Saturday, February 25, 2012

Desperate Search: Poes and Dicks and Ostriches, Oh my!

Once upon a time I wrote an entry entitled Desperate Search: Discovery. In that place I came to the following conclusions:

  • Every person could be indwelt with a (platonic, eternal, unique) form 
  • The essence of these forms are in being beyond the boundaries of language, and therefore we recollect them in trans-linguistic methods, namely art.  
  • When we get glimpses of these forms through art, we carry them deep within us, as they give us something tangible to relate our formnesses to.
And then rattled on to state the reasons these postulates excited me:

  •  It helps me to consciously remember the great value of every individual
  •  It elevates the purpose, function, and existence of art
  •  In my mind, it helps bridge the gap of how to connect with the supernatural (maybe more on this one later).
It is a one, Mr. Edgar Allan Poe who will propel us promptly, nearly two years later, to fall further down the rabbit hole, Lord willing towards more sensorily tangible seas. 


Subject One: Edgar Allan Poe
Poe's voice in his stories tends to be as a firsthand account from our protagonist who now lives with the mysterious horror from which they have sometimes miraculously lived through, and now sulk in despair with the devastating weight of their memory.

These protagonists know something we don't. Their experience, though often horrible in nature, is so peculiar, so unnerving, and also so original, that it would seem that these protagonists can do nothing but tell their putrid tales. They live now only to tell -- this is their essential lot. They have this one thing to give, and it is such a thing, that all other things of their lives have been swallowed up by this one cataclysmic event. It owns them -- has become them. 

Take for instance the story A Descent into the Maelstrom. A fella is being led by an old man on a mountain in Lofoten, Norway. Far below them lies the sea. The old man, sitting precariously on a ledge many fathoms above the earth below, opens the story's chest by beginning, 
"You suppose me a very old man," he says, "but I am not. It took less than a single day to change these hairs from a jetty black to white, to weaken my limbs, and to unstring my nerves.
 In this case it was a vortex/whirlwind, of the magnitude on display at the climax of The Little Mermaid, that intoxicates our imagination. The storyteller lives mostly by blind luck, as it was his own boat that at one treacherous day was sucked into Neptune's curse. His brother and all others on the boat clearly perished, but the our man now lives as an elder, made old by a plague of knowledge. 

In another situation, The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar, our protagonist is a mesmerist, who, wanting to put a man under suspended hypnosis who is within moments of joining in that final dance with death, dreadfully retells the adverse affects of attempting to ward off death from the inner-man. As the last line informs us, when the client is taken out of suspension, relents unto death, we see that 
...his whole frame at once — within the space of a single minute, or even less, shrunk—crumbled—absolutely rotted away beneath my hands. Upon the bed, before that whole company, there lay a nearly liquid mass of loathsome—of detestable putrescence. 
The insipid grotesqueness of the display almost stands as a sideshow to the real drama at hand. The hypnosis worked. Our character found a way, at least momentarily, to hold off death's cur. Of course, the adverse effect here is that the body was decomposing whilst the soul was not yet freed from the body, but therein again is the distraction. The gig worked: new knowledge found.

Edgar Allan Poe is repeating himself. In various ways, he is interacting, perhaps interconnecting, with the same themes, the same variables, the same constants, etc.

For kitsch sake, I can't continue without mentioning the strange occurrences revolving around Poe's death. He was found in horrid condition, deliriously bounding about the streets of Baltimore. He was admitted to a hospital, wherein he never fully regained consciousness, but kept repeating the name "Reynolds", which no one could make a connection to at the time. The cause of his death remains unknown, though the most consistent estimate is something sprouting from alcoholism. It also must be noted that the clothes he was found in were not his own. Go figure...

As curious as his death remains, it is, like the putrescence of Valdemar's body, merely a distraction. The only question we should bother ourselves with is why did Poe choose the stories he chose? Why did he repeatedly turn to the same themes?

What makes any one of us compelled to dwell on one subject over another? 

Subject Two: Werner Herzog
There's a continuing motif of the ostrich in Herzog's film My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done? There's plenty of footage where there's just ostrich; nothing more, nothing less. Ostrich.

I think Herzog forces us to stare at these creatures because he finds them both comical and illogical -- in conjunction with the events of the rest of the film, we can view the murdering protagonist in the same light... and maybe also all of society.

But what led Herzog to look at God's creation like that? How did he get that out of ostrich?

In essence, this small question boils down to: what makes Herzog tick?

Subject Three: Philip K. Dick
I recently purchased a book entitled The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick. While it is indeed a thing to behold, the book is more or less a compilation of personal manuscripts that together form something of a journal. Mr. Dick was a highly intellectual individual, but I must admit, I find that his journal entries, although again fascinating, so far, according to my comprehension, amount to little more than mere pseudo-philosophical rubbish.

The same however, cannot be said of his novels. They are implanted in the very psyche of our society for a reason ~~ they resonate with us.

The work, it would appear in this case, far surpasses the mind itself. The product is more than the sum of its parts.

