April 30, 2004

Jewish History According to Antichrist

I am currently reading All Hallow's Eve by Charles Williams . . . and, oh, is it good. The following page-long paragraph struck me when I read it as being the perfect example of why I love Charles Williams. This is the beginning of a long section involving the thoughts of the Antichrist figure in the novel as he contemplates his place in the world and how history and, later, his own life have led to this point. Below is, as you can tell from the title, his view of Jewish history. Note the brilliant way that he has it just off . . . magnificently deceptive, with a few interesting truths poked in to throw you off . . .

Anyway, it's cool. Read it.

Indeed that august race had reached in this being its second climax. Two thousand years of history were drawing to a close; until this thing had happened it could not be free. Its priesthood- the priesthood of a nation- had been since Abraham determined to one End. But when, after other terrible wars had shaken the Roman peace, and armies had moved over Europe, and Caesar (being all that Caesar could be) had been stabbed in his own central place, when that End had been born, they were not aware of that End. It had been proposed that their lofty tradition should be made almost unbearably august; that they should be made the blood companions of their Maker, the own peculiar house and family of its Incarnacy- no more than the Gentiles in the free equality of souls, but much more in the single hierarchy of kindred flesh. But deception had taken them; they had, bidding a scaffold for the blasphemer, destroyed their predestined conclusion, and the race which had been set for the slavation of the world became a judgement and a curse to the world and to themselves. Yet the oaths sworn in heaven remained. It had been the Jewish girl who, at the command of the Voice which sounded in her ears, in her heart, along her blood and through the central cells of her body, had uttered eveywhere in herself the perfect Tetragrammaton. What the high priest vicariously spoke among the secluded mysteries of the Temple, she substantially pronounced to God. Redeemed from all division in herself, whole and identical in body and soul and spirit, she uttered the Word and the Word became flesh in her. Could It have been received by her own people, the grand Judean gate would have been opened for all peoples. It could not. They remained alien- to It and to all, and all to them and- too much!- to It. The Gentiles, summoned by that other Jew of Tarsus, could not bear their vicarious office. Bragging themselves to be the new Israel, they slandered and slew the old, and the old despised and hated the bragging new. Till at last there rose in Europe something which was neither, and set itself to destroy both.

And then, a few pages later, we get to the following really crazy paragraph, concerning the Antichrist himself, and something more:

He was not, in fact, much different from any man, but the possibiliites slowly opened to him were more rare. There shaped itself gradually in his mind a fame beyond any poet's and a domination beyond any king's. But it was fame and domination that he desired, as they did. That his magical art extended where theirs could never reach was his luck. The understanding of his reach had come when he first assisted at a necromantic operation. As the dead body stood and spoke he felt the lordship of that other half of the world. Once, as he had learned the tale, the attempt at domination had been made and failed. The sorcerer who had attempted it had also been a Jew, a descendant of the house of David, who clothed in angelic brilliance had compelled a woman of the same house to utter the Name, and something more thant mortal had been born. But in the end the operation had failed. Of the end of the sorcerer himself there were no records; Joseph ben David had vanished. The living thing that had been born of his feminine counterpart had perished miserably. It had been two thousand years before anyone had dared to risk the attempt again.

That is the most marrow-freezing paragraph I have ever read, I think. The full implication is of immeasurable proportions, but nevermind that . . .

Is there something to this, you think? *notes horrified looks* Wait, let me clarify that. Is there anything to this idea of the Antichrist simply seeing himself as the culmination of the second attempt in history to gain dominance over the human race through some sort of higher powers that he mysteriously finds that he alone possesses? Go ponder that for a bit. Or don't . . .

Bible study time . . . *evil grin*

Posted by Jared at 10:17 PM | TrackBack

April 29, 2004

A LeTourneau Political Cartoon

This struck me as funny. If I could draw it, I would, but I can't. So I'll just have to paint you a nice, vivid, word picture. Oh, and you'll only understand this if you've been following the latest fun SC goings-on . . .

Picture a political cartoon-style drawing of a bus, hurtling rapidly towards a cliff. Emblazoned on the side are the words "Committee Selection." You have various people in the back, talking amiably: Dr. Sumrall, Dr. Coppinger, Dr. Kubricht, some other VPs . . . that sort of thing. One of them pipes up: "Say, who's driving this thing?"

And hunched over the steering wheel, crazed expression on his face, we have David Eaton.

Anyway, what else goes on with me . . . ? Let's see . . . So I decided at the last minute to not take Intro to Philosophy this summer after all because some weird stuff cropped up here and there and I looked all my options over and . . . to make a short story long . . . I am taking Dr. Watson's Studies in American Film class for my 4000 level English elective. Much w00tage. Picture this:

I will spend the first 10 weekdays of my summer watching movies with Dr. Watson and Scholl, and writing about them (the movies, not Scholl and Watson . . . silly). I will walk away with 3 hours of Senior-level English credit. Beat that, if you dare to try.

I went and talked to him about it today, just to see what I could find out. I wanted to know where he started his history of American Film.

Watson: The Beginning.

Me: The Beginning?

Watson: The Beginning.

Me: Birth of a Nation?

Watson: Yup.

Me: *gasps* All of it?

Watson: Yup.

So then I wanted to know where he ended . . . Where are we now with American film? After a bit of Q&A we settled on Steven Spielberg. Apparently, he is Hollywood right now . . . or something like that. Anyway, so the history of American film = Birth of a Nation to Spielberg. We'll see how this goes. And you know I'll keep you posted because . . . duh.

So let's see . . . One last order of business, and then I'm off to take care of real business. Please to note the new linkage over there . . . *waves hand vaguely to the right and down* . . . somewhere. A couple of brand-spanking-new ones and one that ain't so new . . . And . . . yeah. There they are. Now, back to your lives, citizens.

Posted by Jared at 11:59 PM | TrackBack

April 28, 2004

Edward Morgan Forster & The "Hook-Up" Obsession

Ummm . . . right. I want to say right at the beginning that the fact that Forster was gay is utterly irrelevant to everything. With Wilde, that was *it* . . . here it most certainly *is not.* Really. No, seriously. Geez, will you stop obsessing about it already? Oh, and of course it has absolutely nothing to do with my selection of titles! Oh my goodness! Get your mind out of the gutter! This can't go anywhere good, I'm abandoning paragraph . . .

Alright. The happy news is that I have none of the author's work to paste in here. It's all way too long and this is a review of the movie version of one of his novels anyway. Title: "A Passage to India," and let me just say that it was good movie which I thoroughly enjoyed and . . . I should probably go into this a bit better. Hold on. Let me switch paragraphs again.

There. As I was saying, I had a very good time watching this movie. Dr. Watson swears that the guy sitting behind him (presumably when he originally saw the movie in '84?) said nothing happened in the movie. Outrageous! Or, at least, if it is true, I was far too busy trying to look at the movie and watch it at the same time to notice whether this nebulous concept of "something" was actually going on. The really cool thing about the movie, I think, was that it succeeded enormously at making India itself a central character. From the single chapter I read of the novel, and what I picked up from watching the movie and looking at Forster's key ideas, I think that this is absolutely vital.

The portrayal of India is what makes the movie rich and full of flavor. I remember especially a very breath-taking shot near the beginning of the train traveling across a vast, empty plain. You can tell that the plain is very green and that the railroad track is the only real sign of human civilization in it, but the shot is taken at night and there are stars overhead and so forth. And right in the foreground of the shot is the statue of some sort of Hindu god I believe, with all of the arms and everything. It takes up probably a third of the screen, and it seems to be gazing imperiously out over this huge domain that it owns, (whatever the British may think), while studiously ignoring the insignificant train as it crawls by. That particular shot is one among many that captured my imagination and drew me into the movie. The acting was quite superb, as well.

The basic plot of the movie is this: An elderly Englishwoman named Mrs. Moore is journeying to India to visit her son, who is the City Magistrate of Chandrapore. She is accompanied by Adela Quested, her son's fiancée. Both of them are eager to experience "the real India" while they are there. Upon arrival, this desire is frustrated by what they rightly perceive as the insufferable attitude of superiority that all of the other Brits in India hold with respect to the native Indians.

However, this notwithstanding, Mrs. Moore strikes up a chance friendship one night with an Indian named Dr. Aziz, and it is through the combined efforts of Dr. Aziz and Mr. Fielding, the principal of the local university who also happens to be the only British citizen in the city who does not hold himself above the Indians, that the two women will be able to experience India as they wish to experience it. Incidental, but strangely important, to these activities is Professor Godbole, the "Inscrutable Brahman," (hilariously portrayed by Alec Guinness).

Their endeavors will lead to Miss Quested rethinking the basis of her entire life, including her love of Ronny, to Dr. Aziz closely considering the question of whether the English and the Indians can successfully form friendships that bridge the differences of culture and race, to Mr. Fielding examining just how far his well-balanced respect of all men can stretch, and, ultimately, to an explosive trial, centered around all of the major characters, which brings Chandrapore, and perhaps all of India, to the brink of bloody revolution.

Are we drooling yet? No? *shrugs* Oh, well . . . We can't all be me, I suppose. And, let me be the first to point out, it would be dashed inconvenient if we were.

It is a fascinating look at the cultural barrier between the East and the West, the British Colonial system circa World War I, the loss of innocence that contact with a more "advanced" culture inevitably brings, and, of course, with the importance of making connections (or forming friendships, if you prefer). It is a movie that is full of significant suggestion and allusion, if comparatively little significant action. But enough dancing around it all . . . time to dive into the heart of the thing. What is the point of it all?

I am quite reluctant to focus entirely on the "making connections" angle because Dr. Watson covered that one in class, and I'm all about doing my own thing in these journals . . . but I gotta say something about it, both because it is huge and because it is meaningful to me.

It would appear that a big part of this movie, if not the big part of this movie, is that the best thing you can do with life is to go through it making connections with people. Now, I arrived at something very much like this conclusion nearly three years ago, and have been developing it ever since, but from an entirely different basis. The center and key to life, Forster would say, is in human relationships . . . and I would nearly agree. Relationships, one in particular, are the center and key, and human relationships are very near to that center.

Forster was working from the assumption that this *throws arm out in sweeping arc* is it. Do what you're going to do on this planet, because life does not proceed beyond it. Therefore, in addition to simply making for a better life, and here I make a fun little jump over to the philosophy of Big Fish and its ilk, interacting and connecting with people will allow you to retain life beyond death. This is what makes you matter. Now, when I look at the question, I remember the overused statement, "You can't take it with you," continuously applied to material possession. I'm pretty stubborn when it comes to statements like that, and I contend that you most certainly can take it with you. The key lies in exactly what you are taking . . . I'm bringing relationships, myself.

Horribly irrelevant side note that I really shouldn't be indulging in: I always wondered, if heaven is so grand, what exactly do I care if I haven't gone that extra mile and put forth the effort to receive bucketloads of "crowns" when I get there? I mean, do I really care that you've got 1300 crowns to my 3 because you spent all your time doing Longview Blitz and evangelizing people who have just seen The Passion while I was in bed? I think not . . . I mean, how many crowns can you wear at once, for goodness sake? I don't know about you, but I have no more than a single head on my shoulders. And who really wants a crown, anyway? I mean, sure, it would be kind of cool, but . . . you're in heaven . . . where does the extra-crown-coolness-factor fit in with all that?! You don't need a crown unless it's, like, your little water park bracelet thing that lets you ride the rides . . . but that doesn't even make any sense, so forget I mentioned that.

What I'm leading to is this: What if these treasures you're storing up for yourself are directly related to the relationships you are building here on earth . . . After all, think of any work that you know of anyone doing for God, ever . . . What, of that, does not involve some degree of networking, often on a massive scale? What better way to get the good times going in heaven than if you fit right in with everyone there? As the Jewish mother says brightly, "You'll have a basis." Anyway, whatever. Time to move on.

So, clearly, relationships are, in the end, really vitally, inescapably important here, but I'd like to spend just a second or two on the question of culture because I have a bit of experience here. I can say, from that experience, that one can most definitely make friends in spite of, and/or around and through, culture differences, but those differences will always be there for the friendship to work around and to work through and to work with . . . the question must be taken and asked again with each particular friendship: Is this one strong and versatile enough to withstand that pressure? And, regardless of the answer, one must continue to try, for this, if it is not where *it* is at, is at least where *it* begins. Ummm . . . Make of that what you will . . .

Posted by Jared at 04:15 AM | TrackBack

Late Night Study Break Activities

So I go take the latest in random quizzage . . . are they accurate at all?! Dunno. Don't care. I just needed to be doing not-journals for few minutes. Enjoy.

I want my rubber ducky!
Volo anaticulum cumminosam meam!
"I want my rubber ducky!"
Okay, so you're a little childish. You know how to
have a good time.

