I expected to detest Sally Rooney’s ‘Normal People’. 

Arguably the most successful Irish writer of the 2010’s, her works have captured a key demographic: millennial women; not to forget the wine-gulping, perennially depressed older generations, vicariously re-living their spent youth through Rooney. 

Admittedly, until recently I’ve never read Rooney’s books, though considering women’s taste in the written form that’s probably for the best.

This demographic is certainly cardinal from the vantage point of the publishing industry, and all others whose perceptual lens is enamoured with the Dollar, Euro and Sterling. 

In the West, women eagerly buy 80% of all fiction. Unfortunately, most of these works are repetitive and unimaginative. 

Ezra Pound offered an erudite explanation of this type of relationship between entropy and capital:
“You can, by contrast, always get financial backing for debauchery. Any form of ‘entertainment’ that debases perception, that profanes the mysteries or tends to obscure discrimination, goes hand in hand with drives toward money profit.”

The Show and its Director

Speaking of vulgarity, ‘Normal People’ is directed by Lenny Abrahamson.

Famous for directing such dour delights as ‘Adam and Paul’, which I personally quite enjoyed as a nascent adolescent.

Despite his talents as an author, his work does not engender hope or a will-to-overcome; at best the audience experiences schadenfreude, deceiving themselves into thinking their nightly Netflix binge confers the right to laugh at those beneath them.

A middling man making middling movies for a middling audience.

Worse than his melancholia is his transparent xenophilia. In ‘Adam and Paul’, the protagonists happen across a fedora-adorned Bulgarian. In the course of their interaction, the ignorant “Fucking Irish!”- as the Bulgarian put it – are not cognisant of his nationality, mistakenly referring to him as a ‘Romanian’. How parochial!

In his 2007 miniseries ‘Prosperity’ we encounter Pala, a Nigerian Asylum seeker. Intended to pull at heartstrings, it highlights her trials and tribulations living in Dublin. Also worth noting is that Pala, like many others in her community, frequently sends money back home to Nigeria.

Such examples expose Abrahamson’s complicity in the on-going erasure of the Irish nation. His work seeks to inculcate the Irish with a complex, equally despondent as it is guilt-ridden. We are liable before the court of humanity. If only we had the perceptual skills of Abrahamson. 

We can merely speculate regarding his rationale behind the interpolation of ethno-masochism. What is clear is that he is not a friend of the Irish people. 

The Show and its Characters

‘Normal People’ follows the intertwined relationship between Connell Waldron (Paul Mescal), and Marianne Sheridan (Daisey Edgar-Jones). 

Connell’s character development is a case study in inverted expectations. He strikes the viewer as the archetypal GAA alpha-male – the ‘chad’ type to use a contemporary colloquialism.

Athletic and tall, the audience is lulled into the assumption that he’s braindead, uncouth, and domineering. 

This deceptive character device is rebutted as Connell progresses through the show. We discover that he’s a thoughtful book worm of sorts, who only laughs along with his mates and shifts girls because he’s too insecure to express who he “truly is”. 

Since Connell is intelligent, he naturally falls on the political left. It’s just how things are. Naturally, his left wing political affiliation has nothing to do with the views of Rooney, an avowed Marxist, or Abrahamson, whose ideological views do not need repeating. 

In Episode 4 Connell informally debates two defenders of free expression, arguing that supposed “Nazis” don’t deserve free speech. In the first episode, he recommends the ‘Golden Notebook’ to Marianne for its feminist credentials. 

Interestingly, it’s an anti-Stalinist work written in the ‘60s. Rooney’s Marxism is veiled radical liberalism, she’s complicit in Western Imperialism.

In contrast to the mild-mannered Connell, Marianne is outspoken and brash, openly defying the imperatives of her teachers.

Underlying this proud exterior is timidity and the incessant need for validation from Connell. 