Subject Four: The Strange Case of Moses' Body
Moses dies in the last chapter of the torah. There, on a mountain, God himself buries the prophet. Deuteronomy 34:6 states plainly, ...but no one knows the place of his burial to this day. Why is that important? Why did God chose to bury him? Why not leave him for the Israelites to bury? The Christian tradition tends to think that the soul leaves the body upon death, so why here do we see God take notice of the body?

It would remain just a faint mystery if that was all we heard of Moses. But that is not all. By no means!

The Book of Jude, verse 9, states that the archangel Michael "disputed" with the devil over the body of Moses. Say what?? Why the hell should the principalities care about a little ol' fleshly body? It doesn't make sense according to the generic Christian lens. What the hell? Why does a dead body matter?

Perhaps we are given a hint (or two). Amidst the transfiguration of Jesus, Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-8, Luke 9:28-36 both Moses and Elijah are present. We are forced to ask ourselves, of all the folk in history to bring forth beside the Christ, why these two? What heavenly raffle did they win? Well, they do have one thing in common: man did not dispose of their earthly shells.

It has often been surmised that the two prophets who will lay siege to the antichrist in Revelation are in fact Elijah and Moses.

Why would God desire to make use of these two guys once again?

My humble theory, open for criticism (as I'm sure it has many flaws) is this:


Each one of us is endowed with the reflection of the Divine. That reflection is fundamentally unique, in that no other soul shares in it. No other soul reflects the Divine in the same manner.

Perversion aka evil, is mere parody of the good. It is not a thing in and of itself. This is why Tolkien wisely had the Orcs not be a species created by Morgoth, but rather, they were a mere perversion of the Elves, made perfectly by God.

All things God created are good. We, therefore, are good -- but lay perversed by our many sins.

Each of us, can both be connected to every other man and woman and find connection with that which also is good, and more severely, with that which is also a reflection of God.

This disconnect from perfection, from the fullness of God with which we now suffer, amidst this deep groaning, our souls can spring forth with revelry and excitement amidst finding truth, finding glimpses of God, those precious instances of perfection, in the outpourings of others.

Perhaps it could be so that throughout an artist's life a general theme or mantra will always seep to the forefront. In this, am I not right, would be the essence of their 'personal reflection'. The reoccurring themes of Poe would, under this understanding, be aspects of the likeness of Poe that reflects God. That being said, this likeness of course can be, sometimes beyond repair, utterly perverted, so that even with the keenest of eyes we cannot see God's unique goodness in it.

It would also follow that this personal reflection lies often dormant and still more often as something hidden from the person themselves. This would explain how someone like Philip K. Dick could be closer to revealing his eternal form of reflection in the work of his fictional outpourings than his personal journals.

Finally, in the case of Moses and his mysterious body, my theory proposes that because Moses has a certain reflection of God and His Godness that no other soul has or ever will have, it could conceivably make sense that one particular person could be the best fit for multiple jobs.

We are all good, and we are all made in God's image, but we're not necessarily made equal.


In conclusion:
  1. If my theory holds any weight, than we should indeed look deeper into themes from those whose voices seem to us in some ways most piercing, for in them may lie deeper truths (reflections) of the very God we worship.
  2. Ostriches.
P.S. It seemed that Moneyball, a film about the value of individuals as they matter to a larger whole, was a relevant metaphor for this conversation... but I acknowledge that the juxtaposition of image and word may seem odd.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Scatterbrained III: The Repeating Artist

 *Word of warning: Scatterbrained posts come forth out of an overcaffeinated sensation and thus are written hastily without regard for the reader's ability to follow my train of thought. This train is not really for riding, you see. It's more of a type of train that you just look at from afar and go, "Oh yeah. I kinda like trains." That's all that they're good for, when push comes to shove. You know this to be true. 

Stephen King once said to me, through the confines of his old devil, Hell is repetition.

Why is it that artists in general, and I wag my finger particularly at painters here, tend to repeat the same work over and over again. Why paint so many flowers? Didn't you ever imagine what a dragon might look like, Vincent? How many damnable nonrepresentative scattered-inkblots could you handle, Jackson? Is that why you came to the end that you did? -- because you couldn't get past it? And Woody, must you always have your women momentarily swoon all over your neurotic protagonist? How many times must we cover these bases?

Maybe there is a magic here I am missing. By examining relatively similar motifs, perhaps the artist is exploiting that small hue that stands distinct in each case. Maybe it is a practice of the science of studying outliers.

If there is wisdom here, I should find and categorize my personal motif and exploit that sad sucker for every inch of its wretched value. We are men, are we not? We are built for exploitation!

It's really quite simple. I don't have to examine long at all.

It's Kubrick that nailed it on the head, even if that wasn't his intention. I'll use him and exploit the snot out of the remainder of his soul. It's the black monolith. Remember it? It stood as our ominous constant in 2001: A Space Odyssey. At every evolutionary turn, there existed this signpost of terrifying adventure. That where we go, there we find it. The Black Monolith.

