Friday, April 30, 2010


hitler figured for a thousand years ... how many did marx say ... are there revolutionaries who make hitler look temperate ... bake a malicious cake one part stalin one part mao a little pol pot on top for an icing ... but remember the cook's name ... karl on his way home from grandpapa jean jacques ... from paradise to utopia with a push and a shove in between ... the natural man on the move through class warfare oppression resistance rebellion revolution to what ... the best we can do on earth ... no more blubbery nonsense ... look what you've done to home and family ... what home what family ... you have a house ... you use it to sleep in ... you have a family ... they abuse one another ... adultery promiscuity prostitution ... you're either free or you're not ... you're not ... don't pretend you'd know the details if you were ... leave that to us ... we will guide you ... in heroic sacrifice we'll fade away ... and then you'll be free ... and all our monuments and legacies will laugh at the first thousand years at the prospect of so many others to follow ... jj and karl I don't know ... all this doesn't sound selfish enough for me

cf wiker, ten books, ch 5


why must we wait till the end of time for things to shake themselves out right ... can't be god's fault that things aren't right ... must be ours ... must god wait for us then ... then we're the architects of our own salvation ... the ultimate case of getting into heaven when we do if we do is us ... even if we're just the occasion or the final tap for the last thing needed to fall into place ... unless this theory is somehow wrong and we see it's wrong in part because it doesn't work ... wrong from the beginning in the attitude or direction we take to look at the thing ... not that we didn't get it right originally but then we get distracted and lose our place and have to reference the commandments to get back to where we started ... not that we didn't walk in righteousness when we were young but again being distracted and not unbefuddled we think obedience is something we've yet to achieve ... forgetting that we had it when it was cheap ... indeed so easy it was free ... and our parents and elders sighed and called it a name we'd had no need to learn ... innocence in good faith

cf moltmann, theology of hope, 2.6

Thursday, April 29, 2010


making the rounds with the sergeant at dusk ... the MPs don't have rifles ... they don't have mortars or grenades ... they have pistols ... they don't go into line ... they're not used to fire ... not even close combat ... though they're pretty good at wrestling ... I met jean jacques down the block ... he said as a race we should never have gone past wrestling ... the first noble savage to have thrown a stone in anger has a lot to answer for ... but then jean jacques has always been deaf in both ears ... that's why his eyes are so big and he's so small on tradition ... I think he threw the first stone and has been talking over it ever since ... and see where it's got us ... sergeants making the rounds even as the night begins to fall ... MPs pinning the ill-behaved against the wall ... just as they've always done ... but over there on the other side of that rise the public aren't invited ... everything on that side is bigger the planes the cars the guns the noise the smell the ruin ... that's a different place jean jacques by agreement and tradition ... it's a force multiplier ... it intensifies our confusion ... why jj is it so bad

cf wiker, ten books


there are liberating truths ... they have the power to make you feel happy ... for a day a month a year the rest of your life beyond ... depending on the power of what they tell you and how well you listen all of you gets free ... doing what you should be doing and glad to be doing it ... for a while for eternity ... you don't even have to measure up ... sometimes the idea comes to you ... you smile ... you admit being impressed ... and you promptly forget what was said ... but you're happy ... for a day or two nonetheless ... this isn't aristotle happiness a measurement taken at the end of life ... it's happiness now ... more than peace of mind it's success as well ... whatever else it may be or serve to be it's light ... light enough to ease a heavy burden or to shine in the dark because it is easy ... so easy you don't have to think about it ... so you don't ... you're in the game fully now knowing the next move to make ... there must be something definite to it ... like just the right answer to the perfect question ... something you were waiting for that could have gone wrong

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


I was looking for a key the other day ... a cleff supported by a bar ... take the letter i lower case and tie it to the shaft of the letter f ... that's what it looked like and in the word so gratuitously formed I found what I was looking for ... put that little conditional in front of the grandest theological ship of the line and with a little nudge she sends it sailing out to sea ... if our god is not a god of mere destiny and chance what then follows in his wake ... if he's more than a mechanical spiritual fate then there's room for me to wriggle ... on the other hand if he were nothing more than a map I could take hold of it and what would come of that ... I have good intentions ... I'd mark the road to follow every inch of it with detail and warning ... every inch of it and woe betide those who wander ... but most of all I'd regret just having it the fulfillment of it meaning it was over ... the sadness of fruition ... the tedium of success ... no I'll hitch my if to a star that's moving to a clause that still shows promise

moltmann, theology of hope, II.2


there are these farmers whose gods give them epiphanies into the essence of nature in this world and the next ... these revelations that is are revelations of forms patterns and codes and formulae to make of them ... to conform to these patterns is to take a job in midlevel management ... magic yesterday technology today ... in addition to the farmers and their cultivation of knowledge and technique we have the nomads who have a god who keeps them on the run ... between the mountains and the dunes they wander in the wilderness ... their god is not a god of essence and his people are not metaphysicians ... they have doctors they just don't meta ... they're for the here and now not for the hereafter ... they are children of the promise not for the eternal but for tomorrow ... not for the still center of creation ... there's a veil before that ... they're for change and struggle and writing them down ... children of time they're the father of history ... they bring in history not to talk of the past but the future

moltmann, theology of hope, II.1

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


it's a great formal logical principle ... what you say is true nonetheless so is this also ... the great compatability option not to compete ... live and let live ... no matter how many true things are said and done this is one of them ... it's a very powerful principle though all it seems to say is this one thing I hold is true ... but truth is powerful ... what makes this in particular powerful is the also and its duration ... civility prompts you to let the other go first but then you follow ... how often how long and where that's true make you and your truth more or less impressive ... how many times you can say this also ... how long it may in truth be said and where it applies add or take away from its power its effect ... even the ember can say I also am true just before she goes out ... once again why is this an exception ... where does the very power come in ... it comes in with me ... it's where I face the absolute for as long as it will let me ... now the other is first I am the new other ... now this has been said my also comes in to stay


it's a very small sometimes bitter acquired taste ... I can be as objective as possible when I say that ... on a basis of a precise count of its patrons ... now I wish I could say I can only show you the passage before I go on to the end ... but I think you're meant to keep it and I may as well stay on as you do ... these things have consequences I for one didn't expect ... you are my lady and my lord ... what a thing it would be a corner room with plenty of light ... and to serve you is to learn to know you ... both a privilege and a delight ... a library and a table a research and workcenter that is ... the history of your family seems from the beginning to have a purpose and a design ... what a wide range of motion it's been ... over hills and forests and fields ... it's why I need this small space to collect my gear ... it's mostly maps ... you may not know ... and the mobile markers on them to highlight all the places of interest that we've been ... all the noble influence and example .. all the moments of misunderstanding and insight

