Table of Contents Letter from the Editors
Natasha Calder and Kathleen Gallagher Professor Nicholas Grene Ism-Spectacles Against the Ghettoisation of Science Fiction Hitchhicker’s Guide to the Galaxy On the Road and Nietzsche ‘Hitching’ a Ride: A Philosophical Dispute Barbarians Then & Now To Do an Arts Degree The Language of Politics Black Swan and I Don’t Know How She Does It
In Defence of Twilight Breaking Down Death at a Funeral Immortals of ‘I’ll take Originality over Accuracy Any Day’ We Found Nothing
Things to Consider The Original Ranters New Staff Fundit Campaign
The Renegade Rant and Rave
Letter from the Editors
Dear Ranters and Ravers,
As we draw to the end of yet another Michaelmas term and hurtle surprisingly quickly towards scary things like CHRISTMAS and 2012, let’s just pause to take stock of what has been quite a year in popular culture. We saw the very end of the Harry Potter era with the final instalment of the Deathly Hallows, although the Pottermore initiative might keep the ghost alive, and perhaps shows some of the future for digital media. We had a hotly-contested Booker Prize, which caused a raging debate when the judges nailed their colours to the wall and said they were looking to champion “readability”, a debate which was nevertheless pacified by the selection of Julian Barnes’ A Sense of an Ending, which seems all round well-deserved. We’ve also had the penultimate instalment of the Twilight saga, which, despite the best efforts of critics and film-reviewer, simply will not die. The ebook/book debate has stammered on, and doesn’t even look as though it will be resolved by Amazon’s shiny new FIRE KINDLE, which, if nothing else, should put us in mind of the power of market forces on literature as Amazon cunningly sell each tablet at a marked loss but with competitive packages in the hope of beating down the giant of the iPad. It also came to light that British Arts funds were being cut in order to pay for the Olympics, which really takes the biscuit. That’s right, give the money to the jocks, we don’t mind. This has, however, fortunately been met with plans for a nation-wide celebration of Shakespeare in the ‘Cultural Olympics’, and it is reassuring to see that there are those who simply won’t let their cultural and literary heritage die. Even despite the current economic climate (at this rate we’ll be Occupying the North Pole and probably the Olympics too), it nevertheless seems that there is an ever-growing passion for Literature and the Arts, and that there are those who would defend it with pistols at dawn if necessary. Here in Dublin – where literature has always been a key export – initiatives such as Dublintellectual, and even StoryMap, encourage and fuel the place of literature as part of our culture. TCD itself, ever at the frontline of the humanities battle, continues to host all kinds of wondrous events; from a talk by the eminent Professor SIR TERRY PRATCHETTT to an on-going DIGITAL HUMANITIES FORUM in the Long Room Hub, and is currently welcoming yet another student-run publication, the children’s literature magazine, THE LOOKING GLASS. It is reassuring to see that even as the Arts are being threatened in a way they have not been for decades, they are, nevertheless, thriving.
Long may it continue. Yours sincerely, Natasha and Kathleen Co-Founding Editors http://tcdrantandrave.wordpress.com http://www.facebook.com/tcdrantandrave https://twitter.com/#!/tcdrantandrave
The Renegade Rant and Rave
What is the greatest book ever published in English? A case could certainly be made for the KING JAMES BIBLE which appeared just four centuries ago this year. Its impact has extended far beyond the community of practising Christians of the Reformed tradition, affecting virtually everyone who speaks or writes the language. As a Shakespeare specialist, my vote might be expected to go for the FIRST FOLIO of 1623 that first collected his works. But if multi-volume publications are included, then my preferred candidate would be A NEW ENGLISH DICTIONARY ON HISTORICAL PRINCIPLES, which started to be published in 1884, better known as the OED. My love affair with the OED – well, no, really we’re just good friends – began back in the 1970s when I was given K. M. Elisabeth Murray’s book Caught in the Web of Words, a biography of James Murray, the book’s first editor. Murray was one of those extraordinary autodidacts of the nineteenth century, a Scottish schoolteacher who taught himself a range of lan-
guages by procuring a copy of the New Testament in – say – Magyar, and then constructing his own Magyar grammar from it. He was commissioned by the Philological Society to act as editor of the Dictionary, which he did by getting a whole host of assistants to read everything written in English and to copy down the distinctive uses of individual words. The most famous of Murray’s assistants was a convicted murderer who was serving a life sentence in Broadmoor, the prison hospital for the criminally insane. Each of the passages illustrating the meaning of a word were written out on standard-sized slips of papers which Murray then filed in a specially constructed ‘scriptorium’; and these eventually formed the basis for the entries in the dictionary. I was sufficiently entranced by the whole story of the project that I lashed out the then considerable sum of £55 on the ‘MICROFORM’ edition of the book that compressed all thirteen original volumes into two, to be read with the aid of a magnifying glass. But now all of this and regularly updating supplements is available to you at no charge and with no need of lenses on the Library database at http://www.oed.com/. What made the work distinctive, and distinctively useful, were the ‘historical principles’. The OED not only gives all the different meanings of a given word, but it supplies specific quotations to show when it came to have those different meanings. ‘Weird’ is one of my favourite examples. Deriving from the Old English word ‘wyrd’ = Fate, it was originally a noun meaning ‘the principle, power, or agency by which events are predetermined; fate, destiny’. It was only because of Shakespeare’s Weird Sisters in Macbeth that it became an adjective and eventually developed its now normal meaning of strange or uncanny. The OED doesn’t just give us definitions; it allows us to see how English grows, changes, develops over time, borrowing from other languages, taking on new meanings from quirks of usage, always moving whether with glacierlike slowness or the RAPIDITY OF A RUSHING RIVER.
