Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Culture Cub

In a fit of pro-activity and having read of another's success with a similar project in the local paper, I have decided to hop on the Blog Boat and start a Blog dedicated, not to fashion, or books, or film, or cooking (oddly enough) but to culture and the arts in Carlow and anywhere else I happen to be. Through casting my sometimes too youthful and sometimes critical eye on my local cultural landscape I hope to open a firmly shut window on a range of happenings that would otherwise go unnoticed.

Who knows, if I follow the laws of 'The Secret' my little blog may make it to publication in a paper or magazine, and from there a book, and who knows, from there a film?

I do want a multi-million euro empire to spring from my blog encompassing books, television and film.

Check it out here:

Culture Cub

The Secret

Sitting in a comfy armchair, drinking a lovely cup of tea with some quiz program or another on the telly, my eye happened to stray to the bookshelf beside said chair. I glanced over the various titles, most of which I've either read or hold no interest to me (gardening really isn't my thing) and my eye happened to settle on a curious little book. This book, titled 'The Secret' was given to my mother when she was awaiting surgery several years ago. At the time, when I asked her what it was about, she laughed and said she very nearly threw the thing across the room. Apparently it was full of some new-age hippy stuff. Since then, it has been referenced in various TV shows, films and articles, predominantly as the basis of some joke. It seemed my mother wasn't the only one not allured by the new-age hippy promises the Secret made.

It will come as no surprise that I was all too ready to believe and accept the general consensus when on reading the back of it, it promised that once I knew this elusive secret I could have and be anything I want in life, including wealth, love, happiness.

Hang on....the book was telling me that not only has this secret been around for hundreds and hundreds of years, but also that it is very simple and when I learn it I can have anything I want in life? There has to be a catch. On questioning my mother further she informed me that it was about positive thinking.


It went out of my head and I though about it no more, except to laugh at it when referenced in some sitcom. Until today. Today, I picked it up and began to read. Be careful reader - I am about to reveal to you the secret which for hundreds of years has resulted in many people, including Shakespeare, Plato, Einstein Calileo and even Beethoven achieving their success. Are you sure you're ready?

The great secret to eternal happiness and success is:


Well, it's certainly simple. And based in scientific fact as the author is very keen to underline over and over again. She is also kind enough to reveal to us the key to using this law to our advantage. If we think about something, that thing is attracted to you. Yes - by thinking about being wealthy, the universe endeavours to put wealth in your way as wealth will inevitably be attracted to you. conversely if you think bad things, like poverty, then poverty will be attracted to you. It seems my mother was entirely right - it's a book about positive thinking. But what about people to whom bad things happen all the time? Surely they don't go around thinking about being poor? Well, the author has the answer to that also. 

It seems it doesn't do at all to think about what you don't want at all. It's no use at all going around thinking "I don't want to be poor." as it's still thinking about being poor. Negation does not exist with this secret. In other words, you have to find ways to make your negative 'don't wants' into positive 'wants' eg: rather than think "I don't want to be poor" we must think "I want to be rich" or, rather than "I don't want to miss the bus" we must think "I want to catch the bus" and so on and so forth.

The author does of course litter her book with as many experts and examples of The Secret working as she can, and though uplifting where the examples are concerned anyway, it is really hard to shake my cynicism.

However (yes, against my better judgement, there is a however), I have decided to give this positive thinking thing a shot. It is after all based in actual science, and I would like to think that there is a greater power at work in this universe. Plus, as a person just out of college, living back home struggling to hop onto a career ladder, I really have nothing to lose.

So no more negatives. All positives and...oh yes...there is that last thing. We must be proactive. You see, you can think about winning the lotto all you want, but you still have to play it to be in with a chance. Funny that. Which is why I really am going to give this thing a go: 'The Secret' really is no secret at all. It is not something that has been kept hidden from the masses for hundreds of years. It's a bit of common sense with a positive outlook added on. It's something that has been told to us countless times, by friends and more often than that mothers and grandmothers. If you think about it for a minute, you'll be sure to think of lots of occasions where you've been told not to cry about spilt milk and take that puss of your face and get off your arse and DO it, whatever 'it' may be.

