Saturday, July 26, 2008

KIND OF AWESOME "DARK KNIGHT" POSTERS from around the world. My favorites are this one, this one (prison), this one (credits-of-Seven-ish) and this one (sob!).

The last one is spoilerous if you know nothing about the larger DC Comics cast of characters. The others aren't.
SINCE PEOPLE ARE LOOKING FOR IT THESE DAYS... my old, long piece on Watchmen--talking about how its reworking of murder-mystery tropes is at least as radical as its reworking of superheroics; how the symmetries work; things it has in common with Shakespeare (really!--and not entirely for the best!); and forgiveness. And probably other stuff I'm forgetting. If you scroll up, there are lots of good responses as well.

More Watchmania.

And I should have another Alan Moore-related piece up sometime this week.

(If you have my copy of Watchmen... who on earth or Mars are you?? And can I have it back?)

St. Anne teaching the Virgin to read. I love these.

more! and more! and more!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

YOUR FACE IS MARKED UPON THE CLOCKFACE: An anonyreader brings up a very pertinent criticism of my liturgy/nfp post. I'm not on board with the sharp separation at the end between pragmatic discipline and spiritual discipline (it seems clear that people can make the latter also the former, and in fact, lots of people who write about nfp take exactly that approach so as to avoid the "contraceptive mentality" my correspondent notes), but otherwise, this is a good riposte to an experimental and perhaps not-so-well-considered post:
Hi Eve,

I'm not sure I follow the parallel you're trying to make in your 7/19 post. An observant Orthodox Jewish couple will I suppose ceteris paribus have a fast/feast sort of rhythm as you suggest. But an observant RC couple will generally have that only if they are self-consciously and intentionally trying to avoid having a baby, right? Which is sort of permissible but definitely not mandatory? An RC husband and wife who have sex on a haphazard and arhythmic schedule, sublimely indifferent to the odds of conception on any particular occasion, are not, I take it, being Bad Catholics. If anything, isn't there supposed to be some risk that couples who use NFP can fall prey to the negativity of the "Contraceptive Mentality" (tm) even if they act out that worldview by licit Humanae-Vitae-compliant means?

I think there from time to time in Christian history have been those who advised married couples to abstain from sex on what were otherwise fasting days or periods, I don't know with what degree of practical success. I vaguely recall some historian claiming to have determined from a review of birth records in medieval France (?) that the timing of births (minus nine months) suggested a nontrivial percentage of couples were, in fact, abstaining during Lent, but I don't know how reliable the records were and how good the methodology was (e.g. whether it controlled for the fact that marriages were not typically celebrated during Lent, meaning one would expect an uptick in first children born to newlyweds at Eastertide plus nine months and change). Taking that sort of temporal-rhythmic approach w/o focusing on the practical impact on fertility could, I suppose, have some sort of liturgical / sanctification of time benefit. But periodically abstaining from sex just to avoid conception seems rather like periodically abstaining from meat to get your cholesterol down. Maybe it's fine as a pragmatic exercise, but treating it as a spiritual discipline seems to miss (IMHO) the whole point about how fasting and ascesis is supposed to be beneficial for Christians.

(I totally almost included the thing about no weddings in Lent! If I throw enough pasta at this wall, won't some of it stick??)
10 MOST AMAZING GHOST TOWNS. Oh, that first one is amazing. Reminds me of this....

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

ARISTOPHANES SAYS, "OH PLATO. WHY SO SERIOUS?": My sister did an interview about fanfiction. I haven't listened to it yet, but I'm guessing I mostly agree with her. It's so odd to me that fanfiction seems strange to others; to me, the weird thing is coming to the close of every single story you ever read and never once thinking, "But what happened next? Oh, wouldn't it be awesome if?"

My longer post about fanfiction is here.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

RHYTHM METHOD: So I was reading about Humanae Vitae--the way you do--and I stumbled across a thing.

Both NFP and (unless I'm an internet-educated moron!) the Jewish laws of sexual behavior create a sort of rhythm of times of sexual fast and times of sexual feast. E.g. it's a mitzvah to have sex with your wife at certain times. Time is sacralized in the marital act.

And so I wondered--can anything this side of the grave be sacred without some rhythm, without some time-boundaries, some liturgical season? Is liturgy, and its inherent musical shifting between sound and silence, necessary in order for us to apprehend some hint of eternity? This seems like the sort of paradox God always goes in for, where marriage prepares us for the place where there is neither marrying nor giving in marriage....