The Renegade Rant and Rave
You cannot hold it back; to try is to be a linguistic King Canute ordering back the waves. To ‘text’ as a verb in our current sense did not exist up until the end of the twentieth century. The first example given in OED is in 1998. (It is still in fact only at the preliminary stage of a ‘Draft Addition’ to the Dictionary.) I remember hearing the word ‘sexist’ for the first time around 1972, which is about when it began to gain currency as a result of the women’s movement. And it would have been at about the same time and for similar reasons that ‘chauvinism’, originally referring to extreme patriotism, mutated into ‘MALE CHAUVINISM’, now its primary meaning.
Alright, the English language keeps changing. Words come to mean what people want them to mean, and precisian English professors grumbling about their misuse are just King Canutes getting their feet wet. But I will take the privilege of my 64 years and the opportunity afforded by The (Renegade) Rant and Rave to protest against the words that bring me out in rashes, my personal verbal allergies. There are all those formulae of the business world that give themselves airs: the prospect ‘going forward’, ‘BLUE SKIES THINKING’, or ‘thinking outside the box’. But we need not bother too much about them. There are words, though, we must not abandon because to do so is to give up on what they represent. ‘Disinterested’ should mean ‘not influenced by interest; impartial, unbiased, unprejudiced’. To use it as though it signified mere indifference or lack of interest in something, as most people do, is to accept the loss of the vital ideal of disinterested action. Some words annoy me because of the attitude of superiority implied in the speaker. To say someone is ‘IMMATURE’ is to claim you are mature enough to judge and condemn. ‘Romeo and Juliet are very immature’ – go to hell. And there are those words with unearned attitude, that have precise meaning in the fields from which they are taken, ‘PARAMETERS’ from mathematics, ‘PARADIGM SHIFT’ from the history of science, but which in ordinary discourse are mere inflation.
Overuse weakens impact to the point of inanity. How incredible can anything be if
every other amazing and extraordinary thing you hear about is incredible? And what did ‘VIBRANT’ ever mean? It should be confined to shampoo ads, not appear in any document issued by a respectable university: search the Trinity website and see just how often it shows up.
But don’t get me started. Log on to your computers and browse happily in that greatest of books in English, the OED.
Professor Nicholas Grene The Renegade Rant and Rave
ritical theories are truly subjective beings, then we can only have domiever fully engage with a text subjectively. nated literThis is not necessarily to claim that such ary discourse for decades now. For students statements as “I just really love Mr. Darcy” are today, it hardly seems as if there was ever particularly helpful to the study of literature anything else, and so it is very difficult to (please, save it for a book club), but rather answer the question as to what will follow that people’s singular opinions and views can that abundance of isms (Marxism, Structur- be just as important and useful as schools of alism, Post-Structuralism, Deconstructiontheory. ism, Modernism, Post-Modernism, etc.). Having a whole school of theory is, in PROBABLY MORE ISMS. Any day now some respects, just a means of making one we will be starting a new school of neo-post- set of subjective and opinions seem objecenvironmentalist readings. We seem altogether tively valid. Essentially, if it’s got an ism on unable to get away from the end, it sounds more attacking texts with authoritative. I think it predefined agendas and Essentially, if it’s got an ism is a shame that critics the strange security that should be more primaron the end, it sounds more authis provides. If we find ily concerned with authoritative ourselves grabbing for thority than the texts the spectacles of Femithey are discussing; nism, Marxism or Postand I would like to ofStructuralism before fer forward, in competiwe even open a book, then we instantly limit tion with such schools, two other lines of our vision and perspective of the text. Of thought. It was once suggested to me that course, these are, if nothing else, useful aca- there should be a PROJECTILE SCHOOL demic exercises; they can bring you certain OF CRITICISM – namely that as soon as insights into a work, and they can also give the book you are reading irritates you, you you a clearer sense of how that school of should throw it across the room. I think this theory operates. There are also those who could be of use. I would also like to suggest will tell you that everyone already has their a harkening back to what was once termed own inbuilt ism-spectacles, and that we EMPSON’S ‘lemon-squeezer school of critican only ignore this natural subjectivity and cism’, where the reader engages first and foremost with the words on the page and the prejudice at our peril. layers of meaning and ambiguity that they This may be so. However, whatever such people may have you believe, subjectivity contain. Yes, that’s right, close readis not a dirty, useless thing. So long as we ing. If we put the text first we might just understand that as the words are coming out about be able to do it justice, and not destroy of your mouth or your pen, then we’re prob- it by blinding ourselves further with our ably alright with understanding that they ISM-SPECTACLES. are your opinion, informed by your experience and perspective. And that’s OK. If we By Natasha Calder
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Against the Ghettoization of Science Fiction
s an avid reader and passionate fan of Science-Fiction literature, I’ve repeatedly had to defend my interest against numerous accusations from friends and fellow academics. The literary worth of Sci-Fi as a genre has been questioned many times and dismissed by people who would otherwise be championing the cause of literature and art in an increasingly illiterate and uncultured society. Most of the justifications I have heard for this go along the lines of: “SCI-FI IS NOTHING BUT POPULAR, PULPY RUBBISH, FULL OF TERRIBLE CHARACTERIZATION AND WEAK PLOT” or “Sci-Fi novels are basically techniBy Matthew Corbally
cal manuals with the basest covering of a plot”,
and the one I find most offensive: “Sci-Fi fans are all weird, socially-inept basement-dwellers, and that renders Sci-Fi without merit”. This disdain for Science Fiction is widespread in much media today, to the point where Margaret Atwood, author of Oryx and Crake, a tale about bioengineered organisms and apocalyptic viruses, would
brilliant scientists and engineers,
rather redefine the limits of the genre than have her novel be counted as Sci-Fi.
