Think on the very làmentable pain,
Think on the piteous cross of woeful Christ,
Think on His blood beat out at every vein,
Think on His precious heart carvèd in twain,
Think how for thy redemption all was wrought:
Let Him not lose what He so dear hath bought.
An interesting and astute piece on all things “Phildickian” over at Chronicles:
But Dick also had a conservative side, represented by his strong (if heterodox) religious devotion, his distrust of large bureaucratic structures, and his longtime anti-abortion stance. In the last decade of his life, as he finally began receiving substantial amounts of money for his writing, Dick donated thousands of dollars to pro-life causes. He also wrote “The Pre-Persons,” a powerful story in which parents can abort any child under 12. Yet both the speech by Dick-the-hippie and the story by Dick-the-conservative are recognizably the work of the same man—both, in fact, were produced during the same period of his life. The first endorses rebellion, no matter how nihilistic, against a soulless apparatus of power; rebellion, at least, is human. And the story denies the government the right to define who is a human being, arguing that this will only produce a totalitarian system akin to the one the juvenile delinquents in the speech are rebelling against. One need not be pro-vandalism—or pro-life, for that matter—to approve of the underlying point.
*Dick and Percy: Separated at birth?(!)
CONFIRMED: Two [hopefully three] members of the Korrektiv as panelists at this summer’s Trying to Say “God”: Re-enchanting Catholic Literature, June 22-24 at the University of Notre Dame. Rally, Korrektiv, rally!
. . . 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:
– for D.F.
“What do you want with me…?”
“We pigs are brainworkers.” – Napoleon
“Who is going to save me?” – Wilbur
Sundays during slaughter time, when work and days
Are a matter of acres and seasons, pink flesh
And exposed blue-white bone
Are surely signs of progress—satisfaction—fertility.
And when autumn begins to spit snow from its mouth
We’ll fire up the fifty-gallon drums for boiling skin
From the herd. With our blue knuckles now scalded red
We’re allowed to pretend we know Odysseus’s swineherd.
He’s a neighbor, say, who might need to borrow a pritch,
Lend his spare block-and-tackle or resharpen a bell scraper
On our millstone.
And that’s when Monsignor comes by to bless it all
One bullet at a time. It doesn’t take long after we call
And he’s there almost immediately.
There’s no dying soul,
No family grief; it’s all just business. “Tail
To snout” he likes to say, quoting from some other good book.
So Monsignor takes off the blacks and Roman collar
This Sunday, leaves them back at the rectory
And dons red buffalo plaid and tattered bibs.
“Scares the devil out of the herd,” I once heard him explain
“Don’t like black or maybe they just know.”
Is one of his strong points.
This day is full of a sky
Afflicted with a tin-foil glare from broken clouds—
It’s the day he’s chosen to come help because
He generally likes the business
And specifically on a Sunday. “Not unnecessary work.
A form of relaxation, I would call it.”
He grew up downwind of a giant swine operation
And of course raised his own and has some opinions on swine.
He knows his pig flesh, alright, the way
A horse trader knows teeth and hoofs.
Monsignor lowers the blue-barreled gun,
A pistol without history – it knows neither wars nor duels
But only a resting place between hunting seasons.
He stares the hogs down, and anoints
Their lives with purpose, cruel
For business, and kind but for no kind of fun.
Afterwards, he walks back to his car
To clean the muzzle and chamber.
Throats cut, they wait
With us for his return.
We don’t let him near the boiling pot.
He’s no good at that part.
But he has a great eye
For parting flesh with a .45.
And maybe for that reason he was made a Monsignor,
But when he scalds the flesh he scrapes too much flesh with the hair
And very little hair with the flesh.
Put him off to visit with the children
Or maybe put a beer in his hand and tell him to rest a bit,
Though rest isn’t in his nature anymore than
It is in the clouds that scud like corpuscles across the sky.
He was born on a farm and to hear him tell it he fought
Half the day with earth and flesh, the other half,
All blood work.
If given half a chance he could shine
Like the best of rural vicars and squires.
At any rate, his place in literature
May one day be secure—
Interpolating experience and innocence
With marksmanship and common sense:
“Pigs are a good investment—nothing wasted if you do it right.