I remain fixated on God as the source of revelation. This is my place of eternal catharsis. This is the last and the first frontier; the alpha and omega of all treks. All my stories I conceive inevitably push somewhere towards that stalwart.

It's something akin to:
You're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's the signpost up ahead - your next stop, The Black Monolith!

Dudududuu-dudududuu-duuuuuuuu! Black Monolith for the win!

But it ain't all that simple. Hobbitsies are tricksies, they are, they are. 

Too much of this new-truth serum pressing in on us from all sides is too much. Take, for instance, for example, e.g. i.e. etc. lol loling lolingly lmfao, this trippy trailer for Beyond the Black Rainbow. It's too much weird. It promises a new experience, a new rationale, a new epoch of consciousness. But more than likely it will fall into a category of 'too weird to get' films. The problem with the 'too weirds' is that you never end up investing personally in these plights, because it is too far removed from any substance of our reality. Sadly, weirdness tends to equal illogic and nonplotting. Those are cardinal sins of storytelling, they are, they are.

The Black Monolith is just a little bit weird. It's not toooo weird. Granted, the end of 2001 is batshit crazy, but let's happily sidestep that little bit of madness, shall we?

The point is -- yes, of course there is a point -- that a little bit of trans-truthfulness goes a long way.

I don't want to be a plagiarist, so let's use something else besides the Black Monolith to make our point...

Hmmm..... what to use, what to use.

Let's go with a singing minotaur. Everybody knows that minotaurs went extinct decades ago, so for them to show up in a film is bizarre. It's a trans-truthfulness, it is, it is.

Trans-truthfulness, that's a mouthful. Let's shorten it a bit. How about transfulness? Transtruth? No, no... I got it... Truthotaur!

Okay, let's see the genre of Truthotaur in action! Here's a few films that we can exploit to expose the deeper truth that of course we are all zestfully seeking with much, much obsession.

Gone with the Wind: Rhett leaves Atlanta for that real-time South he once knew. And as he heads out the door, we see the shadow of a minotaur dancing in the twilight, singing to the heavens, "Give me that old-time religion!" Bam. Truthotaur sneak!

Lawrence of Arabia: In that weird scene of torture and other unknowns, right before those secret atrocities are committed unto T.E. Lawrence, a minotaur enters the screen whistling a tune to "Singin' in the Rain". Bam. Truthotaur attack!

A Man for All Seasons: As Sir Thomas More puts his head down, waiting for the executioner to cut his head off, we see that there is another prisoner also awaiting the same end: a minotaur! More looks to his neighbor and says to him matter-of-factly, "I'll see you in paradise." They chop More's head off. The executioner raises his ax a second time, and we see the minotaur shed a tear and hum the tune "God save the king". Blam. Truthotaur torrent!

Hannibal: Whilst Hannibal is serving brain to his hosts, sitting at the other end of the dinner table is a minotaur. None of the characters acknowledge the beast's presence, but the creature sings quietly under his breath, "I'm in heaven, I'm in heaven." Over and over and over and over again. Slam. Flawless Truthotaur victory!

Master and Commander: When Commander Aubrey realizes that he in fact did not catch the commander of this french nemesis boat, Acheron, we suddenly get a close-up of the boat's real commander steering the ship: a minotaur! Over the seas we hear his faint voice leak out, "Yo-ho, yo-ho, a pirate's life for me." Fade out. End movie. Ka-cha. Truthotaur kill!

Forrest Gump: One of Forrest's ping-pong competitors is a minotuar! While they lob that little ball back and forth, the minotaur sadly raps solemn the Beatles hit, "Yesterday". We later see the same minotaur making friendly in the background at Forrest and Jenny's wedding.

See! It's so easy.

Trans-truthfulness, aka Truthotaur, is a violently pivotal incoming genre of media. Embrace it! Embrace the repetition. Maybe there's a little piece of heaven yet to be found in this hell.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Movie Bible Study: Take Shelter

It's a little scene, perhaps quite inconsequential to many. Nevertheless, if we bring our bags into the screening, if we dare to read between the lines our own apocalyptic timepieces, then maybe, just maybe, the small, intimate scene illuminates the devastation that is to follow.

We have Curtis as our main protagonist. He is short on speech, certainly midwestern in his various customs, and perhaps a bit on edge, but we see the affection he has for his wife and child and take him for what he is; a decent human being. The question of 'how decent?' is one that he and us both will continue to dialogue about throughout the rest of the film. But for now, for tonight, for this scene unfolding, Curtis sits in his car dropping off his colleague and best friend, Dewart.

They arrive in front of Dewart's house. This is the congenial pause where life speculations and sharings occur; the last moment before departure.

Dewart looks consterned. He pauses briefly, shakes his head, and then mentions the strangest thing. He tells Curtis that he and his wife are considering having a threesome with some large-o heifer from Columbus. Curtis asks how large. Dewart responds through laughing teeth, something like 250 pounds. Large. The two share an awkward chuckle before Curtis answers humbly from his perspective that he can't imagine that he and his wife would ever get into that type of thing.

