip a mhair neamhpleách ó na mórchumhachtaí eorpaigh go dtí daorsmacht Mussolini i 1935.


Thainig An Aetóip ar ais ar mheán domhanda le déanaí le coimhlint i Somalia. Dúradh go raibh grúpla mileata moslamach ag iarraidh déachtóireacht fhíochmhar a bhunú sa tír, is iad ag siniú cumhacht mhoslamaigh ar fud an réigúin. Is cinnte nach bhfuil na moslammaigh mileata na An tAontas Islamach na gCúirteanna sa réigúin ro-fhorbartha ó thaobh cearta daonna de, ach ba choir a thuiscint chomh maith an drochstaid a bhí ann roimhe sin. Is í an fhadhb is mó sa réigiún ná morgthacht pholaitiúil agus ní raibh riaracháin chóir dhaonlathach i Somalia le blianta ach rialtas soip faoi scáth bagrach de Ethiopia. Bhí siad lonnaithe i Baidoa go dtí le déanaí. Bhris coimhlint amach arís i 1978 agus anois is arís o 1982.

Fuair An Aetóip cabhair arís anois ó Na Stáit Aontaithe. Thug siad trealamh mileata dóibh agus de réir foinsí áirithe, bhí siad páirteach san greas mileata roimh nollaig. Scaoil siad buamaí ar fud dheiscirt na tíre. Tá sé dealraitheach, afách, go dtiocfaidh an rialtas soip ar ais go Modadishu anois chun an folús polaitaíochta a líonadh. Dár leis na Stáit Aontaithe, bhí gníomhaithe tábhachtacha ó Al Qaida ina chonaí sa tír. Ach níor fuarthas aon fhianaise chun é sin a chruthú. Cáineadh na Stáit Aontaithe ón Aontas Eorpach agus na Náisiún Aontaithe as a hionsaithe sa Somalia, ach mar is eol dúinn go léir, ní chaillaíonn sé sin faic faoi láthair. Dúirt Uachtarán na hAetóip Meles Zenawi go dtógfaidh siad a trúpaí as Somalia nuair a thagann saighdúirí ón Aontas Afrach ar ball. Ach cé go ndéanann rialtas na Stáit Aonaithe alán stocaireacht faoina mbua i Somalia, tá sé deacair a thuar conas a n-éiróidh leo rialtas buan cothrom a bunú sa tír le tacaíocht d’fhormhór na ndaoine. Tá gach cosúlacht ann go gcloisfidh muid níos mó faoin gcoimhlint súid ar ball. Is léir le fada an lá nach bhfuil feis na n-Déithe á chéilúradh sa réigiún a thug Homer Aetióp air.

Gluais

Is docúl go síolraíonn moréis na n-Éorpach- it is likely that the arrogance of the European derives from…
cur síos a dhéanamh- to describe
dreamanna- people
cé is moite de- except for
lonnaithe- settled
is dathúila- most handsome
na mórchumhachtaí- big powers
daorsmacht- oppression
coimhlint- conflict
morgthacht- rottenness, corruption
daonlathach- democratic
rialtas soip- puppet regime

Gearóid O Colmáin on the burning of books and people

Das war ein Vorspiel nur.
Dort wo man Bucher Verbrennt,
verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen

Heinrich Heine


On may 10th 1933 in Bebelplatz in Berlin, the SS took thousands of books from the libraries of the Humboldt University and piled them in a pyre, where they set them alight. The books were by Jewish authors and academics. The quotation above is written in the square today where the books were burned and reads, ‘that was only a prelude.where men burn books, there too some day they will burn humans’. The ethnic Jews of Europe had soared some of the greatest heights of European culture, Mendelsohn, Mahler, Kafka, Mann, Marx, Spinoza, Einstein, Chagal, Kandinsky, the list of intellectual achievements is staggering. Some of the worst acts of barbarism took place in Yasenovatac concentration camp in Croatia where the psychopathic Ustasha regime, lead by Anton Pavelitch, undertook the systematic annihilation of Jews, Orthodox serbs and communists at the Yasanovac concentration camp, where up to 1 million people died. The catholic church played a central role in this holocaust, led by Monsignor Alyosius Stepinac, a committed fascist and antisemite who would later be tried for crimes against humanity by Tito’s communist regime. In spite of this, however, he was promoted to Cardinal in 1953 by Pope Pius XII and sanctified by Pope John Paul II in 1995. The Vatican has since produced an impressive corpus of lies in order to hide their nefarious role in the Croatian holocaust. One glance at the literature on the net and you will be regaled with mendacious versions of his life. However, the documentary and photographic evidence against Stepinac is incontrovertible. Cathal O Shanlon’s documentary ‘Ireland’s Nazis’ reveals the extent to which this country acquiesced and in some cases participated in the pervasive anti-semitism of the time by refusing to take in our share of Jewish asylum-seekers, while welcoming fascist murderers from Croatia, France, Belgium and Germany, many of whom escaped to Ireland through connections in the Roman Catholic Church.

It makes the blood run cold to think that Eamon De Valera, a man who fought alongside James Connolly in the Éirí Amach of 1916, could have harboured fascist sympathies. Yet he did. As did the ideologue of the unwitting Irish populace, Eugenio Pacelli or Pope Pius XII. The Irish government of 30’s and 40’s banned almost any edifying book they could get their hands on, driving free thinkers from this country in their thousands . One of the first victims of censorship was the Tailor and Antsy, a book full of ribaldry, derision and sexuality, steeped in the rural sagacity of West Cork’s Gaelic culture, a world view that was unpalatable to the government of the time, whose monoethnic conception of Éire as the land of ‘comely maidens’ and ‘bucolic bliss’ was not reflected in the world of the tailor. The Seanad debated its alleged ‘filth’ for four days banning it outright. It was subsequently burned by a local priest. An act of despicable barbarism. Could this have happened in the Isola sanctorum doctorumque, the island of saints and scholars? A land famed in medieval Europe for its love of learning and pious humility? The land of Eriugena the philosopher( whose magnum opus was also burnt by the Church) and Dicúil the geographer? Should we not be bibliophiles (lovers of books) rather than bibliophobes ( fearers of books) in this island that brought the light of learning to medieval Europe?

