Tuesday, 3 February 2015


There's a line of dialogue in Quentin Tarantino's  delirious comedy noire crime thriller, Pulp Fiction: I'm gonna get mediaeval on yo' ass; it's a great line, cruelly sardonic and a fitting statement of intent, bearing in mind what the speaker has  recently endured at the hands of his intended victim and what his intended victim had still intended for him; 

[after Butch saves Marsellus from rapists]
Butch: You okay?
Marsellus: Naw man. I'm pretty fuckin' far from okay.
Butch: What now?
Marsellus: What now? Let me tell you what now. I'ma call a coupla hard, pipe-hittin' niggers, who'll go to work on the homies here with a pair of pliers and a blow torch. You hear me talkin', hillbilly boy? I ain't through with you by a damn sight. I'ma get medieval on your ass.

it's not so funny, though, after a moment's reflection on what it really refers to and for those who don't know, then a look  at Foxes Book of Martyrs will  inform.

For sheer sanctimonious heartlessness and smug cruelty mediaeval ministers'd give Ian Duncan Smith a run for his money - our money. Mediaeval security and intelligence services were in a league of their own, eat shit and die, CIA; waterboarding doesn't come close, hanging, shooting, gassing, poisoning, electrocution and all the slaphappy steps thereto,  these,  compared with  the Spanish Inquisition or the doings of Queen Brenda's distant, pious  ancestors, are a walk in the park; painful and fatal, no doubt but not a patch on this:

The Judas Chair,
onto which the victim was lowered  with ropes,
his or her orifices then being stretched and ripped over its point;  this, performed by a skilled torturer, could last for days.

or this, 
Saw Torture

This was common enough, saws being readily available. The offender  was suspended vertically, upside-down,  in order that the blood flow to the brain, prolonging consciousness and suffering, skilled practitioners could sustain this torment for hours.
These and many others such were inflicted by Church and State on all sorts of perceived miscreants - catholics did it to protestants, kings and queens did it to courtiers and rivals, lawnforcement did it to anyone they felt like doing it to, rather as they still do. 
 The almost infantile, naif wood cuttings in Foxes Book of Martyrs portray people standing motionless in the midst of flames, surrounded by cheering, Sunreader crowds or patiently being strangled and in one case being roasted slowly, like an ox. Perhaps it was beyond the artistry of the carver to render the true screaming horror of Mediaeval interrogation and execution; no matter, a little imagination conjures the smells and shrieks, the baying and cat-calling.  
This was very bad shit. 

Today, however, although some of the sites of martyrdom are known and marked, they are places not of pilgrimage but of nosey tourism;  there are stones around London or York and elsewhere,  marking this or that horror, Margartet Clitheroe, a woman slowly pressed to death with rocks, a witch burned here, drowned there, we really hated wimmen, once upon a time, eat your arse off, Kelvin McKenzie, neever mind publishing their breasts, we used to rip them off with red-hot tongs, 

Gotcha, bitch;

the country's probably littered with them, if you know where to look; the Tower of London, as grim an institution as Belsen, hosts thousands of cheery tourists, giggling at its cold dungeons and monstrous torture chambers, clicking away at its Beefeaters and ravens, ticking it off their bucket lists. I'd pull the fucking place down, as I would Auschwitz.

You must admit, it is a bit sick, commemorating the Auschwitz Anniversary, like this, dressing the fucking place up in a tent, like it was a pop festival, 

Glastonbury,with gas. 

I don't know what it is that the ancient survivors want, God bless them,  and nor I should think do they, save Death's merciful oblivion.  I don't know what Jews believe but I guess an afterlife, with other Jews, will figure in it somewhere, a place where they can fire an eternal round of fucks into everybody since Adam and Eve up to Yasser Arafta. But they probably will insist, from beyond Sleep's dark and silent gate, that whilst they are rapping with  venomous and cruel Jehovah,  Posterity remember Auschwitz and the rest, that we never forget.  Oh, we may forget the one hundred million, but not the six million, for their deaths are uniquely deathly, possessed of unique horror and cruelty. 
Right, tell that to William Tyndale,  


 or Latimer and Ridley

Hey, bishops, whaddayathink, a quick gassing
or an hour or two burning  at the stake, people jeering at you, as you sizzle,  throwing stones;
'syour call, boys.

If there is another five hundred years then in five hundred years the only people to remember the Holocaust will be lonesome insomniacs, like me, cruising for a bruising through the historical record,  feeling  their hair stand on end.