Which Weird Latin Phrase Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

You are DORY!
What Finding Nemo Character are You?

brought to you by Quizilla

You're bubblegum!!! You love to have a good time,
and enjoy being around others who feel the same
way. You tend to be the life of the party, and
people like to be around you as much as they

Which kind of candy are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Oh, yeah . . . and I did sense the trend there. So, yes. Subconscious desire to be out having a good time . . . ?!

Posted by Jared at 01:30 AM | TrackBack

April 27, 2004

Rupert Brooke, Siegfried Sassoon & The War Obsession

"The Soldier" by Rupert Brooke

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

"They" by Siegfried Sassoon

The Bishop tells us: "When the boys come back
"They will not be the same; for they'll have fought
"In a just cause: they lead the last attack
"On Anti-Christ; their comrades' blood has bought
"New right to breed an honourable race,
"They have challenged Death and dared him face to face."

"We're none of us the same!" the boys reply.
"For George lost both his legs; and Bill's stone blind;
"Poor Jim's shot through the lungs and like to die;
"And Bert's gone syphilitic: you'll not find
"A chap who's served that hasn't found some change."
And the Bishop said: "The ways of God are strange!"

"The General" by Siegfried Sassoon

"Good-morning; good-morning!" the General said
When we met him last week on our way to the line.
Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of ’em dead,
And we’re cursing his staff for incompetent swine.
"He’s a cheery old card," grunted Harry to Jack
As they slogged up to Arras with rifle and pack.

But he did for them both by his plan of attack.

The reading for this day was lumped under the general heading "Voices from World War I," and we actually read works by four different poets (the other two being Ivor Gurney and, of course, Wilfred Owen). Of the four, Brooke and Owen died in the war (Brooke in 1915, Owen in 1918). Brooke died of dysentery and blood poisoning on board a troopship en route to Gallipoli. Owen died in the fighting a week before the war ended. Sassoon got sniped in the chest in mid-1917, but survived and was sent back to England. At that time, he made public a statement he had sent to his commanding officer:

I am making this statement as an act of wilful defiance of military authority, because I believe that the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it.

I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers. I believe that this war, upon which I entered as a war of defence and liberation, has now become a war of aggression and conquest. I believe that the purposes for which I and my fellow-soldiers entered upon this war should have been so clearly stated as to have made it impossible to change them, and that, had this been done, the objects which actuated us would now be attainable by negotiation.

He was diagnosed with shell shock and bundled off to a hospital in Edinburgh where he actually met Wilfred Owen. The two became good friends while they were there, and Sassoon had a great influence on Owen's poetry. Owen returned to the front in late 1917, and Sassoon returned in 1918. Sassoon was wounded again and returned to England for the remainder of the war. He didn't die until 1967.

So there's your background . . . now on to the poems. You can't help but note the violent contrast between Brooke and Sassoon . . . less a contrast resulting from differences between the men themselves, perhaps, and more because of what took place between 1914 (when the first was written) and 1916-17 (when the other two were written).

Brooke's "The Soldier" is proudly, even nauseatingly, patriotic. I can't help but think of Maturin here: ". . . patriotism is a word; and one that generally comes to mean either my country, right or wrong, which is infamous, or my country is always right, which is imbecile." Clearly we are dealing with a rather advanced case of Type-II patriotism here. When you know what lies ahead, ready to challenge this simple, innocent idealism as it marches into the meat grinder with a cocky grin and a twinkling eye, or perhaps with an honest, earnest expression of hope and a quiet knowledge that it is fighting for a just cause . . . Well, if you can think of that without wincing a bit, you're a right cold one and no mistake.

Note what England is made into in "The Soldier." It is not a country so much as an ideal, a cause, a collective consciousness of good and right, a loving mother producing faithful children . . . Ugh. And we, the English, (sic) carry England inside of us. No matter where we die, that spot becomes a little piece of England, and is improved thereby. And, of course, the heart is purified through dying a martyr's death for England's sake and rests in peace forever. Beautiful. It almost seems a mercy that he died thinking this.

Now, sit there for a second and think of two years of trenches and shelling and machine gun fire and mud and rats and disease and mustard gas and no man's land and barbed wire and unimaginable waste of lives . . . It's a wonder Sassoon could still write. I'd have been a babbling idiot (no comments regarding whether I already am or not, thank you).

So, look at "They." A Bishop, sitting safely at home, speaks authoritatively of a war he hasn't experienced. He promises that soldiers will not be the same when they come back home again. And he's right. Nobody is the same as they were. They're all mutilated . . . missing limbs, lacking senses, full of holes, crippled by disease, probably half-crazed . . . all different. So what does the Bishop say to this? "The ways of God are strange!" That'll turn your stomach . . . revoltingly callous and trite. It's not just that the poem's cynical . . . I can handle cynical. I am cynical, when it suits me. Ironic also . . . I love irony. But it is so very bitter.

We have the same issue in "The General," slightly comic in tone, perhaps, through some abortive attempts at levity, but still reeking chiefly of bitter irony. We have a General deigning to grace the troops with his presence just before he sends them on an idiotic and suicidal offensive. A couple of the soldiers think he's all right. Well, that won't save them from dying as a result of his poor tactics.

The Battle of Arras, by the way, which is referred to in the poem, was a major British assault that started on April 9th, 1917. It resulted in something like 160,000 casualties, and was considered (more or less) a victory for "our" side, as the Canadians managed to capture a very important strategic defensive position. 84,000 of the battle's casualties were British soldiers. Imagine if you left for the weekend and when you got back, everyone in Longview, plus 10,000 of their visiting relatives and friends, had died in a very violent and gory manner . . . use your imagination to walk through town for just a second and try to take that in. That would be just the British casualties.

In any case, it is fascinating, albeit sickening and more than a little disheartening, to watch the attitudes, worldviews, hopes, dreams, etc. of an entire generation hinge and shift around and through two short poems. There was a saying in Britain after World War I: "We went to war with Rupert Brooke, and came back with Siegfried Sassoon." Yeah. Yeah they did. I've gotten a double dose of WWI this semester in both Western Civ and American History, but looking at it that way is a bit different. A proper study of history seems almost to require supplementation from just a bit of the mind and heart of the common man, as expressed through the literature of the time. History draws the picture, literature colors it in.

Posted by Jared at 11:59 PM | TrackBack

April 26, 2004

Day of Caffeine III: Revenge of the Hooplah

Dr. Hood set the deadline for my Social Backgrounds of the New Testament paper at 6:00 am, Monday, April 26. I've known this since the beginning of the semester, just as I have known what the inevitable result would be. The difference between this and the other all-nighters of the semester was that Wilson was in the same boat . . .

So after we had all watched Psycho on Sunday night, I went back to my room to hit the work. Of course, I had a few things to work on for Monday besides the paper, but most of it had been completed the night before, so that was alright. I grabbed about 15 minutes of sleep (and by "grabbed" I mean "was overtaken by") at around 9:00 as I finished proofing Martinez's Cults paper (now don't take that the wrong way, it was quite a good paper) and then I was off and running.

There were long hours of work going on in there, with brief, witty asides to The Wilson to keep my intellect ever-ready with a razor-sharp edge . . . and stuff. At 4:00 I decided I had reached a point that more or less had the basic feelings of completion or finality. So I e-mailed Wilson my paper, that he might print it out and trotted off to the Mabee 2 lounge to see what we could come up with between us.


-Wilson's paper is really really great . . . Hopefully he will post it on his blog or something quite soon.

-My paper . . . Well, it's just a paper. I didn't exactly have a passion for the subject matter, and I certainly could have put more time in it. It's passable, but only that.

-Those little chocolates that Wilson hands out are yummy.

We returned to our respective rooms at around 5:00 to make the necessary changes. In Wilson's case that meant, maybe, adding the two commas that I suggested, and then finishing the one or two paragraphs he still needed to write. In my case that meant completely overhauling my footnotes and works cited page, fixing all of my block quotes, and generally re-reading the paper (fine-tooth-comb-style) for silly writing issues. This, my friends, is how much of a perfectionist our friend Wilson is: I finished first by a good ten minutes or so. I waited around, working on the blogpost you see below, and then we sent our papers off together at 5:56.

I continued to complete the post you see below . . . a bit of scrolling on your part will tell you when I finished. By then it was nearly time for SAGA to open, and I was hungry, so we went to breakfast. I had eggs and ham. They were not green. If they had been, I would not have eaten them, Sam I Am or no Sam I Am.

I will not eat them in SAGA,
Because that would be really disgusting and I'd probably throw up,
I will not eat green eggs and ham,
I will not eat them, Sam I Am.

I also had two glasses of Mr. Pibb. And then the donut holes arrived and I did a happy dance and got me a heaping plateful. Donut holes are good, because life is kind of like a donut hole. Except that life doesn't come in tasty, sugary, bite-size chunks and dissolve into a pocket of sweet, glazed goodness in your mouth. So I guess they really aren't that similar, when you get right down to it.

After breakfast, Wilson and I decided to avoid our respective rooms, because we knew that we would go to sleep, and we had a chapel to get to, with classes after that. Instead, we decided to go harass professors. First, I had to go get my books and stuff, and when we returned to my room, I found the following e-mail from Dr. Hood, sent at 6:21:


The research papers have been posted on the Blackboard ( in course documents).

17 minutes past the deadline we're waiting on Daniel. As we all line up around the finish line we must continue to cheer on Daniel. Though fatigued he is pushing on. Heart pounding, face sweating, he pushes himself beyond huma limits. Will he make it? With his eyes focused on the blurred finish line he strains his eye balls to see if his dearly beloved stands at the finish line as well. Had he only had his scooter . . . he would have put her on the back of his horse . . . ehh . . . scooter . . . and headed for the clouds. He's almost there.

Have fun reading,

Dr. Hood"

I don't care what time of day it is, or how much sleep you've had, that is comic genius right there. We couldn't help but wonder about Leatherwood, but so you won't have to, here's the follow-up e-mail I found in my inbox later (sent at around 1:00):

"Daniel made it! He had actually sent the paper to my digital drop box. What can I say? The man is in love . . .

So all of the papers are in. PLEASE CHECK IF WHAT'S ON THE BLACKBOARD is correct.

Dr. Hood"

Anyway, back to the story proper . . . So Wilson and I just had to run down to the Liberal Arts office and see if there was any havoc to be wreaked. Much to our dismay, there was not. Judy Walton was the only one there, poor thing. Imagine having to be the first one into that area every morning, and have to greet that crew as they come walking through the door. I have a lot of respect for that woman.

Moving on, our feet next took us in the direction of MSC-1. I couldn't help but wonder what sort of programs come on TV Land at that hour, so we checked. On the way we passed some very . . . interesting things, but nevermind that. Bonanza was on. Guh. That certainly wasn't what I was looking for. Fortunately, it was almost over, and The Carol Burnett Show was up next. So we got comfortable and watched that. It was mildly entertaining, but Wilson was quite clearly drifting, and we didn't want to stay for "I Dream of Jeannie" anyway. It was time to return to the Liberal Arts offices.

Dr. Hood was in by now, and we laughed with her and at her and stuff. Then we moved on. Dr. Solganick clearly needed some company. We pounced on him as he unlocked his office door. We watched him unpack his Sigma Tau Delta pin and proudly apply it to his person whilst he discoursed at length on the virtues of joining the English Honors Society. He was clearly giving Wilson the pitch. I recalled that I had been sitting in that same spot when he had given Moore the pitch, a few weeks back. Moore, of course, will have forgotten this by now, despite his definite interest at the time . . . because he's just Moore like that.

On the way to LH, we got dangerously close to Dr. Watson's 8:15 English Lit I class (that poor, poor man). I heard someone say, in a loud and happy voice, "Congratulations, you've just bought yourself a Yahoo!" (or something of a similair nature). I won't mention any names, but I recognized the voice at once. I hear it singing as it comes into SAGA around lunchtime everyday, and it goes by Nathan Didlake. Wilson and I exchanged a look of horror, and shuffled rapidly by the open door. I, fool that I am, glanced back and caught a brief glimpse of the man himself, in full cry, wearing a straw hat and a pair of overalls with one of the straps hanging loose. I shuffled a bit faster, and Wilson shuffled a bit faster, and I shuffled a little bit faster, and before I knew it, we were both running flat out down the hallway between HHH and LH. And we were laughing like idiots. It was fun.

Our next stop was Dr. Coppinger's office, which is always fun. Wilson's knees started bouncing up and down like crazy while we were there, and I was sure his caffeine had kicked in. I had a very strange urge to run out and find two small babies for him to give rides to . . . they would have enjoyed it, and the image was quite amusing. I decided to cover my mouth with both hands to be sure that I wouldn't say that, or laugh too loud, or anything like that. You know, I don't think Dr. C is quite used to me yet . . . He still gives me the oddest looks, as if he wanted to laugh, but was reluctant to encourage such behavior and was unsure as to how he might properly chastise that sort of activity. Highly amusing.

