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SUCH AS SHALL HAVE I NTENTI ON TO BE
UNDERTAKERS I N THE PLANTI NG
Singers Czech Republic
Concert Tour. I walk a
Donoso (1924-199!" I have
been writing a letter to José
Donoso for forty years.
Re#ie$ o% The Shout
o% Tom &o'r( )osthumous
)oet. I got 10 votes….
The Baptism of
Wallace Stevens. Poets live
in the future not the past.
Borges as a chil believe the
rea!s of the !irror…
Jerus'lem *l'+e. I
wonder to contemplate what
you say Señor…
The *loo,- The'ter
or M'rt-rs Mirror o% the
De%enseless Christi'ns" "ne
Messiah$ Four Quartets$
stables an cattle$ but how
S+- Sh',o$s" %t the
ti!e of the Peace #orps I
!ae !y own…
The McConnell Singers Czech Republic Concert Tour
I walk a cobblestone river in Bohe!ia$ stranger$ not a pilgri!$ not a prisoner
like the #(ech$ fifty years before. )e are the first cultural group to arrive in
.o+et$ for!erly &lbogen$ northern oh!me. #obblestone waves break on
*oethe+s shore$ a !onu!ent in the s,uare. -he granite brick river rises to a
castle that o!inates the town. *oethe ,ui((es the facae. #ar!ine$
burguny$ carinal$ !aroon. -here are !ore shaes of re here than in !y
pastels. I choose ver!illion.
.ristin has brought us back to the briges she hi uner as a girl when the
%llies strafe her town. Invite by the und der "eutschen#$andscha%t
&gerland$ this anniversary is of the en of the )ar where her ol house
stans$ inch/thick plaster on walls attache by #o!!unists$ attache by
#(echs. 0er chilhoo friens repatriate$ she introuces !e. It is the start
of our trip.
-he .ay Poore Phoeni1 #ollege 2c#onnell 3ingers 415567 are an all
fe!ale group of acappella singers$ a group of forty$ supporte by an
entourage of 80. )e tour nine concerts$ !ost in the #(ech 'epublic. I on+t
atten the! all. I waner the streets. 0elp the bus river stack luggage. I a!
It is an arena of historical illusion$ allie with the *er!an$ ouste !a9ority
of Bohe!ia an borer regions. #ha!berlain an the :rench gave 3ueten
to *er!any at 2unich in +8;. *er!any choppe off the west$ 'ussia
choppe off the east. -he property of the *er!ans was confiscate when the
#(ech took it back.
I on+t yet know !y traveling co!panions. -he choir an entourage travel
by bus. )e rive with .ristin+s !ate$ #harley$ a truck river. 0e has rente a
car but his knees are ba. I rive to <oket fro! 2unich$ fro! Bohe!ia to
Prague$ to "bera!!ergau$ &ttal$ =ienna an back to 2unich. "ur navigator
plu!be the <onon unergroun an Paris !etro before this trip. #harley
was here in +>6. 0e ha a short cut to the borer at #heb$ wante to see the
e1/co!!unist guars o their tricks. -hey se,uestere a #hinese chorale
!e!ber. .ay an .ristin negotiate her release. -he bus is seriously hel up.
?o !atter. -hat+s before cell phones an !y wife has the !ap reverse.
%n enearing ,uality in a way as we spee north$ it souns like Donne$
@'iing )estwar$@ 2ercator pro9ections$ @(enith to us an our %ntipoes.@
)e can cross the pole an circle own$ or 9ust turn aroun. I still have that
!ap. -he lines !ake !e i((y. 3unset provokes reverse with the petering
'Restore thine Image( so much( by thy grace(
That thou may)st *now me( and I)ll turn my %ace.'
)e turn$ an as the bus is eparting$ pull up in #heb. I on+t know how we+
have foun the way.
)e left Phoeni1 for the bloo!ing #(ech hills$ the springs an silent
woos. )e stay in /'rlo#- 0'r-$ .arlsba$ for the &lbogen concert$ rink
!ineral water$ soiu!$ potassiu!$ !agnesiu!$ calciu!$ !anganese pipe
fro! the groun. -he people are a little !inerali(e. -raition has preserve
%nrea$ castle gatekeeper. 3he wants to guie tourists an speaks goo
&nglish. 3he is BB$ only chil$ prie an 9oy of her parents$ but can+t apply
for the 9ob fullti!e. Doesn+t want to be ho!e late. -hey have no phone.
2inerals account for the porcelain factories too. &veryboy walks enlessly
up an own.
-he first concert is hel in the castle$ but I a! out looking at roofs. 3uen
roun rails$ ga(ebo walks$ you look own on a seventeenth century
cannonball garen an cross. 2ossy cannonballs look like cabbages but
bigger. % catapult garen. 'oun stones$ bigger than heas$ flung own upon
the *er!ans an 3lovaks in their bes.
-he castle bloo!s on its hill with spires. )e see the crown 9ewels of the
town. I on+t !ean the green *othic bulbs$ the circling tin slopes. I !ean the
roofs of &lbogen. )as it igitalis or =an *ogh 9ust out of blue when he !ae
that green skyC -his hu!an sky is re. 'oofs crisscrosse with colors of
bloo$ re 0opi sanstone$ )elsh sheep brane with paint$ Papagoes$ pastel
shaes$ painte eserts. Dark earth looks up into your eyes as you look own
to the brown an green eyes of sultans an seas. -he slate ives$ re/ascens$
pitches to or!ers. 3callope shingles glie to soffits. =ents$ chi!neys swi!
winows. It is a hillsie tille by laers naile to steeps.
?e1t stop$ Cheb 4&ger7$ our entry point. %2 spent$ wife asleep$ finishing
two @roofs.@ )alke by the re clay courts$ ha lunch$ then to the four P2
concert at the 1Dth century althasar#+eumann ,aus. "um althasara
+eumanna$ once a Beneictine cloister$ now a concert hall$ cultural center
for the "eutsch.
?o signs avertise #heb as &urope+s biggest brothel. -he trees in+t show
it. %ll !i1e together$ the #(echE*er!an borer$ #heb centere$ beauty an
ugliness$ prove again$ harrowing opposites$ like ca!ps where prisoners
transcen. Danger an blessing$ like going to =egas for the glory of *o. It
was in #heb$ calling it &ger in+t change it$ it was in #heb the blessing
-he "eutsch laies host us in the ?eu!ann 0aus grouns. :riens of 2rs.
3ura. -hey have the sa!e !anners an appearance$ for!al clothing even$
s!iles$ gestures$ of !y gran!other+s fa!ily$ the 2ennonite 2acks$
fa!iliar$ give little pats as they tell us about the facility an serve coffee in
e!itasse with pastry. -hey gave snifters of #(ech brany too at the outset.
2any !ore than a hunre in that roo! of long tables$ chairs along walls$
so!e roun tables at the other en. 2rs. 3ura pronounces the greeting.
But the girls are giy fro! snifting$ speculate about cloves an herbs.
<aughter ripsaws the table$ vibrates back against throats. .ay says they !ust
not laugh or they+ll not be open for singing. #urrents$ arch re!arks. -hey
brought out their chilren$ our hosts$ who perfor!e$ sang$ playe recorers
a!ong panto!i!es of @this one is !ine$ o you see@ an gran!otherly
I ask gran!other$ @)here have all the co!!unists goneC@ @<ike the
weather$@ she says$ @an the new part of town.@ -here the wie/space
cobbles !arch straight where the ol parts have Fleur#de#lis to walk. But the
giant chestnuts an re !aples in both regi!es bloo!$ new or ol
co!!unists$ republicans or e!ocrats.
<ike the people who lai the first sweep of stones$ I take asylu! in the
park$ wait for the concert to begin$ pray for an outpouring of love$ which
later overflows. % cocker ro!ps with a bo1er in the grass. ?oboy in earshot
has a gun. -he subte1t is the plainte1t. -he faces look like babies$ tolers
respect their elers. #an the #(ech be !ore e!ocratic than thisC
I walk back. -he concert echoes off builings. -he sisters have returne. %
<atin piece. I stan in the back. -he !en of the entourage are clunking.
3hifting$ s,ueaking$ scraping$ clicking their ca!eras. %uto rewin. ?otes are
falling like stalag!ites an showers of sharp glass. -he e!otion eafens !e.
I grab two by the collar$ tell the! to sit own. %t the en of that piece I
!ove to the !ile$ close !y eyes in the center of the soun pearl. &very
breath echoes. -here is a !essage to 2c#onnell$ slow notes of a hallelu9ah.
%fter each nu!ber the !an ne1t to !e claps like a bush!an sucking the
.alahari for water. 0e oes not s!ile yet. 0is applause is esperate. &ach
nu!ber !eets !ore hunger. ?ot si1 encores were enough. )e get one. -he
notes are ra(ors cutting own apathy. -he choir grows confient early$
concentrates to a precise frost$ conenses$ !elts in the orb of the sanctuary.
-he shivers an tingling !ake us even coler. -he faces change too. %re
they still changeC :atigue changes for 9oy. 3kepticis! for love. People start
to look up at the large glass/roppe chanelier. -he worship of *o$ the
love of wo!an$ the agony of war. I+! trying to wipe !y eyes
inconspicuously. -he auience leaves shorn.
2aybe it+s the lack of -=$ this soun bath. 2rs. 3ura has the auience rise
to sing the #(ech anthe!. &very note resouns. I hear !y own hu!!ing as
if I were staning facing !y lips. &1traorinary. &1,uisite. -he choir
believes its song$ circles the auience. )e stare straight ahea in our
inti!acy. %fter$ in the bus$ the girls are gone gis.
-hir stop$ 1orni Sl'#+o#$ @I!pact *ene :orest$@ 3chlaggenwal$ ho!e
of 2rs. 3ura. I on+t re!e!ber the concert$ re!e!ber nothing till evening.
-here was a welco!e by the !ayor$ flowers$ presents$ entertain!ents$
songs. I re!e!ber the roa to 3chlaggenwal. -he ay was clouy$ chill.
-he groun felt grave. :ar!lan$ but harrowing$ like scarecrows on wire.
I guess we 9ust got there late again$ !aybe F P2. -he bus was war! with
festivities which were over when 2rs. 3ura invite the whole party to a
inner club nearby. 3o the laies troope in groups an ones an twos after
ark towar the entrance$ entere the i! oorway to go up a flight of
wooen stairs to this club which took up the whole of the secon floor. It
was 3aturay night. 0anging in the street an by the oor were the youth of
#olu!bine$ assessing the laies as if to see which they coul cut fro! the
her. I hang on the siewalk$ a heel on the builing$ lounge as the her
straggles by. %ll is well. 3o we went to inner. I break !y own rule. Do not
enter wooen supper clubs.
Du!plings in gravy$ huge roo!$ hunres of people$ the ol at one en
with the choir$ the !ayor$ .ristin+s friens$ the laies. -he whole town
invite. But !uch of the roo! occupie by chilren an granchilren who
ha nothing to o. <eer an !enace$ the laies ignore this. -he !usic lou at
all ti!es$ gets louer. -he little wolves shake to !etal$ kick$ glare$ sto!p by
I feel victi!i(e sitting with the choir$ their elerly escorts$ take !y
partner to the ance floor an work fro! the ege to this center of &urope$
surroune by trench coats$ e1pressionless eyes$ flat faces. 3houting$ ar!s
raise$ praising *o at the top of !y voice$ the !usic was lou$ whirling
with 9oy we ance$ inventing steps$ leaping$ praising. -hey watche like it
was bran new$ but the laies were a little affronte$ gossipe about the
Pentecostal style. @I in+t know he was like that.@ ?oboy hanging aroun
when we left. I have no iea where we spent the night.
)r'gue. <ow rent narrow elevators !aroon us atop prefab towers$ +60s
vintage. -he pave!ent is broken$ grass grows in the cracks. But the sun is
out. )e hang in the neighborhoo early till noon. =isions of gulag ance in
!y hea. In the afternoon the laies look for crystal in shops. I shop for rare
#obblestones confuse the locals. It+s e!barrassing. Before we left I
intene no preparation$ went carte blanc. ?ow the girl with the upsie
own !ap corrects !e. I+! confusing &ger with Prague. Both with =ienna.
-he laies were taking the waters$ porcelain an china shopping in .arlsba$
but we walke with crows on pave!ent besie the #harles at night. In &ger
we walke in the ay. 3he says I gave twenty ollars to an ol !an there. I
on+t re!e!ber. 2y feet$ burning fro! pro!enae towar its en$ walke
towar a little !an pushing a cart with a og$ like he was an outoor 9anitor
sweeping the street.
"l Prague$ that concert$ early P2$ =inohray theatre. I was there. I was
not there. Ges I was. -he laies gave the key of Phoeni1 to the !ayor. 3ister
cities. ?ot so well attene !aybe. I !et a re!aining classics professor in
the hall$ wi(ene !an with a trench coat an goatee$ youth bake out of hi!.
I coul feel what was left$ a co!passion e1cusing beauty. -he laies sang to
hi!. :irst they sang the !ass$ then their own star/like works. 3o!e say love
is like a river. -hey call it acoustics without echoes$ %ve 2aria$ gooness$
-ust remember that in winter( %ar beneath the brittle snow(
$ies a seed that with the sun)s lo.e( in the spring becomes a rose.
)e rive through 2oravia to 0ienn'. 2y co!panion navigates goo. )e
take the train owntown$ walk the streets all ay$ fre,uent shops$ benches$
ice crea!s$ one !useu!. -his I also forgot. )e conte!plate the !eieval
saints an angels$ walke like in Paris when I kept up a strea! of :rench in
her ear. :lower vowels$ rhy!e. I left a poe! of 2erlin in our roo!$ written
on a sketch of "rpheus bening over his lyre. I was e9ecte fro! the 'oin
2useu! for sketching thisA @. . . !y love use to hie !e in the woolan E
so that when eath took every one E still it coul never call !e.@ In =ienna
the entourage+s luggage is 9ust u!pe in front of the hotel. -he :rench
river labors to repack. -he concert that night in the venerable catheral$ the
"n the roa to 2ber'mmerg'u I want to pay #harley for the car. <in($
3al(berg to Innsbruck$ fog rises in the snow. #harley is like a granfather.
)e have coffee together. 0e calls us kis. -he first ay she !et .ristin !y
wife ca!e ho!e carrying a rose. I sketch the roofs here too$ white$ green an
black$ re!e!ber the air best. &arly !orning we walk the streets$ up the
foothills. 'eheas out an blones. Birs on signposts. Deep breaths.
3hops like 3cottsale. Poster bes. Inti!acies of ining roo!s.
In "bera!!ergau we walk along a watershe. :lowers in bloo!$ not
bloo but !arigol. -he irt was re. -he choir in+t sing here though.
-hey perfor!e a concert in nearby 3tt'l$ in the &ttal 0loster$ a catheral of
the 1800+s. I guess I re!e!ber the alpine strictures$ slopes$ even coler air$
!ore yellow flowers$ but with reserve$ not the open hearte enthusias! of
&ger an &lbogen. ?ot a towering catheral either. )hat o Bavarians neeC
Depening on your particular seventeenth century passion$ !y 2ennonite
ancestors neee to get out of so!e town or other here before being locke
up an rowne. Bag rowning was big in 1F60$ boiling in oil on the 'hine.
-he Palatinate was angerous$ Hurich an Bern. If you in+t believe infant
baptis! you were probably ruine. Ir/2ennonites were spotte everywhere$
in prison an escape when the ani!us got rolling. %t )aenswil !ine left.
