:::this is the way the world ends:::

Month: June 2008

Jesus Week

The baby is at thirty-three weeks! 



Snow making morning of the darkness, that involuntary light.

Can’t you make today a praise of something more than worry,

More than indecision, more than just the sun showing up late

Again at the edges of the fallen snow, gray and purple, then finally

The sky follows blue and pink like an anxious pregnancy?

This poem may be all you will ever have control of, and even

It is a series of decisions you barely recognize as yours

Until you revise them. Look again. The sun pulses from inside

The ice. Look again. The evergreen stoops with the weight

Of the pulsing sun. Look again. Your life is without consequence.

Look again. Your life was once without consequence, and now

There are consequences. Praise them. The rushing aquatic

Beat they played for you out of a little box is beating inside

Your sleeping wife. That sound is not the rhythm wearing

Down a worry stone. Listen: it is the blood of your everlasting

Taking the shape of its vessel. The decisions you have made

And make now will outlast you. You are more alive in

The consequences you impart to your child than you are

Anywhere else. A poem is just practice.   



So as the solstice approaches and with it the “official” beginning of summer it is time to reflect on summer goals. Since I have never left the educational schedule in my work life I still put a lot of emphasis on what I can accomplish during the summer that I wish I could do during the school year.

I’ll post my goals in the comments section — if you wish, please do the same.

Jim Janknegt

I thought you artist types might enjoy this.

Here is a video of my friend Jim Janknegt that documents his progress while painting “The Rich Fool.” I have admired his work for a long time and I’m glad to see him get this kind of attention. Ned: perhaps Rejesus would be interested in your work?
You can see all the videos and photos of the finished painting at www.rejesus.uk.com.

Atonement (The Book) and Other Books and Movies, and Ideas, etc.

1) I have read Atonement now. The book is different than the movie, the latter part being significantly different. I feel that it is more baffling than the movie too. I’m not sure what to make of it.

I feel that McEwan is making a statement about how certain behaviors can not be made right in life. To that I agree, one can not go back and change the decisions one has made, for better or worse we are bound by time; and I think in the most catholic sense, we can not atone for such choices. But in a larger sense, I feel that we can change. We learn from our mistakes, and we are changed by regret. I think there is something in this, maybe not equal to atonement, but very valuable nonetheless.

The ending of the book (radically more complex than the movie) confused me. SPOIILER ALERT: Briony’s character does not seem to be aware that her exposing of the rape and shaming others will not, in fact, bring about any kind of resolution or “atonement” for her own earlier actions. This is sad if nothing else.

But then, with the references to an author being like God and that there can be no atonement for God or authors because they can bend reality however they want to, I sort of lost him and what he was trying to say about life or fiction or atonement. The book certainly leaves your thoughts running in circles as to what fiction is and what a story is.

2) I also recently finished John Berger’s new book of essays. The essays are more political than many of his past and there is less about art. I think I prefer his book Shape of a Pocket. But I am glad to have read these new essays, especially a couple of them.

3) I am now in the middle of two books, Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny by Robert Wright, and The Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin Jr. (winner of the 1978 National Book Award), which is a fantasy influneced by Chaucer, Milton, and other cultural fables and myths.

As far as the Wright book goes I still think, as I did with the Moral Animal, that he takes too long developing his arguments, but I am enjoying it. It is interesting that he brings up some ideas of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the somewhat nonconventional Catholic monk/paleontologist/anthropologist who I happened to be reading when I was reading the Moral Animal. He focuses especially on de Chardin’s idea of society as a brain or organism and the more we unite and connect, the more we resemble the evolution of a complex organism. Maybe this simply prooves deChardin’s famous concept that “everything that rises, must converge.” Of course, he dismisses de Chardin’s mystical aspects. I appreciate the breadth of Wright’s writing, all of the sources he brings in.

I should have time to read this week (as Sara is leaving for a weekend with her sisters) but not much, since I need to be painting my ass off.

4) Next on my list is River of Shadows by Rebecca Solnit, just in case anybody actually reads this far into my post.

5) I also read an interesting article about Dark Energy and Dark Matter in the New York Times on Tuesday.

6) And it looks like it is shaping up to be Obama. Hope he picks a good running partner.

7) I saw the Golden Compass. The actress they chose for Lyra was great, but the movie actually felt lighter, less dark and less urgent than the book. It will be interesting to see if they make the next two.

8) I also managed to see Prince Caspian, which I thoroughly enjoyed. There is a scene where they attack Prince Miraz’s castle that is really visually rich and seems to spell out a subtle lesson of pre-emptive warfare that is relevant to our times. The movie is perhaps almost embarrassingly satisfying, but maybe I didn’t mind that so much in this instance. I was happy just having fun.

9) Of course, I felt a little guilty. Eliot and I are reading the Narnia series together, and he has been swinging a sword and shield I made for him for a costume party, pretending to be Peter the knight. So when he discovered I had seen the movie, he was full of questions about Peter… and about when he gets to see it…

10) Just thought this post was long enough to constitute ten items.

There will be Blood, part deux

OK, so I am a little late to weigh in on the old discussion, so I thought I might renew it as I have finally been able to take this great movie in. I have to admit that I enjoyed it thoroughly and that it has haunted my thoughts the last couple of days (and, perhaps most embarrassingly, my bad version of DDL’s charater’s accent has been haunting Amanda since I saw it. I think we may have to rename our dog, Ernie as “H.W.”. Anyway, some points of interest for me- Mandy pointed out that the preacher was played by the angst-ridden teen from Little Miss Sunshine. She also pointed out the quite obvious and symbolic notion that where did the minister (term used loosely) come to get big oil’s help at the end? He was in the gutter. Sure it was a more oplulant gutter, but a gutter nevertheless. Knowing what he was and whata he represented the preacher pulled Plainview from the gutter to get what he wanted. Interesting to me was the character of Daniel Plainview- almost as though he is birthed from a pit at the beginning of the movie, I think he was intriging. There are some hints in the film as to his background, but I don’t think that it is all that important. I think there are some traits of anti-social personality here as well as a complete lack of social understanding, almost to an Asperger’s degree. I think he was intentionally played with a relatively flat array of personality. He is almost more a thing, than a person. A crazy thing, made most apparant in scenes like the one where he tells the other oilman that he is going to “cut his throat”. I don’t think one must interpret this movie in the most general of ways- that all oil industry is bad or that all religion is fake or full of lies. I think this movie is about a lot of things, a social commentary and cautionary tale about the lies we tell others and ourselves to mask our greed from ourselves and others, to be wary of the actual cost of things, the way that complex issues vibrate Hud’s “Web of Life”. Sometimes the things we hold most near and dear to us are the things that blind us the most to their effect on the systems they are connected to. I feel as though the metamessage is more about taking a critical perspective about our involvement in things, whether that be our church’s politics, our government’s foriegn policies, our own interactions with others, etc. Mandy watched it the day after I saw it and I joined her about halfway through. I have to admit the music, the mood, etc – Brilliant; I couldn’t take my eyes off of the film.

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