Next, we trotted back to the fuzzy offices to check on Dr. Kubricht briefly. On the way we were ambushed by Dr. Batts as he came out of the copier room. He held up a stack of test review sheets from Intro to Philosophy for my inspection and declared that they were a work of art . . . or something. I didn't feel right saying anything to that one way or the other, and while I was considering the situation, he said something like, "Everything they need to know, laid out nice and neat on one sheet of paper." My response: "Except for that." *points to the prominent ETC. on the bottom of the sheet* HIS response: "Oh, well, you gotta have . . . " *trails off vaguely muttering something, I forget if this was because we were moving away or he was, or if he just stopped talking* We reached Dr. K's office without further incident. He expressed surprise at seeing me up so early . . . since he can't actually talk to me anymore without mentioning my propensity to just generally be asleep. We were quick to assure him that we were up late before moving on.

Wilson popped off to talk to someone or something for a few seconds, I don't quite remember the situation or sequence of events. As I stood there in the main part of the office, facing down the long end of the hall, Dr. K gave me a healthy shove from behind on his way out the door. I swear, I'm going to get quite paranoid whenever I know that Dr. K is anywhere where I can't keep my eye on him. Note to self: This was probably a good, healthy habit to develop anyway.

By now it was very nearly time for Bib Lit to begin, and we stopped by Dr. Hummel's office to remind ourselves where the class had moved itself to.

Me: Hey, we were wondering where your 9:20 Bib Lit got moved to."

Dr. Hummel (distractedley, staring at his computer): "Ummm . . . 104. No, wait. The education building . . ."

Me: "Thank you." *leaves*

We had pleasant visions of the exchange actually reaching Dr. Hummel's brain . . .

Dr. Hummel: "Wait a minute . . . ?! Why did you want to know?" *dives desperately down the hallway*

We slid into the second row behind The Moore, The Tim, and The Gallagher when we got there. None of them seemed very interested in our presence. They were tired, mostly. The Moore was playing OMF. We waited for The Ardith, knowing that she's fairly reliable about that sort of thing . . . Somehow, she didn't see us at all until she was within five feet or so . . . she was tired, too. We got a dead stop, bugged eyes, and "What the-?!" out of her. It was very satisfying. Then Dr. Hummel came in and we slipped out the other door.

Wilson: "I just realized. We're skipping someone else's class!"

Me: *laughs a lot* "That's sooooo cool!!! I should do that more often!"

I have resolved to skip at least 5 or 6 classes a day for the rest of the semester. It's a great stress-reliever.

We returned to MSC-1 and watched the tail end of I Love Lucy, followed by a hilarious episode of Dick Van Dyke (which Wilson missed most of). We were joined by Martinez near the end, and then we proceeded to Awards Chapel.

It was very bla. But congratulations to Anna on her awards . . . and all of the other distinguished personages who were honored, as well. Now, back to talking about me. (Hey, don't give me that look! Whose blog is this, anyway?!)

I got back to the fuzzy offices just in time to meet Dr. Watson in his office, starting down at his English Lit II book as if he'd just forgotten what he was doing. My arrival seemed to jog his memory and we left for class. He paused briefly in the hallway to recommend Kill Bill: Volume One to Mrs. Stuckey. I shook my head at him as he finished and said something about him not being allowed to recommend movies anymore.

Dr. Watson: "I just saw the first part. Have you seen it?"

Me: *shaking my head* "Only bits and pieces."

Dr. Watson: *chuckling* "That's a good way to put it."

And then he quoted a line from the movie, with great relish, as we entered the classroom: "Those of you lucky enough to have your lives take them with you. However, leave the limbs you've lost. They belong to me now." One gets the general impression that he liked it . . .

I won't say that I slept through Dr. Watson's lecture on "The Voices of WWII," but I will confess that my mind was elsewhere. So much so, in fact, that I had a very difficult time getting it back into my body at the end of class, and I did not have full control of my limbs and basic functions for the remainder of the day.

Lunch was, for me, a very . . . "limp" affair. Near the end of the meal, I was having a dashed hard time getting my cup of caffeine and sugar up to my mouth. The hand, and arm it was attached to, didn't seem particularly inclined to move, which was frustrating. Cursing at them imperiously did not seem to help. The laughter of my comrades *darts pointed looks about* helped even less. Martinez was kind enough to bus my tray, and Gallagher was kind enough to help me get my backpack on, and between the three of us, we got me out the door. Martinez and I met Wilson coming to HHH from LH and we all stopped there and sat down. I had a sudden surge of energy at the sight of my sleepless comrade, but it didn't last anywhere near long enough. I couldn't even stay in my chair, sliding down onto the floor and staying put for several minutes. Think Wesley, when he's recovering from "mostly death" in The Princess Bride. It wasn't pretty, I'm sure.

I made it into Shakespeare, after meeting Scott in a similair condition in the hallway . . . not sure what his excuse was. Dr. C happened upon us both . . . or actually we accidentally converged on him as we met each other, so that it looked like we had ambushed him on purpose. I got that look again. Anyway, where was I . . . oh, right. I made it into Shakespeare.

Dr. Batts wasn't there yet, so I made it back out and into Dr. Woodring's office, where he was talking with Scholl. We had a fun discussion about . . . something. I don't remember. I hope I don't get quoted on anything that I said.

Anyway, I even made it through Shakespeare, in the end, and successfully played Petruchio in a few key scenes (from The Taming of the Shrew, of course). So much fun . . . Rebecca got stuck playing Kate, and I did not envy her. I spotted the trend . . . Dr. Batts always gives me the juicy parts, it's great. Horatio, Mercutio, Lear's Fool, Puck, Falstaff, Petruchio . . . good times.

Oh, yeah! And we had course evals. I was so happy I hadn't missed them on Friday. I had a thing or two to say. Rebecca brought along an entire sheet of paper she had filled with things and copied it off onto the eval . . . I'm guessing they weren't sunshiney cries of acclaim, either. Finally, I came to rest in Dr. J's office, to do the Batts worksheet I had missed on Friday and generally mull over the results of the day in general. Dr. J said that I made him tired. I said that I made me tired too. I felt very mellow, but once I sat down I wasn't really capable of much movement below the neck.

Nothing interesting happened from then until . . . now. At least, nothing I was really awake enough to pay any attention to.

Oh, and in case you weren't keeping count, I visited Drs. Hood, Solganick, Batts, Kubricht, Watson, Hummel, Coppinger, Woodring, and Johnson today. Ha! Beat that, if you dare!

And now, sleep overtakes me once again . . . Good night . . .

Posted by Jared at 05:40 PM | TrackBack

Oscar Wilde & The Hedonistic Obsession

While there was never any doubt that I'd be doing an entry on Oscar Wilde, I was briefly at a loss as to whether I ought to do The Importance of Being Earnest, (which we actually read), or The Picture of Dorian Gray, (which we merely watched). I finally settled on the latter because I think it has a lot more to do with who Wilde was as a person than Earnest does. However, I am at a slight disadvantage. I have never (yet) read The Picture of Dorian Gray. I'm getting there, but there are a lot of freaking books in the world.

Anyway, I don't feel quite right about diving directly into the movie without a few words from Wilde himself. The first item in my lovely Appendix (extended entry) is the Preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray. It's short, cracking good stuff, and you'll get a good idea of his philosophy from it.

To sum it up with the short short version, this is: "Art for art's sake." That's the key here. And now, on to the novel . . . err . . . movie.

In brief, (and I do mean brief . . . I hope), Dorian Gray is a gentleman living in London in the late 19th century. He is the very picture of unspoiled youth and innocence . . . So much so that his friend Basil Hallward, (an artist), is painting his portrait, and already more than half-believing that it will be his masterpiece. As Dorian poses for the portrait as it is completed, he makes the acquaintance of another of the artist's friends, Lord Henry Wotton. Lord Henry, from what little I’ve read, is the classic Wilde character: indolent, casual, and given to constant, penetrating, and quietly hilarious observations on the world around him. I think I can more or less sum this guy up with two of his quotes:

"If I could get back my youth, I'd do anything in the world except get up early, take exercise or be respectable."

"There's only one way to get rid of temptation, and that's to yield to it."

He lounges in the studio and languidly touts his life philosophy of living for pleasure and only for pleasure. Basil completes the picture and it is indeed a masterpiece . . . the sight of himself preserved forever at the peak of perfection, and the power of Lord Henry's words move Dorian to wish that he could remain forever as he is, and that the portrait should age instead. *camera zooms in significantly on an Egyptian deity, a cat goddess, which sits imperiously on a nearby table, stoically observing the proceedings*

Of course, the wish is granted, and Dorian discovers this as he gets to know Lord Henry better and begins to live out the life philosophy that Lord Henry is always talking about (more on that in a moment). His excesses lead him deeper and deeper into the worst kind of vice and sin imaginable (for the most part this is only vaguely hinted at in the movie through dim shots of the locales he frequents and the persistent, general rumors that float around). Eventually his past comes back to haunt him. The painting is stored away where no one can see it, of course, and it is aged and disfigured past all recognition. One man in particular nearly succeeds in killing him to avenge a female relative that Dorian has . . . wronged.

The key scene, reminiscent of Dr. Faustus, comes when Basil discovers the truth and begs Dorian to repent and pray for forgiveness. Dorian doesn't think this is possible, and he ends up killing Basil. Finally, at the end, Dorian decides that he must destroy the painting, but in stabbing it, he kills himself. The painting suddenly looks as it did originally, and the hideous appearance is transferred to the Dorian's dead body.

You should know by now that I absolutely detest summarizing . . . that may or may not be why I'm so bad at it, but the point is that I hate it. However, I can't exactly upload the movie, or assume that everyone has seen it, or paste in a script, or . . . andthing like that, so I do what I can. That's the gist. Now, what does the movie mean? What's the point?

Personally, I think it is best examined as a parallel to the life of Wilde himself. With this in mind, I include two more things in the Appendix below. One is an excerpt from De Profundis, which will require a bit of explanation, I suppose. In 1895, not long after the first performance of The Importance of Being Earnest, Wilde was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to two years hard labor. See, he was having this affair with Lord Alfred Douglas, a "handsome young poet" who happened to be the son of the marquis of Queensbury. So Wilde went up the river, Douglas did not.

In prison he was allowed one sheet of paper at a time to write letters on, and De Profundis is the letter he wrote to his . . . ummm . . . to Douglas. I think it is fairly easy to see how his life more or less parallels Dorian's from what he says of it here. In any case, it is an interesting read.

So, if you took the time to read it (and it takes a little time, I confess), you can see, at least, what he thinks happened to his life. He (quite modestly) claims to have been the king of his world, more or less, if not the world (symbolically speaking), and talks of "eternal youth" and so forth . . . And then look where he goes. He starts living entirely for pleasure . . . but not the usual kind of pleasure necessarily. He plunges into the depths, perversity is mentioned, as is desire.

He has totally pulled a Dorian, as it were. And society doesn't notice, apparently, because he is still hailed far and wide . . . he's still got it all. Earneast is a huge success when it comes out, but as soon as everything hit the fan it dropped out of production for several years.

After Wilde was released from prison he, of course, left England (there's no way he could have stayed) and lived out the very short remainder of his life (three years . . . prison completely ruined his health) mooching off of friends in France under an assumed name.

"E Tenebris," the other item I have included, was written 14 years before all this, and it is . . . a little strange. I wonder what he was thinking when he wrote it and what happened to that thought process once it was written. He's grasping at something here, but did he miss? It almost sounds like Cowper's The Castaway . . . but for the ending.

(Side note: I hurt for that guy. I really do. I get depressed whenever I think about him.)

Basically, here's the big question . . . I read (or watch . . . whatever, shut up) Dorian Gray and Earnest which are, obviously, madly different, and I read De Profundis and it seems like Wilde got it . . . and then he didn't. And I read about his life and what he did with it, and I just have one question. What was this guy's deal?! He was a freakin' genius and he chucked it for . . . *gags*

Did he ever really get it, in the end? A verse I keep thinking up in connection with all this (I think it may have cropped up somewhere in all the compulsive reading I've been doing on the subject): "For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" You almost think he has in De Profundis but there's this strange lack . . . he talks as if he will be his own salvation, as if he knows he was off, but he's got it figured out now, and all he's got to do is kill the old self and take in all the experience that he has attained from the bad times, becoming something new.

Somehow, it sounds suspiciously like Dorian's scheme to stab his portrait . . . Perhaps the cause of Wilde's death, coming so close on the heels of his release from prison, was more poetic than the rational mind might at first be led to believe . . .



Preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray

The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim.

The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.

The highest, as the lowest, form of criticism is a mode of autobiography.
Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.

Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope.

They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty.

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.

The nineteenth century dislike of Realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.

The nineteenth century dislike of Romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass.

The moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium. No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved.

No artist has ethical sympathies. An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style.

No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything.

Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art.

Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art.

From the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the art of the musician. From the point of view of feeling, the actor's craft is the type.

All art is at once surface and symbol.

Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.

Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.

It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.

Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital.

When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself. We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.

All art is quite useless.

From De Profundis

I must say to myself that neither you nor your father, multiplied a thousand times over, could possibly have ruined a man like me, that I ruined myself, and that nobody great or small can be ruined except by his own hand. I am quite ready to do so. I am trying to do so, though you may not think it at the present moment. If I have brought this pitiless indictment against you, think what an indictment I bring without pity against myself. Terrible as what you did to me was, what I did to myself was far more terrible still.

I was a man who stood in symbolic relations to the art and culture of my age. I had realized this for myself at the very dawn of my manhood, and had forced my age to realize it afterwards. Few men hold such a position in their own lifetime, and have it so acknowledged. It is usually discerned, if discerned at all, by the historian, or the critic, long after both the man and his age have passed away. With me it was different. I felt it myself, and made others feel it. Byron was a symbolic figure, but his relations were to the passion of his age and its weariness of passion. Mine were to something more noble, more permanent, of more vital issue, of larger scope.

The gods had given me almost everything. I had genius, a distinguished name, high social position, brilliancy, intellectual daring. I made art a philosophy, and philosophy an art. I altered the minds of men and the colors of things. There was nothing I said or did that did not make people wonder. I took the drama, the most objective form known to art, and made it as personal a mode of expression as the lyric or the sonnet, at the same time that I widened its range and enriched its characterization. Drama, novel, poem in rhyme, poem in prose, subtle or fantastic dialogue, whatever I touched I made beautiful in a new mode of beauty. To truth itself I gave what is false no less than what is true as its rightful province, and showed that the false and the true are merely forms of intellectual existence. I treated Art as the supreme reality, and life as a mere mode of fiction. I awoke the imagination of my century so that it created myth and legend around me. I summed up all systems in a phrase, and all existence in an epigram.

Along with these things, I had things that were different. I let myself be lured into long spells of senseless and sensual ease. I amused myself with being a flaneur, a dandy, a man of fashion. I surrounded myself with the smaller natures and the meaner minds. I became the spendthrift of my own genius, and to waste an eternal youth gave me a curious joy. Tired of being on the heights I deliberately went to the depths in the search for new sensations. What the paradox was to me in the sphere of thought, perversity became to me in the sphere of passion. Desire, at the end, was a malady, or a madness, or both. I grew careless of the lives of others. I took pleasure where it pleased me, and passed on. I forgot that every little action of the common day makes or unmakes character, and that therefore what one has done in the secret chamber one has some day to cry aloud on the housetop. I ceased to be Lord over myself. I was no longer the Captain of my Soul, and did not know it. I allowed you to dominate me, and your father to frighten me. I ended in horrible disgrace. There is only one thing for me now, absolute Humility. Just as there is only one thing for you, absolute Humility also. You had better come down into the dust and learn it beside me.

I have lain in prison for nearly two years. Out of my nature has come wild despair; an abandonment to grief that was piteous even to look at; terrible and impotent rage; bitterness and scorn; anguish that wept aloud; misery that could find no voice; sorrow that was dumb. I have passed through every possible mood of suffering. Better than Wordsworth himself I know what Wordsworth meant when he said -

'Suffering is permanent, obscure, and dark
And has the nature of infinity.'

But while there were times when I rejoiced in the idea that my sufferings were to be endless, I could not bear them to be without meaning. Now I find hidden somewhere away in my nature something that tells me that nothing in the whole world is meaningless, and suffering least of all. That something hidden away in my nature, like a treasure in a field, is Humility.

It is the last thing left in me, and the best: the ultimate discovery at which I have arrived, the starting-point for a fresh development. It has come to me right out of myself, so I know that it has come at the proper time. It could not have come before, nor later. Had any one told me of it, I would have rejected it. Had it been brought to me, I would have refused it. As I found it, I want to keep it. I must do so. It is the one thing that has in it the elements of life, of a new life, Vita Nuova for me. Of all things it is the strangest. One cannot acquire it, except by surrendering everything that one has. It is only when one has lost all things that one knows that one possesses it.

I want to get to the point when I shall be able to say quite simply, and without affectation that the two great turning-points in my life were when my father sent me to Oxford, and when society sent me to prison. I will not say that prison is the best thing that could have happened to me: for that phrase would savour of too great bitterness towards myself. I would sooner say, or hear it said of me, that I was so typical a child of my age, that in my perversity, and for that perversity's sake, I turned the good things of my life to evil, and the evil things of my life to good.

What is said, however, by myself or by others, matters little. The important thing, the thing that lies before me, the thing that I have to do, if the brief remainder of my days is not to be maimed, marred, and incomplete, is to absorb into my nature all that has been done to me, to make it part of me, to accept it without complaint, fear, or reluctance. The supreme vice is shallowness. Whatever is realized is right.

"E Tenebris"

Come down, O Christ, and help me! reach Thy hand,

For I am drowning in a stormier sea

Than Simon on Thy lake of Galilee:

The wine of life is spilt upon the sand,

My heart is as some famine-murdered land

Whence all good things have perished utterly,

And well I know my soul in Hell must lie

If I this night before God's throne should stand.

'He sleeps perchance, or rideth to the chase,

Like Baal, when his prophets howled that name

From morn to noon on Carmel's smitten height.'

Nay, peace, I shall behold, before the night,

The feet of brass, the robe more white than flame,

The wounded hands, the weary human face.

Posted by Jared at 06:28 AM | TrackBack

April 24, 2004

"There was more foolery yet, if I could remember it"

(Quoth Casca, Act I, Sc. 2)

The Shadow Council Players present "Julius Caesar":

Sharptiano- Julius Caesar, Titinius, Lucillius, Strato, Ghost of Caesar, Second Citizen, Second Soldier, etc.
Ardith- Octavius Caesar, Calpurnia, Cinna, Soothsayer, Claudio, etc.
Wilson- Mark Antony, Casca, Flavius, Cinna the Poet, etc.
Gallagher- Marcus Brutus, Carpenter
Myself- Caius Cassius, Murellus, Publius, Clitus, Fourth Citizen, etc.
Scholl- Trebonius, Lepidus, Popillius, Artemidorus, Pindarus, Messala, Cobbler, Servant, Third Citizen, Third Soldier, etc.
Randy- Lucius, Metellus Cimber, Caius Ligarius, Cicero, Varrus, Volumnius, First Citizen, First Soldier, etc.
Anna- Portia, Decius Brutus, Cato, Dardanius, Poet, Messenger, etc.

Well, as anyone can probably tell from the cast listing, there are a few more speaking parts than usual in this one. If I forgot any roles that anyone played, or mixed up any roles, I'm sorry . . . It was a lot to keep track of.

So, I know that Julius Caesar is a good play . . . of course . . . but I didn't expect to get quite that . . . level of enjoyment out of it. I don't know if it was sleep deprivation or what, but . . . Wow.

Gallagher, it was a pleasure to . . . ummm . . . yell at you and stuff. We'll have to try that again sometime . . . or something. Oh yeah, and one more thing: Durst not!

Anyway, kudos to Wilson for that magnificent rendition of Antony's famous speech . . . that was fun. And the jumping between Casca and Antony a few times was quite impressive. In fact, way to be versatile, everyone.

Oh, yes, and my apologies to everyone as well. Leaving Wilson (as Antony), Scholl (as Lepidus), and Ardith (as Almighty Caesar) in charge of the Roman Empire at the end there . . . That was clearly poor planning on my part.

*considers historical ramifications*


Posted by Jared at 11:59 PM | TrackBack

April 23, 2004

It's Official

Life is a farce.

"There are times when one would like to end the whole human race, and finish the farce." -Mark Twain

Posted by Jared at 02:56 PM | TrackBack

April 21, 2004

"O for a Muse of fire"

Your muse is Calliope, the Fair Voiced, Chief Muse
and the Muse of Epic Poetry. Her symbol is the
writing tablet. I wonder if you'll end up as
the next Tolkein...?

Which of the Nine Muses is your muse?
brought to you by Quizilla

Interesting. The fact of the matter is, if I am fortunate enough to have one Muse, then I have at least three more. I could be equally comfortable with Calliope, Clio, Melpomene, and Thalia. And I have more than a little interest in Erato, Euterpe, and Polyhymnia, when it comes right down to it . . . although I wouldn't claim any of them as my Muse. If you're confused at all by the name-dropping, try this.

Posted by Jared at 11:59 PM | TrackBack

April 20, 2004

Algernon Charles Swinburne & The Pagan Obsession

"Hymn to Proserpine (After the Proclamation in Rome of the Christian Faith)"

Vicisti, Galilaee

I have lived long enough, having seen one thing, that love hath an end;
Goddess and maiden and queen, be near me now and befriend.
Thou art more than the day or the morrow, the seasons that laugh or that weep;
For these give joy and sorrow; but thou, Proserpina, sleep.
Sweet is the treading of wine, and sweet the feet of the dove;
But a goodlier gift is thine than foam of the grapes or love.
Yea, is not even Apollo, with hair and harpstring of gold,
A bitter god to follow, a beautiful god to behold?
I am sick of singing: the bays burn deep and chafe: I am fain
To rest a little from praise and grievous pleasure and pain.
For the gods we know not of, who give us our daily breath,
We know they are cruel as love or life, and lovely as death.

O gods dethroned and deceased, cast forth, wiped out in a day
From your wrath is the world released, redeemed from your chains, men say.
New gods are crowned in the city; their flowers have broken your rods;
They are merciful, clothed with pity, the young compassionate gods.
But for me their new device is barren, the days are bare;
Things long past over suffice, and men forgotten that were.
Time and the gods are at strife; ye dwell in the midst thereof,
Draining a little life from the barren breasts of love.
I say to you, cease, take rest; yea, I say to you all, be at peace,
Till the bitter milk of her breast and the barren bosom shall cease.
Wilt thou yet take all, Galilean? but these thou shalt not take,
The laurel, the palms and the paean, the breasts of the nymphs in the brake;
Breasts more soft than a dove's, that tremble with tenderer breath;
And all the wings of the Loves, and all the joy before death;
All the feet of the hours that sound as a single lyre,
Dropped and deep in the flowers, with strings that flicker like fire.
More than these wilt thou give, things fairer than all these things?
Nay, for a little we live, and life hath mutable wings.
A little while and we die; shall life not thrive as it may?
For no man under the sky lives twice, outliving his day.
And grief is a grievous thing, and a man hath enough of his tears:
Why should he labour, and bring fresh grief to blacken his years?

Thou hast conquered, O pale Galilean; the world has grown grey from thy breath;
We have drunken of things Lethean, and fed on the fullness of death.
Laurel is green for a season, and love is sweet for a day;
But love grows bitter with treason, and laurel outlives not May.
Sleep, shall we sleep after all? for the world is not sweet in the end;
For the old faiths loosen and fall, the new years ruin and rend.
Fate is a sea without shore, and the soul is a rock that abides;
But her ears are vexed with the roar and her face with the foam of the tides.
O lips that the live blood faints in, the leavings of racks and rods!
O ghastly glories of saints, dead limbs of gibbeted gods!
Though all men abase them before you in spirit, and all knees bend,
I kneel not neither adore you, but standing, look to the end.

All delicate days and pleasant, all spirits and sorrows are cast
Far out with the foam of the present that sweeps to the surf of the past:
Where beyond the extreme sea-wall, and between the remote sea-gates,
Waste water washes, and tall ships founder, and deep death waits:
Where, mighty with deepening sides, clad about with the seas as with wings,
And impelled of invisible tides, and fulfilled of unspeakable things,
White-eyed and poisonous-finned, shark-toothed and serpentine-curled,
Rolls, under the whitening wind of the future, the wave of the world.
The depths stand naked in sunder behind it, the storms flee away;
In the hollow before it the thunder is taken and snared as a prey;
In its sides is the north-wind bound; and its salt is of all men's tears;
With light of ruin, and sound of changes, and pulse of years:
With travail of day after day, and with trouble of hour upon hour;
And bitter as blood is the spray; and the crests are as fangs that devour:
And its vapour and storm of its steam as the sighing of spirits to be;
And its noise as the noise in a dream; and its depth as the roots of the sea:
And the height of its heads as the height of the utmost stars of the air:
And the ends of the earth at the might thereof tremble, and time is made bare.
Will ye bridle the deep sea with reins, will ye chasten the high sea with rods?
Will ye take her to chain her with chains, who is older than all ye gods?
All ye as a wind shall go by, as a fire shall ye pass and be past;
Ye are gods, and behold, ye shall die, and the waves be upon you at last.
In the darkness of time, in the deeps of the years, in the changes of things,
Ye shall sleep as a slain man sleeps, and the world shall forget you for kings.
Though the feet of thine high priests tread where thy lords and our forefathers trod,
Though these that were gods are dead, and thou being dead art a god,
Though before thee the throned Cytherean be fallen, and hidden her head,
Yet thy kingdom shall pass, Galilean, thy dead shall go down to thee dead.