Nodding solemnly, Dewart becomes deeply introspective before offering a telling praise:
You've got a good life, Curtis. I think that's the best compliment you can give a man; take a look at his life and say, 'That's good'.
How telling indeed. Good men don't need threesomes -- that seems to be the jist of Dewart's words. Throw that back at Dewart and the only answer is that Dewart sees his own li e as something less than good. Less than good = threesome needed.

Once upon a time God formed man out of the dust of the earth and said that it was,  
Very good. 
 And then things changed. Things changed greatly. Very good became something less. 

The man who was called by God 'the Son of Man' was taken up by God in a vision to Jerusalem. God said to him then, 
Son of Man, do you see what they are doing?
And then God showed Ezekiel what this group of 'they' were doing. 
And he (God) brought me to the entrance of the court (of the temple), and when I looked, behold, there was a hole in the wall. Then he said to me, "Son of Man, dig in the wall." So I dug in the wall, and behold, there was an entrance. And he said to me, "Go in, and see the vile abominations that they are committing here." So I went in and saw. And there, engraved on the wall all around, was every form of creeping things and loathsome beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel. And before them stood seventy men of the elders of the house of Israel... Then he said to me, "Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each in his room of pictures? For they say, 'The LORD does not see us, the LORD has forsaken the land.'"
After that night, nightmares of ever worsening effect haunt Curtis. These dreams tend to be about extreme weather and the madness of the people caught in it. It bothers Curtis greatly. 

Wanting to be wise, yearning to not alienate and abandon his family, Curtis looks into the possibility that he is beginning to suffer from psychoses. He doesn't trust himself. This, of course, over the span of weeks, only raises his paranoia. What do you do amidst torment when you can't even trust yourself? Who do you turn to?

Take Shelter offers no omniscient third person voice. We get only the occurrences as according to Curtis. Ezekiel the prophet, on the other hand, is burdened with God's perspective. Multiple times in the book God gives him a warning as to what will happen if he does not heed God's word. God commands him to pass on his oncoming judgment. He even commands our man Ezek to eat a scroll as a symbol of his responsibility, so that Ezekiel would know with all assurance that he carries God's words in him. From him must unspool the coming judgment. He may not stay silent.

Curtis is not one to speak. He resists, for as long as he can muster, to keep the recent visions in his mind from even his wife, only relenting when his dreams cannot remain hidden. He spasms and bleeds from his mouth while asleep. Such horrors he knows cannot be hidden eternal. But what of the people? The plague in his mind remains: 'what if I'm right?' More and more he suspects that he is. Curtis acts on it. He builds a bunker for his family. He will protect them. Of this he is certain. 

But what of the people? 
Who will save the people? Who will save the others?

Long ago the world was judged with a flood, but God salvaged Noah and his families. 
Long ago Sodom and Gomorrah were burned into annihilation for their deeds, but Lot and his family were set free from that tragedy.
Long ago a Spirit came to execute first born males, but God kept his chosen safe from that desolation.

And now a storm is coming. 

Who will be saved?

After being pushed and pushed, Curtis, at a Club banquet, finally lets his tongue be unleashed:
You think I'm crazy? Well, listen up, there's a storm coming like nothing you've ever seen, and not a one of you is prepared for it. 
The show Curtis puts on is intense beyond description. His words hang somewhere between hysteria and rage. 

True prophecy comes from a place of knowing.
Knowing can be a violent affair. 

Again and again Ezekiel vainly pleads with the nation to listen to the scroll coming from within him. 
They don't listen. 

More signs and wonders are necessary. In chapter 24, Ezekiel, the chosen prophet, is used by God yet again, to show the people; to show them what is coming. 
The world of the LORD came to me: "Son of Man, behold, I am about to take the delight of your eyes away from you..." So I spoke to the people in the morning, and at evening my wife died... And the people said to me, "Will you not tell us what these things mean for us...?" And I said to them, "Thus says the Lord God; "Behold, I will profane my sanctuary, the pride of your power, the delight of your eyes, and the yearning of your soul, and your sons and daughters whom you left behind shall fall by the sword... and you shall rot away in your iniquities... thus shall Ezekiel be a sign to you."
God comforts Ezekiel only in saying, 
You will be a sign to them, and they will know that I am the Lord.

Does Curtis suffer as a prophet? As a one to bear foreknowledge as a sign to the people?


Are we then, these Christian men and women, the prophets of our day? Are we the signs and wonders for those around us? Do we not believe in hell? Do we not perceive where the ends of our friends and family will be?

If we are the Noahs, the Lots, and the Ezekiels, do we not also carry the burden of proclamation? 


But, though there is pain in the sacrifice, though there are undoubtedly stories that absolutely end in tragedy, though there is blood --- there is always a Savior... a man in linen. And thankfully, he is not us.

