28 April 2013

Paper-doll hero Part II

This post is a continuation of the last one because my unofficial blog editor The Minstrel Mom told me the last part didn't make any sense. And it doesn't. But then again, neither can I adequately explain how we're all just stories in the end, why viruses are from Satan, why fairy-tales are real, why time can be re-written, how words can sound like castles, why the Universe is a quilt, why I believe there is a transultimate reality, why magic and science are one in the same thing, why you shouldn't marry me (or if you did, what life looks like a celtic knot away) and why enjoyed life doesn't make any sense. I would love to show you how all these ideas are connected (because they are, in my brain) but I have yet to succeed in taming these wayward fancies.  But for the paper-doll hero, it's important I make sense here. After all, we are dealing with the most dangerous question in all existence.

Is there any hope left in the universe?

Good question. There are good reasons why the answer could be either yes or no, and that answer defines your life.

In The Tale of Despereaux By Kate DiCamillo, a dumbo-eared mouse the size of a thimble named Despereaux has a nightmare. He dreams about a knight in shining armor. He shouts out to the shining knight, "Who are you? Will you save me?" (or something like that) The knight says to him in reply: "You know who I am." The knight raises his visor. The armor is empty.

"No! No! NO!" Despereaux screams in his sleep, tears squeezing out of his tightly shut eyes. "There IS no knight in shining armor! There IS no happily ever after!"

Reader, is there?

Why shouldn't be Jesus be another paper-doll hero? Did we invent him because the world is hopeless and humans are butterless fried eggs? Perhaps we create this patchwork goodness for ourselves out of wishful thinking, like Sara Crewe, like Calvin and Hobbes, like the woman who touched the hem of Christ's cloak.

A good atheist will stop there: we create the knight in shining armor because he doesn't exist and world is meaningless.

But you know, that doesn't make sense. Why would you invent something that doesn't exist?

That might sound like a stupid question, but as I tried to point out in my post fairy-tales are real, everything we imagine corresponds with something real. If it doesn't, you don't have a very good imagination. A very serious misconception among people is that fantasy serves as an escape from reality. It's not. It's to outline and exaggerate the beautiful nuances of a very real world.

Michael S. Den Beste

George Macdonald says that if there isn't a man in the moon, there’s something better.  I, for one, was really bummed when I found out there wasn't really a man in the moon. I still wanted to believe that the moon wore a nightcap, was shaped like toenail, and was made of cheese. It was more interesting to look at the moon that way—the actual moon was a disappointment.
I think that's missing the whole point of the man in the moon. That mental image wasn't invented to make a boring thing interesting; it's just trying to find a way to show just how cool the moon is. Why was I so disappointed there isn’t actually a man in the moon? Was I saying that a giant iron and silicon rock the size of America suspended in outer space and orbiting our planet at 2288 miles per hour is somehow less miraculous? (Magic and science are one in the same thing).

Fantasy is not projecting poetic ideas on a bland thing (the moon is boring, so let's put a man in it) it's to describe the beauty of something without losing the wonder of when you first saw it (I don't know how to explain it, but it's like a man in the moon!)

Perhaps THAT'S the whole point of art: stitching together patchwork goodness because we know it exists somewhere.

I've posted this quote before, and here it is again. It's G.K. Chesterton.

"When we speak of things being sham, we generally mean that they are imitations of things that are genuine...why should sham miracles prove that the real Saints and Prophets never lived?"

Or rather...why should the paper-doll hero prove that there is no hero?


25 April 2013

Paper-doll hero

Sometimes I feel like a half-cooked sunny-side-up baked in the pan without any butter. You know, when it never gets to the yolk and the whites got the living daylights sizzled out of them, one half running like the Nile turned to blood and the other half fried to a crisp like the planet Mercury, and the proverbial sun sets on the scarred, scorched battlefield of egg-whites and sporadically distributed bodies of pepper.

Sometimes I feel like that.

Everyone, at some point in their lives, will ask themselves the most dangerous question in all of existence. The question is inescapable. You can't prevent it any more than you can help waking up, remembering that you went to bed last night with the absurd hope that the problem would be gone in the morning. The question is this: Is there any hope in the world? Is there?

It's a dangerous question, because the answer is either yes or no.

