Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Widow's Son reading group, Week Nine

Frederick, Elector Palatine and Elizabeth Stuart 

Week Nine (pg. 105-138 Hilaritas edition or Part Two, Chapter 1&2 all editions)

By Gregory Arnott, special guest blogger 

I have to apologize for being late this week- I’ve started a new job that required a lot of planning last week in anticipation for the next. Regrettably these two chapters contain an extraordinary amount of information and this will be a short write up. 

Chapter 1 moves the action to Ireland and introduces us to Simon Moon’s ancestor, Seamus Muadhen. This chapter was presumably written while RAW was living in Ireland and his interest, enthusiasm, and expertise on Irish history is on full display. On the first page alone we are given a vivid slice of history that is mind boggling, especially when one is considering annotation.  Naturally much of the subjects brought up are of interest to Joyce scholars; Howth and Vico Road are both in the famous opening line of Finnegans Wake, the discussion of Hamlet is the subject of one of my favorite parts of Ulysses, “Scylla and Charybdis,” and we are provided with Dedalus’ famous opinion on history via Muadhen’s musings. Dalkey Island, where Seamus is introduced to conspiracy and a different fate than his Plan’s intentions, shares a name with Flann O’Brien’s novel The Dalkey Archive which was the first published appearance of de Selby. I’m sure some of the readers caught more relations than I did and am looking forward to reading about them! 

RAW gives us a handful of the atrocities committed by the English against the Irish as Muadhen boats about the bay but balances these accounts; he makes sure to mention the James II and Edward Charles Stuart weren’t the Romantic figures of Jacobite lore and that the violence between Catholics and Protestants are an ugly cycle. I remember while studying in my Tudor and Stuart History seminar the point made by my professor about the reign of Queen Mary and why exactly the English would never suffer another Catholic to sit the throne. Maybe it’s my affection for John Dee, whom she imprisoned, but Mary has always struck me as an abnormally ugly figure in history and I’ve always hated the revisionist attempts to paint her otherwise in popular history. There are many stories being told in this chapter. 

Interestingly enough, in the long footnote concerning the Rosicrucians in Chapter 2 RAW doesn’t mention that part of Dame Yates’ study of the marriage of Elizabeth of England and Frederick V in the light of the Rosicrucian hoax/heresy/revelations focuses on the implications for the balance of power between Protestantism and Catholicism on the Continent. According to Yates, it was widely hoped that the marriage between Frederick and James Stuart’s daughter would ensure Protestant British support if and when the Elector Palatine challenged the Catholic Habsburg hegemony over some strongly Protestant German/central European states. The joke was on them because James evidently didn’t give a shit and the Winter King was defeated at the Battle of White Mountain which served as an overture to the Thirty Years War. But they sure got those Habsburg ambassadors when they tossed them out the window. 

We are (re)introduced to Wilson’s historically accurate portrait of Washington as a hemp-smoking, taciturn, and all-around-bizarre giant of a man. Aside from Wilson, Thomas Pynchon’s George Washington is also a pot-smoking gentleman whose views on liberty and slavery are drawn into sharp contrast while he meets and discusses all-and-everything with Mason and Dixon in the novel of the same name. Although the scene is improved in Pynchon’s novel by the inclusion of a slave character who is Jewish and much smarter than the other three men, a situation he begins to take advantage of when the grass starts burning. 

In the Bastille Sigismundo is going through all the emotions that one would expect a new prisoner to experience: regret, desperation, sorrow, fear, and the need for a shoulder to cry on. Thankfully he is provided with the council of Father Benoit, a Fellow in the Craft. Sigismundo is again able to find strength in his training and initiations. 

In de Selby news we find out that the Professor Hanfkopf has most likely murdered O’Broichain, La Puta, and Le Monade. If they were ever real in the first place. 

From Eric Wagner: “I thought this week we would use the song Seamus thinks about on page 120.” 

8 comments:

Eric Wagner said...

I think DeSelby first appeared in The Third Policeman.

supergee said...

O’Brien wrote The Third Policeman in 1940 but did not publish it. It appeared posthumously. He cannibalized it for The Dalkey Archive

tony smyth said...