It wasn+t 9ust one fa!ily$ it was all of the! !ae e1ous. % &uropean thing$
!ass !ove!ents$ like the three !illion *er!ans purge fro! Bohe!ia in
15>6$ an every one of the nine generations of !y 3wiss ancestors in
%!erica$ #le!!er$ *eh!an$ 'osenberger$ <anis$ #le!ens$ Bechtel. I a!
unconscious of this. I feel it in the stones$ the faces$ the effort to get west$
have )al 2art right early. <eave the Fleur#de#lis behin.
-here+s no pagan co!fort in recounting fratricies. )asn+t 0uys!ans$
psycho/bot$ here an leave hi!self a testa!ent of illusion in Des &sseintes+
plants$ @natural flowers i!itating the falseC@ Just the sy!bolic carnivores to
evour later generations. -he region of :austus. -hey won+t trae for peace.
-hey won+t trae for the love an forgiveness of #hrist. -hose 2ennonites
shot right out of there$ ran own hunres of !iles of 'hine an thousans
of !iles of waves to this shore.
.risten an #harley hea back to &ger with the car to lengthen their stay.
-he bus rolls on$ there are ays in Munich to bear. )e go high to low$ to
appease!ent an polka$ sausage$ lou talk. "ne patron takes on the waitress
over his chair. #igarette s!oke. In the street I co!!une with a light pole.
)e have in co!!on the col. I have not so !uch *er!anA schnapps$ tourist
9oints$ wurst$ Reich*inder.
2unich brought everything we felt into contrast$ a surface that longe for
epth. I a! nostalgic for the #harles 'iver$ the walks$ its brige$ the
concrete pillbo1 apart!ents of Prague$ the si!ple #o!!unist vintage$ the
kin that in an earth,uake co!es all own in slabs. -hat was where we
staye. ?o %#$ but running water. -owers of ce!ent !ae to house ten
thousans$ but there was no pretense$ you knew they were !eant to crush
spirit. -hat obvious truth was a buoy$ conflict a peace. -here were no pagans
there$ 9ust #hristians hoping to escape to a better life$ like the cranes
hovering over every rebuiling owntown street$ with bright wings.
#o!ing to M1nchen$ nothing is obvious. In Paris they steal ca!eras fro!
i((y tourists$ preten to show puppets$ !aybe steal a watch. In <onon
everyboy laughs at aversity$ !useu! guars ,uip an you get all flavors
of alcoholic rink. In &lbogen the truth an pathos of facae$ spirit strippe
essentials$ bare roote$ life reveale for what it was$ roof cave$ chi!ney
broke$ winows s!ashe$ stucco black$ cru!bling walls$ no pretense$ oor
angles hinge$ wees grow tall. -his truth of our past was !ore appealing
than high place. It let you participate in the trouble$ in the whole$ in =ictor
:rankl$ who knew how !uch he was worth$ how !uch life was worth$ the
price of a ne1t breath to a 9ewele button an bratwurst.
Gou coul tell such things by talking to .ristin$ hear how her life ha
been$ the wealth of her fa!ily$ the e1pectations. 0ow the furniture was taken
piece by piece$ the art$ the house an finally the future. )hat it woul have
been !aybe she never knew. #harley$ the 2P$ all F+ >@ took her away. 0as
the curtain gone up or co!e ownC Is aversity content or is content the
iscontentC -hose 2ennonites want to know.
I still see the solitary anony!ous soul. #rows in every owntown street
strea! up an own$ but iniviuals too$ ol !en$ gran!others$ chilren$
stirring hu!an ark an light$ suffering an bitterness$ herois! an courage.
-he hu!bler the !ore profoun. -he !ore owntroen the !ore
&lbogen$ &gerA "f Bohe!ia hinterlan crystalline !e!ory$ enthusias!$
esperation of people. "f 9a!!e concert halls$ openhearte$ sullen chilren
of eternity$ estiny cobble streets continuous with car/less$ seeking the
grante . 2art 9eans$ fifty bucks. I know people who fill shipping
containers with use clothing for &urope. "ur party brings back crystal in
e1change. 2y !ineral water is gone.
-he i!ages play out$ but the flight is postpone. )e on+t sleep the night
before. &arly %2$ out of 2unich. :ly <%. 3till awake I co!e through
custo!s. *uar looks at !e$ s!iles$ @welco!e ho!e.@
:ly to Phoeni1$ wake a o(en ti!es. &1it plane$ laies an consorts. Down
the escalator$ !y last act. "l !an in front of !e. *lasses$ two bags$ yellow
shirt$ falls. %bout to be swallowe by conveyor an slice. 3!all steps$
hans uner ar!pits$ set hi! up an off.
I walk a river of light. :eet on+t touch. "ut the oor. 3talag!ites$ showers
of glass. Desperate bush!an sucking the san. &choes in a pearl$ ra(or
notes$ soun frost. I hear hu!!ing. I believe the song.
:ro! a letter to his son %eyrie$ 2ay 15/B0$ 1556
0ristin "erc*( who grew up in &lbogen arranged %or the 2hoeni3 College
McConnell Singers( under the direction o% 0ay 2oore to be o%%icially in.ited
by the und der "eutschen#$andscha%t &gerland to participate in the
commemoration o% the 45th anni.ersary o% the end o% 6orld 6ar II(
per%orming concerts in cities o% the Czech Republic.
155F J B00F
Remembering -os7 "onoso 89:;<#9::=>
I have been writing a letter to José Donoso for forty years$ written an
rewritten but never !aile. It has been a ea letter for a long ti!e. ?othing
appeals so !uch as a pro!ise unfulfille an nothing is so vacant as one
forgotten. ?ot that I !ae any pro!ise$ but a ebt is the sa!e whether
acknowlege or not. :orty years I have been writing this letter an woul
think to have gotten farther than this. 0e was a co!panion out of the night
of sorrow for !e an I want to offer a view of his co!panionship an to
evoke so!e of the e1periences that occurre with it.
I ha been in <i!Kn$ #osta 'ica$ for the thir ti!e that year$ bookstore
inventories$ cleaning up cockroach nests$ but planne to elay !y return to
3an José by first going to the so/calle !ost re!ote beach in the country.L I
was on the bus by !yself that !orning$ prepare for this istant spot when a
!essenger ca!e running to the bus winow with a note that I shoul return
i!!eiately to 3an José. 2y brother ha contracte a for! of viral
!yocaritis in the %ir :orce the previous year$ ha been in an out of
hospitals an finally given a !eical ischarge$ but I in+t fully appreciate
his ire conition. I began to suspect it while I got a flight on a cargo plane
an was back in 3an José two or three hours later$ eating a loaf of brown
brea fro! the roach infeste bakery. % call waite at )estern Inion where
I went fro! the airport$ owntown$ ran actually$ got the call patche through
with the news that !y brother ha ie$ which left !e with a split secon
ecision whether to return then or finish the re!aining three weeks of !y
stay. I was now the olest son. I ran so!e !ore across the city in the
irection of the offices of &itorial #aribe where I worke. It was 8 P2.
)ithout really saying !uch of goobyes I isappeare to the airport an
boare the flight for 2ia!i at ; P2. -his lane in Pana!a #ity for a si1
hour layover before the flight to 2ia!i at > the ne1t !orning.
I was sitting on a bench at 10 P2 in the ol Pana!a #ity airport$ eep in
non/conversation when José Donoso sat own. )e were on the sa!e flight
to 2ia!i with a si1 hour wait. It was !i/2ay$ iffuse light$ hu!iity$
night. 3o!ehow in a co!pletely inoffensive way he sat on that bench as
though it was a pew$ which it looke like$ an suggeste we hire a cab an
tour the city at night. 3o in the !ile of this voyage within a voyage we
took a voyage$ a three/hour cab rie of the canal an city$ returne to the
airport an boare the flight. 0e i not allue to what he coul see. I never
saw hi! again$ but he gave !e his car$ how else woul I have re!e!bere
his na!eC I arrive in 2ia!i at about ;$ waite > hours for the flight to
Philaelphia. Passe out$ woke up$ reboare$ got picke up at the airport by
!y father$ who tol !e the last hours of !y brother+s struggle for life$ how
his lungs fille with flui$ how all that night before awn !y father wrestle
with hi! because he kept trying to go out the winow seeking air in
eliriu!. 2y !other ca!e in towar awn to spell hi! an !y brother ie
in her ar!s. I wept copiously uring this narrative. 0e was burie 2ay BB$
&very ti!e I re!e!bere Pana!a #ity$ 15F8$ I re!e!bere José Donoso
an wante to acknowlege hi!. But every ti!e I re!e!bere I either
faile$ forgot$ or was u!bfoune$ like the ti!e I trie to rea his ?bscene
ird o% +ight. )hen !y thanks were finally reay for post he ha been gone
ten years. I keep falling asleep an waking up.
Poets think an illusion that wors !ake a ifference$ but talk is so cheap.
#o!!it!ent an iscipline cost. Books a!ount to nothing co!pare to
contact with the great$ foun closest to ho!e$ but we !ust go abroa to fin
it e1cept it is not outsie us$ but in us. 3ure$ everything ens in eath$ but the
kin of life an eath is at issue. )ors on+t cut it. Poets live least well$
alienate fro! fellows an the!selves. -hey call it the price they pay for
greatness. )hat greatnessC -he ones who !ake a ifference are the ones you
I preten to this greatness$ but with isrespect$ took a B in high school
&nglish an an essay that eclare the *reeks believe in i!!ortality$
spelle i!!orality$ into a grauate paper analy(ing the allegory of Prie in
the Faerie Queene$ with twenty spelling errors. -he avisor infor!e it was
a goo thing I was a!itte the previous year. 3tanars ha risen. "n
probation anyway for low graes$ I walke on at the Iowa )riter+s )orkshop
thinking I woul learn how to write an get an 2.%. :orty years later those
habits are wearing off.
José Donoso was in Iowa ity fro! +F6/+FD$ as I was fro! +F> to +FF$ after
being re!ove fro! the workshop. 3o I ha another chance. But like the
piano teacher once sai$ @on+t you listen to yourself play$@ all that ti!e I
forgot. Poets an fiction writers in+t !i1 anyway. Gou either ha
=onnegut$ Donoso an Bour9aily or Justice$ 3tarbuck an 3tran.
I ca!e to the poetry workshop by the back oor$ showe fifteen poe!s to
*eorge 3tarbuck an got a hanwritten note for registration. -here were
three large sections of poets$ D6 people. 3o!eti!es they !et in one large
hall. -he for!at wasA sub!it poe!s for the weekly worksheet$ !eet three
hours to iscuss the!$ then !eet with the teacher one on one. I rew Donal
Justice but never learne the trick of eflecting criticis! with self/
eprecation$ so these !eetings were terrible tortures of silence$ one wor
answers usually wrong. #ritici(e your own work an he woul efen it$ but
shut up an he glare. 2utual glaring occurre for an hour. I was i!presse
with his fanatic perfectionis! an in+t later think it unusual anyboy
woul work B0 years on a poe!. "ne ti!e I worke pretty har on so!e
lines an got two right$ @new birth is a stor! E water with spirit.@ 0e sai$
those are goo. 0e sai$ what about the rest of the poe!C 0e gave a #M go
to =ietna! grae. In 15FF all graes were political$ unlike the piano teacher
who pro!ise a # if I woul 9ust stop.
In those sections that !et in Nuonset huts he never sai anything about
writing$ it was a peer review. Ja!es -ate was in that class an other
scholarship players. -he hispi style I wrote$ cracks$ fissures$ i!ponerable
rocks an esert !ountain$ was the way I also rea his lanscape. )e+re all
!ore contraictory that we believe. "ne is !ellifluous as bees an pissyO
another$ co!pletely blocke an unhappy$ is co!pulsively successfulO
another introverte failure has a heritage of 10 generations. -he torture soul
an the other I in+t know conitione their own last ays. Gou can be
hone to this ege$ your !in can scythe$ you can lose relations$ wife$
chilren$ or have none$ be surroune by @friens@ an be alone$ you can
win the pri(e an ie in your urine.
I ha !y ar!y physical that su!!er of +F6 in Iowa. % bus loa went to Des
2oines for the ay to reclassify anyboy fro! out of town as 1/%$ wherein I
prove efective$ so!ething about a knee that was loose. -he ar!y
apologi(e for this re9ection$ sai that 9ust because they in+t want !e in+t
!ean I wasn+t a goo person. In unbearable lightness I hear this while
ricocheting four feet off the groun. )hen the boys steppe forwar to take
the oath I was benche. #ouln+t walk on there$ other than the =ietna! grae
an a regar for the fanaticis! perfection$ @new birth is a stor!$ water with
spirit.@ @)hy on+t you work like that on everythingC@
I ne!t remembere" José Donoso in +F; where by accient I was a -% for
football walk/ons an scholarship players in early %2 -e1as fresh!en
&nglish classes. -he walk/ons practice every ay$ but never playe. I aske
why. "ne was average si(e$ an he was always black an blue. <ove of the
ga!e. -he scholarship players were outstaning speci!ens$ F+ ;$@ wie
beyon !easure$ faster than the eye. *ive an : to one of these an coach
ca!e to office hours.L ?o visits for the walk/on. -he !aterials I ha
circulate a!ong the scholarship players of literature at Iowa were later
so!eti!es graciously offere rewrites by eitors. 2ultiple opportunities
were lost spitting. "nce a reviewer wrote cone!ning the effrontery of
writing in the first place. I still have that letter. "ne of this person+s poe!s is
on the net where he :rench kisses a ea horse. 3o!eti!es however they
woul forget to write.
)alk/ons on+t rea the right stuff or know the right people. )hile the
scholarship players were at ca!ps in su!!er getting enriche an reaing
Byron$ at 16$ 1F an 1D I worke in factories an gas stations. -wo su!!ers
I worke in a founry washing the letters off to!bstones. I operate a bath
where the cast !ols for gravestones were brought after casting to be
cleane. -he na!es an ates in bron(e !etallic letters ha been fastene in
the layout section as the finishe prouct shoul rea. %fter casting they
were brought to a superheate bath$ a tub where I soake the! in hot treate
water$ wearing ar! length rubber gloves$ an scrubbe the letters off. -hen I
woul sort the letters an loa the blanks on a ski to be recycle.L -he full
ti!e workers ha fast cars an Italian$ Polish$ :rench ethnic Pittsburgh
ways. I in+t feel enature so !uch as generali(e$ like the space!an in
<e!+s Solaris who feels so!ething but oesn+t know what it is. % su!!er
after that I worke for #ontainer #orp cutting up ski loas of printe
cartons with a 9ackha!!er with other ault hu!orless laborers an
owntroen. ?ot nice$ the 8 to 11 shift$ which accounts all the high school
su!!ers before college.
&ven before that Pana!a night in 15F8 I threw over everything for writing$
went to Iowa #ity the ne1t year$ a walk/on with a business egree. I ha sent
one story back to ?orth %!erica that year before$ full to the core of strange
effects$ the !agical reality of a hunre i!pressions$ a transparent allegory
about a fa!ily of cockroaches. Johnny :ernane( .ucaracha was a young
cockroach who ie saving his tribe fro! ra!atic threats against the!.
