Saturday, January 04, 2003

Gosford Park

Monumentally, fantastically, terrifically, fabulously, immemorially disappointing.

Oh, but dylan, didn't you get it? It was a social commentary, on the mores of the day, upstairs-downstairs, a wonderfully sardonic examination of the difference between the classes ...

It did not magnetize. It did not entertain. It had its moments of what might be called "cuteness," but no. If you've managed to avoid this one, please continue to do so.
Also added to Places Oft Visited

Under "Weblogs" : A Catholic Point of View ... primarily because of its encyclopedic collection of links to papal writings in the left-hand margin!

And under "Catholic Sites (votive, not VOTF)" : one of the most ineluctably magnetizing of recent papal allocutions, the current pontiff's Letter to Artists.
May 28, 2002 at A Religion of Sanity

A thoughtful, measured, and exquisitely charitable piece on the eighth bishop of Boston, who recently resigned his see. It recalls Cardinal Law's cultural confrontation, if you will, during the homily at the funeral of his brother bishop, John Cardinal O'Connor ... and hypothesizes that the chattering classes never forgave the prelate for his clarion call to be "unambiguously pro-life."

It also makes an excellent point about a shepherd's having to contend with the "goatishness," if you will, of many of his sheep! and doubtless, many will point out that the shepherd in question should have shown a firmer hand not only with goatish dissidents, but with wolvish presbyters.

I regret that it's taken me seven months to find this cheeringly and wonderfully readable item!
What Timing

[this post has been deleted]
Mysterium Crucis

blogs on the Lost Gospel of Q, X, Y and Z. How in the not-too-distant past, he says, he took four relatively normal friends and "infected" them with anti-Ecclesial sentiments, iconoclasm & general philosophical nuttiness. A very moving post ... which begins by noting an exemplar of praiseworthy Christian tolerance.

Long post (well, longish), but certainly worth reading. I think I've been, at various moments, all four of his monogrammatically denominated friends.

:: :: :: :: ::

Worth noting, too, that Mysterium Crucis has been added this day to the Places Oft Visited in the margin of this weblog, Tenebrae and Star alias More Last than Lux.
Tabula Rasa
by Hayden Carruth (b. 1921)


There, an evening star, there again. Above
The torn lovelace of snow, in the far sky
That glows with an afterlight, fading,

The evening star piercing a black tangle
Of trees on the ridge. Shall it be our kiss?
Can we call its sudden singleness,

Its unannounced simplicity, its rage
In the abhorrent distances, its small viridine,
Ours, always ours? Or shall we say

This wintry eloquence is mere affect
Of tattered snow, of tangling black limbs?
Everything reproaches me, everything,

Because we do not stand by Leman's water,
By the onyx columns, entablatures, all
The entablatures, watching the cygnets fade

With Sapphic pathos into a silver night.
Listen, the oboe and the little drum
Make Lulliana where the old whores walk ...

Do men and women meet and love forthwith?
Or do they think about it? Or do they
In a masque play fated figures en tragique?

Perhaps they are those who only stand
In tattered snow and dream of fated things.
The limbs have snatched the star, have eaten it.

Another night, we've lost another day. Nothing
Spoke to us, certainly nothing spoke for us --
The slate is clean. Here therefore is my kiss.


=====

Hayden Carruth, "Tabula Rasa," From Snow and Rock, from Chaos (NY : New Directions Paperbook 349, 1973), pp. 16-17.
Isaiah 61

1 Spiritus Domini Dei super me,
eo quod unxerit Dominus me;
ad annuntiandum laeta mansuetis misit me,
ut mederer contritis corde
et praedicarem captivis liberationem
et clausis apertionem;

2 ut praedicarem annum placabilem Domino
et diem ultionis Deo nostro;
ut consolarer omnes lugentes,

3 ut ponerem lugentibus Sion
et darem eis coronam pro cinere,
oleum gaudii pro luctu,
pallium laudis pro spiritu maeroris.

