Sunday, January 28, 2007

in horror's redemption

I saw a horrifyingly sublime film yesterday: Pan's Labyrinth. Brilliantly brutal, unflinchingly Catholic and beautiful through and through. Its like Alice in Wonderland if Flannery O'Conner had written it. Searching through some interviews with the director I came across one question and answer that was rather telling:

"G: You identify yourself as a lapsed Catholic and I thought it was curious that your previous Spanish language films like Cronos and Devil’s Backbone are steeped in Catholic lore and iconography, but Pan’s Labyrinth takes on pagan, fairy lore. Why did you feel a need to make this shift?
GDT: It’s curious you say that, because I felt that way, but then I showed the film to Alejandro Gonzalez IƱarritu and he said: “you’re more Catholic than ever.” I said “Why?!” and he said “Redemption through blood, redemption through sacrifice, she goes to the other world and there’s a father in a throne and golden light,” and I said “I never thought about it that way.”
But I guess he has a point. I think: once a Catholic, always a Catholic."

And it is only from a uniquely Catholic person that this film could have been thought. If a protestant had made it it would have been The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe; in other words dreadful. If by an atheist it would have been a perfectly boring period piece. But its not: its brutal, its beyond all niceties, its fantastical and real to an absurdity. In it's world salvation isn't an act of faith alone, with fluffy lions swooping in to save the day... rather it is a struggle... a bitter impossible struggle against all odds, not a simple choice to be made, but a choice to be lived, to be endured, to push on into the dark night. A personal physical cooperation with an act of faith.

And then when all is lost, when the struggle has been conceded: then the victory is at hand. The struggle is what is meritorious, the striving for the good, the perseverance. Goodness is an infinite legacy, and evil fades away into the darkness and gnashing of teeth.

It is a film veneered in a politics that is inconsequential, most films try it the other way around and become loathsome. It is above all time and yet immersed in some sort of temporality, as all great things should be.

There are so many great scenes in the movie, but my absolute favorite is when the little girl Ofilia tells a fairytale to her little brother, still in the womb, to calm him, and we see how the boy calms and listens inside his mother. This was a great ode to life in the midst of an opera clanging with the drums of death. The opera of both the film, but more poignantly the dreadful opera of the world.

fourth sunday in ordinary time

The Parting, Witold Wojtkiewicz

"The word of the LORD came to me, saying:
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I dedicated you."
todays first reading (Jeremiah)

"Love never fails. "
From todays second reading (Corinthians)

"They rose up, drove him out of the town,
and led him to the brow of the hill
on which their town had been built,
to hurl him down headlong.
But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away. "
from today's Gospel (Luke)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

centuries after magnachrome

Henry Thomas Mann's photography is really grand:


Pain Door

El Cristo de San Juan de la Cruz

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Third Ordinary Sunday

The Crying Spider, Odilon Redon

“Today is holy to the LORD your God.
Do not be sad, and do not weep”—
for all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law.
He said further: “Go, eat rich foods and drink sweet drinks,
and allot portions to those who had nothing prepared;
for today is holy to our LORD.
Do not be saddened this day,
for rejoicing in the LORD must be your strength!”

from todays first reading (4 kings)

The Smiling Spider, Odilon Redon

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

of porcelain nunneries

I stumbled upon what could be one of the coolest things ever: Nun Dolls. Not just a simple black habited Benedictine nuns, but lots of orders, including the beloved Pink Sisters, the scare Ursuline, and obscure, and super cool, Bridgettines. Here are some of them, they are super cool :)

(Pink Nuns)


(Order of Saint Brigid)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Happy Birthday Mom

Happy Birthday to my mother, and happy MLK Day :). I thought I would try to find some cool quilts for my mother and I found a whole bunch:

Dashboard Saints, Terrie Hancock Mangat

Sticks and Stones can Break my Bones, Terrie Hancock Mangat

Spiritual Journey by Kristen Otte (here)

from here

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

Wedding Feast at Cana, Louis Kahan

When the wine ran short,
the mother of Jesus said to him,
“They have no wine.”
And Jesus said to her,
“Woman, how does your concern affect me?
My hour has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servers,
“Do whatever he tells you.”
from today's Gospel (John)

Anyone who turns water into wine is good in my book.
And he even listens to his mother, how nice. :)

The Wedding Feast at Caanan, Jan Vermeyen

Friday, January 12, 2007

the void around the dough

Happy Birthday to Haruki Murakami !

