Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Crossroad

Na cailini ag damhsa ag na crossroads." In english that translates as "the girls dancing at the ..." well, you know the rest. That was DeValera's plan. His vision. An Ireland that belonged to that ethereal plane of utopian idealism. We had our language squashed by outsiders, outsiders who raped us in more than just the physical sense. This was also the rape of a culture. The rape of a society. Irishness was more than just under threat - it was facing extinction. The purity of the Irish nation was at stake. A language no more; a culture no more, to be crushed beneath the boot of British imperialism. So the story goes. And Dev was the one to restore that realm which nostalgia thrives open. That perfect of realms, where the cailini really did dance at the crossroads.

The dream is over. Like Europe before us we have hit a wall against which our fantasies can no longer travel. I would call it a wall of reality, but that would not only be too easy, but also misleading. Reality and fantasy stand in opposition to each other so completely precisely because they compliment each other so completely.

No, this is not a wall of reality. This is rather a wall which signifies the collapse of a reality, and with it a fantasy. There are no cailini dancing at the crossroad.

The parochial, homely, kind nation of "now you can't be doing that" Gombeens is coming to an end. Ireland is truly becoming a modern country. Its prolonged childhood is coming to an end, and like the drunk who lives with his tormented elderly mother, it must face a death. The drunk faces the death of his mother who for too long allowed such irresponsible behaviour to happen. He must face the end of that comfort which allowed him to become this way. The nation and the drunk must face responsibility, and with it the sins of the past and an uncertain future.

Responsibility's a bitch.

Clerical sex abuse. A banking system run wild. Politics and politicians at a loss for words. An end. A crumbling of a veil - and the destruction of the politics which aided said veil so completely. A confrontation, and a collapse. The collapse of a politics which does not confine itself to the political system, but encompasses much of, if not all, public life. It may not be a particularly unique problem confined exclusively to this little country of ours, except that it is so widespread. It is a problem of parochialness, of a system of unaccountability, where certain opportunists can thrive without any checks and balances. Survival of the ruthless. And as long as there are some things that you just shouldn't talk about or question, the system survives.

To say that this almost medieval mentality is all bad would be to ignore the complexity of our current predicament. There is a huge comfort in an open, hospitipal nation full of Gombeens, or under the roof of the tormented mother who has allowed it all to go on to long, a real Irish mammy.

Self delusion is always comforting. But the drunk's mother is now dead. The collapse is well under way, and we face an end, a death in the family which will change that family dynamic forever.

Goodbye Eire. Hello brave new world.

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