)hen J:. visite 3an Jose 2arch 1;/B0 for the %lliance :or Progress$ the
volcano Ira(u erupte. It took the ash so!e ti!e to fall$ but when it i the
streets were coate each !orning with gun!etal ust. 0is !otorcae own
%venia #entral through hunres of thousans of people co!pouns in !y
!e!ory with &aster of that year$ a !onth later$ when fro! early awn I
walke the streets an photographe the i!!ense parae preparations$ the
crucifie #hrist carrie on the shoulers of people with the =irgin an 3t.
I sent this parable to The +ew @or*er in 2ay uner the na!e of 3i!Kn
'eal without return postage$ si1 !onths$ prophetically$ before the event
preicte in the story occurre. -hey sent it back in the secon week of
?ove!ber 15F8$ a week or so before the assassination. I always i!agine it
to have been !y ebut ha they kept it another couple of weeks. But walk/
ons on+t get breaks.
Dear José Donoso# I have thought of writing this an have one so a
nu!ber of ti!es but it was never right. -he paragraphs below I took fro! a
longer piece !eant to show how that kinness unescape$ goes aroun. I
acknowlege an thank you for this$ but it was in 2ay 15F8 that this
occurre. I woner if you re!e!ber.
"ne night in Pana!a #ity when I was B1$ with a si1 hour layover for the
flight to 2ia!i at > %2$ sitting on an airport bench$ having 9ust learne !y
brother ha ie$ to !e suenly$ but after affliction$ one J:. later sen a
certificate for$ flying ho!e for the funeral$ sitting in the ark sweat an heat
of that 2ay night$ close in a enial fi1e with faith$ but that unknown$
those ter!inal neon signs flashing on an off$ a !an sat own.
)e are waiting for the sa!e flight. 0e suggests to kill the ti!e we hire a
cab$ see Pana!a #ity at !inight$ the canal. <arge hills arise out of night.
0e in+t ask why the frown. %t 10 %2 that ay I ha been on !y way to
the re!ote %tlantic coast$ bus$ then !ule$ then only ocean an san. %
!essage ca!eA return to 3an Jose. I caught a plane$ ran to )estern Inion.
3ure I knew. Decie to return.
-hree hours we rove the city in this cab. -he locks$ the walls$ everything
else faint. I ha no fear. 0e was a !an who coul see. 0e gave !e his car.
If you+re going forwar how !uch plan you nee epens. )ho knows what
ti!e will bring. Be faithful in the !eanti!e an believe. Gou never know.
3o!ething like this !ust have been !y thoughts before that #osta 'ican
voyage$ that if you look at the roots of a thing the flowers an foliage will
show. )hat lay behin that is a lot inistinct. I ha wanere the #ollege
library base!ent often an always see!e to win up at a shelf of
.ierkegaar$ like it was a labyrinth that always le to this 2inotaur. ?ot 9ust
a shelf$ a whole collection of .ierkegaar$ all his works$ various printings$
so!e in foreign languages$ a significant collection )hy this e1iste in a tech
schoolC I visite o(ens of ti!es$ often taking own the Concluding
Anscienti%ic 2ostscript as !y favorite$ reaing a few pages each ti!e. It was
a green harboun copy$ several volu!es. I certainly never !entione this to
anyboy an$ like everything else$ I have no iea yet what I was looking for
or why I was oing it.
I have not been bac$ to osta %ica$ but nearly every other %!erican has$
flying over the chicle fiels$ stopping at the !achine gun nest/!anne
airport at 2éria$ hopping stop by stop own the continental spine$ 3an
3alvaor$ *uate!ala #ity$ 2anagua$ 3an José. I guess toay they fly straight
through. I !et a nightclub owner on the outskirts of 3an José who kept
crocoiles in pits for the tourists. )hen I left 3an José the sun was re like
han blown *er!an glass setting on the wing of the plane$ the sea below
flicking white han claps.
I took a helping of attitues back with !e because I share a or! with
stuents fro! all over <atin %!erica. %s a prete1t in a public speaking class
later$ I cite 2ilton &isenhower+s The 6ine Is itter$ but got an antagonistic
reception. I began to translate 'ubén DarPo. -here is pure hatre of
acae!ics in the street. I was an acae!ic te!porary for a while$ but soon
walke. <ong since I stoppe typing. )hen I woke up again newsprint ha
been ea a ecae.
I never sai this !uch before$ but o so now because !y son wants to know.
I ha the effrontery after a 3hakespeare class at Bill Ingra!s+s house to ask
what there still was that I han+t rea. )ith a s!ile he suggeste$ ha I rea
the Faerie QueeneC ?ow$ I think that$ even though wors !ean nothing in
the real worl$ I haven+t co!e close to knowing or reaing anything. I keep
the &as aroun$ have tattooe Psal! 8> on !y chest.
It+s a terrible thing to be honest$ that+s why so !any writers have estroye
their work or wille its eath$ but for interventions. %rtau is one of a
hunre. I ha kept a 9ournal in #osta 'ica but finally couln+t stan it. It
re!ine !e of things I wante to forget$ so ruthless I recore$ in !y own
coe$ but the point was that I knew what it !eant even if no one else coul. I
threw it away$ but regret it when I+! trying to get a sense of the verse of
things so to speak. -he poets burne$ scrape$ tore an burie their work.
0onestly$ the reflection of ghosts$ the betrayals of the!selves$ the sacrifices
are too painful to re!e!ber. But !y father kept the letters$ !ore socially
igestible$ that retain the ti!eline I have continually refuse. )ere you to
argue with !e I+ say the letters were wrong.
I in+t keep a 9ournal in Iowa #ity. )alk/ons on+t keep track e1cept in
faulty !e!ories. )ho are these people that sustain relationships over a
lifeti!eC It souns !isanthropic to oubt such continuity. -he organi(e
!ove!ent turne out to be the sa!e as organi(e religion$ posturing$
preening an prospering. )hat o I knowC )hat !atters is the ance an
!usic$ the soun of the wors$ the grip of rhyth!$ the color$ the flow$ like a
fil! has to hol until you rela1 an can+t let go. But the ance an the !usic
aren+t enough in the wor. -here has to be a eeper philosophic urge$ epth$
raw syntactic honesty$ berock that echoes for all ti!e. -here is no wor for
155F J B005
Re.iew o% The Shout o% Tom Boar( 2osthumous 2oet
I got &' votes for !y platfor! to pay poets to rea. Di three reaings that
fall$ then ,uit. &ach got Q60. -hat+s where the wor scare everyboy to
eath. -hirty or >0 torn ears an bleeing toes. -he wor shout isn+t cappe
in the te1t. I ha hear it in the roo! once$ at the top of his lungs. 3crea!
shoute$ universal worl shoute... it was a screa! for all the isplace
maCuiladores before they went back to their esks. 0arriet 2onroe sai she
woul never to co!e to these things again. -hen she wrote to )allace$
@change the te1t an leave out stan(a D.@ 0e ac,uiesce. But noboy sai
anything to -o!. -he shout built !o!entu!. I hear it again over ti!e. It
woke !e last night. -oay I pick up the frag!ents of which I have !aybe
the only copy of ten !ae$ an woner why this collective prophecy is not
the stuff of which poetry is !ae.
I can blue such blues they)re mean "own a hole to China ne.er seen I can
blue such blues they)re red "own a hole to China li*e I said.
0e co!es shoutingA Francelia becomes a storm...she screams to li%e...she
opens her eye to the %ury o% dawn.
-urn the page. 3o!e lady *nitting red longDohns$ leaps over fro! the ?ew
Gork -i!es. 3he is Blues :ro! 'oo! D$ with sil.er zephers sweeping stars$
+ow angels loo* down %rom their roo%tops to see. )hat o they see$ laugh
in the dar* while she drains our blood...the ,ungry Mother Monument.
3o!eboy call Bly. -ell hi! that Pegasus sprang fro! the neck of this
2eusa when Perseus slew herR 2eusa+s blooR PoseionR 3ea foa! own
in the eep heart+s core$ below in the center E the molten mother)s la.a heart#
core %lows. 3he is !y earth but skip the geologic. )hat a relief to. But it
oesn+t say the <or escene. It oesn+t say the flowers bloo!e. It oesn+t
say wars will cease. -he war+s on it says.
3o he says$ I too* it down( E 2ut it in my blood( e.erything you said. <ike
when they+re 9ust out of ink an can write no !ore unless they tap a vein$ or
out of water can+t rink$ or no blankets to wrap the shrink$ shivering with no
!es. )e get out carrots for our ol og$ broccoli ste!s$ lettuce$ ?ew Gork
strip$ fry eggs with bacon an lunch !eat. It+s cheaper than 2'Is.
0ow !any 2'Is have you haC I became Fhab stal*ing the dec* in the
wind...and it made me so cold. -hat+s when I thought he woul bring out
"phelia again$ "phelia who rowne$ I sai to !yself$ "phelia who got
!arrie when she was ol... ?phelia( I ha.e li.ed too long## E +ow I am
2olonius E Remembering the arras.
2e!ory !e!ory on the wall who+s the freakest of the! allC -hat+s a
,uestion$ but he answers. 6hen daylight started crac*ing through my walls I
was a %oolG
)allace sai$ @I see no ob9ection to cutting own...your criticis! is clearly
well/foune 41;87...I shoul prefer to keep the lines unchange...@ 4)allace
3tevens$ $etters$ 1;>7.
But then again I %elt a chill E Shattering blast o% a trumpet whose time has
come. I tell you no soun echoes own the year$ blasts into groun$ circles
aroun$ co!es up$ goes own. -he screa!$ the shout$ the blast. -o keep
these things fro! echoing I a9ust the -= at night. "ffR I flip the switch$ the
!ain switch$ all power$ cut the cable$ call the soul+s en fro! souns I can+t
I set out to calculate the velocity of shout. :iguring the rate of escape$ its
transit woul be in 1$ ti!es the nu!ber of ays out of the solar syste!$
hear by Betelgeuse. -= escapes earth an not -he 3houtC Broacast light$
soun goes out. It translates the s(bl(nar# hear" in space before all.
-hat+s what the beings of Betterguese o$ they turn on earth at night$ watch
the tube. #ount this !ultiplie by the inefinititue of shouts an it+s no
woner we wear plugs to keep the! out. -hey wear ear phones to keep the!
in$ shouts !ultiplie with groans. Gou say how coul they$ how bi(arre. I
on+t know. But you+re a living actor on the stage here$ so rea the lines
apportione you an be happy in unknowing. 0appy unknowing$ there are
as !any wors for it as &ski!os have for snow. Gou think it silent in the
night when you type but it is not. -he auient layers orchestrate. )hat
seascape oesn+t reechoC
6ind wraps cold around...a .oice to singH I need a bar*( to %loat.
Gou know his cry is octaves up$ slit my throat with shadows$ he says$ so the
cry is light too$ an empty chair( past understanding...6hisps o% angels...let
the %ire %reeze. -he phrases co!e like waves an no tsuna!i. <ight$ angels$
sCueeze water %rom the roc*. -hen he says$ e rain. %ll these chors$
!eloies scat the hea voice$ chest voice$ toes sing with the hans %rom the
windowpane$ it is a ance$ not seen. Inseen$ but hear$ how !any ways can
you groanC -he answer to this has live a!ong the elk !any years$ as we
know fro! travels in their real!$ uncreite !ore than coyote songs$ their
hy!n of being to the lost. -here are the lost an there are those who sing$
who pa over !oss an turf$ eye shine. &verything epens upon preation
insie halls an roo!s. 3o!e night over to *reen *arens the prisoners of
age in their white gowns whose gnarle fingers claw an curl the air$ their
voices hear but not with the sa!e 30"..R "ut this clown whose eyes are
wa3...head as large as circled sight in a...wa.ing brain. "h wave the life of
the waving worl into the heart againR The walls are membranes$ the walls$
the ceilings$ the winows$ the oors$ the floors are !e!branes of being lost.
-hese !e!ories of things past$ with the ebris of later lives$ re!ain. )e
ig in peril because we !ust go through all the top pain. -hrough all the
cries an groans "own "own to life B(t what abo(t this an" what abo(t
that# a hat they ta$e on an" off for the sa$e of $imberlites) Dia!ons in
the crust of pain wait for the! to seek !e!ories that lea to the one$ an
eternal regression the ol !an !akes$ I !ean the one who ha the bypass
an the kiney out$ own he goes to where noboy knows. *e came as he
lays there in his life an" hears the song sho(t where ra"ar replace" by
laser still points# an" "own# "own. 0e !akes up !yth about it$ takes off
hat$ hair$ eyes$ skin$ teeth an sails to the beat on a win of fla!e. Down#
"own f(rther into the cr(st# bac$ an" "own# over river# thro(gh woo"s#
the trees glisten an co!es out in boyhoo where grass singsA 6hat we
*now is our creation$ he says. I would be still... I will %ade out o% my head.
Into the ri.er o% lights on the road. 0e says$ I hunger and I dream against
it...I ha.e become in.isible as the sun brea*s.
-his issolution earne$ !aybe !erite$ !aybe not$ but earne$ sought$
felt$ not hope for$ wept$ but you know they work har work for that$ an
open sky$ col air$ snow. Be snow$ lay your hanR Ges$ the fire in the kiln is
opalescent first$ then incanescent an with tinges of wit on the borer$ so
hot you shiel your face. %ll singe eyebrows an hans$ those who hanle
light in the deeper silence o% the lower brain. %n if that+s the lower what the
higher$ where you walk in a kiln of yourself an !eet ?ebuchane((ar boys
roasting ne1t to the four who won+t burn. I can+t look$ he says$ the .ision
%n that+s goo for hi!$ but !e it wakes an I look at the see coats
sprung off the sies of the for!$ spray it with water an the shell flakes off
now it cools. -he egg is born in its shell but oesn+t live long. -he lake is an
egg$ the fawn is an egg$ the leg$ foot$ han that reaches out of an into the
kiln to retrieve itself$ not fro! fire$ to retrieve itself fro! the i!pure bake
off now in re!e!bering. #an you re!e!ber to!orrow what you were a
white tail fleeing over fencesC 3o he co!es out into it$
ronze in the sunI The lion)s in my tread as I wal* Fnd my mane %lows
%ll these for!s$ giraffes$ three legge though$ spotte$ unspotte$ tall as
snow on peaks covere with the last free(e before spring brings living$
which he calls here the time %or *illing.
-he avantage in $nowing posth(mo(s is you get to test the wors with
life$ see what escapes they !ake$ or !erge into the sunlike weather in the
ar!s of a wife with chilren aroun the! in age. It+s either this or it+s not an
so!ething else. But if you track hi! own$ this posth(mo(s (n$nown
poet$ not that you shoul$ an ask$ not that he woul tell$ but 9ust to see$
whether to bring up the past or not is up to you. ?oboy else re!e!bers$ not
even hi!$ but the last page$
Songbird singing in a shower o% rain Cat sits on the porch listening(
echos an reecho with your own in the brain of the !ist$ the rain in the trees
that falls on rock to !ake a three petale lily$ an escarp!ent !ore a,uifer
an songbir that co!es to billow flocks like suen stor!$ hunres$
thousans of songbir breasts ruffe up$ presse out$ knowing. %n the cat
too lies hea own$ content to follow seasons$ the cat$ bir$ !o!ent$
graveyar where pebbles clash against san for traction$ where the earth
re!ains in its blue white bloo!.
-o! *oar. 2oems 9:=:#J;.
