“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Sympathy for a bitter old man

The pope crap keeps on coming. The media are intent on thrusting the doings of the Vatican in our faces for … forever, it seems. Or at least as long as it took to get O.J. to get out of that white car he was in. Remember, in the long ago, the golden days of Good King Clinton?

In any case, it struck me that, aside from the general vileness of the new Pope’s principles, he might be one of the sadder people in public life. To reach out one’s arthritic, clawlike fingers and snatch the office one wanted – one earned, one deserved! – at a much younger age – now, now when the juice has been squeezed out of the grape, it seems so pitiful. And it isn’t like Ratzinger has had a life. Your ordinary churchman can chuck it all and get a beer and talk with buddies if he wants – he’s living, after all, in some urban crush, the bishop of someplace like New York or Chicago or the like. He can have some female companionship, even if he doesn’t make it sexual. He can go to the movies.

But Ratzinger has spent the finer hours of his life in the Vatican hothouse. Ixnay on the female companionship – or even on having lunch with your favorite Mafia don. It is all brushing surplices with flocks of the inbred Vatican-ites, a bunch of pious poodles who are barely house trained. And in the meanwhile, years of brownnosing the boss. The backlog of resentment must be hard to bear. And then to go on, when the old man finally dies, and make him out to be a saint – when of course you were there for the acidic mood changes, and for all the body betraying the guy with its smells and bruises, you were there to see how he fucked up majorly in this or that way, how you could have done better, how he never resigned and gave you a chance when you were still young enough to enjoy things, how you had to hear years of his praises, his great intellectual capacity, his loving qualities, when how about yours, no, you didn't have a showy philosophy but your grades were generally excellent and it isn't like rising up to judge the faith of the faithful is some job anybody can do, and sure it is easy to display loving qualities when you have your Beria, your Himmler by your side to do the dirty work, sure, you were always there, the convenient dump, the excuse, the man not in the popemobile, and the desire for it rots but it doesn't go away, it is like the fruit of knowledge lodged within you that infinitely browns and wrinkles and ferments but never dissolves, somehow, until all you have is that fruit – it has to create a massive internal corrosion of one’s very capacity to pity, it has to reach out and soil every part of one's life, one can't take a shit without being shrouded in the ceaseless bitterness. All this to get an office in an organization ostensibly dedicated to the God of Love. When they put the funny hat on the guy, he can look around at all the faces and see not one that loves him – mother and father long dead, and no doubt – if he has grandnieces and nephews – those long alien to him. It wouldn’t surprise me if he was the embarrassment in the family, he makes good and they might even drop his name now, a celebrity, and as a connection, something one can brag about in a business so that you make deals that you wouldn't otherwise have the chance to, sure, he's of some use, but funny uncle Benny, as they will have to call him now, and trust him to take a name as ungainly and dumb as that one. One imagines it to be one of those Thomas Bernhard Austrian families – ossified neurotics, museum quality ignoramuses, such as are displayed and splayed and spayed in Bernhard’s Ausloeschung. If you want to understand the level of cretinism, and its breathless spiritual vacuums now on display in the Vatican, go to that novel.


Anonymous said...

Now change scene. Halfway around the world, another poor wretch slogs away for what is it--four year now? churning out daily missives from nowheresville that only a few bored internauts bother to read. A constant scramble to pay the rent while his peers get rich as lawyers, bankers, engineers, realtors. The rage and bitterness piles up and then begins to flow out of his pen/keyboard...

From the perspective of the material world of the senses, all spiritual life (the life of the mind) is essentially identical. A left-wing intellectual immersed in thought looks identical to a right-wing intellectual immersed in thought, other than for possible differences in dress, hair style, etc. When criticizing an intellectual, you must stick to criticizing ideas.

roger said...

Anonymous, you are right, I did want that Pope gig. I liked the hours, and only had trouble with the lack of female company...

But seriously -- you have to use what you know about yourself to judge others. Judge not that ye be not judged seems to me to be an unfortunate maxim to adopt if you want to be a novelist. Luckily, your description about my angers and passions is correct -- these are among the tools by which one can imagine, dimly, the planet which other people inhabit.

Otherwise we are each in our cubicles, producing paperwork for no one, loveless solipsists and onanists and papermongers. That's a hard philosophy, man. And it is also, by the way, a more radically undermining critique of the ideology held by the present pope than any I can think of.

Brian Miller said...

Don't worry, roger. Some of your readers DO love you! (LOL)