To say that I disagree with this trend would be an understatement. This trend unfairly prejudges a massive and w i d e spanning genre by its worst ext r e m e s, and ultimately takes a narrow and limited view. Sure, there are plenty of examples of bad Sci-Fi literature, but then there are plenty of bad examples from other genres like war, crime, drama and romance – and yet these genres aren’t thrown into a ghetto in the back of the bookshop. Should we ignore the merit of texts like Dune, Brave New World and SlaughterhouseThe Renegade Rant and Rave
Five, novels that are in many cases equal to and superior to supposed ‘LITERARY’ texts, on the basis of their genre, because they concern themselves with the implications of science and technology? To discount perfectly valid texts on the basis of a dislike for the genre reeks of arrogant elitism, and as intelligent, CULTURED STUDENTS of Trinity College, we must be prepared to criticize without prejudice. Furthermore, I would make the argument that our society needs, and will continue to need, the imaginative foresight of Science Fiction. The Victorians, devout believers in the idea of scientific progress, saw Sci-Fi literature as a great way to introduce students to the basic concepts of science and technology and to inspire them to go on to become
and that notion is still valid today. The imaginative and speculative worlds presented in these texts function as an intellectual preparation for many readers; whether by comprehending the terrifying reality of an apocalyptic world in The Road, the potential of AIs in I, Robot or the horrors of a totalitarian state in 1984. Art and culture shape our understanding, and Sci-Fi is essential to help us understand our future. I have a dream that one day my little children will live in a nation where they will not be judged for reading books about giant robots in space.
The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy By Catherine Clifford
“The dead swans lay in the stagnant pool. They lay. They rotted. They turned Around occasionally. Bits of flesh dropped off them from Time to time. And sank into the pool’s mire. They also smelt a great deal.”
his, according to Douglas Adams, is the worst poetry in the universe. Adams references it in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and credits it to the worst poet in the universe, Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings of Greenbridge, Essex. It’s poetry so abysmal that it makes the third worst poets – the evil alien Vogons who
get home to Earth and do the crossword with a nice cup of tea. We love Arthur. We get him. Most of us are like him, and would be just as bewildered and useless in outerspace. He is forced to mix with aliens who mostly hate him. Whether he’s being insulted by the suicidal robot, Marvin the Paranoid Android, or by clinically-insane drunkuse poetry readings as a form of diabolical ard, Ford Prefect, these demented and torture – look like Dante. Sadly this poet, hysterically funny characters demonstrate like the Vogons, doesn’t exist. Adams was how removed from the universe he is. forced to make the name up after his child Adams’ creation stretches past our hood nemesis, Paul Neil Milne Johnstone of world, boggling Arthur’s mind and our Redbridge, Essex complained that his name, own as it grapples convincingly with paraladdress and poetry were broadcasted on the lel universes and space/time continuums. radio productions of Hitchhikers. He was a comic genius and a master of the Adams died in 2001, and on the tenth downright bizarre, but also a great thinker, anniversary of his death the Internet burst weaving thoughts about man’s inferiority alive with writers, comedians, scientists in comparison to the Big Picture. Earth is and general fans all hustling to repay their ‘Mostly Harmless’, lying in an unpopular respects. His grave in Highgate Cemetery area of the galaxy. We’re clueless amoebas (KARL MARX and GEORGE ELIOT lyobsessing over life on a shit planet, whilst ing a hop and a skip away), is still a place of the rest of the universe knows how to drive pilgrimage, and always has pens laid by the spaceships and have an awesome time. And plain stone as a thank-you for his gift. yet, as Ford Prefect explains, we’re ENVI For Adams wrote, among other things, ABLE. The fact that we care so much about ‘a trilogy in five parts’, The Hitchhikers things so irrelevant is quite something. Guide to the Galaxy, a comedy-bible jammed When God’s final message to his creation is with philosophical musings. Arthur Dent, simply ‘We Apologise for the Inconvenience’, huthe epitome of the average Englishman, mans are the key to resolving the quest for travels through time and space in his dress- the meaning to Life, the Universe and ing-gown, watches the universe explode for Everything. his pleasure, saves it by mistake, and even learns how to fly, all in a desperate bid to The Renegade Rant and Rave
On the Road and Nietzsche By Dominic Gallagher
“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”
here is a wild, free and, at times, beautiful energy in the beating heart of On the Road. Like the jazz musicians who Kerouac admired, his book pulsates with spontaneous, unconstrained life-force. The narrative flows, rarely pausing for a full stop, as the next crescendo builds and his characters hitchhike across the states because “there was nowhere to go but everywhere”. Dean Moriaty is the embodiment of this energy, “he was BEAT, the root, the soul of beatific”. His energy comes from within; he does not react to situations or need stimulus, he is the source. “He’s never hung-up, he goes every direction, he lets it all out, he knows time, he has nothing to do but rock back and forth. Man, he’s the end!”. When Dean has the mundane job of looking after a parking lot, he transforms his situation, jumping in and reversing into spaces at breakneck-speed. Dean isn’t some bland positive thinker working steadily towards an objective. If life gives Dean lemons he doesn’t make lemonade, but decides that eating lemons is an unbelievably vivid lifeexperience. Dean doesn’t aim towards any end-goal, because his life force is so great that he transcends life. He doesn’t acknowledge values which specify what a happy life consists of because he creates his own values. Dean Moriaty is Nietzsche’s overman. Nietzsche believed that all that exists is The Renegade Rant and Rave
objectifications of the fundamental monistic substance “will to power”. God doesn’t exist and neither do intrinsic values nor morals; all is flux. The overman is the greatest realisation of the “WILL TO POWER” and creates his own values. He desires power and seeks after it through the complete realisation of all his faculties; he does not negate any part of his existence. Nietzsche used Napoleon as an example of the overman in history. He sought power for its own sake alone. Dean Moriaty’s will to power is equally as strong, although it doesn’t express itself in the same way. He is the 20th Century version of the overman. Dean does not seek to have power over other men’s actions. Instead, he seeks to have complete power over his own life. He desires complete freedom to have complete experience. However, complete experience is an impossibility. Dean Moriaty is great, but flawed. His love is all eros, no agape. He abandons a wife and child when the idea ceases to interest him and leaves behind anyone who slows his quest for new feelings. We are captivated and in awe of this burning flare in the night, but we can never love someone who, deep down, is interested in only himself. DEAN CANNOT BOTH BE FREE AND GOOD.
