Monday, April 25, 2005
from the Holy Host
Take my numbness and
the distance between You and me
so that Ineffable, Invisible you
may show thyself to effable, visible me.
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Like a sea maiden calling from the near shore the leather couch sings as if to trap me in her feather caress, into which I could slump in sublime comfort and never escape. I mean to retrieve the Ratzinger volumes and consume them in one long text-fest while not missing anything of the hundred television programs that, like Cinderella, will expire at midnight.
My friend told me to make an outline because that’s what some published authors do. I thought about that. But I began writing it anyway because I like seeing paragraphs, not outlines of paragraphs.
I know I have to introduce characters. I’m not sure you can write a novel without characters. Perhaps it’s been done but I’m not aware of it.
Describing characters has never been more difficult because they have to be based on real life people unless you have a really terrific imagination. Yet we real life people often make ourselves into one-dimensional characters by one-dimensional lives. Even when something really serious comes along, like our death, we have our loved ones tell the mortuary to decorate our coffins with Cleveland Browns paraphenaila. It’s hard to take us seriously even though we’re created by God Himself and we’re the most serious thing there is on earth. We whittle our lives down by avoiding pain in all its forms and then expect the trumpets to blow come Judgment Day.
twenty-five years, a third of a the average life.
The tendency for me as an American is to regard what is foreign as neutral at best and against our interests at worst. So to hear the foreign-sounding words Habemus Papam provides a counterbalance. For this German who is now pope has some measure of control over me, has some responsibility for me, and protects my interests. "Brothers and sisters" he began. We are family. Hearing the grand words "Habemus Papam" recalls the universality of the Church in a vivid way. Germans, Poles, Africans, Italians, Mexicans, Americans, bonded beyond blood to something higher and infinitely greater.
Friday, April 15, 2005
In retrospect I thought we batted about .333, a respectable average. Rod Carew numbers anyway. But my brother recently said that he remembers the chant but not the payoff. He never remembers getting a malt. This surprised me, but then he is six years younger and it’s possible that most of the "hits" were early in our career. I think if I'd gotten any more malts they'd have been taken for granted, any fewer and I'd have wondered why we didn't get more. A balance rare.
We might've gone more often during the summer for root beer though I can't be sure. I've never gotten close to as thirsty as an adult as I did as a kid. I assume it was because caught up in play you manage to forget about drinking or eating for awhile. But when I was ten, eleven I could work up a thirst that was other-worldly and the other-worldly antidote was Jolly's Root Beer. It was impossible to sip; I recall downing it in two gulps, two long powerful gulps with the ice shavings from the glass as the cherry topping. And I remember thinking there never was a drink invented that quenched thirst better than Jolly's Root Beer.
I also find it spiritually profitable (if not as profitable as our saint whose name escapes me did) to think on the corruptibility of our flesh. I recently saw an actress who I had a tremendous crush on, the one who played Daisy Duke on the "Dukes of Hazzard", and she looks different now. Very different. Age is a cruel thing but it really reminded me how meaningless looks are. We're all scarcely separated from being bones.
Mom's side came to Ohio because a famine in Ireland in 1846 caused our ancestors to choose between death and America. No contest. No mystery why they came.
But with my dad's side it's shadier. We don't know why they left Germany, or even where James Smith came from. James Smith is like Melchizedek - we don't know where he came from or why or when he left. His story is mystery personified, but there's more mystery where that came from.
When I was a kid the film "Roots" got me interested in genealogy. I started, naturally, with my four grandparents and realized if not for the first time how odd it was to have only three living grandparents. As I got older the loss only felt greater because you can know yourself better if you know your parents, and you can know your parents better if you know their parents. And I never knew her. Even her name was foreign to me. While "Margaret" tripped easily off the tongue, I had to remember to pray for "Ruth".
My wife says I care more for the dead than the living but I always look at it more as reverence for those who have passed on and experience what we only long for - the presence of God. And the dead have the advantage of growing greater in hindsight. But how much greater can someone grow whom I never knew! Hence I imagine Ruth as a bright spot in the heavenly firmament.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
for which Matthews praised him
a humble act for a pope
For different reasons
I'd best burn my notes
and the lines that arch-ache
into bosom-blossoms of flesh,
each nuance chiseled
by the light of lanterns
held to the holy curves of
They haunt the inner drawers
of a former life and gather
in the hid-circuits of this machine.
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Friday, April 08, 2005
* * *
I’m a bit jealous of Walker Percy’s enthralldom with semiology. He always felt like he was “on to something” even though semiologists suggests his studies were, well, crackpot. I’ve always longed to be a crackpot, but for optimal effect I don’t think you can know you’re one. It’s like watching a baseball game and thinking it as pointless. There has to be meaning infused in it, something riding on it, for it to be truly engaging. Which is why I tend to watch Opening Day and the playoffs. Both make or break heroes. And the heroic is what enthralls us.
* * *
Everything you need to know about the ‘80s can be said by the fact that there was a successful rock band that called themselves “Loverboy”.
Monday, April 04, 2005
Very true. The statements by recent presidents were nothing if not predictable. Carter liked the Pope's desire for peace, Clinton liked the mercy, Bush the life issues. Of course we've been doing that with Jesus for 2,000 years too so the Pope's in good company.
I did watch the “Passion of Joan of Arc”, a 1928 silent film. It was pretty good if only for the excerpts from the transcript of her trial. Enjoyed seeing when and where she made those comments that seemed to twist her persecutors in knots, so like Christ did of the Pharisees who were constantly trying to trap him. Some of the faces were positively Fellini-like. Very odd and memorable. The film certainly lived up to the title – she did have something close to Christ’s passion. Even to being mocked by wearing a faux crown and scepter. And her feeling of being forsaken which made her sign a confession.
I watched “I Dream of Jeannie” and “The Munsters” which are the sort of sticky confection that go so well with sickness. I can’t imagine watching “The Munsters” healthy. I just can’t slow my mind and body sufficiently to do something so wasteful and in the moment. Sad.
Still I could’ve read much more. I could’ve read deeply of prose-y books filled with art. One needs a spot of art in life. I should’ve picked up something meaty and yet readable, like “War and Peace”. After the last Percy read there’s a real hole in my reading artillery. I can’t find anything lyrical and consolatory. Sure I could read Updike but he’s so inconsistent. Maybe I could get Proust. Instead I was reading about a woman reading Proust. Two degress of separation kind of thing, but not the same. Accept only original sources.
And I hadn’t been able to digest that. It was still on the subconscious. Drained with no time to refill, our Pope was suddenly on a feeding tube. And then he died. And now I can't catch up. I need to write all this out.
Sunday, April 03, 2005
So I believe in Catholic schools and the crucial role catechisis plays and I feel I should do my part, to pitch in, to be a team player, to have works and not just faith, to ... (stop me here anytime).
So I'm going to up and volunteer. End of whine.
But I think posting a picture or putting your voice on the blog is a destroyer of mystery. Let the reader imagine. Imagination is good. Of course, if you are good looking or have an excellent voice then destroying the mystery isn't the worst thing to do. Since I'm average looking with an average voice, I'm in no particular hurry to ham it up. Give my regards to Broadway, remember me to Harold's Square...
Desperately Seeking Retirement