Saturday, April 30, 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The wind blows where it will

The line is often hard to discern - perhaps especially along most of the west coast (for health pathologies do not by any means end at the Californian border) - between an ordered care for bodily health, subsumed in the recognition that all good things are given from above, and a terror-inducing fixation on bodily health as a means by which one is supposed to live forever, subsumed in the delusion that living forever is entirely at the behest of one's efforts: the idolatrous conception of one's own body.

The latter shows itself not so much in the larger things, but the smaller things. People do not consciously think they are going to live forever (though I would not be surprised to find it otherwise among a large number) but the monomania that "health" seems to inspire in them makes it fair to say that they act, and talk, as though they will.

So it is that I fail to be interested in healthy eating; but I am interested in real food. Just as I am not interested in "sustainable living" (a term that annoys me for some reason); but I am interested in living in a way that is more and more radically subordinate to the fact that God sustains all life. As Michael O'Brien has said, to paraphrase: "Our foundations are from above."

I think it's very true that if one were to live forever on this earth, one would not enjoy it. One of the undeniable things about life as a gift from God, a gift which is on loan to be given back as freely as it was given, is that the weight, the prerogative, the ex nihilo contingency of the blessing is out of one's own hands, away from them - and that is awesome freedom.

Someone who is diagnosed with terminal cancer finds the incomprehensible grace to live, even with thanks to God, in the moments of one's life; and someone who lives without any major pains and is in good health does not enjoy or recognize the blessing of the fact, but rather gets into a tizzy about anything and everything, like those on the west coast who a few days after the Fukushima news came out, started freaking about the credible speculation of radiation sailing over the pacific from Japan, and flooded the pharmacies for iodine pills, or whatever it is one takes to strengthen the immune system against radiation. This world is absolutely hilarious.

You have weird doctors writing insane articles on the web about how people need to now grow their gardens strictly in greenhouses because of radiation coming from Japan in the rain. (That's about the, what, second sentence now that has the words, "coming over from Japan"? What about those in Japan? As long as the radiation doesn't come over here, it's all dandy - is that it?)

That is not a flippant dismissal of the danger of radiation sailing over the pacific nor a criticism of peoples' fear of it, per se; but a picture begins to resolve when attempting to weigh things in a larger whole: how fears, no matter how connected to real scenarios, are inherently and wildly disproportionate to our real priorities and place in life, which is why one reads in scripture that it would be better to fly sin than to be afraid of death. Fear is pride under fire: one commits the sin of disproportion.

Even if actual dangerous amounts of radiation started coming over from Japan (there it is again!) - the point is that this world is not only temporal, but highly imperfect, even when it seems at its most perfect: this realization is for the Christian a consolation. Our joy seems to be subsumed in sadness, but it is really the other way around. At some point, one must arrive at the old cliche, "Life is too short", or that well-worn smoker's disclaimer (which actually has a well of wisdom behind it), "Everyone dies of something," and throw up one's hands, and go to confession - and there discover the eternal kernel of joy that is in fact greater than all this world has to offer. What horrid, sopping weight of tragedy must be felt by those who win the lottery.

Some might guffaw at that last sentence. So much for it: eternity may be having a big guffaw at our ideas of the good life. A Salesian priest that I know once spoke in a homily about an old lady in Italy who was dying. Having lived for nearly a century, and now on her deathbed, she said her whole life up to that point was like a bird flitting past her window.

In the scope of eternity, that image is no exaggeration.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Biff paints...

some pop art that I can like.

The Catch - By Tom Wilson

Loop the Loop - By Tom Wilson

His website: Big Pop Fun

Friday, April 22, 2011

Medium: Micron pens

Two Poems

By Owen Swain

Wisdom in me is weakOh for the folly of God,
the strength in me fails

Hope works in me to prevail
the substance of the most odd,
Spirit’s kiss upon cheek.

My thoughts on wind, like leaves
tiny cyclones of clutter
rattle the sound of breathing.

Mercy, mercy, am I leaving
the truths Wisdom uttered?
My faith on thin wonder cleaves.

If You can save me
from myself…
it would be all I ask, to

eat the host, drink the flask
then with Spirit stealth
turn, turn, myself to Thee.

