Posted in The South, tagged Agrarians, Friends, Friendship, Google, I'll Take My Stand, IMDB, Information Age, Life, Manifesto, Mister Google, Oxford American, Redolent of time's sweetness, Southern Agrarians, Stark Young, Television, The Firm, Time, USDA, Washington DC on June 7, 2013 |
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I woke up this morning with this phrase stuck on my tongue. No, actually that’s kind of a lie; I read the word “redolent” in an Oxford American piece this morning and the phrase popped into my head. But either way I spent all day mulling it over and trying to figure out where it came from.
Eventually I cheated and Googled it, but I wish I hadn’t, since I am in the middle of reading through I’ll Take My Stand anyway and I would have eventually come to Mr. Young’s essay, pieces of which I have read before, obviously.
Sometimes I think having the universe at our fingertips courtesy of “Mister Google,” as my mentor here at The Firm calls him, cheapens life. I do know that I have tried to stop immediately going to IMDB every time I see a familiar face I can’t quite place on a TV show. The satisfaction of remembering that person from that bit part in that one Friends episode–you know, “The One Where __________”–is a small pleasure but a sweet one. Being able to find the answer in seconds doesn’t really improve my life in a meaningful way either. That said, I do appreciate being able to look up the safe cooking temperature for pork every single time I cook it because I have always forgotten, but then again, my best friend works for the USDA in DC, so I suppose I could always just call him and ask. Again. He’d roll his eyes (and I would be able to hear it over the phone), but he’d forgive me. I could also just remember. But who needs memory when you have it all stored in the Big Internet External Brain Drive?
Does it have anything to do with time’s sweetness? I’ll think about it when I sit down to hear Mr. Young out.
To be honest (for the second time in one post), I didn’t necessarily intend to take this in an anti-Information Age direction, but that’s just where it went. Not inappropriately, given the bent of the Agrarians’ manifesto that started the whole thing. Unless Oxford American did, in which case the appropriateness, or lack thereof, is not as clear.
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Posted in Southern Literature, tagged Aesthetics, Alienation, Art, Carson McCullers, Death, Existentialism, Friendship, Hate, Innocence, Literature, Loneliness, Marxism, Race, Relationship, Sex, Sexuality, Southern Literature, The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, The South on July 27, 2012 |
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I read Carson McCullers’s The Heart is A Lonely Hunter last month, but it’s taken me some time to sit on it and stew over it. It’s not an obvious book. I’m not going to summarize it here.
The imbalanced relationships between the main characters (Singer and Antonapoulos and each of Mick, Jake Blount, Biff Brannon and Doctor Copeland and Singer) are the heart of the narrative. The close friendship between Singer and Antonapoulos is demonstrated from page one, but are they really close friends? Is Antonapoulos even capable of the kind of relationship that Singer projects onto them (with an actual projector even!), or is Singer really just doing to Antonapoulos what the others do to Singer? Singer imagines a deep and fulfilling relationship with Antonapoulos that is in fact not really mutual at all: the handicapped Antonapoulos is as incapable of understanding what Singer says to him as the deaf Singer is incapable of truly understanding what any of the others say in turn to Singer. Nevertheless, just as all four fiercely believe and cling to the notion that they have a unique and powerful connection with Singer, Singer believes his only real friend is Antonapoulos.
Thus we are faced with the terrifying true nature of relationship and mutuality, the extent to which we are inevitably and fully alienated by our inability to really know what the Other is thinking, and we are shown the resulting despair. Nobody’s ending is happy. Everyone dies alone.
There are a lot of other things going on in the novel–definitely a lot sexuality and innocence and hate and race and class and Marxism, but all of it is primarily explored through this fundamental lens of alienation, the loneliness that results from our fundamental inability to know or be known by other human beings.
Hand in hand with this theme of loneliness and alienation is a related theme, and the two are tied together in the novel’s title. Each of McCullers’s main characters is yearning for something, and although they try to express this yearning (futilely!) through connection and relationship, relationship is the impossible means to the impossible end, not the end itself.
Mick’s quest for music, to really get music, to capture whatever-it-is that music makes her feel when she hears it, is the prime example. It’s an obsession, really: Mick hears a symphony and she is certain that somewhere in Music is that Thing that will fill the hole in herself. Blount and Doctor Copeland are both looking for it in the Marxist dialectic (although race creates an inseparable gulf between the two characters that should be able to connect), and Biff, though he doesn’t consciously know it, is looking for it in gender and sexuality, but for each of them is is an aesthetic hunger. A notion that the truly beautiful thing will fulfill them. And with each of them, what they are looking for is elusive–it’s not clear if they could theoretically find what they are looking for, but they certainly are not able to find it through their (non-)relationships with Singer. And, unable to find it, each of them flails around their respecitve existences, trying to find substitutes in sex, alcohol, hate and even death.
In the end, it’s a sad book, but it’s a beautifully sad book.
