Sunday, July 7, 2013

President Michael D Higgins at Swift Satire Festival

The Swift Satire Festival closed this afternoon with President Michael D Higgins delivering the inaugural Swift Lecture to a large, appreciative audience in Trim Castle Hotel.

Before the lecture the President unveiled an information panel beside Trim Castle about the film Braveheart, made in Trim at a time when Michael D Higgins was the minister in charge. He spoke of the importance to the film industry in Ireland of films such as Braveheart and Saving Private Ryan.

His lecture was entitled Jonathan Swift, savage indignation, contradictions, vulnerabilities and a lesson for our times. It was a comprehensive, wide ranging discussion of Swift, his times, his writings and the relevancy of his ideas. A fascinating overview for those who knew little about Swift with keen insights for those who were familiar with the writer.

One of his main themes was Swift's rage at the realization that rationality was not sufficient. It is this rage in Swift which is sometimes mistakenly labelled as misanthropy. Human nature, Swift said, was not rational but rather was capable of being rational.

The President drew a parallel with current affairs suggesting that we had been led to believe that financial structures, institutions and markets were rational but have been disappointed. He also pointed out that one of Swift's best known satires, Drapier's Letters, published anonymously, was against a financial scheme.

And so much more! All delivered with great enthusiasm. Makes you want to go back and read Gulliver's Travels again. It is possible that the text or video of the lecture may appear on the website of the President at a later date.

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