So, it’s the fifth of November. This time last year, I had about 40 followers, and I posted the traditional Guy Fawkes poem. And here it is again - old habits die hard.
Remember, remember the fifth of November,
gunpowder, treason and plot,
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, ‘twas his intent
to blow up the King and the Parliament.
Three score barrels of powder below,
Poor old England to overthrow:
By God’s providence he was catch’d
With a dark lantern and burning match.
And of course, I made the typical, if crass lament for Guy Fawkes, the last man to enter Parliament with honest intentions.
But I don’t know that I really support the glorification of Fawkes, and I certainly think that the stylized mask that is synonymous with protest across the world, including the recent Occupy movements, is an interesting appropriation of the Fawkesian spirit. Let’s not kid ourselves: Fawkes was a terrorist. Yes he conspired to blow up the House of Lords and kill King James I/VI, but he didn’t intend to replace James and the Lords with an elected parliament, nor tyranny with liberty. He sought to replace the Protestant repression of the Catholic minority with the Catholic repression of a Protestant majority - his was just another in a long line of religious hate crimes, though probably his remains the most audacious.
So, I suppose in there is the reason I find the Fawkes masks so odd - they’re not stylizations of a man who sought freedom or liberty, they’re the masks of a man who was a religious terrorist. I suppose that 400 years has passed, and now we find it all rather quaint - leave any terrible atrocity for hundreds of years and it loses its power to shock, and the masks are of course made all the more ironic by the fact that Time Warner copyrighted the design.