Exploring where life and story meet!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Authors worth reading

Authors worth reading:

L. M. Montgomery: her heroines are all elf maids in human guise though their fairy land be Canada

G . K. Chesterton: certainly a wise old elf with a child’s heart who can write a wondrous account of cheese

Jane Austen: the wit of the fairies in the guise of a daughter of England’s lesser gentry

J. R. R.  Tolkien: a student of elf lore, language, and topography, a wizened professor of the realm

Charles Dickens: the heart and humor of the fairies set amidst the drudgery of urban living

George MacDonald: the founder and true guide to fairyland, few describe it better

C. S. Lewis: a few words can say more than many books, truly a wizard of plain english

Victor Hugo: can find hope and virtue amidst chaos, cruelty, injustice, and indifference

Shakesspeare: witty and either delightful or cruelly tragic

James Herriot: one would think the folk of Yorkshire elves and their beasts capable of speech

Louisa May Alcott: heart and virtue make her characters rich though poverty and dread lay all about


Monday, November 19, 2012

The Post-modern Fairy Tale



            It has been brought to my attention that the historically popular form of literature classically known as the “fairy tale” is no longer appropriate for modern audiences.  The concepts of good and evil, right and wrong, and so forth are no longer relevant save for a few backwards thinking individuals who have not fully embraced the modern era.  Higher criticism has also taught us that it is not what the author means but what the reader thinks the author should say that is the important concept when studying any type of writing.  We must also take into account the offensive nature of such material in reference to certain genders, species, races, times, places, occupations, etc.  So in order to rectify this appalling situation (lest it necessitate the unthinkable practice of banning the genre altogether) I have submitted the following Postmodern Fairytale or rather Postmodern Story pertaining to a certain order of Pixie:


            At the time and place of your preference, there lived a sentient being (species and gender according to taste) who endured a series of disagreeable circumstances (as imagined by the reader), but said character overcame these difficulties in a manner likewise decided by the reader, after which was attained an agreeable state of existence (according to your standards).  And if it is agreeable to the reader, this is now the end but please feel free to add to or subtract from the above as necessary to your own pleasure.


            As you can see, this new format should spawn a revolution in a rather outdated literary genre and will again draw the fervent interest of generations of new readers!

Must be dead and English to qualify?

            I could not imagine what the connection was between my favorite authors and their respective works aside from the fact that they are all dead, overwhelmingly English, and mostly male; it even occurred to me that while I might adore one work by an author I very likely abhorred another book by the same genius!  What then is the connection?  And why could I not find a living author whose works I might love just as much?  But I have found my connection: they are all poets of prose.  Each has a peerage in Fairyland; they have found the child that will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  These have grown up but not grown old.  They can look upon the world with the wisdom of an adult yet see through the eyes of a child.  They rejoice in the wild, unspoiled places of the world and dare to venture into the most remote and unexplored recesses of the human spirit, yes the very soul of man do they explore.  That is why no great author now living is easily found for ‘Modern Lit’ has killed literature and post-modernism has denied the very thing that gives meaning to life.  I read ’the classics’ as my school teachers thought them but I went away completely devoid of any appreciation for such writings.  They might reflect poignantly on some new topic of modern interest but forgotten are the things that truly make the ‘classics’ classic.  I have tried.  Ulysses has been touted as the best book ever written in the modern era which may be why I have utterly given up on the modern era and any of its prodigy for it was complete drivel and I could barely make out a word.  Shakespeare writes in a foreign tongue (to my modern understanding at least) yet truly ‘me thinks there be method in his madness.’