"nce when I serve ti!e a!ong the grauate in!ates of I -S$ an
represente in!ates with poetry reaings pai for by the I$ reaers woul
get 60 bucks. It+s true I ,uit after three !onths$ but three reaings ensue$
!aybe nine poets. -his one co!bine the services of John <eh!ann$ a guest
lecturer$ once secretary of &ith 3itwell an =irginia )oolf$ 'ay ?eubauer
an -o! *oar. -o! went secon. -he roo! was unprepare. In the !ile
of his @Prospero$ 3weet Prince$@ to the wor @shout$@ he actually shoute.
<ou. I have been bothere by it since. -he 3hout$ not e1actly a poe! or a
book$ was a wor spoken as an act. "n seeing this review -o! sai$ @-here
are things that the posthu!ous poet woul rather be tracke own an tol
when he is alive than when he is ea.@
155F J B011
The aptism o% 6allace Ste.ens
Poets live in the future not the past$ speak things unuttere$ unbelieve by
the!selves. 3tevens got bapti(e at D6. -his afterthought$ what else coul it
be$ was always an only speaking of this e1istence all his life$ saying @!ore
than it is possible to say@ 4The +ecessary Fngel$ FB7. -he lu!inous inica of
it were not e1punge fro! his poe!s. 0e was born at his eath. Gou
wouln+t know hi! now. 0e far!s corn in the ni!bus. It+s a beginning. The
Fngel a!inistere a @lu!inous boy$ the ni!bus an heralic stig!ata@
4D>7. It happene to 'i!bau too$ I guess. "l 3tevens 9oke in his hospital
be$ @what a ghastly situation it woul be if the worl of the ea was
actually ifferent fro! the worl of the living. . . to say farewell to our
generation an to look forwar to a continuation in a Jerusale! of pure
surrealis! woul account for the taste for oblivion@ 4DF/DD7. ?ew 3tevens
?epenthe an <ethe change their appearance when the structure of @poetry
an reality are one@ 4The +ecessary Fngel$ ;17. In @arpeggios TofU opening
wings@ 4;07 #olerige !ight one night feel @inti!ations of i!!ortality in an
ob9ect on the !antelpiece@ 4D67. -here 3tevens cli!be up to the cross in
eath. % chorus appeare roun his be. 0opkins was the priest$
a!inistere to one who in+t even believe in the !use. -hat+s a lot to bear.
?ot believe in the !useR 3tevens saiA @I a! !yself a part of what is real$
an it is !y own speech$ an the strength of it$ this only$ that I hear or ever
shall@ 4F07. -hen one ca!e to nuge his sie who ivine 2ilton an Blake
an showe 0opkins the oil that if such wors transfor! we shoul all trea.
3o &liot an -olkien$ if not -raherene an Donne$ strive with 3tevens+
friens. %s Blake tol -ruslerA @I really a! sorry that you are fallen out with
the spiritual )orl.@ )ho buys 3tevens+ @visible. . . e,uivalent of the
invisible@ 4F17C Dearest sea an ivory fresh rea!s the first !an bare. )ho
ares be invisible when a @sense of reality keen enough to be in e1cess of the
nor!al sense of reality creates a reality of its own@ 4D57C
0e was converte when that floo hit the last lights west$ @as if it were
possible to look into the sea as into glass. . . an suenly behol there so!e
e1traorinary transfiguration of ourselves@ 4;07. -his is the nu!inous
breaking #atharine an Blake knelt to in the insistent 0oly *host$ that
2ilton perceive with all of 2aradise $ost$ an BlakeA @be with !e wholly
one in Jesus our <or who is the *o an <or to who! the %ncients looke
an saw his ay afar off with tre!bling V a!a(e!ent@ 4-erusalem$ iii7. %
light the arkness co!prehene not$ that priest collare to the !oernist+s
be. 3tevens was aske if by beauty he !eant a woner great enough to still
the heart. &ven 2uir$ translating .afka$ with every evotion to ?iet(sche$
the terror analyst$ fro! his funa!entalist upbringing/force religion of 1>
sai$ @I reali(e$ that ,uite without knowing it$ I was a #hristian.@ 4Fn
Futobiography$ 1F;$ B>D7.
% twinkling bright essence poure over his hea that a @poet will
acco!plish by reason an force of i!agination the effortless an inescapable
process of his own iniviuality@ 4>F7. -hen$ we shall all be changed in a
moment)s %lash. @3ay to wo!en !ore that it is possible to sayR@ -he ea
worl is actually ifferent fro! the living$ ourselves i!!ortal. ?ot to
oblivion$ but to life in -esus our $ord it says @when we look at the blue sky
for the first ti!e. . . not !erely see it$ but look at it an e1perience it an for
the first ti!e have a sense that we live in the center of a physical poetryA few
people reali(e that they are looking at the worl of their own thoughts an
the worl of their own feelings@ 4F6/FF7. %rpeggios of hu!an chorR "ne
na!e na!e in the irreverence of poe!R *o through his poe!s before the
Daystar rises to call by sun an !oon a worship in the sa!e speech which
their voice has hear. -hings @never ,uite e1presse@ 4Transport to Summer$
F7 are current of the swale$ @!otive of !etaphor@ reveale$ poure over his
hea in burial. -he %B# 4F7 transporte @life that never woul en. . . !ae
single$ !ae one@ 4@*iganto!achia$@ D7$ 0is early poe!s of Transport$ of
the goo verbal tree$ saw @*o is *oo$@ an that the @brown !oon@ woul
lea to his @celestial rene(vous@ 487. It was so. 0e coul have been bapti(e
three ays after birth instea of 9ust before eath$ but what !atter$ for he
eclare that the @song of the great space@ 4@*o Is *oo@7 open in the na!e
in his heart !ae a@voice taller than rewoos@ 4@#ertain Pheno!ena of
3oun$@ II7 co!pass the still verse. 0e saw @*ol/shine by sun@ 4@#ertain
Pheno!ena$@ III7 that flesh all light gathere to bathe in this wor where
@there is no life e1cept in the wor@ 4III7. It was the secret being he !use
0e wrote that ,uestion @he is reflecting as he sits in the raiant an
prouctive at!osphere$ which is his life$ surroune not only by ouble
characters an !etaphysicians$ but by !any !en an !any kins of !en$ by
!any wo!en an !any chilren an !any kins of wo!en an chilren@
4+ecessary Fngel$ FB7. %s at the resurrection @!en scatter through clous@
4@Dutch *raves in Bucks #ounty@7 he wrote of the graves as his own$ took a
chair to see in the!$ they in hi!$ he in !e$ I in hi! all riseR 3e!blance of
the @oubly kille@ 4line B07$ the @crusts that lie in the shrivelingTsU@ 4BD/;7
tene!ents of earth an sky. -estify$ even in blinnessR %r!ies who kill
the!selves at birth an !obs that wait to walk the steeps$ that te!ple of the
heart$ are all hien$ all reveale. -he awareness grows it cannot be kille.
'ise up sun$ star$ being. @0e is not there$ the ol@ 4@?o Possu!$ ?o 3op$ ?o
-aters@7 !an$ whose @broken stalk@ 4line 67 le away the @fallen@ 4117.
3yllables flutter his hea. @Behol the e1traorinary transfiguration of
ourselves@ 4+ecessary Fngel$ ;07.
&win 2uir. Fn Futobiography. 3eabury$ 15F;.
)allace 3tevens. Transport to Summer. ?ew GorkA .nopf$ 15>D.
// The +ecessary Fngel. ?ew GorkA .nopf$ 1561.
155F J B01
3ince you re,ueste !y !e!ory of Borges$ I sought to set it own in the
events Señor. 2ay *o preserve youR
Del 2ar Del 3er
Borges as a chil" believe" the "reams of the !irror worl. Gou woul have
thought hi! its patron saint. 0e enure his !yths of the swor an
%rgentine$ acts of the 2inotaur$ confessions of labyrinth an the veneer
beneath$ like the protectorate of his !other with who! he travele in her ol
age. 0is absurities co!pensate in the virtual for i!prison!ent in the
natural. &scape ca!e only when he consu!!ate the toast with 2aria
.oa!a. -o her he gave the eep self to woner$ what 9ournalists worlwie
woul try to recor as his last breath$ but she knew nothing of their final
flight to *eneva.
Borges escape his fa!e$ his nation$ hi!self. 0e stu!ble fro! conflict
with unerworls to fa!iliar$ to si!pler locales of The oo* o% Sand an
likeable professors. 0e was a hobbit before aventure at ease in his ho!e$
an after$ when he returne fro! the i!aginary to the real$ he was 'anso!
fro! 2ars$ a golen philologist walking the hege. 0e love the o!estic
with elritch intrusion. -ran,uilities short liveR -he greater an the less
confronte Borges on Belgrano 3treet$ even in -e1as$ on :loria 3treet$ at
<eien$ in #a!brige. -he known erupte with visions of the unbelievable
)e want to survive the ,uest$ before an after$ but !aybe get only !o!ents
between. -hese !o!ents get us through 3eWor. )hen 2aceonio !arrie$
who worke two 9obs an ha an infant$ he ha worke all evening when his
spouse calle that !inight to eclare her leaving. 3he e!ane you
appear for his return at awn. -wo ays later$ when he woul have kille
hi!self$ blown up the house$ lanlay an all$ you ivine it an the
!eicos carrie hi! out an lay hi! on the lawn. -hat whole night before
you recuse yourself unknowing$ inbetween the !o!ents to !eitate the
Psal!s that over an over say @wait$@ @wait on the <or$@ @wait all the ay.@
I !eitate with you Don &steban like any fictional Borges woul with
another self. )hat counsel can we give the chil who beco!es a !an of
eightyC BelieveR %re we eternalC :inish the work an let us pray. It is given
!y frien to confront our past funa!entalis!s. % biographer woul say
that only the !ost acute estrange!ent fro! the past coul inspire such a
story as Borges saw hi!self on that park bench$ an in another$ twenty three
years before or after$ on a be in 'oo! 15$ @%ugust B6$ 15;8$@ @oler$
withere$ an very pale // lay I$ on !y back.@
Blake ha this recourse eternal$ tol Butts$ @I can alone carry on !y
visionary stuies in <onon unannoy+$ V that I !ay converse with !y
friens in &ternity$ 3ee =isions$ Drea! Drea!s V prophecy V speak
Parables unobserve V at liberty fro! the Doubts of other 2ortals.@ -o seek
a ialogue between our oubts$ our oler an younger selves$ in that eternal
conversation of :ather an 3on in Psal! 1F$ @the path of life$@ we re!e!ber
blin 2ilton took ictation of the !use abe an versifie it to his aughter
-his is the work we know$ to wait in sleep to speak$ to wake an write the
unseen. Borges pretens he is a professor at <ahore confronting the rile in
@Blue -igers.@ Iner patina of the worl he fins spiritual fable$ the ,uest
for knowlege an power$ but not one at which he wants to succee$ for it
!akes all who o so ifferent. -hey cannot relate to the orinary. -he wise
take eternity in !easure. 'eaers of Borges stay in the nor!al$ not press to
the eternal 2ilton in his rea!s$ Blake in his !using$ Geats in his raving.
Borges plays Pythagoras an Paracelsus$ all the !ystic toys$ but what if he
attaine$ what if he beca!e the thing he actsC Is it not to say it woul be as if
he ha never beenC
%llegories tantali(e beco!ing in the !o!ent we rea. )e feel we+ve ha a
taste of 3pino(a$ <eviathan$ creation$ ragon$ but in @Blue -igers$@ he puts
the stones back into the han of *o again$ avois the supernatural$ takes
the o!estic back. -ake us out$ but bring us backR
)hen the stones fall through that han to the !in of *o$ an the !e!ory
of 3hakespeare is trans!itte by phone$ T@3hakespeare+s 2e!ory@U
0er!ann 3Xrgel is hi!self againA @the stone wishes to be stone$ the tiger$
tiger // an I wante to be 0er!ann 3Xrgel again.@ -his is what he tol !e$
@I wante to be Borges$ I who was BorgesR@ %lways$ after invoking the self$
return. &veryone e1perience in the loss of life knows the restoration of the
co!!onplace is the greatest gift of all.
Muy &stimado$ Borges$ .afka$ Geats leave a crystalline thought in those last
works. )e start an en with the ens of books until enthusias!$ youth an
ignorance are bake away. -he regs are better than the froth$ the raw
istillate in Blake+s Jerusale!$ Geats+ Ben Bulben$ 3hakespeare+s 2e!ory.
-he neophyte is invite to -erusalem$ unfiltere by the reprobate. #alle to
love #hap!an$ 2arlowe$ an Icelanic sagas$ Borges+ affection takes
counsel with the sober Blake @the %uthor hopes the 'eaer will be with !e$
wholly "ne in Jesus our <or$@ a evotion that flowers 3!art an 0erbert$
0opkins an Donne. )ho will isputeC
I o not na!e na!es. Borges tol !e to e1punge his biography an gain
anony!ity. 0e never says it of hi!self or he says everything. In 15FB
Borges sat ne1t to !e in the Pana!a airport$ silent$ but not so blin$ twenty$
forty$ eighty in the absolute.
<et us be kin to one another !y frien as we lose our lives. )hat shall we
say to contraiction beyon a hanful of poe!s cast at the future$ as you$
Don &steban$ have sai is your future against the protectorate$ to write the
uniscovere self to iiots of the fourth 'eich an the Iniverse.
Borges collecte his !eals$ the approval of Ipike. %n ant looke up at a
gopher to applau$ but i not consu!!ate laughing love$ until 2aria. %t
last he retire to !e!ory$ orer$ the o!estic eep yearning of his soul$ not
to paranor!al nu!bers or stones that !ultiply. <ife is ifferent fro!
i!agination. In life there is eath. Borges$ nihilist of ecaes$ ,uestione if
there !ight not be afterlife to 2aria / unless you think no chil can be a
nihilist an if no chil no poet.
)e take the chil+s view. Borges in *eneva invites priest an !inister$ takes
absolution$ a final turn o!estic$ ,uells i!agination with life$ heges the
Pascal wager$ but the tur!oil of his estate in the ne1t ecae shows how the
isorere can har! the real. -hat+s what happene to the !eals.
*ia!battista 2arino 'ubino el 3ur
4in Seinundwerden( Futumn ;55:. orges) &scape appeare first in &limae June B00D !otivate by
an e1change with its eitor$ the on &steban to who! the letter is aresse.7
*ia!battista 2arino 'ubino el 3urO translate by %& 'eiff
4for #ooper 'enner7
This letter( translated %rom the Spanish o% the scholar Rubino del Sur( replies
to a letter he had recei.ed telling o% the holes la*e gouged in the plate o%
his -erusalem when it was not gi.en its due( and o% other poets li*e ,op*ins
who burned or destroyed their wor*.
In %act only %i.e copies o% la*e)s long poem were e.er printed( and this
pri.ately in la*e)s house by himsel% and his wi%e. ?nly one copy( %illed with
the most e3treme illustrations( was e.er truly %inished and colored. +o other
te3t e3ists in only one %inished state( but e.en that was marred by the
passion o% the artist. Re%erence made to the typography o% the modern editor
is ta*en by 2aley at length to mean he must puzzle it out but resist the
temptation to in.ent new signs.
I gi.e you orges and you return me la*eG May Bod preser.e us in our
Rubino del Sur
4 $on,er to contempl'te $h't -ou s'- Se5or# that you are @no scholar of the
<a!b to pay for =an *ogh+s ear or 3helley+s heart.@ -he list !ust be long of
those so taught$ whose !anuscripts upon the ruine pyre are @wouns that
never heal.@ Gou write for so!e future ti!e of the heart go(ges in the plate
of Blake+s -erusalem. )ill you this ay have an ear for the heartC I was
given an ear to listen as one being taught.