Ezekiel was the prophet for Judah, indeed. But he was never assigned to be their savior. No, that role was for another. 

Hear the Word of the Lord Ezekiel 9:3-6:
Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub on which it rested on the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed in linen who had the writing case at he waist. And the Lord said to him, "Pass through the city after him, and strike. Your eye shall not spare, and you shall show no pity. Kill old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women, but touch no one on whom is the mark."

Come and see -- your friends and community around you are practicing injustice. 
Look closely and you will see it -- they know they are something less than good.

 But fear not, we are neither judge nor jury.
We do not mark foreheads.

That role belongs to another.
And behold, the man clothed in linen, with the writing case at his waist, brought back word, saying, "I have done as you commanded me." Ezekiel 9:11

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Mindshot: The Green Mile

We love him. 

He is a creature somehow still innocent from the thick gloom of reality. 

We suspect that maybe he is an angel. Perhaps one day he stringed his harp a bit too zealously, lost his balance, and fell off his heavenly perch. In our bones we know, he is better than us. 

Yes, John Coffey commits several acts of miracles along the way. A logical man could point to that as the center of our awe of him; a logical man would be wrong. 

It was never the magic that sold us on the greatness of Mr. Coffey. No. It was his purity. 

He is an empath. He can feel the vibrant hues of the inner tuggings of folks' souls. He knows us by our hearts. This is why the moment is so painful, why the scene is so toxic to our sense of justice. 

They jeer him.

Their anger has burned, and must be quenched with the shedding of his life. It is not the death of John Coffey that we collectively fear, so much as it is the face of the world; how could men consume themselves with hate for such an angel. 

We bitterly ponder, "How dare they try to shame the pure with their tarnished and hardened hearts! Who are they to destroy such a majesty?"

We ponder... and we weep.


Mercifully, there are souls in the room that know better. As they perform the predestined execution, they pour out their love to him. John Coffey is told to focus on their love. Only on the love. 

This is what we must do. 
We must love devastatingly.
In the midst of blackened souls and darkened nights.
We must love with abandon.
We must hurt for the hurting.
We must sigh for the sorrowful.

We must also pity the hateful...
and ask God for the courage to love them too.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

In Haste: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall Past Lives

There's some crazy looking, red-eyed monkey-men ghosts in Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. There's also a fair amount of still photography, slow conversations, television watching, and catfish sex in the flick.

I've been contemplating to myself, demanding, 
Dante, you sir, must decide what you think of this here film. 
You must, you must, you must! 

But I just can't seem to come to any consensus.

From what I can gather, the film is looking notsomuch at the "lives" of Mr. Uncle Boonmee, but rather, at the soul of Thailand. I think that's the point. All the different iterations of being that the consummate Thai soul has been about. When I think about the film with that lens, it's pretty interesting, right?


Li'l baby Willems
And let us not forget that those first few scenes with the red-eyes were legitimately creepy. I was taken aback, somewhere between fear and intrigue. Good stuff, I reckon...

...but then the red-eyes come into the light, and it just looks like a dark skinned Willem Dafoe conceived by a herd of evil marmosets. That kinda killed the magic for me, like walking behind closed doors at Disneyland. It ain't worth it.

I also cannot not speak of this bestiality incident. I found it to be an unpleasant experience. Simply put, I'd rather not behold such visions.

So where does that leave me? What am I supposed to do with this? 
(you must, you must, you must!)

Thankfully, I was freed from my own drilling conscience of concerned decision-making by today's spoonful of politics. I must briefly explain.

Rick Santorum is the new GOP front-runner. Good for him. Apparently, this week the military just made some sort of executive decree that women can now fight in more active ways in military service. Mr. Santorum is frustrated about this. He spoke out against the policy change. I listened to him, and felt like he made some rather realistic concerns come to the surface. I thought that maybe he had a point... but then I heard an army general speak of the reasons for the policy change. They sounded legitimate too.

Then I blinked. And blinked again. Once more for good measure. 

With my eyes sufficiently lubricated, I could now think clearly. I don't know a thing about fighting wars in the modern age. How could I? Maybe Mr. Santorum knows more than I. Maybe not. Maybe he just feels like he needs to take a stance on it because he's seeking the highest office in America. He is setting himself up to be a leader, so he has to have a strong opinion on everything, right?

I think not. 

Perhaps we should feel free to not have an opinion on every topic under the blue sky. As for women fighting in combat, I hereby raise my hand as one who knows not any answer. I feel comfortable with that decision.

As for Uncle Boonmee Who apparently Can Recall His Past Lives, I don't have a verdict.

Some stuff happens, and then it's over. Who am I to judge?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Like Tears in Rain

Today I discovered that Blogger has upgraded their infrastructure for these blogs -- which led me to discover that I've left a rather lump sum of unfinished drafts of blog entries. As I was purveying, with an air of amnesiac wonder, the fountain of  un-blog-ed souls, I came to a curious entry entitled Verse One.