The Black Tree
By Pavel Chichikov

Closer to God is closer to the cross
But closer to that is much too close
To real blood, real flesh

The cross is high, from the stones to the sky
And yet there is no snow, no ice
On the high cross-pieces

The church of the walls will shatter, fall down
The plaster and pews spill to the wind
But the cross will remain

We all must be scattered, the form must die
All follow others, you and I
Until none of us are left on Earth

But the cross will not be shattered or moved
It is the black tree of suffering, love
And these are immutable

The cross is self-conscious and sentient
It can weep the dark blood of the innocent
And all must be of it

Now on the day when God was killed
We kneel and kiss the death that he willed
And walk away for a while

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Two boxes

Two white boxes are sitting here, both full of my Granddad's writings. He was quite prolific, and I can see by an initial glance that he worked at it, marking out meters and corrections in pen on typed pages, retaining every draft of poems, stories and articles, and stapling the pages of progress of each work together with the final draft on top. Rejection slips, and I assume acceptance slips (since I know he was published here and there), and various correspondence seem to be all included.

Opening the lid of the top box I pulled the first stapled bunch of papers out, showing on its first page this poem:

Snowfall in the Prairie Night
By Arthur Stilwell

Steadily out of the silent all-dark,
Huge flakes emerge white into my struck gaze,
They enclose me in slow hover of unceasing legions;
Gone of a sudden the tedious clotted earth,
I am in a ballroom floating with the waltz
Of a powdered cloud of sprites and spirits;
Next I enter the jewelry of the milky way,
Dislodged to this new-found place.
For a visionary tremored halt of time,
Vanish bewilderments and questionings.

Down in adoration falling...

I have been an "apostle" for the Holy Thursday Mass foot washings four times now. In the latter two I was snatched up by a priest who doesn't plan the washings a week beforehand, but goes around the pews before the Thursday Mass and finds men who have come early, and sort of says to them, "You can be one of the apostles". Thus at this parish I have learned to come just as Mass is beginning.

There is nothing wrong with selecting men that way (and I'm quite pliable and don't resent it; but I'm a back-pew sort of person); no more so than finding men a week before. Actually, I think it's better. Sort of like the way Jesus seemed to choose His apostles: hey, come with me.

That way also seems to make the actual feet washing ceremony less extravagant; just something to be done quickly. I remember one large parish in which I was asked to be an "apostle" some weeks beforehand. There was a practice before the Mass, and the actual washing was more extravagant. I even recall there was someone taking pictures of the whole thing. And we "apostles" all received chocolates afterward, which was nice.

But I do not think the washing of the feet should be so emphasized - not to the detriment of Holy Thursday being the Lord's institution of His Eucharist. We have the feast of Corpus Christi, but we also have Holy Thursday. Or maybe that should read: we have the Institution of the Lord's Eucharist, and we also have Corpus Christi.

At that large parish mentioned above, they had exposition of the Blessed Sacrament after that Holy Thursday Mass until midnight, for those wanting to keep vigil with Jesus. It was beautiful, kneeling there on the hard floor, in the dim light. I had had my feet washed.

Jesus said, "If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you."

He did not say, "I have only given you an example." When Jesus washed His disciples' feet, He was washing them of their sins through sacramental absolution, and likely not for the first time.

It's pretty clear what Jesus says in the reading, and the ceremony of the priest washing the feet of the men should speak for itself. We don't need to hear in the homily about what it means to wash our neighbours' feet. By this way, the social-justice, above-the-left-and-the-right lefty liberal would detract from the Institution of the Lord's Eucharist, and from the fact that if it wasn't God Himself who washed those apostles' feet (among them the feet of Judas) imparting to them first and foremost absolution of their sins (to which Judas was not disposed), then all the talk in the world about washing our neighbours' feet, indeed, all action taken to "wash our neighbours' feet", is worthless.

And that's not even to mention what He instituted: the ultimate service, sacramentally pre-manifesting the service of His death on the Cross.

Have people even had their own feet washed first by Jesus?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Medium: B Pencil and possibly others...I really need to write down what pencils I use when in the woods...multiple visits and whatnot...I forget them...

