6 times in 6 posts
“A Group of Portraits”
Well. Direct author address. Here I am Cummings the author says, here I am having crossed the Slough of Despond. Good to know I didn't imagine the parallels when reading the intro and first chapter. Still, what does a direct address do? Make us part of the journey, as if we were co-prisoners or maybe gaolers? Here in the prison of now is were a person can make the kinds of decisions that lead to the celestial city – or in this case bring it to him? The reason I think that is that one of the men is called The Delectable Mountain (the Wanderer).
Also his thing about time really struck me. He says he his going to recount his time at La Ferte by giving us a series of portraits instead of a temporal account because time is one of the “treasures of freedom.” I take that to mean human time...our priorities, decisions about what to do, eat, think about. When that is taken away (what he delightfully calls “an amputation of the world” other organizing principles come to the fore.
Why it struck me with some force most certainly has to do with where I am. In a cabin, wood-heated, no wifi, I struggle to remember what day it is. The day's organization is first and foremost around keeping the wood stove going. Without the heat my fingers ache (old frostbite reminder), and I can't type, or read with any comfort. So, sleep for a bit, get up and put another split in the firebox. Write and read. Put another split in the box. Go get more wood from the pile. Go to the outhouse. Sleep a bit. Get up and put another split in the firebox. Write...
If I need to go down to the kitchen (outdoor kitchen down the hill), I make sure the box is well stoked, and close down the vents to keep it hot but not so hot as to burn up the wood too fast. When life is like that, actions and objects become iridescent. I mean that they present themselves to the imagination in ways so startling and obvious that it is as if you have moved to another world, one in which time has deflated like a helium balloon too long past the birthday feast. I think this is why I can write in places like this. My duty to job and urban living vanishes and the fierce cycle required of places like this opens the eyes to things. And after all, writing is about presenting things so that they capture attention – at least the kind of writing I do is.
The Clever Man's beating down of Judas! So what the Clever Man represents is the way of the redeemed?
I've always found it rather exciting to remember that there is a difference between what we experience and what we think it means.