Monday, November 28, 2005

Poem of the Week 11/28/2005: My Grandmother's Love Letters

My Grandmother's Love Letters

There are no stars to-night
But those of memory.
Yet how much room for memory there is
In the loose girdle of soft rain.

There is even room enough
For the letters of my mother's mother,
That have been pressed so long
Into a corner of the roof
That they are brown and soft,
And liable to melt as snow.

Over the greatness of such space
Steps must be gentle.
It is all hung by an invisible white hair.
It trembles as birtch limbs webbing the air.

And I ask myself:

"Are your fingers long enough to play
Old keys that are but echoes:
Is the silence strong enough
To carry back the music to its source
And back to you again
As though to her?"
Yet I would lead my grandmother by the hand
Through much of what she would not understand;
And so I stumble. And the rain continues on the roof
With such a sound of gently pitying laughter.

Hart Crane 1926

Hello Friends and Family - I am sorry that I never finished the last poem of the week; this one may not be completed either, for finals are beginning to bear down. But I will update you all over my Winter Break as to which poems I have finished (there will be many, I hope). Anyway, on to "My Grandmother's Love Letters". The poem is a journey rather than a circle, a process instead of a cross-section of time. This episode tells of a failure to connect with the past, or of a failure to hold on to a person. It deals with dissolution, though not harsh or nihilistic dissolution. Rather, it concerns a sad ending, something just out of reach. Also, I just noticed that the structure of this poem is rather like Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "conversation poems", wherein he begins discussing the surrounding natural world, goes into a thoughtful tangent, and returns to the natural world with a new perspective.

The first three stanzas establish the delicacy of the situation, the necessity to tread softly and carefully around the grandmother's precious memories. The narrator begins with a clean slate of sorts in discussing her surroundings. She contemplates, that "there are no stars" and that the rain gently encloses her. This establishes the privacy and openness needed to look so intimately into the past. (I am choosing a female narrator, but there is no indication one way or the other, so you are free to select whomever you like; I like the idea that these letters are a woman's inheritance, but it does not matter. Pick for yourself.) This kind of blankness, she seems to be saying, effaces the outside world, encouraging interiority. There is safety and gentleness in the image of a "loose girdle", as if the weather will clothe and protect the sensitive inner world.

This natural space, she notes, even provides enough breathing room for something very special, Elizabeth's love letters. Setting the name "Elizabeth" alone in its line emphasizes the grandmother's singularity and importance. One must hold on to the letters to hold on to her, at least while they survive. They are "liable to melt as snow", revealing the delicacy of looking at her grandmother's love letters. The diction here is again soft and careful and quiet. Words like "pressed," "brown," "snow", and indeed "soft" itself reiterate that this is a private intrusion.

The next lines, "over the greatness of such space / steps must be gentle", voices, refrain-like, this same idea. That there is a "greatness" to this space implies both a vastness and an extraordinariness to the past and, even more, to age. The next two lines are almost painfully aware of the grandmother's decrepit state; the "white hair" is an obvious link to old age while the trembling tree limbs connote muscular deterioration. These references to old age add another dimension; this situation is not simply delicate because it is so ephemeral, but perhaps because experience (of any variety) deserves respect.

***Alright - I have to leave you here. So that you have some clue to my thoughts about the somewhat surprising end of this poem, I will sum up the rest of my thoughts on "My Grandmother's Love Letters":

~The first part of the fourth stanza is odd, for it reads like a conversation while it is only one person. This approach reveals the narrator's self-doubt. Perhaps the love letters are too important to attempt to understand. Reading the letters *requires* so much imagination and such deep empathy that to fall short is to melt the letters like snow, to clomp and stamp all over a person's identity and life.
~The end of the poem, then, reflects this defeat. The narrator believes that she (the speaker) cannot let go of enough of herself to fully experience what her grandmother did. She would distort her grandmother's memory.
~Thus the rain, once a protector of the inner self, serenely mocks the narrator's self-ishness, not because the rain is bad, but because the narrator realizes that she cannot take advantage of the open environment.