‘Hitching’ A Ride: A Philosophical Dispute
t is one of the perks of being an editor that I am able to peruse the articles and manipulate their placement. I would now like to offer my motive for placing the two previous articles side by side. They both propose an analysis of hitchhiking, so I’m going to ‘hitch a ride’ on their two specific textual analyses and propose my own argument. Both articles suggest that whilst the adventures of hitchhiking are all well and good, they are not the makings of a generally good person. Mr. Gallagher states this by claiming “DEAN CANNOT BOTH BE FREE AND GOOD”. It seems we must accept hitchhiking as a generally selfish pursuit; taking advantage of others, hitchhikers are free-loaders without true purpose. Perhaps this is why we, as Ms. Clifford claims, adore Arthur where we only superficially enjoy Dean. Arthur is forced to become a hitchhiker and, to be honest, doesn’t do a very good job; that’s what Ford is for. Ford is the one thirsting for adventure, whilst Arthur just wants to get home. Trillian reBy Kathleen Gallagher
“Poor Arthur, you’re really not cut out for this life are you?”, to which he replies: “You call this life?” marks:
The issue with this conception of hitchhiking is that we must take it as ‘other’ to a ‘normal life’. Arthur is a comforting figure in his a dressing gown; nothing about him is unexpected. He knows what he wants, and it’s a cup of tea. As a reliable man who enjoys home comforts, he is the quintessential British ideal, or stereotype. Place him against a reckless wanderer like Dean, The Renegade Rant and Rave
and you get someone whose self-interest makes him an interesting acquaintance, but not someone you would want to spend your life with. Dean is like the ‘Wandering Jew’ from the 13th Century. He is cursed to walk the earth without hope of rest. But just as the Christians take the ‘Wandering Jew’ story with an incorrect view of the Jewish as consultants of the devil, are we taking hitchhikers as unnatural and immoral, simply because we believe they do not fit our norm? Douglas Adams and Nietzsche ask us just this question. They remind us that what we constitute as ‘good’ and ‘normal’ is something habitual. Arthur would have missed out on so much if he sat at home drinking tea, instead of being whisked off by the adventure-loving Ford. Even if life on the road, with its constantly varying norms, might lose its appeal after a short period of time, it does not have to be this opposition of one norm over the other. What Dean, Nietzsche, and Ford represent to us is the possibility of taking each adventure as it comes instead of becoming so stuck in our ways that we don’t even appreciate something new and exciting. Instead of claiming: “WE HAVE NORMALITY. I REPEAT, WE HAVE NORMALITY. ANYTHING YOU STILL CAN’T COPE WITH IS THEREFORE YOUR OWN PROBLEM”, we
whether a focus on ‘normality’ is what is causing the problem. should ask
Barbarians: Then & Now
n A.D. 8, the Roman poet Ovid, him of Metamorphoses fame, was exiled by the Emperor Augustus to a barren imperial outpost on the shores of the Black Sea. He tells us only indirectly that a carmen et error; a poem (his brilliantly risqué Ars Amatoria) and, tantalizingly, a “mistake” (we’ll never know for certain) were the reasons for his fall from grace. For such indiscretion, the former court-poet and celebrity found himself disgraced and relegated to the edge of the known world. The poems he wrote in exile display in many places pathetic and ultimately unsuccessful attempts to gain a reprieve from the Emperor, but Ovid’s skills, though dimmed, remain in light. Fast-forward two millennia and we find the poet’s ghost haunting Brian Friel’s masterful study of language and identity, Translations, with a single line from his Tristia, written in exile: By Charlie Kerrigan
barbarus hic ego sum quia non intellegor ulli (V.10.38) This one line of Ovid appears in a play densely packed with classical allusion and direct quotation, and it roughly translates as: “HERE I AM THE BARBARIAN, BECAUSE I CAN’T BE UNDERSTOOD BY ANYONE”. If anyone has seen Friel’s play, the line is nothing short of explosive in timing and impact; it is a fulcrum on which the play turns. As the drama reaches its unnerving, unerring crescendo, the line is a moment of clarity, an unwanted epiphany The Renegade Rant and Rave
that communication has completely broken down. Friel and Ovid have both realized that we are nothing if we cannot be understood, and that the consequence of such impotence is, at best, embarrassment (Ovid gives out about the stupid natives laughing at his Latin), and, at worst, disastrous and chaotic suspicion. The might and learning of the Roman empire mean nothing to the tribes and peasants who terrify and harass Ovid’s encampment, just as the “progress” of the British Empire jars completely with the rural Irish world of Friel’s Ballybeg in the 1830s. Such unease resonates in a decade where inter-cultural, and indeed intra-cultural, relations are dominant and hotly-debated issues. The ancient Greeks, Romans, and medieval Europeans (to name but a few) can often seem strikingly similar to us, but, crucially, they are also completely alien in so many respects. In the same way we seek to understand our historical selves through humane perspectives, we need to try and understand each other in the here and now. In a recent newspaper piece on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, the novelist Colum McCann stated that: “If we learn anything from [9/11 and its aftermath], we have to try to consider what it means to be other”. Protests against Manhattan’s new Islamic Cultural Centre, the recent London riots: the Roman poet and the Irish playwright seem to rhyme nicely in 2011.
