b Papa Dog's Blog: 1. Bohemian Interlude

Papa Dog's Blog

A Thing Wherein I Infrequently Write Some Stuff

Sunday, December 25, 2005

1. Bohemian Interlude

"And so," John Lennon remarked, "this is Christmas." That phrase, that song's chorus, has led to its appropriation by the ho-ho mobs who insist upon visiting each of us, every year, with a month long orgy of forced good will, compulsory spending, and the constant ludovico technique presence of wreaths, good natured fat men, and that horrible background patter of syrupy music about snow and gifts and some damn infant who visited 2,000 years of fuckery upon the world. The appropriation of "Happy Christmas (War is Over)" misses the point of the song, which is a fantastic anti-war anthem, and has instead reduced it to yet another in the onslaught of jingles meant to sound the bells of universal joy. I wonder if Lennon, dead now for almost as long as I've been alive, would be annoyed by this fact, or wryly grin at how subversive its presence is. I hope for the latter.

For if that was Lennon's intention, then it is very subversive, and very well placed in this year of misguided culture warfare from the Christian right. To me it seems that the discussion of a "War On Christmas" is in fact its epitath. This holiday supposedly about good will, supposedly about charity towards the human condition, has now been been vulgarized in the most horrific and final way. Bad enough is the spending pressure. Bad enough is the music. Bad enough is the chauvenistic intrusion of a religion upon American life, but now the poor winner Christian right is using it as a tool to rub in the notion that this is a Christian country whose brand of Christianity permits other faiths, but only as second-class citizens. Diversity, tolerance, and kindness have finally left the building.

Thank god, so to speak, for Christopher Hitchens. In a stupendous article on Slate, he has thrown down the gauntlet against this vile institution with what is the finest piece of writing I've ever encountered. Look at it. Agree with Hitchens or not, his point should be carefully considered. He notes, "The Fox News campaign against Wal-Mart and other outlets—whose observance of the official feast-day is otherwise fanatical and punctilious to a degree, but a degree that falls short of unswerving orthodoxy—is one of the most sinister as well as one of the most laughable campaigns on record. If these dolts knew anything about the real Protestant tradition, they would know that it was exactly this paganism and corruption that led Oliver Cromwell—my own favorite Protestant fundamentalist—to ban the celebration of Christmas altogether."

Philosophically I'm for that. It's too easy to allow this month of consumption masked as good will to take the place of actual good will. On the microcosmic level, good will and affection towards friends and family should be done on a regular basis, and the seasonal requirement of showing such cheapens those bonds. On the macrocosmic level, the month of charity in word, but not necessarily in deed anaesthetizes our sense of civic responsibility towards our neighbor with the feel good spirit of the season.

So I, of course, have opted out. Nothing against you if you celebrate it. This is a free country. But I would like to demonstrate another path. The path I follow, and the viewpoint from which the next days of posts in this blog will be informed. The free-thinking, secular path, to be sure, but more specifically the Bohemian path. Dr. Duvalier, the author of this fine blog, who is permitting me to stain it with my feeble ejaculations over the coming days, is no stranger to this life. Though settled, the Doctor and his fine bride have shared with me several of their childless nights in pursuit of friendship without dogma. Theirs is a relationship that prides reason over sentiment, and though they are very sentimental towards their infant in their respective writings, there is no doubt in my mind that they will raise another citizen free from the shackles of pre-packaged, easily digested thoughts and emotions. Certainly their child will enjoy this month in the future as much as her peers will, but I trust she will grow to understand that the window-dressing is just that. If only the rest of our country were as wise as these two new parents.

Today I am writing without the trappings of Christmas anywhere near me. In a New York loft with the Director and his girlfriend, and a new friend for whom I have developed a strong affection. It's been a rocky road getting here, and it is a road I shall illustrate for you in the days to come. Anyone seeking endearing anecdotes about how cute baby poop is should probably steer clear of this blog for the next few days. For the rest of you, I beg your indulgence as I begin an extended meditation on what, for me, is the true meaning of fellowship.


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