Monday, April 26, 2010


you get to ask a question at the beginning ... but you don't get the answer till the end ... you put your ticket in and you go through the door ... you pick the ceiling you want ... you sit down on the floor ... you write your three word sentence on a paper just about that size ... you put it in your hand and hold it up to the sky ... and before you feel its warmth in your palm the attendant is at your side ... you're in a frazzle ... you've been in a tunnel ... you'd almost put your hand down ... but she whispers softly as if she were close to your ear ... tell me again love she says ... but louder so that I can hear ... what to say ... the paper is held up high and higher as she speaks ... aha you begin to understand ... a bowl of wisdom you squalk ... if you've made it fresh today ... my compliments to the chef ... may I see him when he's done ... if it were just years to count you wouldn't want to take the time to do it ... that's how many bowls she brings you and how many chefs you never get to see ... but each time after dinner you feel more light than heavy ... and you three word sentence rises


the pacre is a restricted form with almost no restrictions ... you've only got ninety seconds ... well two minutes if you push it ... but you should have a complete thought in the middle and certainly by the end ... other than that say what you want ... the structure and stricture are in the thought itself ... you're there I suppose to add the curlicues ... what after all is this thinking of thoughts that have already been thought ... what does that add to the welfare of mankind ... if you want this to make sense you must speak up ... you must talk to the future ... you must hope there is such a future to give you a fair hearing ... how else are you to encourage posterity or make it face the truth ... if it's past courage and final good sense ... if it's not there to hear you ... what could you have to say ... forget the pen the paper the cyberface ... forget the medium ... the thought is in the message ... your thought might gradually become an idea ... what does it matter ... what do you care ... from the fool's lips to god's ear ... what else can it be but prayer

pacre = PAY kruh

Sunday, April 25, 2010


the spirit upholds the skeleton ... the skeleton upholds the flesh ... do you see it holding up the body by the shoulders as we do bringing laundry home on a hanger ... or is it a hand under the shoulder in support of someone drunk or stunned ... or is it in the heart blessing each cell that passes ... something there is that's holding us up ... it could be a hanger or a helping hand or a blessing ... something there is that will not let go ... and will not let go ... what is it a virus that's got you by the throat and makes you cough ... it will not let you go ... or look the store detective has that boy by the arm ... a truant on vacation and a thief ... he will not let him go ... what a thing to argue with when for a while there is no appeal ... when every word you say bricks you up a little tighter ... this may take some time ... sit on the floor and listen to the story of the kings ... I will only tell you now it matters how they tell it ... there is a story of one king ... they tell it all the time ... you wonder how they dare ... with the noise of a great wind in the air


what a strange thing to say ... my faith is strong but my hope is weak so I cannot love you ... but that's the theme in monk the tv detective ... he believes the universe is constructed in precisely this manner ... he could be wrong ... but he's not ... on the other hand he's so hopeless it maddens people ... hopelessly caught up in a thorough but meaningless drive for perfection ... but not hopeless in a final determination to do the right thing ... hopeless in the way he pampers his fears ... but heroic nonetheless in each conclusion ... heroic in his physical courage ... heroic in his intellectual virtue ... but hopelessly comic in tactical wisdom ... wait a second ... mr monk threatens to become real ... we know despite all these complexities he's always this close to despair ... the world is ready in so many places to take its pound of flesh and monk has very little room to spare ... what is it that sustains him if he has so little reason to hope for a happy ending but his faith that it will at least be true ... for you can love truth

Saturday, April 24, 2010


if I believe all the particles inside and outside earth are each racing from some very small tiny point to a perimeter as yet undefined to no discernible purpose with as it were occasional liaisons or rest stops to coalesce and coagulate but otherwise moving in a fairly predictable way towards final decomposition and dissolution I might say it's my belief the world has its destiny ... I might on the other hand disbelieve in destiny ... I might say instead these physical congregations are not only totally accidental but so is existence itself ... I might believe there's no evidence now or ever has been of this continuing one nanosecond more ... on the third hand ... you see I will need your help ... I might take both destiny and chance to point to my salvation ... there is a design but we didn't make it ... you can tell that by all the accidents we suffer ... there is a plan but we've got something better that recognizes things don't always go according to plan ... someone better ... hope ... in someone's promise

cf moltmann, theology of hope, I.8


you've heard of a poet I'm a proet ... of a papist I'm a pacrist ... like monk the tv detective I don't like my different foods to touch ... I don't have to take them in a certain order but the categories shouldn't blend ... philosophy and theology shouldn't mix and the same for history and fiction ... they should be taken discretely with a little time in between to rest ... but each food group is essential and a serving of each I take every day ... and at night when I can sit and relax sometimes I write a pacre ... otherwise what's all this eating for ... it's something like a diary or something like a journal or something like a letter to my friends the ones I haven't met ... or it's like a prayer I copy out just to hear what it says ... I can't say they're not delivered even when they aren't typed ... or that they're ever read even when they are ... I'm not sure I can answer for their intention when they're done or their beauty or swerve a year or two later ... they are creatures of my cold intellectual passion I sometimes love

