Folks were jealous of her. She was before her time. She created a literary detective novel genre that offended the literati but won adoring fans and paid the bills. She wrote clearly, imaginatively and boldly about the Christian faith. She was accused of racism and of being a hack and was a single mother (let him who is without sin cast the first stone)…
Monthly Archives: August 2011
All the world’s a stage…
The following intriguing argument comes from Dorothy L. Sayers’ essay: Creative Mind in the collection “Letters to a Diminished Church”. I’ve condensed the passage to its essence.
Suppose a novelist with a completely consistent imagination created characters, yea, an entire world with a comprehensive history. If one of the characters, an archeologist, were examining the fossil record then she couldn’t leave the book to ask the novelist for the meaning of the fossils. She is trapped between the covers of the book.
Her situation is identical to that of a scientist in our universe. The scientist can only check evidence that the universe reveals of its own past and he is trapped, as it were, within the universe. As a result of the fossils, the self consistency with other data and the impact of it on herself and her fellow characters, our archeologist would be forced to think, speak and act as if the past had taken place (whether it did in actuality or not). Is this situation somehow less than the truth?
In what sense is the past (perhaps mostly unwritten) of characters in a novel any less true than their thought, speech and actions in that novel? Or, if a prehistory has effects (through the agency of an author) on history as if it did happen, what matter is it if that prehistory never occurred?
If the world came into being yesterday (or at some other time), then, if the world were the result of an author’s consistent imagination, there would be no perceptible difference of any kind to anything in the universe. In this regard, a physicist might refer to “fully defined” Dirichlet boundaries, kind of like the covers of a book. Where consistent imagination is involved, the divide between scientific and poetic truth is very hard to discern.
So what does any of this reasoning prove? Nothing, the purpose of imaginative creation is to form self-consistent worlds out of the universe of undifferentiated contemplation and not to prove anything. Every activity (science, poetry, engineering, law, etc.) has its own technique; the mistake we make in the modern period is to apply the technique of one activity for all purposes…
Shall we then agree with Shakespeare: ” All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players… “?
Ever wonder what the reason is for your living? Two folks determined (?) that you would come into the world. They (?) did the best they could with what they had to raise you until you could (?) fend for yourself.
Now here you are with whatever nurture or nature has provisioned you. You either hurt, heal or shun others to your benefit or harm. You worship either no god or the One True God in all you think, say and do.
Perhaps you’ve embarked on the great enterprise of family building; or perhaps you just build your reputation, business or nation at the expense of all else. Maybe you fill your down moments with entertainment. You ask yourself, at the end of the day, what have you got to show for all your work under the sun? It’s so sad.
Maybe there is a message in what great scholars once called futility or vanity? Perhaps there is only one thing necessary.
Youth of America
On my travels, I’ve been very encouraged by the young people I’ve met. At the beginning of July, I met a young man in line at a fast food restaurant in Washington Heights. During our extended conversation he remarked that learning to speak the Japanese language taught him humility and changed his life’s direction.
Mid August, in Washington, DC, I met a young woman who was bold (and kind) enough to suggest getting coffee at a nearby outlet, rather than the house coffee, since I was on a budget. She inquired the name and theme of the novel I said I would write and immediately responded positively to the direction that the novel would go. If I had a daughter, I’d want her to be just like this young woman: mentally agile, personable and unafraid.
We have remarkable, gifted and well-rounded youngsters. If I could offer advice to the youth of America, I’d say: save now, save often, save until it hurts. What are we doing to them with our national debt? What will they have to do for themselves and to us?
Another Saturday. First, I’m grateful I’ve been given another one to spend. So many have not been given the privilege. We would do well to remember it may be our turn to not receive the privilege next week.
That said, how do we all spend this day? Some catch up on household chores. Some drive kids to soccer practice. Some SHOP, as if that were life’s calling. Some continue the week’s work. Some tend their gardens. Some help a neighbor in need. Most of us do a little of each.
What do you remember from past Saturdays? I remember WNEW playing Erroll Garner’s Misty. I remember a radio broadcast of “War of the Worlds” as the poison gas swept by my room. I remember lonesome steamship whistles blowing mournfully. I also remember a tragic execution style murder of two policemen near a park…and siren after siren in pursuit.
I also remember times at off-broadway plays, in museums and at the planetarium. I remember eating out at a favorite burger joint. Who does that any more? Eat burgers, I mean. I remember strolling on Fifth avenue and “sightseeing” in my home town. I remember taking the ferry ride as a cure for asthma. I remember playdates with children long grownup and elsewhere now.
I guess I have to say Saturdays are for remembering the past, participating in the present and, most important, planning for the future.
The avatar for this blog is a symbol formed from a stylized chinese character for ‘order’ (i.e., mìng) superimposed on a water background.
The character, mìng, when affixed to another character, Tiān, (translated as heaven) represents the concept for ‘mandate of heaven‘. The water background symbolizes the people of the earth, past, present and future. Our intent, upon which we may sorely fail, is to influence people’s perception of heaven’s mandate, not just for our rulers (but certainly that), but also for ourselves.
This blog serves as a creative outlet for musings that may find their way into press. If these musings are interesting to you, please stop back periodically.
Does time seem illusory? You remember some past event as if it were yesterday. Truth be told, it could well have been. What measure would you give? We commonly give dates and durations. But what are those, really? Miles don’t make sense unless you’re a physicist, which I am. But it still doesn’t make sense to the heart.
It’s almost as if the remembered event exists somewhere still. The people are there (perhaps a loved one?), the sun filters down, the grass stirs and the emotions are real and felt again. Perhaps the experience is best forgotten, hardly remembered or desperately clung to. It sure feels like “then” is “there”. But you can’t change it. Frozen in time they say.
We don’t remember the future. That leaves you with now. Now you can change. Now you can live, move and have your being. And rest assured, now will still be there afterward as our then for good or ill.