Saturday, November 27, 2010

Camus on Morality

If someone told me to write a book on morality, it would have a hundred pages and ninety-nine of them would be blank. On the last page I would write, "I recognize only one duty and that is to love." And as far as everything else is concerned, I say no.
Albert Camus, Notebooks

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Jigsaw Jazz

This is young Peter (age 6) illustrating a couple of categories. I'll be drawing the visual into our Eliot/Joyce/Kafka discussion today. It occurs to me that I might bring Kafka's words on Picasso in as well. Is Picasso a "wilful distortionist?" someone asked him. Kafka: “I do not think so...He only registers the deformities which have not yet penetrated our consciousness. Art is a mirror, which goes 'fast,' like a watch--sometimes.”

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Robot LifeGuard Electrocuted Everyone.

This is my first foray into composing science fiction. Wait, that's not entirely true. In high school, I took the legend of Frosty the Snowman down a distinctly sci-fi path which I might choose to share more broadly some day soon. In the glorious meantime, I give you my shortest story: The Robot lifeguard electrocuted everyone. Feel free to commit it to memory and share it with others. You can place it alongside Hemingway's attempt at shortness which I reprint here without permission: "For sale: baby shoes. Never worn." Mine, let the record show, is shorter (word-wise), and will also serve as the title of an upcoming work of fiction.
Friend, doppelgänger, and lead singer of Bulb, Todd Greene, was kind enough to give me the above illustration. Enjoy.
That is all.
UPDATE: The above illustration is available as a print (signed by the illustrator and the author), a t-shirt, AND (should the perceived need arise) a refrigerator magnet. For details, contact david dot dark at vanderbilt dot edu

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Concerning the Fall

Dear Humans from Earth...
I take this opportunity to address the issue of a few appearances.
A couple of local goings-on. The Tokens Show, for instance, is a local happening, viewable and downloadable, conjured into existence and hosted by one Lee Camp, writer, teacher, activist, song & dance man. I'll be joining him onstage Tuesday of next week with many a talented friend. Details here. I'm also joining Richard Goode for a conversation at the Southern Festival of Books. I believe we'll be in the Old Supreme Court Room on October 8th at 1:00.
Sarah and I will both hit Waco, Texas for David Crowder's Fantastical Church Music Conference the weekend of October 1st.
And on November 17th, I'll be doing an evening talk/conversation at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana. No Internet-ish publicity for this just yet, but I'll give you details if you ask for them.
Oh and Gloria Gaither did an incredibly gracious radio interview that was mostly about the Sacredness of Questioning Everything. I offer her my thanks. It can be unearthed once you scroll down a little right (# 21)
UPDATE! And lettuce now add unto the mix Tuesday October 5th. I'll be sharing words with Trevecca students. All are welcome. The details.
This it for now. But I wouldn't want to miss the opportunity to drop into your laps a recent poem that draws heavily upon Carolyn Forché, an Ubuntu saying (via John Mbiti), and Robert Palmer. I think we'll call it Come On In.

We're going to have to find ourselves beautiful
It will involve libraries
Of Country Music
Not as a genre
But a possibility,
A matter of opening
Again and again
The Book of what happened
Of learning to to savor the sighs
The incomplete sentences
Of other people,
To view with imagination and deep affection
Our addiction
To love
Our only hope
(We might as well face it)
And with impossible-feeling
Drawn into the circle of song
Dragged into
The space of the talkaboutable,
The plainspeak,
The ancient candow
That knows (always knew)
There are no unrelated people.
I am because we are.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

I Believe That Children Are Our Future

It won't be a spectator-kind of situation exactly. It's immersive. It's what Sarah's been up to with the children of our congregation and artist friends who've been kind enough to get in on the act. It's...a chapel transformed into a human body. You walk into it. There are kids inside to show you what to do and see and how to get the drift of what's going on. It's called Consuming Catastrophe: The Comedy of the Heart; A Play in Ate Parts, and it might go some distance in undoing the damaging image/experience of church as a place where young people are taken to learn to hate and fear their own bodies.
Sarah's "Sunday School" space is equal parts storytelling and intelligence gathering. She begins with story (Jesus' parable of the mustard seed, for instance), and then they go from there w/ drawing, playing, singing, asking questions, attempting analogies, and producing images of their own. Their money quotes ("I am art," "There's a virtual, galactic battle going on in my head," "The future is where we go to remember") have generated the installation, even as we note that they refuse, wonderfully, to regurgitate these gems on command. So anyway, they'll be there. Anyone within reasonable driving distance of Nashville would do well to be there too. And I imagine it'll be the most strange, blessed, and inspiring thing going on in our beloved town. It's a going public, we might say, with what our Sunday mornings look like. One more crack at togetherness, as H. Simpson puts it, or, in Sarah's words, another go at putting skin and bones on the mystery of God. Be there and be square. It'll be good for everyone. The opening is this Saturday, September 4th in DPC’s chapel at 6:00. Food and drink will be available as a part of the Artluck’s 1st Saturday Art Crawl. Write me if you're at all confused. More info and a visual clue or three of what some of it will look like can be found

