Lyrics: Take me to church by Hozier

It took me a while before I realized the words of Hozier’s famous song Take me to church.

Take me to church
I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies
I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife
Offer me that deathless death
Good God, let me give you my life

If I’m a pagan of the good times
My lover’s the sunlight
To keep the Goddess on my side
She demands a sacrifice

There is no sweeter innocence than our gentle sin
In the madness and soil of that sad earthly scene
Only then I am human
Only then I am clean

This is a concise expression of what I call atheist religion. The reversal of Christian values is cunning. Truth is replaced by a shrine of lies. The protagonist doesn’t want to be saved or forgiven but sacrificed (doesn’t identify with Abraham but with Isaac). He wants a deathless death, not the lifeless life of heavenly bliss.

Of course the value of innocence and sin is also reversed, and the common metaphor of angelic cleanliness is now applied to the soild of that sad earthly scene.

This is informed paganism, executed in a precise way as a clean reversal of the standard Christian story, and in that dialectical way it is of course itself profoundly Christian.

Here is that wonderful clip with ballet dancer Sergej Polunin:

Lyrics: Take me to church by Hozier was originally published on Meandering home

Reading: Dead Animals by John Hollander

The American poet John Hollander (1929-2013) was known for his language virtuosity. His most famous book for a wider audience was his 1981 introduction to form and prosody Rhyme’s Reason, a witty tour through the intricacies of poetry that you can borrow online. Some say that his poems lack personal engagement, that the emotion is never the author’s (which, following Eliot, it shouldn’t be). Here I read a short verse that gives you some impression of Hollander’s craft:

Dead Animals
Granted, then, that the punishment,
-Whether appropriate or not-for that
One tiny universal act (“Come, try it!”
“Yum-yum!”) of disobedience was Death,
It seems obscenely inappropriate
That all the other creatures, furry, smooth,
Scaly or feathered, shelled, gelatinous,
Great- or tiny-winged, swift-legged or slow
(I need-however lovingly-not name
Them all right now) have been condemned, like us,
To death, just to provide those symmetries
And analogues, just to allow us to
Compare ourselves to them whether or not
Condescendingly-I don’t know. I think
I’ll trade this one in for another story.

On offer is a precise and funny rephrasing of Genesis and our culture’s bullshit story of original sin. A ‘tiny universal act’ of disobedience because of a yummy Golden Delicious is totally inappropriate of course and the entire myth has been fabricated to channel a deep and dark hatred of life. Hollander doesn’t need such verbiage – suffice the word “obscene”.

He sums up the other creatures (I think he has a knack for completeness. Hollander was a celebrated anthologist and enjoyed formal perfection in poetry). Here, he skillfully implies weaker rhyme like slow-now or like us-symmetries or condescendingly-story. What do we make of his insecurity in the end? Which story does he want to trade, the book of Genesis, or his own poem (playing with meta-poetry is a common feature in Hollander’s work)? Or both?

The obscenity is that animals are mortal like us yet without sin. It allows us (compels us, maybe, it alliterates now and that’s what is really going on) to compare ourselves with the animals, to look down on them because they can’t be seduced, they have no will of their own against the flow of Being, as it were. The animals are there to make us go “look they die just like us but we have deserved to be treated like them because we have sinned; had we not sinned, we would also die, but we take on that burden consciously. Our reward is to feel better because we can name our situation. We have a mind that can create for us the illusion that we have an independent will and thus the ability to sin. Of course it is all bullocks, but that masochism gives us at least the satisfaction of being more ‘advanced’ than the animals.

Do you think this is what Hollander means?

Reading: Dead Animals by John Hollander was originally published on Meandering home

June 23. Seven Lively Sins.

Let’s do nothing today! Look around a bit, peek in a bookstore, and read some theater. Walk the busy center of Seoul, observe the people moving on and off. I am shocked that Namdaemun, the “Great South Gate” has been burnt down by some lunatic protesting againt the incumbent president. It is perhaps the most important symbol of this country, and it is being reconstructed to its original state as far as possible. Tradition should be.
Seven lively sins. Here is a list of the seven traditional sins:
The first letters form the words “wasp leg”. Bzbzbzbzbzbzbzzzz – sting! sting!
We could call for some characters to impersonate the seven lively sins, and they would all talk to each other. Avarice says “hi Sloth how are you, what are you doing this weekend.” Sloth replies “o not much, actually nothing, just sleeping, hanging out. How about you?” – “I don’t know yet. I want everything.” And Gluttony says “Let’s have dinner then!” and they invite Pride too. Pride tells Envy disdainfully that he goes to a better plays. Envy him/herself ends up sharing some drinks with Wrath, whom Pride put down last week. And when they are too drunk to think Lust comes by and does them all.
But I don’t like this. We could also do something like “Seven”, the Bradpittian movie or Brecht’s “Seven deadly sins” but that has already been done. So – hey, don’t yawn, this is not supposed to be boring – I’m sorry I’m not writing about where I eat, sleep, drink and shit. I’m sorry I’m not writing about attractions and tourist treasures. Instead I’m spinning and shaking my mind like a bartender who has been drinking on the job shakes his drinks. So, what can we do about those seven lively sins? Let them go undercover and let the reader find out that it can be his neigbor? You like Unsinn? I do. Do you feel detached with the person who is writing these lines? That’s what Unsinn can do for us. It’s not easy in our society to produce pure nonsense. When you put your personality behind it, people will interpret your words in a way that they always make sense, no matter what. You cannot escape that. Even this. Parakeet, hyperblasphemian daredevil, finch pincher. There’s no escape from the industry of sense. So, let’s get back to the seven lively sins then.
Worthy art thou, o lively sin? Worthy of what? Of a feisty fling. Of no more than a second’s lust and envy of that second, envy of thy self. Dance, o lively sin! More thou want? It’s not enough? Avarice is croaching up your legs, o lively sin, there’s nowhere you could go. Yes I know: you will devour that one second, and sins will sprout from your feasting. Gluttony and sloth and pride, you will find yourself wretched o lively sin, shipwrecked and clinging to that one second that spurred your existence. Concerted you will all go down, the seven of you, and all you lively sins will yell with stark open mouths as you descent. And all of you will be big in going down but the biggest of you all will be wrath. Keep dancing as you go down thou lively sin. Thou hath enough – now we begin.