|So rah!,John_That reading was quite a trip. I seem to have a innate rudeness in my writings lately. Not to be intentional… it is just a phase. I read some things, somewhere else and got the feeling my writing was quite useless, because of whatever, but I really don’t want to give up on it. It is my life really to write. _even at this time of doubt.
And you know…I just would mot abandon my post. I really liked this reading, because I had just come in from outside after working on my ‘big deal to me ‘ project…phase 1 or 2.
We’re probably into stage 3, phase-Stage. Uh oh! I’m here, I am and there will be a time, when this suits/serves my purpose(comfort) again, but this must be a low ebb signal. I am just uncomfortable writing. Need to do more reading?
I was never a science fiction fantasy reader, except for PK Dick and
I listened to the recording of_’Hold Fast’
That was just my impression of what I was hearing. It was an effective
‘M’just made popcorn. I’d better go be husband and eat popcorn and watch the movie. ‘August Rush’. John, It was a lovely day, today. I am fine and we will talk again. I loved dropping by.
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|That was the only way to read this, TR. In the novel the professors of Gormenghast Castle overturn a long conference table and sit in as if it were a boat before chanting this litany. The professors teach Titus, 77th Earl of Gormenghast, when he is a boy much like other boys, except with the knowledge that the immense weight and incomprehensible purpose of his noble birthright await his coming of age, a responsibility steeped in rituals the meaning of which are either long forgotten or entirely arcane since their inception in the distant past. Gormenghast, a crumbling ruin of a castle, city-sized, with only a fraction of it still populated by those he might think of as his subjects, is his domain and his entire world. Its denizens are creatures of comical grotesquery: the professors in their caps and gowns, Doctor Prunesqualler and his rail-thin and skeletal sister, Irma, the morbidly obese Swelter who presides over cavernous kitchens resembling his name, his father the 76th Earl who fades into obscurity even as he lives, finally eaten by owls in the Tower of Flint; his sister Fuschia, raven-haired, with a beauty which might have been assembled by one who had never seen beauty but had read of it in exaggerated language; his mother Gertrude of the flight of birds in and around her copious red-haired mane and sea of white cats at her feet, also massive – like the castle itself; his mysterious, reclusive aunts who seem to be forgotten about in an otherwise abandoned wing, forgotten by all but the twisted, purely evil, youthful, pinch-faced Steerpike, who would become Titus’s nemesis. And, outside the castle, in the deep woods where few dare to go, the exiled Flay lurks somewhere, and a wild girl child known only as The Thing, uncontrollable like Nature, despite all the lashings of forgotten, antique and ritualistic law the Earls of Gormenghast bear the impossible burden of maintaining. So, it’s a story about a boy coming of age in this Charles Dickens-on-LSD sort of world, which provides the setting for one of the most self-consciously imaginative symbolist parodies in the history of English literature. Peake’s style is one which alternates between Tolstoy-like explorations of the inner world of thought where a moment in time takes six pages to describe, to (often) heavy-handed, lush, symphonic, inner-rhymed, and painstakingly realistic descriptive and expository prose of which one may complain there are “too many words!” but then discover on closer examination that there isn’t a single one out of place. His plot advances in more rapid narrative, interspersed with expert dialogue, in the midst of this many-layered phenomenon of breathtaking language almost seamlessly, and in the third novel of the set, “Titus Alone,” recounting the beginning of the young Earl’s adventures outside of Gormenghast Castle, this story-driven approach becomes dominant. Peake intended that Titus’s story should continue, but he died unexpectedly, leaving the work to be published in the form of a trilogy. And you can see in the conclusion that it is not a complete conclusion, leaving the reader more than might otherwise be the case into his own speculations. This may have helped to augment the cult-like popularity of the novels. Moreover, Gormenghast provided a modernist epic alternative to the great Catholic allegory, The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, which was devoured by most of us when we were the same age. Gormenghast provided a stark contrast in philosophy which appealed to our rebellious frame of mind.
So that’s… the story. Thanks for listening to my thingy. Enjoy the popcorn.
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|John, sir, I can’t presume to know, what I do not know, but when you can just go back to your memory bank and bring up the whole synopsis of the tale you read when you were a young man-child_ I am so impressed that it translated right to my brain, as though I had read it myself…once upon a time. I like the “idea of a Dickensian tale_ on LSD.