To Do an Arts Degree
rts students, acting. Have any of you science students in general, ever tried to reference using CHICAGO get a very STYLE? Google it. I’ll be rubbing my hands raw deal when it comes to what people imevilly over a cup of tea, watching your heads agine other people contribute to society. In explode. general, it is assumed that an Arts degree And don’t start talking to me about is easy, because students only have a few MCQ’S (Multiple Choice Questionnaires). contact hours every week, as opposed to a Yeah, it’s a lot of questions, I’ll give you science-based degree, where everything is as that. I’ve never done one, so I can’t really regimented and regular as an army training say they’re easy. However, they seem to be camp. Nine to five, every day. Labs. Experi- reams of questions where the only action ments. RESULTS! That’s what people go required by any candidate in order to score for. You’re doing something which produces highly is to tick the box next to the corresults nearly every day; rect answer. So learn it! clearly your life has direcBy contrast, Arts stution. dents have to write until Inevitably, arthritis ensues If you’re an Arts stutheir hands nearly fall in later life from desperately off. We have to argue dent, people say things trying to achieve high marks and convince. INEVIlike; “OH. I SEE. AND WHAT ARE YOU GOby writing lots of intelligent TABLY, ARTHRITIS ING TO DO AFTER ENSUES IN LATER things.” COLLEGE?” followed LIFE FROM DESPERby the inevitable guess: ATELY TRYING TO “Teach?” Look, I’m still doing my degree. ACHIEVE HIGH MARKS BY WRITING I’m enjoying doing my degree. But you’re LOTS OF INTELLIGENT THINGS. So, ruining it with all your questions. Just let we look for medication to ease our pain. And me worry about employment opportunities who do we buy it from? A strand of those people who are, at present, complaining when the time comes, okay? Cheers. about how much of a headache the MCQs Another thing that invariably happens are. So, guys, give me a break. You’re going if you’re studying an Arts degree is that to be taking my money in the future when people presume to know about what you’re studying. They do it in this really clever way I’m old and sick. Stop complaining about the long hours of class you have and let us so that you can’t be angry. I study English Arts students enjoy what free time we have. and Drama, and I get the following two ice Please bear in mind when you see us holding breakers all the time: one of our endless cups of coffee, that our “English, I’d say that’s a lot of reading, hands will eventually be moulded into this eh?” position permanently. And you know why? And: “There’s a lot of acting in drama, Because we busted a gut writing absolute I’d say, is there?” gold for no money. So, leave me alone and let Well, I can tell you now that they’re a me drink my coffee. damn sight harder than just reading and By Sean Larney
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The Language of Politics
he language of politics in Ireland is a language of insidious nonsense. Historically, one may say it was ever thus; from the psychotic sycophantism of John Redmond at Woodenbridge right up to Enda Kenny channelling the enthusiasm of Adolf Hitler on College Green, the inane is an enduring part of the national political narrative. The pious political rhetoric of the present, however, represents something new. RELIGIOSITY is at the core of this rhetoric; the register is lifted directly from Catholic doctrine as words like “suffering”, “sharing of pain” and “shame” are mobilised around an apocalyptic and profoundly religious notion of complete crisis. Crucially, this language presents itself as the corollary of our former profligacy, a kind of penance. More than this, however, exactly like Catholic doctrine, it seeks to inure the faithful to suffering; to present suffering as necessary and inevitable. Within this rhetoric of piety is a core discomfort with actual engagement with the past and ideology. Indeed “the good times” in the context of this rhetoric are a signifier of iniquity, of something abject. Thus the contemporary political register defers to “we-are-where-we-are-ism” and the language of the moment, economics, that of utility of expenditure, reality, and reason. This injection of economic rhetoric is perhaps the most perverse aspect of the new post-crisis political language because economics, as referenced in the new language, presents itself as mere common sense, acknowledging no ideology. Utility, that action should be qualified according to expected By Justin Murphy
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returns, is the most insidious aspect of this “common sense”. FOR THE LOGIC OF UTILITY HERALDS THE DEATH OF SCIENCE, ART AND PHILOSOPHY. Interestingly, this dogma of common sense enters Trinity in the anti-protest student response to the reintroduction of fees and, in doing so, delineates its most powerful opposite. From a critical perspective, the rhetoric of the pro-fee minority is deeply suspect. It is the rhetoric of false dichotomies, class simplification, utility and futility. Such is this rhetoric’s failure to engage with the critical and cultural function of protest that it declares: protesting is a futile, masturbatory exercise with no constructive function;
any coherent message will be subsumed by the rabble by nonsensical chants, silly costumes and signs of atrocious grammar. However, it is precisely the rabble, disparate students from diverse social and economic backgrounds coalescing messily within a single rambunctious protest which threatens the nonsensical political rhetoric most profoundly. For if the rhetoric of politics is rigid, quasi-religious and self-declared rational language, then its opposite is the fluid, irreligious, irrationality of protest. In other words, the student protest of the 16th of November should be reconsidered from within the prism of MIKHAIL BAKHTIN’S THEORY OF THE CARNIVALESQUE AS A POWERFUL ANTI-HEGEMONIC AND POLYPHONIC FORCE IN WHICH WHAT WAS PREVIOUSLY CONSIDERED BASE, VULGAR AND GROTESQUE IS RE-EVALUATED ALONGSIDE THE RIGIDLY INANE ESTABLISHED ORDER.
