It is the second day of Lent and I’m not sure I should share my thoughts. Forgive me if not. But I want to be a writer, and I am a truth lover, and I don’t want to expose other people. You know, Charles Dickens was masterful with his characterizations. The last daughter and I were watching an episode of Little Dorrit, the newish BBC version, last evening and I don’t remember having caught the gatekeeper’s son’s fixation on his own death. He was constantly romanticizing what would be inscribed on his tombstone. When he had hope, it was a beautifully touching lifelong devotion to his wife. When he lost it, it was a weeping lament of his early death. This shows more of a devotion to sentiment than to a person.
Anyhow, I suppose Mr. Dickens personified flaws, but I have heard that some of his characters were based on real people. That almost seems dirty pool. And I wonder if he ever got in trouble for it. This is one reason I think it’s better to write about onesself. Then they’ll accuse you of narcissism, but at least you’re not bringing anyone else down with you. I suppose one could focus on particular faults in general, but John Cassian has already done that, and it can sound preachy by one who isn’t a preacher. I kind of like the old preaching lady in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford, but again, it’s been done, and she is sort of negatively portrayed, even though she’s quaint and beloved.
I don’t mind rewording complicated things that I learn because then I feel I am sharing the joyous process of discovery and translating it into my own idiom. Idiomization however, can be criticized too, especially in Orthodoxy. Not that I’m being imaginative, which much has been written about, but I am maybe making things more fluid than they are taught. This is why there is a feud between me and academics. I mean a bloody feud. I mean a deep-seated, generational, geographical, out and out war with no prisoners. Even though some of the people I most wish I were friends with are academics. But I can’t be friends with them because we can’t stand what each other is fighting for. I’m a martyr for non-academicness even though they are the ones I learn from. I’m Joan of Arc and they are the inquisition who made her say things in order to take communion. I mean it. It’s been too long since I read the subtitles to the Maria Falconetti silent film that was taken from the actual proceedings so I don’t remember if what they told her to say was valid or not. It wasn’t valid in her situation, but it probably would have been good things to say in the proper context. This is why I listen to academics. They say the right things, but in the wrong way and to the wrong people and with the wrong emphasis and dogmatism. Way way way way way way way wrong.
So, you say, do you think everything you say could hold up to such scrutiny? Yes, and here’s why. Their rigidness is what makes them wrong. If words are jelly and you think they are steel then the implications are much different. Jelly!!! they scream. You are a post-modern, relativistic, amoral, unorthodox, prideful, convictionless, gnostic, deconstructionist! No, I’m half and half. I have no home. They don’t like me either. I am a structuralist where the structures are concrete, beautiful, eternal and necessary: but we can walk through them. And we can walk on water. And we can make heirs out of stones. So both of you can throw your stones at me but they will pass through. Which is more concrete, me or the stones? Whichever I want to be, but neither way will kill me. And I will probably feel more peaceful gathering those stones about me than with you.
Nevertheless I forgive you and hope you forgive me.