Oct 31, 2002

Beyond Literal Ink
He reached for a metaphor, feeling among the Campbell's Soup cans.
Judge the Body Rightly
Communion with the Lord’s Body: Understanding 1 Corinthians 11: 29. My New Testament Ethics paper attempting to define what body we are to judge rightly, is now up. For more papers by others in my class (some interesting, some bombs) see the class site.

Oct 29, 2002

Gorillas
My father's childhood is in a wood-burning kit, something he wasn't ready for. He doesn't know why they let him open it, that Christmas he was 5.

His brother's childhood is in the kitchen, on a counter. That time. The story about the knife. Before he left and they moved out. No one liked Uncle Newton but that comes later, that connection and explaination. The explaination says why it's not about you but (running around the kitchen table) how can you believe that?

It's a about you. And the time before that would explain it, but now that's changed. And they had the same childhood, with different monsters. And they talk of one circle but it has two centers.

For their friend down the street it wasn't a wood-burning kit or a kitchen or a kitchen knife announcing the monster had crawled out from under the bed and yes, there was a gorilla in the living room. For that boy, that little boy who was tough and could fight and his brother had a zip gun, it was his father's shotgun. Or maybe the thing is mundane, ordinary. It was the front porch, the white porch, on the steps, by the door, next to the bushes that grew there then.

It's a gorilla, but it's a gorilla you know. lt's your gorilla. But there's never a good time.
The Madness of Humanity and Communication
"In our family we stammer unless,
half mad,
we come to speech at last"
--William Carlos Williams
The Only Medium
"Be patient that I address you in a poem,
there is no other
fit medium.
The mind
lives there. It is uncertain,
can trick us and leave us
agonized. But for resources
what can equal it?
There is nothing. We
should be lost
without its wings to
fly off upon."

--William Carlos Williams

Oct 28, 2002

As an Anglican
To him, my religious move was a simple series of steps backward into history. We looked at them, my doctrinal unerstandings, and the line became a pretzel.
Hollow Ring
He didn't believe in mystery, the poor man.

He encircled his very small world and there were no flowers there.

And I felt only pity as he spoke without poetry.

Oct 27, 2002

Being Present in my Own Life
Writing about the marginal and often invisible texture of world on his blog, my uncle stresses that these things are not to be tropes or detail along side the driving story, but the whole itself.

"So for me, the quotidian, to call it that (I never think of it as such), is not about adding a layer of texture for the sake of enhancing a reality effect. The invisible or marginal is not adjunct to the work: it is the work itself. I want you to understand that dust bunny in the corner under your desk. The whole of human history can be found there."

In journalism this material is called "color." It is something that poor journalists don't understand, thinking of it as an "enhancing" as "a reality effect" that can be tacked on to a story to improve it. What they miss is the entire narrative caught in that detail. It's not just a detail to add to the "real" story--it is the story in a form of life. The detail is life and the detail is, often times, the connection between our experience and that of someone we read about.

This poet's love for the texture of life, of world, is what began to seperate me from other reporters in my writing. I wrote about a field fire and described the yellow hoses running through a field of grey smoke and the burning "For Sale" sign. I wrote about a bank robber found out the price of the beer he hadn't been able to finish when he was arrested. That price--$1.25--wasn't a factoid, it wasn't an addendum, it wasn't thrown in. It was the story. It was the story of a man and money and drinking a $1.25 draft of beer seven days after robbing a bank.

It's about the texture of world--the bank robbers, mine, the readers--it was about the whole of human histories caught in the detail. Because if we understand and know our world we understand and know things like dust bunnies under the corner of your desk and a glass of beer sitting on the bar.

Oct 26, 2002

The Toledo Adventure
Dan Hugger outlines our Toledo trip on his blog. Yes, we took a road trip to see an art museum and hit a bookstore on a Friday night. Yes, we know we're nerds.

We spun The Who, Dylan, the Beatles, Pedro the Lion, Mighty Mouse, and listened to the window wipers work overtime to clear the glass of that downpour.

The medieval religious art Dan talks about is really good. They have a large collection--better than everything I've seen except the stuff at NYC's Metroploitan Museum of Art--of these icons and alters and church decorations. You can really get a feel for the European gold work done in the Middle Ages, the development of ideas and depictions of Christ. The museum also has a few interesting modern piece. The collection is small enough, though, that the juxtoposition of works is occasionally really strange.

