I'll go with thee to the lane's end... I am a kind of burr, I shall stick. Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

I write not to teach but to learn. Rebecca West

drew's writing:

  • "Always Forever Now," Ideomancer volume 13, issue 2
  • "Black Sun," Black Static # 32
  • "Bread or Cake" and "Pride/Shame,"2nd Annual Philadelphia One-Minute Play Festival
  • "Copper Heart," Polluto Magazine issue 5, A Steampunk Orange
  • "The Accomplished Birder's Guide to Overcoming Rejection," Last Drink Bird Head, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
  • "Another Night With the Henriksens," Player's Theater Halloween One-Act Festival NYC 2008
  • "Hating the Lovers," and "Pipe Down!" Geez Magazine: Thirty Sermons You Would Never Hear in Church
  • "Beth/slash/Nathan," Paper Fruit Blogiversary Contest

Sunday, September 23, 2007

early autumn Sunday morning in Philadelphia

It was about a year ago this weekend Jane and I took a little road trip out to Germantown, to attend the service at Germantown Mennonite. I go a couple times a year.
I walked through Center City to find my car, and photographed the alley above.
We got to Germantown and saw these great flowers:

I am crazy about the color blue so these flowers really got me going.
The Mennonites do all a-capella singing in four part harmony. There is no choir. Germantown Mennonite meets in an old Meetinghouse with a wood floor, so the sound is great. Beautiful but also plain and authentic.
After church Jane and I went to Mugshots, a cafe in Manayunk. The sky over Manayunk was really blue.

It was a good day for blue.
I wore my Uncle Albert's mohair jacket. It has so much personality. Like it spent so much time hanging around with my uncle it picked up some of his humor and style. Here it is in the cafe:

I love this time of year, when you can feel summer losing its grip, and fall coming in.

Thomas Merton on the US: missing our great chance

I have a book of excerpts from Thomas Merton's journals. Today I found this riff on the United States, including a great, horrible metaphor. The passage is as apt today as it was when Merton wrote it, sadly.
I fear the ignorance and power of the United States. And the fact that it has suddenly become one of the most decadent societies on the face of the earth. The body of a great, dead, candied child. Yet not dead: full of immense, uncontrolled power. Crazy.
If somebody doesn’t understand the United States pretty soon—and communicate some of that understanding to the United States—the results will be terrible. It is no accident that the United States endowed the world with the Bomb.
The mixture of immaturity, size, apparent indulgence and depravity, with occasional spasms of guilt, power, self-hate, pugnacity, lapsing into wildness and then apathy, hopped-up and wild-eyed, inarticulate and wanting to be popular. You need a doctor, Uncle!
The exasperation of the other nations of the world who know the United States thinks them jealous—for what they don’t want and yet fascinates them. Exasperation that such fools should momentarily be kings of the world. Exasperation at them for missing their great chance—this everyone finds unforgivable, including America itself.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Blade Runner mortals at Comic Con

Android alert, originally uploaded by Aunt Christina.
One of the wonders of my San Diego adventure this summer was attending Comic Con, the biggest comic book and sci-fi/fantasy convention in the world. The SD convention center had booths with amazing rare books, and I met two of my favorite comic artists, Joe Phillips and Mike Mignola. I think I saw Brian Froud but was too awed to approach him.

My camera was broken so the Comic Con photos you see in this post and the two that follow are from Flickr!, which offers multifarious points of view not controlled by big media. I love Flickr! It feeds my image addiction without enslaving me to consumerism.

The crowd of Blade Runner fans above was possibly the most miraculous thing I saw at Comic Con. Like the film they idolize, these fans stand at the nexus of hipness and nerddom. They are obsessed and geeky, yet magnetic and beautiful. Blade Runner is such a lovely film, it has the power to unite subcultures.

The Blade Runners at the Con were three times as numerous as the group you see in the photo. I was coming down the escalator when I saw them, assembled to honor the 25th anniversary of the film. The men were genuinely handsome, and the women were beautiful. I looked and looked, astonished that so many of them lived up to my expectation of what the perfect android characters of the film should be.