Friday, April 23, 2010


being so ill you're like to die can make you change your mind ... not just about many things but about one thing ... and that thing a direction ... sent head first out of the womb sent tumbling tumbling into the tomb you'd think we'd know better ... it's the tumbling I think that gets us confused ... and we might swerve a little from the left to the right ... take a turn or two we wouldn't take again if we could help it ... but all told and in stride we think we're headed straight ... as from cause we feel impelled to an effect ... but suddenly going down the decline toward death and more suddenly pulled up is as much a reversal as it is a conversion ... now you're facing the womb being pulled back into the tomb ... last things become first and everything else is attendant ... you're going still to the same place but now you're facing in the other direction ... you're running forward but you're losing ground ... and there's a temptation to stop while you still can ... put your feet together hold up your arms ... and float head first over the edge ... and find at the bottom the final cause


where there is now grass finely cut and cared for there was then mud and a stone crosswalk in the middle ... which made converse along the shorter line civil by patience since the path was wide enough for just one at a time ... the buildings at the opposite ends of the path were ideological opponents as well and benefited by the slow converse and by the patience it exercised ... because for the most part neither understood the other at all ... they were like the glib and the ineffable or suavity and precision as opposed to an elevating trance ... but there comes a point must there not when the two did have to meet ... when a precise hope embraces and bolsters a slightly confused faith ... and right in the middle of that meeting I ask the pastor will we not find meaning with whatever else we should want nearby ... surely always just off center ... in a side-room as it were the intellect meets the will ... one says what can it mean and the other says I mean to do it

cf moltmann, theology of hope, I.6

Thursday, April 22, 2010


draw a line at the beginning and a period at the end ... then take slowly what comes in between ... read if you must half as many books this year as last ... a quarter ... a third ... read just one or two if it means you can take it like that ... outside you must leave all criticism of your own habits ... not because they're good or bad ... they just don't apply ... inside as the book opens it must meet an already open you ... jackson at the hermitage ockham in bavaria eckhart in avignon ... why would you pass them by in a hurry ... you pay for the show sit down and pay attention ... here you are for example in the last car traveled ... eckhart in the dock answering sometimes with asperity it's said ... ockham at ludwig's court thought his preaching ridiculous and outside the convent it was said it too easily mislead ... no mysticism in the marketplace it was said ... time meister to go home and be dead ... why not ... ockham the sophisticate so sublime he could see the potential christ as a donkey ... ockham dies in the black death ... but they both die in glory

cf rubenstein, aristotle's children, ch 7


ideas are real as plato said ... but real as aristotle said and thomas as secondary causes ... it's the same as saying faith the vision of the eternal now is all that matters ... only to be told no without hope faith withers and hope is a matter of time not the eternal ... when good venture brought in god young tom had his intelligible species ... beware said venture your bridge is weedy and there's a sharp fellow with a razor coming up behind you ... you mean to tie this world to the next ... but your bridge will burn and your species and causes go with it ... the ropes will be cut and the ladder will fall ... yes we will all study nature and on the whole we'll fashion forms ever more savage and precise ... and temporary ... it takes but a generation to tar patch and rebuild ... forms are brutal atrocious but passing and all too natural ... what did you expect ... to capture heaven in a balloon ... your balloon won't float ... even rockets fall down ... but tom agrees ... faith and hope are virtues ... they take time

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


what if this is so ... just as there's but one necessary being and all others are contingent so too is there only one absolute truth and all others are relative ... the being and the truth are one and that is that god is ... what could be wrong with that ... the baby in the young woman's womb will not be an alligator ... it's not a mathematical certainty but it's very close ... let's consider the significance of the possibility that it may not be true ... you'd have to be a dunce or a scot to think it amounts to much ... we could go to the old greek who says always or for the most part but you'd be right to say we missed the point ... while you I fear having the right point are putting it down in the wrong place ... the right method for the right question the old greek said as well ... analogy for god math for everyone else ... you have a plan to break the bank at monte carlo its precision is perfection down to the final nanosecond ... anything that can go wrong is factored in ... nonetheless there's mystery still in the bank that can't be broken


a great piece of writing demands of the reader as much as it's worth ... and the reader knows it ... even when he can't give it ... that's why he keeps turning back to read it again ... or ... my favorite ... keeps returning in his mind to that great work ... even if that's all he can remember ... that it was a great work ... it's enough to remember it fondly ... for it's true now and always that that the master had his pupil who for a week or two followed his master in reverence and delight ... and as proof that this was so we have as evidence the great piece itself ... the witness you would think always responsive always pitch perfect but alas sometimes we find to this our jury of obdurate culture deliberately stubbornly silent ... who can turn again and in the tight rooms of our deliberation request of the judge that we hear it again ... who would listen if we did ... it had a time and an audience ... it has them no more ... what happens to your wisdom or your beauty when your jury will not look or listen ... doesn't it fade away

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


what could be worse for the understanding of these days than the loss of the absolute ... without it underneath how could anyone stand it ... if it's just a serial pattern of subatomic particles with no final meaning not even that how could you draw a line round anything ... how could you draw a line ... but if it has a meaning you have an absolute for that's what a meaning is ... you can try to change it but all you do is describe your additions and subtractions ... an absolute never changes ... but we do ... all through the history of thought we leave the absolute and go for a walk ... when we get far enough out to stretch the limbs and lungs we give a great speech and start to head back in ... sometimes we're late in arriving and the night already has fallen and all we can see is a light in the distance far away ... that's the absolute ... it's way too late now to turn away and avoid it ... to turn back and start all over again ... that's for the next generation ... no ... tired as we are we best turn in ... turn to the light


the law is for those who break it ... it's full of don'ts telling you the things that shouldn't be broken ... but what does that have to do with you ... you've no desire to break anything have you ... ah that's not your problem you say ... your sins are sins of omission ... in you there is no commission or if there is its members never do attend ... but neither is it despair ... what though you have the times to hold your self in contempt you'd still rather read a good book ... what if you never leave your chair your spirit is too active ... though you can't as yet say what it does ... but you might say tomorrow ... and on the day when no tomorrow follows well it still has only twenty-four hours and no matter how drawn out those hours are they still draw to an end ... and that's our consolation ... that the story has an ending ... where's the courage in that ... every so often you need a little courage ... take for example the need for tomorrow ... suppose it's no end at all but a completion ... like a tank of gas that never empties you get to go wherever you want forever

cf 1 tim 1:8-11, and moltmann, theology of hope, intro.3

Monday, April 19, 2010


if every society makes its own truth what's it to you ... I don't know most things ... but I can imagine ... suppose for example our society was divided on the question ... one side says we have a set of sure and certain truths ... the other says of course but given this set are there any others ... now the first side ... let's call call them the Dogmatics ... sees no heresy as yet in the second side ... let's call them the Dynamics ... but it doesn't like their attitude ... they keep saying they will not violate revealed truth but in the next breath they say but what if ... and then they violate revealed truth in the hypothetical ... so the first side cautions censures demotes and segregates the second until revealed truth is no longer questioned ... but complains the first side the bad attitude continues ... it's not now so much of a matter what they say but of what they care about ... we could not bear to hear god's truth questioned ... we will not abide seeing it ignored ... we have just so many hours in society each day ... we will not see them wasted on troglodytes and cenotaphs