Okay - pieces of that may change tomorrow, for I am very tired now, so until next update...***

Monday, November 21, 2005

Poem of the Week 11/21/2005: Losing a Language

Losing a Language

A breath leaves the sentences and does not come back
yet the old still remember something that they could say

but they know now that such things are no longer believed
and the young have fewer words

many of the things the words were about
no longer exist

the noun for standing in mist by a haunted tree
the verb for I

the children will not repeat
the phrases their parents speak

somebody has persuaded them
that it is better to say everything differently

so that they can be admired somewhere
farther and farther away

where nothing that is here is known
we have little to say to each other

we are wrong and dark
in the eyes of the new owners

the radio is incomprehensible
the day is glass

when there is a voice at the door it is foreign
everywhere instead of a name there is a lie

nobody has seen it happening
nobody remembers

this is what the words were made
to prophesy

here are the extinct feathers
here is the rain we saw

W.S. Merwin 1988

This poem is a reflection poem. It is meant to be read and meant to be thought about - one of those poems that follows you around and springs on you as you read the paper, as you sit in class, as you surf the internet. It has a clear and deep cry, one that resonates on many levels. I remember being much younger and being so happy to hear of the scholars compiling language tapes of dying languages. To me, for whom language is as important as almost anything (as it is, surely, to many; we learned in my AP Human Geography class that language is the #1 feature by which a culture identifies itself), the idea of losing my language is akin to losing an arm or a leg or a lung. On a little journaling explosion on Halloween, I thought a lot about what poetry means to me, and I wrote that sometimes, when I am reading, the poem fills me up until I can no longer tell what is hand and what is word. Even that thought spilled out as a jumble of poem and self - "You Begin" by Margaret Atwood is one of my deep-rooted poems, as I think I mentioned last time. But I am rambling.

The poem illustrates language as a key component of identity. Language, after all, provides structural expressions of our selves, our cultures, and our beliefs. In Merwin’s “Losing a Language,” the narrator reflects on language as spiritual, emotional, cultural, and personal. It ties humans to place; without it, life is dull, cold, and brittle.

The form, to begin, implies dissolution, endings, and disintegration. After all, Merwin uses no punctuation and no capital letters, save the first. This seems an almost half-hearted attempt to employ English grammatical conventions, a gesture that he is aware of them, even if they rust unused. His choice here reflects the grandparents' decision to not say the things that they know. The visual form even looks like it is falling apart. Made only of short, unrhymed couplets, the poem seems to be barely holding together, just as a language slips away.

The first line establishes language as a living being, or almost. Breath leaving a sentence at once implies a spoken phrase and a breathing, animate one. It is a delicate being, and suffers when the old choose not to say it. Merwin writes that they "could say" the words, signifying that they do not. The line "they know now that such things are not to be believed" is interesting, for it seems to say that language and meaning require faith; words here are almost a spiritual entity.

Then, too, that "the young have fewer words" implies that they have less; their language (and presumably lives) are streamlined. The third couplet builds on this thought, implying that, as language is compressed, certain elements of it are squeezed out. Since "many of the things the words were about / no longer exist," the death of language accompanies death of meaning, culture, and experience, listed in the next couplet. With the fading of the words, so, too, has the mystical experience of "standing in mist by a haunted tree." To me, this line connotes reflection, the unknown, deep-seeded faith, and a tingle of fear. It reminds me of a feeling I get in certain places, the sense that everyone who has ever walked across those bricks or laughed on that bench or waited beneath the tree is actually there, embedded invisibly in the place. Losing the experience of a place through language is to lose every story that has ever unfolded under the haunted tree.

The narrator next notes that that there was once a “verb for I”. Its loss implies a dissolution of a version of self wherein change is acceptable. And it provokes the thought of how one would use the verb for I. Could one "I" things? This action recalls the interior application of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle: that, in experiencing things, seeing them, or interacting with them, one necessarily affects them, at least to the self.

Next, Merwin folds in a sense of disrespect in losing the language, writing that "the children will not repeat / the phrases their parents speak." We learn, however, that they are only following "somebody [who] has persuaded them / that it is better to say everything differently." It seems almost scornful to speak "differently," for "differently" implies that it is preferable to speak in *any* other way than in the ancestral language. Furthermore, the ambiguity of the noun "somebody" allows this convincer to be anyone from a child on the playground to the media to society itself.

The children listen to this somebody, then, "so that they can be admired somewhere / farther and farther away." To begin, this motivation seems hollow against the power and spirituality of the haunted tree and the verb for I. I find that the idea of admirability, or (more plainly) coolness, attached to linguistic pressure fascinating, because it touches on so much human motivation. We are social creatures, first and foremost; a child will adopt its peers' accent instead of its parents', if the accents are different. The narrator also suggests that coolness is insular, for it goes hand in hand with the kids being "farther and farther away." This is the first time, too, we get the sense of foreginness the end of the poem is so conscious of.

