Friday, June 17, 2011

Bloomsday and Berlusconi – James Joyce on Italian Politics

Yesterday was Bloomsday, the day when Leopold Bloom journeyed round Dublin, himself, his wife and just about everything else. And not only the then known world, Joyce had a clear eye for the future, it seems.
One of the rituals of Bloomsday is to read a portion of Ulysses with friends – we had the following passage which struck me as germane to present goings on in Italy.
Leopold is pondering a book that Molly is reading:
He turned over the smudged pages. Ruby: the Pride of the Ring. Hello. Illustration. Fierce Italian with carriagewhip. Must be Ruby pride of on the floor naked. Sheet kindly lent. The monster Maffei desisted and flung his victim from him with an oath. Cruelty behind it all. Doped animals. Trapeze at Hengler’s. Had to look the other way. Mob gaping. Break your neck and we’ll break our sides. Families of them.
Berlusconi’s parties have not yet revealed any sado-masochistic pastimes, but a circus they certainly are as is the rest of the political scene. The double meaning of “ring” is something that B himself would appreciate but rather more crudely, and the “doped animals” are, I suppose, the longsuffering Italian electorate who are part of the spectacle tho’ there are strong signs of an awakening. There are plenty of illustrations on the cellphones of the girls who take part in the parties and you can take your pick of who plays the “fierce Italian with the carriagewhip” or the “monster Maffei”. Another performer in the circus is “Leo ferox, the Libyan maneater”, surely a reference to B’s erstwhile friend Qaddafi.
Elsewhere, B makes another appearance at the head of a delegation of The Friends of the Emerald Isle
“Commendatore Bacibaci Beninobenone (the semiparalysed doyen of the party who had to be assisted to his seat by the aid of a powerful steam crane”
Even on 16 June, it seems we can’t avoid him. A more serious blog this evening and then a comment on those other (self-styled) Celts, Bossi and the Northern League on Sunday.

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