Idea from Mussorgsky – Pictures at an Exhibition – The Catacombs: Con mortuis in linga mortua.
The dead have their own language, which is different from the language of men. Every soul knows this language ab initio.
Develop this language. It doesn’t not have sound, words or gestures.
My story begins as I die. Something struck me from behind, struck me hard, forced my breath out. They must be using a heavy stick. I look down and see a broad blade sticking out of my chest. I can see the moon on the metal and the blood on the blade. I am already dead. This knowledge blinds me; it is a bright fire behind my eyes. My life-hope flits out though the hole in my heart like a cloud of bats.
Oh, now comes pain like fiery coals and I am very afraid. The bats turn back on me, they are witches. They cover my mouth and nose; they press on my chest with their fat rumps; they stretch broad rawhide thongs around my stomach; they kick me in the groin. I keep on exhaling, exhaling.
Dying is a big work. Dying is an important thing to do. Dying keeps a man busy. Dying is closer than enemies and revenge.
I hear myself make gurgling sounds. There is now bright red foam on the blade in front of me. And now I’m angry. Who has the medicine to do this to me? Who can have medicine such as this if he has not stolen it from me? I want to see his face. I turn my head back as far as I can. I make out a shape through the flames in my head. The fire is all around me. One of the witches says: "Look at me!"
I turn my head again. It is a woman!
Ehêh, the things a dying man dreams… I shoot up into the night as my body falls on its side and kicks its feet for a little while.
I was weak; now I’m strong. I was killed; now I cannot die. Makaphimo is born.
Character: Modjadji’s high priest / chief witch doctor – lives in the forest.
Here’s the slideshow.
In stead of comparing Godric’s life with my existing notions, I’m learning about a version of Christianity in which Christ is a stern deity on his own, in which the Trinity has not gelled into its present form, in which grace is not taken for granted.
Godric’s Christ is not appeased with tears alone, but with blood and sacrifice. He’s not into the Personal Savior business yet. He enjoys the offering of self-broken bodies and self-broken spirits. While this stern god did die for sinners, he is conscious of them having brought the bitter cup upon him, and they can still sweeten it by their penance, or face his wrath by continuing to sin. The Virgin Mary is a major player in this religion, teaching Godric a song, acting as the PR department of the Holy Quadrinity. And the Reformation is still half a millennium away. What an utterly different world from ours! I think Buechner’s artistry lies in his ability to make this world real.
I am a sucker for Medieval themes. I’ve never seen anybody do it like Frederick Buechner. Got the book on my shelf, wrote a lot of stuff in the margins, enjoyed every word of it. The ending slapped me in the face – it was surprising and insightful and emotional. Godric will probably always be in my top five. Check out Godric at Amazon.com. The paperback currently sells for $10.36 plus shipping.
While writing this I was listening to White Room by Cream – The Cream Of Clapton
First of all the slide show: The Laxness Slide Show.
The picture to the left is of the “fairy goat” staring at the glacier. I guess you had to be there. (I wasn’t; I made the whole thing up in my head) But to me that goat is one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a long time.
When did I snicker for weeks before? I remember one occasion. Unfortunately it’s one that does not translate well. I guess you can say you had to be there.
My friend Werner got us a guest house at the bottom of the Blyde River canyon – sleeps ten, very nice. Werner and I and this character, another friend of Werner’s were sitting in the lounge drinking sherry ’till late. The friend lived in Hazy View, right on the border of the Kruger National Park.
As invariably happens in this type of conversation, the topic moved on to lions. That is when he told us of a big male whose territory came to within a few hundred yards of his back door. “When that bugger barks the cups rattle in the saucers,” he said. (“As daai bliksem blaf rinkel die koppies in hulle pierings.”) I still giggle about this when I think of it.
Laxness is done now and we are all sadder and wiser and Laxness is tying with Their Eyes were Watching God at number three in the rankings.
Enjoy your summer!
PS: I’m reading Harry Potter in Latin (well “reading” is probably putting too fine a point on it.) Check it out …
|Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Latin Edition): J. K. Rowling, J.K. Rowling, Peter Needham: Books
First of all the slideshow:Deep River
My hit parade shows Deep River at position 4; not because it’s not a great book, but just because the competition is so tough. (I guess that makes Shusaku-San feel a lot better):
2. Holy the Firm
3. Their Eyes Were Watching God
4. Deep River
5. The God of Small Things
6. A Prayer for Owen Meany
7. Madame Bovary
8. Evidence of Things Unseen
I experienced Deep River as an easy read – more straightforward than a lot of the earlier stuff. His is a classic “characters in a submarine” approach with a textbook Christ figure thrown in (Otsu). And yet – possibly because of that – it is a great book.
He seems to truly understand India – I am forced to say “seems to”, otherwise I would be implying that I have a good understanding of India. And I don’t. To me, India is a complex but fascinating place. Any people who can invent magnificent curries has to have greatness in them. (Oh what I would give for a red lamb curry right now!). Don’t get me started on curries.
Okay, I’m started. (Refer to my Welcome message, top right of blog) Anna and I lived in Hillbrow, Johannesburg for a year or so. Down on street level there was a hole in a wall where an Indian couple had a little curry shop. They would bring the curry up to your apartment if you phoned them. There might have been a roach or two cooked in there from time to time (I honestly don’t want to know) but oh! what curries! The sweat would stream down our faces, clear, watery snot dripping from our noses as our sinuses got blasted wide open as if someone had stuck tiny sticks of dynamite up our nostrils and lit their miniscule fuses. But oh! the flavor. (We’re talking about curry here, so it’s flavor, not flavor).
Anna mixes her own curry from the constituent spices. It’s a wondrous thing, I tell you. I wonder what’s for dinner – I shall have a heart-to-heart with her. I would have loved to say tote a tote but this damned philistine blog software does not have diacriticals unless you laboriously code them in with Alt-Numeric Keypad shtuff.
Anyway, that’s my book discussion on Deep River. All the rest is in the book. If you want to know what’s in the book, read the damned book.
Until next time
Your friendly neighborhood curmudgeon.
Below are slide shows I made of a number of well known books.
Slide shows: Under the Glacier / Deep River / The God of Small Things / Godric / A Prayer for Owen Meany / Evidence of Things Unseen / Madame Bovary