Friday, January 03, 2003

of course this is estlin
the 94th of his 95 poems


being to timelessness as it's to time,
love did no more begin than love did end;
where nothing is to breathe to stroll to swim
love is the air the ocean and the land

(do lovers suffer?all divinities
proudly descending put on deathful flesh:
are lovers glad?only their smallest joy's
a universe emerging from a wish)

love is the voice under all silences,
the hope which has no opposite in fear;
the strength so strong mere force is feebleness:
the truth more first than sun more last than star

--do lovers love?why then,to heaven with hell.
Whatever sages say and fools,all's well
PSALMUS 139 (138)

1 Magistro chori. David. PSALMUS.


Domine, scrutatus es et cognovisti me,

2 tu cognovisti sessionem meam et resurrectionem meam.
Intellexisti cogitationes meas de longe,

3 semitam meam et accubitum meum investigasti.
Et omnes vias meas perspexisti,

4 quia nondum est sermo in lingua mea,
et ecce, Domine, tu novisti omnia.

5 A tergo et a fronte coartasti me
et posuisti super me manum tuam.

6 Mirabilis nimis facta est scientia tua super me,
sublimis, et non attingam eam.

7 Quo ibo a spiritu tuo
et quo a facie tua fugiam?

8 Si ascendero in caelum, tu illic es;
si descendero in infernum, ades.

9 Si sumpsero pennas aurorae
et habitavero in extremis maris,

10 etiam illuc manus tua deducet me,
et tenebit me dextera tua.

11 Si dixero : “Forsitan tenebrae compriment me,
et nox illuminatio erit circa me,”

12 etiam tenebrae non obscurabuntur a te,
et nox sicut dies illuminabitur
(sicut tenebrae eius ita et lumen eius).

13 Quia tu formasti renes meos,
contexuisti me in utero matris meae.

14 Confitebor tibi, quia mirabiliter plasmatus sum;
mirabilia opera tua,
et anima mea cognoscit nimis.

15 Non sunt abscondita ossa mea a te,
cum factus sum in occulto,
contextus in inferioribus terrae.

16 Imperfectum adhuc me viderunt oculi tui,
et in libro tuo scripti erant omnes dies:
ficti erant, et nondum erat unus ex eis.

17 Mihi autem nimis pretiosae cogitationes tuae, Deus;
nimis gravis summa earum.

18 Si dinumerabo eas, super arenam multiplicabuntur;
si ad finem pervenerim, adhuc sum tecum.

19 Utinam occidas, Deus, peccatores;
viri sanguinum, declinate a me.

20 Qui loquuntur contra te maligne:
exaltantur in vanum contra te.

21 Nonne, qui oderunt te, Domine, oderam
et insurgentes in te abhorrebam?

22 Perfecto odio oderam illos,
et inimici facti sunt mihi.

23 Scrutare me, Deus, et scito cor meum;
proba me et cognosce semitas meas

24 et vide, si via vanitatis in me est,
et deduc me in via aeterna.
two sijo : may soon disappear

1.

Four in the morning : city streets are silent, blessed hush!
Not yet time to start the coffee, maybe in an hour or so.
My thoughts intend a pilgrimage to where my sweet one sleeps.

2.

Glorious hopes and fairest dreams, distant memories.
Lost in the mist, alive no more, those noble resolutions ...
But look, how the newest-fallen snow enlivens the cold dark branches!
The mystery of the settings

Changes have been made to settings. Over 48 hours ago.

The changes show at "edit your blog" but they are not yet showing up at this blogspot page.

Any changes made to "template" -- adding a link to Places Oft Visited, for instance -- are getting through just fine.

But the big changes at Settings (name of blog, description of blog) have not yet been duly recorded.

Curious.

Thursday, January 02, 2003

poème de kew-mangs

silently if,out of not knowable
night's utmost nothing,wanders a little guess
(only which is this world)more my life does
not leap than with the mystery of your smile

sing or if(spiralling as luminous
they climb oblivion)voices who are dreams,
less into heaven certainly earth swims
than each my deeper death becomes your kiss

losing through you what seemed myself,i find
selves unimaginably mine;beyond
sorrow's own joys and hoping's very fears

yours is the light by which my spirit's born:
yours is the darkness of my soul's return
--you are my sun,my moon,and all my stars
this post

has been removed
President Bush helps revive American culture

George F. Will reminds us of the obscene frivolity of the Clinton administration with respect to its Arts and Humanities appointments, among other things, and convincingly demonstrates that W, for all his solecisms of speech, has a better grasp and a higher notion of "culture" than your average rodhamite nihilist.