It was a good night, topped with an excellent discussion between Dan, Gaetano and I about Saints, apostolic traditions, the problem of an Evangelical focus on Christianity, the importance of community in the life of the Christian. The only reason we went to sleep at 3:30 a.m. was because we had things to do today.

Update:So it's Modest Mouse and not Mighty. Hugger is slaming my modern music knowledge, which I consider to be finely vauge.
Why Iraq?
Over at Doonesbury they ask the question.

Oct 25, 2002

Post test
The test went okay. I blundered into a few correct answers, strained over a few interpretations, but I think I worked into the B range.
That Kind of School
"porta, portae, portae, portam, porta..."

Half the guys on my floor are studying for Latin tests in the morning.

Oct 24, 2002

The girl stoops, picking a leaf from the grass. Straightening, she holds the orange leaf up for inspection, twirling the stem between her fingers.
Ah, he said, I see you've been in the same mood that I've been in.

Oct 23, 2002

Some Classes I'm Taking Next Semester
PHL 212: Medieval Philosophy
CLS 102: Latin
PHL 410: Philosophy of the Mind
REL 493: Van Til seminar
Mozart Laughed
What would a road be without turns? What would a fight be without a few roundhouses, a few haymakers? What would life be with out a few unexpected twists causing me to stagger?

You have to roll with it. Keep coming back. Push as far as I can.

"So," the man on the gallows says, laughing. "This was life."
Reading the Modernists
It seems that Christian itellectuals have disregarded Modernism, knowing it was bad and feeling free to disregard it.

This disregard seems to come because modernism is seen as the end of the West. What's missed in this brief, though fairly accurate, statement is that modernism wasn't destroying the West but realizing it was destroying itself. Modernism isn't a belief, really. Modernism was the loss of belief that a (large) group of intellectual individuals had in the 20th century. We've said they were evil, liked they torched Europe or something.

When one gets closer to modernism one finds men in shock and horror, observing their world falling to pieces, seeing their triumph was but a wasteland. These men were witnesses to the mass-destruction of a worldview of autonomous reason.

I came here looking for devils, and am finding myself among the shell-shocked youth of 1920s Europe.

Oct 21, 2002

Taking Back the Culture
I've never read the New Chistendom journal before, but it looks really good. I enjoyed reading this issue.

In particular, the piece on middle earth, the postmillenial term for earth positioning this world as the battle ground between the oposing forces of heaven and hell.

Ignore the naive reference to modernism as the destruction of myth and the enemy of medieval Chistianity, but enjoy the site.
Check List
As I prepare to turn in a paper, I find the scrawled note on the desk telling me, in that extra-scrawled scrawl of the late nights, to examine the rhetorical aesthetics of my conclusion.
Returning to the Rush
The pleasure of a few leisurly days of fall break--with movies, regualr reading and long nights--have come to an end and craziness is about to ensue. I have a paper due in the morning on my exegesis of the second half of 1 Corinthians 11 (soon to be posted), a newspaper meeting on Tuesday and preparation for the upcoming issue, an art history midterm on Wednesday and a Latin midterm on Friday. I also need to apply to some major metro papers in the next week and a half.

Life is resuming full speed.
Urbanism/Agrarianism
Hegeman writes on the development of the relationship between Conservatives and environmentalism in an interesting piece, with more mention of the urbanism and agrarianism idea.

Oct 19, 2002

The Swell of Life
The music plays in the dark room as I type.

I feel the poetry, the words and the beat and the patterns as they play.

We're looking for the essence. Not the Platonic form abstracted way out there but the meaning of the thing as we know it, as a part of the world.

The stem of my pipe, a $4 thing I bought at an antique store to learn the art of tobacco, is slightly cracked. Just a hairline. The smoke still draws, filling the air in a curling beauty that reminds me of a womans hair when she's sleeping.

It doesn't look like the hair of a woman sleeping but the poetry is similar.

Heidegger said that language is the house of Being and I don't know what he meant, but if he was right it must have been something like this.

And the poetry brings my world into itself. The narrative forms around us, like the sound of the rain beating on the roof and peppering the window.

The piano pulls away from the music and the poetry of his tired voice works the corners of the dark room. The poetry of it all, of my world, swells and comes to be in silence.
Descartes lives
He thought the concept of geometry without Euclid was silly.

"No it's not. You assume Euclid's axioms. Just stop assuming them and they go away," I said.

An unabashed Cartesian, he didn't know why what seemed clear and distinct to him today could be just a replacable presupposition.

They're not obvious, they're paradigms. You put them in place and they explain the world. You may like this explaination better but it's not blinking clear and distinct.