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Posted in Book Reviews, Parenting, Spirituality, Western Fiction, tagged Adulthood, Ambition, Arthurian Legend, Bible, Books, C. S. Lewis, Cattle, Childhood, Christian Fiction, Christianity, Commitment, Cupid, Darkness, Death, Divine, Divinity, Eros, Evil, Family, Fantasy, Fiction, Friendship, God, Good, Horror, Illinois, Jack Schaefer, Judgment, Kingship, Larry McMurtry, Latin, Literature, Lonesome Dove, Love, Mississippi, Monarchy, Montana, Morality, Motto, Myth, Mythology, Obligation, October, Parenthood, Place, Psyche, Ray Bradbury, Royalty, Science Fiction, Self, Shane, Sin, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Southern Literature, Strength, T. H. White, Texas, Texas Ranger, The Once And Future King, The South, Theme, Thomas Sutpen, Till We have Faces, War, Waukegan, Western Fiction, William Faulkner, Women on June 8, 2011 |
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My top five favorite books of all time, in alphabetical order by author:
1. Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes: A dark carnival comes to a fictionalized Waukegan in a timeless October, bringing nightmares. It is a story about childhood and growing up, fathers and sons, friendship, and the good and evil in every one of us.
2. William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!: Unimaginably rich and mythic, a magnum opus about the South, chronicling Thomas Sutpen’s obsessive but doomed struggle to found–“tore violently a plantation”–an aristocratic dynasty in Mississippi before, during and after the Civil War, and about the destruction brought down on his bloodline and the land they inhabit as judgment that ripples through place and generations as a result. In the end, it is relentlessly a book about the dark places we should not go but that we ultimately cannot resist.
3. C. S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces: Lewis’s re-telling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche is the most true book about God that I have ever read. It is the story of an ugly queen whose beautiful sister is taken from her by a god, and who unintentionally enacts her revenge on everyone around her by taking just as ruthlessly, until at last she is finally forced to come to terms with the true nature of herself and the Divine.
4. Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove: An epic, episodic novel about a pair of grizzled ex-Texas Rangers and the men and boys they lead on a cattle drive from Texas to Montana, for no reason at all, more or less, other than to be the first to be there. It is a powerful and poignant story about manhood, friendship, obligation, women, cattle and death. Uva uvam vivendo varia fit.
5. Jack Schaefer, Shane: A short but intense novel from a young boy’s perspective about a dark gunfighter who drifts into a Wyoming range war between farmers and an unscrupulous cattle baron. Shane is a cracking, fast-paced novel about courage, love, commitment, manhood and true strength.
6. T. H. White, The Once And Future King: A lush and quirky but immensely powerful retelling of the entire Arthurian legend. In a sense, there is nothing that this book is not about. If I had to give a boy only one book to live their life after, it would not be the Bible. It would be this book.
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Posted in Spirituality, tagged Beauty, Brotherhood, Courage, Death, Divinity, Fate, Fatherhood, Fear, Forever, Friendship, God, Goddess, Gods, Greek Mythology, Hellenic Polytheism, Hellenic Reconstructionism, Honesty, Identity, Immortality, Joy, Kosmos, Life, Love, Loyalty, Manhood, Military, Mortality, Motherhood, Mysticism, Passion, Polytheism, Prayer, Reconstructionism, Relationship, Reputation, Sadness, Spirituality, Temperance, Terror, Universe, Values, Virtue, Virtue Ethics, Virtues, Works on December 19, 2009 |
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I am a Hellenic polytheist actively working out my spiritually while keeping a balance between reconstructing the ancient ways and moving forward boldly in living faith.
I believe that the gods are alive, that they take interest in the affairs of mortals, that they are approachable, personal–they hear our prayers and are capable of responding with infinite might and ultimate softness. I believe that by entering into relationships with them we can let their divine passion into our lives and be changed forever. I believe that we live in a world full of gods, and that when we wake up and see it for what it is, then only can we begin to fully understand and experience its beauty and terror.
I believe that virtue is eternal. I believe in honesty, loyalty, courage, and temperance. I believe in the the significance of fatherhood, motherhood, sisterhood, and brotherhood. I believe in friendship that transcends affinity. I believe that what we do, what we accomplish, our reputation, our deeds–these things matter; these things can live forever.
I believe in meeting my fate boldly and unafraid, in walking the path that the Kosmos has laid out for me without reservation or trepidation. I am not afraid to love, to fear, to feel joy and sadness, and I am not afraid to hate. I am unafraid to live life to the fullest, and to meet death when it comes.
I am a father, a husband, a son, a friend, and a brother. I am a soldier. I am a mystic. I am a man.
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Posted in Music, Spirituality, tagged Dream, Dreams, Exercise, Friendship, Jim Morrison, New York City, Odin, Sleipnir, Tattoos, The Doors on June 5, 2009 |
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Last night I had a dream about Jim Morrison. It was long, vivid, and disconnected, so this might not make a lot of sense. I also don’t remember it perfectly (sometimes I remember dreams better than others), but here goes.
I was going for a run at night, maybe in New York City, and my plan was to listen to L.A. Woman while I ran one way, and then to turn around and listen to it the other way, but someone stopped me, some friends of mine stopped me for some reason and it interrupted my run. I had a tattoo of Jim Morrison’s face on my leg (in my dream, that is; in real life I have a rad tattoo of Odin riding on Sleipnir on my leg), but I don’t remember when that really came into the picture.
I went with these friends over to an apartment where a bunch of other friends of mine were hanging out, including Jim Morrison. I was really nervous because in this dream he was theoretically my friend, but I completely hero-worshipped him, and I wanted him to like me, but I knew it was chancy.
In short, he let me down. He ignored me. He was busy hanging out with my other friends, having fun with them. He didn’t even wave or say hi, he was so wrapped up with having a great time that he did not even notice I was there. Later on, I kept trying to hide the tattoo of him, because I did not want people to know how I felt about him and thus how hurt I probably was because he ignored me.
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