Nonetheless, I am going to follow this frame of mind and actions as set out in 'The Secret' to the letter. For a few weeks at least. So here goes:

I do want Mr X to fall madly in love with me and sweep me off my feet.
I do want to land a most excellent job and have a glittering career.
I do want to have my own house, my own car, several dogs and possibly a horse.

I'll let you know how I get on. 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sleep. And lack thereof.

I have written before about sleeplessness when it has affected me, so I'll try not to repeat myself too much. Yes, my insomnia, which once affected me solidly for the best part of two years and now returns sporadically when I least expect it or least need it, has returned. For tonight at the very least. It seems on this occasion the reason lies behind my over-thinking brain which I just cannot seem to switch off.

No, there is nothing life altering happening. I am, for once, living a good quiet life involving hard work, no drinking and up untill now early nights. Perhaps this is exactly what is life altering. I've had to leave something of my independence behind me in the fabulous city of Cork, and move to my family home in Carlow. Now don't get me wrong, I do love my family, very much. I consider myself rather lucky on that count. But I'm 23. Nearly 24. To once again have to explain all the time where I'm going and with whom and when will I be back, and to give as much notice as possible of all of the above.....well, it gets a bit irritating. Especially having lived away from home for so long, when I could, on a whim, decide to go camping in the wiles of Waterford with people I've only really just met, or decide, at 10pm, to head out, and get plastered, and maybe, all going well, kiss some lucky young fellow (I'm very fussy, don't you know) or even, on those wonderful days when it's pouring rain outside and the wind is howling, to stay in bed until three in the afternoon, reading. Now I feel guilty if I stay in bed past ten, and as for the luxury of reading all day on a day off? Forget it - there must be SOMETHING useful I could be doing around the house.

But it's not even this which is keeping me awake. I think about it alright, but not too much, because I know I made the right decision in coming home, I know it was necessary and logical and if I just keep my head down and get on with it, it will all be fine. Besides, it's not like I don't have any friends here. I have plenty. Friends. Therein lies the rub. Specifically the friends I've left behind. I miss them. Very much. Of course in this day and age I have plenty of options for keeping in touch with all of them, and I fully intend on doing so, but the sad truth is that despite all our new ways of keeping in touch, it's still all too easy to lose it. When you take into account that we are all busy leading our own lives full of work and our own everyday dramas, an email or even a text is not quite the same as actually being there when Mary's ex boyfriend John saw her kissing some fella in a club and punched him before being dragged away by the bouncers with Mary screaming all the while in a corner and having to be taken to hospital for a ferocious attack of anxiety. It's just never the same. It's missing out I suppose, is the problem. There are lots of wonderful things happening back in my beloved adopted city, life continuing without me, as it should. But I miss it. I feel left out. And I can't help wondering about missed opportunities. Or at the very least, possible missed opportunities. What if?

Would that question had never been invented! Aside from it's use in a rather fun drama game, it is the plague of many a person, and the cause of more sleepless nights than my own I'm willing to bet. What if? Please make it stop. I suppose it wouldn't be a good idea to ban it altogether. Imagine if Einstein had never said What if E=MC2? or Benjamin Franklin had never said What if I tied a metal key to the end of this kite in an electrical storm? or Alexander Graham Bell had said...you get the idea. Still, I really wish it leave me alone right now. It's all I can think about. Not the same question over and over, but a large variety of questions which could possibly summed up by the single question: what if I had stayed in Cork? Well, part of that I can answer with certainty - I would be stone cold broke. Again, I know I made the right decision for me. Still, I do wonder....