cf rubenstein, aristotle's children, ch 6


people like hegel and kant hume and blanshard even whitehead to a degree certainly russell and moore all had strings and plato was pulling them ... even augustine and aquinas could feel him tugging ... if it weren't for one other person philosophy would be plato and plato you must know was one word form ... well two if you'll take as translation idea ... if it weren't for aristotle and his word substance which meant form but matter too marx and lenin would still be in their shrines ... that's what aristototle the old doctor did ... he put the punch in the scholastics all the way through to the blood in schopenhauer's will and kierkegaard's faith ... even process theology has all its hesitation in form from aristotle ... he taught all philosophy after plato ... but he didn't stop there ... for he taught and surprised himself too ... form was vapid ... matter chaotic without it ... but substance itself needed two more causes to work ... an artist and a purpose ... even divinity waited to put them all in one

Sunday, April 18, 2010


of course the culture is soulless ... it has to be ... it has a government that must say of the soul maybe maybe not ... it's a question above my paygrade ... it has to say this because it has to be fair to all the people some who think there are no souls ... the culture obedient to the government must also be discreet in order to be polite in order to be civil especially in public particularly in a crowd ... and people can do this by saying the soul is a private affair ... and that works ... as long as you keep the private and the public separate discrete it works ... but the devil is in detail so that's where the problem is too ... first in a few details then in many ... the public in our culture aided by the government or prodding it has taken out of tradition that which has always been private and put it on display ... and in the middle of the stage surrounded by analysis and derision is the one character the audience now by convention cannot see cannot hear cannot talk about ... the soul naked but discreetly silent


not only am I being held to trial I have twelve jurors and two extra foremen ... one for the prosecution the other for the defense ... and I can't tell them apart ... certainly not by their intention ... neither one seems friendly to me ... and what's worse there isn't one of these fourteen that isn't a genius ... and when I complain that my insignificance is insufficient warrant for such an investigation I'm reminded that my jury is all dead and no longer in time as I know it ... or if I prefer it that they have all the time in the world and outside it to look into my little affair ... since I'm cut off from the judge and cannot see his face to whom can I appeal ... how can I escape the verdict of this jury ... I need an advocate ... no not just to beat this charge ... after it there must be many more ... I need someone to help prepare my soul to meet a change of life ... I seem at times I fear to think the charge is unrelated ... that in time or out of it I can let it dangle ... I know that's not true ... it's why I need the advocate

Saturday, April 17, 2010


god damn the devil ... if he chooses to be damned ... I know he chose damnation but could he change his mind ... or is the answer no because he doesn't have the time ... if at the dawn of creation before time and space at least as we know them the devil made a choice how could he change it now when he's not in our time and space ... not really ... maybe that's what they mean when they suggest evil isn't real ... that it's the absence the privation of something that should be there ... the devil for instance who can be here only by effect by influence and reputation ... but can't really be here now and in the future ... because at that one point in a timeless place he said no ... how can you change your mind tomorrow if you're someplace where there is no today ... I get to change my mind first because it's later ... the devil can't change his mind ... for him there is no later ... as for him there is no time nor is there any salvation ... take heart at this ... it is not you ... not yet ... repent while you still have time


the democrats have always been the party of feelings and the republicans the party of thought ... that's never changed ... it's been so two hundred and twenty years ... hamilton and jefferson ... who had the better thought and how did things turn out when the dust had settled in thirty years ... webster and clay or jackson and calhoun ... which two were the more intense so that they burned in the flesh like a flame ... lincoln and douglas ... which of the two couldn't help feeling this war didn't have to be ... it was unnecessary as was any war over an idea ... mckinley and taft or wilson and the two roosevelts one a renegade republican ... which of these excited the passions and made people cheer ... and eisenhower and the politics of the past that won a world war or kennedy and the politics of right now that nearly started a new one ... reagan and clinton that's too easy ... which for example had the more thoughtful marriage and which made the passion of infidelity a matter of state policy

Friday, April 16, 2010


there were these philosophers alto and basso who began a conversation that went on two thousand years ... first they argued over water and fire then matter and form then logic and good sense ... while generations and centuries round them went to war these two sat and thought ... while half the world on the other side sat so as not to think ... and both sides went to war ... which made you think alto had a good point ... this was a hard world and we should think of another ... and surely would have and gone out to space and colonized the galaxy with peace ... if we hadn't been thwarted by basso's base designs ... now the odd point basso replies is you call them my designs when all I do is trace them in somewhat bolder print ... and to call them base indeed instead of basic is to show once again you've gone up too high ... and so on ... two millenia and more ... never quite to make the point ... and the wars went on ... alto becoming more and more infuriated basso responding slow down slow down let me get another look at this


given ... we were begun and have a way to go ... I believe we also have someone to follow ... but for the purposes of the argument let's say we don't ... we've either lost him or he never showed up ... we still have a way to go ... a regular road a trail a tunnel or a warp we have a way to go ... let's say it's a real heavy-duty warp with colors and opinions and deeds swirling in a funnel ... that way we get to bring the tunnel in too ... here's where you find if parallel lines ever do meet ... but let's leave that for the experts ... let's you and I take the railroad and hope we get through to the end we desire ... along the way let's see what's outside the windows ... I will not say what you see unless like me it's a cruel mass of matter ... for each insight there's a defeat for every truth a mistake for every birth a death ... and for every tragedy at least one rhyming couplet ... for the poets we have always with us and the forms they follow the true and the false lead us all to this one remarkable conclusion ... the forms get better and when they do they're alive