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

TOOK YOU UP TO MIDNIGHT MASS, LEFT YOU IN THE LURCH: I realize that this whole conversation about shame might be better if I suggested an actual occasion on which I'd acted wrongly due to shame, as vs. guilt. The obvious one for me is that I don't go to Confession out of shame. I do not recommend this. I went on Saturday and it was amazingly awesome, as (almost) always. When I don't go, I get in this awful downward spiral of "it doesn't matter anyway, what's the worst thing I can do?" It's... kind of frightening, honestly, how far past your own limits you can go before the humiliation of Confession is better than the fetid crawlspace in which you're living.

Obviously, this is a failure of both guilt and shame! But the thing that stops me from coming back up to the surface is shame, and the thing that forces me to come back anyway is guilt.

I really, deeply don't believe that ethics are the sum and summit of the Christian life. If I had to pick something, I think I'd pick the Eucharist: the consummation of God's love affair with us.

And I think this rejection of ethics-uber-alles is relevant in two ways: 1) Shame is community property--the domain of ethics, the domain of humans negotiating life with humans rather than the domain of humans pouring themselves out in the humiliating, confusing, transcendent love of God; and yet 2) Deus Caritas Est is right that love of others is sturdiest when it's based on the Eucharist. I can't count the times I've finally surrendered and confessed because I had to counsel at the pregnancy center that night. Love beyond ethics strengthens ethics.

And I think that's because the Mass, the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, is the model of how to make one's life an icon of love. "Charity" gets a bad rep for condescension. I think for the people for whom it is genuinely the Wedding Feast--the people who can live at all hours within the Mass--there's no condescension. I would rather think about how to live that way than think about how to properly shame one another....
PASSION WENT OUT OF FASHION--THAT'S ALL YOU'RE CONCERNED WITH: There's an interesting catfight about gender going on in Helen's comments here. It's intra-Yalien in the most desperate way, but I think her fashion metaphor is both interesting and profound. Obviously it doesn't work in a lot of ways, but she knows that, and it's worth taking the time to walk around inside the metaphor for a while, see how it's shaped and what it changes about your views, rather than dismissing it because of the obvious ways in which it's false. Or to put it more bluntly, I think you'd have to get up early to do a critique of this metaphor which it wouldn't've already anticipated.

Also: If I had two wishes which could not be applied to anything other than debates about gender on the Interwebs, my wishes would be these: 1) You do not get to pretend that men caring for their children is obvious and unshakable, and 2) You do not get to pretend that we have made intercourse manageable. Those aren't even disagreements about what is beautiful or sublime; they just require us to acknowledge dumb basic facts about sex, pregnancy, parenthood, and children in the USA right this minute.

I'm not on her side re: shame, but you knew that.

(Well shoot, as long as I'm here, I'll also recommend Truffaut on "the Ursula Andress of militancy.")

Friday, July 11, 2008

WHAT IT MEANS TO BE DADDY: Read this--and the comments, too.
TO TERRORIZE Y'ALL'S NEIGHBORHOOD: I messed around with the blogroll, there, mostly because what I read these days is fairly random. If it's on my blogroll, rest assured I recommend it for some reason; on the other hand, I think I disagree about fundamental matters of justice, faith, or mercy with at least half of the blogs I 'roll. So please don't assume that because I link to a blog, I agree with its proprietor on all or even most issues.
SNORT THE SNOW OF YESTERYEAR: Helen glosses my tradition-addiction post.

I like these one-liners because they let you "think [one's] own thoughts in the spaces around the print," as Diana Wynne Jones said about poetry, so I won't belabor the point. I'll just say that I'd conceived my post as being about eros and its distortions; which might clarify and/or intrigue.

There are a lot of ways in which the punchline is true, and Helen's sharp final paragraph gets at one of those ways. There are probably ways in which the punchline is false, although I'm not yet convinced by her approach there.
OUR ANCIENT ENEMY, THE SUN: A list of "13 memorable movies set during heat waves." I hadn't remembered that Rear Window counts; I'm not sure if that should disqualify it. Do the Right Thing (my first thought) clocks in at #6.
I FIGHT TO THE FINISH: Some adventures with a large bag of baby spinach.

1. Too tart! First, I made a toasted cheese sandwich. I split a mealhada roll in half crosswise and then lengthwise, filled the halves with sweet onion, spinach, and cranberry goat cheese, wrapped them in aluminum foil and baked at 375 for fifteen minutes.

verdict: not quite. This was way too acidic--I'd hoped that the different sharpnesses would blend, but instead they just clashed. At least one of these elements needed to be gentler. If I had it to do over, I might try caramelizing the onion on the stovetop first; or, obviously, using plain goat cheese rather than cranberry; or using mozzarella with maybe a thin coating of cranberry sauce.

2. Too bland! Another toasted sandwich, this time with onion, lots and lots of spinach, and munster. This was fine, I suppose, but kind of boring. Mushrooms would have helped, I'm thinking especially shiitake; also cayenne; but even so, I think it needed something more, maybe artichoke hearts or something. Or soy sauce?? I don't know about soy sauce and cheese, though.

