Visits

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Hector and the Secrets of Love

Hector and the Secrets of Love, by Francois Lelord, is one of these novels that is a lot like many other novels written these days. It has little to say and takes way too long to get it said. Ostensibly an exploration of love – what it is, what it means, how it works – by an increasingly conflicted psychiatrist, what we end up with is a rather pedestrian tale of pop psychology featuring offbeat situations that are designed, I’m sure, to be humorous and compelling but are in fact, for the most part, shallow and boring, not to mention just too cute for my taste. The writer seems self-conscious, very present, and for that reason the characters never really have a chance to convince us. It is the sort of writing that I would sum up as lazy. A somewhat similar, but much, much better novel, employing a tongue-in-cheek omniscient voice, is A Man Named Ove, by Fredrik Bachman. Every writer throws his fishing line into the same pond. Some come up with minnows, some with fantastic fish from the deep. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Backward

I had a long, complicated dream last night where everything was going backwards, in time or in space. My son and I were to meet my parents at their campsite in the forest, for they were on a fishing trip; however, our car broke down far before our destination. We went backwards to a roadside community to seek help. My son was much younger that he is in fact (backwards from his actual age). For some reason, he drove off in someone else's car (people who were trying to help us). I caught up to him and found that he was driving backwards (driving the car in reverse). We went further backwards from our position to a little town called Rhododendron to get a motel room, but I kept wanted to go a further step backwards to a town just before this called Zig Zag. With each step, we went further backwards from our intended destination. Somewhere in there, my brother showed up, alive again, and therefore backwards in time; and, of course, my parents, whom we were to meet, were also alive again. There's a lot I can't remember. I remembered it all at like 3 am last night, but then, you know, I went  back to sleep. But the general thing has stayed with me through the day.

Any Jungian dream interpreters out there?

Vyt

With my good neighbor Vyt having now moved out, I will need to be extra careful of myself. Already he has saved my bacon twice - once when I locked myself into the bathroom and once when I locked myself out of the house (or rather the house locked me out of itself). Aside from those two instances, I was the beneficiary on several other occasions of a man who owned tools and knew how to use them without injuring himself or other bystanders, or, indeed, ruining that which was the object of repair. Also he was funny as hell and hated Donald Trump - two qualities I look for in a good neighbor. I'm gonna miss ya, neighbor. Painfully so if I find myself again on the wrong side of a locked door.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Security

Upon leaving Level 21 Mall this morning, I passed a family just coming in through the security check. As their little girl, perhaps 5 years of age, approached the guard, she dutifully unshouldered her Mickey Mouse backpack for examination. I found this act of cheerful submission distinctly precious and couldn't help but smile. Of course, in America now, land of the free, children are separated from their parents and hauled away in handcuffs. You never know what dastardly plots these pre-school kids might be up to.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Silence - the film

Just finished watching the movie version of Silence. Didn't want to watch it before I had finished the book. The film, directed by Martin Scorsese, is a very artfully done rendition which adheres very closely to the novel, faithfully reproducing this brutal story of discompassionate cruelty and unbearably painful compassion. A great film.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Silence

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
1 Corinthians, 13:11

Recently, I mentioned that I had begun to read a novel called Silence, and noted that I had read the book many years ago, had not liked it at the time, and suspected, now, that I had not really understood it, as I was not a Christian at my first reading and knew very little about the faith.

Concerning the latter point, I was right.

Silence, by Japanese Christian apologist Shusaku Endo, is a story about the cruel persecution of Christians in that country during the 17th century reign of the Samurais. And it is a literary masterpiece.

Two missionaries take the arduous journey from Portugal to Japan to search for their beloved seminary teacher, whom, it is rumored, may have gone apostate, denying his faith. It is the journey as well of one of these missionaries, Father Rodriguez, into the full meaning of faith, into a full acquaintance with the true person of Christ.

This novel unfolds like a symphony, or like a Wagnerian opera, replete with recurring leitmotifs, the sounds of the crickets, the buzz of flies, the light of dawn and dusk, the visage of Christ, the crowing of roosters, the groaning of tormented martyrs, the smell of rot, the pounding of the surf, and silence - over and over, silence - each instance heralding a harmonic progression of Rodriguez's inner struggle and awakening.

There is only one who dies for all, and forever - who is eternally crucified and eternally victorious - the man, Jesus Christ, the son of God. The rules, the doctrines, the does and don'ts for which men become so fond, are the fascinations of children, and not the eternal foundations of faith.

From peace and comfort, naivety and pride, Rodriguez is thrust into a world of struggle and suffering, sacrifice and futility, on a sorrowful road to depth of experience and meaning.

This novel is deeply felt, deeply questioning, deeply mature. It is one of the best novels I have ever read. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Hell or High Water

Hell or High Water, another Oscar best picture nominee, kind of takes off from Fargo and No Country for Old Men, and does a fair to middlin' job of it - and would be even better if those previous films didn't exist. But that's the hell of it, ain't it? It's hard to beat great films on their own turf. Nonetheless, this is a very engaging film, and affords a bit of a view into the redneck, cowboy, prairie dog mythos, featuring what has become a stock theme in the American narrative, seeded at this point inextricably into our society - the conviction that our land, our rights, our livelihood has been stolen by government, banks and corporations. We become, therefore, a society of Robin Hoods, taking from the rich (who, after all, have taken from us) and giving to the poor (ourselves). In short, we are forced to transgress common law and morals by a sort of usury in high places; and, of course, transgressing,  in the mythos, becomes transcendent. The masses plug into the 'eee-van-jelical' preacher who preaches, in pretty words, a sermon of small minded ignorance and greed, and who, according to the Texas Ranger in this movie (Jeff Bridges), wouldn't know God if he crawled up his pant leg and bit his pecker. There are some delightful characterizations in this movie along with a husky helping of southwestern mannerisms and language. Fun to visit, but you wouldn't want to live there😅