Sunday, June 7, 2015


There's a part of Chapter 10 of The Devil is Dead that is one of my favorite passages in all of the Lafferty that I've read so far. I've written in the past, here and on FB, about how much I love Lafferty's joyous deaths, his raucous goodtime violence. One of my favorite theologians has commented on pacifism that its chief problem is that it misplaces the antithesis, replacing a struggle between Righteous (Seed of the Woman) and Unrighteous (Seed of the Serpent) with a struggle between Righteous (Peaceniks) and Unrighteous (Warmongers). In the former story, the Righteous community enjoys headcrushing and has a limp from all the wrestling it does. In the latter story, headcrushing and wrestling are always forms of oppression and inherently evil. Lafferty was no pacifist.

Needless to say, Lafferty's violence is a full-bodied Ancient violence, lusty and good. But that's not to say that all violence and all death in Lafferty's worlds is always a positive good. There IS a violence and a death that is a sundering of created good. Even a proper recognition that this type of death and violence is impermanent and a less full instance of reality, an unfinished business as it were, is not enough to ease the hearts of those who experience such a thing.


  A lady took Finnegan to a near house. There he saw Anastasia his dead sister. She still had the smile of a happy pixie and her eyes were only half closed. They had put her on a sofa there. She had been shot once only. She had been wet.
  "She fell off the breakwater when she was shot," someone said. "She was dead when we pulled her out."
  An orthodox priest was there. "I gave her the last rites," he said. "Then I wondered if she had become a Roman. She had a Roman rosary. Do you know?"
  "No. She was not a Roman. I gave her the rosary," Finnegan said.
  This was all too matter-of-fact.
  "You had better go and hide," the priest told him. "They plan to find you and kill you also. You and the big man they are looking for. It is dangerous for you to be down here."
  The priest told Finnegan several other things that he did not quite understand with his insufficient Greek.
  Finnegan slipped away with Manuel up the hill. Finn had all this time carried a gin bottle in his hand, the same that he had taken up on the mountain as a sovereign against premonitions. He had carried it through the rough climb down the mountain, through the alley off the street of the dead men, into the house where his sister was dead, and up onto the mountain again.
  "I must be depraved," he said.
  But he didn't throw it away.


All of Chapter 10 is remarkable (as is the whole novel) and I recommend that you read or re-read it.

A friend died a few weeks ago, suddenly, unexpectedly. I didn't see her face at or after her death but I imagine it like this: "She still had the smile of a happy pixie and her eyes were only half closed."


Apologies to anyone who was following along with my Klepsis project. I won't be finishing my Klepsis "live-tweeting" and I probably won't post about it here again until I've finished the whole thing.

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