June 29, 2015

Michael Longley - Green wank and Orange wank


Michael Longley with his portrait by Colin Davidson. See Longley with Mallie and I here.
Michael Longley met David Remnick on his 1994 visit to Belfast. They went for a walk and talk at the Giant’s Ring in South Belfast in 1994.
"These sides are divided from each other in their souls. They adhere to ridiculous visions of themselves and their histories. I call it ‘the green wank’ and ‘the orange wank’."
One "green wank" is this:
"The republican delusion, is of some romantic, maudlin Ireland, poetry, the sod—all that shit. Sinn Fein is immersed in that, and yet Sinn Fein itself is so lacking in nimbleness and political imagination. It is so out of date. The only real border left in Europe is the Irish border, which Sinn Fein is intent on cementing."
"King William crossing the Boyne on a white horse. Sometimes these loyalists—it’s as if all they’d got were their guns and their Bibles, and that’s it."
He also said:
"I would like to see a united Ireland, but that’s a generation in the future—thanks to the IRA."
Public figures normally speak in calibrated terms, laundered so much that they have no meaning. Longley's word in contrast are like a mallet to a gong. His unbridled words is an example, it signposts us to how we pull down the sectarian freeholds in Northern Ireland.

I call him a moderate with a Mauser mouth. Paul Muldoon said Michael Longley is a figure who represents the future of Northern Ireland:
"A future in which we try to make sense of each other and come to terms with each other and each other’s places. There is an imaginative domain in which we can all move forward and Michael is emblematic of that."
Michael D Higgins said:
"Michael Longley has looked history straight in the face - and Ireland is the better for it."
He didn't write "Troubles trash" and there was no trash talk, just sniper-direct language. The plain expression of events and settings as they are. The words pierce and rattle your perceptions. Longley is all about the oblique reference the middle class is the great occluded tradition in Northern Ireland.

Longley flogs the "nightmare" and "stereophonic" orthodoxies of the Falls and the Shankill. Vaclav Havel said "words can kill, and have killed, as well as making us free." The lucid laureate frees us from the tyranny of the rabble with his words, the Orange and Green "wank" of the fanatics of ethnicists of Northern Ireland.
 
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