Mar 31, 2005

I know a Man

As I sd to my Creeley
friend, because I am
always talking, --John, I

sd, which was not his
name, the darkness sur-
rounds us, what

can we do against
it, or elese, shall we &
why not, buy a goddamn big car,

drive, he sd, for
christ's sake, look
out where yr going.


Robert Creeley, a "Black Mountain" poet whose influence "it may be impossible to overstate," died this morning of pnemonia at the age of 78.

May he rest in peace.

Mar 30, 2005

In the undergo

"TO UNDERGO an experience with something - be it a thing, a person, or a god - means that this something befalls us, strikes us, comes over us, overwhelms and
transforms us. When we talk of 'undergoing' an experience, we mean specifically that the experience is not of our own making; to undergo here means that we endure it, suffer it, receive it as it stikes us and submit to it."

      - John P. Muller and William J. Richardson in The Purloined Poe.
In passing

She sat on her parent's white porch on Sunday afternoons, on the steps smoking cigarettes, wearing black and staring melancholy into space. We'd always see her there, when we passed.

I must have taken to looking for her, because I look for her now, on the empty porch.
Notes

1. The meeting and melding of Christianity and suburban/exurban culture in second generation mega-churches is unsettling ecclesiologically and culturally. I am left saying wait wait, what is the church for? what is culture for? I'm troubled by all manner of things here, but I'm troubled most by the cultural temporality. If a mall and a starbucks aren't meeting your needs, how is a church mall and a church starbucks going to? (via The Revealer)

2. The neo-conservative end-of-history theorist, Francis Fukuyama, writes about Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism on the book's 100th anniversary, which also weirdly construes Christianity and locks it in into a cultural temporality. Did anyone ever answer the Methodist paradox?

3. Reading Adam Prizio's The Sentence I wonder if it was the perfection of the sentence that moved the guard to tears, or the humanity of it.

4. A 14-artist portrayal of the stations of the cross. I especially like VII and XI.

5. "Maybe it's the same reason it rained yellow flowers when Jose Arcadio Buendia died, yellow flowers that fell silently in the middle of the night and drifted so deep that they smothered the animals sleeping in the fields."

6. I have though a lot about color and texture in writing. My sister mentioned smell, which I hadn't thought about at all.

7. I am thinking about failure in three directions: the possibility of artistic judgment on the quality and character of artistic failures (keeping in mind our praise for those who would "rather fail on their own terms..."), as a cultural situation when a culture is defined by communal or individual failure, as central to humanity.

Mar 18, 2005

Lot's wife and participation in the human condition

Mar 16, 2005

'I always called you Jesus, you always called me Sonny'

1. I want to remember the gratuitousness of grace.

2. It probably wasn’t a single day, but I imagine it as a single day when we stopped thinking of faith as hope and contorted it to mean an intellectual assention to a set of propositions.

3. A blasphemer describes his blasphemy as a break with and a separation from God. Listening to him though, I only hear a prayer.
The desert is blooming.

(via Dan Greene)

Mar 15, 2005

Last Night II

There I go, showing up in other people's dreams again.

I don't want to weird you out, but last night you were in my dream.
Yeah? What was I doing?
Just sitting in my house in Georgia.
Yeah?
That's all I remember. It was strange.
The Detroit News on an interesting joining of new urbanism and Berry-style agrarianism, the possibility of urban farming as the hope of Detroit.

Mar 14, 2005

Gary Kasparov, chess champion ranked first in the game since 1984, retires from chess for politics, vowing to fight what he calls "Putin's dictatorship" and work for a more democratic Russia.

Note: I don't know anything about current Russian politics and have heard good cases made for and against Putin.
Sunday cracks

So I'm sitting there, in the back, in the corner, and I think, we're not praying together, we just happen to be praying at the same time.

I think, there was no one here who needed to see me. It feels like sitting in an empty theater. Feels like getting rained on in a house.

I think, letting the simple sermon get lost in some example, about Lot's wife and about a meaningless ball rolling down the street in the evening.