-here was never a hole in that plate or print alone$ this colore copy of
-erusalem. )hy this one whose coppers !et the gougeC %s )ooy *uthrie
ha!!ers out anger$ warning an love$ Blake gouge out @frienship$@ he
gouge out @blessing$@ he gouge out @love@ between hi!self an the reaer$
@entire passages that suggeste inti!acy@ TPaley$ 11U. -hese effects of this
ha!!er can only be co!pare with the boy of our <or. InDured 2ilate
L2lateM Three separates the p(blic sheep from the goat$ @no longer TDearU
'eaer is not to be aske to @TforgiveU what you o not approve$ V TloveU
!e for this energetic e1ertion of !y talent@ TPaley$ 1BU.
Geats says Blake shook artists fro! their laers. I foun a cello fallen
fro! the upper story of =an *ogh+s hea. It lay broken$ every follicle ea.
Get it was a sy!bol$ with 0opkins+ burne !ansion$ !anuscripts burne in
the grate behin Blake+s house$ of those gouges that belong to us$ you an I
who celebrate the suffering.
-here in your basket 3ir I worry the istinction of high art$ the <a!b
without spot$ which fellowship the eitor !ust$ to unerstan the han
gouge te1t an invent new typographical signs T-erusalem$ Paley$ 1BFU.
)ere you a hawk upon a cliff of subtle rops$ positione by little taps$ the
blow that pierces Blake woul 9oin$ launch colon below perio. % sea of
tilas escen in fiery sparks$ ni!buses with co!!a heas an ,uestion
!arks that spark a be of perios at the grave of Geats. -hat sa!e source of
talk was hear on Black 'ige above the shrubs where he slept a stretch$
har fighting !en in rows$ as if he ie again$ but long ago. "pen the basket
whose shrou flutters. #an we revive the bonesC I have been up late !y
)e pri(e the wouns an get beyon false art that sha!es 0opkins for
burning poe!s or Blake to gouge his plate. )ho survives the suen night$
suenly e1pire stig!a of escapes$ trials$ sufferingsC -he poet+s gouge is
not +a bro$en te!t+$ it is a line torn fro! the %chilles$ swollen to cartilage
flesh where art+s s!ooth boy grows thick. -he gouges !ark the path$ the
suffering of the age. 3ays 2a1well &ison$ we are all Jes(s hrist. We are
)e !eet the! by the 'ock on the other sie$ those scholars who take the
%byss but unerstan not. ?o staning Señor. 3urely your penchant to
unerstan confouns$ gives Blake relief$ but centuries late. )hy raveC )hy
speakC It is later yet. I wake to rea. ?ight fills.
-he scholars ha the te1t+s dar* gloss$ but nothing like the sense. -hey i
not see eternity the other night( -erusalem an the *iant :or!s that save.
Blake+s gouge goes down where all the ladders start. :una!entalist$ co!e
awayR Gou e1pect to co!plete that line Jes(s ,nly in *reek in the crescent
!oon$ inscribe upon the pageC -ransfigure light o% the Breat Morning(
where all beings pass in the common street trans%ormed to the epitome o% all
beauty( or o% all Doy( or o% all sorrow. %!it only those who enter. It shall
come %rom the soul. It shall be lo.e. I a! your
Biambattista Marino Rubino del Sur
-otes 4&.A keye to bol/face phrases in the te1t above7A
/Plate 8 of Jerusale! originally reaA @after !y three years slu!ber
on the banks of the "cean$ I again isplay !y *iant for!s to the
Public. 2y for!er *iants V :airies having receive the highest
rewar possibleA the love an frienship of those with who! to be
connecte$ is to be blesseA I cannot oubt that this !ore consoliate
an e1tene )ork$ will be as kinly receive.@ Blake+s reception !ay
be 9uge fro! the fact that only eight Iri(ens$ four 2iltons $ an one
colore Jerusale! e1ist. 0is passion at re9ection @so enrage hi! that
he wante to re!ove all traces of personal inti!acy an spiritual
co!!union with his reaership 4Paley$ 117.@
/-he story goes that after 3helley rowne an as his boy was
about to be cre!ate on a pyre his friens built on the beach$
-relawney leapt upon the logs an pulle out 3helley+s heart.
/0opkins burne !ost of his early !anuscripts before entering the
/). B. Geats. 2oems o% la*e. 2oern <ibrary$ 15B6. <iterally$
@Blake leant out fro! a scaffoling where he sat at work an flung a
)est!inster stuent fro! a cornice@ 41v7.
/-erusalem The &manation o% the Biant Flbion$ eite by 2orton D.
Paley 4Blake -rustEPrinceton$ 155;7 says$ @co!!as an perios are
often ifficult to iscri!inateO I have e1a!ine all proble!atic cases
uner !agnification an have ecie on the basis of eviation fro!
rounnessA if there is any$ the !ark is a co!!a. )hat one senses
ought to be e1cla!ation points. . . often look !ore like colons$ an
so!eti!es two slightly elongate points set at an angle !ust be
interprete. 0ere I have taken the nearest possible appro1i!ationA if
the !ark looks !ore like a colon$ it is oneO if the two co!ponents are
of une,ual si(e an the upper one bigger$ it is an e1cla!ation point@
/It is not 2a1well &dison$ but 2a1well %nerson$ who says$
literally @everyone in the worl is #hrist an they are all crucifie.@
155F J B005
The loody Theater or Martyrs Mirror o% the "e%enseless Christians
"ne unerstans #hrist!as$ Messiah$ Four Quartets$ stables an cattle$ but
how unerstan the worl of affliction when it bla(es so bright one forgets
to live$ where flesh$ ashen at a knock at the oor$ bes the night in strawC )e
live in peace an safety the sa!e way 2ennonites take the thousan pages
of their !artyro!s ay by ay$ for grante$ an without the bloo. -hey
call it their loody oo*( Theatre o% Torture. -hat was the threat that was.
Do you want to !ake a 2ennonite singC 'espighi$ Tlisten here$ while you
reaU his $auda per la +ati.itN
del Signore( reechoesA Segnor tu sei desceso
de cielo en terra 4<or$ you have escene fro! 0eaven to earth7$ which
wraps the wholeA .estito en carne humana( that is$ wrappe in hu!an flesh.
3o!ething happene those nights to 2ennonites. It was #hrist!as &ve.
-hey couln+t get to the theater$ I !ean our e,uivalent of theirs$ were up by
the fire roasting$ ,uilting$ repairing tools. -he first 2ennonite theater was
incarnate$ cla in hu!an ress. % 2ennonite was aske to separate fro! the
worl. @:ree yourself fro! the worlR@ -here was a rehearsal in rituals an
rules of 2ennonite theater that they concocte to set the! apart in plain
ress an wooen knives$ a foolishness of action an rhetoric$ but to the!
*o ha !ae foolish the wiso! of the worl.
%s a !etaphor this theater sha!e %ristotle+s that !erely wante to rouse
pity an purge fear to perpetuate the state. -he 2ennonite was in esperate
conflict with the state that put hi! to eath. )hile the populace in %thens
was getting theatrically pacifie an cleanse of contraiction$ !aking
society safe$ in Bern the theatrical !irror saw 2ennonites crucifie$ burne
an rowne. But !urer is counter!ane when peasants overco!e$ so
&uropean states unertook !ore subtlety in their subversion. -hey
iscovere prie$ which insistent oes not rouse the noble. 3euction works$
we all know that$ an if not we learn it fro! 2ennonites ol an new. -hat
was the prie the :ranconia rules were intene to prevent in the wearing of
hats$ but it was also of she bloo with a witness against the !irror an all
$o( how a Rose e)er blooming %rom tender stem hath sprung.
%!erican 2ennonites escape the fire to reprouce a book of tortures rea
in their centuries of peace$ loody Theatre or MartyrKs Mirror$ translate
fro! Dutch to *er!an$ 4MPrtyrer Spiegel( &phrata$ 1D>;/5> to &nglish. -wo
centuries of horror behin$ ten %!erican generations ahea$ 2ennonites still
ask toay$ Ycoul you forfeit your life.Z )hether we have the courage to
sacrifice ourselves we can not know$ failing opportunity$ neither coul they
know what they woul o. 0ostage to their !artyrs$ enie the peace of
freeo! the !artyrs ha ie to collect$ Ycoul you forfeit your life as he
iZ is aske again an again.
loody Theater rehearse the persecutions of previous centuries by
contrasting the Ygay perfor!ancesZ of Y*recian theatersZ with !artyrs[
eaths. ?ot cheery$ not Y!erry$@ @co!eies$Z these entertain!ents$ were
Yvalleys of eath where nothing will be seen…$Z yet Ythe soul will
nevertheless re9oiceZ 4F7. -he tanta!ount of horror follows the theater !otif$
Y" that 3atan woul show hi!self$ as he really is$ an that the worl$ too$
!ight co!e forth without isguise or !askZ 4107. )e shall all run fro! our
It is !as,uerae worthy of renaissance shrines an anti/shrines$ the 0ouse
of :a!e$ -he Bower of Bliss. "ur leaing lay$ this worl+s !istress at
court$ Y3atan appears to be a prince or king an the worl a noble princess or
,ueen.@ :ree yourself fro! the worlR % Nueen whose hans can ne)er be
clean( an the court+s lesser figures$ Yservants an servant/!ais$ who
follow the! as pages an !ais of honor$ appear as cavaliers an laies$
reveling in 9oy an elightZ 4107. -his is starkly opposite the prophecy of
latter ay where the least shall be as Davi an Davi shall be as the angel
of the <or. "nly the blooy then are uneceive. Gou want to run up an
ask a 2ennonite how #hrist!as got tie up with the crucifi1.
$ittle child o% -esse)s lineage coming( as seers o% old ha.e sungH
%ll they ha to o was confor!. -hey refuse to confor!$ but without
blooy hans. -he @nonresistant octrine@ forbae all taking of life or
resisting evil at all. Jesus+ co!!ans were literal$ @give to hi! that asks of
thee$@ @turn the cheek$@ an Paul$ Yresist not evil but overco!e with goo.Z
-heir friens ha to e1plain in the %!erican 'evolution that they 9ust in[t
know any better$ @their present blinness to their own essential interest
procees fro! an unhappy bias in their eucation$ an not fro! a
isaffection to the present *overn!ent@ 4J. #. )enger. ,istory o% the
Mennonites o% the Franconia Con%erence. 3cottale$ P%A 2ennonite
Publishing 0ouse$ F17. 2ennonite/isaine violence against ene!ies$
neighbors an the worl in all its sorrows in Philaelphia was the
backgroun an conte1t of their worl.
J(st Say -o to .oberment
-he thing about this @unhappy bias@ was that it was against the worlly
constant of self efense$ revenge an resistance. 2ennonites woul swear no
oath$ not even go against the oaths sworn by their fathers to the British king.
-hey coul not renounce the British govern!ent in 1DDD$ not because they
love the British$ but because Jesus ha sai$ @swear not at all$@ an because
they feare being Yforsworn.Z 3uch literalists hel their granfathers+
pro!ise to the previous .ing *eorge as bining on the!selves. 0ow can
you not love such intransigencyC
T@)e o swear or sole!nly eclare$ that we eny all obeience to the Pope
of 'o!eO an further swear or sole!nly eclare that no Prince or Person
whatsoever hath any 'ight or -itle to the #rown of *reat Britain but his
2a9esty *eorge the 3econ an his lawful Issue.@U It is non confor!ity all
ways$ an ol worl view$ an anti/intellectualis! run a!ok. 0ostage to ti!e
an fearing the torture their Blooy Book woul prouce$ friens an
neighbors ha to keep repeating$ @their present blinness... unhappy bias
Ttaking Jesus literallyU is not a isaffection to the present
*overn!ent@4)enger$ F17. %!erican govern!ent !ostly blinke an eye.
It came( a blossom bright( amid the cold o% winter(
6hen hal% spent was the night.
If govern!ent blinke their own bishops woul not$ for though they were
against swearing an war$ an favore loyalty to the British #rown 4their
apriori oath of loyalty before7$ 2ennonite Bishop #hristian :unk$ supporte
the Pennsylvania govern!ent because its constitution gave freeo! of
worship an pro!ise to e1e!pt fro! ar!s an the oath. 0e supporte a
war ta1 to the %!erican govern!ent. 3o in 1DD; :unk was epose. )e can
ask all we like about who is our ene!y an never know who is in the !irror.
-wo i!portant issues raise by 'uth+s :unk+s 2ennonite oaths are 4John <.
'uth. Maintaining the Right Fellowship. 3cottale$ P%A 0eral Press$ 15;>$
17 why i the bishops e1co!!unicate :unk on their own authority but
aske the people to reinstate hi!C
B7 )hat o we !ake of the principle raise by :unk+s ile!!a that if a !an
is right in his vision but i!politic in its e1pression he is wrongC
87 )hat of the opposite postulate$ that the !an is wrong because he is
#ha!berlainR BingoR "f no. 1$ is not this what they charge 3ocrates$ but at
least they on+t call hi! by his first na!eR that he alienate the elers by his
lack of consieration 4of their feelings7 an Jesus who faile to efen the
status ,uoC 3I'&<GR 2ennonites continually raise an illustrate societal
ebating$ shoul the iniviual in the right give over truth to !erge with the
group 4that is wrong7C -oo insistent upon the truth$ the worl calle it.
Isaiah )twas %oretold it( the Rose I ha.e in mind.
The /ranconia %(les of &011
-he stor!s of this 2ennonite -heatrical glee were alive as recent as 1588.
In the :ranconia #onference 'ules 2ennonites were still !aking fun of the
sensitive$ powerful !a9ority worl$ poking sticks of incense at evangelicals
an 3unay golfers. )e o not have to ig eep to fin these spiritual goas$
for roses have thorns an spiritual 2ennonites !u.
#onsier how @this conference feels the necessity of urging the leaers of
the church@ to @not speculate on unfulfille prophecy such as the octrine of
the 2illenniu!@ 4)enger >817. In the hunre years since Darby there was
harly talk of anything else in the evangelical #hurch. -he !illenniu!R -he
tribulationR %n ol 2ennonite turne Baptist once aske$ @o you still at
least believe in the tribulationC@ -he answer !ust be$ not while I+! bleeingR
-he ifference about the tribulation is that 2ennonites were$ ha been an
sought to be in it while the rest hi out to escape fro! it. ?on/confor!ists.
-ake another :ranconia iscipline$ @we as a conference$ protest against the
evils of the raio… cone!n…the heretical octrines on the air.@ Gou think
the preposition was against thought control$ !in control to control !asses$
the @powers of the air$@ what blue states convince the!selves of. It goes
eeper. 2ennonites too prophetic think violence on -= affects the rate of
high school !urers an that chilren contract vibes fro! peers like virus.
:ree yourself fro! the worlR Just what can+t you foist on a 2ennoniteC
=ibes in the airC GesR Don+t go to the !all.
6ith Mary we behold it( the /irgin Mother *ind.
%n what about the :ranconian theatric of @flowers an other ecorations
are to be o!itte at all funerals hel in our !eetinghouses an !e!bers are
not to clothe their ea in black.@
-o not clothe your ea in black throws the whole school of eath in a hat.
