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Christmas and Easter nihilists

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Christine Kelley

Christine Artemisia Kelley writes about science fiction and fantasy, popular music, radical politics, and Christian theology. You might know her for her semi-retired project Dreams of Orgonon, a song-by-song study of Kate Bush. Currently her main project is Nowhere and Back Again, a psychogeography of J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth. Expect queerness, radical solidarity, wizardry, and the death of capitalism.Support Christine on Patreon.

7 Comments

  1. Sleepyscholar
    April 19, 2019 @ 10:12 am

    This is a song I come close to actively disliking, and your analysis makes it clearer to me why. There’s the problem with the actual music, of course, and on top of that you have the ‘nationalist’ angle, which I found more unpalatable the older I got.

    I think there’s an added dimension to the ‘pastoral’ angle, as well. Kate is not from the country. Yes, a farmhouse, yes a village, but she was born and grew up in Greater London. So she has a particularly powerful case of suburban ambiguity. I think growing up in this halfway house state leads you to valorise both alternatives excessively. So the city becomes this intense, vibrant, sexy fast-moving place, while the country is essentially an externalised womb. The country is a pastoral vision of greens, cricket and lazy summers in fields… for those who don’t actually have to work there (the reality of rural life for many is poverty and very high rates of work-related accidents, suicide, etc).

    So the pastoral image of England is latched onto by nationalists (from John Major to Nigel Farage), and it’s a very appealing image for people like me who were born and grew up in suburbs (ie middle classes). It’s less appealing for the urban working class, I think.

    When I was the age Kate was when she wrote the song, I too was ‘patriotic’ (I supported Thatcher’s war against Argentina). And I dismiss that, perhaps in the same way that she dismisses this song. Yet I also retain some sense of anti-nationalist nostalgia, which I most recently found activated by the film Arcadia (recommended, by the way: https://www.arcadia.film/).

    Your argument that it’s unfair to blame a text for misreadings of the text is fair, but I’m afraid it doesn’t redeem the song any for my ears!

    Reply

  2. bombasticus
    April 19, 2019 @ 6:15 pm

    As someone who almost dawdled too long buying the first BFI Derek Jarman box (with its punk pastorales), I really like the somewhat varicose vocabulary here, like a Churchill mug smashed in a duel and pasted back together, good as new if not for the spiderweb of burst unity. Please do not change one comma or, if doing so, make it a separate Director’s Cut version. Seriously.

    Reply

  3. bombasticus
    April 22, 2019 @ 1:04 pm

    Deleted! I am sad to have offended with talk of Jarman pastorales and commas. Will leave you to it then.

    Reply

    • Elizabeth
      April 22, 2019 @ 7:13 pm

      Sorry! Must have misclicked while whacking spam. Have restored.

      Reply

      • bombasticus
        April 22, 2019 @ 9:40 pm

        🙂
        or rather / X )
        pray god we can cope

        Reply

  4. tupper o the track
    June 5, 2019 @ 12:36 am

    I see it as a celebration of when Europe was washed clean of fascist filth, and England beat her breast, quite rightly, and gave thanks that she had assisted in that great struggle against the enemy of everything that stood in the way of building the country where artists like kate would be able to express themselves

    Reply

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