Of the maiden thy mother men sing as a goddess with grace clad around;
Thou art throned where another was king; where another was queen she is crowned.
Yea, once we had sight of another: but now she is queen, say these.
Not as thine, not as thine was our mother, a blossom of flowering seas,
Clothed round with the world's desire as with raiment, and fair as the foam,
And fleeter than kindled fire, and a goddess, and mother of Rome.
For thine came pale and a maiden, and sister to sorrow; but ours,
Her deep hair heavily laden with odour and colour of flowers,
White rose of the rose-white water, a silver splendour, a flame,
Bent down unto us that besought her, and earth grew sweet with her name.
For thine came weeping, a slave among slaves, and rejected; but she
Came flushed from the full-flushed wave, and imperial, her foot on the sea.
And the wonderful waters knew her, the winds and the viewless ways,
And the roses grew rosier, and bluer the sea-blue stream of the bays.

Ye are fallen, our lords, by what token? we wist that ye should not fall.
Ye were all so fair that are broken; and one more fair than ye all.
But I turn to her still, having seen she shall surely abide in the end;
Goddess and maiden and queen, be near me now and befriend.
O daughter of earth, of my mother, her crown and blossom of birth,
I am also, I also, thy brother; I go as I came unto earth.
In the night where thine eyes are as moons are in heaven, the night where thou art,
Where the silence is more than all tunes, where sleep overflows from the heart,
Where the poppies are sweet as the rose in our world, and the red rose is white,
And the wind falls faint as it blows with the fume of the flowers of the night,
And the murmur of spirits that sleep in the shadow of gods from afar
Grows dim in thine ears and deep as the deep dim soul of a star,
In the sweet low light of thy face, under heavens untrod by the sun,
Let my soul with their souls find place, and forget what is done and undone.
Thou art more than the gods who number the days of our temporal breath;
For these give labour and slumber; but thou, Proserpina, death.
Therefore now at thy feet I abide for a season in silence. I know
I shall die as my fathers died, and sleep as they sleep; even so.
For the glass of the years is brittle wherein we gaze for a span;
A little soul for a little bears up this corpse which is man.
So long I endure, no longer; and laugh not again, neither weep.
For there is no god found stronger than death; and death is a sleep.

Before I even get started, I must briefly digress. Anyone named Algernon Charles Swinburne is fated to write poetry. That name is too good to waste on anything else (except, perhaps, the Church . . . if you lacked the necessary talent . . . which you wouldn't, with a name like that). Anyway . . .

Are we sensing a little hostility here? Are we sensing a little well-justified hostility here? Before we go any further, I should explain something. I can't analyze this poem from a Christian perspective, at all (Meaning: I can't put the traditional "positive Christian spin" on it.) If I tried to analyze this by slanting a Christian lesson into it through the author . . . that would be wrong. It's not there, people. There's no hidden message. Swinburne isn't just taking on a persona here, this is what he thinks. Moving forward . . .

My lovely footnotes tell me that the Latin words you see just under the title ("Vicisti, Galilaee") were spoken by Julian the Apostate in 363, as he was dying. He had attempted to revive paganism, (Christianity having been officially made permissible in 313), and had not succeeded. Obviously, he's a little bitter about this. The words, as you can probably tell, mean "Thou hast conquered, O Galilean."

The speaker in this poem is a Roman patrician and poet who, like Julian, prefers the pagan gods. Proserpine, of course, is known in Greek mythology as Persephone. You can read her story here if you need to refresh your memory.

In brief, the poem proceeds thusly: The speaker alternates chiefly between praises for Proserpine and curses (or perhaps they are closer to threats . . . or merely observations?) for "the Galilean." He compares his gods with the new one in various ways and finds the new one wanting. He compares his goddess with the new one's mother, and finds her wanting. He talks about how short life is, and the sweet release of death. And then, after that wonderful section about the ocean of change, he assures himself that this new religion won't really last, in the end. "Yet thy kingdom shall pass, Galilean, thy dead shall go down to thee dead."

Right. When I start quoting in my summary . . . Well, he isn't telling a story here, he's making a point that is already well summarized and perfectly stated by him. You need to read the poem for yourself. Go do that, and then come back.

The brief biography I read about Swinburne links him with Shelley in terms of ideas and themes. Ummm . . . Yeah. Definitely. (See my entry on Shelley from the last round of English Journals.) He has taken the principles of Ecclesiastes, as communicated by Percy Shelley, and applied them not only to the things of this world, but to the gods themselves. And he's got a point . . . historical precedent is on his side. Dominant religions may have a longer average lifespan than dynasties, but which of them has ever remained dominant anywhere near forever (if there is such a concept)?

The speaker loved the gods that he served, and he liked their style. He finds this whole compassion, mercy, and pity game to be more than a little pathetic, compared to what he had before. "Wilt thou yet take all, Galilean?"

So, the speaker reminds us that we aren't here for very long. Life is short, enjoyment of life is key. "A little while and then we die; shall life not thrive as it may?" Christianity, from that perspective, cannot even pretend to compete with the old religion. It is all about being wholly focused on what comes next and so encouraging its followers to ignore, or even deprive themselves of, the finer and more beautiful things in this life . . . That's a real bummer when laid next to the earthly splendor and majesty and nobility and moral abandon and riotous fun of Rome's pagan beliefs. ". . . the world has grown gray from thy breath."

Next, he carries his thought processes out to their logical conclusion. He may not last for long, but neither will this new religious craze. As his gods cast down those who came before, and were in their turn cast down, so will the new god someday be usurped. Nothing lasts, save one thing. And that's where the last laugh will belong to Rome and her gods. For death is the all-powerful god that cannot be beaten . . . and death is the only god(dess) he has left to serve (in the form of Proserpine). "Though these that were gods are dead, and thou being dead art a god . . . there is no god found stronger than death."

The Galilean may have won for a season, but death will be back in the end. By then, of course, Proserpine (to whom he has remained faithful) will have brought the speaker unto herself, into blessed sleep. And he takes his satisfaction and comfort from the forthcoming oblivion. "Thou art more than the gods who number the days of our temporal breath; For these give labor and slumber; but thou, Proserpina, death . . . and death is a sleep."

I did that very badly, I know, because the poem speaks so beautifully for itself, but it would be redundant simply to quote key sections of it. If you didn't see this stuff already, hopefully I've pointed you in the proper direction. Now, on to the point.

The deep, dark secret of life is this: Not that it is meaningless, or perhaps even that our gods are not there . . . but that they are enslaved to death and change just as surely as we are. For the unbeliever who has just had his religion supplanted, there can be no greater truth than that. Nothing is, or ever could be more certain. This is Ecclesiastes with God cut out, and only god left behind.

"Time and the gods are at strife; ye dwell in the midst thereof, Draining a little life from the barren breasts of love. I say to you cease, take rest; yea, I say to you all, be at peace, Till the bitter milk of her breast and the barren bosom shall cease."

Those are your instructions. Much joy may they bring you. Meanwhile, it's time for me to be a Christian again.

You know when I read this poem, I can't help but think of poor old Salieri, patron saint of mediocrity. We're in a similar fix, he and I. However, it is late, so I'll leave you with this. First, if you haven't seen Amadeus, don't bother trying to figure out what I'm thinking. Second, the rough parallel is this: If I were Salieri, and Swinburne were Mozart, what would I be thinking right now, more or less, about serving God with the gifts you have and the distribution of artistic talent?

What disturbs me the most about this poem, (aside from the fact that I really like it), is that I think Swinburne sees matters far more clearly than a lot of Christians do . . . he's just got things backwards. Many Christians believe without seeing (often without looking, either, but that's another issue). Swinburne (and/or the speaker in the poem) sees without believing. He's spotted the angles, knows what it all means, and has the Galilean’s “game” figured out; he's just not buying any of it. Now that's depressing.

Posted by Jared at 02:07 AM | TrackBack

April 19, 2004

"Happiness is Overrated"

The text of Sunday's (4/18) "Pearls Before Swine:"

"The Adventures of Angry Bob" by Rat

Angry Bob was sad. "I do not want to be sad," thought Bob, "I want to be happy. I will start a parade."

Bob organized the "Toot for Joy" parade and handed out flyers and gave everyone kazoos and asked them to march in the parade and "toot for joy." Bob even signed up a sponsor, the global fast food chain, Mickey Donalds.

On the day of the parade, a heavy rain fell. And no one came. Except Bob, who stood in the middle of a downtown street, with his kazoo, and a shirt that said, "Toot for Joy - Brought to You by Mickey Donalds."

"I will not be sad," thought Bob. "I will toot for joy alone." So Bob began to march. And as he turned the first corner, he saw heading toward him a different kind of parade . . . a parade of 100,000 angry people protesting the spread of large American global chains in the biggest anti-globalization rally ever organized. And there was Bob, kazoo in mouth, wearing his shirt.

His Mickey Donalds shirt.

Enraged, the mob attacked Bob. With each blow upon his person, Bob exhaled, involuntarily blowing the kazoo and tooting for joy. Many toots-for-joy later, Bob died.

Happiness is overrated.

Have a nice day, everyone.

Posted by Jared at 11:05 PM | TrackBack

April 18, 2004

If Only I Had an Inner Tube

I have been reading a bit of Virginia Woolf this evening. "What on earth could prompt you to such a foolish action?" Well, that's a good question, sorta. It was assigned for English Lit II.

Quite a depressing thing, really. Just before I started reading, I couldn't prevent myself from flipping forward through the remainder of the Norton Anthology to see what lay ahead . . . Names come popping out at me: James Joyce, D. H. Lawrence, T. S. Eliot, George Orwell, Samuel Beckett. None of them are on the syllabus, we haven't time for them, and that makes me a little sad. I hardly dare to . . . but I do anyway . . . turn backwards and look again at who we skipped over on our way here: Sir Walter Scott, Charles Dickens, the Bronte sisters, George Eliot, Lewis Carroll, George Bernard Shaw, Rudyard Kipling.

Oh, look. I'm shedding a tear.

Buck up, old chap. Time to read Woolf. So I do, starting with a brief biography . . . just a few key details about her life and times and so forth.

Oh, my.

Oh, my.

So that would be where that whole Orlando thing came from, then. Special. Well, let's see what she has to say for herself.

Ah, wonderful. My mind is already in the midst of its usual roiling turmoil (I'm not agitated, but there's so much to think about . . . random English Lit reading assignments are the least of my worries right now. In fact, they aren't a worry at all. They're rather fun. Clearly I should have more assignments like this. More classes like this. There isn't nearly enough required concentrated reading going on. Far too many random worksheets floating around. Anyway, I've never been the most linear thinker around, exactly. Nasty tendency to hijack my own trains, and I often wonder if I subconsciously set up my room in such a way that I could be constantly distracted by "shiny objects." But I digress . . .) and I have no idea now where I was going to end the pre-parentheses sentence anyway, so whether I digress or not is no longer important. Better jump to a new paragraph.

Oh, yes. In the midst of all the pleasant buzzing of my brain, I may or may not be able to focus on traditional prose or poetic writing at any given time. The question is simply this: How am I supposed to focus when the author's mind was apparently doing just what mine is whilst she wrote? But it's so much fun.

I feel like . . . well, I feel like there's a dense pea-souper and not much else between my ears right now (no comments from the Peanut Gallery . . . or the rest of the SC, either, please), but nevermind that. I feel like I'm lazily listening to myself think, or perhaps listening to a few of my friends converse in the special way they have . . . And it's really quite pleasant. I'd describe the sensation further for you, but I'd like to let the piece speak for itself.

The Mark on the Wall

It's quite short and it would be a reasonably pleasant read even if it did nothing but meander aimlessly, starting from nowhere and nothing and leading to the same destination . . . But don't be deceived! I hope that you, like me, will get at least a small chuckle out of the last line.

Have a little fun. If Literature were a water park, this would be its lazy river.

Or . . . ummm . . . something . . .

Posted by Jared at 11:59 PM | TrackBack

April 17, 2004

A Consummate Spouse . . . Yeah, good luck with that!