Thursday, April 15, 2010


your curiosity is like a cushion filled with pins without their heads ... you can't hold it for long and it's painful when you squeeze it ... you run so quickly out of time there's just a needlepoint left behind ... well more than one but each is as narrow and shallow as the other ... what would it mean to have a wilderness of these meaningless points ... as many as there are atoms in the universe ... and one more ... the one point all the others sense is present ... the one point of light that all the dark points almost remember and never completely forget ... the point that says of cold and warm it's better to be warm ... of hard and firm firm ... of soft and curved both ... a strong thigh marching across the paradeground to music ... there's always the strong thigh ... but a word spoken ... just the right word at just the right time ... that too is this one point speaking ... there comes a point the last point at the end of the game when you roll the dice one more time and the dice they too are speaking ... the world is filled with a word and the world turns to it ... in all our life it pushed us just once ... once ... and now it never stops pulling

cf capon, the third peacock, ch 4


it's odd about grace ... that we spend so much time praising it ... praying so much that we want it ... don't we spend more time avoiding it ... within a day of receiving some good grace we have put it behind us and moved on ... within an hour of hearing some good lesson we've tagged it filed it and forgotten it ... late in the middle of the night you put your finger on the ur question ... late next morning it's become an uh instead ... in the middle of the universe at the beginning of time a bellowing womb breaks its water and galaxies spill out in milky waves of expectation and delight ... we manage you and I to find a warm spot and dry out ... when being expands and where nothing was something is we forms clubs and meet in the morning to have our toenails clipped ... how substantial some of them look lying on the floor or in the palm of your hand ... if it weren't for the preying mantis the guillotine and the bomb we'd shun grace even more and bide our time in peace till the end ... if it weren't for the threat of a graceless ruin we'd never turn to grace again you and I

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


if all you have are pinpricks you might decide to sit in their midst and become one yourself ... but if they start to accumulate you might want to unionize too ... and the first thing you might do then is to hire a consultant ... one familiar with the trends of things as they are ... of things for you to do if you want a happy ending ... of things themselves just what the hell you think they are and where in fact they're trending ... and this is just for the little pricks and their associations ... what if those associations took on a life of their own ... you might want to hop on quickly before you have no protection ... before you're overrun ... doesn't seem fair ... you were content when things went just a little way to any truth ... when you could pick the little things up and roll them across the floor ... now it's you rolling out into space and you're not sure the vessel you're on is fit to travel ... we don't even have all the languages yet ... foreign affairs are a jumble and civil ones are a war ... where's the guide who can take you to the bridge ... at least up there you get a good view


an instigation to conversation ... that's all they ever meant to do ... really ... they have tried it is true the oracular or pontifical but they never lasted the night ... each felt it was true it had a tiger by the tail ... though most wound up with a rabbit or a rat there were angels too ... and there on the line they drew we stood calling to you ... not a bloody or a brave calling but the ancient call to communion ... if modernity was the price we must pay to go post by it it was money well-spent for it found again a church at the center where the word could be heard most clearly pronounced ... a church at the center that opened suddenly all over the world ... for what's the point if there is no final point ... what's the point if the story never ends ... what's any point if it has no place to stop ... this tradition this community believes that point is a point of triumph ... but here's the trick in between ... this coming cause celbre is a horrible thing to behold and it grinds out bile and disgust but it grows us humble to the last

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I find if I draw a straight line from mobile to new orleans I don't get much ... but if I intersect the line at any point with a date with another line of its own at the intersection I see a warm orange light that begins to grow ... closer attention reveals it's the sky over a setting sun and an old man in wellington boots too thin to be healthy is dismounting his horse ... when I had just this distance I couldn't get reception but when I added the time I could see them all clearly ... it was early nineteenth century ... some time in the second decade ... then I lost the signal ... now all I get is a yellow dome on the inside ... I think my fingers trembled on the dial ... oh for a little gyro to bring the time back precisely ... but I can wait till the clouds pass and the night departs ... actually I welcome the interruption ... before I can bring the two lines back together and center them just right I'd like to know more about what I'm dealing with ... why things work only at the intersection ... and just how sturdy these two lines are


paul speaks clearly ... paul speaks poetically ... what startles me is that he speaks millenially ... almost two of them ... it makes you wonder how many more ... how about just these two and we call a stop at 2030 ... we sit down then and compare notes before we come to an agreement ... we could begin with a basic sentence to which we all consented ... all right you might say if we pepper it with some flexibility ... I find the rigid truths don't say anything new they wrack you with the rod of justice through and through ... but it's the same old story of what we did back then ... I'll have a translator in before we hear it again ... hell I'll have a whole committee ... when we get together to hear their report we'll announce ourselves a community ... and if it's another two we have to wait we'll use them to build on the old foundation ... turns out it wasn't sense data or math or even physics acting mathematically ... and this instead is what we've come up with ... forms and structures ... but these four in particular ... habits flexible inside community and tradition ... call the good ones virtue ... can we get by another two thousand years

cf allen, philosophy for understanding theology, ch 13

Monday, April 12, 2010


you're so far out in space you're in between ... the perfect place to take notes ... earth is over here the moon is over there you're right in between ... the atom is divisible you're the photographer on the scene ... touching nothing ... always hoping to get the light just right ... shining it on ... the two kinds of truth ... one you can count on but not the other ... two kinds of knowledge one that's new and one that's not ... one pulls ... the other holds you up ... you stand on one so you can reach the other ... you're right in between ... almost ... just press the button ... if I could only hear the bell ring I know there'd be an answer ... on the other hand I can be known as a weak link ... just so close and then I lose interest ... almost there and I'm some place else ... sometimes I have lost heart but it's always done on a miscalculation ... I only meant to be precise I forgot there's a cutting edge it goes right down the center ... no matter what you say I know someplace it's not true ... there are two kinds of truth I find but I'm far out in space where everything leads to one


the paranoid was off in this one respect ... he thought his privacy was public ... it was megalo and maniacal because it was big ... but it wasn't public ... it was wideranging in topic and in tone ... but it wasn't public ... but it wasn't just private either ... so what was there in between ... the voice of reason ... whether you spoke it or not ... the forms of logic ... whether you followed them or not ... words paragraphs and conversations not one of which you could understand if you didn't know what you were ... this means a lot ... I'd do a lot to let it be done ... wouldn't matter who you were if you didn't know what ... who would quarrel wouldn't mean a thing ... there had to be a fact and it had to lead to others ... there had to be a thing and it had to be central and by definition it couldn't be you ... but once it was in place it set the gyro spinning ... you could always fly if you had the balance ... there was a grace in just being pulled along ... the fog rolls down the mountain like a river ... not down to you not yet ... not till she turns around hikes up her skirt and begins the climb back ... what would you be not to follow

