18 December 2009

Epicurus has tea with girls

This continues from the previous post.

I thought about that departed age when I heard a news bulletin about a new government initiative. Apparently there is so much violence against girls - of thirteen years or even as young as eleven - including a great deal of sexual violence from boyfriends - that the government is going to take action. What sort of action? Somehow reinforcing patterns of parental control? Ensuring that parents know how their young are dressed and where they're going and what they're doing and who they're with and what time they come home? A long and up-hill struggle to reintroduce patterns of courtship and of gradualism in the development of relationships? Seminars for the young on Modesty? Not on your life. I'm not making this up: children aged five and upwards are to be taught in school about the wrongness of violence against females. (Mind you, this news item was slightly undermined by the next one: about a murderer who had escaped from prison where she was serving Life for beating up and then stabbing her boyfriend to death [why, you ask, did I not write "murderess? Because that would have subverted my paraprosdokian].)

Sex and drink need ritual. They need inherited and formalised restraints. For, as Euripides taught the Athenians in their theatre, Aphrodite and Dionysus are dangerous gods. If you fail to treat them with respect, they will take you to the cleaners. What is wrong with our society is not that the schools fail adequately to drive home the imperatives of political correctness; it is that members of the cultural elite have in the last generations prided themselves on destroying the restraints and deriding the rituals; and now the gods have descended upon them and, my goodness, with what a vengeace. And they don't like it. And the only remedy they seem to be capable of discerning is the ancient mantra: "Doctor says keep on taking the pills". But what the Modern Girl needs is not more skill in contraception and better access to abortifacients, but careful lessons on how to entertain a boy to Tea.

And there can never have been a society which knew so little about hedone - real pleasure. I doubt if our culture of binge drinking delivers half the pleasure of wine approached with repect and drunk in accordance with archaic rituals (memories of the Alec Guinness clergyman character in Kind Hearts and Coronets reminding the visiting 'bishop' that "The decanter is with you, my Lord"). And I doubt if our culture of instant polybonk delivers a quarter of the pleasure of wondering whether she really meant to brush your hand with hers as she offered you another sandwich.

4 comments:

rev'd up said...

Epicurus, Euripides, tea and polybonk. This brings to my mind a maggot I had while singing in the shower of a medley to be sung upon the reception of the Pope in Oxford. It begins with the lusty sea shanty Spanish Ladies:

"Now let every man toss off a full bumper
And let every man drink off a full glass
And we'll drink and be merry and drown melancholy
Singing, here's a good health to each true-hearted lass

We'll rant and we'll roar like true British sailors
We'll rant and we'll roar across the salt seas
Until we strike soundings in the Channel of Old England
From Ushant to Scilly is thirty-five leagues."

Followed with the stirring ol’ Gospel tune Throw Out the Lifeline:

"Throw out the lifeline! Throw out the lifeline!
Someone is drifting away;
Throw out the lifeline! Throw out the lifeline!
Someone is sinking today."

And concluded with Henry Purcell's inimitable They that Go Down to the Sea in Ships:

"They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, * and are at their wit's end.
So when they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, * he delivereth them out of their distress.
For he maketh the storm to cease, * so that the waves thereof are still.
Then are they glad, because they are at rest; * and so he bringeth them unto the haven where they would be."

If I compose the medley, do you suppose the horses to pull it off can be assembled?

Andrew Malton said...

Sounds a bit like David Jones.

(Who, I suppose, is (though †1974) glad to see the day, both the visit of HHBXVI and the hope which Anglicanorum c. brings.)

The Grumpy Cleric said...

Father,
"gods" ......?

Vidi_Aquam said...

The best of classical Christendom and the best of classical Antiquity... what a joy this blog is in the lacklustre of (post-)post-modernity! Thanks Father.