Monday, January 22, 2018

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The best apple I have ever eaten

Or the best apple I ever ate.

Both sentences are legitimate and perfectly viable English grammar. The only arguable part is the word "ever". For it may not be "ever". We need to cut back on "ever". (Just like we need to cut back on "beyond".) Only if I died tomorrow would the sentence be true with "ever", for tomorrow - and tomorrow, and tomorrow - I could, and hope to, eat an apple yet that will take the title "best".

For there are many apples, and many apples I have not eaten or ate (I love how you southerners say ate instead of eaten - it's perfectly excellent grammar). I'm just a newbie when it comes to knowing the tastes and textures of the vast array of apples. And further, apples do not differ from each other in the way that - say, mangoes differ from each other. Certain apples can take on such a distinctive profile as to induce this commonly known phrase among pomologists: "If you were to eat this blindfolded, you would not know that it was an apple." For this reason you would not be far amiss to say that apples are the most universal fruit.

The two apples in the picture are not, and yet are, the apple I am referring to when I say, "The best apple I have ever eaten." For those are apples from the tree from which I had the best apple I ever ate, but neither of them are the apple. That picture was taken 2015. The best apple I ever ate was one from the same tree only last year, 2017.

I do not know the variety of this apple tree. It grows by a horse trail. The two apples in my hand were picked, and just under ripe. No matter. When they are not quite peaked in ripeness they are intense. Have one and your mouth goes raw. Have two and your stomach lining is in a questionable state. Of course I ate both, one after the other, for they are complex - intensely sweet and intensely...sour? I don't like using the word sour in this case, because sour too often refers to something that has spoiled, like sour milk. Anyways, the rawnesss of both mouth and stomach didn't last long - it's no matter to me. Many wimps today with overly domesticated palettes would not be able to get past one bite.

But when they ripen to full peak - now that is what I'm getting at here. The best apple I ever ate had fallen from the tree. It was lying by the trail in dusty grass, just a few feet away from a pile of horse dung. I wiped the dust off the best I could on my shirt and took a bite.

I wouldn't know how to describe it. Champagne? But I'm not a fan of champagne. I don't know. It was amazing. Just in case you might be thinking, "Ah, Paul, the apple was starting to ferment" - no, it wasn't. It was perfectly ripe, nowhere near overripe. The burst of sharp intensity, the warmth of it - not just the warmth of the apple basking in the sun, but the warmth of the flavour. It was a taste that completely filled the mouth, exuberant, superabundant.

The knowledge that we have of apples according to what we get from the supermarkets is impoverished, to say the least.

Just like our notion of heaven.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Friday, January 12, 2018

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Monday, January 8, 2018

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Gong Show

"I don't understand either." LOL - that's classic. I love it. Heart Robert Bresson so much.

Once in an interview Bresson was asked some stilted, academic question about his recent film, and Bresson said to the interviewer, "Did you see the film?" to which the interviewer responded, "Yes".

And Bresson said, "Then you know as much as I do."

Then he walked out. LOL.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Posted this back in 2015, but took it down for a reason. Back up.

Title: Nativity with Shepherd

Medium: Oil on board

Size: 12in x 16 in

Friday, December 22, 2017

Duty Bound

Duties are the basic stepping stones that put one in touch with life, if you actually perform and fulfill them. I don't understand how spontaneity has come to be thought of as opposed to duties, or as an escape from them, or as something stiffled by them. The spontaneous impulse has always been at the heart of choosing to do my duties, while forming plans for them has always kept me from actually doing them. Plans impose, and what imposes tends to paralyze.

The understanding that doing one thing leads to doing another, and that you can only do one thing at a time, has a great power to accomplishing much more than you thought. Pairing a basic attitude of seeing to what's at hand with silencing one's thoughts is a key to moving towards some higher aim; there is also that animal instinct to do something simply to get it out of the damn way.

There is a meeting with life that must take place for one to really live - an encounter, that is always encountering. It's not showy; it's certainly not glamorous. This basic encounter with life is constituted in doing our duties. Show me a person who shirks doing his duties and I'll show you someone who buries life like a corpse in a grave, again and again. Show me a person who does his duties with deliberation and I'll show you a living contemplative.

The deadly sin of sloth - Lord, of sloth, do we hear of this deadly, deadly sin anymore? perhaps only from the Pope (and a handful of others) - is a sin of willful alzheimers, of willful amnesia. For we perform acts that make us remember. We do not just remember. The link has such union that one cannot merely say that performing acts triggers memory, but is its constitution. When we are not performing those most basic acts that constitute the encounter with life that keeps real memory alive, and not it's facsimile - well, you can understand why St. Thomas Aquinas said that laziness is a kind of sadness.

One wonders if it is that same sadness that is felt in the face of someone losing their memory - say, a husband witnessing his wife no longer recognizing him in old age. The latter deterioration is not that person's fault, but laziness pathological and otherwise can be construed as having the same sadness about it, but deliberately wrought. It is a deadly sin.

(Certainly this is part of the reason why the elderly frequently lose their memory, partly or mostly: not simply because their minds are dwindling, or their brain cells are diminishing, but because they retire and become inert.)

What gives me joy is to know that union with Jesus leads to a strengthening of the link between act and remembering. How real Jesus becomes when you "hear" him nudging you - not with force, but with his own life - towards fulfilling things at hand, little or otherwise, your duties. Anyone who says outright or implies that the spiritual leads away from the mundane - rather than enters into and transforms the mundane - is a fraud.

Sloth is also a kind of demon hoarder, whose hoarding devalues everything it receives. It's not really the same as greed which overvalues in grasping after more, and has a nasty sort of leanness about it. Greed can at least have the fire of ambition behind it. Sloth is more scarily omniscient. Shaking off acedia seems daunting precisely for this reason. It's a stubborn old bastard that refuses to respond to life.

And here is a good way to understand the word "duty" or "duties". They are everything and anything that is a response to life. Life with all of its "details" - we think of them as details, it's weird. Because God accepts the response and builds with it, no matter how little or tedious. Here is where Sloth raises its ugly countenance: upon the realization that this response is constituted in something very much of the minute, of the moment, right here and right now - that now is an acceptable time and that this moment like every other moment truly constitutes the drama that is your life. Dishes, laundry, cleaning of various kinds, diapers, dust, papers to organize, phone calls to make, etc.

Frequently when I drive by one of those public storage facilities - you know those places that people rent; high security box warehouses storing people's possessions - when I drive by these places - and there seem to be many of them - I think of how everything inside of them, everything, be it bags of cash or gold or lamborghinis - all of it - is just a bunch of crap. Total, utter crap. I feel the useless, square foot, sluggard dust of it all. Crap, crap, crap - all of it crap.

You understand the flip side of those admonitions of Jesus and the saints then? Those reminders that your extra pants and extra coats belong to the poor. The flip side is this: the hoarding of your extra pants and extra coats is not only to deprive the poor, but it's doubly sinful in that it devalues your extra coats and your extra pants. Whatever is hoarded is turned into crap.

The same applies to withholding your life from encountering the duties of life.

So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.' --Luke 17:10

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


I bet you the melody and original verse fragments go way back before Appalachia to another continent.

Scops singing Old English probably gave birth to it.