This particular entry started with what sounds now like a very cliched phrase, It began like any romance... What was I doing writing some crappola like that!? I had no idea. The draft date says July of last year, but for the life of me, I could not conjure up a recognition of this multi-paragraphed fable. So I read on.

The story I wrote was indeed the beginnings of some sort of romance. Through reading, my memory revved up enough to note a vague comprehension that this was supposed to be part of something much larger. Surely, I told myself, I would only ever write the phrase, It began like any romance, as some sort of clever ploy to fool the doldrums of the audience's calibrated ear. Surely!

But nothing was striking. I couldn't wrap my head around what this blasted document was supposed to be introducing! Perhaps, I inquired of my inner man, 'tis a ditty I wrote whilst mostly asleep. Surely this, and nothing more.

Slowly and slowlier still, I found myself a man apart from my own being! Who was this chap that a merely seven/eight months ago wrote this off behind my back!
What sort of man was I??!!!

And by the grace of God, I found another lost draft simply named, outline. It was quite simple. It stated:
Verse One: Romance
Verse Two: Daughter
Verse Three: Death
Verse Four: Obsession
Verse Five: Inception
Verse Six: School
Verse Seven: Evolution
Verse Eight: Faith
Verse Nine: Doubt
Verse Ten: Conquest
Verse Eleven: Other Science
Verse Twelve: Non-Transferable
Verse Thirteen:Epilepsy
Verse Fourteen: Romance
Verse Fifteen: Betrayal
Verse Sixteen: Death Again
Verse Seventeen: Starting Point
Ah yes! Sweet relief rushed in! Everything flooded back. Last Summer I pondered an idea for writing something of a chapter novel on this here blog. The rough story was that of a very devoutly religious computer geek who creates an artificially intelligent computer who convinces the nerd's daughter that there is no God. Ah by jove -- hooray! It's regularly ol' mega-purpose-of-life-questioning me, yippee!

At any rate, for posterity's sake, so that I don't again fall into the wretched pit of self-doubt and Kafkaesque metamorphosis, here lies the original unfinished first chapter of my unnamed chapter novel. *photos from Short Circuit were added today, for good measure*

OH -- BTW -- This is a gratuitously boring read. I wouldn't actually recommend reading it... see the title above? -- this is a post which exists only to not-exist. Understand? Are we on the same page yet? I hope so... 

Really, don't read it. 


It began like any romance, though perhaps one could say the roles were reversed. Jennifer Brighton was the type of woman who was undeniably pretty and indisputably extroverted, yet she had the type of face that lesser folks ridiculed as bitchy. This insult was to set right the injustice of the world. Beautiful women had enough luck to be beautiful, they ought not also be gifted with genius as well.

Desmond Dore was skinny and blended in. This was about as far as any casual acquaintance could get while trying to harvest up a description of the young scientist. He was not shy, nor did he particularly make choices in life to remain the observer rather than the center stage actor, it just so happened that life seemed to prefer him to be a sideline character. Once in fifth grade he accurately guessed the exact weight of a pumpkin, and won the right to take it home. As far as he could remember, that was the only time he garnered much attention from the outside world. He often vividly remembered the envious looks on his classmates faces when he was announced the estimator champion. Desmond could never be too sure whether soaked in those jealous glares with joy or fear. Somehow, it was both. Trembling glee.
College, being a natural ghetto of young, fertile fleshy minds, was a ripe environment for the rumor-mill of how a guy like Desmond Dore could end up with a chick like Jennifer Brighton. This question bounces through the mind of any single man who spots a couple in which the woman is more than two inches taller than her lover. Desmond was not a short man. He was, once again, quite average in the height department. A sure 5'10", no doubt. Maybe a 5.10.5 on a clear day. With a sombrero he could fake six feet, sure. But Miss Brighton, taught by her mother, father, and subsequently grandmother, branched over Desmond with her 6'2" measure. Being the elegant, studiously domineering woman she was, Jennifer would seldom skip an opportunity to execute her beauty to the utmost with the utilization of only the finest heels. And so the incredulous looks and questions abounded, "What on earth did Desmond Dore do to garner the affection of the brilliant bombshell?"

He needed help. Desmond was by no means a physicist, but his interests required some leverage in that department, so it was on his conscience to familiarize himself with that genre of information. The problem was, he was flailing in the subject, nearing failing. So he enrolled to get free tutoring. It just so happened that earlier that semester, Jennifer, due to an unfortunate happenstance, found herself refusing to grovel at the mercy seat of the dean. For a lesser student, the dean would have found a harsher punishment, but being privy to her academic potential, not to mention being cheered by her magnanimous beauty, doled at a simple sentence -- 15 hours a week of tutoring. And so they met.

Desmond never tried anything fancy with Jennifer -- he was, from the very beginning, oddly confident that he didn't have to. Say what you will about the man, but his memory is immaculate. He could, at any struggling moment, bring to mind at demand the moment he knew he won her.
She was notably upset that day. No tears. But her nose dripped with consistent volume.
He wanted to know what was wrong. She so seldom should any vulnerability, that the thought of something tarnishing her day was something of a mystery.