Despite her pretensions at virile independence, she defers to male authority in the most secretive and personal of moments. As a certain Corsican anabolic steroid smuggler once declared: “she will submit!”.

Like Connell, Marianne is politically minded. She rails against the Debs for being a latent symptom of a barbaric patriarchal age. 

During a seminar, she intellectually demolishes an arrogant male interlocutor who interrupts her. Destroying his naïve Cartesianism, she proclaims that we must make an inquiry into the generative structures of “truths” to gain a fuller picture of how power and structure is interlaced with the ostensible “truth” around us.  

Rooney is blind to the logical consequences of such an inquiry. Further, she is not cognisant of how contemporaneous structural forces (universities, NGOs, Media, the State, and so on) privilege their viewpoint. The left has friends in high places.

The show and the faux right wing

As with the Connell’s debate, this scene brings Rooney’s hatred of classical liberalism to the fore. 

Personally, I can’t blame her. She expertly skewers these people, their intellectual vacuity, and their obnoxious personality defects.  

How often has the tired mantra of free speech been invoked? It’s symptomatic of a right wing which lacks values and will. We take Nietzsche’s advice regarding this intellectual decadence plaguing the right: “But I say: if something is falling, one should also give it a push! Everything of today – it is falling, it is failing: who would want to stop it! But I – I want to push it too!”

Symptomatic of a campus in which the true right wing is disprivileged and undermined by the post-war consensus, Rooney’s protagonists encounter no ideas which fall beyond the pale of accepted discourse. Rooney herself has never encountered such ideas, and if she did by chance, she dismissed them prima facie. 

If cognizant of the right, she’d understand that it has interacted with the left, whether in its Marxist, pre-Marxian socialist, or Post-Modern form, since its inception. In fact, terms such as ‘late stage capitalism’ (Werner Sombart), ‘Neoliberalism’ (Othmar Spann), and ‘Logocentrism’ (Ludwig Klages) were all coined by men of the right. 

The New Right theorists of France (GRECE) have a long history of interacting with postmodern theoreticians. Accepting their demolition of modernism’s grand narratives of universal emancipation, human rights, and progress, they nonetheless take issue with post-modern individualism. The right wing linguists involved in Generative Anthropology have drawn on figures such as Derrida since he first put pen to paper. 

Michael O’Meara articulates their critique of postmodernity: “the postmodern view of reality as a shifting field of discursive relations is less concerned with re-legitimating the micro-narratives of the pre-modern tradition than with privileging their antithesis: the anarchist fragments of a hyper-modern world linked to the nomadic logic of the new international economy”. 

The show and Rooney

Who is Sally Rooney? From her writing, what I can gather is as follows: 

Rooney is an intelligent woman from Mayo. A resentful intelligent woman from Mayo. Resentful of her culchie background. Resentful of the culchie GAA players who never paid attention to her. Resentful of her teachers who disinterestedly listened to her while she struggled to enunciate her sporadic thoughts. Resentful of being a woman too, scorn the maternal and natal instincts. 

But not confident, not like her Marianne. How she wishes she could have cleverly answered back to a male teacher, to humiliate him like Marianne does in the seminar. 

Otto Weininger once stated, “People love in others the qualities they would like to have but do not actually have in any great degree”. Marianne isn’t simply a character: she is Rooney. 

Rooney, but improved: better looking, smarter, more confident, and so on. 

Further, Marianne is an improved Rooney in the context of secondary school. Rooney wishes she could go back and change how she was. 

To be more confident, to be more successful with the lads, to be…more. 

That which we can never possess inflames the passions and instincts. Rooney could never possess an athletic GAA player. Nor could the pencil-necks in the Phil or Hist sufficiently appropriate said athlete’s physique or looks. 

Connell is her dream man, to remain a fantasy for all eternity. 

In a moment of passion, Marianne confesses to Connell that she thinks about him having sex with other women. The female eunuch! Is this how Rooney views herself? A frigid, cuckold, incel, onlooker, not worthy of male attention. Perennially chaste? 