Before this continues, note that the the narrator is actually a "we", and not in the "royal we" sense of the word, but in the communal, societal sense of it. A group of people is relating its deep and ubiquituous ache. I know that the "we" could simply be one person telling her experiences, but the communal idea works well within the poem and, to me, has a stronger impact.

The line "where nothing that is here is known" moves the speakers to a foregin place. It reminds me of a line from Gabriel Garcia Marquez's novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, where the wise, ancient character, when asked how he learned the news from far away, replies "Everything is known." To me, this has always meant (on one level, at least) that human knowledge is held in a larger consciousness, and, if we can teach ourselves to sense it, we may draw from it. In this sense, losing a language entails a diminishment of the human consciousness, for, with the loss of the verb for I and the haunted tree, for example, the amount known in the world lessens. Of course, that is a very personal connection; it was probably not an intentional allusion, but it works within the frame of the poem and enriches my read of it. Just a little justification.

At any rate, the next line "we have little to say to each other" shows that the connection within a community fail as does a language. Not only do the group-members (family, town, society, culture) have little to say to one another, content-wise, they have literally little language with which to say it. Only scraps of a foregin language remain for them to use.

The next two lines actually appropriate the new owners' language system, for the speakers call themselves "wrong" and "dark". Not only has language dissipated, but people's sense of self-worth has crumbled as well. Also, the word "owners" begs the question: owners of what? They may own language, power, the old culture, the sway of children's minds, the building in which the speakers live etc. Ownership implies a kind of slavery, almost; this read works well with "wrong" and "dark," and implies that their minds are now slaves to the new language.

I was talking with my housemate last night about the line “the day is glass,” and, having slept on the conversation, have come to the thought that this is the central metaphor for a life without one’s own language. Day is still visible and clear, but it is insulated, brittle, cold, and sharp. Gloria suggested that glass implies television, which in turn connotes passivity. The day is no longer a space in which to live; it is an ailing region in which life flies by without truth, without reality. Even the neighbors are estranged, for "when there is a voice at the door it is foregin", and "everywhere instead of a name there is a lie." With this line, I am imagining scraps of understanding fluttering overhear cloaked in the new language while the rest of life whirls about, blurred and confused.

The poem ends with a hearbreak like shattered glass, with the kind of knowing ending that is so tragic. The lines "this is what the words were made / to prophesy" tells us that this culture had an entire set of creation and apocalyptic myths. They new it was coming, and yet that doesn't make it any easier for the inhabitants. The end of the poem feels like a true end, and as wretched as one as well. Not all endings are grevious, of course; most lead into new and brighter things. With this poem, however, the end of a language is an extinction. It is the termination of a species, of thousands and millions of years of buildup, of consciousness, of experience and emotion and love. That the poem ends looking to the past, to "the rain we saw", signals that there will be no future. The language is lost, and a silent, aching grief has taken its place.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Poem of the Week 11/14/2005: From "Europe: A Prophecy"

From "Europe: A Prophecy", Plate 9(b)

There stand the venerable porches that high-towering rear
Their oak-surrounded pillars, form’d of massy stones, uncut
With tool, stones precious; such eternal in the heavens,
Of colours twelve, few known on earth, give light in the opake,
Plac’d in the order of the stars, when the five senses whelmed
In deluge o’er the earth-born man; then turn’d the fluxile eyes
Into two stationary orbs, concentrating all things,
The ever-varying spiral ascents to the heavens of heavens
Were bended downward; and the nostrils golden gates shut
Turn’d outward, barr’d and petrify’d against the infinite.

Thought chang’d the infinite to a serpent; that which pitieth;
To a devouring flame; and man fled from its face and hid
In forests of night; then all the eternal forests were divided
Into earths rolling in circles of space, that line an ocean rush’d
And overwhelmed all except this finite wall of flesh.
Then was the serpent temple form’d, image of infinite
Shut up in finite revolutions, and man became an Angel;
Heaven a mighty circle turning; God a tyrant crown’d.