Sometimes I have a headache and I wish simple Cartesians would stay in the closet.

Oct 18, 2002

Reading Heidegger
As one progresses with Heidegger he becomes easier because a) one grows accustomed to his style and usages and b) he rejects some of the methods that made his work so complicated.

The danger, of course, is that one feels Heidegger and can expound on him in his own language without learning what he's talking about in any terms but his own.
When C.S. and J.R.R. Rock
If the Doors could be inspired by Huxley (The doors of preception) why couldn't we have a band inspired by Lewis and Tolkien? The new Glass Hammer, is apparently just such a band.

Of course, they'll have to be good in their own right but might deserve a first look because of their references.

Update: Not that this will be the first rock based on these guys. Zeppelin's "The Battle of Evermore" is said to be based on The Lord of the Rings.
Rut Blogging
Josh Claybourn says blogging rule #1 is to avoid blogging in a rut and rule #2 is to remember rule #1.

But maybe I don't agree. For me the first rule is to enjoy what I'm doing because that's the only reward here and rule #2 is to let everything else sort itself out. Maybe the second one should read "and let the readers go to hell." I guess that's a fair interpretation. This is one of the reasons I don't have a commenting system on my blog.

If people like what they read, good for them. If they don't I don't really mind. I've never asked myself if someone's blog was in a rut. I want to know if I enjoy it enough to take the time to read the thing and I write with the same question.

This is a hobby. I only write here because I love to. So if I'm in a rut it's my rut and I'm happy here. And for me, as long as I enjoy posting what I'm posting I'll keep doing it.

Maybe this is why Josh has lots of readers and I have few but rule #2 says that's not the point.
With Style
"He never did anything," the obit writer said. "It was how he never did anything that made him incredible."
Shopworn and Reliable
The greatest words in the English language, I tell my reporters, are "the," "and," and "said."

Oct 17, 2002

What?
So where did my sidebar go? My links and things down that side are just gone. Something seems to have eaten portions of my template too.

Update: Okay. This must mean it's time to change templates and etc. I had hoped to make the old one last until I could afford something nice but looks like I'm still with Blogger and Blogskins. The day is coming when I'll have something worth really looking at. It's just not there yet.

Update:SO now I've got this new skin up and have rebuilt the core of my links and developed it enough so it looks presentable. All that was time I could have been doing other more fulfilling things but it needed to be done and now maybe I won't have to think about it.

Oct 14, 2002

Passing Out
Talking to a girl over lunch, a girl I haven't talked with in almost a year, we smile in the dusky cafeteria and enjoy a quiet moment.

"It was good to talk to you," she said. "We haven't talked in awhile."

"No," I said. "We haven't"

Which was a little awkward because it said nothing of what was really there, between us like the cafeteria tray.

We haven't talked together because she started cutting people out of her circle. Some of our friends were hurt and I wasn't in enough or dedicated enough to care and so we haven't talked in a year.

But I hoped, walking away, that she wondered what she'd cut out of her life.
The Cubist Man with a Pipe: A description of a work
The Poet (Man with a Pipe); by Pablo Picasso; oil on canvas;1912.

What is the relationship of an ear to an eye to a mustache to a pipe? What is the thing that the attributes are structured around? What is the spatial connection between the bowl of a pipe and a stem? Can anything be understood in isolation? The cubist poet, the fragmented man painted by Picasso, is an exploration of relationships, cohesion and meaning.

One can make out a forehead on the top of the painting. The hair is swept backward with the fine lines of an oiled and combed black hair that belonged to the Parisian in a café. Moving one’s eye downward one is quickly thrown splashes of a nose, an eye closed and contemplative, another eye, the other side of the nose, an ear, a lock of hair, a pipe stem, a mustache, a pipe bowl without any smoke, another mustache.

And then we feel the man. We see the attributes and feel the emotion with those closed eyes and the unlit pipe and the muted earthy tones of the shades of brown. We experience his attributes—disconnected and given in a collection of isolated objects—and we feel the thing and the being.

The painting is of cubes, yet we see a man and a certain type of man and we know there is a relationship between this cube and that. He is a poet and we can feel his poetry even though cohesion of objects, and thus meaning, seems to be lost.

But the connection may not be what we once thought. Now we must ask what a man is if his ear is not rooted to his jaw. Is he still a man? Where we have assumed being and connected cohesion and meaning we now must question them.
One sees the fragments and attempts to connect them, explaining them by their world, by our world. Can anything be understood in isolation? If we seek to know the pipe of the poet, then we attempt to place it into a context. We ask about its use, its spatial relationship, its value, its role. The pipe can be understood if we understand tobacco, if we know of men and fire and smoke. If we explain the pipe we explain the world in which it has its being.

