What It's All About: The Revolver

Gogarty was a jack-of-all-trades and a contemporary of James Joyce. He was a doctor, a poet, writer, politician, and wit. (I wish people were known as "wits" today. Naturally funny people are underappreciated now, due to the comedy traditions established by the over-written unamusing banter of Bob Hope-type "entertainers," I think.) One of the best restaurants in Dublin is named for Gogarty, on Fleet Street in the Temple Bar. I once ate a bucket of mussels there that was so good I almost melted. For a brief period in 1904, Gogarty shared the Martello Tower with Joyce; one night, Gogarty, fed up with Joyce's pretensions, woke up and fired several bullets into the wall over the head of the slumbering Joyce. The writer leapt out of bed and fled, carrying his clothes, not to return, launching an enmity that lasted until Joyce died. I love this story. Mainly because Joyce strikes me as having been a terribly self-obsessed type of artist in general, personally weak in both morals and physique, and generally just not a personable fellow. Gogarty, I identify with. Gogarty was involved. When Ireland gained Free State status, he participated in the first Seanad Eireann. He was a physician and surgeon. He did something real that served the time and place in which he lived. Genius does not require condescension, nor assholishness, nor any special behavior at all, except better-than-average behavior all-around. I like Oliver St. John Gogarty and I like his revolver. Plus, he once said of Lord Carson, "His spiritual life has been exaggerated by a chronic attack of mental gallstones."

No comments:

Post a Comment