Friday, 15 August 2008

Death wish of a eunuch

Like many programs on the ABC you can have a love-hate relationship with them, such a one is Q and A. Excellent in that it gives presenter Tony Jones a free-er hand than does his previous incarnation on Lateline. So he is chipper and often asks 'inappropriate' questions that an unbiased interviewer is not supposed to ask.
Stilted, because there is a degree of control on 'audience questions' (we are told endlessly this is your program). The control is not so much on content as on the fact that questioners have to obviously submit their questions and write them down, this at least means we don't have audience members rabitting on; but does mean their delivery is often wooden; and you sometimes wonder whether schools teach people to read out loud!
Excellent also because the guests are not just the political wannabes or usual suspects. They are there, but others are too. So last night we had not only Bob Carr and Julie Bishop (both excellently arrogant in their own right) but also Germaine Greer, former , The Australian newspaper's foreign editor, Greg Sheridan and curator and critic, Marcus Westbury.
All contributed well, Westbury declared himself to be the 'token young person', Sheridan offered a different view from the narrow line of political self-interest and called Greer old! (she was not amused), And Greer herself, of course, was splendidly ridiculous.
So capable of thinking on her feet, there were times when you wondered whether she had given any of the issues a moment's thought before she opened her mouth. This used to be fun to watch, but is now a little tiresome.
However I do have to admit that it was because she and Carr were on it that I made sure I stayed up.
At one stage, commenting on literature, religion and a whole host of other things she said something like: it surprised her that people held up the Holy Koran and the Holy Bible as paragons of literature.
It surprised her because she thought both were bullshit!
A sweeping comment if ever there was one!
I wondered if she had heard of Salmon Rushdie!
The comment was all the more surprising because when commenting on the place of her seminal work of the feminist movement..The Female Eunuch... she seemed at pains to try and say that she had moved away from its naivete. Which is not surprising, it was after all 40 years ago since it was written.
She, being quite brilliant, and well-versed in literary theory would well know that the place of Scripture is not to be high Kultur (with a capital K) but as the record of belief and ideology of a society. To say such is bullshit is just shallow!
I think the scriptures are more valuable than that, but I am a person of faith.
She is not and doesn't have to be (though she does appear to be a dogmatic Marxist...and admitted as much last night).
And she is after all a controversialist rather than a seminal thinker. I think that much was evident last night.
Good TV, not necessarily intelligent thought.

4 comments:

SouthOzBloke said...

I was trying to find a shortened explanation for why I don't particularly care for Germaine Greer and you've given me the perfect word - Controversialist.
It's so appropriate. When someone's fame is waning sometimes the statements become more and more controversial just to stay in the limelight. Thanks for my new word.
Sorry about Tilly too by the way.

stephen clark said...

Thanks about Tilly. She was a great dog.
I am not too worried about controversialists, I think life would be rather dull without them. But some of them seem to get confused about whether they are intellectuals who might have a serious role to play to get us to think more profoundly, or whether they are just stirring the pot.
Sadly I think dear old Germaine was an intellectual and now just stirs the pot.

AV said...

She, being quite brilliant, and well-versed in literary theory would well know that the place of Scripture is not to be high Kultur (with a capital K) but as the record of belief and ideology of a society. To say such is bullshit is just shallow!

Can't it, in principle, be both? (I.e. can't Scripture be both the record of the beliefs and ideology of a society, and non-factual?

stephen clark said...

I think it can. I think Greer's comments were just argumentative..and indeed provocative, controverial..etc.
Her comment that they are 'bullshit' is as bizarre as saying that the Iliad is bullshit. For a writer, literary critic it just seemed to me an ignorant and indeed stupid comment.