Mar 11, 2005

And then it was noise

The seats come up thwap-retracting as the crowd stands to ovation. Applause, standing applause in a swelling surge of a surf-roar, of palms smacking out whomp whomp whomp. Somebody whistles. The noise is a rush, a roar, a whoosh, an undifferentiated din of sound.

For a moment the clapping all synchs, sticking, a unison of palms beating a beat and then it breaks, toppling over louder in disorder like rock tumbling from the top of a load in a slide of grinding grating dust-raising down into a rubbley pile.

I wanted to be deaf. To have always been deaf, to have never have heard, never have heard this, this standing ovation adoration of noise thrown like flowers to this man defending torture because it wasn't that bad and it was ours, so okay, and it wasn't as bad as Stalin, so keep you pride in this nation, this nationalism.

I could hear nothing but the noise, the horror of the noise eating the world.

Mar 9, 2005

Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?

YOU CAN SEE IT THERE, what he told them and they wrote down like a key, written out there long hand and un-coded, open and offered and waiting to be prayed. I know a man who prayed that prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, the Our Father, the Pater Noster. I mean, I’ve known lots of people who’ve prayed it here and again, but this guy prayed it prayed it. Over and over trying to get it, to say it so the power came, so God stepped out from behind, to pray it so the empty words filled like a sail before the west-blowing winds of God. He gave it a year, everything for a year and then another year, praying it in different spaces, varying paces and pauses and accents. He felt ridiculous but he kept praying. It has to work, he said, these are God’s words. God has to hear them.

Killing the Buddha has published my essay (seen, encouraged and helped out by some of you) called Praying the deus ex machina. Take a look.

Mar 8, 2005

Physicist Hans Bethe, nobel prize winner described as highly respected and as one of the "last giants of modern physics," who explored the sun's energy production by the fusion of hydrogen to release helium, and participated in the invention of the nuclear bomb, dies at 98.

May he rest in peace.

Mar 7, 2005

snake

"WE MUSTN'T complain too much of being comedians - it's an honorable profession. If only we could be good ones the world might gain at least a sense of style. We have failed - that's all. We are bad comedians, we aren't bad men."
        - Graham Greene

Mar 5, 2005

We didn't have a family, we had a clan

We were standing at the fence along side the softball diamond, Val, Dave and me with our fingers in the chain link watching dad's team in the dugout spitting sesame seed shells.

Mike was just born, we were still getting meals delivered from friends, and dad had decided to make it to the softball game and get us out of the house. So, mid-May evening with the sun setting long shadows to right field and the players pulling their caps down over their eyes, we're standing there at the fence watching the end of the game and one of the guys turns to us and says Heeeey, it's the Silliman clan.

The men laughed and Dad turned and said, Hey guys. I had to ask him later what a 'clan' was. I kind of liked the sound of it, the difference of it and the way that laughter was a little nervous.

When people couldn't just call us a family, because we were more than that, because they thought of family it terms of nuclear family, that, we would say later, was when we gave up being normal. It was the end, I would say, of the minivan experiment and Val and Dave would laugh because we never had a minivan but when everyone else was driving minivans we drove the weirdest, wildest, and funniest family cars. The minivans was mostly a symbol, though, of what we didn't have: We didn't have games, we had tournaments. We didn't have fights, we had wars. We didn't have dinners, we had feasts. We didn't have meetings, we had councils.

We didn't have it normal, we had more than that. It made us, I think, gluttonous for life.

Mar 4, 2005

Notes on a Friday

1. Trying to convince a professor to buy a used book for $150 so I can borrow it.

2. Not thinking it's strange at all to be moving to Georgia to join a Christian commune, but still not knowing what to say about "Christians living in community."

3. Wondering why no one's driven over the edge of the drive way before while standing around for 30 minutes looking at the precariously tetering car and then decideding the simplest thing is to push.

4. Saying that you always say rest in peace to the dead, no matter who they were.

5. Wanting to share a picture of my littlest brother and another one of a brother's crucifix he drew himself on a cross shaped piece of cardboard he found.