Thursday, February 20, 2020

My Latest Article in the Burkean

My latest article in the Burkean addresses a subject that is increasingly important to me. Regular readers will recognize some of my favourite quotations being pressed into service again!

The article got quite a lot of feedback on social media, which also pleased me.


  1. It’s too bad to hear that Father Ted is used that way. The three incidents you highlight are such brilliant comedy because they address such human emotions and conflicts, and perhaps deal with the way Irish people would stereotypically deal with them.

    The protest outside the movie is all about the conflict between using your authority as an authority figure versus being a nice guy and getting people to like you. I experience this constantly as a teacher. It’s like Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant” in miniature. “I hear you’re a racist now...” is similar...the passive lip service that people give you while continuing to do what they want, and not really caring (the farm takes up most of his day) and the other hearing what she wants to hear and further distorting the original source.

    “Maybe I like the misery” is probably the most profound and sympathetic. The machine is replacing Mrs. Doyle’s entire purpose. She has served the priests of that parish for years, making tea and forcing it on them. The entire point of the scene is that she has no way of justifying herself in the face of progress, but deserves sympathy anyway (and the machine isn’t very almost seems like the episode is making a reactionary argument!)

  2. I agree, the show itself is very good, and like all good comedy it hits on quite a lot of profound observations about the human condition.

    But it is quoted ad nauseum in the Irish context, especially on forums, social media, online newspaper comments ,etc.

  3. It's an excellent article. The banal is certainly all around us; the crass and the glib — in Britain even more, I should imagine, than in Ireland. But it can't last forever, not least because people naturally and even unconsciously militate against it. People are still interesting, even if their civilisation pretends they aren't!

    1. Thank you so much, Dominic! I don't know whether Ireland is any better than Britain in this regard; I think we've "caught up" at this stage, and my last visit to Britain made me realize how much of the non-banal was still present, thank God!