mad drunk genius

I used to have all sorts of problems. Now there's just the one.

Tag: Christianity

‘Shanghai’ — like the city

The tragedy of contemporary mediocrity is that you don’t even get the satisfaction of feeling your displeasure is anything remarkable.

No! You’re one of millions experiencing exactly this, and no matter how intense you think you feel it, you know your mediocre talents mean that you’ll never be more than part of a chorus.

There’s nothing wrong with singing in a chorus except that you’re aware there are also people out there who are not of your same class, but think themselves so, will be far better at expressing the ennui of people like you than you are of conceiving of your own.

The last refuge of mediocrity is supposed to be ignorance of it, but in our wonderful world of progress, the standard of criticism has risen to the point where that is no longer possible.

The WiFi password here is ‘Shanghai’, except the server demurs to tell you exactly how it’s spelled. Deferring to their frequent experience, I understand that this knowledge is not at all universal, and yet it’s the biggest city in the world. Who wouldn’t know how to spell that?

In the United States, tens of millions of people. And then some number, I have no idea how many, can be aware of this while also being aware that neither this ignorance nor this knowledge is remarkable.

In Europe, after the fall of the Western Roman Empire and before the rise of nation-states, almost everyone lived under a worldview that Christianity was correct and everyone had their place in it. Your suffering was proper and deserved.

Modernity has brought this same sort of secular awareness. Life is short, death is certain, and suffering is universal. Your own is neither more intense nor more interesting than anyone else’s. You don’t deserve to feel anything, even disappointment, when your experience is placed next to the whole of the human race.

I am one small flickering light among many other flickering lights, and although my pattern matters somewhat to the cohesiveness to the overall, on its own it matters not at all.

This is difficult teaching. Who can accept it?

Marvelous, this fantastic world, isn’t it?

Quentin, the upscale gangster banker, is not so awkward in person.
——Slip in to the backward way, then try to extricate again.
His limbs on one side —the left—were transparent as they began to reform.

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January 2012: What stringy wonderful flesh that fills & exceeds libido’s imagination

DARLING I eat FIRE — or rather drink it — & it burns down my throat into my belly but sets alight my mind with all explosive primal yen.
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I must have heard the last line somewhere else

He sighed and put down the newspaper.

“Fifteen years ago the reviewers would have been beating each other half to death trying to see who could lavish the most praise on me. But now that they’ve smelled blood they’re fighting to get a piece of me before there’s nothing left.”

“Inhale some inspiration,” his friend offered.

“It’s not that it’s not as good as my first book. I know it is. It’s better, even. In every way. I’m a better writer now.”

“You are.”

“And I’d like to call them idiots for not being able to see that, but maybe they’re right. Maybe I’m ‘boring’ and ‘shallow’ and ‘insipid’ now because I don’t have anything more to say. Maybe I’ve only got so much wisdom or such a narrow view of life I’ve already shared it all already.”

“Makes dying young not sound so bad.”

“What if Keats’ best work wasn’t only caused by the sickness, it was the best he ever would have done? What if he’d lived to 50 or longer like Wordsworth, gotten better at his form in every way imaginable and regularly put out new poems. Would they say he died as an artist at 25, still?”

“They’d say he wasn’t as inspired, probably. That Keats lost whatever it was that had made him great before.”

“That’s the problem. You don’t suddenly become a bad writer. But you do wake up one day and realize it’s left you. The spirit is gone.”

“My old English professor was a minor celebrity, in another life he called it. He said Christians got married to the Holy Spirit, but all writers could hope for was a tryst with a muse.”

Review of Narnia

Everybody knows the story of Narnia, or at least they should if they’ve been out from under a rock any time during the past fifty years. Group of kids go through a wardrobe into the magical land of Narnia ruled by a witch, with the aid of Aslan the lion defeat her to become kings and queens, Christian allegory of sin and Christ’s sacrifice, yadda yadda yadda.

Anyway, it’s been presented in a number of different mediums over the years, but the challenges of condensing and adapting the story to the stage certainly have to be difficult. When on top of that the adaptation is a musical, this task becomes immense.

Musicals are challenging by their very nature. Not only do you have all of the responsibilities of presenting a coherent story, you have the added responsibilities of delivering entertaining song and dance numbers. Overall, I thought the Sul Ross production of Narnia succeeded on both accounts.

You wouldn’t have known it from the beginning. The musical introduction with nothing else happening went on for far too long, even in my second viewing when I recognized all the different themes being played in the medley. This made the show’s start and sub par opening number feel far worse than they actually were. The four kids and Mrs. Macready were all good actors, but the dialogue and musical number itself was mediocre. Exceedingly mediocre. Save Edmund, I thought they all proved they could sing well later on, Susan especially, though unlike Lucy she didn’t get many chances to demonstrate until very late in the show. Susan and Peter seemed to have had their potential wasted in terms of the distribution of acting and singing opportunities, spending three-fourths of the play watching it from the stage. This isn’t the fault of the production, but two very good performers were stuck in roles that didn’t do much to showcase them.

Regardless, once the story moved into Narnia, everything picked up in terms of quality. This is due in large part to the arrival of the new characters, most especially the White Witch.

Most of the actors heavily favored one or the other when it came to acting or singing. As I suggested earlier, Edmund’s singing left much to be desired, but his acting was everything an Edmund should be. Physically, Fenris Ulf did what was required of him and acted well, but the fellow couldn’t sing. On the other side, the Dwarf hammed it up too much for my liking and the accent sounded forced, but her singing was magnificent and the duets with the Witch might have saved the whole show from its bad start.

But those numbers were ultimately special because of the Witch, the only character I thought was spectacular both dramatically and vocally. She had the best part in the play (with the possible exception of the Beavers), but definitely made the most of it. From speaking sternly to seductively to raging to hitting high and low notes, she was really, really fantastic.