Sunday, April 11, 2010


matter and form ... potency and act ... now that talk was a long time ago and we've had all these years to digest ... but the trouble has been all this expiring seniority and a dwindling stock of recruits ... consequently as you might expect our part of the tradition has been narrowed and in part is now frayed ... the thread is unbroken but no longer does it bind ... think of it ... to put these two polarities together ... what does it do ... in six words it gives you two definitions ... that's half the world's causes ... matter is potency means privation ... form is act means here's what you wanted ... matter is aimless looking with a big pulse ... form is finding with no heartbeat at all ... potency means power but what does it mean without act ... potency means power but what does it mean without life ... and what does it mean in time ... you think it has no spirit or purpose then how can it act ... you say matter is essential but form is an accident ... you mean to say admit it that law is a chaos but power is a fact ... now put potency in its womb what do you care what can you that anything should come out


sure it's the line of her back sweeping in before it swept out ... or the skin from the inside of her elbow to the palm if you're looking for purity without a blemish ... no she's looking up her eyes are wide but she's smiling ... no no one knee is bent the other straight one hand on her hip the other outstretching but down limp ... but any of this is so only if you're too narrow ... vision-minded ... I tell you it's her voice no matter at the time who's singing ... or the scent of roses or the taste of salt ... but now I trump you all because it is all all the above ... but I'll tell you something in your passion you haven't considered ... each of these is a step back and to the side ... the line the color the taste the smoothness and sweet smell they're only traces ... you thought they were the thing the soul's marrow and the mind's delight but they're not ... she is ... you think you're almost there about to see her face ... her face ... if only in profile ... but you're going away ... fossil-hunting ... away from the scene of your crime ... for these are forms as you thought but subsidiary ... she's the one ... she's the true substance

Saturday, April 10, 2010


it's a love story ... the lover is a man the beloved a woman ... it's a traditional love story ... the lover seeks ... the beloved hides ... and when the lovers meet for she loves him as well we all find she had good reasons to hide ... first of all she wasn't always hidden ... who can be called if he cannot hear ... how long could he be sleeping before he turned to despair ... to keep him waking she must allow him a punctuated presence ... he would have her everywhere ... somehow she must satisfy that desire ... and if she were not here now she might be soon ... if life were a false fabric she must hold it together by always being true ... so she had at least the air of permanence the promise that when he found her it would be final ... in the meantime she would leave traces ... he must learn to love her in these aspects ... to follow her in these formal ways ... no mere sentiment when she did appear she must be material and effective ... for the marks she leaves in his memory must light his steps to the end of time ... he has eternity to follow

*Where for instance is my lap when I have stood up? as answered by Aristotle and Aquinas


why is the pothead such a head ... why wouldn't he be ... sitting on the bench his head between his knees the fingers of his right hand massaging the center of his brow ... he's up a bit more now ... the rise of being on his brain ... what was it with those greeks and paul who spoke the language too ... thinking so widely and so well ... body and mind it sings like a refrain ... spirit and soul a hymn to people like me ... I heard them talking for an hour ... I knew they were right even when they disagreed ... are they not wise ... then who am I ... hand to my heart I could not tell ... if what they say is not true almost true is not perfect almost so then what do I know says the pothead standing up ... they do speak the truth though I know it with a grunt ... that's me speaking not with my mind or my heart I do it with my shoulders ... I do everything with my back ... and when we're loaded down they tell us to run ... steel pots on our heads to hold everything in ... this was a long time ago they had their talk ... that means a long time we've been on the road to obey

Friday, April 09, 2010


thesis ... rome new york vienna washington chicago galena athens jerusalem back to rome ... all in twelve hours not to mention the centuries and millenia in between ... how's that possible ... justification righteousness faithfulness salvation love ... like a blue screen behind time ... the hawaii division lands on the canal a touch on the kindle and a soldier on board an LCI steals a pistol ... took electricity to do that so it didn't take long ... nor does each visit ... an hour at the most ... memory is easy for the things in time ... I see the dictator he isn't large but he is excited relieved and grateful but he's already put one foot in the noose ... I see them now both but neither without time ... there are other places I go people I talk to there and when I come back I can't recall their faces ... I can't remember what was in the room but in each case there's a window ... and sometimes a back door and a porch ... I see why I can't remember there's a rocking chair because of the sky ... it's pure blue the other side of time ... motion here but none there

cf grant by byrd; anschluss in churchill, hitler, and the unnecessary war, by buchannan; the thin red line by jones; 1942, ch 17, by groom.


sin and death are a necessary connection to be sure but have you noticed how it's always done through the law ... take a liberal dose for example of pride disobedience and despair ... stir in some politics 101 ... sample the result ... what does it taste like ... it has does it not the taste of ideology ... pride past this point I will not go ... disobedience with luck just now who has it better than me ... despair I'm wrong not just this once but always I'm better off dead if I could only die ... the original sin was the angelic sin of demonic pride ... then we came along and added our no and look at what we did ... we sentenced ourselves to death ... and yet we are not dead ... how do you figure something like that ... in the meantime you've got to live ... you're about to be punished for sure ... you know this as you know everything ... it's the law ... this is going to get nasty sooner or later ... in the meantime we've all got to live ... we talk in concentric forums of more and more importance ... headlong up or down ... we wing it either way

cf romans 8:1-4

Thursday, April 08, 2010


was inside but there was a trend toward vision brought me outside ... a line outside the theater decades long ... a trend outside the truth painfully wide and foolishly pointed ... an alliance between sight and touch that we'd have one but not the other ... nor taste nor smell the old sentinels at the gate ... not one of them figured it out ... but hearing did ... no not at first of course ... at first there was just a big bang ... but later after music and conversation ... didn't so much figure it out as it was laid out line by line and then word by word ... till sight came back to watch ... touch paused to consider ... and the sentries went back to their posts ... there were colors profound but this was something else ... and music of course and warm winds and cool breezes but this was something else ... here what was said and everything changed ... all the learning and all the practice that these words might be said ... and before them already beyond its time and place something old but never anything this new ... (c)

cf kreeft jesus shock pp 126-7


there's a room at the center of the universe where the body the mind and the soul come apart ... often they offer each other written credentials testimonials defences ... if purgatory is a bureaucracy there may be a ring of rooms where separated minds go to recover and report ... a concentric narrowing series of rooms from hovel to palatial and is one long conversation ... what did you think of that body thing one might say to another ... threw me around I can tell you ... took me a while before I could say it was a holy confounding thing ... but who could forget the first moment of each morning of being there when you just had not ... all this time all these mornings that moment has never changed ... each time before time there's nothing but space ... and then you begin ... that much was never less than right ... nor less than a satisfying obligation ... if it weren't for the pain ... it was a thought ... we might have gone on forever ... it gripped the bone past all that flesh ... forget the pain it makes me say I suffer ... I want to know what I missed ... what made me say I thirst ... (b)

