Tuesday, June 15, 2010


It's Bloomsday again, my favorite holiday, so let's all lift a pint of Guinness and try not to think about the rat in the vat.

Anyone who considers a holiday based on a literary character's fictional activities to be utterly frivolous is entirely correct and should be lauded for such a killing criticism of Christmas. The festival of December 25 is, after all, a celebration of the fictionalized birth of Jesus Christ, central character of the New Testament, a highly problematic and internally contradictory quartet of narratives written decades after the historical Jesus's death at the hands and hammers of the Romans. With the obvious exception of Martin Luther King Day in the U.S., most of our 'official' holidays celebrate more or less fictitious or mythologized individuals and events: cherry-tree chopping George Washington, the Resurrection of Christ, the Pilgrims' harvest feast. One might also point out, echoing Harold Bloom (my third-favorite Bloom after Leopold and Molly; that cynical neocon disinformation artist who wrote The Closing of the American Mind doesn't even deserve mention in their company), that all monotheism is the worship of a literary character, regardless of whether we call that character Jahweh or Allah or God or Christ. So there's not really much light between Bloomsday and Christmas or Easter or any other holiday you might mention. And Bloom ben Elijah, rising over Dublin at an angle of 45 degrees like a shot off a shovel, would surely agree.

Enjoy the ale. Forget the rat. Drink till you puke again like Christians.

(Note to the uninitiated: The "rat in the vat" reference is to a paragraph near the beginning of the "Lestrygonians" episode of Ulysses. Check it out.)

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