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Consolations


(Interview gets going around four minutes in.)

Every now and then, I smile at the thought of Evelyn Waugh’s happy death at the end of an increasingly unhappy life: on Easter Sunday, after attending Mass in the ancient form which he preferred (as he preferred all things that smacked of permanence and eternity), and on the pot. Heaven and earth, the sublime and the ridiculous, rational and animal, the call of supernature and the call of nature – and so on.

Jumping Jupiter! It’s the art of Father Peter Gray!

Father Peter Gray is probably one of the most prolific artists working at an easel today. But with thousands of paintings to his name, many of them portraits of saints and popes, Father Peter hasn’t withdrawn from the world to set up shop in a Bohemian loft or an artist’s retreat with an open-air studio. Rather, when he’s not up to his elbows in ochre, mauve and indigo, he’s engaging the world head-on, walking the mean streets of Baltimore, inviting homeless men to share a home with him, and supporting these men with the money he makes through his art even as he helps them get back on their feet and reintegrated into society.

Raise a glass and sit and stare…Appreciate the man:

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By the buy, the good padre also does abstracts.

Possible opening shot for Love in the Ruins

Tonight, it struck me that the novel might be filmed in the manner of David Lynch, with an emphasis on the weirdness and horror lurking at the edges of things.

Open on a close shot of Samantha’s deformed face: “The neuroblastoma had pushed one eye out and around the nosebridge so that Samantha looked like a two-eyed Picasso profile.” Her eyes are closed, but it’s only when the camera starts to swing around and pull back that we realize she is in a casket.

The camera completes its swing and comes to rest on Dr. Tom More, who is kneeling at the casket and looking down at his daughter. His expression contains all the complicated emotions of the following passage:

I wonder: did it break my heart when Samantha died? Yes. There was even the knowledge and foreknowledge of it while she still lived, knowledge that while she lived, life still had its same peculiar tentativeness, people living as usual by fits and starts, aiming and missing, while present time went humming, and foreknowledge that the second she died, remorse would come and give past time its bitter specious wholeness. If only— If only we hadn’t been defeated by humdrum humming present time and missed it, missed ourselves, missed everything. I had the foreknowledge while she lived. Still, present, time went humming. Then she died and here came the sweet remorse like a blade between the ribs.

But is there not also a compensation, a secret satisfaction to be taken in her death, a delectation of tragedy, a license for drink, a taste of both for taste’s sake?

It may be true. At least Doris said it was. Doris was a dumbbell but she could read my faults! She said that when I refused to take Samantha to Lourdes. Doris wanted to! Because of the writings of Alexis Carrel and certain experiments by the London Psychical Society, etcetera etcetera. The truth was that Samantha didn’t want to go to Lourdes and I didn’t want to take her. Why not? I don’t know Samantha’s reasons, but I was afraid she might be cured. What then? Suppose you ask God for a miracle and God says yes, very well. How do you live the rest of your life?

Samantha, forgive me. I am sorry you suffered and died, my heart broke, but there have been times when I was not above enjoying it.

Is it possible to live without feasting on death?

More crosses himself, rises, and the camera follows him as he walks down the aisle between the rows of chairs in the funeral parlor. Doris is in the front row. More pauses when he reaches her, his eyes pleading: Why did you insist on the open casket?

Doris senses the unasked question, and retorts, “I want everyone to see what a loving God you’ve got there.”

Defeated, More continues down the aisle and out into the vestibule, where he takes out a flask and knocks back a hefty snort. He closes his eyes. The camera continues out the door to the immaculate exterior of the funeral home. But as it heads for the ground, we see a crack running the concrete walkway — and pushing up through the crack, an ominous sprouting vine.

 

The First Word on Silence . . .

. . . which is to say the novel, Chinmoku, will always belong to Endo. After reading Mark Lickona’s article I had a few questions, so I went back to my well-worn copy of the book and read a couple of paragraphs from an interview with the author in 1967 (the year after Silence was published). The first should seem familiar to readers of Korrektiv—or anybody’s inner existentialist. With a Japanese twist:

For a long time I was attracted to a meaningless nihilism and when I finally came to realize the fearfulness of such a void I was struck once again with the grandeur of the Catholic Faith. This problem of the reconciliation of my Catholicism with my Japanese blood . . . has taught me one thing: that is, that the Japanese must absorb Christianity without the support of a Christian tradition or history or legacy or sensibility.

Say what? “Without the support of a Christian tradition or history …” How is that possible? What does that even mean?

Good thing there’s another paragraph:

But after all it seems to me that Catholicism is not a solo, but a symphony … If I have trust in Catholicism, it is because I find in it much more possibility than in any other religion for presenting the full symphony of humanity. The other religions have almost no fullness; they have but solo parts. Only Catholicism can present the full symphony. And unless there is in that symphony a part that corresponds to Japan’s mud swamp, it cannot be a true religion. What exactly this part is—that is what I want to find out.

I’m really not sure what to make of the first paragraph, so please, if you can, enlighten me with your comments below. But the second paragraph I rather like, and not just because he uses music as a metaphor. What I find stirring is the resolution he exhibits as he looks ahead to the next thirty years of his career. And even more than that, perhaps, is his ready admittance that he isn’t exactly sure what he makes of the predicament in which he finds himself.

And since Scorsese’s version has fallen upon awfully rocky ground in these parts, I’ll provide a link here to a 1971 Japanese version, directed by Masahiro Shinoda from a screenplay by Endo himself with the director. It differs from the novel in several ways, but I won’t give the game away here.

Last of all, here’s a look at the author himself, shilling for something called the “Bungo Mini”. And coffee:

“…to the last syllable of recorded time.”

copyHeath Ledger’s Joker performs Macbeth’s “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow…” for a captive and humiliated Batman at the most recent iteration of Cherie Peacock’s Shakespeare Party, held at the La Mesa home of Tim and Roisin O’Neill.

Ron Hansen – call your office!

We’ve got another novel for you to write…

Schmidt

On February 18, 1916, a Catholic priest was executed by the state of New York at the Sing Sing prison — the only priest in America to receive the death penalty for a crime. The New York Daily News today did a look back at the story from a century ago.Father Hans Schmidt was convicted of murder, following an affair he had with a woman. Before he killed her, he also paid for their baby to be aborted.

Kierkegaard Bit

Existential Comics: Kierkegaard Relates to the Common Man

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The Last Word on Silence

…comes from my dear brother, and can be found over at Artefact.

Uncle Walt Wrote a Novel!

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Who knew the multitudinous poet had it in him?

Apparently a grad student named Turpin did.

And apparently everyone does…now.

As noted in the New York Times, Whitman once wrote in 1882, “My serious wish were to have all those crude and boyish pieces quietly dropp’d in oblivion.” Later, when he heard someone was interested in publishing his past fiction, he said, “I should almost be tempted to shoot him if I had an opportunity.”

Clearly, Whitman hadn’t expected Turpin…

Nasty enough for Waugh?

A diligent striver at an office seeks to rise through sheer effort, despite the lackadaisical behavior of his fellow team members. He does great work, but the hours spent covering for everyone else’s sloth cause him to develop serious carpal tunnel syndrome. As a result, he is unable to grip things without considerable pain. The boss takes notice of his tremendously good work, and calls him in to congratulate him. But at the end of the meeting, the man’s handshake is, of course, painfully weak (and also just painful to the man himself, who winces visibly). The boss, who had been thinking of promoting the guy, begins to wonder if he’s really management material. For that matter, maybe it’s not him who’s doing such great work. Maybe it’s that fellow he works with, who always appears so fresh-faced and cheerful…