An obstatric complaint : Allen Tate, not Alan.

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

Caryll Houselander
quoted in a recent Saint Francis Chapel (Boston) bulletin


In The Reed of God, Caryll Houselander wrote of the Annunciation, Our Lady said 'yes'. She said 'yes' for us all. It was as if the human race were a little dark house, without light or air, locked and latched. The wind of the spirit had beaten on the door, rattled the windows, tapped on the dark glass with the tiny hands of flowers, flung golden seed against it, even, in the hours of storm, lashed it with the boughs of a great tree - the prophesy of the Cross - and yet the spirit was on the outside. But one day a girl opened the door, and the little house was swept pure and sweet by the wind. Seas of light swept through it, and the light remained in it; and in that little house a Child was born and the Child was God.

Our Lady said 'yes' for the human race. Each one of us must echo that yes for our own lives.
Vespers prayer : Phos hilaron
via the goarch.org Online Chapel


O joyful light of the holy glory of the immortal Father, the heavenly, holy, blessed Jesus Christ. Now that we have reached the setting of the sun and behold the evening light, we sing to God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is fitting at all times to praise you with cheerful voices, O Son of God, the Giver of life. Behold, the world sings your glory.
Daily Confession of Sins
via Myriobiblios Orthodox Prayer Book


I confess to Thee, my Lord, God and Creator, to the One glorified and worshipped in Holy Trinity, to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, all my sins which I have committed all the days of my life, at every hour, in the present and in the past, day and night, in thought, word and deed; by gluttony, drunkenness, secret eating, idle talking, despondency, indolence, contradiction, neglect, aggressiveness, self love, hoarding, stealing, lying, dishonesty, curiosity, jealousy, envy, anger, resentment, and remembering wrongs, hatred, mercenariness; and by all my senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch; and all other sins, spiritual and bodily, through which I have angered Thee, my God and Creator, and caused injustice to my neighbours. Sorrowing for this, but determined to repent, I stand guilty before Thee, my God. Only help me, my Lord and God, I humbly pray Thee with tears. Forgive my past sins by Thy mercy, and absolve me from all I have confessed in Thy presence, for Thou art good and the Lover of men. Amen.
PSALMUS 51 (50)

1 Magistro chori. PSALMUS. David,
2 cum venit ad eum Nathan propheta,
postquam cum Bethsabee peccavit.


3 Miserere mei, Deus, secundum misericordiam tuam;
et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

4 Amplius lava me ab iniquitate mea
et a peccato meo munda me.

5 Quoniam iniquitatem meam ego cognosco,
et peccatum meum contra me est semper.

6 Tibi, tibi soli peccavi et malum coram te feci,
ut iustus inveniaris in sententia tua et aequus in iudicio tuo.

7 Ecce enim in iniquitate generatus sum,
et in peccato concepit me mater mea.

8 Ecce enim veritatem in corde dilexisti
et in occulto sapientiam manifestasti mihi.

9 Asperges me hyssopo, et mundabor;
lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor.

10 Audire me facies gaudium et laetitiam,
et exsultabunt ossa, quae contrivisti.

11 Averte faciem tuam a peccatis meis
et omnes iniquitates meas dele.

12 Cor mundum crea in me, Deus,
et spiritum firmum innova in visceribus meis.

13 Ne proicias me a facie tua
et spiritum sanctum tuum ne auferas a me.

14 Redde mihi laetitiam salutaris tui
et spiritu promptissimo confirma me.

15 Docebo iniquos vias tuas,
et impii ad te convertentur.

16 Libera me de sanguinibus, Deus, Deus salutis meae,
et exsultabit lingua mea iustitiam tuam.

17 Domine, labia mea aperies,
et os meum annuntiabit laudem tuam.

18 Non enim sacrificio delectaris;
holocaustum, si offeram, non placebit.

19 Sacrificium Deo spiritus contribulatus;
cor contritum et humiliatum, Deus, non despicies.

20 Benigne fac, Domine, in bona voluntate tua Sion,
ut aedificentur muri Ierusalem.

21 Tunc acceptabis sacrificium iustitiae, oblationes et holocausta;
tunc imponent super altare tuum vitulos.
Beware the Kalends of January!