Black Swan and I Don’t Know How She Does It
motherhood. This is symbolised by Nina’s lack Swan inability to eat during the film. However, it and I Don’t is not simply the positioning of the career Know How She Does It are two examples of what is oc- above the maternal role which results in death. Rather it is something more disconcasionally called “fourth-wave feminism”, certing and residual surrounding the ideobut what might more accurately be called logical construction of “woman”. Nina anti-feminism. The “fourth wave” is commonly associated with shows like Sex and the begins in the film as a virgin; an uncorruptCity, and these two films explicate perfectly ed soul. The film is a charting of her fall, in the biblical sense, upon the acquisition the fourth-wave fascination with the career woman. In both cases, the message is that to of the fruit of knowledge. This message – that sexual knowledge will lead to death fulfil her natural role, “woman” must with– is conveyed throughout the film but one draw from public life. scene in particular In I Don’t disturbs. On receivKnow How She Does It we are supposedly “What seems to underlie the claim ing the news that given a picture of of liberation, however, is an ethi- she has been given the role of the black a woman balanccal assertion. Ultimately “woman” swan, Nina calls her ing flawlessly the must make a choice. Career or mother from a bathdemands of family room stall, and when life and the modern motherhood?” she leaves the stall working world. In she sees the word reality, the characwhore written in ter of Kate, played red lipstick on a mirror. And, as we know, by Sarah Jessica Parker, prophet of the fourth-wave, IS REPEATEDLY SHOWN . TO HAVE FAILED AS A MOTHER. Her Taken together, these two films are two-year old son hasn’t learned how to shocking. They claim to represent a new, speak because she does not have the time to liberated woman, who has the freedom to talk with him. When the child does eventu- make whatever decisions she desires. Indeed ally talk, his first words are: “Bye, mom”. you are free to apply such an interpretation Her six-year old daughter has already been to the films if you prefer. What seems to unsoured against her mother due to continuderlie the claim of liberation, however, is an ally broken promises. Blame falls on Kate, ethical assertion. Ultimately “woman” must for in placing career over motherhood she make a choice. Career or motherhood? Puchooses the modern and the artificial over rity or sex? THE TWO ARE EXCLUSIVE. the natural. Black Swan represents a much darker, more horrifying illustration of fourth-wave feminism. Here, death must be the ultimate price paid for choosing the career over By John Porter
whores must die
The Renegade Rant and Rave
In Defense of Twilight
am risking exclusion from my college peer-group and inclusion in some sort of quasi-religious worshipping of Robert Pattinson, in declaring my coming-out. I’M A TWIHARD! What better time for me to take my first tentative steps from the closet than now, with the release of the penultimate film in the saga? For months, I’ve wrangled with the idea that, because I prefer Stephanie Meyer to Jane Austen, I’m not “an intellectual” and that my appreciation of her immensely popular series renders me less intelligent then someone who has abstained. I kept asking, was the enjoyment I took from reading Twilight symptomatic of being unable to discern HIGH-LIT FROM SHIT-LIT? I often imagined myself sitting in the library reading the unpublished Midnight Sun on my laptop, catching someone’s eye and have them flash an “Edward” badge at me. BeBy Sophie Laudner
cause it feels like being part of a secret society.
Oh, it’s fine if you’re 15 and female, because people who see you with your nose buried deep in Eclipse assume that it’s Edward Cullen you’re fantasizing about or that you feel a connection to Bella Swan because you both suffer with the clumsy compulsion. However, the issue becomes more complex when you’re my age. I’m not reading these
books because I crave romance and find it drooling over a fictional character. That’s
just odd. It’s not that I desperately want to believe that vampires and werewolves exist, either. I don’t, the world would be less safe. What attracts me to them again and again is unknown to me. Believe me, I’ve really tried to grasp – both on an international scale The Renegade Rant and Rave
and a more intimate level – what makes the series so popular for such a diverse mixture of readers, and I refuse to believe that it is just Meyer’s depiction of a hot guy and a relatively relatable girl. Neither of these elements are what makes me pick it up again and again. To be perfectly honest, I think that Twilight has become a convenient scapegoat. Among certain people there seems to be the tendency to assume that the Twilight series represents all that’s wrong with popular literature and, to a larger extent, popular culture. I can see where such an opinion is derived. Sometimes it seems that the books are the least popular element of it all. It’s easy to criticize the books when they’re associated with R-Patz posters, KStew hair extensions and a whole host of kitchen utensils emblazoned with Taylor Lautner’s abs. But how many of those that criticize have actually read the books? I love Twilight. Don’t ask me why, I can’t really tell you. I wouldn’t go back to read them again if I found the writing tedious and laboured and the story boring and recycled. As for the culture surrounding them, it’s snobbery if you let that influence
Meyer has made millions letting everybody cash in on her idea and good for her; it’s what I would do. you.
