that, and all of the above. But, I think, it’s where he’s pinned his focus that marks him out as a man to be heard. His whole vision rests on tapping into our sense of identity. Not in a jingoistic sense, but in an appeal to our deepest humanity.
I say this because, from the get-go the other night, I heard the voice of an influential master coming through and mingling with Tiernan’s own — the late philosopher-poet-writer John Moriarty. They met first when Tommy did his walking-around-Ireland TV series, Supertramp, in 2002, after which he and Moriarty became friends. ‘Before we had psychiatric hospitals, we
Tiernan is a beautiful wordsmith: Donegal
Irish sounds like ‘seagulls coming for your eyes’; red hair looks like ‘pure heat’
had open spaces,’ Tommy starts one riff. Moriarty, in conversation with Tommy in Supertramp says, ‘Unless there’s wildness around you, something terrible happens to the wildness inside you, and if you let the wildness inside of you die, I think you’re finished’. Just one idea I see flowing on from one to the other, a continuity of influence.
Moriarty had a great sense of the importance of being in communion with nature, being mindful of our process of evolution through environment and history and of connecting to what that means through mythology. He posited that there was an alternative way of looking at the world, a thinking about how we live, that was, to paraphrase blandly, gentler on us as intelligent mammals and more in tandem with the ways of the natural environment whence we issue, and of which we are a part. He was critical of where we were at, ‘reducing everything in sight to commodity. And as is the collective eye so is the collective soul.’
A shining academic star, Moriarty graduated from UCD with a double-first in philosophy and English. But after a short career in academia, he rejected — as he put it himself — ‘being respectable’, and ultimately devoted his life to his visionary writing and thinking, while living simply and working as a gardener in Connemara. I find the archetypes of those two men very powerful as a divergent picture of how we as a people might imagine ourselves into the future.
Moriarty’s extrapolation of his thinking in his writings is rather hard to comprehend. I find him more compelling in speech — there’s lots on YouTube. It’s exciting that Tommy is, as I see it, taking the essence of his thinking, reverting to myth, rethinking who we are, considering our nature in tandem with Nature; that he’s taking that gentle, profound circumspection into his work. We so need this at this time — it’s signposting, alerting us: Hey, think on this. Own the best of who we are before it’s wiped out by the fundamental emptiness of other, more dominant, cultural effluent. Be who we are, from the depths of what we come from.
Tommy is scratching away at something very deep and real in his work. He’s not infallible, but he’s the only one doing it in such a direct manner. Proof: the bottom line. He’s added three more dates in March.