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‘I am ready for scourges….’

From the Armadio degli Argenti of Blessed John of Fiesole, OP (Fra Angelico), c. 1450

‘For I am ready for scourges: and my sorrow is continually before me.

Psalm 38: 18

‘I have not turned away my face …’

From the Armadio degli Argenti of Blessed John of Fiesole, OP (Fra Angelico), c. 1450

I have given my body to the strikers, and my cheeks to them that plucked them: I have not turned away my face from them that rebuked me, and spit upon me.

Isaiah 50:6

‘… They Strike the Cheek of the Judge of Israel.’

From the Armadio degli Argenti of Blessed John of Fiesole, OP (Fra Angelico), c. 1450

‘ Now shall you be laid waste, O daughter of the robber: they have laid siege against us, with a rod shall they strike the cheek of the judge of Israel.’

Micah 4:14

‘…They Shall Bind You…’

From the Armadio degli Argenti of Blessed John of Fiesole, OP (Fra Angelico), c. 1450

‘And you, O son of man, behold they shall put bands upon you, and they shall bind you with them: and you shall not go forth from the midst of them. And I will make your tongue stick fast to the roof of your mouth, and you shall be dumb….’

Ezekiel 3: 25-26

‘…Even the Man Who Ate My Bread….’

From the Armadio degli Argenti of Blessed John of Fiesole, OP (Fra Angelico), c. 1450

… Even the man … in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has greatly supplanted me.’

Psalm 41: 10

‘…My Victim, Which I Slay for You…’

From the Armadio degli Argenti of Blessed John of Fiesole, OP (Fra Angelico), c. 1450

‘Assemble yourselves, make haste, come together from every side to my victim, which I slay for you, a great victim upon the mountains of Israel: to eat flesh, and drink blood.’

Ezekiel 39:17

‘…Be Clean…’

From the Armadio degli Argenti of Blessed John of Fiesole, OP (Fra Angelico), c. 1450

‘… when you multiply prayer, I will not hear: for your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves, be clean, take away the evil of your devices from my eyes, cease to do perversely, learn to do well: seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge for the fatherless, defend the widow.’

Isaiah 1: 15-17

JOB I ain’t

Look, some people write epic, and some people write doggerel, and then there are some people who aren’t even Irish, so what do you know? Anyway, there was a gathering last night, and there was some Mexican whiskey at the gathering, and there was a great deal of singing, and so naturally, I wrote a song. Apologies, of a sort, to the English in the room. Sung, more or less, to the tune of, “Whiskey, You’re the Devil.”

Oh the English kicked our asses
For seven hundred years
But we have fairer lasses
And we have darker beers
So let them have the courthouse
And let them take the square
And we’ll go back to our house
And take some comfort there

 

Oh, the English fog is yellow
And the English heart is pale
If your friend’s an English fellow
Then your friendship’s sure to fail
So we’ll pay their English taxes
And we’ll speak their English tongue
But when their grip relaxes
Then will Irish songs be sung

 

Oh if I were born in England
I wouldn’t stay at home
I’d get right out of England
And to Ireland I would roam
So for all the English bastards
I feel pity more than scorn
Who wouldn’t be a bastard
If in England he was born?

 

If you have to say it…

IMG_0321

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.