Efficiency is in the nature of swine.”
“Why else,” Monsignor would add, “would the desperate demons
Of Gerasene plead with our Lord. ‘Let’s get the hell out of here!’
You can almost hear them say. It must have been a favor,
Well, maybe not a favor; more a false mercy, for our Lord
To provide that herd, that cliff, the sea beneath.
But there’s no mercy for demons, of course. That’s a figure
Of speech is all. Literature is full of them. But Scripture
Only uses it on purpose. No levity with that sort of business.”
Literature, indeed, I nod. Napoleon and Wilbur
Might talk past each other among the cold clouds
That gather and disperse in winter configurations above our heads.
But also in the sense that fictional pigs make of life and death.
It’s all fantastic friendships for nostalgia’s sake
Or a drudging work detail
To serve as footstool for naked power—
Pink flesh and blue-white bone for them—and sometimes for us.
But Monsignor? He doesn’t even bother to say–
And he gives it no more thought
Than a man of the cloth ought to be
Expected to do:
We watch him hold the pistol like an aspergillum.
And he anoints them both—Wilbur and Napoleon—
With one shot.
See me up there in the upper right-hand corner?
As Percy would say, I’m “validated” like the young man who sees his own town in a film or lights up William Holden’s cigarette without acknowledging that he knows Holden knows he knows who Holden is, etc.
(p.s. This is not meant as a provocation, so please if you have anything bad to say about the current president, I would refer you to previous dust-ups at this blog on that issue, which I won’t even link to because I don’t think it bears any relevance to this post. Here, it’s all peace and joy and I don’t really care what you think about the current president – I’m making a Percian point here, which is much more important.
As a smoking/meat-smoking friend of mine in California might say, “Oh, you don’t like my politics? That’s nice. Did I mention that I bake bread?”
Except in my case I would say, “Did I mention I make a helluva good Chicken Cacciatore and that I can make you a martini that you will never forget? Sit down right there at my kitchen table and I’ll stir us a couple, and then let’s light up a smoke—cigar for you? Perfect!—and cigarettes (unfiltered) for me. Let’s talk then about the beauties of poems that completely nail the execution of a perfect enjambment of lines, of women who wear their hair down, of early R.E.M. albums and whether they were meant to be concept albums in the tradition of Pink Floyd and Yes but tinctured with a Southern Gothic ethos, of love in a time near the end of the world, and of children and how, one way or another, the little dears are going to get you out of bed in the morning. Yes—oh, and how’s your drink? See? I told you so….Cacciatore will be ready in about 20 minutes. How ‘bout another round?” )
But I’m energized – Big League – at least it’s going to someone who actually understands the difference between sovereignty and totalitarianism…
Well, shit, if you think I’m wrong about it – the laddy said it right here. I quote unquote quote:
“Edited clips of Trump replied: “I will build a great, great wall on our southern border and I will have Mexico pay for that well.”
“A wall? Like the Berlin Wall? Like the Great Wall of China?” Bono, a donor to the Clinton Global Initiative, shot back to the video screen.”
Well, let me uncling mesself from thissere gun, religion and God type-a-thing before I continue. [Sipping at a cold one now, hold on…]
Well, shit, what I mean to say is, hell and hard nuts, America is so tired of thissere electionation process… Oh, hell, let’s just all go home and hope that we have jobs come Monday… I’ll buy the keg (Quinn, can I borrow 40 bucks? The Hamms is on sale…)
Well, as I look out at this wonderful U Ass of A we gots usself here, I can’t help but thinks about that what which Bono’s countryman and fellow string-strummer once said, “That’tare ain’t no country for old menfolk…”
Well, Cormac, I guess you can be fixin your Nobel year to be—
Hell now, look at that, Mr. Tweedy, you made me spill my Blatz.
No, excuse me – EXCUSE ME, Mr. Tweedy, but we happen to got womenfolk in the audience just now, so you just you shut your jaw the fuck up, now you hear. I realize you got a grimace like a hound dog trying to pass a peach pit. But just heel now, y’hear? You’ll have your chance at the carcass after Cormac gets a gnaw!
Well, I guess that’s about alls I got to say – ummagonna end the conversation righ-chere.
Love and peace and I’m all with Her and all.