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Showing posts from May 15, 2022

it's a perfect day (you're going to reap just what you sow)

  Is the small the image of the large? Is time the image of eternity? Or are we talking about separate domains, here? I woke up this morning feeling like stretching. The rain yesterday had driven away, briefly, the pre-summer heat that was much remarked by the papers. I thought that this morning would be perfect. I thought my life was perfect.   I would make coffee. We would have croissants and coffee. A. would write, Adam would sleep,   and I would read Wallace Stevens’ Sunday Morning for its perfect first five lines: Complacencies of the peignoir, and late Coffee and oranges in a sunny chair, And the green freedom of a cockatoo Upon a rug mingle to dissipate The holy hush of ancient sacrifice. I should say that the last line, which operates as a showrunner for the poem, is not exactly perfectly matched to the complacencies of the peignoir, but then again, an image needs a jar, and we can’t live in complacencies for too long – the small extended becomes not the image of th

Narcissistic Christianity

  Somewhere, in my head, I am kicking around a thesis about American Christianity - and notably, the way Christianity takes a narcissistic turn in America. Jesus, except as a figurehead, no longer counts - and this devaluation of Jesus, not only as a teacher, but as a person in general, is a very narcissistic gesture. Narcissism as the foundation of the relationship with God - a relationship put explicitly in terms of being a white American in relation to God - creates a certain bizarre cultural formation. How the narcissistic turn came about in Cold War and post-Cold War America, particularly in evangelical circles (accompanied by a certain rightwing Catholic group) is a problem for the historian of religion. Of course, it is a problem for us all, in as much as one of the great war crimes, that of spending trillions on the military, has resulted in a narcissicist Christian nation having thousands of nuclear warheads, billions of gallons of napalm, and so on.

the man who went out to find fear

  In the 00s, that time of Bush and theory blogs, I saw a lot of mentions of weirdness and Thomas Ligotti and Lovecraft and the like, and I paid no attention. I’ve never been a horror movie buff, and though I like Georges Bataille as much as your average American working stiff, I took abjection to be a much more hoity toity thing than Friday the 13 th IV or whatever. Give me a meditation on the big toe or give me death! As the old motto goes.   As a kid, I read some weird tales, or so I vaguely remember, but not Lovecraft. And as an older beast, I have pretty much the same reaction to Lovecraft’s prose as Edmund Wilson did, who dissed him in the New Yorker in the1940s for being the kind of writer who imagines the words instead of the thing. In fact, who doesn’t? It is just that some writers imagine, hmm, better words.   However, back in the 00s, I little imagined I would have a boy. I especially didn’t imagine that my boy would adore horror and, at the tender age of nine, become a

The oracles are not dead

In his History of Oracles, one of the major texts of the early Enlightenment, Bernard de Fontenelle proposed applyng a sort of Efficient Markets thesis to God: “For I conceive that God only speaks to man to supplement the weakness of their knowledge, which is not sufficient for their needs, and that everything that he doesn’t say is of such a kind that they can learn it themselves or it is not necessary that they know it. Thus, if the oracles were given by evil demons, God would have taught us this in order to stop us from believing that it was God himself doing this, and that there was something divine in false religions.” Like the efficient market thesis, which claims that all current information is reflected in the prices of financial commodities, God, in Fontenelle’s view, only gives out information to humans if they need it – having endowed them with reason for all their other information needs. Efficiency is the most secular of concepts, for it quickly purges any disturbance in