for with the new year comes the almost obligatory name-change, after 85 days with some form of Tenebrae in the title!

Call it a case of the thirteen-week itch !!

I've already changed the settings at blogger; the change has not yet been reflected at blogspot.
Ring out the new, ring in the old
beginning the New Year at St Blog's with a complaint about liturgy


I first noticed this thread at And then? -- a weblog whose title entices us, all the more so since we know the reason for the title.

The blogger at El Camino Real asks, "Is it a sin to attend the Novus Ordo?"

The blogger at Pompous Ponderings has posted a splendid thoughtful spot-on reply.

And herebelow are my comments appended to the relevant post at Pompous Ponderings. I have edited them in the interest of greater prolixity, profundity, precision.


I sympathize with Mr Culbreath's complaint in some of its particulars, but I think he fails to distinguish with sufficient clarity between what is heterodox and what is merely esthetically displeasing. Sometimes they go hand in hand, sometimes not. I wish that he'd cite examples of the liturgical abuses he means.

I think, too, that the laity can give us "abuse" at the Liturgy -- if there's a chattering, garrulous, social club atmosphere before Mass rather than prayer, or merely quiet to let pray those who are inclined to prayer. If the laity have no awareness of where they are.

Music matters, and I'll take J. M. Neale & Isaac Watts & anything Latin over the Broadway-meets-Barney flavor of some current hymns. Some, not all.

Mr Culbreath may also have a (sharpish!) point about episcopal scrutiny being not what it should be. In this area of concern and other areas.

But "is it a sin to attend the Novus Ordo?" No (and if I may, Hell, no!).

Nothing to me is more quietly lovely than the simple uncluttered prose of the daily Mass in a small chapel. One of the most beautiful Masses I ever attended was in an inner-city convent's chapel on the only really arctic day of last winter (the day the Patriots had their Super Bowl victory parade, but one quickly forgot about that!).

Sundays at my parish, for reasons which we could all divine, can be a trial. But Christmas was a splendor. The music is getting better, and Fr Brian didn't over-use the word "community" in his homily.


Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Happy New Year
scriptum in vigilio inceptionis anni redemptionis nostrae 2003


Dear friends and readers, pray for a poor sinner. Illum oportet crescere; me autem minui (John 3.30). The "old man" must decrease, that life and light and joy and hope may increase.

There are harbingers! Also, apprehensions.

But join me, if you will, as we come to the setting of the year, in the last few verses of the Phos Hilaron :


You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices,
O Son of God, O Giver of Life,
and to be glorified through all the worlds.
Robert Royal on Thomas Merton

In First Things, six years ago. Found via the Flos Carmeli comment-box.

This is, I believe, the same Robert Royal who has written a very readable (but sobering to the point of being depressing ... if not heart-sickening) volume about The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century. Also, a Crossroad Spiritual Classics volume on Dante Alighieri.

Royal's assessment of the "several-storied" Thomas Merton shows an awareness of the flaws of this ineluctably compelling figure, but on balance generous and patient. (In this respect, Royal's essay differs slightly but significantly from a 1999 article in Touchstone by Eric Scheske, which grouped Merton with Jack Kerouac and J. D. Salinger as "three American sophomores."
Dana Gioia's essays

I haven't quite succeeded in taking myself ad lectum yet. I have, however, found my way into the essays of poet Dana Gioia. Here, there are many pieces dealing with poets I enjoy, or even revere. Some poets we do not revere, but recognize.

