Burrito, bolus in my belly, fire in my breast. My dinner, my doom. Boo-rree-toh: the trill of the tongue wrapped before and behind by the osculating opening of the lips. Boo. Rree. Toh. It was lengua, stewed lengua, in the middle, morsels melting from meat to stock. It was beans and rice below. It was salsa de tomate on top. But in the tortilla it was all a Burrito.
At the very end of Lent 2012, the six members of the Korrektiv Kollektiv received, as a gift from Matthew Lickona, cartoon portraits from the pen of the wonderful Daniel Mitsui. What Mitsui memorialized in those small and startling figures, with unobtrusive allusiveness and an unsettling but corrective touch of the grotesque that exemplified the Korrektiv ethos of the classic period, was a golden age: a flowering, a ripening, the sun at zenith.
But flowers fade; ripeness turns to rot; light declines toward a slow, final failure; and shadows lengthen and coalesce unto the great shade, Night, who is herself the shadow of Death.
You couldn’t have noticed all that fading, rotting, and declining, though, since none of it showed on the surface — until November 1. On that day — All Saints’ Day (bitter irony!) — a mistake was made.
Now, at the beginning of Advent 2012, Mr Lickona has once again hired Daniel Mitsui — not to memorialize glory this time, but folly.
Fittingly so: Our Faith teaches that wrongs can be not merely prevented, not merely undone, but actually redeemed. And this is true.
For example: Though my addition to this blog’s roster may be a loss for you, the reader (not to mention the dragging-down it entails for Jonathans Potter and Webb, Mr Finnegan, Mr Lickona, Mr JOB, and Ms Expat), I get a brilliant Mitsui portrait:
Enigmatic, spooky, funny, and a good likeness to boot, though enough obscured to provide a useful degree of plausible deniability. I could hardly be happier with it. If only it had not come at such awful cost to you, dear friends.
Thank you for the picture, Mr Mitsui. Thank you for the present, Mr Lickona.
Thank you (in advance) for forbearing to sting, scorpion.
I think this response over at Crisis ought to warm the kardiak kockles of the Kollektiv Korrektiv.
If you’ve been around the Catholic blogosphere for a while you know there’s a guy named Chris Sullivan who is from New Zealand (I think) and who always signs his comments with “Peace.”
This is the other Chris Sullivan. (my uncle, so watch yourself.)
Back in the ’90s, I coined the word “sanguinoid” to describe a mental disorder that causes the sufferer to believe that everybody is out to help him; sort of the opposite of paranoia. It seems that this disorder afflicts many people at election times.
The election just past (meaning the 2010 election) brought out lots of people who believed the “throw the bums out” mantra of the Tea Party and others. This is sort of understandable with young voters who haven’t seen the same performance over and over again, but I was talking to a 72 year-old man that thought the Republicans were going to come in and clean house. If he had adopted my “wager that they’re lying” principle he would not now be disappointed.
Now, clearly it’s in my blood to believe there are liars on both sides, but this bit of mendacity from the president’s official Tumblr is particularly egregious.
Is this supposed to be cute?
The fact that the election is being presented as some kind of referendum on contraception pushes me to despair over how easy it is to manipulate popular opinion in today’s instantaneous-soundbite-world.
And I also wonder – if I can tell that the media is this inept in correctly representing my own belief system, why should I trust in their competence to accurately report on anything else?
No, not that Waugh. His brother, Alec. Actually, there is rather a bit about Evelyn, but the piece itself, by former New Yorker theater critic Brendan Gill in his late-in-life memoir A New York Life: Of Friends and Others, is about Alec.
I am perhaps overly fond of reading harsh things about people of whom I suspect I am overly fond. Evelyn Waugh, for example. To wit: “Everyone who knew [Alec] was quick to say how unlike his brother Evelyn he was, and this was intended to be perceived as a compliment, which indeed it was. For Alec was charming and kindly and without, as the British say, ‘side,’ while Evelyn was a viperish and pretentious snob. Alec was content to be an upper-middle-class Protestant; Evelyn would have liked to be a member of the ancient Catholic gentry. Lacking that (to him) enviable ancestry, he produced an imitation that deceived no one and cost him much of his humanity.”
Oh, it goes on. “[Alec] mocked the devout Catholic that Evelyn had become, pointing out that he wasn’t so devout as not to have perjured himself with regard to his first marriage in order to obtain the blessing of Holy Mother Church upon his second. The church frowns upon a man’s having two living spouses; because a divorce has no standing in the eyes of the church, a marriage must be annulled, and the usual grounds for securing an annulment are, or used to be in the Waughs’ time, notably embarrassing – impotence, madness, malformation of the sexual organs, and so on. ‘At Evelyn’s urging, I, too, p-p-perjured myself at the annulment hearings,’ Alec told me once. ‘Evelyn had me lay it on good and thick…A whopper or two to help my saintly brother cost my conscience nothing.'” Life is complicated.
Now back to Alec, and now for the fun part. “All his life, he was mad about women; he married several times, and had scores of mistresses over a period of fifty years.” Yes, yes, and? Well, Alec liked to stay at the Algonquin when he was in New York, which was rather a lot. From there, he would venture out to various wonderful places for lunch – he was handy with an anecdote. “Still,” writes Gill, “I came to suspect that perhaps the happiest portion of Alec’s day had already been experienced by the time he turned up at one or another of his clubs and began to hold his companions spellbound. this happiness was linked to another establishment on West Forty-fourth Street, only a few hundred feet from the Algonquin: the turn-of-the-century Hudson Theater, which at the time I am speaking of had fallen on hard times and was no longer being used as a legitimate theater. It had been reduced to showing movies, and not ordinary movies…
“In old age, his once hectic sex life reduced to a jumble of delectable if no longer accurate memories, Alec took comfort in attending these pornographic movies. The first show at the Hudson began promptly at 11 a.m., and Alec arranged his schedule accordingly…One was tempted to hail him, old friend that he was, but no – he had an important appointment, and nothing must cause him the least delay in keeping it.”
One might, if one were a certain sort of awful person, take a certain measure of amused bemusement in the notion of such a tidy arrangement of one’s libidinous life, of words like “promptly” and “comfort” being applied to matters pornographic. I am not intending the least sort of blasphemy in saying that it sounds rather like worship – heading down to Our Lady of Perpetual Availability for the reliable gratification of that imagined communion…
Merry Kristmas, Kollektiv and Korrektiv Korrespondents!
Θρῇκἐς τε γλαυκοὺς καὶ πυρρούς… – Xenophanes
The Jordan shines with sliver chits
That flit like fish. They just wait there
For true-blue eyes and steady wits
To fling upon the killing air.
I’m no fisherman, though – I’m told
The sea’s never been in my loins.
So I’ll take the sun…. See! It’s gold
Has turned my hair to flaming coins!
Such coin’s as good as any oil
That drips upon a rabbi’s beard.
But dip a finger in his bowl –
And would he say so? Not a word!
“We should act,” he’d say, “as we know” –
But judge: who is free to do so?