Red Gaze, by Arnold Schoenberg
Feel it—but remember, millennia have felt it—
the sea and the beasts and the mindless stars
wrestle it down today as ever—
It took me three tries to finish Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. I didn’t take to the descriptions of violence and bloodletting; the dusty, desolate scenery; the barren hearts that drove people to do the things they did. Harold Bloom calls it “the ultimate dark dramatization of violence.” (And he means that in the best way.)
Over the years our family has enjoyed a place in Georgia, the farm my mother and her three siblings grew up on. It is in the middle of the state, fifteen miles west of Interstate 75, just outside of Fort Valley on Old River Road. The place names are particular. Some are obvious in their connections like Railroad Street or College Street as the sources of their meanings are still intact. Other names, Five Points, Fox Valley and the name of the farm, Breezy Hill, are less secure and open to interpretation, their corresponding stories lost to time.
Rebekah and Eliezer by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, 17th century.
The story was told to me with flannelgraph figures that effortlessly hopped from one point on flannel to the next. Abraham figured that it was time to find a wife for his son, so he sent his servant back to the old neighborhood to find a wife who had home-training similar to his own son’s. The servant prayed that the right girl for his master’s son would make herself known by giving water to him, his team and all of their camels. The servant made several turns that led him to Rebekah. He asked her for a drink water, and she gave it to him, and offered to get water for his team and their camels until they weren’t thirsty. This was a story about asking God for help with big decisions.
(Read Part 1)
“Create dangerously, for people who read dangerously. This is what I’ve always thought it meant to be a writer. Writing, knowing in part that no matter how trivial your words may seem, someday, somewhere, someone may risk his or her life to read them.”
A group of Haitian men and women sit around tables in a classroom with small windows. Fans are whirring, cutting some thickness from the warm morning air. The instructor, Lunise, is teaching Chapter 4 of a literacy program in a language I do not know. She translates for me when she can, but her main focus is, as it should be, on her class. Despite the distance of my foreigner’s ear, I am grateful to be among these attentive literacy students for an hour. I make a note to try and use “we” and “our” when I write about this later.
I was sixteen and my demand for God right then and there was that “Crazy Times” by Jars of Clay would play on the “secular” radio station. If it did it would mean Lisa liked me. I turned on the radio and sure enough “Crazy Times” came on.