on the crucifixion

from "The Strangest Story in the World," G. K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man. My emotions on reading GKC tend to be mixed, but this bit left me without doubt: I love it.

"There were solitudes beyond where none shall follow. There were secrets in the inmost and invisible part of that drama that have no symbol in speech, or in any severance of man from men. Nor is it easy for any words less stark and single-minded than those of the naked narrative even to hint at the horror and exaltation that lifted itself above the hill. Endless expositions have not come to the end of it, or even to the beginning. And if there be any sound that can produce a silence, we may surely be silent about the end and the extremity; when a cry was driven out of that darkness in words dreadfully distinct and dreadfully unintelligible, which man shall never understand in all the eternity they have purchased for him; and for one annihilating instant an abyss that is not for our thoughts had opened even in the infinity of the absolute; and God had been forsaken of God.
"On the third day the friends of Christ coming at daybreak to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away. In varying ways they realized the new wonder; but even they hardly realized that the world had died in the night. What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of the gardener God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening but of the dawn."


summer reading #2*

*didn't mention this the first time: my project this summer is to read (at least on average) 1,000 pages a week, all books I've never read before.

G. K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man: A foray through human history filled with the insights and tangents that make Chesterton Chesterton.

Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan, The Strain: Some say this book was made for the screen, but I don`t think so; the action is snappy and the visuals are electric, but I can`t see a movie pulling off the character development or fitting in the side plots. Plus, some things are more sinister when left to our imaginations.

Elizabeth Gaskell, Wives and Daughters: Sure, it's huge, but it's also the perfect accompaniment for a long day in the car. I turned over the 649th and final page with a happy sigh (or something) just as we turned the corner to home.

Russell Martin, Beethoven's Hair: The subtitle says it all: "An extraordinary historical odyssey and a scientific mystery solved."

Edith Nesbit, The Magic World: A pleasant compendium of bite-sized stories. I would have loved this as a kid; I`ll settle for loving it now.

Lewis Thomas, The Fragile Species: Broad, meditative, and delightful. A lot of the chapters overlap here and there (due to being written separately), but it makes for a cohesive whole rather than a sense of redundance.

Connie Willis, Passage: This is the first book in a long time to keep me up well into the night, reading so hard the pages smoke. A unique, perfectly-paced novel... I have a beef or two with the ending, but it worked so well I couldn't actually be disappointed.

Books: 7
Pages: 2655 (I'm 350 pages behind! Ack!)
If you read one, read: Passage.


Small Talk

Consider the following exchange:
You: "Hey, how's it going?"
Them: "Not bad, how about you?"
You: "Oh, pretty good."
[awkward silence]

Do you have this conversation with
a) your roommate,
b) someone you just met, or
c) someone you know, but not well?
If I'm any judge of the human condition, the answer is generally C: the person you know, but not well, or at least not well enough to have anything to talk about with. Funny how that works, ain't it?
I went to a wedding last weekend. (It was wonderful.) At the reception, I sat next to someone who knew literally no one there except the bride and maid of honor, who were both otherwise occupied, so the duty of conversation-making was left in my hands. And I was fine with that. I love talking to strangers because there's no shortage of topics available: I was able to ask about her job, her school, her family, and so on, all as part of a perfectly natural getting-to-know-each-other conversation.
Now, think of someone you've known for at least a year but never really gotten to know, and imagine plunking yourself down next to them and having that same conversation. Awkward. For reason, the length of time I've known someone and the ease with which I get to know them often wind up inversely, not directly, proportional.
It's human instinct to revert to topics where we already know at least a little bit about the other person, hence the number of homework-related conversations that go on at NSA every day of the school year. I may not know how many siblings you have or what your favorite movie is, but I do know that we both have the same massive reading assignment due this week. If you don't go to NSA, I might have to resort to that final frontier of conversations desperate for adventure: the weather. Topics like these are where small talk goes to die.
You: "So... how's that Doctrine of the Christian Life going?"
Them: "Dude, I still have to read 600 pages tonight."
You: "That sucks."
[awkwad silence, reprise]
Back during the school year, my roommate caught my attention by saying something to the effect that you know you had a good time at someone's house when you didn't just sit around talking about school. I think that's the hallmark of friendship, or at least friendship in the making: knowing the other person well enough to have something unique to talk to them about.
In fact, this argument proves its own point, since by setting out to defend small talk, I'm making indirect small talk with a friend who recently commented on how much they dislike small talk in the first place. If we weren't friends, it would just be awkward.



My favorite poem, and part of the reason this blog is called what it is.

Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the distant land,
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go, yet turning, stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell of our future that you planned:
Only remember me; you understand,
It will be late to counsel then, or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while,
And afterward remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget, and smile,
Than that you should remember, and be sad.

- Christina Rosetti