With the symbolist motif, and I think you said a Tolstoy’lian epic of religious and philososophical proportions. As in_ he had a lot on his mind. Is there time left to acquire such a great brain, or should I just take possession of and appreciate…the brain_ I have.
When I was young_ my reading materials were almost always non-fiction and real in the sense, that they were not written by great artists of the art of conveying emotion and atmosphere. “Just reporting the facts, m’am.”, says he.
What a crazy life. I have always wanted to be something other than what I have been. In that way_I am not real, and that is a factoid of cosmic proportion. I also do not have a degree, and at this point, and for a long time, I have not cared.
It does not matter to me, but what does matter is that I leave something, when I am gone. Not a legacy, just real evidence that I finally understood what was going on. These thoughts that we transfer are very important to that. I won’t say they aren’t already there, but there is more deeper, sounder, stronger, better reasoned, enlightened,
You already have arrived in confidence and are not pretending. You don’t pick and choose, but you shepard your reader through time and space in a delightfully imformed, forgiving way. I thank you for that.
For anyone else, who might be listening in with their eyes_ understand I am found by my forays into the future of the now that I have, whenever I am being ‘real’ here, as in this moment of patterns of watching the changes as they are changing and the words keep coming and now I need to take our girl, ‘K’, to company rehearsal. 10 to 3:30
So this will end, as I have just come back to this from
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|Books that have influenced my thinking have come from every philosophical stream, TR. I once wrote to a friend “Everything I have learned I have learned from Star Trek.” OK, so it’s not a book, but the same principle applies. My friend fired back by pointing out that Gene Roddenberry was a theoretical Atheist, so how could I – a Catholic – be so influenced by his work? A strange question. I was not to know at the age of 6, or the age of 13, or the age of 19 that Roddenberry was an Atheist. What I saw was a story brimming with optimism about the abiding and endurance of human nature throughout time, and our noblest aspirations, embodied in the principles of our nation’s founding, growing and evolving, and spreading out quite naturally beyond the field of Earth’s gravity and into the limitlessness of space. I also liked Uhuru’s short skirt. Likewise, Mervyn Peake was a great influence on me, even though if I were to choose only those works of literature that were philosophically in accord with my faith I would have to say “Up The Lord of the Rings, Down Gormenghast!” But no – I connected and identified with the story’s hero. I was a young man myself. I understood the symbolism of Peake’s world, just as I had understood the symbolism of Tolkien’s, and I also knew they were coming from different “places.” You mentioned Frank Herbert’s “Dune” in an earlier comment. That was another one; not as much an influence to my thinking in general, but definitely expanding my ideas about what sorts of things a fellow might do with fiction. A ripping good yarn, yes? You might say my reading was eclectic, like my musical tastes. Perhaps. I prefer to think of it as holistic.
Influences: The Complete Works of Edgar Allen Poe – the first literature I ever read, climbing up upon a kitchen chair to snatch Grandma’s three-volume set in between the similarly volume-divided Complete Works of Shakespeare – the next literature I read, my favorite Catholic writer; it is always about kings and princes being subjugated in the end by God – a message to a king who would usurp God’s power. Roald Dahl’s “James and the Giant Peach,” which taught me the writer has the power to make an enormous, angry rhinoceros eat his parents; C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy – “Out of the Silent Planet, “Perelandra,” and “That Hideous Strength,” the latter helping to shape my own “Nefar and Fenrocia.” Tolkien I mentioned, Peake I mentioned. Asimov’s “Foundation” – extremely influential to my growing understanding of government, and of civilization in general; Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World,” Orwell’s “1984” – all of them further informing my ideas about people and states; and into this mixture goes Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Philip K. Dick… And, on top of these, or apart from these, there is so much of pure entertainment reading, more like Poe than the others, like H.P. Lovecraft. But Science Fiction is philosophical; it cannot help but to be. Gothic Horror, Romance, Mystery, Fantasy – these genres don’t necessarily have to be. The point of my reading is there is none. It was always about traveling through time and space; it was always about exploring the entire universe; it was always about The Squabbler.
Later in life I discovered G.K. Chesterton. And here we are.
Whatever I read I remember. I have a mind that absorbs words the way a sponge does water, but it never seems to be full. If I read a poem once I can then recite it – but only if I like it. Isn’t that interesting? It’s “in there” just like Prego spaghetti sauce – says he, pointing to his head – but I have to want to draw it out or I cannot always find where I have filed it.