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


no ... you wouldn't want to talk to him ... some say he was high up ... some say the highest of them all ... think how much lower than the rest he would have to fall ... how low he is now and how low descending ... that would be some elevator ride up all that way back if anything went wrong during the conversation ... now here's a guy who would rather snuff you out than profit by you ... one who isn't suffused with matter but who infuses it and controls it ... one who doesn't just gaze at the stars but was present at their creation ... was present before both time and space ... before the rainbow he knew its elements and formation ... where you see light the most profound and elevating he saw it all first before you ... and by it he was overwhelmed ... call it grace or beauty ... but in the middle of his rapture he asked himself a question ... whose ... I guess at first he might have meant where in that who there was any room for him ... but not in the end ... by the end he knew whose splendor it was ... and what he had instead was only murder and the lie ... (a)


if faith is an unattached gift ... given to us by god and cannot be earned by reason that doesn't mean that faith must be ugly blind or detached from reason ... or that reason has no easy way to serve faith ... reason must at least figure this much out ... if faith is a gift from god then it most probably is the best it can be ... now admittedly here we must take a broad view of reason and say it includes not only understanding judgment and calculation but memory and imagination too ... think on the second of these for a moment and ask what obligation do we have through it to honor such a peerless gift from god ... may we not start when we ask what does she look like by hearing from her first ... reason has understood much ... done a lot of calculation ... made a lot of tough decisions ... it has a right to examine its pretensions before it comes to this one last attention ... reason was a servant from the start in attendance upon the truth and it should end by seeing just how beautiful she is

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


the subject makes the object ... if you're god ... any other subject the object makes you ... from time to time comes a generation often after a war thinks it is god ... the collective vision of its subjective glare peoples the landscape with points of interest ... little hogs on a flat plain prickly but small ... and all with a set purpose ... set them on fire to light up the way ... we were never all that dumb ... we could see enough to know there was something there ... and more by touch and bruise we caught its corners and curves ... sometimes the endpoint was sharp enough to teach us a thing or two ... so came the circle to give us the rest to remember ... thank god even folly can give a good night's sleep ... in the morning there may be fog and by evening confusion ... the hedgehogs flare out ... small white points on a black curtain ... they pull it aside each morning and we start all over again ... same menu different words ... you are what you eat ... today for instance for breakfast we have brain in a vat ... what does it think of me when it's mine even though I think it's not ... who can say


the problem is do we have something in us more divine than the essence of a blade of grass ... were we all sent out with no thought of return ... not even with the pulling weight of a child in the air knowing she must come down ... or are we the first to turn around and reflect in our faces god's decision for us ... when we do get to thinking we could fill a glove with five fingers of thought and then move the hand as if it were one ... we can say a word and act as if we meant it ... we could tell a lie and then repent it ... we can turn in a still empty room and ask what's the point ... close our ears and close our eyes and hear a rattle of voices ... see not just what she's saying but get a touch of her intent ... before the system and the thought first comes the thinker ... like the cob in the center of the web we find the filiments resillient ... like the blade of grass they mean some other ... a finger on the bell we mean to press it to enter ... we've seen the world all its turning turning ... if there's a point to be made we want to see the who that makes it

Monday, April 05, 2010


calculation that's what you do with logic ... imagination that's what you do with understanding ... here's an example ... the ego is homeless or thinks it is ... it gets the chance to live in a fleshpot a vacuum chamber or a fountain ... he goes to the fleshpot first ... this is nice he says ... it has a regular circular swirl punctuated by fast surges even spikes of impulse ... over the years it's a great game of straight line and curve ... especially swinging wide on the turns ... and it's a great life of coasting and sliding into home ... but comes the knock at the door and there's no one there ... not even a question as to who it might be ... and it's the loss of that question that haunts him most ... an aimless vapid little void ... ah now's the time for thought ... the eagle sits himself down ... now while we're waiting let's fire up the cause and watch its effect ... let's take the essence of our observation and put it in this box ... along the sides we'll cut holes out for its breathing ... lord what to do with such a toy so that now I can say I see


a friend asked do you pray ... I said these pacres are my prayers ... he said do you pray to jesus ... I said I am not worthy ... he said do it anyway ... so I did at three o'clock in the morning ... I said jesus you are hidden from me ... through me he replied that's a given which brought a chuckle and emboldened me to ask why is that a gift how is that a gift and he answered I temper the wind for the shorn lamb ... well that's right I conceded ... I am a lamb shorn of any significant power psychological and especially now physical and I know if I should see the lord here in my room in the middle of the night it would scare the hell out of me ... in general not a bad thing you might say but not now I would object not now necessarily in my shorn state a good thing ... I'll trust the lord in his timing in preference for auditory over visual illumination ... not so sudden not so sheer the light of his words ... more mellow in counsel more measured in prudence ... drop by drop syllable by syllable ... prudential and practical I say ... in answer to a simple question what should I do now ... sell what you have was his quick reply ... give

