Sunday, July 12, 2009

She loves you not

What do left-wing journalists think of you? Catherine Deveny, columnist for the Melbourne Age, has a seething contempt for her co-nationals. She's on holiday at the moment, enjoying the culture and the countryside in Tuscany. This gives her the opportunity to stick the boot into her fellow Australians:

STREWTH! Will someone get me out of here? I'm being raped by intoxicating beauty, inconceivable tranquillity, warm hospitality and a depth of cultural and historical immersion ...

The thing is, yes, I suppose staying in a rustic 250-year-old villa in Tuscany bathed in soft light, kissed by gentle sun and grazing on heavenly food would be OK if you were a masochist constantly chasing a new level of pain. Tuscany? What a hole! I long for the bliss of watching families with skin the colour of phlegm huddled around food-court tables groaning under the weight of deep-fried food, drinking Coke out of buckets, news of gangland scrag fights and the dulcet tones of talkback callers alerting all to their inflated sense of self-importance by beginning their 15 seconds of fame with "I don't normally agree with you, Derryn, but in this case you're spot on …".


Right then. Catherine sees us as ugly, spit coloured, uncultured bogans.

No doubt Catherine believes that she is establishing her elite status - that she is separating herself from the masses - by taking this attitude. But she's wrong. Anyone can claim status this way. There's nothing special or distinctive about it; it's not linked to talent, achievement or character.

In fact, someone who really was elite probably wouldn't harbour such thoughts. They wouldn't think with the same level of emotional disturbance as Catherine Deveny. They would be more likely to consider themselves a leader within their own community, advancing their own culture in some way, rather than launching diatribes against it.

There's something else that Catherine gives away in her article. In a way, she decides in favour of the conservative and the traditional. She thinks it blissful to be immersed in the culture and history of a traditional monoculture. She shows herself to prefer, in practice, a conservative way of life.

But she would never admit this in her own country. In Australia she would furiously denounce a traditional, historic way of life as being a boring monoculture. No doubt she has a left-liberal counterpart in Italy, a Caterina di Veni, who is doing exactly that, railing against her own Italian tradition as being boring, or not sufficiently left-wing, or discriminatory or parochial.

We do not have to follow the way of Catherine Deveny. You can be a literary person and identify with the best parts of your own tradition. It's interesting, for instance, to compare Catherine Deveny's views with those of C.J. Dennis. In the 1930s, Dennis wrote a poem Green Walls in which he wrote appreciatively of the sunlit Australian countryside and of his own strong and suntanned (not phlegm coloured!) countrymen:

I love all gum-trees well. But, best of all,
I love the tough old warriors that tower
About these lawns, to make a great green wall
And guard, like sentries, this exotic bower
Of shrub and fern and flower.
These are my land's own sons, lean, straight and tall,
Where crimson parrots and grey gang-gangs call
Thro' many a sunlit hour.


My friends, these grave old veterans, scarred and stem,
Changeless throughout the changing seasons they.
But at their knees their tall sons lift and yearn -
Slim spars and saplings - prone to sport and sway
Like carefree boys at play;
Waxing in beauty when their young locks turn
To crimson, and, like beaconfires burn
To deck Spring's holiday.


I think of Anzacs when the dusk comes down
Upon the gums - of Anzacs tough and tall.
Guarding this gateway, Diggers strong and brown.
And when, thro' Winter's thunderings, sounds their call,
Like Anzacs, too, they fall ...
Their ranks grow thin upon the hill's high crown:
My sentinels! But, where those ramparts frown,
Their stout sons mend the wall.

13 comments:

  1. Really good call. I wonder what gymnastic, doublethinking she'll perform to rationalize what she's written, your dissection of it, with what her orthodox liberal-left religion tells her she believes.

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  2. Until reading this website I was unaware that Catherine Deveny, the Secularist Slattern of Spencer Street, had actually fled our shores. This welcome news put me in mind of the observation, by former Congressman John Schmitz, about Nixon's meeting with Mao: "I have no objection to President Nixon going to China. I just object to his coming back."