I Like How They Kept My Pregnant Pause

Here I am in conversation w/ a very kind woman in Toronto. If, upon viewing this, Lynch or the Coens or either Anderson decide they'd like to employ my gifts in an upcoming film, please inform them that I can be reached via the Facebook platform. That is all.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Eat, Pray, Sam

He cut the flowers, picked the basil, oregano, and parsley, praised the health of the heirloom tomatoes and basically rocked my world with culinary Zenship. Sam loves food and his love grows our love.

Pasta Sam:
1pkg. delicious egg noodles
Heirloom tomatoes
Kenny's Farmhouse Cheese (aged gouda)
backyard basil, oregano, parsley
affordable olive oil

cook noodles, drain, add above ingredients, toss, eat, pray, Sam.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Tactics, Creations, Initiatives

I suspect one of the phenomenona that'll put Nashville on the cosmic map is the fact that it played a role in facilitating (and was itself facilitated by) the personality of Todd Greene. You'd have to cast your eyes upon ALL the work (hard to do given his self-publicity allergy), but the dude can be meaningfully described as America's Richard Hamilton just as much as, depending on the stage we have in mind, we could find ourselves associating him with Howard Finster or Jasper Johns.

Anyway, he's doing his thing at the Twist Gallery on Saturday evening. Details here. But it doesn't mention anything about his band performing as well. They're called Bulb. They include one Sarah Masen. And they're on their...14th album, I think. Here's their video. I dare you to not be moved by it.

And while I'm describing the Nashville scene as I understand it this weekend. Everyone should know about Blackbird Theater. It's not everyday one can bear witness to the public debut of a local theater company and the world premiere of an original play. They appear to be, in the most profound and helpful sense, crazy. If you're like me, you've always wanted Edgar Allan Poe and Nietzsche and Annie Oakley and Rasputin and Mark Twain and Mary Baker Eddy and H.G. Wells to have a little hoedown together. With this evening's premiere of Twilight of the Gods, such madness shall be realized. We are Nashville.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Hanna-Barbera Theology

I’d like to share a serendipitous slip of the tongue vouchsafed unto me via the testimony of a five-year-old concerning an image many might recognize, a definitive image within the Hanna-Barbera tradition. Having spied a certain pattern from tale to tale, the child described the standard operating procedure whereby the figures of Scooby and Shaggy would respond to duress (a man in a monster costume, for instance) by leaping into one another’s arms and quivering together. They hold each other, we might say, but the child put it better: “They hold their ‘chothers.” And with the enunciation of this concept, that of the ‘chother, I believe we’re sitting squarely within the glow of a religious insight. Drawing on the Buddhist principle of anatta (no-self), Harold Oliver once proffered the following paradox: “There is no-self, and it is the relational self.” According to this wisdom, the idea that any of us can have meaning alone or be the authors of our own significance or have joy for which we only have ourselves to thank is a death-dealing delusion, a psycho covenant that implies that a strong, successful few of us might somehow gain our lives without losing them. But if we hold to the ‘chother principle, our sustenance comes to us via the fact of relatedness or not at all. I am because we are. Whatever self I can be said to have is the gift of self I receive from my relation to others, the groundless ground (think of the way Shag and Scoob almost levitate) of the ‘chother. When we’re confronted with crisis, when we join together in song, or when we experience (or receive) a vision of soul, the question of where one person starts and another stops begins to dissolve; individualism takes on an unreal and unseemly quality. In such moments, we’re summoned not so much to act as if the road to life, loveliness, salvation and—possibly--sanity can only be entered into where two or more are gathered but rather to proceed in recognition of this sweet, scandalous, embarrassing fact. We have to find, hold on, and let go within the circle of our ‘chothers. It’s the only life available. Within it, we live.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Gift