Even when writing about a poet whose esthetic temperament differs appreciably from his own, Mr Gioia is charitably shrewd and consistently perspicacious. With respect to the work of James Tate, Gioia shows a surprising amount of patience and finds much to praise. His note on Adrienne Rich shows a salutary awareness of the difference between poems and slogans (although when I've encountered Rich, whom I don't often read, the poems are usually poems). The piece on Auden is disappointingly small, but well. And there is a justly magnanimous assessment of Richard Wilbur, who with sanity and skill has produced much that is ineffaceable.

It often happens that we will resist a poet's poems, until we discover the poet's prose. Mr Gioia is an admirably sane poet, whose resistance to the baser forms of histrionics and wildness might be at the expense of attracting immediate attention, but his essays show that he is equipped with a fine critical mind, and a soul that knows how properly to appreciate the invaluably good.

Monday, December 30, 2002

George F. Will
in The Woven Figure (p. 144)


Novelist Walker Percy defined a "deconstructionist" as an academic who claims that the meaning of all communication is radically indeterminate but who leaves a message on his wife's answering machine requesting pepperoni pizza for dinner.

I must take myself to the place where all serious thinking gets done, and no small amount of working (i.e., bed) and read more of Mr Will. I do not recommend reading Mr Will in chapels, as you might encounter a sentence like the one above, and become audibly seismic with laughter.

Update, 12.40 am (now, the 31st!) : Yes. I must go to bed. To read the first essay/column, about the scarcity of civility and the erosion of manners in "Dennis Rodman's America," or to re-read Will's obituaries of men who were unswervingly loyal to bad ideas, Allen Ginsberg and Alger Hiss.
Via Ad Orientem

A splendid article in the Manchester Union-Leader about Melkite Catholics in the Granite State.
Carlo Carretto (1910-88)

From his book In Search of the Beyond (Orbis, 1976), trans. Sarah Fawcett. In chapter 17, "Blessed are the pure in heart," Carretto, a Little Brother of Jesus in North Africa, quotes the Jesuit paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin : "Raise me up until, at long last, it becomes possible for me in perfect chastity to embrace the universe" [p. 161].

Carretto continues his meditation :

I do not know where one could find a more beautiful way of expressing the beatitude of purity.

Today I would translate Jesus's words, 'Blessed are the pure in heart' as, 'Blessed is he who knows how to embrace chastely the entire universe.'

Jesus did not come in order to add to our burdens, he came to set us free; he did not come to deprive us of them embrace, but to make it chaste.

To be pure is to embrace things chastely; to be impure is to embrace them in a lustful way, defiling them, violating them and prostituting them in the process. Is that not true?

A man embraces his own wife chastely, but not the woman he buys by exerting his male superiority.

We embrace our work chastely, and our house acquired honestly, our toil and our friendships, but not our thefts, our arrogance, our blasphemies, our insincerity or our intolerance.

There is a vast difference between a husband's creative embrace, and the functional embrace of the soldier of fortune who breaks in the doors of the vanquished and rapes the first woman he meets.

As soon as we really understand that Jesus did not come to deny us love and union, but to raise them to a new level for us, making them even more beautiful, more human, more joyful, more authentic, we will have taken a great step forward in our understanding of the Gospel. But often, only too often, we want to try things out in our own way, and nine times out of ten, our misfortunes stem from this desire of ours to 'try,' from this practical if not theoretical denial of the law which God gave us out of love.
My favorite 18-syllable word

Gloria! As in :

Angels we have heard on high,
Sweetly singing o'er the plains,
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyful strains
Gloria in excelsis Deo!
Gloria in excelsis Deo!
Mysterium Crucis

The blogger writes on the absolute necessity of wonder, on nature which certifies the supernatural (but is not to be worshiped), and on the 2000-year-young Ecclesia, which had him "enraptured" even from a distance.
Rules for good living?
Someone wonders, How do we become like children, to see the world anew?