  Nobody now gives a fuck about Foxes Martyrs and after only a  little while nobody will give a fuck about the Holocaust. Simon Wiesnthal and his quarry are dead, survivors will be extinct, momentarily; revisionism will arise, other horrors will occur, Sorrow's books will again be cooked in favour of this or that group and the Holocaust will just have to take its turn, stand in line, waiting for someone to find it and mourn, briefly.

Meantime, its memorialising in Poland, of all places, is unseemly.  Those to whom those events are heartstopping don't  need bricks and mortar, rails and wires and ovens, not so long as they have a flicker of empathy or imagination. 

Those, on the other hand, the political vermin, the clergy,  the showboaters and grandstanders, the hacks and whores  to whom cruel Depavity is just another item on their bucket list, just another photo-opportunity,
well, they are beyond contempt.

Tear the fucking place down, liberate its entombed, howling memories, its Godlessheathenbastard cruelties and disperse them to the four winds. And plant some trees.

Either that or lift and label it, a brick at a time and rebuild it outside the German parliament, Y'know, so's Frau Hausfrau and her colleagues have to pass through that gateway, en route  to their own  daily work of enslavement; 
Arbeit macht Frei, that'd focus their minds a treat.

This has been some sick, showbusiness shit.
No more Happy Birthday, Auschwitz, no more Happy Birthday to You.


Anonymous said...

http://www.tomatobubble.com/id667.html henry

mongoose said...

You're in a cheery mood these days, Mr Ishmael. The orcadian winters are stacking up, I reckon. You need the sun on your back.

It is a bad show-business bsuiness, it is true. And now we have some poor lad pilot burned to death in a mad ritual slaughter. And am I alone in thinking that far from shooting their death row inmates tomorrow morning, as is rumoured, it would be far more effecive to let off that failed suicide bomber woman and put her on a flight home. The other cheek turned and the moral high ground won forever and a day. No, I know it won't happen but it would be the decent thing to do, and would have the side benefit of being devastingly effective religious politics. You can imagine the scratched heads "They did what?!"

Anonymous said...

One way bus for wee eck & the moaning little turd. Take the fucking green mad bitch as well.
If they want a Sun tan and the latest use of North Sea finest Brent Crude then go knocking on doors in the region which Miss Bell from Edinburgh fucked up in Baghdad in 1919.
She must have been a Fetes maternal grandmotherwhore.

First time comment Mr I but I shall be back.

mongoose said...

Having said that, the Kitchener thing looks mighty odd. What was that all about? I guess that they must have been very close to shore. Not that we'll ever find out the truth now.

Bungalow Bill said...

The thing is of course that nothing adequate can be said or done about any of these godforsaken places. Auschwitz, the killing fields of Cambodia, Hiroshima and so appallingly on and on. No gruesome visitor centre or images or preserved artefacts are ever going to be other than hopeless, trailing gestures. The places themselves are always going to be ghastly shadows, aren't they?

As you say, the parade of atrocity tourists has to be an utterly empty one, no reaction standing on the railway tracks or in front of the chambers or at ground zero can be proportionate or fitting.

Sometimes you wonder how we can just keep going after the last century's toll but that is what we do because we must I suppose, and those who would have us constantly memorialise the horrors and renew our proxy grief among the ruins are erasing, not maintaining.

call me ishmael said...

Just reactive, mr mongoose, to the surreal wilderness of malevolent mirrors. I quite agree about Jordan, as would anyone with half a brain. I also know that what happened to the pilot differs from what happens to napalmed civilians all over the region, I just don't know how.

Floriculturally speaking, it is Spring, here.

call me ishmael said...

I had a list in this post - the Coliseum, Attilla, Genghis, the Crusades, the Inquisition, the martyrs, slavery, ethnic cleansing, the Somme, the camps, Dresden, Hiroshima, Cambodia, Srebrenica, Abu Grhaib...ad nauseum - but Blogger wouldn't format the text, so I scrubbed it, mr bungalow bill; the point being that whatever happens, however we squeal, we do go on, consigning the dead to Respect's grateful tomb and not, as you hint in your framing of proxy grief, disinterring them and marching them up and down. To show that we care.

call me ishmael said...

The failure of MediaMinster to absolutely crucify Fatso and Gnasher over the oil crash is outside this topic, mr anonymous but richly deserves a post of its own.

call me ishmael said...