If I’m going to hold up the Witch as the measuring stick for all “main” characters, then certainly Mr. & Mrs. Beaver would be the same for the “supporting” characters. These two were absolutely fantastic. Did they have more opportunities than most? No doubt, but the point is that they made the most of them, in the process making almost every scene they were in worth watching. Mr. Beaver’s low class British accent alone probably caused all of his lines to be funnier than they are written in the script, and while his singing voice didn’t have the “wowing” greatness of the White Witch or Aslan, he turned in a workman-like performance and hit all of his notes, something which fit the character well. The chemistry between him and his wife was equally amusing, and the most entertaining portions of the play had to be the two of them playing off one another. Her stronger ability was in singing, if his was in acting, but both were very good at both and complimented one another perfectly.

A more dubious honor goes to Mr. Tumnus, who also performed with equal lack of skill acting and singing. Although left off the program, “You Can’t Imagine” was without a doubt the worst musical number in the entire show because he had to carry it and couldn’t. The Stag’s dance provided some humorous entertainment in the background, but Tumnus’s singing was literally painful. I mention this not out of meanness because I’m sure the actor playing him put in as much work as everyone else and deserves that credit. However, he does provide a very good example of just how difficult it is to meet the requirements of a musical, and though in my estimation he failed this, it highlights the successes of the rest of the performance.

Aslan let me down as well, unfortunately, but then I suppose the role of Jesus the Lion has big paws to fill. It wasn’t that the actor’s singing or acting was bad. Overall he was surely one of the best in the play. But of all things Aslan is supposed to be, he just wasn’t. In terms of stature and voice, the actor met the requirements, but the frequent “roars” did not suffice, and the gentleness and strength were rarely presented believably. His costume actually detracted in all of these areas; yellow pants, a yellow shirt with shiny material on the chest and shoulders, and a lion mask/headdress do not a great costume make, not when the character is supposed to be the most powerful and majestic person on stage.

I should mention that this was an aberration, though. I thought both the costumes and set were terrific, especially the latter. Except for Aslan, only the Unicorn and Stag had costumes that seemed lacking, while the actual children in the play (Dryads, Fox, Rabbit, etc.) were all ridiculously cute, due more to their costumes or their behavior, I know not. The Cruelies (whose entrance I loved) and Narnians looked great, and helped fill out the stage up to and through the climactic final battle.

In the first show I saw, the foreground swordfight between Fenris Ulf and Peter was very bad, even by the standards of plays, but by the Monday night show, they seemed to have gotten most of these problems fixed and it had the violence and energy you want to see out of a climactic struggle. But in both cases, the highlight of the battle was still when Aslan grabbed the Witch and took her screaming offstage. Anyway, a good last scene before all of the wrap up.

Of course it’s tough to have a musical without music, and the orchestra playing live from backstage did great. While I didn’t always like the songs they played, I must admit that besides the trumpet, they were all marvelous. My only complaint was that whenever the light on stage dimmed, the lights for the orchestra made them be seen from behind the back curtain, and unlike children, I’m of the opinion orchestras should be heard and not seen. It’s my understanding this was done more or less intentionally, but it was still distracting on several occasions when acting was going on on stage but behind it the director was waving his arms. But they played well, and that’s the important thing.

Overall, a very well put together show with a lot of work put into it, and it definitely showed. Except for the very beginning, it was entertaining enough that I didn’t mind seeing it twice and able to be enjoyed by people of all ages.  

God loves, the devil accepts

“God loves, the devil accepts.” ‘Tis the greatest Christian concept. For though God does love those who repent, for those who do not, His love is torment. Behave and be saved, believe or be grieved. We are impure and the world but a sieve.

So then what of those who are thusly strained out, unable to let faith suppress their own doubt? Be they doomed to weep, gnash, and wail? Be they doomed to suffer in Hell? Be they doomed to endure endless fires, simply because they defied God’s desires?

If you love God, He will love you. Forfeit the old, He will make new. Should you be graced, you need not have fear, for you will be counted among God’s most dear. Conditional love is His strongest trait, but conditional love is conditional hate.

So what then of the Bright Morning Star? Venus, it’s said, had a body unmarred. She took all who came, so the bawds sing, though called a whore later for doing such things. Or slut, I suppose, if you prefer, though I’m most fond of Lucy for.

It fits her right as a nickname, though she has had many and they all work the same. I might call her Asherah, were I Canaanite, and had pole to worship her rite. Or had a snake to wrap round a tree, and had an Eve to set us all free.

The beast with ten horns rapes our Mother with rapture, but only because she has been freely captured. She wants love that he can provide, and the strength of his lust cannot be denied. “The devil can’t love”, but I would remind, love of the flesh is love of a kind.

Exclusive universal monotheism was really a novel concept

Even if you think that it’s a completely man-made concept, you have to admit that as much as we take it for granted now, a God (not “god”) that is the only one, that controls everything, and most importantly, is everywhere, was something very new and very different compared to what existed in the world at that time.

The Israelites had a very different view of theology than what everyone else was doing at the time. Even acknowledging that another god existed was wrong to them. Up until then, you got conquered, you took someone else’s gods and meshed them with your existing ones, or added a few new slots at the temple, but this was a religion that didn’t leave room for compromises. I’d like to think that that’s because truth doesn’t leave room to compromise for lies, but a lot of people will disagree.

Now the dominant religions in the world (Christianity, Islam, and because of modern Israel’s importance to geopolitics, Judaism) are all exclusive, universal, and monotheistic, and that’s more or less crystalized religious interaction for the world, but wars existed before any of them existed and they would exist without them. But hopefully, for all of the strife that’s been caused in their names, one of them is right.