What would a land of learning and pious humility be in the twenty first century? A philosophical culture that thrives on the differences between people, differences that make us question our own way of being as well as that of the other, a cosmopolitan nation composed of the diversities of human understanding. Páidraigín Haicéid, a Gaelic poet of the seventeenth century spoke of how ‘an Ghaeilge ghrinnshlitheach, Gaelic of the subtle paths’ was antipathetic to the interests of the clergy of the time. In a fulminating verbal tirade against dogma entitled ‘Do Chuala mé Inné’, Haicéad says

Fuagraim tréad an chaolraigh chuimsithe
‘s a bhfuath, a Dhé, tar éis mo mhuintire.


I condemn the herd of narrow censors
And the hate they bear my people, O my God.

If history teaches us anything, it is that ‘caolraigh chuimsithe’, the narrow censors of Human diversity, always fail in the end. But in order to learn the lessons of history, we rely on the ‘grinnshlí’, the subtle path of understanding, sometimes revealed to us in those epiphanous moments, such as when speaking a foreign language we nod and say, oui, je comprend, tak, rozumiem, sea, tuigim, tuigim anois.

Gearóid Ó Colmáin looks for the truth about Éire

Supposing that Truth is a woman- what then? Is there not ground for suspecting that all philosophers, in so far as they have been dogmatists, have failed to understand women- that the terrible seriousness and clumsy importunity with which they have usually paid their addresses to Truth, have been unskilled and unseemly methods for winning a woman?

Frederich Nietzsche

On a cloudy afternoon last June, I sat in a Café in Bretagne reading Nietzsche’s book, Beyond Good and Evil. I had just read the first page from which the above quotation is taken, when my colleague who was reading a copy of Metro Eireann I had given him, asked ‘’ what does Eireann mean?’’ Éire is my motherland’’, I replied.’’ But descriptions of her vary and she has been much fought over.’’ As we gazed out at the vast Atlantic Ocean, I ventured yet another description of Éire.

It has been claimed that two major periods of immigration to Ireland brought Gaelic civilization. The first is usually dated around 500 BC, the other at the later date of about 300 BC. Most historical texts about Ireland refer to the Milesian invasion. The relative truth of this myth is the source of much scholarly debate. Milesius was, according to Irish mythology, a Spanish king. He had a wife named Scota.Scotia became the name used by Latin writers for Ireland ( whence the word ‘Scotland’ which was settled by the Irish in the 5th century AD).

It is said that when the sons of Milesius arrived in Ireland they met with a goddess who appeared to the ancient poet Amhairghin in three different guises under three different names. She first appeared high up on the Slieve Mis mountains. Greeting the invaders, she introduced herself as Banbha and asked the poet to call the island after her. Farther inland, on Cnoc Áine, she appeared again under the name of Fodhla and again asked the poet to call the island after her. Again Amhairghin did not refuse, but it was upon the Cnoc Uisneach or the Hill of Uisneach where the goddess appeared under the name of Éire that the island got its name. Éire was often referred to as Inis Fáil- the Isle of destiny, because Gaelic genealogists traced the origin of the Gaels back to an area near Asia Minor via Egypt, where it was foretold that the progeny of Milesius would inherit the Western Isle.

There have been many invasions and settlements of this island since the time of Milesius. Danish, Norman French, English and today’s diverse melange of immigrants from around the globe, to many of whom perhaps Éire is again, Inis Fáil, the Isle of Destiny. Irish poets since Amhairghin have imagined Éire as a woman, the goddess mother who nourishes and holds us in her verdant embrace. The notion of Éire as a woman who had been sullied and raped by British occupation was a cogent feature of Irish poetry in both Gaelic and English. Yeats, conjuring the nationalist spirit, memorably asks’

‘did some woman’s yellow hair madden every mother’s son?’

Éire, the blond-haired maiden, rouses her children to fight for her.
British imperialist thinkers often exploited Ireland’s mythological femininity to justify their ‘masculine’ Anglo-saxon rule. In the stultifying climate of early post-independence Ireland, the gallant role of women in the struggle for national self- determination exemplified by the militant Cumann na mBan,(association of women) was often played down. De Valera described Cumann na mBan as ‘unmanagable revolutionaries’.

The patriarchal Catholic Church was always less than sympathetic to the veneration of the daughters of Eve, other than in her de-sexualised form as the Virgin Mother. But the passive de-sexualised goddess contained in the oriental idea of the Virgin Mother is quite foreign to the conception of women and goddesses in Celtic mythology. The Irish Achilles, Cúchullainn, was himself trained by a female warrior called Scathách. Irish mythology abounds in stories of women warriors such as the intrepid Queen Maeve of Connaught who took on the men of Ulster, which is recounted in the epic saga ‘An Táin Bó Cuaillgne’ The Cattle Raid of Cooley.

Maybe some of the points I have made might explain why foreign women often refer to Irish ladies as ‘ tough’. It might just be a ‘celtic’ phenomenon. I like to think of the celtic woman as a proto-feminist, a feral, audacious freedom-fighter. And what then if we ask the question concerning truth? Who is Éire and how can we know her? If with Nietzsche, we contend that there are no historical truths, just descriptions, then we should say we will never know all of Éire, however skilled or seemly our methods are of winning her.