THE SCRIPTURES, THE CROSS & THE POWER OF GOD
Sometimes when I try to understand Easter I imagine becoming an ant and then some other ants kill me. But I know that's not really what it's like so I imagine making some tiny people out of mud and then like becoming obssessed with them and watching them for three thousand years or something and then I turn into a tiny little mud person and then they kill me. I know that's still not quite what it's like but I still don't get it. It's always seemed like a weird equation to me. God and the devil doing math together, even though God invented the math and could just change the rules of the math if he wanted. Like, it seems like God could have just said "Look, everybody's forgiven. Just believe in me or whatever." Why a bizarre, violent symbol? (actually I think I understand the symbolism of the crucifixion better than the literalness of it.) Or if Jesus' death give us a way to not go to hell, why didn't he have to go to hell? Am I allowed to ask that? It's cool that he came back to life and that the curtain ripped in half, but what makes me excited is Jesus being born in a shed and having friends and healing people and rubbing mud in their eyes and telling weird stories and eating food and drinking wine and knocking over tables and riding on a donkey and falling asleep in a boat and cooking breakfast for his friends. I guess I'm saying that I understand the stuff Jesus did when he was alive on multiple levels - literal, emotional, and symbolic, and I only understand his death and resurrection on a symbolic level.
This book doesn't have a whole lot to do with anything I just typed. It has a short little chapter to read each day of the week before Easter. I liked it. If you already like N.T. Wright you'll like it too. If you've never read him this one's short and accessible and would maybe be a good introduction to the way he thinks about Jesus.
Adam Levin's gigantic book THE INSTRUCTIONS is the greatest novel of the 21st century. It's about all my favorite things - talking, not talking, teams, defiance, monotheism. "In becoming who you are becoming, Gurion, you heal a rift by mocking it." I still think about that almost every day. The stories in HOT PINK mostly aren't about any of that. My favorite one is about huffing butane. That one's told by a kid in like middle school which is also how old most of the talkers in THE INSTRUCTIONS are. I don't know if that means Adam's really good at writing adolescent boys or if that's just who it's easiest for me to like and relate to. Probably both. Part of the problem is that in short stories his characters don't have enough time to become much more than goofy thinky weird talkers. In THE INSTRUCTIONS you got over a thousand pages to get to know and love and be frustrated by everybody, but here nobody gets even thirty. I feel the same way about short stories that I do about movies - almost all of them should either be way longer or way shorter; just write a poem or a novel; just make a commercial or five seasons of a tv show.
I made the library order Amelia Gray's short story collection MUSEUM OF THE WEIRD when it came out because people on the internet were talking about it. It did a good job of being weird but not in a way that I cared about. A few days after I returned it to the library I saw a homeless guy reading it and that made me both happy and sad. I wanted him to be reading something better. I sort of assumed I would never read anything by Amelia Gray again. Then a few months ago I saw this video of her reading poems on a scooter and it made me excited for THREATS to come out, and the library ordered it without me even asking. I liked it way better than her short stories; it's calmer and lonelier and scarier and funnier. The main guy in it used to be a dentist and his memories of his patients' mouths have been encouraging me to take better care of my teeth. There's a part about eating pears and a part about dying and a part about two sisters staring at a boarded up house that I'll remember for a long time.
NOT FAR FROM THE RIVER
translated by David Ray
This book has 356 of the 700 poems that make up the Gāthā Saptaśati, which was compiled in India about 2,000 years ago. All the poems are four lines long, and most of them are about love or sex but none of them gave me a boner. In the introduction Ray says that he decided to "eliminate those verses that would require footnotes; I had no desire to explain pantheistic notions or faith that 'the moon pours out ambrosia when it falls into the mouth of the god Rahu in an eclipse.' I didn't want to deal with archaic lore, e.g., certainty that throbbing in the left eye of a woman was considered auspicious for a seducer." Both of those examples sound like they could be really good poems and I wish he would have included them and more like them instead of being content to translate 200 poems about boobs. There are a lot of pretty good ones in here though, and I typed up some of my favorites right here, and also right here:
Their son's first teeth marks
on an apple, and she runs all the way
to the field where he's plowing.
She yells, but he hardly looks up.
Though the entire village burned down
we had the pleasure of seeing each other
still alive, our faces all flushed,
passing that scorched jug around.
|other stuff I read:|
AN EPISODE IN THE LIFE OF A LANDSCAPE PAINTER - Cesar Aira
DAREDEVIL VOL. 1 - Mark Waid, Marcos Martin, Paulo Manuel Rivera
IF I FALTER AT THE GALLOWS - Edward Mullany
ORIENTALISM - Edward Said
DOTTER OF HER FATHER'S EYES - Mary M. Talbot & Bryan Talbot
PALOOKAVILLE #20 - Seth
TWO SERIOUS LADIES - Jane Bowles
THE DISINFORMATION PHASE - Chris Toll
THE LAST BOOKS OF HECTOR VIEL TEMPERLY - trans. Stuart Krimko
MAKING ROOM: RECOVERING HOSPITALITY AS A CHRISTIAN TRADITION - Christine D. Pohl
THE INCAL VOL. 1 - Alexander Jodorowsky, Moebius