P.S. Man alive! That robot Johnny 5 & Ally Sheedy dance sequence is creepy! I watched Short Circuit all the time when I was a wee-chap! Gross. 

Sunday Inquiries: #3.5

Inquiry #3 was my general question of the overall motive of Satan, the one formerly known as Lucifer.

The quandary is not one that I imagine will ever be answered fully this side of Paradise (and perhaps not on the other side either), and that, truth be told, is okay. I don't need to know that stuff. Not really.

But what does seem a much more currently pressing dilemma, is this aspect of the 'Serpent' from Genesis, Chapter 3.

There is no mention whatsoever of this swarmy slitherer in chapters one or two. If he is, in fact, the very same being that we know as Satan, which Church tradition tells us was the head of all the angelic realm before he chose to fall, then why is there no note of his creation? We know that in the first sentence of the Bible God created 'the heavens' and 'the earth', but the Hebrew word for heavens can be a tricky one to define, and, it would seem, does not necessarily have to include the angelic realm as the indwelling residents of that 'heavens'.

Then along comes chapter three, and immediately we are gobsmacked with a villain: Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord had made. From that resume, we seemingly can conclude:
     a) the serpent is one of the 'beasts of the field'
     b) the serpent was made by God
     c) apparently he was a smart lad

So far so good -- no problems there... but the very next verse throws me for a loop: He said to the woman, "Did God say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?"
     d) apparently the serpent can talk

This is where the story breaks from what we know of the world. I've never watched any sort of youtube video in which a 'beast of the field' just went on up and talked in full sentences.

In my mind's eye, the obvious solution is that the description of this 'Serpent' is told as an analogy for something else. But what, exactly? What did he look like? Was he a man? Was he half-human, half-snake? Was he Trogdor? We get no details on the nature of this creature.

Being raised as a boy in Sunday School that this 'Serpent' was in fact Satan taking the story somewhat allegorically is not difficult. Perhaps Beelzebub is a shape-shifter.

No matter... but then...

The story unfolds as we expect; the serpent's craftiness exceeds that of Adam and Eve and the two lovebirds eat of the fruit and incur God's wrath.

The exegesis of the story again gets tricky, however, when we are greeted with God's curse to the 'Serpent':
The LORD God said to the serpent, 
"Because you have done this, 
cursed are you above all livestock
and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel."

Now, I've ingested a wealth of fantastic sermonizing on the latter half of this curse. Jesus is said to be the offspring of the woman, whom Satan will bruise at the point of Christ's crucifixion, but Jesus will hurt him far worse by his resurrection. That's a lovely scene and fantastic foreshadowing: huzzah!

But what of the first half of the curse? It sounds to my plebian ears like a literal curse. What does it mean that the serpent will have to writhe on its belly, eating dust? If this is Satan, was he still rewarded something above that of the animal kingdom before the sinful seduction of man?

The simplest way to read the curse is literally, in which case we have the story of 'how the snake came to be'.

Why is this story veiled so?

It seems almost as if God does not desire for us to know the historical, literal depiction of how the fall came about... why tell the story with such apparent symbolism?

And again, if the curse is for Satan, who is his offspring? Can Satan reproduce? How could that be? Who is his seed? Nephilim? The Antichrist? That all sounds a bit too conspiracy theoristy to me.

I don't know how to interpret this stuff, but I do know one thing:
I hate snakes... and I have Biblical backing!


Sunday Inquiries: #4

The philosophical battle between cessationists and continuationists (wikipedia has a decent article on the meaning and difference between the two>> here), is an overly complex, pedantic exercise.

As for me, the question is pretty darn simple.

Obviously, miraculous, 'charismatic' gifts of the Spirit were in full display during the first century of the Christian church. The Book of Acts speaks immensely to it, as does Paul's own words on numerous occasions.

It can be easily established that God has given, at times, supernatural gifts to his children through which He displays His power and edifies His church. This is a New Testament reality.

No Biblical text states that the times of the gifts of the miraculous are over. For me to jump onboard cessationism, I would need to see this concept explicit in Scripture. Furthermore, for those who hold rigidly to a classical form of cessationism, they must work to disproof and speak against every single apparent experience of a charismatic gift, no? As a whole, since Scripture doesn't speak to the end of gifts, the burden of proof rests on them.

Although I have seen with my own eyes spiritual gifts abused and/or faked, I am one ever inclined to embrace the Good Ghost's active and punctual involvement in the lives of His servants. He's a Ghost, after all, of course He's going to be esoteric and difficult to define and comprehend!

So -- if we establish that the charismatic Gifts of the Spirit remain with us today, where do we draw the line?

We, and I count myself foremost among these participants, think spiritual gifts and actions as things which are always about building up the good and restoring relationship and bearing in reconciliation.

But we have two very prominent New Testament cases that point to something else. Certainly it is fair to say that Peter and Paul are the two main human protagonists that the Book of Acts periscopes in on; both of them commit miraculous actions that we could characterize as CURSES.