And that is what is keeping me awake. Wondering. What if? It is a most pointless exercise and genuinely hadn't bothered me all that much up till tonight. Probably because up until I'd been working like crazy and was therefore exhausted most of the time. Once upon a time I would have been very definite about my belief in fate and things happening for very good reasons though we may not see at the time. I probably would have soothed my case of what if? with a balm of everything happens for a reason and if something is meant to happen it will and for the love of all that is good do not forget that what's for you wont pass you. Now, I'm not quite so definite about that belief, but I suppose there really is nothing I can do. I have neither a crystal ball for the future nor a time turner for the past. I should really get in touch with Dr Who. Failing that, I suppose I shall just have to submit to the harrowing human condition of having to wait and see.


That's cheered me right up.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Pope Evil.

Ok, so maybe the Pope isn't actually evil in the true sense of the word. However, it has become increasingly clear to me that he is most definitely a sick man. His mind, is not a functioning, normal, logical mind.

Today I read a news story that quite truthfully made my blood boil. Really, I couldn't help looking at the picture of Pope Benedict and wishing I could just smack it. Very unCatholic of me, I know. But I couldn't help it. The Pope has announced that women attempting to be ordained, and those attempting to ordain them, are committing a crime as big as child abuse. Seriously.

This makes me angry on several points, but for my own sanity and for the sake of this keyboard, I shall stick to the two biggest points.

1.Female priest = horror of paedophile priest

EXCUSE ME?! I'm sorry Mr Pope but do you truly believe that a female saying mass, giving the sacraments, offering comfort and guidance to people who believe in the faith is the same as a Priest, or anyone for that matter abusing and traumatising a child, taking their innocence and leaving them scarred for life?! That just isn't true. It is so incredibly untrue. No one in their right mind would think so. (Which serves as further proof of Benedict being entirely out of his). This reads like something straight out of the middle ages when understanding the Bible was limited to the clergy and women had to be 'churched' after giving birth and were even put out of their houses during their periods. Being a woman does not make you a bad person Mr Pope, nor does having a penis make you a good one. That is up to chance. Also, I may not be 100% correct on this, but I'm fairly certain that it does not say anywhere in the Bible that it is a crime punishable by excommunication, for a female to be ordained and give communion. And even if it does say something that could be interpreted as such, everyone, including the Pope would do well to remember that Christ nor even God wrote the Bible. People, human people did. Also, rules such as celibacy in priests and even the pope's infallibility were all made up years and years into the Catholic faith by people wishing to save money or be more powerful etc etc. This whole thing reeks of oppression and really it is just disgusting. I am aware that female priests have long been a no no in the Catholic Faith, I am after all, a Catholic. Well, I was raised Catholic. So if Pope Benedict is too stubborn in these old ridiculous rules (along with not allowing contraception and abortion, but those are both arguments for another day) fair enough, he's old, here's hoping...it would be unchristian of me to say...but even that being the case, to go so fecking far as to say that it's as criminal as child abuse?! Dear Christ in heaven above! Surely someone should have said, 'eh, Benedict, I don't er, think it's quite the same thing...'

2. What is so wrong with a female priest?

The Catholic Faith is seriously dwindling and has been for many years. Faith in general is dwindling, but the Catholic Faith more so than others, and I can see why. While other Faiths such as the Church of England have taken huge steps forwards in order to survive, the Catholic Faith (which in the past, I repeat, has made changes to suit itself - the celibacy thing only became a law in 1139 and the infallibility thing only became strict dogma as late as 1870), refuses point blank to change, at all, despite the whirlwind changes that have occurred in the world in the last hundred years. The emancipation of women to name one such change. In almost every other aspect of our civilisation, huge, massive strides have been taken to ensure equal rights between women and men. It may not always happen, but according to law, women are equally entitled to the same jobs, salaries and legal status as men, and apart from the occasional case, this does happen. Just not in the church. Or at least, not the Catholic church. If you want to be devoutly religious in the Catholic Church, as a woman, you must be content to merely be a nun. Not that there's anything wrong with nuns, they do amazing work, but why can't they say mass? And why must they always be subordinate to a male priest? This is not the only overhaul The Catholic faith needs. If I had my way, (which I never will) Women could be priests, or nuns. Dare I say it, even Pope one day? Just as men can be monks, or priests or Pope. If you really want to go for the celibacy, be a nun or a monk. Priests should be allowed marry, and have children etc. etc. There is nothing wrong with it. The Jews do it, and they've been around longer than Catholics. They heard from God himself. well, the prophets did anyway. The root of what I'm saying is that the Bible (I realise I straying rather close to The Da Vinci Code here, but there is a reason that book struck a nerve, and it wasn't the writing) is a man-made creation which can be interpreted by man in as many ways as there are faiths in the world. Thus far, people tend to interpret it the way that suits their ends best. The church has made many, many changes to it's dogma since it was born, why not now? Pope John Paul II made leaps and bounds towards that. Pope Benedict (personally I'd rather call him Ratzinger, I think it suits him better) seems to be pole vaulting backwards through the centuries.

