On Real

Learned of late that several people — at least three husbands in young marriages, two with young children, everyone in his 20s — had not only never read The Velveteen Rabbit … but hadn’t heard of it.

That sorta explains why it’s public domain and I can link to it here.

Also explains why when I tried to get copies sent to these guys I saw nearly nothing good enough online to buy: only the cobbled together — as we see so often with nitwits who are even too contemptible to call opportunistic — and high-end … real stuff, which I cldn’t get several of, especially if they might not like the book.

I know … right?

How cd you not!

Bracket that for a sec, as DF Wallace used to say. So prolly it was a thing said in the early aughts of this century. He was hep to the pop jive of the time.

A few months later I finally finished Don Quixote and since then have begun travels in Russian lit of the last two centuries or so: Chekov, Dostoevsky, Solzhenitsyn, and Vodolazkin.

Erm Vodolazkin?

I know … right?

How cd you not!

He’s the author of this one and you really shd’ve heard of one of them by now. The first two of course: giants of Russian 19th C fiction, with the third, 20th C non-fiction. Think of EV — Vodolazkin’s first name is Eugene — as a 21st C blend of both. Laurus is holy foolery in content + form, subject + object.

Chekov: stripped bare, just the facts.

Dostoevsky: sprawling epical way more.

Solzhenitsyn: chronicler of our epoch.


To collate to date: what I’m getting at here is thinking on the real …

Velveteen … Quixote … the Russians …

Recall early on in Karamazov — less than 30 pages in — where Alyosha’s called a realist. The guy who believes in miracles; is least concerned for money, power, women; who, for Pete’s sake loves. He’s the realist.

Recall also near the end of Book One, when Dmitri flat-out cops to the kind of ‘realism’ we’re more connected and conversant with. He tells A he knows what he’s gonna do is wrong, but he’s going to do it anyways.

So the rabbit is real … Quixote has said to a wench, ‘Never deny that thou art Dulcinea’ … the Russians, minimalist or massive, want to say something about what’s really going on here.

There’s more.


Needa note them fast and someday — soon — say more, amore, somewhere.

CS Lewis saying, in a well-known note among America evanjellyfish, how we’ve never met a mere mortal, that the dopiest guy or gal we see [I’m paraphrasing here] is an immortal being that if we cd but see, we’d be running for cover or bowing in worship.

Chesterton in The Man Who Was Thursday sending his hero running around a tree to try to get to the front side of it. We only see its back, he says, and if we cd just … get … around it …

Dark dark dark noirist Jim Thompson’s dictum, ‘Things are not what they seem.’ Films from his books include The Grifters and one with Affleck [Casey not Ben], Jessica Alba, and Kate Hudson, The Killer Inside Me … a truly brutal remake of an earlier version, bloody as Cormac McCarthy on a slow day.

OK? Still with me?

We’re talkin’ ‘bout what’s real.

Some personal faith-based ensamples —

  • Exclaiming in context of a discussion on the idea of ‘already-not yet’ that ‘Jesus is dying for our sins right now!’ and having our Orthodox pastor nod and say simply, ‘yep.’
  • During a study series on the Apostle John’s writings — gospel, three epistles, and a revealing — the deeper dive on already-not yet, with some chronos-kairos thrown in for good measure, supposing a thirdly, perhaps, kind of time, a fusion of the two I called ‘imaginary’ then — not as in ‘not true’ [remember: Alyosha’s the realist] but as in a thing we can barely conceive of but which might be how things are.
  • Thinking on Charles Williams and his ideas variously called and \ or categorized as co-inherence, substitution, exchange, wherein people, that is us, aren’t bound by time and space. Christ-following exists, and this is quite standard even if we’re not as outlier as Williams, across [and a cross] those … metrics. So if I will bear your burdens — Williams meant this literally — and you will let me, we can do the deal, make that trade.

One more.

Once, in a grad class at a faith-based university, the professor asked ‘How do we know there are fairies in the glen?’ and I said, ‘Well, from the written accounts’ and another kid said, ‘Those are just stories.’

I know … right?

How cd you not!

I thought he’d mebbe gotten lost in a dark wood or something.


Had a student once who in chatting on the real and the ideal ‘fessed up to disliking, very, LegoLand. Who hates Legos?! Parents of rugrat children might well say how could you not! but most people are fans.

Not this college frosh, who is now perhaps past parent-of-rugrat stage himself. He said it’s just not the Eiffel Tower. You see the one there and you have not seen the Eiffel Tower. Perhaps you may never see it — but there’s only one. And there can be only one.

[Of course, a friend recently retorted: the real one is in Las Vegas.]

Counter to what you may be thinking, however, he called for a sharper practical — in practice — distinction between the ideal and the real. Wasn’t trying for fusion in, for instance, the puddle iron project in Paris. He said prolly we can’t achieve the ideal here.

Which calls to mind the time a pastor told me I was ‘immanentizing the eschaton’ — and he meant it in a bad way. Which he was probably right.


So I’m mulling these ideas, then.

And I think I’ve been very wrong.

Don’t have a new conclusion, yet.

But essentially have thought of movies as more real than they are, as more ‘what shd be’ than they shd. That if you can imagine it, or some other fellow has, it can exist.

That Quixote wasn’t mad — woman is princess, man is knight errant …

That …



Asked my daughter, who knows a ton about movies and twice that about Marvel, whether the manic pixie dream girl cd be an example of this, namely of something unreal that people might think a little too real.

We talked about Harley Quinn, and whether she’d be sorta the demented endgame of the trope. Not really said she — my daughter, not Harley — bec she has her own life, loves the Joker but doesn’t exist to serve, and so on.

The MPDG is problematic in myriad ways. The coiner of the term is even very, very, very sorry for coming up with it.

Point, tho, is the real and the ideal, and in this case is she even?

Wouldn’t we rather note and know that ‘manic’ is often an illness, a ‘pixie’ lives with fairies in the glen, ‘dreams’ aren’t … ah … real, and ‘girl’ must become woman. Or at least a woman.


Men have their own sitch with film … entertainment. Revenge flicks, watching sports instead of playing them, or even tossing a ball with the kid.

We bad.


All this meandering has, well … real-world results.

The real, the really real — a real term — and such.

Get it wrong and Dmitri goes and does how he wants.

Get it wrong and we don’t love or rightly, or well.

Get it wrong and girls end up mere appendages of some doofus guy — I have noticed they are all doofi — with no sense of self until it all falls apart. Or worse, never does.

Get it wrong and we’ll end up believing the utter BS of badassery is a legitimate way to live. Can be a … real thing even. Is something good.

I know, right.

How cd we not.



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