It throws out the notion that Y0e+s gone to a better placeR )e wish hi! wellR
@ 3peak no nasty Black of the afterlife$ even if preachers wear it here it is to
renounce the worl. Just one thing to stop pretening the guy in+t ie in
his sin. :lowers aren+t going to change it. ?one but the 'ose the 2ennonite
sing. -he flowers are there to convince the cousins in the pew that they too
will have a fragrant not a flagrant en. )hen flowers fae it pictures the
conflict of the worl.
To show Bod)s lo.e aright( she bore to us a Sa.ior(
6hen hal% spent was the night.
2ennonites contraicte the flesh one up in the !ortician+s ress$ flying in
the face of custo!A @ress hi! in black an paint his face so he looks goo.
0e[s 9ust off for a interview up the roa.@ :ranconians say$ he+s ea$ now
9uge. Dress hi! up in white or re. )hite for sins forgiven$ translucent in
#hrist+s robe$ or re for sins he carries to his be.
Inner 2"ornment# Symbolic Dress
-he venture of 2r. )!. Blake sharpish into the post/!oern psyche proves
we clearly see how the @!in/forge !anacles$@ protocols of black$ bin the
present that those of the pri!itive past set free. 2ennonites want to liberate
fro! the @foolishness$@ of banking$ @stylish auto!obiles$@ @bankruptcy law$@
@voting$@ public office$ 9ust about every shibboleth each election !akes coolA
#"?3I2P-I"?R #onsu!ption e!ocracy in the na!e of confor!ing
iniviuals. -hese got the @plain people$@ over here in trouble over snaps an
(ippers an buttons an bows.
-he unvarnishe 2ennonite was not !uch on style. :ashion re9ecte$ took it
har. Plain ressers are ba for business$ but the 2ennonite is not solely to
bla!e for boring the worl. -he Proverb sai$ soun 9ug!ent is @an
orna!ent to grace your neck@ 48.BB7 so ress in that$ an the fisher!an was
guilty too$ who sought beauty not of @braie hair$ gol 9ewelry an fine
clothes$@ but a @gentle an ,uiet spirit@ 4I Peter$ 8. 8/>7. Paul wants you to
ress @with goo ees@ 4I -i!. B.107$ a eacon not !easure by his banking
prowess shoul @!anage his chilren an househol@ 4I -i!. 8.1B7.
2ennonites soun an ress like Jews whose best aorn!ent is the tefillinA
@tie the! as sy!bols on your hans an bin the! on your foreheas@
4Deut. F.;7. % sign on the han an a sy!bol on the hea$ e!boie in
phylacteries$ literal e1altation of the )or of *o upon the person. Don+t
they belong together$ :ranconia an -orahC 3y!bolic ress sti!ulates
spiritualness$ ages that at one ti!e appreciate the new 2illenial <onon$
/estito en carne humanaG
@2aybe it+s not the 2ennonite we shoul bla!e for ra!ati(ing this$ but the
Bible$@ says )orl &!pire$ )eb boun cocoone esire. @It+s a goo thing
there are so !any ifferent versions$ we can be co!fortable an not have to
surrener to the "rer of #hrist$@ says the Internet ar!yA @-here+s truth an
roo! for all you can be.@
-his argu!ent still says$ @well if this country wasn+t free$ then where woul
2ennonites beCZ Back in the ol country ea$ no oubt. But when they
wheel you out to isciple yourself to this ege$ there is !ore than heaven
an earth. -here is the 3overeignty of *o. "uch. -here is the preestination
of the &lect. ?oR -here is Provience. "hR -ake 2ennonites for what they+re
worth$ truth in opposition to the worl$ an not for what they+re not worth$
which woul be founing the fourth worl e!pire. :ree yourself fro! the
Don[t affiliate with chorales says :ranconia. -he horrorR "r theater
4isingenuous7 recitals. ?everR "r acae!ies. 3et an e1a!ple of abstinence$
not rain the regs of the cup. -heir #onfession in its absurity to the
!oern contrasts nicely with those current worl coes for chilren that
reaA @Please on+t "D in public.
@Please on+t co!!it suicie at ho!e. Please on+t blow up your high
school$ take ecstasy an rive$ but you !ay prolong your aolescence into
your 60+s. )e iR@
2ennonites think skeletal resistance. It+s life as art$ 2ennonite theater in the
theater of the heart. -he actors took off no caps. -here was no stage. -he
auience change. "r not. -here was no show. -he show went on. It was
*ypocrisy In The amp
"l 2ennonites ouble own when it ca!e to the charge all chilren !ake
that they are hypocrites. It isn+t hypocrisy that @vita!ins are valueless@ until
we hear about vita!in D. -hese are counte as sincere vs. the hypocrisies
thereA @Believe in evolution until we tell you not$ then believe as tol$ if
science is wrong it is 9ust !ore right.@
2ennonite separation fro! the worl was so great that their fiel of
contraiction was even greater. =iewe fro! failures at the #o!!an!ent
*ates$ the higher you cli!b the farther you fall$ but a long fall raws
sy!pathy for the unerog so then you+re back up. :all fro! a stanar of
worlliness an your chilren will hol you in conte!pt. )hat they gonna
o$ tell you you were worllyR *et angry$ be foolish$ s!oke to eath$ go to
concerts 4if you !ustR7 isagree with neighbors$ show your pre9uice. Gou
on[t !easure up to -= !orals or the news$ let alone PB3. But if you
believe you shoul sacrifice your life an fail fro! that then we suckers for
the high ieal hol you succee. If you si!ply want to please you cannot be
sai to fall. In the religion of social position one si(e fits all. :aith falls on
2aybe the s!all @c@ in contraiction !akes 2ennonites not proven %epts.
It+s 9ust that so!e contraiction is honorable$ so!e not. It+s har to !eet a
pretentious 2ennonite. 2aybe that[s a sign their ieas are working.
2ennonites wrote > books in 160 years. ?ot long on theology$ they consier
eternal security speculative$ the !illenniu! ebatable$ but believe in
spiritual co!!unity$ !utual sub!itteness$ the s!all group over the large.
Gou !ight call it 2ennonite !ythology that opposes a culture which says
@o what you will is the whole of the law.@ -his is no i!ple on the chin of
oubt. :ree yourself fro! the worl. )hy are you oing itC -he flesh$ the
sin nature$ throw up the hans$ shrug the shoulers. %re you sure you
couln+t o !oreC "r lessC Preparation for heaven la!ents a failure of the
coul$ but there is no shirking of uty to the woul. 3uch language gives
psychology a holler.
In Bunyan+s tale$ #hristian on the roa to *o is istracte by the worl$ by
=anity :air$ flesh$ its weakness. -hat unsubtle !oral !ae it to Puritan lan.
0awthorne+s preacher$ Di!!sale$ preache the sin he was !ost guilty of.
)e go fro! that to repeating that @public !oralists practice the secret sin
they !ost cone!n.@ )illia! Bennett$ the living !oralist is aicte to
ga!bling. *uys an prostitutes in 3unay ser!ons carry on all 3aturay
night. Public !orals are protective covering. 'ight again$ right is wrong.
-hat+s why they call it the evil with its twiste rhetorical triu!phs.
%rgu!ents with this evil go on forever. It always is$ what if.
#onsier the o/gooers an everything they o where all !en are create
e,ual in the blurb. 3peak to i!!igrants when they cut you lawn$ says #olin
Powell$ but fla!e out against offenses in newspaper coes. #oul Jesus talk
to the!C BlakeC 3ocratesC Put the! to eath with the 2ennonite. )ell$
Blake escape. -heir hero an oursR 2oralists of &nglan$ !oralists of
:rance$ how you isrobe your hierophants. <eaving only those who kill for
peace$ lie for truth$ those stan up funa!entalist liberals of earth.
<et us go back to yesteryear$ to that era long ago.
/ree"om of onscience
Part of the purpose of 2ennonites as precursors of *anhi an .ing was to
unerstan the oppressor$ not #hristian[s favorite thought. %postle Paul
echoes the 9uges who put the! all to eath. In his own wors to %grippa$ YI
put !any of the saints in prison$ an when they were put to eath$ I cast !y
vote against the! Tlike the 9uges above an belowU. 2any a ti!e I went
fro! one synagogue to another to have the! punishe an I trie" to force
them to blaspheme. In !y obsession against the!$ I even went to foreign
cities to persecute the!Z 4%cts BF.5/117. )hat is too goo for hi!C
In conte1t$ the 2ennonite was bla!e for corrupting the 3tate #hurch$ like
early #hristians i of 3aul[s synagogue. .eep reaing that sentence. "n the
other han the keepers of the state e,uivocate two principles. :irst$ that of
being pious$ as relate in the eath of 0ans =an "vera!$ 1660A Ywe were
all betraye by a Juas...who see!e to be one of the !ost pious of all the
brethren that were there$ so successfully coul he practice his eceptionZ
4Theatre$ >;D7. )atch out for the super piousR -hese !ust always be the
greatest offeners$ with 3aul$ Di!!sale an the estee!e !outh.
-he secon principle of subversion is to engage in ialecticA Y...they
i!pruently allowe the!selves to be rawn into isputations with the false
prophets$ though they ha been sufficiently warne...for it is not given to
everyone to ispute...when these poor la!bs engage in controversy$ they
beca!e perple1e in their consciences.Z :inally$ Ythe poor$ ruine la!bs
were release fro! prison an recante everything...Z 4Theater$ >;D7.
2ennonites were not aske to kneel at #aesar+s han an call hi! goo.
-hey were !erely aske to confor!$ believe. )hen you start giving your
life to what you are suppose to confor! to$ where o you stopC )ill you
ie to wear a bearC )ill you ie to be sprinkle$ i!!erseC -o publicly
confront authorsC -o speak a certain languageC )here oes freeo! not
force us in its ,uestC Into sy!bolic speech an beyonR
-here is anger however when ifferent !e!bers sacrifice in varying
egrees$ when all are !ae to feel that the greatest !ust obtain for the least.
Gou coul go to eath as !uch fro! tyranny of your own group as fro! the
oppressor. #annot the group confront the o!inance without your eathC
)hen o!inant$ will your group o what was oneC 3o!e 2ennonites have
sy!bolically shunne offeners. Some sent a "eath certificate to the
parents of a member who gave the local governance so!e offense. 'ea
%fter the fact of their tortures the ,uestion for %!erican 2ennonites was
whether they too woul leave their Yflesh on the postsZ of the Ystrait gatesZ
4Theatre$ F7 over issues of how to worship *o. -he reference to the strait
gate !eans narrow$ Ystrait is the gate an narrow is the way.Z
?ot only 2ennonites face the ,uanary of courage an choice. Psychiatrist
'obert #oles foun a parallel in Bonhoeffer[s resistance to the ?a(is an his
e1ecution before war[s en. %ske Ywhat woul you o uner such
circu!stances$ uner 0itler$ if you were there$ back then$Z #oles replie$ Yby
the ti!e that ,uestion ha been put to the class$ not one of us was able to
answer with any !oral confience.Z 4#oles$ 15;/557.
:ree yourself fro! the worlC #oles cites his teacher ?iebuhr that there is
only a Ypotential isparityZ between psychiatry an religion$ counseling that
Ystresses of social a9ust!entZ an religions like 2ennonites ia!etrically
oppose social acco!!oation. -here is a polar isparity between psychiatry
an total co!!itt!ent. #ounseling stresses a9ust!ent. +ormality !eans
avoi conflict$ an1iety$ epression$ not to continueYthe essential
\!aness[… that won[t settle for the rewars of social confor!ity.Z 3ocial
confor!ity$ pro!otion$ tenure$ couln[t counsel Bonhoeffer out$ so he was
!artyre like 2ennonites$ who were always social heroes.
%nother proble! of %cco!!oating &thics occurs when #oles an his
physicians confront !alnutrition in 2ississippi to be in turn re9ecte by
)ashington bureaucrats. ':. tells the! that the real proble! is the anger
an prie insie the!selves. Ges .enney was a 2ennonite. -hey think
!alnutrition is an ob9ect. @)hy can[t the govern!ent see itC )e[ve one all
we can.@ But the proble! is insie the!.
It+s the sa!e with Bonhoeffer. ?iebhur says. Ywe looke up to hi! as if he[
been sent to inspire us@ 4 B017$ but they in+t go back to *er!any. %s #rito
oes with 3ocrates$ they urge his escape. 2artyr an hero fin the!selves in
an accient of ti!e with a fi1e purpose. /i!e" p(rpose4 -he 2ennonite
!artyrs on[t give in. )hy not$ they coul have liveC @-he ifficulty !y
friens$ is not to avoi eath$ but to avoi unrighteousnessO for that runs
faster than eath@ 42ennonite 3ocrates7. )hen the auience far an wie$
?iebuhr$ #oles$ #rito$ 2ennonite congregations of the new worl$ sees the
proble! outsie focuse by another$ they are the proble!.
The e!tracte" conscience portraye in ho!ily an false ile!!a cause
2ennonites to !ourn their weakness$ clai! they couln+t chose. )hat woul
you oC )hat woul you oC -he answer is either to ie or betray an be
left with the enless guilt of wors. The wea$est ethical offen"ers ma$e
the greatest moral "efen"ers$ the greatest aulterers. It is why the flesh
bes the night in straw. But look$ who is that besieC
? Flower( whose %ragrance tender with sweetness %ills the air
"ispels with glorious splendor the dar*ness e.erywhere.
The 5ife Within
0ow oes it get thereC -hey on[t say. #o!!onplace in s!all ees$
unnotice acts$ choices$ har stans with the attitue. I[! no hero. 0igh
flying wors$ avance egrees plague with their fears that they are not
goo enough. 3o on[t be goo. Profiteer your oubt. It is always a curse to
be ever observing conscience outsie an not in life.
There 2re -o 5iberal 3artyrs
)hat !akes an intellectual anyway but oubt an infor!ationC If it co!es
to ebate about liberal righteousness the response is ad hominum. @)hat
have you one$@ they ask as if herois! were P' an you cannot see in the
hu!an face all of its acts. #ontroversy between the inner an the outer
s!acks of those pietists of the soul$ who o not fit the 3ocial %9ust!ent
:ranchise]%ssassinating Pietists$ that is$ %lbrecht 'itschl 4,istory o%
2ietism( 1;;0/;F7$ Yso overpowering an far/reaching that toay$ outsie the
s!all circle of specialists$ pietis! is still generally associate with anti/
intellectualis!$ hyper/iniviualis!$ an holy/group separatis!… 40eiko %.
"ber!an$ preface in Johann %rnt$ -rue #hrisitanity$ ?GA Paulist Press$
15D5$ 1ii7. -his Yantagonis! was continue by the Protestant ialectical
theologians of this century$ chief a!ong who! was .arl BarthZ 4Peter &rb
in %rnt$ op cit$ 17. In the en you can be a !artyr if you 9ust give up an
-his is not to say tests on[t e1ist for the !asses in their racist thoughts an
crucifi1ion of their epressing lives without faith in the sacrifice of their
chilren. )ho wants to be a !oral heroC &veryone. )ho oubts their
co!!it!entC &veryone. Gou[ve got to fin it in the belly not the brain.
-he YefenselessZ took !uch of their inspiration fro! the early churchA
Yeven the 'o!an bishops$ in the first three hunre years$ were !ostly all
!artyreZ4Theater$ 86D7$ the point being that Ytrue #hristians have never
persecute the innocent$ but were always persecute the!selvesZ 486D7. :or
the !oern era$ this raise a ,uestion for 2ennonites as to whether they
were true #hristians$ not because they ha attaine the inner state of %rnt[s
union$ but because they ha been persecute enough. "uter tru!ps inner
again. "f ol they were persecute by institutions that no longer e1ist$
Ybecause they i not obey the !other holy church an the ecree of the
&!perorZ 486D/ 6;7. )hen church an e!pire were survive by free will
an e!ocracy the efenseless ha a har ti!e coping.