William Blake 1794

I don’t usually choose poems that we are working on in class for the Poem of the Week, because it seems unfair, too easy. I don’t want to report on class, I want to look at them without any outside influence. This excerpt from Blake’s marvelous Europe: A Prophecy is an exception, though, because it is among the most beautiful things I have ever read, if not the most beautiful thing. Right up there with the end of The Great Gastby, the end of Love in the Time of Cholera, “You Begin” by Margaret Atwood, and the Thirteenth Book of Wordsworth’s The Prelude. I write those down because you should all take a look at those if you get a chance – they are all breathtaking, literally. When I first read this passage, I had to stop and read it five or six more times; I was awestruck, literally, but didn’t have an idea concerning the swirling celestial imager’s meaning. Thanks mainly to class and (to some extent) an accidental ownership of several critical works on Blake, I have basically been able to parse out what he’s saying. It is no less beautiful than the words themselves.

Here goes.

The poem opens discussing a Druidic temple in “golden Verulam”, a reference that I have not included above. Its specific character is relevant in discussing this small portion of text, and it may ease any confusion about what the “oak-surrounded pillars” and “venerable porches” refer to. The important piece to know is that it was built, if I am reading it correctly, when man was first brought into physical form. A translation of the first several lines would read “they placed in the shapes of constellations twelve stones of colors unknown to man at the time when the sensual world flooded man”. Blake uses the word “whelm” to point out that man was overcome with the five senses, losing his balance with the universe. They flooded him in a “deluge” and limited his sight. “Fluxile eyes” indicates that the eyes were, at one time, capable of seeing more of the heavens. Now, they are reductive and “concentrate all things”. This is, essentially, a description of the Fall from Eden.

Blake, we learned in class, read man’s fall from Eden as a tumble from the infinite to the finite. Our senses limit us, contain us, yes, though they are by no means bad, as a glance at this passage might lead one to believe. Rather, they can be expanded upon and taught to see, hear, feel, taste, and touch infinity in the particular. Organized religion, however, suppresses the senses’ capability to feel the joy dancing through all the earth. This passage clearly demonstrates that Blake appreciates the senses; nostrils have “golden gates” and the eyes are “orbs”. Sensuality seems negative here because it has been shut to the greater spiritual world, seen when Blake writes, “the ever-varying spiral ascents to the heavens of heavens / Were bended downward”. The onset of Druidic religion shrinks man’s world and stifles the infinite, that which is most awful (in the old sense of the word: awe-full).

That is the first stanza. The second is decidedly more obscure and difficult. Blake continues discussing Druidism, the senses, and infinity; looking at these elements can help us understand the second part. The infinite, in the first line, is turned into a serpent, “that which pitieth”. The serpent is a symbol of the Druids, and “thought” is presumably human thought following the fall into a finite sensual realm. Thus, Druidism is the product and symbol of the fall.

With the rise of religion, man flees and enters darkness. He takes himself away from higher thought and enters “the forests of night”. “Night” signifies an ending, a clot inhibiting higher thinking. Once he flees, then, the “eternal forests” get divided; the fall of the land follows the fall of man. That the earths spin in “circles of space” suggests containment, limits, and bindings.

The next piece, “That line an ocean rush’d / And overwhelmed all except this finite wall of flesh” treats the nature of man and recalls the flood-imagery from the first stanza. “That line” is necessarily ambiguous; to me, it implies a boundary line, the line drawn between infinity and the finite self, though it could be any number of different things. In class today we discussed that there is a kind of unknown sitting at the heart of Blake’s work that makes it so fantastic. I think that we get used to pinning things down and knowing for sure, so not-knowing and not being able to restrict ourselves to a single definition is an experience well-worth having. It requires a certain confidence in the self, I think, or perhaps a willingness to be small or insignificant. To acknowledge that one lies beneath greater understanding breaks down ego, allowing us greater mobility. Even seeing that one is in this cave, a metaphor Blake often uses, will allow one to discover exits or chinks in the ceiling.