3. Juuuuuuust right. The great thing about soup is that you can really throw just about anything together and it'll be good. I set salted water to boil, sliced the kernels off a corncob into a saute pan with some salted butter (I know you're supposed to use unsalted for greater control of seasoning--I never do, which is why I rarely mention adding salt to soups and things), chopped a tomato I think, threw in some minced garlic and a lot of dried herbs and spices (in about this order, to the best of my recollection: basil, black pepper, cayenne, rosemary, thyme, sage, cinnamon), added a big shloop of whole milk, and cooked all of that for a bit.

When the water boiled, I added fusilli and cooked halfway, then drained the pasta and put it in the saute pan. I added quite a bit of crab stock and stirred and cooked until the pasta was al dente, then threw the rest of the spinach in and cooked until it wilted. There may also have been cheese? Probably habanero jack cheese, if so.

Anyway, this was totally delicious--sort of like a cross between minestrone and chowder. The crab flavor definitely came through, but it worked with the other ingredients. Mmmmmm, soup.
SURVEY, SCHMURVEY: A neat survey of how widespread Yiddish and Hebrew terms are in everyday speech. They're especially looking for non-Jewish participants. I'm skeptical of online surveys as a rule, of course, but this is a fun one, so regardless of its scholarly value it might be interesting to you all.
TERRIFIC photos of the Fourth of July as seen from a rooftop on the Lower East Side.
"What, when drunk, one sees in other women, one sees in Garbo sober."
--Kenneth Tynan; via Ratty
WHITE LIES/BLOW AWAY: Traditionalism without religion is addiction.
BABY'S ON A MISSION: GetReligion looks at a fascinating article about whether short-term mission trips really do more for their participants' spiritual lives than e.g. short-term LSD trips. The comments are also really, really interesting, which is why I'm linking you to GR rather than to the initial article.

ps: Apparently the cd I wanted to link y'all to, in the title of this post, has never existed. Uh, if you ever get a chance to pick up the Huggy Bear/Bikini Kill (very much in that order, for me) split record, you grab it and tell 'em I sent you.

[eta: Sorry! The Post article is actually primarily about the effect of short-term mission trips on the material well-being of the people on whom the missionaries are sprung. But the GR comments get into the spiritual issues on both sides....]
MARVELS. Mexican immigrants as superheroes. You do have to push through a bit of left-wingery--not to mention the fact that the actual immigrants do not get to talk (unless I'm missing something on the website), because that's progressive?--but this art project still really hit my heart. Check it out.

M to the A to the S to the K,
Put the mask 'pon mi face just to make the next day....
I began, even as a child, to learn water's order,
and, as I grew intact, the feel of its warmth
in a new sponge, of its weight in a virgin towel.
I have earned my wine in another's misery,
when rum bathed a sealed throat
and cast its seal on the ground.

--Jay Wright, "Journey to the Place of Ghosts"

Thursday, July 03, 2008

A man should be the mister,
And be the master of his sisters;
A man should be the drake,
For his blogwatch sake...

Uh, hello again. Things have been strange here, and I've had little to say, but I think that your respite from all things Eve will soon be over. For now, here are some other people saying stuff.

Sheepcat: David "Way, Way Beyond Gay" Morrison's Sed Contra archives are now available. There's quite a bit of good stuff in there.... David's approach is often different from mine, but he's also written a lot of stuff I've found really illuminating--I didn't even realize I'd latched on to the story of the rich young man (mentioned in my Commonweal piece) because he wrote about it.

And via Mark Shea, the jurisprudential theory of Cthulhu:
Supreme Court judges: Great Cthulhu is well accustomed to the adoration of priests wearing black robes and he is willing to accept the due homage of the Nine and raise them to his priesthood. Since there will no doubt be many vacancies on the court as their minds break one after another in the mad ecstacy of his fearful presence, Great Cthulhu pledges to appoint only strict Constitutional constructionists to the bench under the assumption that the basic sanity of their approach should allow them to serve at least a term year or two before they are reduced to gloriously gibbering cannibals. Because Great Cthulhu spent many years himself neither living nor breathing, he sees no reason that the Constitution must either.


I also have a quick comment at MarriageDebate on that Newsweek "kids don't make you happy" piece--really more about the difference between happiness and meaning, cf. the end of this post.

Also, if any of you all have read Alan Moore & Oscar Zarate's A Small Killing, and have thoughts about it, I'd love to hear them--I'm writing a piece on it today, and good chewy comics criticism is hard to find.
TODAY IS THE FEAST OF ST. THOMAS. Celebrate by pouring out your doubts in prayer before the Eucharist!