-rue #hristians never persecute the innocentO Ythe holy apostle co!!ans
no greater punish!ent for heretics$ than to shun...-it. 8A10Z 4Theatre$ 8657.
?ew worl 2ennonites shunne their own nonconfor!ists$ either heretics of
octrine or of the flesh taken in the worl. It is har to get a list of offenses.
"ne !ight o as !inset irecte$ punish!ent !eiate as the group woul$
!en treate ifferently fro! wo!en of course$ accoring to the sin.
0eresy was not the original eict for which shunning occurreO it was style
of life. It !ight co!e fro! wearing the bonnet$ riving a car$ or sleeping
with the choir irector. -he !otive for such rigors erives fro! Yfor!er
ti!es$ in the ti!es of the cross$ when !en coul asse!ble only uner peril
of their lives...Z 4Theatre$ 8F17 -hen$ Yheavenly riches were sought above all
thingsO for earthly possessions were altogether insecure.Z But in a ti!e of
peace$ failing persecution$ Ysi!plicity is change into po!p an ostentation.
Possessions have increase but in the soul there is leanessZ 48F17$ which
su!s up a large part of 2ennonite schis!$ that the worl ha overtaken
#hristian in his race. )ithout persecution to stir his aror he was subverte
by his possessions. John 0err inspire his 'efor!e 2ennonites with
calu!nies of their brothers[ worlliness.
True Man( yet .ery Bod( %rom sin and death now sa.e us.
:ree yourself fro! the worl souns a little strange. )ith inner an outer so
oppose how coul it be otherC Depression is accounte for when anger is
great. Y:or$ though outwar persecutions now an then cease$ yet every
#hristian is calle to sufferings an conflicts...each !ust live$ not after the
flesh$ but after the 3piritO each !ust suffer in the flesh$ that he !ay cease
fro! sin.Z 48F17.
-he unerstaning is that when the outer worl suffers$ the inner is at peace$
but when the outer is peaceful the inner suffers. -here was one way out of
this$Yif you then fin$ that the ti!e of freeo! has given liberty an roo! to
your lusts$ persec(te yo(rself# crucify an put yourself to eath$ an offer
up soul an boy to *o.Z 48F17.
-he whole argu!ent of loody Theater is that witho(t persec(tion
hristians fall away. But how long can you persecute yourselfC Inner hair
shirts an psychological flagellations call to repentance an self oubt.
-hese applications of !in/boy ualis! beco!e a theology of epression$
for what better or !ore accessible way is there to persecute yourself than to
accuse yourself that you are unworthy$ guilty$ weak$ on[t !easure upC
"thers besie 2ennonites o this. )hat coul be their !otiveC
It can be a theology for oppressing others. If you on[t !easure up how
coul theyC "f that reaing of the *ospel that absorbs !in an boy in one
new !an$ little is sai$ that is$ of the one who oesn[t persecute hi!self but
renews the !in.
Mennonites were caught in a warp when there was no persecution by church
an state in the new worl. )ithout persecution where was the !otive for
Ywors an collo,uies in eifying instructions$ an awakenings towar
golinessCZ )hen the outwar persecutions cease$ Ye1a!ine...whether...you
have not lent your tongue to please frivolous$ worlly !en with vain an
useless talk...whether you i not efa!e your neighbor[s goo na!e...by
lying an eceit !inistere to avariceZ 48F1/FB7.
-his reas like the confession of every church teaching broaer than the
2ennonite repeate in pulpitA Y2any$ when they coul not use the worl$
turne of necessity to *o$ as their nearest refugeO but as soon as a little
breathing ti!e set in$ they again began to lean towars the worlO the parents
beca!e rich$ the chilren lu1urious an wantonO the worl caresse the!$
an in course of ti!e they beca!e respecte an lifte upO the reproach of
the cross was relin,uishe$ an the honor of this worl steppe into its
place.Z 4Theater$ 8FB7. 3o 1Fth century religion !enopause to the present.
But on the other han$ it is still looking aroun.
In broaer conte1t the !artyrs of all eno!inations an na!es playe a role
in the freeo!s of civili(ation in the breaking of #hurch an &!pire. 3o!e
woul say that all freeo!s ste! fro! this while the %nabaptists !ight say
that !oern freeo!s are the!selves a persecution.
Two Wrong 6aths
-here are then two ways to go$ if you can[t be goly an prosper$ or be
persecute an betray$ how can you live. It[s like what 3ocrates trie to
teach$ rein in e!travagances to achieve self8government or everyone+s late
favorite #haung -(u$ @free yourself fro! the worl.@
-he psychologists of the worl the 2ennonites isain have raise a
,uestion as to whether 2ennonites are harboring a eath wish by !aking
people !urer the!. -he worl is fille with loathing that they persecute
-his charge coul occur with every principle stan$ that if only the
stubborn woul let go of that fi1e iea we coul let the! live in peace. -hat
we !ight let the! live at all is the catch$ for by what right o we ruleC "nly
by the rule of onfor!ity. "n si!ilar grouns I. :. 3tone charges 3ocrates for
what 3tone argues is a eliberate aggravation of his 9uges$ the 9ury of 600.
3ocrates early an late practice theater against the worl. 0e says$ @!e you
have kille because you wante to escape the accuser an not to give an
account of your lives@ 4Jowett7.
-hat is the point$ the worl will o anything to anyboy to avoi facing
itself. -he It/3elf here is the operative wor. In 2ennonite ter!s the unclean
gar!ents the It/3elf wears are 9ust opposite the gar!ents of the <a!b.
3ocrates wants a !an to o nothing co!!on or !ean when in anger$ nor to
use any cowarly way of escaping eath$ even in war$ so he refuses escape
an all the petty escapes of his sentence urge upon hi!.
In !uch the sa!e way the ol worl took 2ennonites to eath an prison.
-he new worl was !ore happy but still with conse,uences$ for this is how
the lawless thinkA you coul steal their cow an they won+t prevent itR @)hat
o you say about going over an getting so!e cornC@ It was thought you
coul o 9ust anything to 2ennonites. -hat+s why their pacifis! is
unlikeable. It encourages lawlessness. "f the :rench an Inian )ar )enger
says @there is no evience that 2ennonites use self/efense in any attack
!ae upon the!@ 46;7. :or the evil/oer the only anger was their inability
to calculate who a!ong the 2ennonites were truly evout 4thus
nonresistant7. -he cry of the evout$ @vengeance is !ine$ I will repay@
echoe with @because he loves !e$ says the <or$ I will rescue hi!.@ But
hu!an contraiction is as great a force as piety. -here is anger to a thief
who co!es upon a lapse 2ennonite an gets a beating. Gou can+t always
tell whether it was 0arvey or Philip 2ack co!ing own the roa.
)hat is the inwar nature of the 2ennonite toay$ the efenseless #hristian
in na!eC )hen :unk began his crusae to bring the! into the %!erican
fol$ brothers an sisters were able to abstract their esire not to kill into not
to pay war ta1 into not swear allegiance. -he heart of legalis! abstracts
issues fro! specific to general. ?ot to work on the 3abbath !eans not to
heal. ?ot to kill or o har! !eans not to support those who o. #olonial
2ennonites couln[t swear the oath any !ore than 0uckabee believe in
evolution. )hy shoul eitherC Plege allegiance or pay the ta1$ but
reservations occurre. Be at peace before co!!union is an e1a!ple. 2en
apologi(e to the church$ she tears$ confess iscourtesy to their wives they
haven[t yet tol the! aboutR 3ha! suggests oubt.
The 2"verse 6arty as the 2"vocate
Pick on 2ennonitesC -he efenselessC ?o. ?o !ore than Israel you iiot. I
will re.enge( I will repay. 3o let us see the higher goo an the happy fall to
earth that is our own. #onsier righteousness with an anti/Petrarchan view$
as late &li(abethans i. Beauty is not !eant to !agnify contraiction$ but to
Yshow the averse party as the avocate$Z as 3hakespeare[s 3onnet SSS=
esigns. 2ennonites as eep conflicte as any Yclous an eclipses stain
both !oon an sun E %n loathso!e canker lives in sweetest bu.Z -he ieal
cloys. -he only proble! with 'oger #le!ens+ false innocence is 2arion
Jones+. )e !ust turn it upon its hea to see what+s really true. *oo hu!or is
!ore tolerant than law. 2aybe it is the only true love$ realistic clay about
which not !uch is sai$ not to hie the ill$ inee confess aplenty$ an to
urge Yno !ore be grieve at that which thou hast one.Z -o more be
grieve" that is the s(m. 2ennonites in[t say.
In 3wit(erlan$ so!e carrie wooen knives in their belts to show their
conte!pt of !urer$ were so!eti!es ragge behin the boats of <ake
*eneva. 2uch in the way of torture an oppression was practice against
the! all$ especially as is note in the Mirror where 2ennonites an
%nabaptists were torture for co!!union an their views withal. It was like
the theatre of 'o!e that infor!e the !artyrs[ trials.
In their YkinnessZ the authorities of that ti!e coa1e a general confession
first$ conucte in the leniency of their co!passion in the surrenering up of
one[s 2ennonite fellows an parents. "ne e1a!ple a!ong !any$ a Y2iss
&li(abeth$Z for whose sacrifice only one cure can occur$ in a first
arraign!ent was accuse of being a teacher. Beales foun a <atin
-esta!ent. -he horrorR )hen aske to take an oath she replie that Ywe
ought not to swearZ ,uoting an liberally believing that sa!e testa!ent of
the wors of Jesus that centuries later her fa!ily believe. ?or woul she
ientify this fa!ily or her friens. 3he sai the phrase Yholy sacra!entZ i
not appear in the -esta!ent. 3he faile the test of infant salvation through
baptis!. "ff with her heaR 3he faile the e1a! of Papal orinance general.
-hus a secon auience re,uire to show her the severe ar!. 3he was
ree1a!ine in a cha!berA Ybut as she woul not voluntarily confess$ he
applie the thu!bscrews to her thu!bs an forefingers$ so that the bloo
s,uirte out at the nails.Z -his earnest catechis! of confession further
espise$ e1a!iners Yapplie the screws to her shins.Z -his calle for her to
elicit associates[ ientity !ore than a!it any particular @cri!e.@ "h she was
har hearte. %n since Ythey obtaine not one wor fro! her etri!ental to
her brethren in the <or$ or to any other person$Z along ca!e the spier an
sat own besie her an she was Yrowne in a bag.Z %lthough she was hel
fro! January 16 until her e1ecution on 2arch BD$ 16>5 4Theatre( >;B/;87$
this was her last offense.
The loody Theater or Martyrs Mirror o% the "e%enseless Christians.
-hiele!an J. van Braght$ tr. fro! the Dutch eition "f 1FF0 by Joseph :.
3oh!. 3cottale$ Pa.A 2ennonite Publishing 0ouse$ 15F>. -hanks to the
Paraise =alley 2ennonite #hurch for the loan of this book.
'obert #oles. $i.es o% Moral $eadership. ?GA 'ano! 0ouse$ B000.
=iktor &. :rankl$ ManKs Search %or Meaning. BostonA Beacon Press. 15FF.
I.:. 3tone. The Trial o% Socrates. BostonA <ittle$ Brown V #o. 15;;.
J. #. )enger. ,istory o% the Mennonites o% the Franconia Con%erence.
3cottale$ Pa.A 2ennonite Publishing 0ouse$ 15;6.
-he physical book
&scape :ro! the loody TheatreA -he 2. 3tories. 2agalene 'eekop.
3tick IpR Tor$ @2ennonites an 2usli!sU %& 'eiff$ elimae$ %pril B00D.
Jacobo -i!er!an. Prisoner without a na!e$ #ell without a nu!ber. 15;1.
:ro! Pennsylvania :athers
%t the ti!e of the Peace #orps I !ae !y own$ went to 3an José #osta 'ica
fro! Philaelphia to work for &itorial #aribe$ a publishing house of the
<atin %!erica 2ission. It use a fish as its logo. -his was overtaken by
larger events$ J:.[s arrival an the paraes for the %lliance for Progress$ his
reception at the &!bassy$ the eruption of the volcano Ira(^$ the beginning of
Semana Santa three weeks after J:.[s visit$ the eath of !y brother$ burie
2ay BB. -hese also inclue three trips to <i!Kn on the %tlantic$ one to
Puntarenas on the Pacific$ one to -urrialba where I staye at the %gricultural
Institute$ an attening Puccini[s last opera at the ?ational -heatre with the
concert pianist 'icaro :oulkes. I first !et 'icaro in classes at the
Seminario Qblico. -he 2ission was also overtaken by the larger event of
liberation theology$ but its visionary ieas$ far!s$ orphanages$ fish hatchery$
bookstores$ publishing house an se!inary were not totally surprise.
-hings take a while to unerstan. 3ky shaows above$ reflect beneath their
I arrive 08 Jan 15F8 at &itorial #aribe to help install an accounting
syste!$ the previous year ha kept books at 2errill <ynch. I learne 3panish
an custo!s in the publishing house by ay an roo!e at night in the
e!pty !en[s or! of the se!inary. #lasses i not begin till 2arch. -he
a!enities were cots$ col water showers$ toilets without seats an a
washboar to wash clothes. 3o!e weekens I rea Dostoevsky nonstop$
Crime and 2unishment in 1; hours$ -olstoy$ 6ar and 2eace in a ay an a
half$ listening to a portable raio. )hen the pastoral stuents returne I
playe ping pong into the night with the enthusiast #icerKne #_renas. "nce
the cafeteria serve boile eggs in crea! sauce$ but noboy ie. Breakfast
was brea an coffee$ but the coffee was the best in the worl$ the only
co!parison being the coffee serve on the <eft Bank in Paris$ the freshest
possible. <unch was rice$ every now an then !i1e with sausage. "ne
class!ate brought his bottle of olive oil to the table. -he rice an sausage$
olive oil$ a kin of yellow saffron rice so!eti!es$ cooke in big pots with
black pepper began to taste as goo as the coffee.
J/: an" the
!e to his
gy! in a 3an
streets$ as !uch outsie orinary ti!e as 'icaro in !y !e!ory. I was still
talking to hi! as a survivor when I wrote this. -he Presient ha travele to
#osta 'ica for the %lliance :or Progress$ to !eet with the heas of states at
the ?ational -heatre in 3an José$ but the e1traorinary part of his trip was
the !otorcae own F.enida Central. In those ays security was light. 0e
roe in a convertible with a !otorcycle escort an about si1 vehicles in all. It
was a beautiful ay.
People wave %!erican flags with huge enthusias!. -he crow line both
sies of the %venue$ half a !illion people containe on the sies by police
an guars$ but the ay ha no anger in it$ at least fro! the!. -he
outpouring of affection !ove the Presient$ you can see the elation on his
face$ but !ore so s!iles an 9oy on peoples[ faces. 3o the volcano was
erupting an the presient was strea!ing in the fir!a!ent$ ecorate with
crepe. It was the celebration o f a
lifeti!e$ but *oo :riay was co!ing
an 0oly )eek$ traition of a
thousan years. -he .enney visit an
processions of *oo :riay blen
together$ its statues alreay burnishe.