    Could we not persuade Italy to take Deveny off our hands forever? A hell of a task to impose on a civilised country, I know, but hey, the Italians eventually defeated the Red Brigade's leaders (instead of giving them tenured professorships, which is Australia's standard approach to its own treasonous nihilists). So silencing Deveny shouldn't pose an insuperable problem for the Berlusconi cabinet.

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  3. I have never been to the Land Down Under, but if it is anything like modern America, the physical environment has become significantly uglier since the time when Dennis wrote. Tuscany, however, like many popular tourist destinations, has had an economic incentive to preserve its beauty.

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  4. Of course you know we have people like her in the US as well
    http://warner.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/09/dont-hate-her-because-shes-educated/

    Perhaps we need to investigate what happened to our society that gave rise to such ideologies. Or more specifically, placed such writers in paid and influential positions?

    Is it that the freedoms of capitalism and limited government allow the basest of men to take hold of power and drag weak hearted people down into the gutter with them?

    http://www.geocities.com/capitolhill/1404/degeneration.html
    You might like this article about, how ever irrational it may seem, how tradition adds meaning to life.

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  5. Despising people becuse of their views, I can understand. But for no real reason at all? Can't understand that.

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  6. I have never been to the Land Down Under, but if it is anything like modern America, the physical environment has become significantly uglier since the time when Dennis wrote.

    Sadly, this is the case. Unrestrained urban sprawl, caused by massive immigration-driven population growth, has transformed Australia's main cities into overcrowded urban hellholes, devoid of not only aesthetic beauty but also the quality of life that previous generations took for granted.

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  7. Sadly, this is the case. Unrestrained urban sprawl, caused by massive immigration-driven population growth, has transformed Australia's main cities into overcrowded urban hellholes, devoid of not only aesthetic beauty but also the quality of life that previous generations took for granted.

    Yes, and whose fault is that? The very same "growth for growth's sake" Left of which she is a part!

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  8. The thing is, yes, I suppose staying in a rustic 250-year-old villa in Tuscany bathed in soft light, kissed by gentle sun and grazing on heavenly food would be OK if you were a masochist constantly chasing a new level of pain. Tuscany? What a hole! I long for the bliss of watching families with skin the colour of phlegm huddled around food-court tables groaning under the weight of deep-fried food, drinking Coke out of buckets, news of gangland scrag fights and the dulcet tones of talkback callers alerting all to their inflated sense of self-importance by beginning their 15 seconds of fame with "I don't normally agree with you, Derryn, but in this case you're spot on …".

    Nice sustained tone of sarcasm, though.

    I don't particularly like those things much either, which is why I largely choose to avoid them. It's not that difficult!

    I guess if you need a bit of cannon fodder for a regular newspaper article, though, you might decide to have a rant at this sort of thing.

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  9. Unrestrained urban sprawl...

    Yer all a bunch of misery guts, I say. I like development, I like urban environments, and the more developed urban environments there are, the better, I reckon.

    There's a lot to admire, aesthetically, in human technology and its products. And it's not as if they stand in opposition to nature - they're just as much a part of nature as, say, beehives or other animal constructions and tools. They actually enhance the environment, because they add something distinctive to it that is a marker of human activity and human society.

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  10. She DOES want to be immersed in a boring, sterile monoculture - the leftist one, not the traditional middle-class one (from which she no doubt came).

    There's something desperate and frenetic about the article that makes it clear that she's an arriviste, a nouveau, a jumped-up prole. Someone who is an actual member of the elite is confident enough that they don't see any need to write articles defecating all over the proles.

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  11. There's something desperate and frenetic about the article that makes it clear that she's an arriviste, a nouveau, a jumped-up prole

    Lugo, you're right about Catherine Deveny's background. She grew up in a working-class suburb of Melbourne, Reservoir.

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  12. Looking at her pictures, I'd say she looks rather phlegm colored.

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  13. Ms. Deveny is of Irish Catholic descent no doubt. A child of the 50s with a lingering resentment of the Anglo-Protestant ascendancy in Oz feels more at home in the birthplace of Europe's Catholicism is not surprising really.

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