            I do not want new thoughts in old wine skins but old thoughts in interesting wine skins.  As the Preacher famously penned, ‘there is nothing new under the sun,’ and truly man has not changed since the dawn of time though perhaps his technology has, therefore I do not understand why the prophets, poets, and kings tell us that he has and we must adapt accordingly, even in our literary discernment.  I defy the modern ‘poets’ to write as their ancient peers, with clarity and skill and virtue!  Yet our modern professors tell us that we are not to ask what the author was trying to say but interpret the writing as what we think the author should have said.  We study everything about a work but its meaning!  If you would be entertained, find a modern criticism on an old work; the results can be quite astonishing.  In a world where there is no truth, no right, no virtue there can be no Story.  While the laws of Fairyland might seem odd or downright backwards at times they are still Laws without which there could be no Fairyland.  Without sense and direction and purpose there can be no plot and no lesson.  A good character must have character!  This therefore is the doom of literature and perhaps society for Story is the blood of civilization.

            What do my authors know?  They know there is Truth and Virtue, Good and Evil.  They know there is a beauty and a mystery and a wonder that exceeds mortal expectation and experience and their stories are fraught with this feeling.  There is something greater, grander, and wiser at work in their writings even if it is not mentioned in the text.  A great story is one that is more than the words upon the page.  There is a whole universe and things even beyond that universe which man cannot directly perceive yet he knows within his very heart must be there for there to be any sense or purpose in this strange adventure called life.  Yet the doctors and psychologists and scientists all say we are nothing but matter and atoms and various physical principles; everything in life can be reduced to a simple mathematical equation.  That is why so many ‘modern’ people are so messed up; we ignore the very thing that makes us human.  A rhinoceros does not wonder or dream or aspire; it just wants to be a rhinoceros and thinks no more upon the matter.  Only mankind yearns for such things.  Only men can know the truth of sorrow and joy.  There is no equation for joy but Joy plus Sin equals Sorrow.  And there is only one answer to this equation and my authors have found it.  It is in the Something beyond the material, beyond what we can perceive without senses; it is a thing that must be seen with the soul.

            No wonder modern lit is dead for a body without the soul is dead so too must our literature be.  To find a good story I must go back to a time when humanity still had a soul, only then could we write a good story.  For all good stories are the same underneath but different on top; all the bad stories are different in a superficial way but the same at their core, if they had one.  A story must have a soul just as a man else he is just a zombie out terrifying unsuspecting readers for the soul of a story comes from the soul of a man.  One must believe in a soul to write good stories.  There is One who told wonderful stories yet we do not study His stories and their meanings, we debate over the existence of the Author or which historical figure He stole them from or which ancient tradition most affected His own perception of reality and if it has any relation to our own when we are merely characters in another story invented by Him.  These authors I love most may not agree with me completely on such topics but they have found this Thing beyond our own bleak reality and are thus able to write truly wonderful stories and let us peek into this Thing that they have found.  Yet the world will continue to debate and criticize and forget things that they can never truly appreciate or understand for they have forgotten childhood and Elfland and when they cannot understand something they must deride, criticize, and rebuke it as foolishness when all that is required is the guilelessness and innocence of youth: the ability to take the Author at His word.  There is no ulterior motive or hidden agenda; the Truth is plainly before them in the text though they see it not.  They think the whole thing folly because they do not like the reflection when they look into that most adamant of mirrors.  They crucified the Author, why would they like His finest work?

True Magic

            All children believe in magic, at least until their parents or the world tell them to stop being silly and to ‘grow-up.’  Never were more dread words spoken!  For there is magic in the world if only we remember to look for it.  It is not the sort of magic one immediately assumes: it is not hocus pocus or strange incantations, the changing of princes into frogs and so forth.  It is something akin to joy or perhaps joy in its original state.  It is that unspeakable feeling that hums in the background of the most wondrous occasions; that unsung music that sets the soul to dancing.  You have felt it.  That overwhelming happiness when long sundered friends are reunited.  The merriment of family gatherings upon a snowy Christmas that is mistakenly blamed on too much eggnog when hearts are warm with the wonder and forgotten innocence of childhood.  It is a cool summer evening when the sky glows deepest blue after the sun has fled while the stars begin to peep out and the moon is a sliver on the horizon as the mist creeps into the low places, there a cricket sings, and the fireflies play amongst the roses; perhaps even a fairy watches from her hiding place while a wrinkled gnome peeps from his hole.  It is there in the laughter of children at play, in the entire being of a newborn child, and anywhere that men forget themselves for a moment.  That is the magic of Heaven, though only subtle glimpses into what eternal bliss must be like.  Children know it, long for it, until the world steals their innocence and their natal wisdom and it is utterly forgotten in the pursuit of things temporal which mortal man thinks is true happiness.  That is why we must become children again to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  To forget ourselves and live in the absolute wonder of the moment.  Only in such fear and awe can we truly find God.  This world is fraught with sorrow, pain, and death but behind this thin veil lurks that for which we truly long, that for which we were made, that which we catch only in fleeting glimpses while we tread this mortal earth.  