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|John, Hi, I read with rapt attention this clip of memory relived… and will get back somewhat later to convene with you. This is a continuing seminar_ On the relationship of forgotten opportunites and the recovery of said_ Optimism. Our seminar.
It could be said better than that, and I take responsibility for not having a memory_ like that. My mind at present is a floating point of context_ that’s why from this end_ the ‘foregotten opportunities’,the soliloquy of life,because I know now…I remember when I was reading and living_ there were a lot of great books_ I was not remembering, that still have had their impact, and now that we are moving along, more comes into view. It’s re-vision ‘thingy’.
I really was quite a voracious reader, but sometimes, because I was reading a number of books at the same time_ I would lose the sense of ‘Who’_ the author was.. I took it, as_ the way it was. When something
I was so free_ I became incredibly adroit at hiding what I had discovered… the freeway to Truth-Alive. You would never be able to tell. I had no aspiration to do anything but exist in the mind and move around, just out of sight, and then the long train, came running.
Finally being here, is great_Here_ where we are free to discover what happened.
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I love Tolkien, Dahl, and Lewis (though I’ve never, ever read “The Space Trilogy”). In fact, I have been intending for about a year now to re-visit “The Lord of the Rings” in book form, but have not gotten around to it, yet.
Now, I have a question…when The Squabs is speaking here, in the pages of your blog, is it fair to assume that his voice sounds like your voice…or is it a completely different voice altogether?
I liked the treatment of the poem. I’ve never read any of Peake’s stuff.
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|Hi wayf. The Space Trilogy has its bumpy bits as Christian allegory, but it’s very entertaining. I understood a few things as a young reader which had escaped me before, particularly about sin – what it is, and what it isn’t.
Squabs has a voice like 20 subway trains coming into the station together. I hope mine is never like that.
Peake has a volume of poetry still in print, and I know there’s a website or two which reproduces a few pieces complete.
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|Yes, you have a wanderer’s mind, TR; I have the mind of a collector. I store things; you admire them in the places where you find them and let them stay there. We are two types of observers, but observers nevertheless. Many people – perhaps most – are not. They have sundry other jobs and talents. Explorers also fits, but it’s more active-sounding than I feel right now after the long work day I’ve had.
I’m reading nothing, writing nothing tonight. I cleaned the grime off a painted cast iron Indian maid I took out of a house – about two feet tall. She stands amid my houseplants. (And there she stays, primarily ‘cuz I can’t budge her till I regain my strength come morning.) Perhaps I’ll take her picture. I painted an old bench that came out of the same house whilst listening to Scott Hahn’s program on EWTN. If I am overtired I enjoy painting things. It’s kind of odd, actually.
It’s good to be here, talking with you and wayf.
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|Wandering minds want to know_ John, I think you got it_ on that. I think of that_ as a form of navigation. I don’t collect persay, because mostly I have nothing in material things I couldn’t walk away from. I used to do that all the time. I used to be a traveler, but only spread out across the United States and Alaska. Back and forth, up and down. Like an over the road trucker, but closer to the ground.
Whatever, I say right now is only partly alert. I just woke up, but I’m going back to sleep. I crashed on the couch…one of our many couches(2). It was a pleasant escape. My wife was building costumes for Mother Ginger’s children. The production has no M. Ginger this
I love to paint sometimes… used to be quite a regular occupation, but usually surfaces and restoration treatments. I did a bit of the antique restoration, when I was in the East. Sooo_
And by the way_ you are a great collector, and an explorer and a great sharer ‘of treasures_ found’. I googled Mervyn Peake and read a wealth of imformation. You had ‘peaked’ my interest. One thing was a blurb written by one of your other great picks_ Robertson Davies_ about Mervyn Peake, and I learned at Peake’s son’s blog on Blogger/blogspot,… all about his relationship with family friend, Dylan Thomas. Son’s name is Sebastien.
I would guess, that you probably have already arrived there, once or twice. Aand one day I suspect I will remember to look for my first Mervyn Peake book_ to read. I am out at midnight. Have a great day, today. TR
Our fall is just beautiful this year. Your’s as well I see_Thanks for the photos. Big hail storm this afternoon and snow falling in the mountains.
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