Monday, April 04, 2005

Pope-ularity

"How many army divisions does the Pope have?" --Stalin.

In hearing long distance about the gigantic crowds gathering in enormous St. Peter's Square, I'm reminded of the big-to-do made about Ronald Reagan's funeral. He had, what, 5,000 people show up to view his corpse? (Mainly defense contractors thanking him for kickbacks, I'd guess.) The Pope's funeral is expected to draw two million.

I have the sense that we in America strongly overrate our own power and importance. I also wonder if our President is not just a media construction. Non-stop 24-hour media hyping these guys-- and the so-called "most popular President" drew less for his funeral than a standard NASCAR race. I suspect Americans don't much care for any of our rulers-- they realize we have no control over events-- and our politicians' importance is largely among the establishment media and within their own minds.

(The Pope drawing millions of people in Communist Poland in 1979 I think had more to do with the collapse of the Soviet empire than Reagan in 1987 making remarks in front of a few American TV cameras to a wall.)

The contrast between reactions shows also that cultural figures and events have more relevance to people than politics. Let's not kid ourselves-- religion is culture. The major religions, in fact, have their foundations in literature, their growth and strength attributable to the power of their writings; whether the Koran, the Torah, or the Gospels. They're literature with a lot of added trappings-- robes and buildings and such-- but literature all the same. When one digs into the essence of things one finds that literature remains the greatest force of them all.

7 comments:

Noah Cicero said...

"When one digs into the essence of things one finds that literature remains the greatest force of them all."

I agree.

I watched Today this mourning with Katie Couric. And she was like, "The mystery cardinal, the mystery cardinal." In a very creepy voice. I started laughing my balls it was so stupid and lame.
Is it me or as shit gets worse in this country exponentially the corporate news stations lies and what they choose to talk about get more ridiculous exponentially?

Example: I read an article by the Associated Press on Yahoo that the Pope and Shiavo's deaths are mystically connected by God Himself.

Gas is $2.16 in Ohio. I've never seen it that high here. What's the price in other places? I know OPEC set an output or supply limit, which enables them to charge more now because India and China are demanding more oil everyday while america has flatlined in consumption, and the price might rise to five or six dollars within two years?

I know this ain't literary, but ULAers live all over the place, and I trust your answers. And I don't watch national news for the above mentioned reasons.

Noah Cicero said...

"When one digs into the essence of things one finds that literature remains the greatest force of them all."

I agree.

I watched Today this mourning with Katie Couric. And she was like, "The mystery cardinal, the mystery cardinal." In a very creepy voice. I started laughing my balls it was so stupid and lame.
Is it me or as shit gets worse in this country exponentially the corporate news stations lies and what they choose to talk about get more ridiculous exponentially?

Example: I read an article by the Associated Press on Yahoo that the Pope and Shiavo's deaths are mystically connected by God Himself.

Gas is $2.16 in Ohio. I've never seen it that high here. What's the price in other places? I know OPEC set an output or supply limit, which enables them to charge more now because India and China are demanding more oil everyday while america has flatlined in consumption, and the price might rise to five or six dollars within two years?

I know this ain't literary, but ULAers live all over the place, and I trust your answers. And I don't watch national news for the above mentioned reasons.

Anonymous said...

Dude, i only watch TV when i WANT to raise my blood pressure to the point of dizziness and passing out, which happens often.

I saw the headline on that article you're talking about, but was too disgusted to read it.

Gas in Cali is $2.50 for the cheapest grade, and rising. It's all a big scam. BUT...considering inflation for everything else over the last 20+ years, gas prices are pretty good.

I don't count on that trend to continue! When it was $1.75 per gallon this past summer, I tried stockpiling gasoline in my underground bunker, but it stunk up the place, and the fumes killed my cats.

Fucking capitalist piggies.

ALTERNATIVE TRANSPORTATION: I bought myself a rickshaw, but who the hell's going to pull it? Katie Couric?

-Pat

- Leopold said...

Well, I hope all those people who bought gas guzzling SUVs, etc... are suffering now. It's at about 91.6 cents a litre here in Toronto. That seems pretty cheap to me, since it's over a $1 in Vancouver and probably more on the east coast. (Good gas prices are about 70 cents/litre).

I've had to take care of my girlfriend's car this year and I don't understand how anyone can afford to drive. Insurance is a total scam, maintenance is rediculous, parking/ticket enforcement isn't based at all on justice and order, but on money collection, you can't park anywhere, people drive like assholes, gas is out of this world. I dont' ever want to own a car. But what makes me angriest is that to get around in this city, YOU STILL NEED TO DRIVE. There are so many places that you can't get to or are prohibitively difficult to get to without a car.

I wouldnt' mind paying high gas, outrageous insurance, parking tickets, etc... if I knew it was all going into making a viable, affordable city transportation system. But it's not. Not at all. This, like everything, is just gonna be band-aid solutions until it all falls apart. We knew since day one that using gas was going to be a dead end street...

About TV, I live in a polish neighbourhood so even without a TV and newspaper, there are National TV crews outside this bronze statue of Pope JP2 down the street 24-7. You can't get away! It's driving me nuts. His death is not news, we saw it coming for months, people are dying all over the world all the time from much more serious problems than old age - people who've probably done more and had a rougher time of it. Hell, there are still people ALIVE we could be reporting about. Between Schiavo, Michael Jackson and the Pope, I don't know what is the LARGEST CRISIS FACING THE WORLD TODAY!

After two years in college without TV, I became immune. Suddenly it was tear-your-eyeballs-out-
and-stomp-on-them terrible. The shows were insipid (bad), the news was more harmful than helpful (worse) and the advertising made me want to shoot myself in the face (worstest). Granted, I've traded my TV time for computer time, but at least I do my own programming and have to THINK and CHOOSE what I do with it. I don't miss TV at all. That's not a political statement.

Adam Hardin said...

You want a contrast in figures that applies equally well to the ULA verses the Literati, look at the difference between Pope John Paul II and George W. Bush.

George W. Bush is a very small man. A man who has accomplished nothing really in his life, but has had everything accomplished for him.

Pope John Paul II survived through tragedy, and did hard manual labor while the Nazis occupied his country. Came close to death many times. The weight of him as a human being is as big as I have ever seen, and we may not see that great a human being in our lifetime. He is a true leader.

That is why Literature has gone to shit is because we do not have people who have lived through real things writing. We have a bunch of George W. Bushes writing, and it shows in the writing as pure damn fluff.

Tim Hall said...

Adam: "We have a bunch of George W. Bushes writing, and it shows in the writing as pure damn fluff."

Come on, now--Jonathan Saffron Flower has a flipbook of a guy falling upwards in the back of his new novel. If that's not gravitas, what is?

Tim

the next pope said...

"The contrast between reactions shows also that cultural figures and events have more relevance to people than politics."

I wouldn't be so sure of that... just looking at statistics, there are some 1.1 billion Roman Catholics (potential Pope funeral goers)in the world, and only 290 million US citizens (potential Reagan funeral goers). Also keep in mind that the Pope was currently "in power" when he died, while Reagan was a leader of the past. There are actually people who don't remember Reagan, and those that simply don't care, because he's not currently "in power". Another factor to consider is the duration of power. The Pope was pope for 26 years, while Reagan was only president for 8.

The moral of this story: you can't compare apples to popes, or oranges to presidents. One small death for pope isn't necessarily a giant leap for literature or culture.

In answer to the question posed by Stalin: this next pope will have just one unified army.