Good & Evil : E.E. Cummings & Rae Armantrout

maybe god

is a child
‘s hand)very carefully
to you and to
me(and quite with
out crushing)the

papery weightless diminutive

with a hole in
it out
of which demons with wings would be streaming if
something had(maybe they couldn’t
agree)not happened(and floating-
ly int


-E.E. Cummings

Theodicy has been too long in the hands of philosophers. Men with minds least likely to enter heaven are ill equipped to deal with the issue. Poets do better with their deep play. ”Amen, I say unto you, unless you turn and become as children you will not enter the kingdom of heaven,” saith the man from Nazareth. Here, Cummings, in the voice of a child, posits the  problem of evil and its resolution. Maybe god is a child’s hand bringing to us the world out of which demons would be streaming had he not placed his hand into it. [Here is a more full discussion of the above poem]


I was reminded of Cummings’ poem when I read the following poem by Rae Armantrout:


My dreams are cruel
children. They taunt me.
I dream I’m telling a story
the punch line of which
will involve deviled eggs.
                           I’m saying
some idiot
asked me where they originated.
I found that funny
or unfair.
Launched into this anecdote,
this dream, this poem,
I’m already worried. Now I see
the pair I’m addressing
have put their heads together,
hatching something,
over the crosswords.
A joke, of course, is a story that has a punchline, but what joke ends with deviled eggs? Perhaps: what does the devil eat for breakfast? or more likely: from where does the devil come? This is the question of the poem: whence evil? In the dream, the speaker is telling the joke and some “idiot” asks the origin of “deviled eggs” (the ole chicken or the egg dilemma). The speaker finds this funny/unfair; funny because the idiot is missing the point, unfair because the pursuit of theodicy is not for bullies.

Launched into this telling, the speaker records two people putting “their heads together” to solve a problem (perhaps butting their heads? there’s the idiot, but who is the other addressed?), “hatching” something over “the crosswords”. The scene is the kitchen table, the newspaper before them, and the idiot and the other are solving (resolving) a problem over over the crossword puzzle, but there’s more than that. In her economy Armantrout has excised ”puzzle” and rather than say “crossword” she uses “the crosswords”. So the idiot and the other entity are indeed opposed, using cross words, angry words, to solve this problem of evil. But perhaps even further these crosswords are the words of the Cross, the answer, perhaps the punchline to the problem of evil.

The speaker here, searching for answers, taunted by dreams (no doubt “chicken! chicken!”), feels the anxiety, feels the puzzle and gives us the yearning for these answers, the resolution, for the final waking.

Alex Garland : Sunshine

Alex Garland, the screenwriter of Sunshine:
“Aside from being a love letter to its antecedents, I wrote Sunshine as a film about atheism. A crew is en route to a God-like entity: the Sun. The Sun is larger and more powerful than we can imagine. The Sun gave us life, and can take it away. It is nurturing, in that it provides the means of our survival, but also terrifying and hostile […] Ultimately, even the most rational crew member is overwhelmed by his sense of wonder and, as he falls into the star, he believes he is touching the face of God. But he isn’t. The Sun is God-like, but not God. Not a conscious being. Not a divine architect. And the crew member is only doing what man has always done: making an awestruck category error when confronted with our small place within the vast and neutral scheme of things. The director, Danny Boyle, who is not atheistic in the way that I am, felt differently. He believed that the crew actually were meeting God. I didn’t see this as a major problem, because the difference in our approach wasn’t in conflict with the way in which the story would be told.”


poster via

The Best Juice There Is : Julio Franco

After former major leaguer Andy Van Slyke said that 45-year-old Brave Julio Franco must be on steroids, Franco said the only thing he’s on is the power of devout faith.

“Julio Franco is 46 years old [sic] — I’ve got to believe he’s on it,” Van Slyke told host Rick Barry on KNBR, the San Francisco Giants’ flagship radio station, on Wednesday.

Told of those comments Thursday, Franco smiled and said, “Tell Andy Van Slyke he’s right — I’m on the best juice there is. I’m juiced up every day, and the name of my juice is Jesus.

“I’m on His power, His wisdom, His understanding. Andy Van Slyke is right. But the thing he didn’t mention was what kind of steroids I’m on. Next time you talk to him, tell him the steroid I’m on is Jesus of Nazareth.”


I Do Twitter Jokes Again

I’m going to start doing twitter jokes again, I think. I burned myself out last time, but I’m feeling reenergized. Here are a few of my favs from last year:

The Christmas Toy Story

In 1986 the Jim Henson Company put out a little made for television movie named The Christmas Toy. The movie is summarized thusly:

When no people are around, the toys still play in the playroom. But since a toy will be frozen forever if a person catches it out of position, they have to be very careful. It’s Christmas Eve, and Rugby the Tiger remembers how he was the favorite Christmas toy last year and wants to be the favorite again this year, so as not to be replaced by another toy. However, he doesn’t stop to think that if Jamie unwrapped him again this year, she’d see him out of his normal place that she usually puts him and he’d be frozen forever. It’s up to Apple the Doll, whom Rugby supplanted as favorite toy, to tell him what’s in store. But Rugby won’t believe her, and tries to get into the Christmas package and lets Meteora, Queen of the Asteroids loose. Unfortunately, she doesn’t know she’s a toy, and thinks she’s landed among aliens. And it’s up to Apple, Mew (the Cat’s toy mouse), and the other toys to get Rugby out of the box and Meteora back in it before they’re found and frozen forever.

Seems a little bit familiar: