Archives for October 2010

Dutchtown rallies to defeat East St. John 48-41 in double overtime

Related stories:

The Speech That Got Coach Dauterive in Trouble

Coach Dauterive and the East St. John School Board

Repetition by Constantin Constantius

From a journal entry dated April 23, 1992:

This is the least perfect of Kierkegaard’s books I have yet read. Imperfect in the way Either/Or is imperfect — but Either/Or is so much more abundant in its imperfection, the imperfection is less noticable in the general tidal wave of words and thoughts. Fear and Trembling, written about the same time, is much more captivating and profound. Repetition is a little too painfully, awkwardly transparent in its relation to SK’s broken engagement.

Nevertheless much excellent unmatchable Kierkegaard here: The failure of repetition in the aesthetic and ethical spheres. The initimation of a religious repetition. Tangential discussion of the ideal and accidental in farce. Job’s ordeal, Job’s loss, his refusal to give in, his demand for a hearing with God — and finally repetition’s paradox: his repentance and vindication, both.

From the YouTube Music Video Archives: Dylan’s Gospel Records Revisited

I started listening to Dylan in 1982 when a Mormon friend of mine — who was leaving on his mission year and was unloading material possessions — gave me his cassette of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. I loved it, listened to it constantly, and before too long made my way to the used record store where I laid hands on The Greatest Hits (volumes I and II) and then the more recent gospel records: Slow Train Coming, Saved, and Shot of Love. I was transfixed by all of it, and the gospel records chimed in with the C.S. Lewis I’d started reading about that time to knock me upside my Zen-Beatnik-Lutheran-syncretist head. Which eventually led to the Catholic Church and thence to this blog and other strange places.

So now a quarter of a century later some real gospel singers get together and try out those Dylan songs again and they hold up well. I bought the CD when it came out, and it’s good, but the documentary about the making of the record is really even better than the record itself — because it’s the first documentary, to my knowledge, to really treat this period of Dylan’s career in any depth at all. It’s a phenomenal thing that deserves to be studied as much as Dylan’s early career and the transition to electricity (which is great stuff to be sure but it’s been hashed over plenty). Anyway, if you’ve got Netflix, go there and stream this baby … cause I’m hangin’ on … to a solid rock!

Forthcoming from Korrektiv Press

Watch for two new titles forthcoming from Korrektiv Press:

Bird’s Nest in Your Hair a novel by Brian Jobe

Departure at Hebrus a collection of poetry by Joseph O’Brien

And don’t forget to stock up on copies of Jonathan Potter’s House of Words for the literati on your Xmas list!

Thursday Night in the Big House

On this meatless Friday, I thought I’d send us over the edge – into dreams of Saturday morning bacon and/or steak and eggs…

From the top, then – we have Mallard and Wood duck sauteed in onions, apples, taters, bacon and who knows all what (afterwards, a little red wine, a little flour made a dandy sauce for it); then we stop briefly to behold the Brown basmati – topped the same said sauce treatment; then at the bottom we have squirrel cooked up in a white sauce of apples, taters and more whatnot for the tongue; and finally, the Grandest Master Flash in the Pan of Them All: Three Roasted Chinese Pheasants slabbed and stuffed with bacon. All went with a malbec and tuns of Hamms and Schlitz.

Number one son provided one of the three pheasants – bagged it on his first time out with a neighbor (who bagged the other two). Ducks and squirrel were provided by this guy:

John Motoviloff – who wrote this and this and this and this– and graciously agreed to be the token Russian Orthodox at Gerasene 11 (he’s been writing fiction for a long time now).

Did I already mention the great camping and sporting opportunities in Wisconsin?

And exactly WHY has no one done a novel about this fellow?

Montague Summers: Author, Religious Figure.

Born in Clifton, near Bristol, the youngest son of Augustus William Summers, a prosperous banker and Justice of the Peace, he was educated at Clifton College and at Trinity College, Oxford, and then at Lichfield Theological College. His first post as a curate was at Bitton, near Bristol, but he was obliged to resign after being accused of interfering with the choirboys, although no charges were ever brought. In 1909, he converted to the Roman Catholic church, added “Alphonsus Joseph-Mary” to his list of names, and claimed to have been ordained as a priest, although his name never appeared on the clergy lists of Great Britain, and he celebrated the Mass only in private in his own country, although he performed the sacraments in public whilst abroad. From 1911 until 1926, he made a living by teaching English and Latin at a number of schools; but, in the latter year, he resigned from Brockley School to become a full-time writer. His first book, a collection of his poems, had appeared in 1907. He went on to write sixteen more, most of which reflect his interest in the occult. His best-remembered book is “Witchcraft and Black Magic” (1946), but others bear titles such as “The Vampire: His Kith and Kin”, “The Vampire in Europe”, and “The Werewolf.” Summers was a close friend of Aleister Crowley; there is a vivid and memorable description of him in C.R. Cammell’s biography of the Beast. Another of Summers’ interests was Restoration drama. In 1914, he founded the Shakespeare Head Press, which re-printed many plays of the seventeenth century, along with his own prefaces; and, in 1919, he founded the Phoenix Society for the Production of Old Plays, for which he supervised the production of eighteen plays, as well as of a complete cycle of William Congreve’s works. In “Who’s Who”, Summers gave among his recreations: “Travel; staying in unknown monasteries and villages in Italy; pilgrimages to famous shrines; the investigation of occult phenomena; ghost stories; talking to intelligent dogs, that is, all dogs.” He died suddenly at his house at Dynevor Road in Richmond. When Hector Stuart-Forbes, who had been his secretary for many years, died two years later, he was buried in the same grave. For many years, it was unmarked; but, on the November 26, 1988, a tombstone was erected, bearing the inscription, “Tell me strange things”, which is what Summers invariably said on meeting a new acquaintance. – from Summers’ biographical entry at

Speaking of Dopplegangers…

Michael Collins by Joseph O’Brien (Oil on Canvas – 2007)

Anon. (not sure which one) in the comments from the post immediately prior to this one queried the possibility of two Ron Hansen’s being productive.

That’s when I found this fellow.

I propose we should get him to be Korrektiv’s official illustrator.

Do that and we will really fix some wagons out there.

Exiles Revisited

I misspoke. The Korrektiv Summer Reading Klub in fact did read another book after Stages. We (or at least I) read Exiles, lagging behind the excellent now-lost treatment of it by professional writer-readers Lickona, O’Brien, et al. Here’s a roundup of the old posts: Flip FlopsChapter 1Exiles and GarffSqueezing JuiceWreck of the Deutschland.

Now it seems our friend Ms. Speed has gotten round to scrutinizing Exiles, too, and has posted her own sagacious and succinct (children sent outside so she can hammer it out) review. Well done, Dorian!

Fun with Sports Cards

Let’s talk celestial alignment. Though music. Through athletics. My sister is Tori Amos. I’m Corey Amos. When you see Tori writhing on the piano bench and there’s a lot of histrionics, I’m pretty sure I know what you think you think, but really you don’t have the emotional aptitude to fully get it or enjoy it. What she’s really doing is recalibrating the universe via her instrument and her passion, and that’s what I do at shortstop. What you judge as a colossal error—like the ball skittering through my legs and winding up in left field—is something much deeper than that. There are larger forces at play, dancing with one another, only you’re probably too stunted by Western propaganda to realize the beauty and grace of it all. You’ve been trained only to watch iCarly on your iPad.

Read this and others here and here.

(Warning, not for those not used to chaw-spittin’, groin-scratchin’, four-letter-word spoutin’, and James Lileks taken to a new level – nay, dimension!)

And, yes, I specifically chose a Padre to keep this post Catholic… or badly Catholic at any rate.

Five Kinds of Bad

First there was this … then there was this … now there’s this:

And do we really need five rolls to choose from?

The Telescope at the End of the Mind: An Essay for All Soul’s Day by Professor Hippolytus Thrax-Levi

Unless men believe that they have an all-powerful ally outside time, they will inevitably abandon the ideal of a supernatural or anti-natural moral progress, and make the best of the world as they find it, conforming themselves to the law of self-interest and self-preservation which governs the rest of nature. And thus the philosophy of Progress, which had inspired such boundless hopes for the future of the human race, resulted in negation and disillusionment. The Cartesian Reason, which had entered so triumphantly on its career of explaining power, ended in a kind of rational suicide by explaining itself away. – Christopher Dawson, Progress and Religion, “Sociology and the Idea of Progress.”

It is to this sort of statement that a soul might look to thank his holy stars he was born under a constellation that was at once one, holy, catholic and apostolic. But even if he were not, even if he were given the pabulum of Parmenides, the quotidian of Quintilian, the scotches and scabbards of a hoplite or the sere stoicism of a centurion, would not such a one cling more dearly to the grateful fact that he was born under a Hellene or Roman star? That such a star would catch fire from the summit of Olympus? That such a fire would heat the pitch that would preserve the pilings for the Pontus Maximus’s speculative ponti? That such dentistry would cage the tongue that spoke to uphold such bloody augurs, dour omens and fastidious fasti that best maintained pax deorum?

A man, truly a man, body and soul, would rather all this, I say, than be left on the cold perch of the fabled giant’s shoulder, gazing with self-delusion at the shambling and crumbling horizons of the modern world – full of satellites and telescopes, images unreal, cities unreal, love and eroticism, unreal. We see through the telescope and fool ourselves into thinking that the distance we reach is progress; in fact, we are no really further than Plato’s troglodyte, blinded to a more sacred precision by a dumb fascination with accuracy. Indeed, can we really blame Plato’s Pluto for not rather desiring a natural marriage of mind and body in Ithaca or Tarentum than an unholy divorce courted by the Reformation, consummated by the Enlightenment and laboring to give birth even now in these infant days of the Self-haunted 21st Century?