A fairy story of our own

            There is nothing so elaborate as a lie nor so simple as the truth.  Though truth may be heaped upon truth to create the most complex and intricate structures, each of its principle parts are stunningly simple.  So it is that a few subatomic particles come together and form an atom and so along the chain until we end with a living organism or the Mona Lisa or a universe.  Consider all those heresies of living tissue: death, disease, injury, and anything else that mars the physical self of an organism.  Cancer is nothing but a cellular lie.  One cell decides to be something that it is not: an entity unto itself and starts to multiply and grow, regardless the cost to its brother cells and the creature as a whole.  It will eventually kill its host if radical means are not used to destroy it.  It is trying to be an organism in its own right little thinking it can survive without its host and when the host dies so too shall the cancer.  So it is with all lies; they are a twisting of that which is already there, a mutation of the simple and elegant into the profane and grotesque.  This concept applies as much to stories as it does to life.  The Fairy Stories are true in that they are simple, often simpler than the strange concoctions that pass for literature in this modern era.  For unlike many stories, the fairy tales at least function in a truthful universe.  There is nothing sadder than a fictional tale without set laws that must be adhered to except in the case of miracles.  These rules need not be the same as those in our own tale, but they must be consistent.  If a species survives by metabolizing atmospheric nitrogen it cannot spontaneously become an avid vegetarian save by divine intervention.

            Perhaps that is why people love fairy stories and they endure when so many ‘classic’ or much applauded books have vanished from common memory.  Sometimes the fairy stories make more sense than our own twisted reality, but then that is because we forget we are actually living in a fairy tale!  The problem is not that our own reality lacks a set of laws but that people are unsure what those laws are.  The idea of a common moral law and the requisite moral law Giver has gained something of a notorious view of late and is classed in the category of mythology right along with unicorns and dragons.  But that is not to say there is not such a thing as a unicorn, but there is certainly such a thing as a moral law.  We all want the world to be good, it is not, and we know it is not; therefore there must be a reason for this lack of goodness and our notice of the dearth.  For why would we pine for a good world if such an ideal did not exist?  So something went wrong long ago before once upon a time and we long above all else to return to the ideal of happily ever after.  We also know, deep down no matter how much we fight or deny it, that there is such a thing as right and wrong; just as much as we know there is a law of gravity.  If unthinking molecules must abide by a set of rules, so too must the higher organisms, most especially man.  Otherwise, how is it that we complain when our own ‘rights’ are trespassed upon?  If we had no ‘rights’ then we would have nothing to complain about, but as we have ‘rights,’ there must be something innate within each of us that is aware of such things and knows how one person ought to treat another.

            So we have a moral law and a broken world, but what now?  Besides our sense of inherent rights and responsibilities, and this sense that all is not happy in paradise, we also all yearn for a purpose and meaning along with a restored paradise.  So we desperately need a giver of moral law, a cure for our rotting world, and a giver of direction and meaning.  It is the perfect recipe for a fairy tale!  So what then is the answer to the deepest riddle of our hearts?  Once long ago when the world was young and good, there dwelt a man named Adam…who broke the world…and then after many long years of darkness and doubt, a child was born…to die that the world might be restored…and as the tales say, we shall live happily ever after, meaning forever and ever if we can but believe the story!