We see this man, cubed and fragmented, and we know something of who he is and of his contemplation and of his poetry.

We seek to take the piece offered us and attached them to the world, find the manifestation of meaning and the narrative about this being.
The Death of an Expensive Plagiarist
Stephen Abrose is dead at 66. I heard the man speak a year ago and can speak for most of Hillsdale's students when I say he's a hack and a cheap historian and had a lame view of politics.

He was a plagiarist and I think that will follow him. I think he will be Ambrose the Plagiarist for a long time.

What made most students of the dale mad was that he charged a lot of money (in the $10,000) to tell us--days before Sept 11, 2002--that the world was safe and we would never have to worry because his generation was the greatest.

I suppose it's bad form to say anything bad about a dead fellow but I didn't like the man in life and think he did more harm than good. (Besides, the comparison to Pyle, a great journalist and a hero, was wrong).
In the Evening
Reading Fitzgerald I recognize the reference used by Bob Dylan about Gatsby's reliving the past.

Oct 11, 2002

Hobbies
As descried in an application to the 2003 Pulliam Journalism Fellowship

Woodcarving: I’ve been carving wood since I was 14, and have been involved in numerous clubs and fairs to develop the skill and show my work.

Philosophy: My major in college, I read, study and discuss philosophy.

Chess: I’ve played since I was 7 or 8 and enjoy an amateur game. I attended the U.S. Open in Seattle in 2002.

Book shopping: I’m a lover of books, taking many excursions to buy them across the country at the best used-book stores.

Oct 8, 2002

In an ironic twist of affairs, the court ordered the company to pay $7,800 for a suit against a woman for her $0.18 bill.

Moral: Vote for judges with a keen sense of irony.
With Piece Positions and Combinations
In the last two and a half weeks I've played between nine and 11 games with four diferent friends, losing none. Now I'm looking for someone in my dorm who will smash me.

I'm finding combinations interesting in that one learns a set of combinations and learns to watch for them. One checks the kight to see if a forking is immanent, the intersections of the queen and bishop, etc. If a player is unfamiliar with the combination he can be made to repeatedly face the situation he doesn't know how to expect or respond to.

I believe a game is won by position play, but position is gained by piece combinations. The biggest development in my game in the last few years was the subjection of trades to an analysis of position and the timing of piece usage according to game development (i.e., the knights are used early, the rooks late).
To Know a Shoe
The second Heidegger seminar paper where I consider the role of the narrative in understanding a work of art is now up at Atlas.
Slate's collection of proposed journalism book canons.
Mine would also include the best of Wofle's reporting, Edna Buchanan's "The corpse had a familiar face" and some George Orwell. Slate Editor Jack Shafer said he would require an aspiring reporter to type out journalisms best passages on a typewriter so they could feel the way it flowed. I would also require the daily reading of a standard newspaper.
Violence, shown by solid calm
A storm is not manifestly violent until something solid stands unmoved in its face. "Standing there," Heidegger writes in his piece on The Ogigin of the Work of Art, "the building holds its ground against the storm raging above it and so first makes the storm itself manifest in its violence."

Oct 7, 2002

Facing Death, Nothing and the Absence of God

Death (disguised as a priest in a confessional): How can you outwit Death?
Crusader: By combination of bishop and knight.


I saw a 1956 Swedish film titled (in English) the Seventh Seal, with college friend Dan Hugger this afternoon. The film, a beautiful piece of art, tells the tale of a crusader, Antonious Block, who is returning home doubting his faith and finding Death.

The medieval land is filled with rumors of supernatural horror, plague, sightings of Death and expectations of Doomsday. The knight is trying to find God, but he is being met only by Death, who is following him and ravaging the land.

The crusader meets Death on the beach. Death is clothed in black, telling the crusader his time has come and Death never waits.

So the crusader challenges him to a chess game.

To me, this idea was so artistically grand that the film could have fallen away and I would have been happy with only this one idea. Death and chess. Man and time. Refusing to make fear god. The bleak end of existence and the hope for something more than the nothing. Outwitting Death with a combination of the bishop and the knight.

They play, Death and the Crusader, throughout the film. The noble yet doubting man delays the inevitable--knowing it is inevitable--with the hope of gaining knowledge and knowing God. It is a game, and a bleak search for answers.