Of course, it is for the catholic mind to see that even the suicide warrants a burial mound – if only – to remind us with what care nature’s stern but loving mother tenders us; a monument – if only – to maintain a prudent guard of that memory which was lately our mother’s children and our own siblings; and a sentinel – most certainly – to counsel us and send us forth in cautious opposition to any who might once again raise the specter of self-obliterating fictions passing as true philosophies.

Even second best to the unity proposed first by the figure of Christ (the truth of such unity is, arguably, evident in Christendom’s tangible fruits: the arts and sciences of its finest minds) and even carried through all its permutations of classical culture, history and philosophy, the pagans’ belief is nothing by comparison to the faith which begins in a crib and ends on a cross (the truth of which, equally arguable, is evident in Christendom’s tangible harvest of martyrs, if you can and do believe such things).

But our current dilemma has been heaped upon us not by the holy innocence being set upon by the logical sword point of pagan belief – for which even the Romans can be commended in preserving whole against the deviltry of Carthage – but by a queer veering from Christianity itself. In fact, it would take a more sophisticated perversity than even Carthage (to which, nonetheless, we have now come) – the so-called Renaissance – to serve as a momentous acknowledgment of the moment the wood warped and the olive press of body and soul no longer adhered or applied. Thus, again, Mr. Dawson:

Voltaire writes: “For 900 years the French genius has been almost always cramped under a Gothic government, in the midst of divisions and civil wars, without fixed laws or customs…The nobles without discipline, knowing only war and idleness, churchmen living in disorder and ignorance, and the populace without industry stagnating in their idleness.”

Only four centuries, he concludes, are worthy of the attention of a philosopher, the age of Philip and Alexander, the age of Caesar and Augustus, the Italian Renaissance, and finally, the Grand Siècle.

This absolutism of judgment, of course, has its roots in the literary culture of the Renaissance, which revived in an abstract form the old dualism of Hellenism and barbarism and thus for the first time introduced a cleavage between the facts of social development and the ideals of the educated classes (-Dawson, ibid.).

It was this cleavage which became the (in)fertile furrow which the Enlightenment would sow with blood and which we now reap in…well, we are past tears. In fact, all traces of tragedy are abolished from the postmodern mindset. Like Euripides of old, who destroyed tragedy the moment Bacchus’ defining features were revealed beneath the torn mask (and torn curtain) of tragedy, the postmodern man has no tears. He has only facts and his perilous quest is to find meaning in those facts. As a famous Catholic memoirist, whose ancestors inhabited civilization’s nemo region of Alsace-Lorraine, once remarked over whisky and bitters, “What makes the postmodern at least conducive to sanity is his obsession with definitions” or something to that effect, the whisky having obtained too succinct an advantage over the bitters on that particular occasion for this author to recall the memoirist’s words with greater precision. And so let us have definitions – and have them, indeed, to hilt and brim.

After the twilight of the gods has given way to the mellow evening of metaphysical croquet (with ontological cocktails immediately following) we are left to determine our course – by a left path cluttered with the utter disjoint of despair (though, as Mr. Walker Percy quoting Mr. Soren Kierkegaard notes, more desperate for not knowing it is despair) and by a right path cleared with the trim, balance and heft of sound definitions (at the very least). So to reverse the Cartesian formula: sum ergo cognito. And in my being’s capacity to think, the intellect’s use of reason is not “merely an organ that has been developed by man’s effort to adapt himself to his environment,” as Mr. Dawson says (IBID), excoriating the faddish (d)evolutionary theories that make mice of men and vice versa; rather, the catholic mind is able to imagine – with the aid of both fine and liberal arts, those ultimate borders of intellect’s empire and thereby the colder frontiers that produces the empire’s fresh heralds of humility. It should be remarked at this point, too, that humility ought to be considered the exact opposite of suicide.

So we enlist the poets and artists to erect their houses of words, their woodsheds of fiction, their domestic iconostases of staring and penetrating images, employing that ever ancient-ever renewable trinity of resources: goodness, truth and beauty. Today, these terms (which come with their own limits withal) obtain to naught within the modern ear, except a bit of wind and a quick reactionary gust which obtains to a startling verisimilitude of dear old Pythagoras’ sacred beans. So perhaps we might do well to harbor them as Pisistratus and Caesar had the Eleusinian sort. Otherwise, they are inflated in an age of cheap durable goods, an age when out-Carthaging Carthage, we delete our children a priori and dispense with our demons a posteriori.

