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POETRYETC Home

POETRYETC  2002

POETRYETC 2002

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Subject:

Re: Ah well

From:

Alison Croggon <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Poetryetc provides a venue for a dialogue relating to poetry and poetics <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 15 Feb 2002 14:23:07 +1100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (91 lines)

At 12:31 PM +0100 14/2/02, Martin J. Walker wrote:
>It may be
>(I'm very hesitant about this, but the subject keeps coming up on the list)
>that the "disappearance" of poetry is related somehow to the outbreak of
>vicious scapegoating mechanisms (though Nazis "liked" poetry ~ of a kind.

It's hard to avoid that suspicion.  My feeling that there is a
connection, or a series of connections, both direct and indirect.
But the need to boil complexities down to a simple "this or that" is
common to both the rejection of poetry and scapegoating.  Muriel
Rukeyser had a bit to say about that in her comments on the
"corruption of consiouness" in The Life of Poetry.  And kind of
sideways, I recently read this essay on a famous poem of Frost's,
which amused me, and also suggests a close relationship between
nationalistic sentimentality and the refusal of close reading - at
http://thescreamonline.com/essays/essays08-01/poetry.html

At 11:32 PM +0000 14/2/02, Jill Jones wrote:
>But that wasn't the point. I also know a lot of Christians whose views are
>similar to mine, in fact even more 'out there' at times, and if they can say
>those things that must be said, as Alison outlined, then I'm pragmatic enough
>to applaud those efforts. It doesn't mean I want them to bring back the
>inquisition (our methods are fear and surprise, etc).

I too find all the contradictions fascinating.  My kids go to
Catholic schools - when my eldest child grew old enough for school,
it was the time when Kennett was disembowelling the State system,
closing around 300 schools as I recall, and I really didn't feel that
he (or I) could cope with the subsequent insecurity.  The only
alternative for a sole parent like I was at the time was a Catholic
primary school and so, a little dubiously (remembering horror stories
about nuns) I enrolled him.  As opposed to a class size of around 30,
Josh started in a class of 18 in a tiny school of about 100 pupils.
Intriguingly, of those 18 kids, 11 came from sole parent families.
At the slightly larger school my kids attended later, of about 200
students, they had 40 different nationalities, and included among the
children Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and pagans like us as well as
Catholics.

The ideology of this school - in the Western suburbs and so face on
with the various social ills here - came straight out of Vatican II
and Liberation Theology.  It is also kind and practical.  I like it,
and I like the effects it has had on the children.  There is nothing
wrong, for instance, in learning how to say sorry to your friends
when you've done something wrong.  They can sort the rest out later.
There is a significant difference between grassroots Catholicism (how
many religious Catholics have 16 children these days in the West?)
and the heirachy, and it leads to really interesting schisms and a
kind of practical subversiveness.

But I have seen a definite turn to the conservatism since Archbishop
Pel (who, Jill, is actually an official on an organisation that used
to be known as the Inquisition), and that is filtering down to the
primary schools.  So I was upset when my youngest child was being
taught about Hell, for instance, which never used to be mentioned,
let alone taught...  And it leaves the (very) liberal priests of the
Parish in a dilemma, which it is quite painful to witness.

The older children are now in secondary schools, again staunchly
Catholic, but also with amazingly explicit ideologies of social
justice; and in particular, very strongly motivated towards
recognition of the injustices done to the Aboriginal people (all the
letterheads and a sign outside the schools acknowledge the people the
land the buildings stand on belonged to).  The school newsletters,
for instance, come home with messages from the principal saying that
true Christians do not turn away the homeless and the needy, and that
the current treatment of refugees is disgraceful; and the daughter of
a friend of mine (in year 7) insisted her mother vote Green in the
last election. They tolerate their students dressing like Goths or
looking like Kylie Minogue. And of course the Presentation schools
were formed originally as hedge schools in Ireland, when the English
banned Catholic children from learning to read or write.  So behind
the Catholic is the small-c catholicism, alive and well, and the
subversive humanistic message of the Gospels pokes through, despite
the hierachy.  Long may it continue...

Best

Alison

--


Alison Croggon

Home page
http://www.users.bigpond.com/acroggon/

Masthead online
http://au.geocities.com/masthead_2/

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