The final three lines comment upon the negativity of man’s fall from grace. The temple formed mocks the fettered consciousness of man, standing as an altar to violence (the temple at Verulam was a sacrificial temple, so we learned in class today that Blake suggests that the fall somehow leads to sacrifice and thus violence). I don’t agree with the critics I have on hand about the he closing lines, “man became an Angel; /Heaven a mighty circle turning; God a tyrant crown’d.”. They claim that it simply extends the connection between the Edenic Fall and the rise of the Druids. I say that the final lines are much richer than this. Man becoming an Angel is not a positive comment that he is returning to a state of grace; Angels in Blake’s work are often agents of destruction and oppression (though they are by no means limited to that position). In this case, man would become an agent of his own destruction, for it is he who enacts the suppressive forces. More ominously, too, is the idea that Heaven itself gets constrained when turned into a circle. I want to point out here that heaven only seems a circle to man - the fall has made heaven like a circle, has made the eternal realm of God (is this what heaven is? any ideas?) finite as we percieve it. Instead of stretching endlessly, it twists back into itself, existing only as the tight circle that man’s puny senses can perceive. The fall perverts God for man as well; He is no longer a joyful loving creator, but a constructed “tyrant crown’d”. This label relates the corruption of organized religion permeating 18th Century Britain, for priests were easily as oppressive as the government.

Before I finish up, I think that I ought to clarify the view of the senses, for I have been rather vague about their position. The senses, to Blake, are God-given gifts, though they do evidence our separation from the infinite world. They ought to be rejoiced in, however, and only tend to limit us when limited themselves. Denying the pleasures of the body distances man even further from the infinite, and it is only in experiencing the world that we can reclaim part of our original heritance. It is poetry and the poet’s job to enlarge the senses; engendering paradox is one way of doing this, as is living with every atom, really feeling life.

If I am have rambled from time to time in this PotW, it is only because Blake, above all, invites us to think. This is, perhaps, our duty to the infinite, another way of embracing the joy of the senses. We can and indeed should experience the infinite through our senses. They perceive the “ever-varying spiral ascents to the heavens of heavens” and rejoice in them.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Poem of the Week 11/7/2005: Deaf-Mute in the Pear Tree

Deaf-Mute in the Pear Tree

His clumsy body is a golden fruit
pendulous in the pear tree

Blunt fingers among the multitudinous buds

Adriatic blue the sky above and through
the forking twigs

Sun ruddying tree's trunk, his trunk
his massive head thick-knobbed with burnished curls
tight-clenched in bud

(Painting by Generalic.* Primitive.)

I watch him prune with silent secateurs

Boots in the crotch of branches shift their weight
heavily as oxen in a stall

Hear small inarticulate mews from his locked mouth
a kitten in a box

Pear clippings fall
soundlessly on the ground
Spring finches sing
soundlessly in the leaves

A stone. A stone in ears and on his tongue

Through palm and fingertip he knows the tree's
quick springtime pulse

Smells in its sap the sweet incipient pears

Pale sunlight's choppy water glistens on
his mutely snipping blades

and flags and scraps of blue
above him make regatta** of the day

But when he sees his wife's foreshortened shape
sudden and silent in the grass below
uptilt its face to him

then air is kisses, kisses

stone dissolves

his locked throat finds a little door

and through it feathered joy
flies screaming like a jay

P. K. Page 1985

* Ivan Generalic (1914-1992), Croatian painter in a "native" or "primitive" stlye
** boat race

Hello! I was delighted last night to find P.K. Page in my Norton Anthology; I had read this poem before, but hadn't really appreciated it until yesterday. The music of the poem is round and thick and crisp, like a pear. Read it out loud - you are meant to feel the words come rolling off of your tongue.

This musicality, in fact, is somewhat ironic, as the narrator is discussing a deaf-mute. He could no more say these words than we could sit up and fly out the window. This tension indicates that examining tone will be fruitful for this poem, if you'll excuse the pun. The tone shifts from beginning to end, or at least appears to; whereas the deaf-mute is almost problematically represented in the first 15 lines or so, the narrator turns to him with more empathy in the final half of the poem by attempting to re-create and thus empathize with his experience.

Labeling him "deaf-mute" is akward right off the bat. After all, aren't we taught to look past people's physical characteristics and see what's inside? Naming him only as a "deaf-mute" seems to limit him. However, the view of this deaf-mute is more nuanced than an initial glance will reveal, even in the beginning. The speaker uses the words "clumsy", "blunt", "thick-nobbed", and "trunk" to describe him, which appear stereotypical and harsh. However, the poem's music softens these callous observations. By mixing "His clumsy body" with "a golden fruit / pendulous in the pear tree", he smooths out the label. Other lines reflect this technique. "Blunt fingers" move among "multitudinous buds" and his head is "thick-nobbed with burnished curls / tight-clenched in bud". We get images of primitivism mixed with those of fertility, richness and color. Though he moves "heavily as oxen in a stall", he uses sophisticated-sounding tools ("silent secateurs").