his is a slightly premature review as it is written before the release of the next film of the sickeningly popular Twilight saga. All the By Eimear Gaffney
Yet again, a surely mindless audience is going to sit through Bella physically abusing herself same its effects are already for Edwards’ sake, this time with being felt. Whilst it’s understanda foetus that’s eating her from the able not to judge a book by its cover, the same can’t be as readily said for inside out – but it’s alright, bemovies because the trailers tend to give cause it’s in the name of “TRUE most of it away. In relation to Breaking LOVE”. Dawn, it’s pretty clear that it’s going to be full of the same old drivel, with just one difference: THIS NEW FILM IS DESTINED TO BE ABSTINENCE PORN UNLEASHED. Bella and Edward finally have sex! Wow. After far too many books and movies full of pained facial expressions and sexually frustrated grunts, they have sex. Does anyone really care about this? Yes, apparently they do. The midnight showing can already be booked in most cinemas in Dublin, emblazoned merchandise is still being bought and the film has painstakingly been broken into two parts, just adding to the hype and obsession surrounding the entire series. Yet again, a surely mindless audience is going to sit through Bella physically abusing herself for Edwards’ sake, this time with a foetus that’s eating her from the inside out – but it’s alright, because it’s in the name of “TRUE LOVE”. Never mind that Edward is abusive and that Bella is a helpless, pathetic character. It’s presented as the sought after, ideal relationship that every girl dreams of – except for those who simply aren’t obsessed with their shiny boyfriends, who have sex and are not in need of constant protection The Renegade Rant and Rave
due to their over-powering smell that’s reminiscent of strawberries. You’d nev-
er guess that Meyers was against pre-marital sex and abortion. At the end of 2011, surely we should no longer have such backward messages infiltrating the media, and we still have Breaking Dawn: Part 2 to come. It’s seriously time people started to forget about Team Edward and Team Jacob, and finally focused on a more suitable team: ‘HATE CLUB’.
Death at a Funeral
eath at a Funeral, directed by Frank Oz and starring Matthew MacFayden, Rupert Graves, Keely Hawes, Alan Tudyk and Peter Dinklage, was released in 2007 and to this day remains one of the finest British comedies around. As can be guessed by the title, the film’s plot concerns the death of the patriarch of a somewhat stuffy upperclass English family, and all the extended family and friends come to their country house for the funeral. Unfortunately, as can be expected from a comedy, utterly hilarious hijinks ensue and everything goes to hell while most of the cast try to keep a stiff upper-lip and maintain decorum while dealing with the chaotic insanity of a funeral gone horribly wrong. Right from the outset the film has us falling off our seats when, after an imaginatively designed title sequence where we see the hearse navigating its way to the house, we are treated to sight of the solemn pallbearers being informed by the indignant son Daniel (MacFayden) THAT THEY HAVE IN FACT BROUGHT THE WRONG CORPSE. To say more of the great jokes would be to spoil the whole thing. The humour is simultaneously supremely sophisticated, highly slapstick and very dark, as the film takes everything that could conceivably go wrong, such as a naked mourner, neurotic relatives and unexpected secrets being revealed, and milks them for all they’re worth. The cast works absolutely brilliantly, portraying a dysfunctional group of relatives dedicated to keeping up appearances, but whose attempts to maintain the order of proceedings succeed only in making things much worse. The relationship between the By Matthew Corbally
The Renegade Rant and Rave
brothers, Daniel and Rupert (Graves), is familiar, with the dutiful and responsible son being jealous of his feckless brother and the fame he enjoys as a successful author, to the point where everyone questions why he’s doing the eulogy as opposed to his literary brother. The two actors who really shine in their performances are Alan Tudyk and Peter Dinklage, who will be familiar to fans of Firefly and Game of Thrones, respectively. Tudyk takes the role with the most physical comedy and pulls it off masterfully as a neurotic lawyer who, desperate to impress his fiancés’ intimidating father, unfortunately mistakes a hallucinogenic cocktail for a Valium and has the funniest reaction possible. Dinklag, on the other hand, plays an initially more reserved role, awkwardly circling the party before revealing the reason for his presence, which, of course, causes even more mayhem. If you are going to watch this delightful movie, be sure to watch the British original, and not the 2010 American remake. The stereotype about crappy American remakes is true here, with all of the sophisticated humour replaced for numerous race and toilet jokes. Do
yourself a favour and stick to the original, even if it causes you to split numerous ribs from laughing.