I'm not one who consistently embodies the virtue of hope or the quality of joy ... but I'd say, Read the poetry you like to read; say the prayers that you like to say; smile at a passerby every twice in a while; thank Heaven often for your friends; and be on the qui vive, on the "lookout," for God's small surprises --

a white moon in a blue daylight sky; an unexpected moment of peace in a busy day; the sight of a sparrow; the sight of a pair of compassionate eyes coming from a lovely face; the sound of a compassionate voice ... cool air or warm air; beautiful music; the ability to finish a task, or to begin a task; every unimpaired breath; coffee at 5.50 on a Monday morning in December (and be thankful for any day on which you do not need to rush things!) ...

I'd sum up the foregoing by saying : Cultivate gratitude for the smaller things.

Sunday, December 29, 2002

Caryll Houselander (1901-54)
Magnificat meditation for December 30th


There is nothing that is so irksome as the ache of an old wound, and it is from countless old wounds, old sores, and welts and suppurating sores and gangrenous wounds that the world is bleeding to death. It is old wounds that are poisoning the life-stream of humanity.

It is no wonder that there has never before been so conscious a longing for a "new heaven and a new earth." Men look more wistfully on the first leaf of spring than they have ever done before.

To wake one morning to see the first prick of green on a city tree is to experience joy like the receiving of a sacrament. To look out of the window upon a patch of blue sky newly washed with rain is an experience as poignant and sweet as a sudden vivid memory of childhood, in which for a moment we walk on thinly sandalled feet through the long, dewy grass of a tangled garden that is no more.

So old are we, so old our aching wounds, that the loveliness which is actually here and now seems to be a memory. The heart cries out to be made new to renew the earth.

This is precisely what happens when we become children. We are made new; our newness renews the earth.

We are restored to the sense of wonder. We see the stars, the coming of spring, the familiar faces of our friends, the white bread on the table; for the first time we dimly apprehend the mystery of the sacramental quality of our daily life.
24 prayers of St John Chrysostom

(1) O Lord, deprive me not of thy heavenly blessings.

(2) O Lord, deliver me from eternal torments.

(3) O Lord, if I have sinned in mind or thought, in word or deed, forgive me.

(4) O Lord, deliver me from every ignorance and heedlessness, from littleness of soul and stony hardness of heart.

(5) O Lord, deliver me from every temptation.

(6) O Lord, enlighten my heart which evil desire hath darkened.

(7) O Lord, I, being man, have sinned: do thou, being God, in lovingkindness forgive me, for thou knowest the weakness of my soul.

(8) O Lord, send down thy grace to help me, that I may glorify thy holy Name.

(9) O Lord Jesus Christ, enrol me, thy servant, in the book of life, and grant me a blessed end.

(10) O Lord my God, even if I have done nothing good in thy sight, yet grant me, according to thy grace, to make a beginning of good.

(11) O Lord, sprinkle on my heart the dew of thy grace.

(12) O Lord of heaven and earth, remember me, thy sinful servant, cold of heart and impure, in thy Kingdom.

(13) O Lord, receive me in repentance.

(14) O Lord, leave me not.

(15) O Lord, lead me not into temptation.

(16) O Lord, grant me thought of good.

(17) O Lord, grant me tears, a remembrance of death, and a sense of peace.

(18) O Lord, grant me mindfulness to confess my sins.

(19) O Lord, grant me humility, charity, and obedience.

(20) O Lord, grant me endurance, magnanimity, and gentleness.

(21) O Lord, plant in me the root of all blessings, the fear of thee in my heart.

(22) O Lord, vouchsafe that I may love thee with all my heart and soul and in all things obey thy will.

(23) O Lord, shield me from evil men and devils and passions and all other unlawful things.

(24) O Lord, who knowest thy creation and what thou hast willed for it; may thy will also be fulfilled in me a sinner; for thou art blessed for evermore. Amen.


:: :: ::

From A Manual of Eastern Orthodox Prayers, foreword by Alexander Schmemann, explanatory notes by Nicolas Zernov (Saint Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1983, eleventh impression 1991), pp 14-15
Lewis & Kubrick & the Rocky Banality Picture Show
the Late Late Late Shows : not a wonderful life !!