The dissonance between the show’s representation of Connell and how he’d actually be in real life is a serious fault. But as a means to gain access to Rooney’s psychology it’s invaluable.

Conclusion

In sum, Rooney’s ‘Normal People’ is ostensibly yet another love story, albeit set in a familiar locale, littered with urban and rural markers which will surely evoke feelings of nostalgia for Dublin’s student life among its youthful audience. Beyond the surface, we find that Rooney’s characters are deeply and inextricably connected to her as a person – her desires, regrets, and resentments. Personally, I wouldn’t race back to watch ‘Normal People’ again, but the fact that many would doesn’t surprise me.

Posted by Ulick Fitzhugh

15 Comments

  1. Michael O'Shea 10/05/2020 at 2:56 pm

    The fantasy of the very ordinary looking girl hooking up with Chad.

    The fantasy will sell with a lot of women and get a decent audience not to mention others who will tune in for pervy schooldays sex scenes.

    The objective, Abrahamson is looking at ways to inject degenerate narratives and woke talking points against free-speech into peoples living rooms.

    It’s so transparent. He’s awful.

    Reply

  2. Hershel Liebowitz 10/05/2020 at 4:19 pm

    *frantically checks the early life section of the Director’s wikipedia*

    Reply

  3. Sombart, Spann, Klages? Edgier and edgier, and I thought the icing on the cake would have been a sprinkling of Otto W.; you do not disappoint.

    Good job lads.

    Reply

  4. There is nothing to speculate concerning Abrahamson’s rationale in pushing a xenophilic and anti-Irish agenda, far from it; the works of Dr Kevin MacDonald are eloquent in this regard, and Abrahamson is simply true to form.

    It is telling that we have to wait until we reach some snide remarks in the comments to arrive at the nub of the matter, and a serious study of the corrosive influence of the globalist cult in Ireland, whether in the arts, in the government, in business, in the legal sphere or in the sphere of social activism and lobbying, has yet to be undertaken.

    Reply

    1. Patrick Casey 11/05/2020 at 3:31 pm

      Bro not sure you’re getting what subtlety is. It is clear reading the article what the author’s point is regarding our pal Lenny’s motivations are.

      That’s it’s strength.

      Reply

      1. For a man who grasps subtlety, you have yet to master the nuances of the humble apostrophe and the possessive “its.” Regardless, I will say that innuendo is just as pointless and counterproductive as crass anti-semitism. Hence the value in citing documented academic sources, such as mentioned above.

        Reply

  5. What a bitchy, clever-dick article.

    Reply

  6. Sabbatai Zevi 11/05/2020 at 3:23 pm

    Lmao I had no idea how based Burkean were. Keep up the excellent takes my fellow liberalists. Just make sure optics are on point. Phenomenal article tho, my fucking sides for the comments as well.

    Good stuff

    Reply

  7. Sabbatai Zevi 11/05/2020 at 3:25 pm

    Lmao I had no idea how based Burkean were. Keep up the excellent takes my fellow liberalists. Just make sure optics are on point. Phenomenal article tho, my fucking sides for the comments as well.

    Good stuff

    Reply

    1. Michael Halligan 11/05/2020 at 4:53 pm

      I can’t agree with you.

      Reply

  8. OPUS DEI TODAY 13/05/2020 at 12:49 am

    Why must I read articles that I agree with and enjoy but at the same time come away feeling thick?

    I had to google half the references.

    What the hell is Cartesianism?

    Reply

  9. “I write for the Burkean”
    “Is that a magazine for members of the Berkeley Hunt?”

    Reply

  10. The notion that you have that Connell is portrayed as some “ideal man” demonstrates how entirely you lot have missed the point.

    Reply

    1. Doctor Money 15/05/2020 at 3:46 pm

      In your world, Lea, the “ideal man” is a woman with a penis.

      Reply

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