Immortals or “I’ll take Originality over Accuracy Any Day”
oing to a Hollywood spawning based on Greek mythology is always an interesting experience for a group of Classics students, but Immortals took inaccuracy to a historic peak. All Theseus (Henry Cavall) ever did was kill the Minotaur and a few overrated bandits. Now we are to believe that he fought a massive army of eunuchs led by a BAD-ASS ATHEIST who wants to obliterate the gods, humans and everyone else. Classics students are familiar with the wholesale prostitution of Greek mythology. But our heads spun at the insertion famous names into completely unrelated stories; the invention of things like the ‘Epirius Bow’, the ‘Wall of Tartarus’, the (very temporarily) ‘Virgin’ Oracle and the first Zeus that looks younger than most CAO applicants. Yet I was surprised by the cold reception of this movie. What does authenticity matter when something rocks?! It’s an epic about faith and nihilist despair. King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), the villain, lays waste to the world around him to spite the gods, who failed to answer his prayers and save his family. This is because Zeus forbids the gods from interfering in human affairs, in order that they can live their own lives. He doesn’t allow an exception when Hyperion aims to destroy the gods by freeing their old By Tomás Sullivan
enemies, the Titans, from captivity, to the extent of killing his own son when he helps Theseus out with some slow-motion head smashing. Vast, empty and colourless landscapes, surreal, almost artificial sunlight and the small, isolated human settlements all portray the desolation that Hyperion wreaks on his world. The almost gaudy gods, clad in gold, young and beautiful, provide a counterpoint to the bleak mortal realm. This is a kind of good vs evil that it’s hard to get in Greek mythology, as the cruel, vindictive and often stupid Gods consist of drunkards, torturers, rapists and hooligans. So, in order to create a great narrative around hope and despair, faith and its complete absence, ACCURACY HAD TO SUFFER. The result is an epic that, while it doesn’t follow Homer or Virgil, is a stunning addition to the tradition set by the likes of Lord of the Rings and 300.
“This is a kind of good vs evil that it’s hard to get in Greek mythology”
The Renegade Rant and Rave
We Found Nothing
I certainly did not find love – or anything remotely close to it – in Rihannas’ latest music video, ‘We Found Love’. There is a lot to find disgruntling; from the vaguely creepy bleached-blonde bloke to Rihanna’s attempts to look like a character from C4 Skins. As if any of her previous videos weren’t bad enough, in this one she shows a guy slap her ass and tattoo it with the word “MINE”. By Eimear Gaffney
The Original Ranters... The professionals have been
Classy. Very classy, Rihanna. Bum tattoos have been featured in the media quite a bit lately, from this to sexual conquests on each cheek. Frankly,
I don’t really care who has what tattooed on their rears, but I could have done without this from Rihanna.
ranting and raving for years
here are some extracts from the very best of the best.
The Athanaeum vs H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau [The sufferings of the Beast People had] absolutely no artistic reason. [The] disgusting descriptions arouse loathing without any equivalent personal interest.
John Kenneth Galbraith vs Critics Much literary criticism comes from people for whom extreme specialization is a cover for either grave cerebral inadequacy or terminal laziness, the latter being a much cherished aspect of academic freedom.
Martin Amis vs Don Quixote
Reading Don Quixote can be compared to an indefinite visit from your most impossible senior relative, with all his pranks, dirty habits, unstoppable reminiscences, and terrible cronies. When the experience is over, and the old boy checks out at last (on page 846 -- the prose wedged tight, with no breaks for dialogue), you will shed tears all right; not tears of relief or regret but tears of pride. You made it, despite all that ‘Don Quixote’ could do.
Gore Vidal vs John Updike I can’t stand him. Nobody will think to ask because I’m supposedly jealous; but I out-sell him. I’m more popular than he is, and I don’t take him very seriously...oh, he comes on like the worker’s son, like a modern-day D.H. Lawrence, but he’s just another boring little middle-class boy hustling his way to the top if he can do it.
Mark Twain vs The Vicar of Wakefield
Also, to be fair, there is another word of praise due to this ship’s library: it contains no copy of ‘The Vicar of Wakefield’, that strange menagerie of complacent hypocrites and idiots, of theatrical cheap-john heroes and heroines, who are always showing off, of bad people who are not interesting, and good people who are fatiguing. The Renegade Rant and Rave
From 18 October to 14 November, The (Renegade) Rant and Rave was a live project on the crowd-funding site, fundit.ie, campaigning to get the funding to secure a whole yearâ€™s worth of print runs. The concept of the site is quite simple. A project, once accepted, sets the target amount of money it wishes to make within a certain deadline. If the project makes more, or even over that amount within this time, they are allowed to keep all the funds. However, if they fall just one percent short of their target amount, they walk away with nothing. We are pleased to announce that we made 111% of our target amount. We were absolutely overwhelmed by the support of all the wonderful contributors. When we began our fundit campaign, we had hoped that with some hard work and a bit of unfaltering enthusiasm we might just be able to reach our target by the four-week deadline. We never imagined that just a week into the campaign we would have exceeded our target. We are deeply grateful to all of our contributors for their generous help and support, and give our most sincere thanks to all involved:
Andrew Brear, Jennifer Calder, Matther Corbally, Dylan Dalton, Diana Darke, Darragh Doyle, Harriet Duncalfe, Terence Gallagher, Vincent Hibbert, Rachel Keene, Toby Marchant, Rachel McDermott, Mark Pretty, David Schimmelpfennig, James Schuller, Andy Smith, Don Travlos, Olga Travlos, Margaret Ward. Not forgetting, of course, our four anonymous funders. We would also like to thank Simon Williams for his continued support and for pushing The (Renegade) Rant and Rave forward, and Martin McNicholl at Fundit for giving us a helping hand, as well as to all our writers and readers without whom this would not be possible. The Renegade Rant and Rave
Catherine Clifford Matthew Corbally Eimear Gaffney Dominic Gallagher Charlie Kerrigan Sean Larney Sophie Laudner Justin Murphy John Porter TomĂĄs Sullivan
A special thank you to our Faculty Advisor Dr. Darryl Jones, as well as Simon Williams, and Diane Sadler for helping us make our Ranting and Raving dreams come true. Without them we wouldnâ€™t be able to create this forum for outrageous criticism.
us out online at
Want to get involved or have questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Renegade Rant and Rave