Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Death to Everyone, or, 3 Suggestions for Masters Theses, or, "Any action in which I am prepared to lose my life resembles war."

"Electric circuitry has overthrown the regime of "time" and "space" and pours upon us instantly and continuously the concerns of all other men." -Marshall McLuhan

"It’s a border-town tale, a narrative of liminal spaces: the estranging distance between the relative safety of the town and the folkloric weirdness of the countryside, and beyond that the line of the border itself—possibly the Rio Grande between Del Rio, Texas, and Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, if a real rather than idealized geography is in view. But it also exists within the liminal space between realism and fantasy: almost as if, at this early stage, Lafferty has to establish where that line might be, before he can charge directly across it."
                                                -Andrew Ferguson, on "Cabrito"

"Pope Pius II wrote frankly in his "History of Frederick III": "States cannot alter their borders except by war." Several years ago Prime Minister Kekkonen of Finland met with Khrushchev and tried to ask him if little Karelia (the border province between Finland and Russia, lost in 1939) which was sorely missed by the Finns, might not be returned to Finland. Khrushchev who liked Kekkonen very much (Kekkonen visited him in Crimea every year) smiled and answered: "Mr. Kekkonen, you ought to know from history that the borders between states can only be changed by war." People in the world today don't like to hear this, but I think that both the Renaissance Pope and the last Russian Czar are right."
                                                 -Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, from Planetary Service

I have just finished The Medium is the Massage by McLuhan/Fiore. I am currently several chapters into ERH's Planetary Service. I am always thinking of Lafferty. Specifically, right now, I am halfway through Archipelago.

Planetary Service is about a future of peace, of what it means to live in a world post-war, and how borders can ever be challenged and changed without war.

ERH does give honor to borders, to their historic importance, but it is also clear that he is ready for their abolition.

"This contradiction lies across my entire generation: we were all soldiers for the borders of our countries, and we were all already burned by the insight that many borders would have to fall. And these are the words about borders which Peguy left us before his death: "And must I, to rescue from eternal flames the bodies of the damned who despair in torment, give up my own body unto the eternal fire, then, God, throw me into these eternal flames: and need I, to save from the torment those souls damned to stay forever distant, and who despair in their estrangement from You, let my own soul stay estranged, then let my own soul move into the eternal distance, for we can only save our souls together." Here you have one of God's heroes who will not leave any borders standing, not even the borders of hell. And everyone should first pause, considering Peguy's battle, and this contradiction. Only then shall we become serious."

Thesis #1. Lafferty's work exists on borders and boundaries, often charging directly across them.


Archipelago is Lafferty's most explicit war novel. Yet, somewhere along the writing process he forgot to include the war in the novel. I remember reading that Lafferty acknowledged this somewhere. I don't remember where.

This afternoon, I listened to this podcast:

Philip and Carol Zaleski wrote a book about the Inklings. Listening to them in this podcast, I didn't learn anything that I didn't already know. BUT! I did take pause when they mentioned that Tolkien and Lewis and all of the other writers in the Inklings were War writers even though they are not often categorized as such. Again, nothing new. But it made me realize that not enough attention is given to Lafferty as a war writer.

Most of the Inklings were WWI vets. Lafferty was a WWII vet. ERH and others make the point that this entire period of world civil war was all a continuation of the same. Both WWI and WWII vets had to deal with many of the same struggles. A new world ensued.

Unfortunately, most of us engaged in any sort of lit crit (pro or armchair) don't know a thing at all about risking our lives for anything. Most of us do not know the sort of heightened fellowship and camaraderie of men at war.

"The disappearance of war threatens us with the loss of the ability to distinguish between play and seriousness. Let us admit openly: war is the prime example of deadly earnestness, absolute earnestness. Any action in which I am prepared to lose my life resembles war." -ERH

Thesis #2. Lafferty is a war writer. Losing life is just the beginning.


"World and soul join one another, that is they must join in order to provide meaning. For the world is meaningless. The world would just be uncreated chaos were it not for those who stood up with their lives to provide meaning; every time anew it would become an uncreated chaos in which speech decayed and every border became insurmountable. Chaos does not precede God's creation. No, chaos occurs when we little devils abolish God's word." -ERH

Thesis #3. Chaos occurs when we little devils abolish God's word.



I wrote all of the above a month or so ago. I never did return and shape it into anything more cohesive or convincing. Scratches and sketches. I present it here just the same. Blah.

I'm not sure exactly where I was going with the last one. I think maybe that I was grasping at instances in which Lafferty touches on ACTIVE world-building and that world-destruction is just as real an activity. Maybe.

Yesterday, I started reading E.M. Cioran's The Trouble With Being Born.

Cioran: "Unmaking, decreating, is the only task man may take upon himself, if he aspires, as everything suggests, to distinguish himself from the Creator."

Yesterday evening, a friend killed himself. And sure enough, I along with him am shattered, unmade.

So it goes.

"We'd just as soon drink whiskey tonight, and beer tomorrow," said Finnegan.

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