Dammit, Angelico

Just listen to all those references to the self. You could have made the single most relevant presentation of the whole durned conference.

You’ve seen, haven’t you, Maria Bustillos’ two posts on DFW and self-help?

Anyway, all I’m saying is, I think you’re now obliged to write a brilliant book (it doesn’t even have to be for KP) about DFW and Percy and suicide and self-help and possibly even drinking, and present it at Gerasene 2015 in New Orleans, while we’re running the “Walker Percy Saved My Life, What Can He Do For You?” conference at Loyola.

Is all I’m saying.

Hast Seen the white transcendence of the immanence?

Still Lost at Loyola

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Rally, Korrektiv, rally?

Oh, how all occasions do inform against us…the dark word has reached us that, besides Expat and Nguyen, Ryan Charles Foster Kane has been waylaid and will not be in attendance in New Orleans this weekend.

But he did make this awesome broadside for the occasion, and everyone should buy one.

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Pope Frank About Preferences in the Arts

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This interview has been getting some attention, of course, and in some cases completely misunderstood, of course. And maybe this isn’t such a great subject to light upon either, but I particularly enjoyed reading about what he likes most in the Arts. In literature there is Dostoevsky, Hölderlin, Hopkins, Manzoni, in painting he mentions Caravaggio and Chagall, and in opera the list seemed to go on and on.

But I especially liked this:

“We should also talk about the cinema. ‘La Strada,’ by Fellini, is the movie that perhaps I loved the most. I identify with this movie, in which there is an implicit reference to St. Francis. I also believe that I watched all of the Italian movies with Anna Magnani and Aldo Fabrizi when I was between 10 and 12 years old. Another film that I loved is ‘Rome, Open City.’ I owe my film culture especially to my parents who used to take us to the movies quite often.”

Makes me feel just a little less guilty about my indulgence in the movies. But what I liked most was his response to his time spent teaching literature to secondary school students:

Then I also started to get them to write. In the end I decided to send Borges two stories written by my boys. I knew his secretary, who had been my piano teacher. And Borges liked those stories very much. And then he set out to write the introduction to a collection of these writings.”

When the white smoke last appeared, the first question on my mind was “I wonder what he makes of Borges?” (not proud of that, but we all look for what we want to see). And I remember reading that the pope was a fan, but I hadn’t heard that he’d had much contact with blind bard of Buenos Aires. Makes a certain sense, actually, and I was happy to learn of it.

Flannery and Me

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The New Mexico Nurse (long since transplanted here to La Mesa, where all good people live) was kind enough to email and let me know that the latest issue of the New Yorker magazine carried a collection of excerpts from the grad-school (some place in Iowa?) journal of Flannery O’Connor. The entries are addressed to God. I haven’t read them yet (waiting ’til I can savor), except for the line “Please help me to get down under things and find where You are,” which naturally jumped out at me, and the last bit, which I couldn’t help but notice:

My thoughts are so far away from God. He might as well not have made me. And the feeling I egg up writing here lasts approximately half an hour and seems a sham. I don’t want any of this artificial superficial feeling stimulated by the choir. Today I have proved myself a glutton – for Scotch oatmeal cookies and erotic thought. There is nothing left to say of me.

Isn’t it fun to find you have things in common with one of your heroes? Scratch “oatmeal cookies” and replace “half an hour” with “five minutes,” and it could be me writing that entry! Just not, you know, in the New Yorker.

Sure, Soldiers Grove has organic tomatoes and such…

But San Diego has organic Shakespeare!

But, alack,
That monster envy, oft the wrack
Of earned praise…

Classic Fiction, New Fiction, Wiseblood Fiction

Elsewhere in the rough-and-tumble cyberspace of new publishing, Wiseblood Books has been moving some books. By my count they’re getting close to two dozen classic titles, with an original novel on the way.

Wiseblood Books is a newly-launched publishing line particularly favorable toward works of fiction, poetry, and philosophy that render truths with what Flannery O’Connor called an unyielding “realism of distances.” Such works find redemption in uncanny places and people; wrestle us from the tyranny of boredom; mock the pretensions of respectability; engage the hidden mysteries of the human heart, be they sources of either violence or courage; articulate faith and doubt in their incarnate complexity; dare an unflinching gaze at human beings as “political animals”; and suffer through this world’s trials without forfeiting hope. We seek contemporary fiction in the vein of such popular classics as Dickens’ Pickwick Papers, Graham Greene’s “entertainments,” Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Cather’s O Pioneers!, and P.D. James’ The Children of Men or as demanding as Dostoevsky’s Demons, Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!, Melville’s Moby-Dick, Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, or David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. Although we’ve already produced a small library of classics, which includes Notes From Underground, The Sickness Unto Death, and Three Detective Stories by Edgar Allan Poe, Wiseblood Books will release its first work of contemporary fiction, The Unfinished Life of N., on October 1st, 2013. You can learn more, follow the blog, buy books, submit manuscripts, or donate here: www.wisebloodbooks.com

The Unfinished Life of N. by Micah Cawber (Coming October 1st, 2013): In the tradition of Flannery O’Connor, The Unfinished Life of N. scrutinizes the quiet ambitions of normal people, their everyday fictions concerning others’ and their own humanity and goodness, as it follows Nafula, the innocent but not naïve protagonist, from the backwoods of Wisconsin to AIDS-stricken regions of Africa, and, after a rehabilitation program at a Mental Health home, through an encounter that, paradoxically, catalyzes hope and an openness to the terrible speed of mercy.

Can we all go home now?

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Lost to the Nth Degree.

(He even does Dylan!)

Dinner with Waifu (嫁との晩餐)

Flannery O'Connor Dinner

Supping with the beloved on an important anniversary.