The Shadow Council Players present "An Ideal Husband":

Martinez- Sir Robert Chiltern, Harold
Myself- Lord Goring
Ardith- Mabel Chiltern, Mrs. Cheveley, Lady Basildon
Anna- Lady Chiltern
Gallagher- Lord Caversham, Mrs. Marchmont, Lady Markby
Scholl- Phipps, James, Mason
Randy- Vicomte de Nanjac
Moore- Mr. Montford
Sharon- Lady Markby
Sharptiano- Mason

So . . . Yes. This is quite a fun play, like nearly everything by Oscar Wilde, but it isn't, of course, quite as good as "Earnest." Nevertheless, he balances it out nicely by making the characters less shallow (at least a little). But then, triviality was kind of the point of the other one. However, I digress . . .

I ought to mention that when I picked this play, I rather thought there'd be a smaller crew than usual, and there rather wasn't. We were at least up to full size. So, sorry to everyone who only got one minor (or even very minor) role. Hmmm . . . That sounds really funny when put that way, but whatever. Anyway, we'll see what we can do next week.

I suppose I really ought to chronicle Anna's delivery of the following speech (despite the fact that she sounded as if wild horses were dragging it out of her by main force):

"A man's life is of more value than a woman's. It has larger issues, wider scope, greater ambitions. Our lives revolve in curves of emotions. It is upon lines of intellect that a man's life progresses."

Actually, the following exchange was my personal favorite:

Caversham: What I say is that marriage is a matter for common sense.

Goring: But women who have common sense are so curiously plain, father, aren't they? Of course I only speak from hearsay.

Caversham: No woman, plain or pretty, has any common sense at all, sir. Common sense is the privilege of our sex.

Goring: Quite so. And we men are so self-sacrificing that we never use it, do we, father?

Caversham: I use it, sir. I use nothing else.

Goring: So my mother tells me.

Caversham: It is the secret of your mother's happiness.

Followed closely by this one:

Mrs. Cheveley: The strength of women comes from the fact that psychology cannot explain us. Men can be analysed, women . . . merely adored.

Sir Robert: You think science cannot grapple with the problem of women?

Mrs. Cheveley: Science can never grapple with the irrational. That is why it has no future before it, in this world.

Sir Robert: And women represent the irrational.

Mrs. Cheveley: Well-dressed women do.

*sniggers* Oh, yes . . . Another thing: Ardith seemed quite disturbed at first by the role-swapping that was so prevalent among her characters in Act I. Really, Ardith . . . The rest of us have been doing this for weeks! Surely you can't have forgotten already that Gallagher had sword fights with himself twice only last Friday?

Be that as it may, I should certainly register the fact that I am quite disturbed by her proficiency with jumping at a moment's notice from the sweet, silly Mabel Chiltern to the ruthless, chiseling Mrs. Cheveley. Yikes. It occurs to me that . . . *stops to think* . . . Ummm . . . That there really isn't anywhere good I can go in further analyzing this state of affairs.

Good work, everyone. And won't next week be a trip? *cackles gleefully* Until then . . . *resumes normal blogging activities*

Posted by Jared at 02:41 PM | TrackBack

April 15, 2004

Well, everyone else was doing it . . .

From "The Complete Saki" by . . . care to take a crack at the author?:

"Then there are the people who troop in with an-unpleasant-duty-to-perform air, as if they were angels of Death entering a plague city."

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

Via Half the Known Blogging World.

Heeheehee. For the curious and ignorant . . .

Posted by Jared at 12:22 AM | TrackBack

April 14, 2004

Now You're Speaking My Language . . .?

So, I go to Chapel this morning. I think I might know someone who has something to say about the experience as a whole, but I would like to address Praise & Worship, specifically, myself.

For those of you who weren't there, we had the Hispanic crew in charge today, and we did one song in Spanish at the beginning. I believe this has happened twice before this semester. The last time we did this, as I recall, all of the songs were in Spanish. I had a bit to say about that at the time, but no one else seemed to care, so I left it alone. After all, I personally ought to have no complaint, right? I speak Spanish fluently, I know exactly what I'm singing, and I didn't even need to have the words up there for me. (This is fortunate since they weren't up there for a significant portion of the song).

Today, we were very slowly led through the lyrics of the song, line by line, in classic repeat-after-me fashion, before they put them up on the screen (which irritated me, because I'm just impatient like that . . . and the song is supposed to be really fast, it's quite annoying when you go crawling through it). Then, when we were actually singing, whoever was working the slides was totally off (I mean, duh. They probably don't speak Spanish . . . we couldn't think of this beforehand?) and so no one could read the words because they weren't up on the screen. At one point, they just turned the projector off completely. The result is 750-odd people, say, tripping and stumbling painfully through a song they don't understand (even when they're actually able to sing along). It didn't flow. It didn't set a mood. It didn't unite. It didn't work.

Can anyone explain to me the point of singing praise & worship songs in a language that the majority of the people in the room do not understand, let alone speak? I mean, really . . . You don't know what you're singing! What if you were talking about "dancers who dance upon Your justice," or some such nonsense, without even knowing about it?! Then, if the words don't stay up you can't even follow along anyway. Plus, I don't know about the rest of you, but it would be bothersome and distracting to me to have to sing in, say, French, and know that I was butchering the pronunciation horribly . . . *sigh* It's just . . . No.

I know where this is coming from . . . it's that whole "showing how diverse we can be" thing that was mentioned in the last issue of the paper. And that's just fine and dandy, but . . . No. Now, perhaps if there were people in the room who didn't know English, (aside from the obvious, "What are they doing there?" question), then it would seem vaguely reasonable to do this from time to time. But there aren't.

I think it would be quite cool to give them a whole Chapel, maybe once per semester, all to themselves. Have it on the Chapel schedule. Call it "Alabando al Señor," or something like that, let us know it's coming, and don't make it "mandatory" to sing along. It would be more like going to a concert, I suppose. It's them, onstage, sharing their culture and language with us through music, and audience members who wish to sing with them are quite free to do so. That would be sweet. And if done properly it would be quite worthwhile.

And while you're at it, promoting diversity and whatnot, here's a thought: I'm pretty sure there are more Koreans here than Hispanics, (I dunno, maybe not . . . there are quite a few, at least), why don't we ever see them onstage, singing in Korean? It just seems odd to me that admin won't shut up about diversity, but their efforts in that direction seem so limited, missing wide swathes of the population . . .

Whatever. That's just what I, as a somewhat interested party with a unique perspective, think about the whole thing. Discuss.

Posted by Jared at 03:06 PM | TrackBack

April 13, 2004

That explains everything . . .

"Woman is a belated survival from a primeval age of struggle and cunning and competition; that is why, wherever you go the world over, you find all the superfluous dust and worry being made by the gentler sex . . . Man has moved with the historic progression of the ages. But woman is a habit that has survived from the period when one had to dispute with cave bears and cave hyenas whether one ate one's supper or watched others eat it, whether one slept at home or on one's doorstep. The religions of the world have all recognized this fact and kept womankind severely outside of their respective systems. This is why, however secular one's tendencies, one turns insinctively to religion in some form for respite and peace." -Saki

I think this quote pretty much speaks for itself. However, as regards the "altercation" in the library this evening, I feel that I must point something out. It didn't take Anna very long to resort to clocking Scholl with a folder full of math assignments as opposed to, say, ignoring what even he will admit was a mere string of inane rhetoric (as I insistently and repeatedly suggested).

I just wanted to mention that in order to place my audience in a better position to judge the value of Saki's words. As Wilson would say, "Talk amongst yourselves."

Posted by Jared at 11:59 PM | TrackBack

The Birds and the Bees

So I was standing in Dr. Johnson's office this afternoon, staring out through his precious window, when suddenly my gaze fell upon a familiar little drama that was playing itself out not far away.

We have a male and a female, busily engaged in everyday outdoor spring activities. I didn't recognize them. They are carefully pretending not to notice one another, moving quietly about within their own little spheres, but it is clear that they are quite aware of each other's presence. Suddenly, the girl makes a very female-like move. She slowly and casually ambles towards the guy so that he has to notice her, and, this accomplished, she moves away. She wants to be chased, ladies and gentlemen.

And chase he does. They move about a bit more, "jockeying for position," perhaps exchanging a few words of polite conversation (I really couldn't tell). Then, she apparently decided he needed further encouragment, and swiftly made another move. He got a peck on the cheek and a squeeze of the hand before he had time to breathe and she moved away again. After a few more seconds of "jockeying for position," he finally made a move of his own. She got kissed. It wasn't long before they were behind a tree, and I couldn't see them anymore.

Ah, LeTourneau in the Spring.

Oh, yes. Did I mention that I was talking about two cardinals?

Highly pertinent quote: "A woman who takes her husband about with her everywhere is like a cat that goes on playing with a mouse long after she's killed it." -Saki

Posted by Jared at 04:15 PM | TrackBack

Shamelessness Pays (But Not as well as Crime)

So, Scholl dragged me off to that Easter Lunch and Egg Hunt thing at . . . ummm . . . was it First Baptist? I dunno. That's not the point. Anyway, also in attendance were Anna (duh), Ardith, and Moore-Sharon. Lunch was quite delicious. I still place sleep above food, but I will admit that lunch was good. And then we had Fun Easter Activities! Yay!

"Fun Easter Activities" in this case means drawing on a brown paper bag in preparation for filling said bag with Easter eggs. So I made mine into a book: The Big Book O'Easter Eggs, Red-Letter Edition. Whatever. Anna graphed an egg on hers and wrote nasty math things all over it and made a moebius strip handle with little infinity symbols on it. *shudders* Sharon wrote lots and lots of Engineering things on hers. I tried not to look. I suppose it was sort of a good thing to do, since it was technically a contest and Gonzo was one of the judges . . . Scholl turned his into the Monty Python rabbit ("Look at the bones!"). It was quite funny . . . lots of cute little flowers and whatnot. Moore cut his bag so that it was a network of diamond-shaped holes, and drew colorful designs on what was left. Then we all wandered over to the other table to look at Ardith's. She had created "An Easter Egg's Perspective of the World." Dreadfully artistic of her, I'm sure . . .

So then all of the bags were judged, and the Moore won "Best in Show," which got him candy and stuff. And then we were off! Well, Moore was off. He had disappeared before the rest of us even hit the stairs. So while we were wandering about calmly, collecting every egg that was even slightly hidden, I would catch glimpses of the Moore dashing to and fro with a bulging paper bag, rolling little kids with his empty hand and snapping at college girls with bared fangs. Your dignity . . . or candy? Give me pure shamelessness every time, says the Moore. Well, he took in quite a haul. I'll certainly give him that. He got more than the rest of us put together . . . And to top it off, he got a nice-sized bundle of cookies on the way out the door. Oh, it was a good day for the Moore (if not a proud day), let me tell you.

The rest of us walked away with equal parts candy and self-respect, and I proceeded to sleep off the effects of the afternoon upon my return. The rest, you know . . . or it isn't important.

There, I posted. That wasn't so painful. I think I'll do it again.

Posted by Jared at 03:45 PM | TrackBack

"If all the year were playing holidays . . ."

The Shadow Council Players present "Henry IV, Part One":

Martinez- King Henry the Fourth, Gadshill, Messenger, Carrier, Bardolph, Servant
Myself- Hal Prince of Wales, Earl of Worcester, Ostler
Wilson- Hotspur, Prince John, Peto, Sheriff
Gallagher- Sir John Falstaff, Sir Walter Blunt, Earl of Douglas, Lady Mortimer
Ardith- Owen Glendower, Sir Richard Vernon, Archbishop of York, Poins, Second Carrier
Anna- Earl of Westmoreland, Earl of Worcester, Sir Michael, Lady Percy, Mistress Quickly, First Carrier, Traveler, Messenger
Scholl- Earl of Northumberland, Bardolph, Chamberlain
Moore- Earl of Westmoreland, Poins
Sharon- Earl of Worcester
Ziggy- Francis
Spiff- Earl of March

This is the only Shakespeare play that I've had to do which I've never read before. And it was quite enjoyable, I must say. If only all of his histories were this . . . ummm . . . "not dry." We had excellent good fun and marvelous performing all around. I simply must mention Ardith's Archbishop . . . because that was funny. She crosses herself as she walks onstage . . . and it went downhill from there. I'm pretty sure a female Archbishop is, like, flaming heresy . . .

Oh, yes. And through poor casting on my part, and a general lack of people present to step in anyway, Gallagher had a swordfight with himself. Twice. So ridiculous . . . But by far the most enjoyable scenes were the robbery and the looooooooooong pub scene (Act II, scenes 2 and 4), of course. Falstaff is so great. But you knew that.