Wee hours television included a semi-enticing hour-long program on PBS about the writing of Clive Staples Lewis. A "drive-by" exploration, if you will, of some of his more famous works, both Narnia and the merely Christian. Distracting interludes, when no one was talking, of "nature" being filmed at its most cloyingly pretty. One expected to hear, "And now, Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey" at any second. Main complaint : the speakers/commentators weren't captioned often enough. An unfamous theology professor from Wheaton was captioned twice; but I caught only by implication that the fellow in clergyish white was one of Joy Gresham's sons. Debra Winger was identified as Debra Winger.

Also on the tube during the wee hours this past night was Stanley Kubrick's 1980 film The Shining. The more I see of Kubrick, the more I'm troubled. Granted, this was a horror film based on a Stephen King novel. But as cinematic artiste, Kubrick seemed always to have an insalubrious fascination with evil. He seemed anti-American in Dr. Strangelove; or, How I Gave My Film an Exceedingly Pretentious Subtitle and anti-family in every film from Lolita to A Clockwork Orange to Eyes Wide Shut. Parents are insufferable or they're dolts or they're psycopaths. Marriage is a sham. The American dream is a mocking mirage at best (as in the Sam Mendes film American Beauty, a film that bothered me less than it bothered some, in part because of Kevin Spacey's incessantly magnetizing watchability in just about anything), and a terrible nightmare at worst.

I suppose it could be said in Kubrick's favor that, much like C. S. Lewis (a man with whom he has ostensibly little in common), he reminds us that good and evil do exist, and are different. But Kubrick makes his evil almost gorgeous, with really splendid and beautiful cinematography, at least in films like Shining and Eyes Wide. So, in Kubrick, we're dealing with an artist of indisputable genius whose energies, it seems to me, were devoted -- with constancy & consistency & consummate skill -- to the mockery of the sacred, especially of family. Would it be apt to call him a Nietzschean figure?

I don't know what word would be apt for that grossly overrated bit of 1970s cultural detritus that VH-1 airs periodically, The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It cannot be watched for more than two or three minutes at a time, and even that brief a glance is a ghastly squandering of our precious temporal resources. The film is as oppressive as Stalin, as funny as AIDS. The soundtrack is vile, the acting pubescent, the philosophy that of the bathhouse : a lethally sad hedonism that thinks it's discovered something new. An idiotically carnal banality that just knows it's smarter than the normal people. In reparation for the dangerous and sickening idiocy of this mind-numbingly boring (yet wildly popular?) piece of dreck, I think we should all start our Lents about six weeks before Ash Wednesday.

Where have you gone, Frank Capra? Our nation turns its soiled soul, its wounded heart, its bleary eyes to you!
a poem
by edward estlin cummings


!hope
faith!
!life
love!

bells cry bells
(the sea of the sky is
ablaze with their
voices)all

shallbe and was
are drowned by
prodigious a
now of magnificent

sound(which
makes
this
whenworld squirm

turns
houses to
people and streets
into faces and cities

to eyes)drift
bells glide
seethe
glow

(undering proudly
humbly overing)
all bright all
things swim climb minds

(down
slowly swoop wholly
up
leaping through merciful

sunlight)to
burst
in
a thunder of oneness

dream!
!joy
truth!
!soul
William Shakespeare

Sonnet 29

WHEN in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featur’d like him, like him with friends possess’d,
Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee,—and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
    For thy sweet love rememb'red such wealth brings
    That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
The Beatles
well, Sir Paul especially


Here, There and Everywhere

To lead a better life,
I need my love to be here --

Here,
making each day of the year,
changing my life with a wave of her hand ...
nobody can
deny that there's something there.

There,
running my hands through her hair
both of us thinking how good it can be ...
Someone is speaking
but she doesn't know he's there.

I want her everywhere
and if she's beside me I know I need never care.
But to love her is to need her
everywhere,
knowing that love is to share
each one believing that love never dies
watching her eyes
and hoping I'm always there.

I want her everywhere
and if she's beside me I know I need never care.
But to love her is to need her
everywhere,
knowing that love is to share
each one believing that love never dies
watching her eyes
and hoping I'm always there.

I will be there, and everywhere.
Here, there and everywhere.