In between playing chess, the Crusader and his squire head north, meeting a family of actors (seemingly representing the Holy Family), a farm girl, a theiving theologian, a blacksmith and his unfaithful wife, priests flagalating themselves to end the suffering, a woman being crucified, and the host of medieval men and women fearing Death, nihilation, doom.

The plot is, perhaps, a little to simple but the themes considered are not. The film looks at people facing death and nothingness.

The parts are interestingly developed and it gives a bit of a look into the age, especially such a period when men thought they were experiencing the wrath of God and the end of the world.

It is the story of men facing fear and a man facing the greatest fear, the abscence of God.

The crusader recognizes the religion around him is just fear, erected as an idol. He lives in a world of ghosts and is a prisoner of dreams. He sees on terror in the eyes of the dying, looks again and, with dismay, finds nothingness.

He faces Death, beocming familiar with him, hoping to find knowledge of the presence of God, refusing to stop asking questions about God and Existence.

The depressing film closes and "the strict lord Death bids them dance." And yet a family and a troupe of actors--a man named Joseph, his wife Mary and a little child--have been spared by the Knight's delay of Death. In the search, the noble man has saved God and maybe even found him.
What a blog doesn't tell you
Does Gideon Strauss speak with the accent of the South African?

If only he could install that feature in his blog...

Oct 6, 2002

Toasting life and education
I have organized a meal for me and my friends, 11 of them. It will be a fall celebration of life with pesto (my specialty), lamb, tomato salad, homemade frenchbread and red wine.

We will cook, preparing the delights of food and drink. We will set the table, sit and pray, then share our good food with a delightful conversation and a pleasent evening.

This is the life. Chaim!

Oct 5, 2002

Without Ceasing
"You know how there's that scripture verse where it talks about praying without ceasing?"

"Yeah."

"Do you guys have like deep theological conversations without ceasing?"

"Sort of."

Oct 4, 2002

A Knight of the Keyboard, Waiting for the Spirit to Move
Pounding QWERTY, waiting anxiously to feel the spark between my fingers and the keyboard, to feel the holy wind of inspiration to sweep down and blow, turning desperate hacking into art.
I just stomped a Latin test on Wheelock's chapter 6. Study, long study, is depriving the language of the intimidation it once had.
Being held out into the Nothing
Over at the Atlas Society, I write about the experience of the Nothing as before Being, by comparing it to the child's thoughts about pre-existence.

Oct 3, 2002

The Insults of Chess
You're just a wood-pusher, not enough of a player to handle the cheap set.

Oct 2, 2002

"So much the worse for logic"
I'm working on paper for 20th Century Continental Philosophy (due Monday, Oct. 6) arguing that rationality--that attempt at a purely logical life, that analytic understanding of things we experience--must be rejected along with the resuling isolated, functionless abstraction of a world if we are to maintain our humanity.

Behind me on this mini-project are Dostoevsky's Underground Man, Hesse's Steppenwolfe, the early Heidegger (and, to be bloody vauge about the whole thing, modern man as he burrows out of his frustrated fix).

The original product will be here in mere days.

And yeah I did give it away.
Pueri litter
Why is the modernist experience (the nihilism at the end of Descartes quest for certainty and the realization of the complete failure of autonomous reason) of Americans in the 1960s and 70s seen, from today's prespectives, as so awfully childish? The European experience seems to produce more artists and philosophers--serious men who must be considered today--and the American experience seems to turn out activists and irresponsible people?

Are we necessarily more politicized than the Continent? Are we more childish?

Oct 1, 2002

"This is a hold-up"
Concluding this miniseries on vice, Timothy D. Terrell over at Calcedon looks for the golden age of bank robberies.

I was suprise, though, to see he didn't talk about the mythification of the bank robberies of the Old West and the Depression. The development of bank robberies in movies would be an interesting piece of work. In the early myths we see the underdog taking on the evil bank--hitting him in the soft underbelly. Later we see the robbers shift, becoming confused and the life of the bank robber becoming complicated. This confusion and complications mirrors, in a way, the strange new world and complex new dilemmas modern man finds himself in. Dog Day's in the Afternoon and Bandits are probably the pinnacle of the modern bank robbery.

Okay, I'm going to go watch a bank robbery film and come back to talk about something else.
"@#$%^&*!" at the Movies
Since I've touched smoking and drinking in the last few posts, it seems I might as well throw in cursing. Godawa, who is impressing me, has a piece on RazorMouth defending the usage of foul language in movies. It's a short piece and I enjoyed it.