The portion that is left "unfinished" had all these ferns growing...that was the last time I was in this the area is covered with Osoberry saplings (Indian plum), which is among the first to blossom in late winter, now their leaves filling out...I look forward to eating some.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Where the old mall was recently torn down, inside the demolition zone that is surrounded by a great circle of fence, there are two long concrete troughs on either side of stairs that lead down to what was one of the mall's entrances: the eastern end that led out to a main alley and across it to the town's open square.

The mall was slowly destroyed, and then no more mall was there but rubble heaps; and then the rubble was taken away. The fence still stood.

Taking the place of the rubbish heaps then were heaps of the great concrete pad that was broken up on which the mall was founded. While the concrete heaps were standing, and the fence still standing around them, out of the concrete troughs that seemed to have been forgotten, on either side of what was an entrance to the mall, daffodils bloomed, like they had year after year: just inside the zoning fence, the yellow bouncing heads, but no mall there anymore.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Medium: Pencils F and 5B

Locus Focus

"Even Sauron knows them not. They are older than he."

A setting in Middle-earth is primarily drawn through a mini-history unfolding within that setting's longer and larger history. One receives a vivid evocation of the place when in the middle of it; that is to say, in the middle of the actions taking place there. But there are worlds in Middle-earth so low and so high, so beyond knowledge, that they occupy a mere two pages in The Two Towers; and it is enough to "take the lid off your top" and beset one with wild wonder, of a kind that is deeply ingrained in the soul - unless of course one is a zombie.

"'Then tell us what you will, and time allows!' said Gimli. 'Come, Gandalf, tell us how you fared with the Balrog!'

'Name him not!' said Gandalf, and for a moment it seemed that a cloud of pain passed over his face, and he sat silent, looking old as death. 'Long time I fell,' he said at last, slowly, as if thinking back with difficulty. 'Long I fell, and he fell with me. His fire was about me. I was burned. Then we plunged into the deep water and all was dark. Cold it was as the tide of death: almost it froze my heart.'

'Deep is the abyss that is spanned by Durin's Bridge, and none has measured it,' said Gimli.

'Yet it has a bottom, beyond light and knowledge,' said Gandalf. 'Thither I came at last, to the uttermost foundations of stone. He was with me still. His fire was quenched, but now he was a thing of slime, stronger than a strangling snake.

'We fought far under the living earth, where time is not counted. Ever he clutched me, and ever I hewed him, till at last he fled into dark tunnels. They were not made by Durin's folk, Gimli son Gloin. Far, far below the deepest delvings of the Dwarves, the world is gnawed by nameless things. Even Sauron knows them not. They are older than he. Now I have walked there, but I will bring no report to darken the light of day. In that despair my enemy was my only hope, and I pursued him, clutching at his heel. Thus he brought me back at last to the secret ways of Khazad-dum: too well he knew them all. Ever up now we went, until we came to the Endless Stair.'

'Long has that been lost,' said Gimli. 'Many have said that it was never made save in legend, but others say that it was destroyed.'

It was made, and it had not been destroyed,' said Gandalf. 'From the lowest dungeon to the highest peak it climbed, ascending in unbroken spiral in many thousand steps, until it issued at last in Durin's Tower carved in the living rock of Zirakzigil, the pinnacle of the Silvertine.

That swift but solid efficiency with which Tolkien emblazons in the mind this incredible place: "They were not made by Durin's folk, Gimli son Gloin." and "He was with me still." And how is it that to ponder the existence of this place entails an awesome sort of reformulation, or harrowing, of everything else existent in the world, in Middle-earth? Suddenly the world is living, more than one could even imagine. Gandalf continues:

'There upon Celebdil was a lonely window in the snow, and before it lay a narrow space, a dizzy eyrie above the mists of the world. The sun shone fiercely there, but all below was wrapped in cloud. Out he sprang, and even as I came behind, he burst into new flame. There was none to see, or perhaps in after ages songs would still be sung of the Battle of the Peak.' Suddenly Gandalf laughed. 'But what would they say in song? Those that looked up from afar thought that the mountain was crowned with storm. Thunder they heard, and lightning, they said, smote upon Celebdil, and leaped back broken into tongues of fire. Is not that enough? A great smoke rose about us, vapour and steam. Ice fell like rain. I threw down my enemy, and he fell from the high place and broke the mountain-side where he smote it in his ruin. Then darkness took me, and I strayed out of thought and time, and I wandered far on roads that I will not tell.'