Unlike Sean Young, Rutger Hauer, Darryl Hannah, and Joanna Cassidy-- forever preserved in cinema-- these mortal fans will change. Few will remember the glamor they gave off as they stood at the base of the escalator in the San Diego convention center. This thought satisfied my taste for the elegiac, and gave me a pleasing melancholy buzz as I walked past them.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Kater's notebooks

I attended Clarion with Kater Cheek. At critiques, I started noticing Kater drawing in her notebook. Then I noticed that her drawings were really good. I especially liked some images of crows in flight she was doing one day.

It turns out that in addition to being a very skillful writer, Kater has an unstoppable ambition to master every conceivable medium in the visual arts. She has agreat website where she shows her creations.

The more I got to know Kater, the more interesting things I learned about her. She has written a ton of books, and she can build habitable buildings from bread. She is married to a Morris Dancer. Here is what she said when I asked if I could post images of her journals:

Glad you like the art journal. There are actually two. My sister and I have been working on them for over a year now, we take turns doing stuff in each other’s books.
On her website, Kater explains more about the journal pages:
I used copies of the notes I took at Clarion for the background, and the brown paper are tea-stained scraps of two short stories I wrote.
The title of the piece is Rewriting: An Armful of Tomatoes. My analogy is that carrying an armful of tomatoes is like trying to write a good second draft; how do you get more without losing what you’ve got?
The fox is drawn in colored pencil. Why a fox? I like foxes, and they’re easy to draw.

This is another page from Kater's journal. On the right is her self-portrait as the Wicked Queen from Snow White. At Clarion, Kater and I became known as dark lords of deadpan and black humor. This pleased me, but of course, I savor approbation of any kind.

One of the inspiring things about Clarion was getting to know some creative people, people who not only make cool art, but live in novel and creative ways.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Madeline L’Engle

Madeline L’Engle has always been there for me.
Her space/time fantasies, her memoirs, and her book on faith and art—have been resources for me throughout my life. If I decide to be a Christian of any kind, she is the sort I would want to be. She was frank about her doubts and frustrations, and even in old age spared no fire for what she called the “fundalets.”
I got to meet her once. I waited in a line, and by the time I got to the front she looked really tired. Last week I was organizing some stuff and came across a 3” by 5” card of the notes I took from her talk.
The first thing on my card is the maxim she branded onto my mind that day. “We owe our readers the best book we can possibly write.” Maybe it’s self-evident. L’Engle’s son-in-law once remarked that she tended to state the obvious as if it were a profound insight. But sometimes the obvious must be stated. (Rebecca West said “The tragedy of man is that he cannot learn complex truths, and forgets simple ones.”)
According to my 3” by 5” card, L’Engle also said:
“Fairy tale is the blueprint of the human soul.”
“Anthropomorphism helps us to know ourselves.”
“Intellect and intuition must work together.”
“Stay a child forever and grow up.”
And, she criticized “people who think truth and fact are the same thing,” saying:
“Truth can transcend fact."
L’Engle understood understood how to live a good life, and how to create community for herself. She understood that relationships are horribly difficult but worth it. She understood that science and faith are not naturally at war, until we force them to be. These things I grasp. But there are things L’Engle understood about God that I am not able to grasp—things that my mentor, Obi-Wan-- the gay Christian sage who has done so much for me—also understands. I don’t know how to resolve faith and doubt, how to allow God to be mysterious. I am determined to square the divine with reason, and if I can’t, I don’t think I can have God at all. I’d like to be a mystic, but I am still a modern.
Because my dialog with Madeline L’Engle is open ended, I don’t feel as though she's lost to me. 

Sunday, September 02, 2007

two are better than one

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down, his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not easily broken.

Ecclesiastes 4 v 9-12

I had thought all of that was original to Solomon, or whoever wrote Ecclesiastes-- that most existential of all bible books. I was surprised while reading Gilgamesh, to come upon these fragments in the context of the love of Gilgamesh and Enkidu:

A slippery path is not feared by two people who help each other.
A three-ply rope cannot be cut.
The Babylonian epic Gilgamesh predates Ecclesiastes. It is interesting to think of these germs of wisdom being passed around the ancient world, from one culture to the next-- more interesting than mistaking ancient cliches
for the unique wisdom of God...

Ancient idiom or divine utterance, it doesn't matter. Phrases like this endure because we live the truth in them.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Trent Reznor, The Perfect Drug

My favorite video, for now. If you don't know already, it will be fun to guess what beloved book illustrator this video cribs imagery from.

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