I will revisit the Hampshire, mr mongoose, as I promised mr yardarm.

Mike said...

Mr Mongoose: releasing the suicide bint would be interpreted as weakness and victory, and only encourage the bastards.

Far better to realease her with a remote controlled device. I would happily write the software for free.

call me ishmael said...

mr henry, there are no links down the side of the page, here; this is partly due to my ineptitude and partly because I value a clean, uncluttered, legible page. Similarly, there are no hyperlinks in the text, never - but there is another reason for this; I believe that if I can't be arsed to precis something, refer to it or introduce it as part of something other then why should readers go and find it at my recommendation; additionally, the link culture is self-defeating, newspapers, for instance are littered with blue links, leading to forests of other blue links, following any one of them will take the reader from the page he came to read. It may be a developing form of communicative and sharing shorthand and I hate to appear graceless or irritable but Link is a language i simply cannot speak, it distracts and confuses me; it's writing I do, not linking and I fear that the more people link, the less they will think for themselves, in the poor, halting, abstract symbology which we call language; it is all we have and we should not fuck it up with shortcut, abbreviation and acronym.

I was into IT before most and have been doing this for as long as it has been done, my only guiding stricture having been that the people who taught me to speak, read and write English would, herein, hear their voices.

call me ishmael said...

That's very depressing, mr mike. You are probably right, on the matter of perceptions in Arabia; mr mongoose, though, was imaging a quasi-Christian reaction to a turning of the cheek, guessing, rightly, that we, in the non-Moslem world, would prostrate ourselves in an uncontrollable fit of What The Fucks.

tasteless tours - subsidiary of freedom tours inc said...

maybe a working replica slave-ship or two, transporting selfie-taking american tourists back-and-forth between the palace of westminster and the tower of london, with a grinning crew of over-rested black-actors employed thereupon to welcome pay-as-you-groan day-trippers on-board, and 'show 'em the ropes'...

...but hang-on...casting black actors in star-parts...now that just wouldn't be british, would it?

Mike said...

Mr I: these Islamonutters have abandoned the Marquess of Queensberry and the Geneva Convention and only understand one thing. We may not have liked them, but Saddam, Gaddaffi, Assad et al understood this. The Islamonutters most certainly would not recognise the "turn-the-other-cheek" gesture.

Anyway, I reject any equivalence in comparison with these bastards. They are a genetic mutation, a dangerous one, as far as I'm concerned.

Mike said...

PS: lest I sound somewhat hard-hearted, I have every sympathy, for example, for the Palestinians, and were I in their shoes I would certainly take up my AK47. These ISIS barbarians are cut from a different cloth.

call me ishmael said...

Cynically, Guantanamo exists precisely to circumvent the Geneva Convention, mr mike and any notion of internationally accepted due process; the invasion of Iraq was the action of outlaws. ISIS are the children of Blair, Bush, Cheney, Haliburton, Hutton and, it seems, Chilcott.

henry said...

I,m sorry mr ishmael I will follow your rules,We europeans
should not betray our christian lineage by believing the tribes
bullshit, In hollywood movies the tribe leave little signs to reassure other members, Why in the sylvester stallone movie "copland"
would his patrol car start with a 5
pointed star on the door and in other scenes it would be a star of david?

call me ishmael said...

There was no rebuke intended, mr henry, nor any rules; just an explanation. I am sure that product placement is crucial to Hollywood, be it Coke bottles or faith symbols, all the major studios were founded, in the early days, by emigre European Jews, their iconography is to be expected; the cross, after all is everywhere in our culture.

mongoose said...

Well, zealots are not the audience for politics. The pilot being so demonstrably dead, the release of any of the condemned could present itself to the floating thinker as nothing but magnanimity. The woman - I see the other bloke needs no name and is just dead - could have been sent home with a million dolars in a bag and a instruction note in her hand to open an orphange and repent her sins.

The battle of ideas has to be won. It cannot be won by executing - even convicted criminals - in haste and anger. The moment one starts sending messages through one's justice system, the other guy has already won. Either we have the rule of law or we don't. It seems that in Jordan they don't. We shouldn't be surprised but it is an opportunity missed.

Anonymous said...

Should have sign on it.

"Closed until further notice,
-by Order"


call me ishmael said...

There are places I'll remember all my life, mr richard but I would never go back to them, despite them merely being sites of bad choices, good relationships gone bad, bad relationships gone worse. Beats me why anyone who was there would return to Auschwitz.