Thursday, May 17, 2012

l939 Revisited

Writers have a variety of sources for inspiration, and anytime they feel they are suffering from writers' bloc, they are especially conscious of the extent of that variety. Although the latest chapter of Not Without the Angels has generally been going well as far as I can see, the too many days previous to yesterday afternoon's installment were not a little trying, with no production, and no ideas about how to get any. A day or two off I'm very used to, even when I feel on a roll, simply because the nature of spiritual writing in itself rarely allows quantitative output, but when the days start to multiply I can get anxious. For some reason I've never completely shut down the devil trying to tell me I'm lazy as quickly as I would like to. I always beat him in the end, but the end doesn't always come as quickly as I think it should, and the bastard gets his licks in. Time wasting, of course, but this is not quite heaven, and the father of lies must be allowed his innings, I suppose.
So I have to be patient, and humbly wait to be surprised by the next source of inspiration and clarity. Do I need to prowl in a book? Will the insight come from a story in the media or a film drama? Does someone in the household have the gifted word? The parish? Or should I take another stroll downtown? Or do I simply need to wait through an extended stretch of the dark night, with or without it being connected with the latest words being run through the computer?
With yesterday's input it was mostly waiting. The day before, I did find myself coming out of the black tunnel with an idea - which turned out to be the key - but I had to wait twenty-four hours before it was anything but the barest skeleton. This was not very pleasant, but I knew I could not push the Muse around just so I could feel good at supper time.
Besides, He had decided to give me the grace to get reunited with my apprentice days and Ernest Hemingway, and I had been somewhat enjoying The Sun Also Rises. I say "somewhat" because there's an awful lot of booze and sodden company involved in that tale, and the relationship between Jake Barnes and Lady Brett is so painful, but the boy from Chicago remains a provocative stylist and I can never quite give up thinking that he could have been a great metaphysician if he read as well as he fished and hunted, and maybe given up that hogwash about bull fighters being the only men who lived life all the way up. But, as I said, he was definitely a writer's writer, as well as, for me at least, a huge insight into how to think about my own wilderness, and when I went to the computer, to see if I could move forward - I could not - I was moved to reread what I had written so far, and cut out more than one quite superfluous adjective, and then, as I said, wait a day. The neat things about the other side of the Muse is that, for a long time now, the tiniest correction has always carried so much of a mental reward, actually hard to believe.
And then came yesterday. A lot more Jake and Brett, but the promise of the trip to Spain, and then I was suddenly back to the typewriter, where some stuff I'd always known as extremely challenging to get right, actually was made to work, and I came out of it all rather buoyant, finished the modest heel of a bottle of sweet vermouth, and sat down to a very tasty supper. I couldn't help but feel that some corner had been turned, and I couldn't help but feel for some time that I might have enough bounce to follow up with what is now this post. But I didn't, because while I was waiting for the computer I read my daily ration of Marianne's poetry, and I think that left me thinking I had better wait again. Besides, it was almost time for the weather news, and then the household's evening recreation, which for the past few weeks has been the BBC series, from the books of James Herriot, All Creatures Great and Small.
The last half-dozen episodes have all carried a mention of the immanence of World War II, and last night we heard Neville Chamberlain announcing the decision to keep Britain's promise to Poland and take on Germany.
Which was precisely what I needed to remind me of the need to go on treating the Canadian Conference majority as if it were public enemy number one.
When will I stop? When their deliberations and canonical actions annihilate the ridiculous tone of our Sunday liturgies, unless of course the Pope simply bans guitars and pianos. Unlike Gregorian chant, which has within itself sufficient spirit to persuade the Holy Spirit to inspire good souls singing just a capella, the current popular slop, like AM radio, could never survive without an instrumental foundation, or at least a celebrant who so confuses noise with prayer that he takes any opportunity to perform.
The War had its Nuremberg Trials. When this nonsense is over, will we have the Liturgy Trials? Do we have enough gallows to hang all the guilty? Perhaps not. but Purgatory has lots of space, and I think God has considerable eagerness to punish those, clerical and lay, who have so blithely defied those very early words in Sacrosanctum Concilium. If, as John of the Cross insists, God will certainly
punish spiritual directors who do not do their job properly, even though they are responsible for only the tiniest fraction of the Catholic population, what can He possibly say to the leadership that has so abused just about everybody who shows up for Mass? Christ died for every man and woman of good will, not just for that little band that tries to take perfection seriously.