Yep, De Selby is from Flann O'Brien's The Third Policeman. Dalkey Island is about 1.5 -2 miles south of where RAW lived in Sandycove, his main place of residence in Dublin.

Rarebit Fiend said...

What supergee said- my pedantic nature made sure to include published appearance.

Oz Fritz said...

p.86 Bluejay edition, last complete paragraph that starts: "Father Benoit, Sigismundo realized, had gone into the passive-detached state..."
Benoit appears able to still his headbrain chatter, his inner monologue, and detach from any preconceived beliefs to listen to Sigismundo. In other words, he is completely present.

p.87 right after the *(Advertisement) Sigismundo appears to have a telepathic sense of what Benoit thinks.

Qabalistically, Chapter 2 connects to Chokmah, the second Sephira on the Tree of Life, known in English as Wisdom; also corresponds with the Illuminating Intelligence. In this chapter RAW give gives the best, most succinct general explanations of two pillars of Western Occultism: The Freemasons and the Rosicrucians, with a little historical background thrown in for good measure.

Back to Chapter One, p.68 has a very interesting curse: "... crosseyed devil land sideways on all of them. Bleeding Christ ..."

p. 71 "Seamus knew exactly what game was afoot." We get a little Sherlock Holmes influence here. "The game is afoot" became a signature line uttered by Holmes in the films with Basil Rathbone. Not sure if it originally came from Conan Doyle or not.

Alias Bogus said...

The details of the Irish relationship to the English seems quite topical, as the issue has existed for 250 years, and continues (although mosbunall English people seem unaware of the horrific details. In spite of the fact that many more people have become secular, the Republic of Ireland remains somewhat Catholic, and Northern Ireland (the six counties that still belong to the UK) has a Protestant basis, and a link to ‘Great Britain’.

Currently, that border between the two, always fiercely fought over by ‘secret societies’ like the Orange Men, and the IRA (both of whom consider the other as ‘terrorists’), seems likely to get re-activated, simply because the English don’t really care, and seem willing to sacrifice the fragile peace (that arose from both sides belonging to a bigger entity – i.e. the European Union) to achieve their separatist nonsense called Brexit.

Why do cynics like me (Irish ancestors, the Moriarty clan – but born and raised in England) find it amusing? Because the English still try to treat Ireland as a mere ex-colony, without appearing to realise that Ireland now has the support of 26 other countries of the EU, and has the bigger leverage in negotiations. Hahahahaha!

I feel sure Bob picked up some of this back then, although ‘The Troubles’ (as they called the guerrilla war) would have felt far more active, because the ‘peace’ only really kicked in during the late 90s.
In the 80s, hunger strikers like Bobby Sands died in prison. In 1984 ‘they’ nearly managed to blow up the British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. And I tried to avoid the IRA ‘bomb scares’ in London.

Oz Fritz said...

p. 82 Bluejay - the deSelby quote: "The only sane attitudes ... are those of the sadomasochist." Gilles Deleuze wrote a book. "Masochism: Coldness and Cruelty" examining the philosophy behind the writings of Leopold van Sacher Masoch and sadomasochism. I haven't read it.

"Le Monade regards this passage as 'an outburst of adolescent leftism unworthy of de Selby's otherwise transcendental imagination." Deleueze also stood accused of letting his leftist politics to get in the way of his philosophy.

RAW implies the non-local(quantuum) circuit with the lunatic on p. 80 picking up on what George Washington wrote in his notebook at the conclusion of Chapter One: "No Wyfe, No horse, No mustache."

The Jesuit priest Benoit has an interesting name:
Benoit = Ben + o + it
Ben = 57 which corresponds with the Rosy Cross - see Chapter 57 in "The Book of Lies" or my recent blog on "V."; o = Pan = All and Everything; it = one of Crowley's common word magick formulas. Again see "The Book of Lies" for an honest account.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

From Chapter One of Part Two: "Almost everybody had forgotten by then that Ireland once had more universities and more learned men than all the rest of Europe together."

A book of popular history, Thomas Cahill's "How the Irish Saved Civilization," discusses the large role Irish monks played during the "Dark Ages" in the transmission of books.