Ananias and Sapphira
Acts 5:1-11

This relatively well-known story tells of how a church-y couple sell their home and lie about the amount they are giving to the church. Ananias lies, and Peter calls him out, exclaiming, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit... Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God." The very next verse states, When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. 

Okay, maybe one could make the claim that Ananias merely had a heart-attack, or that God struck him dead directly --- that it was not done through the will of Peter. But then Sapphira comes tip-toeing in. When she too lies to Peter, he lambasts her with his response. "How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out." 

The text continues: Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last.

Again, perhaps Peter merely had foreknowledge of her death. He may have not been the conduit through which God doled out his justice. But the story ends on a strange note. Verse eleven states cleanly, And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.

Elymas the Magician
Acts 13:4-12

Paul and Barnabas are in Cyprus. They come across this magician fella, who apparently is against the Word from the outset, trying to convince the Proconsul to turn away from the truth. The scripture specifically refers to Paul being filled with the Holy Spirit when he blasts the little man, boasting, "You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time." Paul is not mincing words here, and his aim clearly is to deflate entirely Elymas' efforts to stop the spread of the Gospel. Blindness for a period, apparently is the device that will fetch the needed results.

The story continues according to Paul's plan: Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord. 

Paul's indictment on Elymas followed by the sudden blindness upon the man clearly served a direct purpose; Elymas' efforts to convince the Proconsul away from Paul fails. The Gospel is spread as folks are "astonished" at God's story.

Likewise the sudden deaths of Ananias and Sapphira bring a certain new fear and respect for God and His eminently active Spirit amongst the brethren of the church.

So yes, the judgments of these supernatural outpourings from Peter and Paul served very concrete purposes, but nevertheless the question is still begging to be inquired:

Have our Christian leaders been given the authority 
to curse and blight for the sake 
of the unhindered continuance of the Gospel? 

Is supernatural cursing a spiritual gift?

Endgame Payout

They wandered, blind, through the streets...

My eyes were just beheld by the mystery that is the new trailer for Beyond the Black Rainbow. 
Behold for yourself.

The trailer was reminiscent for me of other strange films that promise to take me somewhere wholly new, wholly other. The bait of such a marketing slogan might not coo to many, but it does hold a deeply seductive resonance with me.

It calls to me from the highlands, from beyond the meadow and past the plains.
It whispers to my soul, promising:

(in a mechanical, yet soothingly erotic female voice)
Dante, there are new ideas here. They live, grow, and reproduce here. 
Yes, they reproduce merrily.
I alone know what hope this enraptures in that shell of yours, small man. 
I know the secret yearnings in your heart's mind. 
Dante, come and see, witness and take note -- 
the time of revelation has been found here. 

And like a weightless Garfield, levitating towards the fumes of lasagna, I must quench my thirst.
 I must behold. 
And so I do...
...and inevitably am disappointed. 

The problem with these films Beyond the Black Rainbow (I'm assuming), Cube, Begotten, Into the Void, and to a lesser extent Pi, is that they can never actually take us to that place of total epiphany and wonder. They may show us obscure images and sounds, but they ultimately hold little meaning. There's nothing by which I can cultivate my truth-garden with --- truth-garden--- hmmm... I may hold onto that phrase.

They all end the same way: the protagonist either escapes the 'new-ness' or enters into it.

Take for example, Cube.

Cube is a jolly fun film. A bunch of folks wake up in a cube. They have no memory of how they got there. They don't know each other. But, by jove, there appears to be a paneled exit. Sadly, however, for the amnesiac band of outsiders, this panel leads to yet another cube, and it just so happens that this cube is booby-trapped, deadeningly! And so it goes; each cube has a different booby-trap, and each cube has an exit leading to another like-minded cube. That's just how it goes.

The film is a bit of fun just for trying to decipher which of the ragtag team will make it out alive, and indeed there is a level of enjoyment in beholding the various ways the renegades get impaled and the like, but the bottom line question of the film always remains --- what is this place, why is it here, and why were these people chosen?

Those are also the questions of our existence:
What is this place?
Why does it exist?
Why do we exist here?

I find those questions to be a bit more intriguing than the more generic "Who am I?" and, "Why am I here?" --- the focus is less on us, the microscopic, and more on the creation as a whole along with the Creator, the macroscopic. 

Spoiler Alert:
As it is always the case, one dude or dudette (in this case, handicapped dude) escapes the mystery. Yep, he escapes, and the movie ends. 
The films themselves can never enter into these unknown realms entire. They can maybe touch them, but inevitably they have to leave.

I am left lacking. 

We can't know the mind of God. We can't figure him out or understand his motivation. Every time we try, we'll come up pathetically short. 

Nevertheless, I can help but give a thumbs up to those aestheticians who try, eh? 

They wandered blind, through the streets;
they were so defiled with blood
that no one was able to touch
their garments.
Lamentations 4:14