Having been raised a Catholic, since reaching my late teens I will say that year after year, sometimes week after week, I find more and more reasons to detest the religion that was put on me, and I know hundreds, if not thousands feel the same way. Why should I adhere to rules that are so archaic, do not serve to giving me any feeling of being close to God or whatever spiritual being that exists (if any), do not give me comfort and whose 'agents on earth' do so many deplorable and often evil things? The church, as it is right now, has no place in my life, or the lives of thousands of people. It is simply not relevant.

There was this guy, way back in 1139, an Irish guy as it happens, St Malachy by name, who had this...seizure I suppose, in which he shouted out 112 short Latin phrases, each of which adhere to a list of popes and even some anti-popes. (not sure what an anti-pope is, but fact are facts). Thus far, he has not been wrong. After our 'beloved' Pope Benedict, there is only one name left. It could be that St Malachy was only granted a certain number for whatever reason and there may be many popes after Pope Peter the Roman (the final name on the list), or it could be, as I fear it will be, the end of the Catholic church. According to the prophecy, as is translated, it could also be the end of the world. However, the end of the world or not, if the church continues in it's refusal to change and adapt, I can certainly see it being at the very least the end of the Faith. Can't say I'm overly upset.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cathy Jane

Cathy Jane is mighty pleased with herself in this update!

Money money money

Last night I attended a show performed by the seemingly great Mike Daisey called 'The Last Cargo Cult' as part of the Midsummer. The monologue which lasted a staggering 2 hours and 10 minutes (with no interval) was at it's root, about the nature of money. Or rather, human nature with regards to money. He raised some very interesting points and despite my bum being rather numb, and my attention drifting ever so slightly once or twice, his somewhat explosive and at times almost violent performance did keep me engaged throughout. You see, he gave us something that is impossible for any human, especially poor ones like myself to resist. He gave us money.

That's right. Cold hard cash. As we walked into the auditorium, we were each given a note. I received €5. My friend Amy who was just ahead of me, got €10, while everyone else I could see around me, appeared to also have €5 notes. Now, being the intelligent world aware person that I am, and feeling a little put out that by sheer chance Amy was richer than me, I figured the monologue I was about to watch would have something to do with the inequality of the rich vs. poor, and how there are so few rich compared to so many poor, etc etc. I wasn't entirely wrong.

About halfway through the monologue (a re-telling of his visit to some obscure islands in the South Pacific that don't really do money, interspersed with other short anecdotes of his life, all revolving around money and lack thereof and wanting more of), he brought our attention to the money on our hands. I must at this point tell you that the smell of the money, as it was handled became stronger throughout, and I can tell you, it's an intoxicating smell. He asked us to consider it. brought our attention to the fact that it was, in its essence, only rag paper. That it only had value because WE placed that value on it. He then revealed that there weren't just fives and tens among us. There were 20s, and 50s and even 100s.