Portrait of Haruki Murakami, Carl DeTorress

Here is a interview with Murkami where he discusses his most recent work of translating The Great Gatsby.

So for his birthday I thought I'd put up a little short short that hasn't been published from his collection "Spider Monkey at Night". It was translated a long time ago by someone in a little online Murakami community, I find it strange and quite nice.

Donutization - By Haruki Murakami

Translated by C. Allison

At the time when my girlfriend with whom I had been going out for three years, and to whom I was engaged, donutized, and our relationship subsequently fell apart--I mean, who among us can really get along with a donutized girlfriend?--I started drinking in bars nearly every night, and had grown thin and drawn like Humphrey Bogart in "The Treasure of Sierra Madre."

"Look, Big Brother: dump her, if only for my sake. If you go on like this, you can't help but fall apart," my sister advised. "I know what you're feeling, but donutized people never return to normal. You have no choice but to break up with her."

She was absolutely right. Just as she said, once a person is donutized, they stay donutized forever. I called the freak on the phone and said goodbye. "I hate breaking up, but in the end, I guess it's just fate. I'll never forget you...bleah, bleah, bleah"

"You still don't get it?" the donutized girlfriend said. "The center of our human existence is nothing. There is nothing, like a zero. Why don't you take a long, hard look at this void? Why do you insist on looking only at the things immediately around you?"

Why? That was the question I wanted to ask her. Why do donutized people only think in such narrow-minded, parochial ways?

But anyway, that's how I broke up with my girlfriend. That was two years ago. Then, last spring, my little sister, for no apparent reason, donutized as well. After graduating from Jouchi University, and beginning to work for Japan Airlines, she was in the lobby of a Sapporo hotel one day on a business trip, when she suddenly donutized. My mother stayed at home day after day and cried her life away.I call my sister on the phone once in a while, just to see how she's doing.

"You still don't get it?" my donutized little sister says. "The center of our human existence is..."

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

"All art is quite useless"

"The well bred contradict other people. The wise contradict themselves"
"Philosophies for the use of the Young", Oscar Wilde

I have for some time been planning to post a little thing about one of my favorite authors Mr. Oscar Wilde, but alas it seems a Cardinal has beat me to the punch.

Wilde was the leading English Decadent, along with Walter Pater, and it is perhaps Pater's fervent Catholicism that first awed Wilde. The ties between Decadence/Aestheticism/Fin-de-Siecle and Catholicism is a very interesting one. Why is it that nearly all of the great visionary artists are Catholic? Interesting to ponder.

Here also is an interesting article about Wilde's Catholicism.

Perhaps the single greatest writing ever to be made about art/aesthetics is the preface to Dorian Gray which can, and should, be read and reread. Here two lines I particularly liked upon a reread:

"Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.
Those who read the symbol do so at their peril."

Oscar Wilde's Homeland, Igor Lysenko

Sunday, January 07, 2007


Baptism, El Greco

"Caravans of camels shall fill you,
dromedaries from Midian and Ephah;
all from Sheba shall come
bearing gold and frankincense,
and proclaiming the praises of the LORD."
from today's first reading (Sirach)

Today's feast pulls double duty, it represents not only Jesus's baptism, but also the arrival of the Magi from the east. It is Jesus's epiphany to the Jewish world in his baptism and the pagan world with the wise men.

And here's a really sweet crozier from the 14th century ornamented with the Magi:


Also, today is Christmas for the Eastern Orthodox, and I found this interesting article from none other than the infamous Al-Jazeerah, and its a rather nice article.

Catholic Blogs Page