Sunday, April 04, 2010


the problem of reading as in why bother is the problem of knowledge and its solution is most easily but not best expressed in the maual or catalog of goods on sale ... more profoundly and troublesome we get to the novel or biography or book of history where the invitation is to immersion and by a displacement to free the soul from the tyranny of this false particularity that browbeats the mind with thoughts of this far but no further this much but never any more ... thus to float free in another sea of someone else's particulars to hike under that sea the faultlines of another people's submerged tragedy is to come as close as our secular gills can to breathing in the air of the kingdom of heaven ... now who at this point would say too much ... sit down sit down I say ... here look at this map ... do you see these splendid brown colors and these hard ridgelike lines ... that's it ... that's what they are ... these are the carpathians ... but what are even they without a date ... so here take this one ... august 1914 ... and think of franz joseph in vienna mournfully musing


my father is god almighty my brother is jesus christ my mother is the holy spirit st sophia ... how is it that I know these things ... how is it that I do not ... whose voice did I hear coming across the water in my mother's womb telling me to come out ... what reason can I give even now that I should have been there ... that I should be here ... what signs are there mathematical and precise to explain how I got there ... to tell me who I am ... what is this lump of matter that it should summon others to it to nourish and to grow ... whose name was I given that I should know when to respond ... what word has been spoken that I am the one to hear it ... what is it about all this stuff swirling cogently in space these clumps of interest that together they should sing ... and why should I alone be sent into the corner to weep ... to play at deaf blind and mute when everyone else is playing outside ... what punishment what penance and contrition consign me to this sorrow that by looking down I should pretend to see heaven ... that by closing my fist in front of my mouth I should deny my right to be born ... what world is this I have created ... my birthright has destroyed ... who am I forever that an orphan I am now

Saturday, April 03, 2010


I feel the same way ... I'm agreeing with you ... all my life all my life I've built a shrine to that great god sensation ... each month another stone on the perimeter round that great fire ... but as the fire dies out and the cold advances from behind me in the dimming light I can still see the way ... I can see the light but it doesn't warm me ... I can see it's a straight run to the town that cannot be derailed but I'm not smelling any roses on the way ... and when I listen and it's very very still ... past the ringing and the drums the pistol shot and the applause the speeches and the crowds ... something like the wind the last wind moving out to sea ... and just then in the second or two it leaves behind ... the thought of something I might just remember having heard it once before many years ago ... no ... no ... even that the last clear recall moves on ... this isn't in the past and it seems to have no future ... if it has a there it's not like any place I've seen before ... this is something else ... like a pressing in only the feeling is a sham or what's a metaphor for if you can't use them when you need them ... this is something else ... here


the trouble is dribbling forward when I should be spitting ... aiming at ... starting with a plan a question then its answer ... it's not enough to have a hammer even if you can throw it really far and straight ... it's not enough to have an anvil even if it's flat broad and powerful at the top ... you have to halve them both and you know even that's not enough ... you need the material in between the hammer and the anvil ... something to give a form ... something that doesn't have it yet ... a pre form thing and what a thing that must be ... a thing without a form ... any form ... I'm thinking about the first thing before the first form ... using such a thing formless as a form to guide you is enough to make anyone dribble ... and I wouldn't ... I'd have if I could nothing to do with it ... but I have no choice ... I have a form indicative of the time ... fatally attracted to this thing without a form ... before the first form ... it drops me on a downslope with my feet running in a circle but fixed in place ... I know I'll be going down I just don't know when ... it can't be long but even then I'll disagree ... hold back on my consent ... before this final wonder

Friday, April 02, 2010


why is the name of jesus an embarrassment to us today ... is it because he's the linchpin in our defense against a meaningless but powerful deity on the one hand and a doctrine just as meaningless and as powerful in its potency on the other ... ah isn't it better to be a greek better even than latin ... plato say or with a liitle reading aristotle even better once again ... ones are ones and threes are threes and never the twain shall meet without a two between them ... all right a first material cause call him paternalistically father ... a second necessary cause the cause of necessity call it form ... and a third filling the form with passion and with light call it purpose ... how can you see without the light how can you care without the passion how can you know the form or understand the matter without the purpose and what purpose is there ever finally without the person ... thus aristotle ... four causes ... and jesus in the center both the person and the form and we beside him the persons by the person learning the form compelled by the matter propelled by the purpose freed by the form and the person

cf kreeft, jesus-shock


I don't know ... this may be right ... there are only two things ... reflections reverberations of two other distinctions ... of the beautiful and the ugly ... of the true and the false ... and these two the good and the bad are everything but primal ... and what a wearing down between the two ... and what a distance from the primal ... the wearing away and the distance involved tempt the mind to float away out into infinite space ... from one distinction to another and all derived and each more distant than the last ... but what's the point if you can't get back to the one thing necessary with all your vapid theorizing and shallow inspiration ... an old man climbing one flight too many out of breath and frantic out of patience ... this chisel point tapping against the shell of your security ... good this is bad ... good this is bad ... what is it what is it you think they're trying to say ... their timpanning distraction what is it what do they want ... they clutch at your sleeve they tug at your elbow they pull you where you do not want to go ... in the opposite direction not to the one but away ... you cannot stay here at two ... they pull you away to more ... pull you to three

Thursday, April 01, 2010


well it's true it's not about me or it is about me but only tangentially ... it's not about friends but about my isolation but only my isolation in time this time for a time ... it isn't about communion and life it's about dissolution and death ... but closing the door has opened the window because it's a strange house but a stranger world outside ... it isn't about the taste of the fruit on the tip of my tongue or the breeze through the screen on a cool summer night ... not even about a word not even about a desire follow as they may ... in a word however if there must be one it's not about a beginning but coming to an end ... after all these decades of bulling forward what can it mean to come to a stop ... to call up your troops to put them in line but give them a rest fill up their supply get them ready to advance but all to no point because you've come to an end ... no it's not about you ... shortly shortly for us all there is no more you ... but even that even that isn't the point simply because it's not now ... it isn't even later ... now there's something else ... the something that made you stop and put all of you now now to an end ... that's made you stop so now you must think ... what is it about ... what did it mean ... if you say we and I don't


the grief they say is in the ancilla ... the hairbrush the dish the care you gave before she died ... let me tempt no large sorrow here but a small one though very deep ... no extensive loss of wife or children or parent no brother or sister or friend but family though just a family pet ... what's missing when she's not there beside the bowl or the place on the landing or by the window where she'd wait till you came home ... what's not there beside the black fur or the deep purr or the sideways stroking of her neck on your hand or most of all the wide-open round eyes in the patient face on the tense body ... what's not there beside these that still remain with you in your mind in the air or the space she still fills ... what's missing that she is ... or is it was ... or that's the point ... for this is a being unlike all the other stray pieces of her being ... traces that attract your attention and fix her in your mind but not her ... the being you mean to mourn ... isn't that what pets are for to teach their children and adults the distinction between the accidental and the essence ... there's a movement of substance from here to some place else that wounds ... even as the largest movement back is the one that heals

for plato