Plough Lines

Upcoming Thunderstorm While Plowing

“For sale: baby shoes” is a classified ad.

“For sale: baby shoes; never worn” is a story.

It’s Hemingway’s, in fact.

*

“The king is dead” is a news bulletin.

“The king died, and the queen died of grief” is a story.

Better yet, “The king died, and the queen and her lover died in each other’s arms.”

Or, “The king died, and the queen and his brother are being sought for questioning by the son.”

Now that’s a story.

*

Why?

*

Stories ought to be terrible, in the best senses of the word.

Not “This traffic is terrible” but “Ivan the Terrible.”

Not “This broth is terrible” but “This chocolate is terrible.”

Because who in the hell cares about broth?

*

But they aren’t just terrible.

Or rather, they’re terrible because of some things.

Why the second entry beats tar out of the first in each and (usually) every case is they harrow our souls. A little bit anyway. And they do that because first, we can connect with them; so then, we can feel and think about them; and finally, we may even change. A little bit anyway.

We want to know what it’s about, how it went down, and — crucially — what will happen. We will be there when it does. Now we’re paying attention. Finally. That’s all he needs.

*

“All hat, no cattle” is a too-well-known saying.

Making “All wretch, no vomit” so much better.

*

The allotted function of art is not, as is often assumed, to put across ideas, to propagate thought, to serve as an example. The aim of art is to prepare a person for death, to plough and harrow his soul, rendering it capable of turning to good. Andrei Tarkovsky

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Recent

Ensamples

Among the worst things about The Slap is how it has fed self-righteousness in all but the two participants, and they already had it or it wldn’t have happened. But there is Solzhenitsyn, again, with the line between good and evil that cuts through every human heart, and there is Dostoevsky, always, reminding us via

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Lipstick

Pig is revelation. Revealing is when what’s here is hidden then seen. It’s really many individual ones, though widely considered they’re the same, and all the individuals are related, perhaps only proximately at first, but also in ways they themselves don’t initially see. + Key is it’s here. Problem is we don’t see it. Action

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Not For Teacher

There’s an unfortunate instructor-y thing where the guy on stage [I’ve found it’s usually a male doing this] asks a question he already knows the answer to, one of the people in the audience … err, classroom … is the target, the answer given is wrong, and the stagehand just goes and gives the answer

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Diminishing Me

You’d think a guy’d remember if it was the first time he’d seen a body but I didn’t not at first. [Hadda chance to graduate from college into one of our acceptable wars but didn’t, into the war that is, and no shot at a medical profession: left HS Chem as it had only 28

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Random

Do Piece — Anger (Buechner)

Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving

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Whispers and Words

My dad died in my sleep. 2:35 AM in an upstate New York hospice; 11:35 PM in a Southern California house. A text saying to call and two voice mails I still haven’t listened to and speaking was as a sunrise. New but not unexpected. * Who’s the dust in this scenario? Remember, O Man, that thou art but

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Do Piece — Love (Frankl)

Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves her. By his love he is enabled to see the essential traits and features in the beloved person; and even more,

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The Country for Old Men

Walter Hartwell White is going to hell. Whatever else happens — whoever dies in the shootout, no matter what-all happens in the final three episodes, whatever he’s planning to do with the ricin recovered from his burned out house — that’s a fact. In fact, Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan said that was the point, one which

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Related

Why Not Two Cupcakes?

Something we know well and another I know little. Remember … re-member … before we begin Dallas Willard on knowing — namely … named-ly … not intellectual apprehension but interactive relationship. Each and both come from the same aim: good and right and lovely when well and harmful on all counts when not, as is

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Not a Eulogy

(A Eucatastrophe) * Love the words, my friends. Pay attention to the words, I say. Christians don’t die One reason we know this is Jesus said it. In John’s account he told Michael: “You shall never taste or see death” (Indeed, as the Psalmist says, “taste and see that the Lord is good.”) Another reason

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In The Heart of the Drunkard

And away he went, to drink the value of his cross … I have been listening to Fyodor Dostoevski’s The Idiot on the iPhone, from Audible.com. It’s incredible. I just know I’ll have to read it as soon as I’m done with the audio. [I do irk myself somewhat on having become such a fan

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