Gandalf asks, "Is that not enough?" Yes, it is.

You have to wonder, what would be more terrible: to be at the bottom of the abyss of Khazad-dum, which gives "forsaken" and "lost" in any other place of the world, like a deserted island or the middle of the Amazon, the look and feel of home; or on the pinnacle of the Silvertine (the window out onto it being caved-in), "without escape upon the hard horn of the world"?

These two settings, linked by the "lost" Endless Stair, are somewhat like those margins of Middle-earth where the Elves go sailing (completely different too of course), but they are quite concretely within Middle-earth.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Ivan Generalić

Jesus on a Cross, By Ivan Generalić (December 21, 1914 – November 27, 1992)

I just came across this wonderful Croatian artist at Art Inconnu. Be sure to view his other works that the post links to.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Medium: Pencils 2H and B

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Medium: Pencils 2H and B

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Good Old Catholic Links

"The blessing of each communicant at Mass with the Host is a very small detail -- if a blessing imparted by Christ Himself in the Eucharist can be called small. But it does prove that real love resides in and provides for the smallest details, however easy they may be to miss. Real love seeks to satisfy even the tiniest desires of the beloved. Indeed, to real love, nothing is tiny or beneath notice. Real love leaves undone nothing that can possibly be done for the beloved's happiness."

From Anita Moore's excellent post, On Being Starved into Submission.

It's a funny thing, that St. Thomas Aquinas would come to say of his entire body of work that it was as straw, after beholding - as St. Paul before him - the eternal kingdom of God; and that when Jesus appeared to him one day while kneeling in chapel, He would say to Aquinas in regards to his "polemical" writings against those old things that stupid argumentative people call heresies, not "Your entire work, Thomas, is as straw", nor, "You, Thomas, do you think you are significant in doing these things?", nor, "Do you persist in these writings because you think I need you to, who are as a fly in my ray?" but said to him, as one who precedes His eternal authority with the most exquisite courtesy, "You have done well with your writing; what do you wish of Me?"


I really like this picture of Fr. Longenecker with his altar servers.


I was at Michael O'Brien's site and came across the Holy Cloak Novena. I seem to vaguely remember coming across it somewhere else a while back. O'Brien writes of it:

"This ancient novena of prayers is called the Holy Cloak of St. Joseph, a particular and special way to merit the patronage of this great Saint while also rendering honour to him.

It is to be recited on thirty consecutive days in memory of the thirty years St. Joseph spent in the company of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. If for some reason you cannot recite the prayer on a particular day, you may make up for it by reciting it on the 30th day as many times as the recitation was missed.

The extraordinary graces obtained by this prayer are innumerable. St. Teresa of Avila said: "If you really want to believe in it, prove it to yourself by reciting the Novena and you will be finally convinced."

It is most efficacious to say a prayer for the Souls in Purgatory.

With the same solicitude that we help dry the tears of the suffering souls, so to can we hope that St. Joseph will help dry our tears in our necessities. In this way, St. Joseph's Holy Cloak will spread itself over us and will serve as a shield against all those dangers which beset us so that we may all one day, with the grace of God, obtain eternal salvation.

Our Lord and Our Lady invite us to love and honor and pray to St. Joseph:

Jesus said to St. Margaret Mary, "I wish that every day you offer special prayers to Our mother and St. Joseph, Our most sweet guardian." The Blessed Mother said to the Venerable Maria de Agreda, "You must see to it that you continually increase your love and devotion to this great Saint. In all your necessities, you must avail yourself of his protection, under all circumstances you must encourage as many people as possible toward this devotion . . . for indeed, whatever our devoted spouse requests in Heaven, the Almighty God will grant on Earth.""

I guess it can be started on any day one chooses; and going for thirty days, I'm not sure how that's a novena, but it's called a novena anyways.

You have to take housing the toad seriously

Friday, April 1, 2011

Medium: Pencils 2h and 5B and pencil crayons and I think a couple of them were pastel pencils