Monday, February 04, 2008

A Call for Submissions

I have decided to have a theme for February's posting here. I am going to examine my own, and other people's influences. This is a look at the things that move me, be they artistically, politically, personally, whatever.

My first project is Words that Move. So I'm giving everyone here 1 week to think of their favourite segment(s) from a book or play that have had an impact on their lives. It can be any book or play regardless of genre, with the exception of a quotionary, as I am doing spoken word later.
I am then compiling them and we shall take a look at themes, sources and overlaps.

Thus please do not be afraid to submit anything from Milton to Munch, Shakespeare to Seuss. No one is judging your literary prowess here, I already know everyone here has a degree/Masters in English and/or reads at an 800th grade level (why else would you be at my blog?- ha ha).

Just show me the passages that make you love this great passtime we call reading.

"The so-called Mysteries have been with us forever. There is not a society on the face of the earth that does not and did not have its own version of what these Mysteries reveal of the Great Spirit, God, the gods and their relationshio to our lives- and our lives to theirs...
In modern times we call such Mysteries art. Our greatest Shamans of the moment are Rodin, Stravinsky (much as I hate his music) and Mann. And what else are they telling us but: go back and look again. In time, these shamans will be replaced by others- but all speaking in a single voice. It was ever thus. But no one ever listens."
-Pilgrim, Timothy Findley


Andrew J. Root the First said...

And me with my library in Canada...

Can I have an extension?

Joe said...

You may call it "reading," but I prefer the term 'optical word consumption.'

Here's my submission. I'm re-reading "The Last Temptation" by Nikos Kazantzakis and I remember being pretty wowed the first time I read it. It's translated from Greek.

'[The centurion] took two steps, then one more, and stopped. The stench from the open mouths and sweaty unwashed bodies had hit him. The Jewry! He advanced further and arrived in front of the rabbi. The old man was looking down on him from his place atop the blacksmith's shoulders, a smile of beatitude spread over his entire face. All his life he had longed for this moment, and now it had come: the moment when he too would be killed, just like the prophets.

The centurion half-closed his eyes and glanced at him. It was with great effort that he controlled his arm, which had already risen to smash the old rebellious head with a single punch. But he checked his fury, for it was not in Rome's interests to kill the old man. This accursed unyielding people would rise to its feet again and start a guerilla war, and it was not in Rome's interests to have to thrust its hand once more into this wasps' nest of Jews. Governing his strength therefor, he wrapped the whip around his arm and turned to the rabbi. His voice had grown hoarse:

"Rabbi, your face is deemed worth of reverence only because I revere it, only because I, Rome, want to give it value - of itself it has none. That is why I'm not going to lift my whip. I heard you, you passed sentence. Now I shall do the same."

He turned to the two gipsies, who stood on either side of the cross, waiting:

"Crucify him!" he howled.

"I passed sentence," the rabbi said in a tranquil voice, "and so did you, centurion. But there remains one, the most important of all, who must also pass sentence."

"The emperor?"

"No.... God."

The centurion laughed. "I am the mouth of the emperor in Nazareth; the emperor is the mouth of God in the world. God, emperor and Rufus have passed sentence."

That said, he unwound the whip from around his arm and started towards the top of the hill, maniacally lashing the stones and thorns below him.

An old man lifted his arms up to heaven:

"May God heap the sin upon your head, Satan, and upon the heads of your children and your children's children!"

The bronze cavalrymen meanwhile had formed a circle around the cross. Below, snorting with wrath, the people stretched on tip-toe in order to see. They were trembling with anguish: would the miracle happen, or not? Many searched the sky to see when the heavens would open. The women had already discerned multicoloured wings in the air. The rabbi, kneeling on the blacksmith's broad shoulders, struggled to see between the horses' hoofs and the cavalrymen's red cloaks. He wanted to discover what was happening above, around the cross. He looked, looked at the summit of Hope, at the summit of despair - looked, and did not speak. He was waiting. The old rabbi knew him, knew him well, this God of Israel. He was merciless and had his own laws, his own decalogue. Yes, he gave his word and kept it, but he was in no hurry: he measured time with his own measure. For generations and generations his Word would remain inoperative in the air and not come down to earth. And when it did come down at last, woe and three-times woe to the man to whom he decided to entrust it! How often, from one end of the Holy Scripture to the other, had God's elect been killed - but had God ever lifted a finger to save them! Why? Why? Didn't they follow his will? Or was it perhaps his will that all the elect should be killed? The rabbi asked himself these questions but dared not push his thoughts any further. God is an abyss, he reflected, an abyss. I'd better not go near!'