Closing thought: "Hang thyself in thine own heir-apparent garters!" -Falstaff, to Prince Hal

Posted by Jared at 10:45 AM | TrackBack

April 12, 2004

Writer's Block

I'm going to write something, soon. I swear. I'm really quite desperate to write something . . . but I'm rather busy with this annoying simulacrum of life that I'm currently experiencing. Yes, a few blogworthy things are happening . . . And even if they weren't I have a few blogworthy topics to write on. The thing is, when I'm not busily engaged in bloggable activities, there is actual work to be done. That doesn't mean that it is getting done, particularly, of course. Here is my basic dilemma (we shall see if I can figure out how to put this):

I go to the computer to get work done and/or to blog . . . but the two cancel each other out. I want to blog, but I can't think at all because I have all this work to consider. I need to work, but there's the potential for a fun blogpost floating around in my head and I can't focus on these inane homework assignments.

So instead, (to chronicle the evening), I take my laundry down (finally) and get it done while I amuse myself muchly by reading. I return to my room with a number of things on my mind that will not leave me alone. I trot over to Mabee and unload them on Wilson. And Randy wandered out to join us. It was quite a fun exchange, really. But it has been two hours now and I'm getting up soon. Ummm . . . relatively. And you may have noticed the decided lack of blogposts. Except for this one. Duh.

There are two currently waiting to be completed. One is on Henry IV, which we had much fun performing on Thursday night. The other is concerning the Easter Egg Hunt that Scholl dragged me to at around 12:30 today. And I have a comment to answer . . . I shall take care of that soon, as well. We'll see what today holds. For now, I need bed in a very bad way (but not half as bad as I will in about 5 hours). Good night.

P.S. As some of you know, and some of you don't, I am currently interested in pursuing a Masters in Library Science upon completion of my current course of study. With that in mind, I decided I wanted to keep track of this quote:

"[She] is one of the secret masters of the world: a librarian. They control information. Don't ever piss one off." -Spider Robinson, The Callahan Touch

P.P.S. I have also been reading Saki . . . more . . . still. I am thoroughly troubled by two things as a result of this. First, that there is too much good stuff to blog it all, and picking any one thing is like trying to decide how best to waste a three-day weekend. Second, that Saki is encouraging and reinforcing my current outlook on life at a stage when encouragement is quite the last thing it needs. Naturally, I am both pleased and annoyed at having this done to me. I have a pertinent quote . . . perhaps you'll see what I mean:

"It is the fashion nowadays to talk about the romance of Business. There isn't such a thing. The romance has all been the other way, with the idle apprentice, the truant, the runaway, the individual who couldn't be bothered with figures and book-keeping and left business to look after itself . . . Whenever I feel in the least tempted to be business-like or methodical or even decently industrious I go to Kensal Green and look at the graves of those who died in business."
-Saki, Clovis on the Alleged Romance of Business

It's a horrible position for an English major to be in . . . I can't get a degree without filling out worksheets for Dr. Batts, and I can't come out of this with anything that is at all worthwhile without living, breathing, laughing, loving, reading, writing . . . experiencing.

Aw, hell. I'm going to bed.

Posted by Jared at 03:50 AM | TrackBack

April 05, 2004

The Post That Roared

Well, I'm awake now, I think. Looks like it's Monday. That sucks. Looks like Monday's almost over. That's a good thing. Today is a little hazy. All I know for sure is that there were several naps involved. And some classes and a chapel, I hope. But such a weekend . . .

Hootenanny was very much a lot of fun. I didn't go last year, using the general Friday-night emptiness as a prime opportunity to play racquetball with Martinez and Uncle Doug and Bryan, so this was the first one I've been to. The Moore earned his salt by snagging us seats on the very front row and we sat next to Dr. Hummel and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, overall. I shan't attempt a large-scale description of the entirety of Hootenanny . . . I'm still recovering from my Conference epic, remember, but I have to mention a one thing.

The backstory used to string the skit announcements together involved the three emcees travelling through time in a . . . large freezer. So at one point they wind up in . . . I dunno, I guess it would have been the 50s (speculation could be dangerous) and find themselves addressing Dr. Austin. But he isn't Dr. Austin at this point, clearly. He's just Bud. Dr. Austin was wearing a white t-shirt and jeans and had died his hair black specifically for the purpose. It was very scary, and I hadn't quite decided whether I was laughing or not when Dr. K came walking out on the stage. Actually, he wasn't walking, of course. He was very much sauntering, and looking quite . . . errr, "boss" in his leather jacket and black beret (I think it was a beret). As soon as he walked out, there was no chance of the act getting "clutched." I, personally, can remember him saying: "Daddy-O," "Agitate the gravel," "Big Daddy," "Square!" "Where're the chicks?" and "Let's blow this popsicle stand!" Their act . . . ummm, "razzed my berries" and I think it would be safe to call it . . . uhhh, "radioactive." It was "on the stick" . . . They had it "made in the shade." It "killed" me and everyone in my immediate vicinity. Anyway, that's quite enough fifties slang for one post. Just remember, the next time you feel like messing with Bud or Dr. K . . . "Shoot low, they're riding Shetlands."

There were many other good skits and so forth . . . Scholl was particularly fond (as we all were) of the three that involved vicious beatings, for instance . . . The grand finale was quite a sight as well. But I need to move this post forward so I can finish it, like, tonight.

This week we had general food and fellowship instead of the regular Bible study, and that was fun. The SC (Read: Scholl and Anna) participated vigorously in the Pie Auction on Thursday night and walked off with several armloads of desserts. And they were quite delicious, let me tell you. Scott, Gallagher and I spent a good . . . I dunno, I guess it was about twenty minutes, off and on . . . looking for Gallagher's shoes that had mysteriously disappeared. Gallagher wasn't looking very hard, but I was feeling a bit antsy so I wandered about Longview Hall a bit, looking for it. Gallagher finally stopped feeling so darn lazy and wandered down to the LH lobby . . . The Moore, or perhaps the Sharon, had made off with them, thinking that they actually belonged to the Moore. *sigh* It was a nice, quiet night. I got to bed at an insanely early 12:45 (I can't manage to get to bed at that hour on nights when I need to, for goodness' sake) and didn't move for 12 lovely hours. It was magnificent.

I'm not quite sure what I did all afternoon, but I seem to recall some sort of unique hybrid between fun and productivity. Or maybe I just dreamed that. It's really quite unimportant, because Saturday night was clearly the important time. We went to Symphony! Yay! All three pieces on the program were quite different from each other, and all of them were very enjoyable. Especially the third one . . . "Gershwin!" *jumps up and down* It was even better than the one I went to back in February. I just noticed that I did not, in fact, blog that one. It took place on February 21st. If you're curious, go see if you can discover why I might not have mentioned in . . . Personally, I'm moving on . . .

There was much fun conversation to be had at Applebee's after Symphony as well, and the seed of a short story (which Wilson and I clearly need to write asap) was formed. More on that when we both have time . . . *laughs at self* . . . Well, actually, once I have my Social Backgrounds paper out of the way on Thursday, and that three-day weekend is looming before me, life will be quite good, all things considered. Yes. Quite good.

Sunday involved much irritation at Daylight Savings. In October, Daylight Savings is clearly the best idea that anyone has ever had . . . in April it flat out sucks. Whose idea was it to arrange a system wherein I just randomly lose an hour of sleep near the end of the Spring semester? Nevertheless, I accompanied most of the SC to the 2:00 performance of Shadowlands. I have seen the movie, and I won't pretend that it wasn't better . . . duh. I mean . . . Anthony Hopkins! Nevertheless, I thought all of the actors did quite a good job and it was quite enjoyable. I especially liked Nate Todd's portrayal of Warnie (as far as the really major roles go), but everyone did well. I need to see the movie again.

I supped at the Hive with Martinez, Ardith, Wilson, Sharptiano, and Uncle Doug . . . and brought along the Catch Phrase that my grandparents gave me at the end of Spring Break. Such a fun game . . . Sharptiano had to leave, so I went twice to balance the teams. Wilson and I played against the other three, and were soundly beaten twice in a row. Then we started paying attention . . . I don't remember whether we played five games or six, but we won all of the remaining games. Randy and his roommate joined us for the last two games (Randy came in on our team), and there was much fun to be had all around. People say the most ridiculous things when they're under pressure. Uncle Doug made reference to "dumping stuff in the harbor during the Civil War" in order to get his group to guess "Boston Tea Party." When I said, "Mohammed started this," as a clue for "Islam," Randy blurted, "Boxing!" Clearly we will be playing again sometime soon . . .

And then, after much cursing at stupid technology and migrating about campus, we settled down in Longview Hall to watch The Mouse That Roared, a brilliantly funny piece of political satire starring Peter Sellers in three roles (à la Dr. Strangelove). It concerns the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, the smallest country in the world, whose economy depends entirely on the export of wine to the United States. When California begins to bottle a cheaper wine, Grand Fenwick's economy tanks and they decide that the only thing to do is invade the United States and lose. Clearly the U. S. is well known for its exceptional treatment of defeated enemies. Through a rather unique and bizarre series of events, Grand Fenwick accidentally wins the war by capturing the Q-Bomb (a WMD capable of liquidating an area of 2 million square miles), and everything goes downhill from there. Anyway, the movie was quite funny and there were some exceptionally humorous lines and so forth . . . but you really had to have been there, I think.

Be that as it may, that was basically my weekend, more or less, and now it is time to stop with the reliving of said weekend, and proceed with the rest of the current week. Farewell.

Posted by Jared at 10:41 PM | TrackBack

April 02, 2004

Wheeler's Conference Epic

Right. So I'm still blogging, obviously. Congratulations. You're all frigging geniuses. Except for those of you that clearly aren't. Clearly, Mr. Fry has me pegged. I am completely addicted to publishing myself on a regular basis. In a brief aside before we move on, I hope you all played The Worm Game that was linked in that last post of mine.

I would also like to note an incident that occured in English Lit II on Wednesday. Dr. Watson was sitting in Mr. Payton's office, yakking about Conference stuff, when the bell rang for class. I decided to hang about the door so I could just happen to run into him when he came out a few seconds later. He proceeded to sign me up for a time to do volunteer work on Friday, and then I asked him if he would be attending class. He would.

I followed him down to his office, and informed that the day's topic of discussion was Joseph Conrad when he asked. Then we went to class. Power Point wasn't working, he was having a little trouble pronouncing certain words, and he had brought the wrong textbook. He sent someone to get the right one, and looked out at the rest of us.

Dr. Watson: After the Conference this weekend, I'll get my life back, and then things will be better.

Myself (Yeah, like I'm gonna let that go by . . .): *respectfully raises hand*

Dr. Watson: Yes, sir?

Myself (in an eager and curious tone): When do we get our lives back?

Anyway, I wanted to record that because opportunities to even attempt something that resembles a *zing* don't surface around Dr. Watson on anything like a regular basis.

And now it's time to talk about . . .

The 7th Annual C. S. Lewis and the Inklings Conference

I had a lot of fun. This was an amazing experience, and I am very bitter that we don't get this kind of thing more often. I essentially got to spend an entire day talking shop with several dozen hardcore and intelligent Inklings nerds, (as opposed to the average garden-variety one finds wandering at large amongst the general student body), not to mention scholars. It was a long day, yes. I had to wake up at 6:30 to get ready to attend. And I had to get myself all dressed up and wear a tie, which I am not particularly fond of doing (for various reasons . . . most of them attached to laziness and an aversion to discomfort). But I really didn't care about all that.

I met Scholl coming out of SAGA and sent him off to put on something that wasn't shorts and sandals before meeting Ardith inside the Education building. In due time, Anna came along, and Scholl eventually returned. Wilson showed up after the opening general session, and we were all there for the entirety of the day.

I shall now attempt to record the portion of the conference that I attended as briefly as possible.

8:00- Dr. Woodring addresses everyone together, giving a 15-minute devotion on the subject of "Who is Jesus?" He quoted both Dorothy Sayers and C. S. Lewis extensively. He clearly started off on the right foot . . . with a jab at the SC members present. "I'll go ahead and start now, and everyone else can come in late and sit down. I'll just feel like it's another one of my classes . . . Yeah, I see some of the same people, in fact." *pointed look at us* You think I just have some kind of persecution complex? His first response upon seeing me walk into the building ten minutes before was not a pleasant "good morning" but a bitterly humorous expression of amazement that I had managed to get up and look so awake when I slept through so many of his Bib Lit classes last semester.