That said, we would do well, too, to acknowledge the suicide in the family and give him a fitting burial – though in a precinct distinct from hallowed ground, as the churchmen of old would have insisted. While the baptism of the individual is not revoked by suicide, its effects are to a certain extent willfully resisted. Indeed, when speaking of a body politic and a body human, the pathology is clearer in the large than in the small. At least it is so in this case. We may have sympathy for the singular Hamlet pondering the rising stock of his bodkin; but for an entire culture of Danish diddlers, we can be assured of a simpler paper chase and less dubious pedigree.

Just as grey can be predicated of the nocturnal feline en masse, so too the artist can apply such masks to make saints and sinners cavort alike on the eve of All Saints. So it is that as Christians of old turned houses to churches and palaces to cathedrals, let the artist and poet build without fear over the suicide’s grave. Let him even find inspiration in his poor pitiable relation’s fruitless works, his endless Katherine wheel of days and his autocratic auto-da-fe.

For whether the modern age ends well or badly (though the universe’s water clock sounds more like a sinking than a raising at this point in time, it must be admitted), more than even the classical world can understand, “the ideal of the supernatural” came to show the world saecula saeculorum with offense enough to surprise everyone. From that cross that divides history (Mr. Dawson, again), all endless blessings flow – most importantly for our purposes here, as Mr. Dawson notes, as a defense against decay, despair, and specious and spurious notions of progress.

Indeed, the ideal became the real, the possible became the actual, and man’s solution to suicide became a fleshy rational biped submitting himself to parental and regal authorities, government taxes and even the banality of evil and ordinary death. Scandal! Folly! Ah, but Mr. Dawson’s “all-powerful ally outside time” also anointed time by stepping into it. Such must the suicide consider; such, alas, will the suicide deny; and such did Cato and Sylvia Plath examine as they saw their faces reflected in the black waters of Styx asking, Where was this so-called ally for me?

We cannot answer that question, of course – not definitively (though a Jesuit we’ll call “Father Methuselah” once speculated over a dry gin martini garnished with an unpitted green olive, “It is possible for grace to insert itself between the practice of the finger’s muscle on the pistol’s trigger and the forceful supersonic ingress of the heat-expanded lead into the cranium,” or something to that effect, the gin having made, at the time, high liturgical sport of this writer’s memory.

We can only respond by pointing out that this omniscient being became our ally once for all, in infant simplicity, despite – to paraphrase Mr. Dawson in another context – the scandal of Jerusalem and the folly of Athens and Rome, even as Moses came to rest among the Pharaoh’s children; came once for all to rest in discursive clarity among the temple elders, even as Noah survived break and blow of wind and flood to navigate his way to the slopes of Ararat; and came once for all, passing from this world for a time and times on a cross that now serves as sun dial for history, but returning three days thence to renew even the wintriest of man’s discontent, even as evinced by the slow self-slaughter of our own late great Western Civilization.

Your Punishment in Hell

Sophistry or Sanity or the Usual Muddled Mixture?

During an outbreak of noxious pheromones in the comments a few posts down, I offered Mr. Webb the refreshing seabreeze of this link, which he dismissed as follows: “Just about all of those items were nutty, I mean pure sophistic bullshit.” I believe JW believes what he says and that he has good reasons to support what he says, but I’m too tired to delve into the matter further. So I’m crowdsourcing this to the vast reservoir of smarts among our readership.

Go Wildcats!

Join us in cheering on the East St. John Wildcats as they finish out a stellar season. Go Wildcats!

House of Words has a Facebook Page

From the YouTube Political Video Archives: The Republicans Drove the Car into a Ditch

A good analogy, and pretty accurate as far as I can tell. (On the other hand, in Washington State maybe D stands for Dino, I don’t know. Here‘s why I can’t vote for Patty Murray.)

I wrote a story!

“Of course, he didn’t stay here. Most likely, you wouldn’t either, not if you were young and ambitious and living a two-hour drive up the freeway to get to Hollywood. Not if you’d grown up mostly fatherless on your grandparents’ farm outside Dodge City, Kansas, cherishing your Saturday visits to the movie house and the glimpses they provided of a world more magical than your own. Most likely, if you had just finished four years of high school and had a note of introduction from an actress like Dorothy Maguire, you’d hightail it out of San Diego, just the way Dennis Hopper did.”

My Favorite Amazon Customer Review of John Zmirak’s The Bad Catholic’s Guide to Good Living

… is a two-star review labeled “Disappointed,” posted by someone named Veronica:

I bought this book as a gift for our son. After it arrived, I looked through it and was very disappointed. I was sorry I bought it. I didn’t find it funny or meaningful. Some pages were embarrassing. My husband thinks it’s hilarious and is reading it. Needless to say, I purchased another book to give to our son.