There are those who do not survive change. It is as if human beings were like that subclass of insect, the Metabola, which must undergo complete metamorphosis from egg, through larva and pulpa, to imago. In some way the fluidity of gift exchange assures the successful metamorphosis. Woody Allen used to tell a joke at the end of his stand-up routine: he would take a watch from his pocket, check the time, and then say, “It’s an old family heirloom [Pause] My grandfather sold it to me on his deathbed.” The joke works because market exchange will always seem inappropriate on the threshold. There is a discrete range of conditions that will assure the emergence of the imago. A man who would buy and sell at a moment of change is one who cannot or will not give up, and if the passage is inevitable, he will be torn apart. He will become one of the done-for dead who truly die. Threshold gifts protect us from such death.
--Lewis Hyde, The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Bulb's "Undersea"

This changes...everything.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Bulb.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Re-member Humanity

We have been trying to remember humanity; to re-member humanity in the rigorous liturgical sense--to exercise anamnesis, the heart of the Eucharistic command and privilege: When you do this, remember me. Which is to say, Stay with history, Make something of it, by falling within its main line of action, the breaking of bread, the sharing of wine. Make a community whose life will also be available to history.
--Daniel Berrigan, America Is Hard to Find

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"Please cease destruction of self and others."

A person who believes, as she did, that things fit: that there is a whole of which one is a part, and that in being a part one is whole: such a person has no desire whatever, at any time, to play God. Only those who have denied their being yearn to play at it...
The huge metallic arm came up again. "We are attempting to make peaceful arrival,” the elbow said all on one note. “Please inform others that this is peaceful arrival. We do not have any weapons. Great self-destruction follows from unfounded fear. Please cease destruction of self and others. We do not have any weapons. We are nonaggressive unfighting species.”

Ursula K. Le Guin, Lathe of Heaven

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The New Vision

What do I want? Well, I want the new vision (I would use this word only to myself),--the new vision fastened in the material world by style. the vision must be of the strength, variety, validity of life, implying the ethically good
--Thom Gunn, 1964
I do believe in poetry as an activity reflective of one's life at its fullest--not only reflective, but it actually can be one's life at its fullest.
--Thom Gunn, 1980
w/ thanks to Colm Tóibín for his review of At the Barriers: On the Poetry of Thom Gunn

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Way to be Witnessed

“Christianity is something to do, not a philosophical puzzle. It comes about not when someone affirms a creedal proposition, but when someone does something. It is a way to be witnessed, not a proposition to be proven.”
John D. Caputo, How to Read Kierkegaard

Saturday, January 16, 2010

"Everything is capable of renewal."

Christian faith in salvation and liberation is based on a fundamental conviction that nothing in the world is simply fated to be. there is nothing in the universe that simply cannot be helped. No evil is so impregnable as to be absolutely irremediable. Everything is capable of renewal, and the world is destined to realize the utopia of the reign of God.
--Leonardo Boff
w/ thanks to Don Beisswenger

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Don't-tell-me-you-believe-all-that-junk Literature

I've been checking out Harlan Ellison's Dangerous Visions anthology from the library over and over again for years, and I'm about halfway through it. I check it out today and see where some sweet, geek-kindred soul has affixed the above description to this durable old copy. Just wanted to record the blessed fact. The world feels richer already.
Published in 1967, it features Philip K. Dick, J.G. Ballard, Samuel R. Delaney, and numerous others (Ellison calls them all soothsayers). Isaac Asimov's foreword reminisces concerning those bygone days when science fiction was "don't-tell-me-you-believe-that-junk literature...don't-fill-your-mind-with-all-that-mush literature." It's as if they're all running a victory lap. Ellison's intro: "What you hold in your hands is more than a book. If we are lucky, it is a revolution." Color me now and forever a glad sucker for this kind of thing.
I'll look to lay down a review at some point.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Leonard Cohen on the State of Christianity

From an online chat...
Seth: You have such vivid Christian imagery in many of your songs,
and much of it is contrasted with the selfishness of the "modern"
individual. I was wondering what's your take on the state of
Christianity today?

Leonard Cohen: Dear Seth, I don't really have a 'take on the state
of Christianity.' But when I read your question, this answer came to
mind: As I understand it, into the heart of every Christian, Christ
comes, and Christ goes. When, by his Grace, the landscape of the heart becomes vast and deep and limitless, then Christ makes His abode in that graceful heart, and His Will prevails. The experience is recognized as Peace. In the absence of this experience much activity arises, divisions of every sort. Outside of the organizational enterprise, which some applaud and some mistrust, stands the figure of Jesus, nailed to a human predicament, summoning the heart to comprehend its own suffering by dissolving itself in a radical confession of hospitality.