"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -Aldous Huxley

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wThursday, December 22, 2005

IF IT'S BROKE: I know your eyes probably glaze over when you see most long quotes but give this one a go. From Douglas Coupland's Life After God:

... This is not to say my life is bad. I know it isn't...but my life is not what I expected it might have been when I was younger. Maybe you yourself deal with this issue better than me. Maybe you have been lucky enough to never have inner voices question you about your own path -- or maybe you answered the questioning and came out on the other side. I don't feel sorry for myself in any way. I am merely coming to grips with what I know the world is truly like.

Sometimes I want to go to sleep and merge with the foggy world of dreams and not return to this, our real world. Sometimes I look back on my life and am surprised at the lack of kind things I have done. Sometimes I just feel that there must be another road that can be walked -- away from this became -- either against my will or by default.

Now -- here is my secret:

I tell it to you with the openness of heart that I doubt I shall ever achieve again, so I pray that you are in a quiet room as you hear these words. My secret is that I need God -- that I am sick and can no longer make it alone. I need God to help me give, because I no longer seem to be capable of giving; to help me be kind, as I no longer seem capable of kindness; to help me love, as I seem beyond being able to love.

posted by Jeremy at 6:43 PM

wTuesday, December 20, 2005

SPIKE THIS: The American Spectator today has my review of Robert Pinsky's The Life of David. As a whole, the book is so-so, but then there's this bit:

The scene is both comical and deadly serious. Israel's first great king is fleeing from Jerusalem -- David has left the City of David -- along with his armies and scores of loyal able-bodied followers, to avoid giving his son Absalom an easy target. The hot-headed prince has declared himself the new sovereign and aims to do to his father what he had already done to the king's eldest son and likely heir: to kill him and take his place and rank.

When David's procession comes to the settlement of Bahurim, they encounter an energetic heckler. Shimei is a member of the house of the late King Saul, and he is none too happy about the sometimes brutal way that David has dealt with the family of his predecessor. The man "came forth and cursed still as he came. And he cast stones at David and at all the servants of King David: and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left." Shimei called the fleeing king a "man of Belial" and said that David was only reaping the fruit of his own actions. God was now turning his favor from the king, "because thou art a bloody man."

In The Life of David, former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky sees David's reaction to Shimei as a turning point in the attempted coup. One of David's soldiers asks his liege why he allows the half-mad rock-thrower to chatter on and requests permission to "go over" and "take off his head." The unpredictable king stays his soldier's sword. He orders, "[L]et him alone and let him curse; for the Lord hath bidden him. It may be that the Lord will look on mine affliction, and that the Lord will requite me good for his cursing this day."

Pinsky puts on his literary critic cap and explains that in the "curving, secret logic of all narrative...this moment of restraint is like an assurance that David will triumph over the rebellion." From the perspective of pure statecraft, "David knows that the spectacle of the unseemly cursing will create his moment of sympathy, a longing for a restoration of the king's dignity" by all of his followers. In a sense, their dignity is bound up in his, and they will now fight harder to win it back.

posted by Jeremy at 9:54 PM

wSunday, December 18, 2005

BANDOW ... BOTHER: A scan of fellow bloggers from a certain free market think tank has so far come up blank in the matter of Doug Bandow. Not that I blame them. The whole thing is just too damn depressing for words. I like Doug and so did nearly everybody else in the building. Here's hoping that he lands on his feet, once his knee has a chance to heal.

posted by Jeremy at 2:01 PM

wSaturday, December 03, 2005

THE SEAGULLS KNOW THE TRUTH OF IT / AND SCREAM IT OVERHEAD: He's been around the block a few times but I don't think I heard a David Gray song until I caught "The One I Love" on a sampler about a month ago. It's a beautiful number about a guy getting shot and dying. Think of "Last Kiss" except a) the Eddie Vedder character is the one slipping away and b) Gray has a better voice.

The tone of the song really cuts agains the subject matter. It took a few casual doing-other-things-type listens until I figured out what "As the tracer glides / In its graceful arc" was talking about.

So I ordered the album, Life in Slow Motion, half expecting that "The One I Love" would be the only good song. Happy to report that my pessimism went unrewarded.

There are quite a few memorable songs and Gray's vocal performances are decent. He manages to pull off things that I would find annoying in other singers. For instance, he occasionally rhymes words that don't rhyme with each other:

A bucketful of Babylon
A belly full of hate
Go to sleep my one true love
And may your dreams be sweet

Overall, the album is memorable not because it plumbs Gray's depths but because he turns the focus outward. On his website, Gray explained that with the last album A New Day At Midnight, "I'd taken the personal as far as I cared to go."

Instead of telling us about his own experience, he tried to get into other people's heads. Every song in this CD is from the perspective of a different character. You have the dying but settled whisperer of "The One I Love" --

Don't see Elysium
Don't see no fiery hell
Just the lights up bright baby
In the bay hotel

-- the apocalyptic chanter of "Nos da Cariad" --

The sun above the cotton grass
Is sinking down like lead
The seagulls know the truth of it
And scream it overhead
Hold on to St. Christopher
The sky is murderous red

-- and the cynical singer of "Ain't No Love," with the honest refrain "This ain't no love that's guiding me."

Lyrics are only one part of music, but the lyrics and the tunes of Life in Slow Motion go well together. It's a haunting album that manages to get at depth through distance.

posted by Jeremy at 2:47 AM


HI THERE: Ugh, Yahoo is down again, and Eve Tushnet doesn't have comments fields (not that I blame her or anything), so this is probably the best place to say something that isn't said often enough: the girl's just brilliant. I'm sorry that in my tenure at the American Spectator, I only managed to get one article out of her.

posted by Jeremy at 2:26 AM

wFriday, December 02, 2005

BOTHER: It looks like I've got myself a stalker (to wit). Well, it's a free country. As long as he keeps his distance, I'll deal. I mean, if Will Wilkinson has to put up with monkyboy, I suppose I should count my blessings.

posted by Jeremy at 10:41 PM