The elements of Christie’s fiction are all already in place: a country house, a finite list of suspects, the outsider detective intruding into a place of order and hierarchy that has been disrupted by a crime. The world of Christie’s books is something like the ‘imaginary’ as described by Cornelius Castoriadis, a mental representation in which this orderly household stands for a whole society as a shared universe of meaning, with values and social roles encoded everywhere we look – and then, into this world comes a murder, and a detective trying to solve the murder. Something doesn’t mean what we thought it meant; someone isn’t who they appear to be; something didn’t happen the way it was said to have happened.The Case of Agatha Christie, LRB
Create a list of everything you’re interested in, ever, here. All of it.
- Sea mammals
- Global politics
- Micro-timing and latency adjustment
- Evolution as a heuristic for other things
- Cultural influence on story-telling
- See also, folk stories
- Crimes and how they’re solved
It may surprise some Catholics to learn just how literally the modern Church interprets Satan and his army of demons. While many people today understand the devil as a metaphor for sin, temptation, and unresolvable evil in the world, the pope consistently repudiates such allegorical readings.
In sermons, interviews, and occasionally in tweets, Pope Francis has declared that Satan—whom he has referred to as Beelzebub, the Seducer, and the Great Dragon—is a literal being devoted to deceiving and debasing humans. In an apostolic exhortation released in April, he wrote, “We should not think of the devil as a myth, a representation, a symbol, a figure of speech or an idea,” but rather as a “personal being who assails us.”
It surprises me that there would be Catholics that don’t know this. I thought it was common knowledge that Catholics take transubstantiation, etc. literally. (Ew, by the way.)
Maybe what the Atlantic means is that there may be some liberal readers who love Pope Francis because he thinks that condoms might sort of be an acceptable way to stop the spread of STDs will be surprised by the fact that Our Hero the Pope believes in the Great Dragon.
I spent the day yesterday driving through the early snow to Northfield, Vermont to get a deal on superior socks. Jessamyn from Metafilter told me that the Cabot factory sale is where all of Vermont gets its socks. She doesn’t seem like the type to be fucking with me, so I’ve a trip to the sock show in the back of my mind for months. This one really serves a dual purpose for me — I’m a sucker for weird niche events and comfortable feet.
November rolled around, and a little digging revealed a local blog post with the dates. Always up for an adventure, Mom agreed to make the 4 hour round trip with me. Yes, for socks. But these are world-class socks, people.
The drive was, for November in Northern New England, stunning. Snow-covered covered bridge, trees clumped with powder, etc.
When we reached Northfield, we were greeted with a banner spanning Main St. announcing the sale. It was big news.
The final turns in the GPS directions were totally unnecessary. The road was blocked with cars for about the final 1/4 mile of our drive. They had — I shit you not — a massive shuttle bus for the overflow parking. This looked more like a fair than a sock sale. The lengths New Englanders will travel for a deal on some nice wool socks is pretty amazing.
After waiting in several lines, first in the car, then in the warehouse, we ended up in a giant box maze that led us into a massive room filled with hundreds of people.They didn’t allow photos, so I only snapped one in the antechamber, which doesn’t do the place justice:
Rest assured: the bins were large, and the socks were flying. Unless you’ve been in a sock factory before, you’ve never seen so many socks. In Vermont fashion, folks were fairly genial. I only saw a few elbows thrown.
Ezra forced himself to go to the temple, but he could not go through with the ritual. Despairing, he rent his garments and his coat, threw himself onto the ground, and cried out in agony. Finally, he uttered a prayer that was also an accusation against the people of the land, as he had come to call them, those who had stayed behind and whose habits were so horrifying to the returning exiles.The Written World: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, Civilization
Apparently, when Ezra brought the Judeans back to Jerusalem after they’d been exiled in Babylon for a few generations, he was super upset that the Jews that were left behind in Jerusalem married and had children w/ non-Jews, and forgot to practice important religious traditions. Can you believe it?
I think that tearing your clothes (which were probably a lot harder to come by in 450 BCE) and crying out in agony is a dramatic way to react to people behaving exactly as you would expect them to. I bet he really got people’s attention though.
We have been misled by the people of the time themselves who, in looking back across the gulf of the War, see that earlier half of their lives misted over by a lovely sunset haze of peace and security. It did not seem so golden when they were in the midst of it. Their memories and their nostalgia have conditioned our view of the pre-war era but I can offer the reader a rule based on adequate research: all statements of how lovely it was in that era made by persons contemporary with it will be found to have been made after 1914.Barbara Tuchman
The ankle wallet answered a need. It spoke directly to a personal concern. It made me feel there were people out there in the world of product development and merchandising and gift cataloguing who understood the nature of my little nagging needs.Don Delillo
In the absence of a general mythology, each of us has his private, unrecognized, rudimentary, yet secretly potent pantheon of dream.Joseph Campbell, p. 4
The sorry plight of the wife of the lover whose sentiments instead of maturing remain locked in the romance of the nursery may be judged from the apparent nonsense of another modern dream; and here we begin to feel that indeed we are entering the realm of ancient myth, but with a curious turn.
“I dreamed,” wrote a troubled woman, “that a big white horse kept following me wherever I went. I was afraid of him, and pushed him away. I looked back to see if he was still following me, and he appeared to have become a man. I told him to go inside a barbershop and shave off his mane, which he did. When he came out he looked just like a man, except that he had horse’s hoofs and face, and followed me wherever I went. He came closer to me, and I woke up.
“I am a married woman of thirty-five with two children. I have been married for fourteen years now, and I am not sure my husband is faithful to me.”Joseph Campbell, pp. 7-8
Is this the origin of Bojack Horseman? If it’s a coincidence, it’s still not a coincidence.
Full circle, from the tomb of the womb to the womb of the tomb, we come…”Joseph Campbell, p. 12
Sigmund Freud dealt with the tomb of the womb, and Jung with the womb of the tomb.
The extraordinary thing was the way in which everyone took it for granted that this oozing, bulging wealth of the English upper and upper-middle classes would last for ever, and was part of the order of things. After 1918 it was never quite the same again. Snobbishness and expensive habits came back, certainly, but they were self-conscious and on the defensive. Before the war the worship of money was entirely unreflecting and untroubled by any pang of conscience. The goodness of money was as unmistakable as the goodness of health or beauty, and a glittering car, a title or a horde of servants was mixed up in people’s minds with the idea of actual moral virtue.George Orwell
Music and literature, the two temporal arts, contrive their pattern of sounds in time; or, in other words, of sounds and pauses. Communication may be made in broken words, the business of life be carried on with substantives alone; but that is not what we call literature; and the true business of the literary artist is to plait or weave his meaning, involving it around itself; so that each sentence, by successive phrases, shall first come into a kind of knot, and then, after a moment of suspended meaning, solve and clear itself. In every properly constructed sentence there should be observed this knot or hitch; so that (however delicately) we are led to foresee, to expect, and then to welcome the successive phrases. The pleasure may be heightened by an element of surprise, as, very grossly, in the common figure of the antithesis, or, with much greater subtlety, where an antithesis is first suggested and then deftly evaded.Robert Louis Stevenson