Sunday, April 24, 2011

Vectors for Pestilence and Gods Who Call for Sacrifice

Holiday weekends when only kin and Kind read remind me who I bleg for, which is all the bleggalgazing, a holiday tradition, I feel like. It's a time for extending Kind; only one two of you has asked for Architecture of the Arkansas Ozarks so far, so hurry up! And it's always time to celebrate serendipity, as I came upon these paragraphs from Harington's novel this past Friday and just saw notice of BAT 2011 yesterday:

Isaac's wife Salina "caught religion" when the Presbyterian produced an eclipse of the sun, and although she was mostly partial to the Baptist, she attended all the church services in Stay More, and Isaac sometimes accompanied her out of curiosity, which is the bottom rung on the ladder of motives for going to church, the other rungs being, in ascending hierarchy: 2, being too timid to refuse, 3, a sense of duty, 4, a desire to mingle with others, 5, a desire to learn the means of salvation, 6, a desire to be saved, 7, lust for paradise in the hereafter, 8, schizophrenic need to need, 9, insanity, 10, sainthood. There were very few Stay Morons who ascended to the top of this ladder. Isaac remained on the bottom rung, and Salina got about as far as the sixth. As far as anybody could tell, she never asked him what he thought about the sermons, or never asked him anything about religion, although she talked to him freely, for hours on end, expressing her own views and opinions. One of the preachers had gone so far as to hint that sexual intercourse, even between lawfully wed husband and wife, was not in the best interests of attaining heaven, and once again Salina ceased climbing Isaac, even though it was dark and no one could see them, and once again Isaac turned to strong beverages for solace.

Nearly all the preachers, in particular the Methodist, abhorred alcohol, and preached frequently against it, and consequently Seth Chism had "caught religion" and given up the making of his superior sour mash, so Isaac was required to patronize Caleb Duckworth's inferior brand of rotgut. This stuff was just as capable of reducing the world to half its size, but it also reduced time to half its length, which was terribly confusing to Isaac, who in compensation for it began to double everything: each day was forty-eight hours, or rather Monday came twice a week, and the Second Tuesday of the Month was also the third; spring and summer came twice a year, and so did autumn, which wasn't so bad, but two winters in one year was awful.

Unless you've read the preceeding 184 pages you have no idea of how much is packed into those two paragraphs. Email me by midnight tonight, EDT, if you've done me a Kind and want a copy (or email me later and say please).


Bruce Smith

A fly like an envoy for the Lost Boys or a delegate sent to dicker with the dead.
Buzz wants out or in? Does it descend from one who grazed the face
of Dickinson and whispered in her ear the middle octave key of F?
Does it want nectar or the dead, and which am I? Vectors for fugue
and spontaneous bruising. Vectors for pestilence and gods who call
for sacrifice. Shit seraph, heaven worm, world eye, scholar bent over
the heated pages of the Coptic translating the words matter and heaven
in its three-week paradiso. Fly worries everything. Fly walks on the ceiling.
Fly works its rosary, a discalced nun of doubt, our intercessionary,
while we are free to be evermore certain about our God and the war.
Fly buzzes in the blown-open pages of the tiny novellas everyone carries
scattered like dreams in which we were all the characters. Fly already at it,
its story, a secondhand story, before smoke and a steel-blue wash
over everything. Looking up the way the myrmidons looked up
at the sun, skeptical, sweaty while they killed the ram and ewe,
strung the bow, lifted timbers. It was their job to fight
for someone's love and rage, someone's beauty worth dying for.


  1. On pity for the rich.

    That's right. If we raise income tax rates, future Walmart heirs might decline to accept their fortunes, and then where would we all be!!!

    /randian logic

  2. It's a holy day. I'll give you a pass on the tit-wringing introspection.

    Okay, most of a pass.

    You know she only chose "myrmidon" because the more accurate word was already taken, and she didn't want to be a copycat. The rogue part was just a damned dirty lie.

    And I'm pretty sure we'll get in.

  3. There is a lot of excellent food in Wheaton. You need to get out more. (Best Thai in the area, fwiw.)

  4. I always read about one Thai place in Wheaton that is considered one of the best in the entire Metro area, but unfortunately, the two people I go out to eat with are both indifferent to Thai food and scared of Wheaton. Supposed to be some good Korean in Wheaton too, and they won't eat Korean anywhere.

  5. I looked and looked for a clip of Willy Don, standing in front of his rowhouse in the snow, tears streaming down his cheeks as he expressed his thoughts about the Colts doing the inconceivable. I failed to find one. He was a man who lived without spectacle, but was of it. He lived in complicity, but never gave into it. He loved his little house and his little city and his little state, and weird as he was, he made us love those things, too. The Sun piece was good, which is really hard to believe. YFWaPo spewed its usual drivel. Peace to Willy Don.

  6. Which edition of the Magus? Brit & Amer eds have different endings, iirc. Also, I know you don't watch many movies, but the movie "The Game" with Michael Douglas and Sean Penn got in a bit of dutch for 'borrowing' the plot from Fowles. Can't recall the outcome.

  7. It was the American, an Avon mass-market paperback that's in a box somewhere in my house.

    I thought to reread it about five years ago and bought an English version at a used book store but quit long before the different ending.

    I mean no disrespect to Fowles when I praise him as one of the authors (Irving, Heller, Bellow, Murdoch, Davies) who helped me get to how I read now whom I simply cannot read now. I remember rushing through Magus once then six months later slower and thinking about it for years.

    Jeebus, I read Daniel Martin twice.

  8. Drip: I'm mulling a post, and thanks, I think your comment either helped me or spared me.

    Death to the either/or!

  9. If I'm not mistaken, it's not that UK and US editions of The Magus had different endings -- it's that Fowles revised the novel, changing the ending along with other lesser changes. First version was published 1965; second version 1977.

    I've been meaning to reread his stuff for some time, as I have other writers whom I liked in the past; I'm wondering if I'll have the same reaction to Fowles as you did. Time to find out!

  10. Yes, you're right. My mistake. I did read the revised edition, not an American version.

    I think I was thinking about Norfolk's *Lempriere's Dictionary* which (I loved) had two different versions. (I also liked - not loved - his *Pope's Rhinoceros.*)