A father is a necessary evil (From James Joyce’s Ulysses)

—A father, Stephen said, battling against hopelessness, is a necessary evil. He wrote the play in the months that followed his father’s death. If you hold that he, a greying man with two marriageable daughters, with thirtyfive years of life, nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita, with fifty of experience, is the beardless undergraduate from Wittenberg then you must hold that his seventyyear old mother is the lustful queen. No. The corpse of John Shakespeare does not walk the night. From hour to hour it rots and rots. He rests, disarmed of fatherhood, having devised that mystical estate upon his son. Boccaccio’s Calandrino was the first and last man who felt himself with child. Fatherhood, in the sense of conscious begetting, is unknown to man. It is a mystical estate, an apostolic succession, from only begetter to only begotten. On that mystery and not on the madonna which the cunning Italian intellect flung to the mob of Europe the church is founded and founded irremovably because founded, like the world, macro and microcosm, upon the void. Upon incertitude, upon unlikelihood. Amor matris, subjective and objective genitive, may be the only true thing in life. Paternity may be a legal fiction. Who is the father of any son that any son should love him or he any son?

What the hell are you driving at?

I know. Shut up. Blast you. I have reasons.

Amplius. Adhuc. Iterum. Postea.

Are you condemned to do this?

—They are sundered by a bodily shame so steadfast that the criminal annals of the world, stained with all other incests and bestialities, hardly record its breach. Sons with mothers, sires with daughters, lesbic sisters, loves that dare not speak their name, nephews with grandmothers, jailbirds with keyholes, queens with prize bulls. The son unborn mars beauty: born, he brings pain, divides affection, increases care. He is a new male: his growth is his father’s decline, his youth his father’s envy, his friend his father’s enemy.

In rue Monsieur-le-Prince I thought it.

—What links them in nature? An instant of blind rut.

Am I a father? If I were?

Shrunken uncertain hand.

—Sabellius, the African, subtlest heresiarch of all the beasts of the field, held that the Father was Himself His Own Son. The bulldog of Aquin, with whom no word shall be impossible, refutes him. Well: if the father who has not a son be not a father can the son who has not a father be a son? When Rutlandbaconsouthamptonshakespeare or another poet of the same name in the comedy of errors wrote Hamlet he was not the father of his own son merely but, being no more a son, he was and felt himself the father of all his race, the father of his own grandfather, the father of his unborn grandson who, by the same token, never was born, for nature, as Mr Magee understands her, abhors perfection.

Stephen Dedalus, holding forth in Ulysses. (Context, if necessary: The referent of He in the second paragraph is William Shakespeare; the play is of course Hamlet).

A father is a necessary evil (Ulysses)

—A father, Stephen said, battling against hopelessness, is a necessary evil. He wrote the play in the months that followed his father’s death. If you hold that he, a greying man with two marriageable daughters, with thirtyfive years of life, nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita, with fifty of experience, is the beardless undergraduate from Wittenberg then you must hold that his seventyyear old mother is the lustful queen. No. The corpse of John Shakespeare does not walk the night. From hour to hour it rots and rots. He rests, disarmed of fatherhood, having devised that mystical estate upon his son. Boccaccio’s Calandrino was the first and last man who felt himself with child. Fatherhood, in the sense of conscious begetting, is unknown to man. It is a mystical estate, an apostolic succession, from only begetter to only begotten. On that mystery and not on the madonna which the cunning Italian intellect flung to the mob of Europe the church is founded and founded irremovably because founded, like the world, macro and microcosm, upon the void. Upon incertitude, upon unlikelihood. Amor matris, subjective and objective genitive, may be the only true thing in life. Paternity may be a legal fiction. Who is the father of any son that any son should love him or he any son?

What the hell are you driving at?

I know. Shut up. Blast you. I have reasons.

Amplius. Adhuc. Iterum. Postea.

Are you condemned to do this?

—They are sundered by a bodily shame so steadfast that the criminal annals of the world, stained with all other incests and bestialities, hardly record its breach. Sons with mothers, sires with daughters, lesbic sisters, loves that dare not speak their name, nephews with grandmothers, jailbirds with keyholes, queens with prize bulls. The son unborn mars beauty: born, he brings pain, divides affection, increases care. He is a new male: his growth is his father’s decline, his youth his father’s envy, his friend his father’s enemy.

In rue Monsieur-le-Prince I thought it.

—What links them in nature? An instant of blind rut.

Am I a father? If I were?

Shrunken uncertain hand.

—Sabellius, the African, subtlest heresiarch of all the beasts of the field, held that the Father was Himself His Own Son. The bulldog of Aquin, with whom no word shall be impossible, refutes him. Well: if the father who has not a son be not a father can the son who has not a father be a son? When Rutlandbaconsouthamptonshakespeare or another poet of the same name in the comedy of errors wrote Hamlet he was not the father of his own son merely but, being no more a son, he was and felt himself the father of all his race, the father of his own grandfather, the father of his unborn grandson who, by the same token, never was born, for nature, as Mr Magee understands her, abhors perfection.