8:15- Bruce Edwards of Bowling Green State University, our keynote speaker, talked for about an hour on "Re-enchanting the Christian Imagination: C. S. Lewis and the Inklings." I quite enjoyed his talk. He was a good speaker, and his address was essentially a quick recap of the most important themes we covered in last semester's Inklings class. He used a lot of the same quotes that Dr. Woodring would read regularly, and generally discussed things like the Inklings' aversion to allegory and preference for "Religious Myth," as well as their vanguard action (as it were) in bringing fantasy and science-fiction out into the light of respectability amongst mainstream Christians.

9:25- Four sessions to choose from . . . AGH! There will be 12 papers presented during the next hour and twenty minutes, and I can only hear three of them. Scholl and I choose Section D. Anna, Ardith and Wilson decide to go attend Section C (which looked, and apparently was, quite excellent . . . perhaps one of them will post on the stuff they got to hear that I missed).

-Paper #1: Pam Jordan of Taylor University (specialty, Victorian Lit) presented "Reflections on Hamlet from the Inklings." Very interesting, for the most part. She actually looked at criticism written by Lewis, Williams, MacDonald, and Chesterton . . . Not all of them are Inklings, but they all have legitimate business being there. Her paper was a bit ambitious . . . clearly she could have written as much as she had just from the criticism of one of those authors. As it was, hers was the longest paper in the session, and she said she had cut a number of chunks out of it. In any case, it was interesting to note where the four men agreed and disagreed. All of them were very similair in their ideas, especially concerning the question of Hamlet's hesitation, (they all seemed to agree with the theory that Hamlet does not, in fact, hesitate at all, but acts when he needs to, and just as he wants to), but each had quite unique and fascinating reasons to back up those ideas.

Paper #2- E. B. Hawkins of Lamar State University (specialty, Old and Middle English Lit) presented "What About the Heroes? -- Tolkien's Answer." This was a very fun paper, providing an in-depth examination of how Tolkien treats the subjects of immortality and an afterlife for the various species in Middle Earth . . . especially the manner in which he rewards the main heroes of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. She noted that, while there is some sort of hope of an afterlife implied indirectly, Tolkien absolutely refused to spell out the answer to those questions. Instead, he grants extended lifespans and other rewards to his main characters as more tangible positive benefits for their heroic actions . . . but they all still die. I was somewhat amused in the discussion afterwards when it became quite evident that Dr. Hawkins was rather bitter about the lack of a confirmed happily-ever-after ending to the trilogy. She obviously had that passion for the work that I am always pleased to discover in a new acquaintance.

Paper #3- Sheba Kulothungan of Southwestern Assemblies of God University (specialty, Early American Lit) presented "Allegory and Symbolism in Lewis' Poems: His Definitions, His Display, His Dynamism." In terms of the overall balance between presentation, choice of topic, and excellent analysis, this was the most enjoyable paper I heard today. Dr. Kulothungan contrasted Lewis' poetry with the poetry of the American Puritan writers and of Emily Dickinson. She noted particularly that both Lewis and the Puritans wrote about "mere" Christianity, but she was curious to discover what precisely Lewis was doing that made his writing so much more profound, accessible, and alive than the writings of the Puritans. She referred to the Puritans as "scaling the mountain of an unknown God with the pitons of symbolism and allegory." Lewis, on the other hand, "scaled the mountain of symbolism and allegory using the pitons of the truths about God that he recognized intrinsically." She drew attention to the fact that, while the Puritans regarded the spiritual realm as incorporeal and ethereal in comparison to the solid, concrete "real world," Lewis saw the "real world" as merely a dim, dirty shadow of the reality of the spiritual world. Very cool stuff, and I just can't get enough of it . . . There was a lot of other cool stuff, as well, but I don't remember it in such detail. Scholl was exceptionally pleased when Dr. Kulothungan, as he put it, ripped into Emily Dickinson, but I digress.

10:45- Break time . . . We all gather in the hallway to confer and generally agree that this is really awesome. And we eat some really really delicious blueberry muffins. Dr. Watson comes along and drops a task on us (chiefly Scholl) as volunteers. Namely, to track down pertinent information on a number of local tourist attractions and put it together on one piece of paper to be distributed. We all accompany him upstairs to the labs (there being only ten minutes of break left) and grab what we can. Wilson, Ardith, and Anna trickle off to Section B, while I go to Section C, saving a seat for Scholl as he toddles off to repackage the information we have accumulated. He fails to show up, but Ardith suddenly wanders in, so I give her his seat.

Paper #4- Melanie Hix of Oklahoma City University (Graduate Student) presents "Consumption of the Inner Spirit: Gagool and Tolkien's Gollum." I was very interested in this paper for two reasons. First, King Solomon's Mines is one of my favorite books of all time and Gagool's death is one of the more memorable scenes. Second, I was interested in hearing a paper that was doing basically the same thing that I was doing. That is, comparing something from Tolkien's work to something from another author's and suggesting that he might have drawn from that source in the process of creating his own work. If you've ever read King Solomon's Mines you can start drawing half a dozen parallels right away, and if not then I won't be able to clarify things by elaborating further. Good paper, though.

Paper #5- Joe Cristopher of Tarelton State University (some variety of Doctor or another) presents "A Four-fold Interpretation of the Narnian Father Christmas." This paper was thick . . . excessively so, I thought. It was kind of hard to follow and by the end of it I wasn't quite sure what point he was trying to make. Also, the intent of the paper got a bit diluted in the after discussion when he spent a good five minutes discoursing on a tangent. All I know for sure is that he was examining different ways of explaining the presence of Father Christmas in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

12:25- Time for lunch . . . Scholl, Ardith and I get our food and spot Dr. Hawkins sitting in a nice, neutral, empty sort of spot, so we surround her. We had a good time discussing this and that with her, mostly at random. Anna showed up after she finished doing . . . that whole volunteer thing (I wasn't paying attention, so I don't know what it was). Loius Markos, of Houston Baptist University, gets up and does a drama that he had already done in chapel that morning: Screwtape's Millenial Toast. In it, he pretty much eviscerated modern teen culture, much to the amusement of the very much non-teenagers that the crowd mainly consisted of. In fact, here's the entire thing, online.

At the end of his monologue, he made reference to signals from "Chairman Muckrake" at the back of the room. I turned around to glance at Dr. Watson (the Conference Chair) and he was looking right at me with a rather funny expression of surprise, confusion, and amusement. Then he got up to dismiss us and so forth at the end of the thing.

Dr. Watson: As Chairman Muckrake, I must say that was one hell of a speech!

1:30- After walking briskly back to my room to retrieve a hard copy of my paper, I returned once again to the Education Building to attend the John Brown University Student Forum. I wasn't particularly keen on any of the papers in the next two sets of sessions, so I figured I'd see what the students from Andy's school had to offer. Scholl, Sharptiano, Barbour, Dr. Solganick, and Dr. Hawkins were all in attendance. I can make this fairly brief, I think. Three of the papers were essentially Power Point presentations and the computer was being mean and hateful. So Scholl got to play techie while the one student that didn't have her paper associated with the computer got up to read.

Paper #6- Evelyn Baldwin (Junior, English Education) presents "Gods by Machine: The Semi-Pelagianism of J. R. R. Tolkien's deus ex machina Resulotions." This was by far the most delectable title on the entire program, and the paper did not disappoint. She took a look at how Tolkien manages to get away with having main characters who are, ultimately, never able to save themselves without some outside help, and still stay believable. There was, of course, a brief discussion of important things like the origins of the term deus ex machina and its use and abuse in literature in general. Clearly I can't do this one justice, but it was good stuff.

Paper #7- Mariam DiPasquale (Sophomore . . . I think, Anthropology) presents "Boxen and C. S. Lewis's Childhood." It was all about the fantasy world of Boxen that C. S. Lewis created with his brother Warnie when they were children, and it included all sorts of illustrations that he had done and so forth. As far as that goes, it was rather interesting. It would have been a lot more interesting if she had spent a decent amount of time showing us how these childhood games influenced his later work, but whatever . . . It was too long considering the lack of substantial material, her Power Point really could have used help, and I think it would be safe to say that I was at least mildly bored by the end. Scholl, apparently, was ready to scratch out his own eyeballs and use them to plug his ears, but then, he is a person given to much excess.

Paper #8- Megan Lein (Sophomore . . . I think, ironically I have no idea what her major is) presents "The Great War, Tolkien, and the T. C. B. S." This one was considerably better than the previous one. The Power Point worked better, it didn't drag as much, etc. It was a report on Tolkien's small (4 guys), close group of college friends and the influence that they had on his early life, as well as a brief recap of what happened to them in WWI. Two of them died, and Tolkien was, of course, deeply affected by this. Again, there was some analysis of the influence that this had on him, but I thought that it needed more to really give it a point. However, I found the topic itself to be quite interesting, personally, never having heard the full story before. Scholl was quite weary of Power Point by this time.

Paper #9- Ruby Vasquez (Sophomore, History) presents "Tolkien's Revisions in the History of Middle Earth." I thought this one was rather good. She examined the three different versions that Tolkien wrote of the story of Turin Turambar and paid special attention to the differences in the workings of fate in each version. I don't remember who told us this, or when, but sometime during the Inklings class I remember hearing that if the audience of your paper could just watch your Power Point presentation and eliminate you from the picture entirely . . . Well, that's problematic. Ummm . . . duh. This paper would have benefited enormously from simply being read, as we didn't really need to see any pictures or anything of that kind. That notwithstanding, it was a worthy effort.

3:40- Now the real "fun" begins, with everyone I know (and myself) presenting practically all at once. I sat and listened to Anna Ross present "The Presence of Eros in The Screwtape Letters" and to Ardith present "Stereotype Used Effectively:Portrayals in That Hideous Strength." Both excellent, of course . . . I had heard portions of Anna's, as she was in my group last semester, and I had also heard Ardith's, of course.

4:45- The final session . . . Randy and Scholl both go before I do. I hadn't heard Randy's paper, "Unusual Women: Luthien and Orual." Clearly, I need to hear it again. I liked what I heard, but I probably only caught one word in four . . . I was a bit distracted. Scholl presented his "Creation and Afterlife: A Comparison of the Worldviews of Two Inklings." Naturally I'd heard that one before . . .

And then it was my turn . . . last paper of the day for everyone in the room ("What Dreams May Come: The Purgatory of Dante and Tolkien"). Interesting crowd we had managed to collect . . . I guess it was one of the occupational hazards for being in a session with Scholl after pretty much attending the same sessions with him all day. He had collected quite a following by this point.

Upon later reflection, it reminded me of one of those storybooks for very small children which follows a day in the life of the main character. They journey throughout the day, meeting new people and having new experiences and so forth, and then at the climax of the thing all of the people he has encountered throughout the story gather together with this main character as the center of whatever is going on . . . I'm not sure if I'm quite getting across what I mean, but there it is.

The entire JBU contingent snagged one wall, apparently returning the favor of our attendance at their session (and Scholl's generous helpings of technical assistance). We had been pestering Dr. Hawkins the entire day, of course, so naturally she slipped in. Even Dr. Jordan, of the Hamlet paper, found her way to this session, somehow or other. And naturally there was the mandatory contingent of available SC members, available, as always, to show some friendly, semi-questionable support. Gallagher and Martinez had come dragging in from . . . wherever for the previous session . . . Anna had just presented in the same room the session before . . . etc. Dr. Olson was heading up the session, due to yet another recent schedule change, and she was clearly having far too much fun with all of the goings-on. There were people there, and I knew virtually all of them, that's what I'm saying. It was weird, but clearly more enjoyable that way.

And then it was essentially over. I opted out of the dinner and seeing Shadowlands performed that evening in favor of attending Hootenanny (and I'm clearly not getting into that right now). The Conference was truly an epic experience, and I expect it will be handy discussion fodder for some time to come yet. You should go find yourself one to attend, because it is very much a lot of fun.

And speaking of epic, I can't help but wonder if this post is a record-breaker . . . for me, I mean. I have no idea how long the longest blogpost ever might be . . . Are you still reading this?! Good grief! Clearly I wrote this particular post with the express purpose of keeping certain details fixed in my own memory. If, for some reason, you're still there, it is clearly time for both of us to go find something constructive to do.

Personally, I'm casting a vote for sleep. *looks around* Clearly I am talking to myself as I am the only one in the room. That makes it unanimous. Good night.

Posted by Jared at 11:59 PM | TrackBack

April 01, 2004

I've had enough!

Okay, people. This is it. I'm done. I have decided that I am far too busy and stressed to keep this up. I'm not getting the sleep I need. Homework has fallen completely by the wayside, and the grades are dropping. My time is clearly far more valuable than this.

As such, this is my last entry ever. It's been fun, but I now bid the blogosphere a very fond farewell and get back to . . . Wait. Okay, fine, so I didn't really have a life before I started blogging. But maybe now that I'm quitting I'll have time to go look for one. In any case . . .


Posted by Jared at 02:00 PM | TrackBack