What the fuck?! I had the chance to get a €100 note and I got stuck with a lousy €5? God damn it, just my luck. But of course this is exactly what he intended. How does it feel to only be worth that measly €5? Pretty crap. While those sitting pretty with their €50 and €100 must have been feeling very happy with themselves. I found myself eying Amy's €10 with some envy, although also slightly pleased that she was still far from top dog. And odd feeling.

You see money, which Mike went on to say, is the most important thing in the world. No! I hear you cry, love is the most important thing! or happiness! Family! contentment! Sorry to burst the bubble folks, but Mike has a point. As much as we'd all like to think that something like love, rather than money, makes the world go round, it's simply not true, and very naive.

Everyone in the world will claim to be Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Agnostic or even Atheist. And these, they will hold, is their Faith. Their supreme belief. Wrong again. Everyone in the world is in fact united under one great power - money. Think about it: the one thing that everyone in the world believes, trusts and has faith in, is the idea of money. The note I held in my hand was just rag paper. Worthless. But the colours, the size the images on that paper, I knew, because that is the system, I knew was worth €5. I trusted that. And for better or worse, whether we're rich poor or in between, we all trust that the notes we have in our wallets are worth what we believe them to be worth. We believe in money. We know, whether we like it or not, that we need money to survive, to live, in this world that we live in. It's a sad fact, but it's true. Or is it really that sad? I guess that depends on your opinion.

At the very end of the show Mike stands up, thanks us all for coming and addresses the issue that I know has burning in the minds of every single person in that theatre. I know this, because it was burning in me, sometimes consciously, sometimes subconsciously: do we get to keep the money? I had already figured out (judge me if you will) that it would be so easy , had you been given a €20, how easy it would be to simply hand back a €5, and no one would be any the wiser. €15 profit, right there, with no repercussions. No one had taken any note of who had what note. As I only had €5, this plan was pointless to me, I was hardly going to keep a €5 and hand back a€10. But Mike had another trick up his sleave. The money did not belong the midsummer. It did not belong to the venue. It did not belong to Mike. At least, not yet. The money, was in transaction. It was his fee, his wages, his payment, for doing the show. A glass bowl appeared on the table. It was up to us, it seems, to decide, if he really deserved it. We had a choice: Give back exactly what we had. Give back less. Give back more. Give back nothing at all. Our choice.

What would you have done?

What did I do?

I gave it back. It was after all, only €5, and I had enjoyed the experience. Besides, I'm not sure my good Catholic conscience could endure the guilt if I hadn't. That and I was with a large group of people all of whom were watching one another with smiles that clearly stated: we are all aware that this societies idea of what is right and wrong clearly dictates that we give this money back an we cannot be seen to be doing otherwise.

Truth be told, if I wasn't as poor as I am, and I only had €5, I would have been tempted to give an extra €5. However, I couldn't quite ignore a question niggling at the back of my mind, it's still niggling now: poor as I am, if I had had the €100 or even the €50, what then? Would I have dutifully given it back as I did the lowly €5, or would I have given less, and kept the €50 or €100 for myself? It would be so easy, so very, very tempting. This, I dislike.

Now that it's all over, I would be curious to know, did Mike get back exactly what he gave? Or did he get more, or less? I guess I'll never know, but I wish I did. It's something I suppose would vary from city to city, country to country, depending on the mores, values and customs of that place.

I'm glad I returned the money. But it does disturb me a little that money really does have such an incredible power and hold on our lives. It does not bring happiness, or love or contentment, the more things you have, the more things you want, right? But still, it does dominate and at times dictate almost everything in our lives whether we like it or not. It often brings out the worst in people. The fact that I can't even say for if I would have kept €100 and given back a €50 or God forbid a €5 instead? That's a dark side to myself I hope I never have to encounter.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


Time does seem to be tripping away from me at the moment. It's all very confusing. Maybe it's the good weather. Or perhaps the fact I don't have much to do with my time. Either way, I meant to post this ages ago for all you numerous fans *cough*. So, somewhat later than billed, a little more of Cathy Jane....