Stephen Dedalus, holding forth in Ulysses. (Context, if necessary: The referent of He in the second paragraph is William Shakespeare; the play is of course Hamlet).

A Poem for Father’s Day — Robert Hayden’s “Those Winter Sundays”

Robert Hayden’s poem “Those Winter Sundays”–

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?

Marshall McLuhan Talks Motherhood

Dad’s Little Helper: Malt Liquor for Grownups

So my wife gave me Rogue’s Dad’s Little Helper Malt Liquor for Father’s Day. The back of the bottle tells the history of Father’s Day, which is fortunate, because I love reading copy with my food and drink. Here is the history:

After the death of his wife, Henry Jackson Smart was left to raise 6 young children alone. His courage, love, selflessness and dedication inspired his daughter, Sonora Smart Dodd, to organize the first Fathers Day on June 19th, 1910. In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the third Sunday in June as Fathers Day. President Nixon, in 1972, established it as a permanent day of national observance.

Nixon! What a softy. Anyway. I’m going to drink this now and write about the experience in real time.

Malt liquor is traditionally served in its selfsame bottle or can, with the special accoutrement of a brown paper bag. However, out of respect for Rogue Brews–they make great beers–I’ll pour it out into a nice glass. Here goes.

7:56pm: Open the bottle. The nose is reminiscent of, uh, like a quart of Mickey’s (the “gentleman’s malt”). Not a good sign.

7:57pm: Pour. The color is gold, of course, a little darker and more opaque than a standard American lager.

7:58pm: Taste. First impression: This isn’t Olde English, but it’s hardly Rogue’s Juniper Pale Ale.

7:59pm: Oh shit! The Simpsons is going to come on (yeah, I still like The Simpsons).

8:00pm: I missed the couch gag. Hang on, a trailer for Hellboy 2. This looks pretty good. But back to the malt.

8:03pm: The beer has a good taste in the mouth, but it has that undeniable corn-burn aftertaste, which is kinda unpleasant, and kinda makes you want to keep drinking the beer. Homer kills his father–but it’s just a “wonderful dream.” Dark.

8:08pm: I haven’t had malt liquor in a long time, actually, probably like seven years. When I was a college student I used to scrape together seventy cents and go to the gas station next door and get myself a quart of Hurricane (to more cosmopolitan readers: in Florida we don’t have beverages in the forty ounce variety, popularly called “forties” –we have quarts. Because that extra eight ounces will, like, really tear you up). The trick with Hurricane–or really any quart, especially malt liquor, is to drink it really, really fast, before it gets warm. When it gets warm, it’s really, really bad. Also, the last portion is no good to drink, but may be respectfully tipped out in memory to one’s fallen comrades (the “homies,” if you will). Lisa said “southern-fried succubus.” Excellent.

8:17pm: A little internet research reveals that Anheuser-Busch still makes Hurricane. Also, Hurricane received a 2.125 rating (5 is the best) at BeerPal. What kind of a loser takes the time to review malt liquor online? Dad’s Little Helper got a 3.0. Here’s a quick control: My go-to beer of choice, Sierra Nevada IPA earned a 3.355, and Budweiser, the self-proclaimed “King of Beers” earned a 1.866.

8:26pm: The Dixie Chicks, Colonel Homer…and Major Marge! Seriously, the show is way past due for being taken out back and gently shot between the eyes. Seriously.

8:30pm: King of the Hill. This show is still good. And “What Would Hank Hill Do?” is a personal motto of mine.

8:35pm: This malt liquor is only 22 ounces, not 34, but it’s never taken me this long to drink one before. I’m kinda old, I guess, or I just don’t drink that much anymore.

8:36pm: My wife appears from the baby’s room. She has put the baby to sleep (that’s not a metaphor. We’re excellent parents). She asks about the malt liquor. “It’s a malt liquor,” I say. “It’s pretty good.” She asks me why I’m smiling. I think the brew is working some magic on me.

8:40pm: Micturition imminent.

8:43pm: God, I hate Peggy Hill.

8:45pm: My wife informs me that this Rogue beverage costs the same as other Rogue beverages (like five or six dollars). So, there. There’s some info in the review.

8:46pm: I haven’t talked about the label. Who is this guy? He’s on a couple of the Rogue bottles, but it strikes me now that he looks like Tom Selleck. Or, really like Magnum (P.I.). Magnum in three ties.

8:50pm: It occurs to me now that my best friend gave me a subscription to a microbrew of the month club, where I’ll receive several microbrewed beers in the mail every other month. So, I could do reviews like these, you know bimonthly (I suppose there’s nothing to stop me from doing them all the time–still, there needs to be an occasion. I’m kinda rambling now).

8:56pm: Okay–so, as it warms, Dad’s Little Helper conforms to standard malt liquor rules–but with greater resistance. There’s a possibility of this tasting like ass pretty soon, though, I fear. I need to pony up and get down to brass tacks.

9:02pm: Final verdict: This beer will give you a buzz, but so will Hurricane, paint thinner, and standing up too fast. A lovely Father’s Day gift–who wouldn’t want malt liquor?–but not on par with Rogue’s other brews.