Thursday, March 17, 2005

Myles and Myles of na gCopaleen

Nice piece on about Flann O'Brien, maybe my favorite of the early 20th century Irish writers. His At Swim-Two-Birds was one of those magnificent moments when a book and your life intersect at exactly the right place and time - like On The Road is for almost everyone who reads it. (As long as you read it before turning 20.) I liked it enough to steal copies of one or two more of O'Brien's books - the Myles na gCopaleen collection of his Irish Times columns; The Poor Mouth - in a fit of springtime manic youthfulness.

I've forgotten how good it feels to shoplift arcane items - Flann O'Brien books, cassettes of old radio serial dramas, that Godfathers album I almost got busted for a Boscov's. And for the first time in I'm-not-sure-how-long I'm glad for St. Patrick's Day, all of a sudden. Because it's reminded me of At Swim-Two-Birds and the legacy of silliness and satire, the Shakespearian qualities of drink, and the gorgeous siphoned youth of spring.

Shit, that's almost poetry, and you know what O'Brien says about poetry (quoted in the Salon piece):

"Having considered the matter in -- of course -- all its aspects, I have
decided that there is no excuse for poetry. Poetry gives no adequate return in
money, it is expensive to print by reason of the waste of space occasioned by
its form, and nearly always promulgates illusory concepts of life. But a better
case for the banning of all poetry is the simple fact that most of it is bad.
Nobody is going to manufacture a thousand tons of jam in the expectation that
five tons may be eatable."


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