Part of me, though, wonders if the complicated language results from the narrator's childish desire to assert his own ability to say these words. These words do carry some kind of prejudice; it's odd that such a beautiful poem signifies bias. The tension sitting between the discrimination and the ripe imagery reflects the tension that appears at all levels of this poem. There is tension between the rich visual imagery and the word's aural cadence in "pear clippings fall / soundlessly on the ground / Spring finches sing / soundlessesly in the leaves". The lines, "small inarticulate mews from his locked mouth [sound like] / a kitten in a box" embody this contrast. On one hand, the narrator likens the deaf-mute to a soft, tender kitten, while on another he compares his attempt at communication to that of an animal. Thus, the deaf-mute is at once sympathetic and degraded.

The narrator's bias lifts somewhat as the poem continues, however; he begins to empathize with the deaf-mute by couching his observations in terms the man would understand and indeed by nearly swathing himself in the mute's consciousness. The line "A stone. A stone in hears and on tongue" represents the man's disability in a form he can understand. A stone, after all, exists as a visual and tactile object. It certainly makes no noise, linking it to his handicap. Again, though, we must ask ourselves if equating a man with a stone is problematic; stones, aside from being seen and not heard, are not intelligent. The phrase "dumb as a rock" springs to mind.

I would argue, however, that the view is not intentionally negative. Of course not; "Deaf-Mute in a Pear Tree" is, instead, about a "normal" human watching a liminal other. So of course there are positives and negatives; Page certainly picks up on the fact that the speaker is not trying to degrade the deaf man. There are indications in the second half of the poem that the mute has other, special perceptions as well. The narrator notes that the mute "knows the tree's / quick springtime pulse". The deaf man notices the smell of the pear tree's sap, a feat I doubt many could reproduce. More interestingly, though, is how images of water and sky are consistently mixed. The sky is "Adriatic blue" (in reference to the Adriatic Sea), "pale sunlight's choppy water glistens", and "flags and scraps of blue / above him make regatta of the day". The narrator, in imagining this other's senses, gains insights/perspective he might not have had without this encounter.

The speaker actually drapes himself in the deaf-man's consciousness when the wife enters. Before treating this, however, we must note the line "his wife's foreshortened shape"; this line could again encompass one of two views. "Foreshortened" may be a reference to how, from above (where the mute is standing), people look shorter. On the other hand, however, it could signify that the wife, too, is disabled. She doesn't uptilt her face, her shape uptilts "its face". This is precarious; the narrator straddles the line between empathy and prejudice.

While the previous line is potentially offensive, the line, "then air is kisses, kisses" is utterly empathetic. The deaf man's thought breaks through the narrator's, or perhaps occupies the speaker's consciousness, displacing it. It finally ascribes a delicate kind of beauty to the mute: a complex, bright emotion. That kind of tenderness truly humanizes him as well, making up for (in my opinion, though this is a value judgment) the previous references. It shows, to me, that the narrator has grown over the poem, to this point at least. The euphoric form at the end of the poem does persuade me some, though; the capital-less, cascading lines "then air is kisses, kisses / stone dissolves / his locked throat finds a little door" comprise the empathatetic pinnacle of the poem. They are as beautiful as the the emotion they describe.

The final couplet, needless to say, undermines this delicacy. Or rather, reimplements the tension found elsewhere throughout the poem. It is as if the narrator is shocked at the final sound, and his return to an animalistic description revives his prejudice. The period is absent, leaving the sentence hanging as are our jaws. The ending makes me wonder, is it possible to step outside of our prejudices (for they doubtlessly exist), to consciously shake them, or do we simply sedate them? Or is it that we have the tendency to be fascinated by monstrosity - the anthropologist/literary critic/professor René Girard would have something to say about prejudice. We are threatened by liminally similar others, as this disabled man is. He engenders both human and non-human qualities, making him threatening, according to Girard.

But - very few of you will care about/understand that thread, so I leave you here. Before I go, though, I want to say that I have been estactic to recieve feedback from you, either through email or comments. I am completely serious when I say that it makes my day. So thank you to all of you who read this and to those of you who commment (Tom and Gloria!).