-he alabaster skin rose over the shoulers
of the crow like the roa to *olgotha. I
e1change glances with the 2other
an Joseph. -he sa!e face appears in the
<ay #hapel of the *lastonbury ruins
who above the altar hols his ar!s
wie. But backs were reay to bear their
burens$ an of course later in town they
sai the volcano was an ill o!en. "nly
now I reali(e the wor for ash in 3panish$
cenizo( !eans ill o!en. &veryboy
alive at his assassination
re!e!bers where they were when they
hear the Presient was kille$
?ove!ber BB. -here were !ore sky
shaows in that 9ourney$ !irroring
the surface. I wrote a first story that %pril
sy!bolically preicting the
Presient[s eath$ which occurre seven !onths later$ things ti!e cannot
!itigate. -he ash in[t get to 3an José till after he ha left.
'icaro ha 9ust gotten a !asters in theology fro! Princeton when I was in
his ?ew -esta!ent stuies class$ stuying *reek in 3panish with his wife
Irene while he broke own Bult!ann$ 3chweit(er an 'enan. I i it !yself$
taught the avant/gare to fresh!an an sopho!ores at :ayetteville.
<iterature follows theology in the death o% the author. Decaes before
Barthes$ 3chweit(er sought history. 0istory is 2e!ory[s sonR %t night in the
se!inary library I woul urge those *er!an critics out of their case an
pu((le over the! in 3panish as !uch as I ever ha over .ierkegaar in the
base!ent of !y college library. 3o!eti!es 'icaro woul pass through the
library in the evening with other professors. "nce he sai$ Ylet[s go to the
opera at the ?ational -heatre.Z 0e ha perfor!e there hi!self an felt like
he owne it. -o the ,uestion$ Yo you have tickets$Z he sai we[ 9ust sneak
in the back an go up in the balcony. It was Puccini[s last opera$ -uranot$
an whether you say the final YtZ or not$ it is the one interrupte when the
!aestro ie. %lthough finishe by %lfano$ when it was first conucte by
-oscanini in 15BF$ the conuctor lai own his baton in the !ile of %ct III
where Puccini ha stoppe writing an sai$ Yhere the 2aestro ie$Z ening
the perfor!ance. It fits with the unfinishe business of this 9ourney. 'icaro
banie about the %sian riles an consiering !y love of the ga!e I
9oine hi! with the a!onish!ents of !inisters Ping$ Pang an Pong$ who
urge -uranot not to lose his hea. %s all operas an lives it was ark light$
re curtaine$ !aroon !auve tapestries$ flashes off glasses$ bo1 seats. I was
!ore intereste in what was in the cup an why the point of the lance ble$
which however I i not yet know. -he se!ester ene for !e before the
or! counselor ha finishe his -olstoy$ but after the Pana!anian pastor
who cut cane$ with wrists as big as !y ankles$ praye. -hat is$ I never
finishe the class$ wrote to 'icaro after !y unti!ely e1it to pose the rile$
why should you continue to e3ist. 0e was co!posing a long answer in his
hea$ he sai$ when he reali(e I was kiing. ?ow I get his letter out$ it is
postate the Iniversity of 3trasbourg$ 15F;$ five years after$ uring the
perio of his issertation Defense.
I got to know #entral %!erica fro! walking in the !ountains at 'oblealto$
3an José e la 2ontaWa$ co!ing suenly on whole fa!ilies of people$ little
chilren$ granparents$ living in wil fiels picking shae coffee$ then seeing
the bright beans crushe$ sprea over the highway to ry$ cars skirting the!.
)alking in <i!Kn to catch the F %2 train through barrios I saw a !an baly
beaten fro! prison. <ittle enough the offering !ae to hi! where fa!ilies
!ourn chilren an conuct funerals with han!ae coffins an
heartbreaking grief. I spoke this to 'icaro$ catastrophe the trigger$
strangeness the etail$ a one eye pirate in the hotel of 2uerto $imRn$ where
the wie win blows the coast so strong so!eti!es ships cannot ock$ but
the win blows as it will. 2any of the people of <i!Kn are fro! Ja!aica$
which is to say they are robust. "n that initial visit Paul aske !e to speak to
his #hurch of *o congregation 3unay night about the new creature.
%fterwar *eorge an so!e friens suggeste we go for a late night walk.
-here are no streetlights in <i!Kn. #o!ing own a gravel slope towar a
street of houses$ after suen cries an a screa!$ lights ca!e on. ?ot ten
paces in front of us was a young <atin !ale in a white unershirt being
chase by a wo!an with a long knife$ the !other of so!e aughter. 0e
soune like he was trying to placate her as she trie to carve hi!. 0e leapt
into the air like a cat an kicke the knife out of her han. *eorge$ the leaer
of this e1peition$ sai$ Ythat[s why we travel in a group.Z
"n the other sie of the continent$ Pacific Puntarenas$ the win blows
e,ually har. Gou hear the soun of it in evening an feel the force$ but it
totally stops at night. I was awake$ watching cockroaches run the floor when
an allegory of politics saile towar !e$ a satire of 9ournalis!$ society an
eucation as !uch of the legislature$ the Y#ockroach #ongress$Z an the
e1ecutive. )here o co!e fro!$ where go$ these wins that were also
blowing the 2ission. %bout 15F; the Spiritual &3ercises of 3t. Ignatius$
!eitations of the suffering of #hrist$ ca!e to the %!ericas in the worl of
the crucifies. I knew these$ but not the oubts of 3t. Paul[s intellect. -his
was the en of the iyll before <iberation. -he cenizo ash at !y feet was
heavy with it$ but IrazSKs eruption was a ivine eliverance the night I took a
notion to sketch prostitutes in the streets of the 3an José s,uare$ an to take
another stuent fro! the se!inary with !e$ the stuent boy presientR
-hick falling ash prevente that. Presient .enney was not so fortunate.
Goung !en are volatile$ even presients.
% continuing conversation with 'icaro ca!e into !y !in *oo :riay
B00D with a vision of what his letter woul have sai ha he replie. I in[t
know there was a -. in his na!e until I saw the eath notice on the Julliar
website. -aken seriously$ his answer was that the liberation of people to
which this vision le was e,ually in its articulation of fe!inistEinigenous
theologies an i!aginative participation in the wouns of #hrist. -hese were
ientifications with people against the oppressor$ woune with the
oppressor[s transgressions$ bruise with its ini,uities. 'icaro[s Fpocalypse
o% St. -ohn appeare in 15;5 9ust about at the tipping point where liberation
theology starte towar ecological fe!inis!. 0is ieas with others
contraicte the ?orth %!erican view that oppression in[t !atter because
the church was going to be rapture out before the events in 'evelations 1;
occurre. I in[t want to rea 'ev 1;. It pro!ises a blessing$ but I knew
people who rea it an ca!e to a ba en. It is a catalogue of sea captains$
gol cargoes$ frankincense an souls$ the city of Babylon co!poune as a
wo!an to represent global capital an worl o!ination. -hese
!ultinational corporations$ co!!entators tell us$ trauce to poverty the
nations an people of the worl. Babylon #ityE)o!an is a picture of bon
traers an !erchants of worl capital$ global internationals un!aske in the
intercourse of traffic. -heir fortunes !ake Yan iolatrous cult of 2a!!on$ a
cult that can only !erit the na!e \fornication$[Z sai 'icaro. 4&l
Fpocalipsis "e San -uan$ 1;57. &1tening the prophecy of 3t. John to
conte!porary global capital an !ultinationals$ the %!ericas were polari(e
an crucifie 4#allahan$ "rtega$ .i on )ainwright7. It was the sa!e
ene!y 'uben Dario sale as FleDandro#+abucodonosor$ %le1aner/
?ebuchane((ar. <iberation theologies transferre the sufferings of #hrist
to the people of the %!ericas an then to the earth$ to those e1ploe
!ountaintops an broken rivers$ s!itten of 2an an afflicte. -hese e1ist$
but poets flee philosophy$ theology an politics. The ri.ers clap their hands(
the mountains sing.
'icaro ie the year before I co!pose this answer. It see!e to
!ateriali(e out of that theology of enriching the boy$ !e!oriali(e anyway.
0ow the concert pianist beca!e a new testa!ent scholar$ that[s not a straight
line. Both pianist an scholar were weight liftersO one prophesie against
e!pire. 0e knew the wor for !use a!ong people who were shocke. But
you know that !ust be overlooke. -hey gossipeA Yhow can so!eone with
such traine hans lift weightsC )hat if he hurts hi!selfCZ #ost
accountantsR 0e took !e with hi! to the gy! so!eti!es$ !e alreay
resse in those legs weightlifters woul ie to get. -hey aske$ Ywhat i
you o to get those legs.Z
% cicaa begins to sing two weeks before Semana Santa. -hey lose their
boy weight while singing. It signals high seriousness. Driving a car or
!otorbike on *oo :riay is iscourage. 3o!e co!!unities throw nails in
the streets to prevent it. -he Presient[s caravan own F.enida Central three
weeks before ha to go twenty !iles an hour to keep fro! being overrun by
two thousan young !en in pursuit. -he e!bassy hel a reception for the
Presient to greet all the %!ericans that afternoon in the a!bassaor[s
resience$ a large white colu!ne affair. 0unres of %!ericans attene. I
was traveling on a tourist car$ renewe every three !onths. -he secret
service looke askance at it$ sai Yyou can[t co!e in.Z I prove !y
citi(enship by being inignant$ was given a pass. Dean 'usk$ 3ecretary of
3tate$ spoke fro! the pulpit porch of the resience$ but the Presient left the
porch an !ingle with the crow. It was then I shook his han. 0e was
easy to like if you listene to the wit of his press conferences.
-here were even !ore people out city wie for 0oly )eek than for the
Presient$ all close up$ the paraes$ the e!bassy$ the floats$ the processions
that went 16 !iles fro! 3an José to #artago$ so!e people walking barefoot.
I starte walking early *oo :riay at awn$ not to #artago$ but to every
barrio of 3an José. -aking pictures with a Brownie ca!era elicite irty
looks so I in[t !uch. -he o(en or so slies lay or!ant in archival
sheeting$ hea scarves of wo!en walking with the floats$ faces of police
protecting the!$ i!passive ushers carrying the i!ages on poles$ the 0oly
2other[s gown e!broiere in gol with vines an flowers$ the faces of
chilren in crales at her feet. -hese are right ne1t to the slies of the face of
the !an who appears uner .enney[s ar!$ a lucky shot$ the Presient[s
face fra!e by the %!erican flags they were waving. -he !an has bushy
eyebrows$ a black !oustache$ a bear$ a kin of top hat. It is not <incoln.
%n ocean of faces
stretches the istance.
-he two paraes
beco!e one in the
slies$ half are of
each. Priests in white
surplice lea the float
of the 3avior. #orn
plants e!broier his
robe$ garlans of pink
lilies an roses at his
feet$ a iae! on his
hea. &3cept a corn
o% wheat %all into the
ground and die see!s
to be the !essage -he
cross on his left
shouler is ena!ele
in black with inlays$
the heas of the priests are bowe$ ar!s fole. % #arinal in re walks
between. % girl half the si(e of those aroun her wears a re scarf$ a son in a
blue shirt hols onto his father[s hair. -he Presient an the volcano$ parrots
in the park at <i!Kn$ the pastel shacks an close woven barrios$ the
!ountains aroun the city$ the coffee beans on the roa$ 'icaro$ 'uth an
<aoit 3tevens an their chilren are still i!pressions bright as
consciousness. I staye with the 3tevens fa!ily for two weeks after that first
<i!Kn trip. -hey !ae !e welco!e a!ong the s!all sons of the cha!pion
wrestler$ 3teve. 0is boys coul chin 16 ti!es on a bar.
In an a!ong these events I was hunting tropical fish with blue an gol fins
at the base of the Ira(^ volcano. -he strea!s of the national park beneath the
!ount in #artago$ at the Basilica$ are full of the!. It was the closest I ca!e
to !y rea! as a ten year ol to catch tropical fish in the %!a(on$ unless I
count !yself the fish who took the hook an was caught$ Jonah who turne
the light off an watche his pupils ilate in the ark. :or a!ong people all
ifferent I left on this first e1ploration without the help of *o. But even in
the sea$ dar*ness dawns. I went natural an when it was one got spit back
up. It is ark in the fish where I was !ae a poet.
%s they flee the sky shaows above so this fle fro! !e when I i seek.
:ollowing this pursuit conceive in the secret place at ten$ I woul have
caught tropicals in the %!a(on. -he colors that swa! in those pools later
attracte !e to !uslip an turn. But clay oes not ask$ why have you !ae
!e thusC :ish$ butterflies$ flowers$ it coul have been stars. =ision followe
the way alternate accounts of our lives go to the %!a(on or *ran #anyon
or grow herbs in -ibet$ conte!platives in paint$ earth an high fire. %s
2elville says in chapter one$ Ythe great floo/gates of the woner/worl
swung open.Z I\ have been in #hile for %llene[s epose as !uch as I was
in Dr. .ing[s black south in 15F; for his. But I on[t chose the tale. It[s
angerous to write of living. :acts can be wrong. 'icaro was BD at the ti!e$
on the thinking sie of the !ission$ as its leaers. %fter a Bible stuy in the
early ays of his ac,uaintance he sai to !e$ Yyou know about the !use.Z I
2y return was a regurgitation. I was gone within hours of receiving the
news !y brother ha ie. I was now the olest son. )hen I got back to the
offices$ cleane out !y esk$ Donoso$ !y roo!!ate fro! 2anagua$
appeare suenly a!ong the loo!ing bosses with i!!ense sorrow an
co!passion on his brow. I can only liken it to the look of the captain in
#rane[s ?pen oat as he hung over the water 9ar. )hen I returne to
Philaelphia$ at the church where !y brother lay$ :re Phillips appeare in
coat an tie$ who I rien back an forth to classes with ti!e an again$ who
took senior philosophy as a fresh!an. I was given a han in the swallowing.
During the si1 hour layover on the first leg of return$ in Pana!a #ity$ tol in
Remembering José Donoso# the #hilean writer guie !e through the
outskirts of sheol with a ta1i tour of the #anal (one an the locks in the ea
of night. -hen$ the $?R" commanded the %ish( and it .omited -onah onto
dry land. 3o that[s how it feels to be born of the spirit. )in is greater than
%llen Dwight #allahan. Y'evelation 1;A ?otes on &ffective 0istory an the
3tate of #olo!bia.Z In 6al* in the 6ays o% 6isdomT &ssays in honor o%
&lisabeth Sch1ssler Fiorenza 8;55U>( ;J:.
Joan .i. )ainwright #h 11. -he -ransfor!ation of 3ociety.
"felia "rtega. Y)here the &!pire <ies$ People 3uffer$ -hey %re &1ploite$
an <ife Beco!es Death$Z >8.
'icaro$ 'ichar -. :oulkes 4158F/B00F7 graduated -ulliard 8K45( piano>(
too* a doctorate at the Ani.ersity o% Strasbourg( was +ew Testament
pro%essor at the Seminario iblico $atinamericano( then Iniversia BPblica
<atinoa!ericana 8A$>. Two o% his boo*s are in print( &l Fpocalipsis "e San
-uanT Ana lectura desde am7rica latinaT +ue.a CreaciRnEBrand
RapidsT&erdmans 89:V:> and MarcosT Buillermo Coo* 89::=>. ,e is
called Wa leading pianist in Costa Rica.X
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