If no, you're an Orual in a world full of Oruals, so ugly you can't even bear to see your own face, or the face of anyone else. You're a Gene Forrester in a world of Gene Forresters, living under the pretense of friendship only to somehow prove to yourself and everyone else that the world revolves around you. You're a Katniss Everdeen in an arena full of self-loving Katniss Everdeens, loving exclusively for your own happiness and fighting exclusively for your own survival. There is no beautiful Psyche, there is no uninhibited Phineas, there is no selfless Peeta. There are no heroes. So see you in hell.

If yes, here's the problem. You're not the hero. You're the damsel in distress. You've gotta fall into your savior's arms like a helpless baby, like Andromeda, like a prodigal son, sobbing and begging for mercy. But that's not the part that sucks. The part that sucks is that He actually gives you the mercy you beg for.

Milton nailed the core of human nature in one line: "Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven." Who wants to be ugly Orual? We'd rather be someone else's Psyche, even if that someone else is the devil. We're Gollums who would be more consoled if the entire world was made miserable than if we ourselves were made happy.

Any good writer knows that creating a convincing villain rarely requires any research beyond their own skin. But to defeat the villain, you've gotta search deep and wide, picking up fragmented goodness wherever you can find it and stitching it together to create your paper-doll hero. But no one is really cooked all the way through in real life--they're cracked at one end and runny at the other, so you just have to scrape them off the pan and make the most of what you've got.

I guess that's the whole point of art, or the whole point of anything, stitching together goodness that doesn't seem to exist.

I mean, as if you could make the darkness go away simply by singing a song.
As if you could climb over a mountain simply by saying "I think I can, I think I can."
As if you could be banished to the attic and live in opulence simply by imagining you were a little princess.
As if you could be healed from a fatal disease simply by reaching out and touching the hem of the cloak of Jesus Christ...
As if, as if...

What if we are not fabricating paper-doll heroes because there is no hope left in the world, but because the answer to the most dangerous question in all of existence has been and always will be an absolute and immutable YES?

18 April 2013

O Jerusalem

I know I said I was taking a break, but when it comes to writing, I do a terrible job at keeping promises. I had a crazy week of speech tournaments, quite an empty afternoon, and a lot of reading. I felt like posting a skit I wrote a while ago.  It's taken from a passage in Ezekiel (chapter 16, NASB, if you'd like to look it up) and it's something I can't keep from sharing.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy!

O Jerusalem
By Raymond Dokupil

An elderly man is sitting in a recliner on a porch, writing a book. A young girl approaches the steps with a backpack slung over one shoulder. The elderly man looks up from his book and his face lights up.
Man: Hi there princess.
Girl: [cheerfully] Hi dad.
Man: What sort of tacky clothes are those? You weren’t wearing it this morning.
Girl: What’s wrong with it?
Man: It looks like you found it off the street.
Girl: It’s in.
Man: I don’t get you.  Who buys a pair of jeans with pre-made holes?  You sure you don’t want a pair of real pants?
Girl: Says Mr. I-Only-Wear-Khaki.
Man: [smiling lovingly] I missed you today.
The father embraces his daughter. He doesn’t notice that she is wincing in pain from the embrace, but she does not say anything. She returns the embrace.
Girl: I missed you too, dad.
Father lets go and notices her knee.
Man: [shocked] are you bleeding?
Girl: [slipping trouser leg over her knee] it’s nothing. I just tripped and scraped it on the way home.
Man: Your eyes are red too.
Girl: It’s the spring air. You know I’m allergic to pollen.
She lets her backpack slip onto the bench as she continues into the house. She begins rummaging through the house as the old man returns to his book and continues conversation to the sound of her voice.
Man: So how was school?
Girl: Oh. It was good.
Man: I hope you’ve been…learning…
Girl: Yeah, it was good.  Did you finish all the leftovers?
Man: There should be something you can re-heat.
Girl: I found that. It’s gross.
Man: Then you’ll have to wait. Why are you even hungry? I packed you an extra big lunch today.
Girl re-emerges with an apple
Girl: I dunno. I’m just hungry. That’s all.
Conversation dies
Man: Make any new friends?
Girl: Uh, yeah, yeah.
Man: Well, what are they like?
Girl: Whaddya mean?
Man: Are they nice?
Girl: Friendly I guess.
 Man: What are their names?
Girl: I think you’ve met them before.
Man: I might have. What are their names?
Girl: [hesitates] I’m so tired. This apple is sour. [Tosses away] How’s the book?
Man: It’s almost finished. 
Girl: Are you ever going to let me read it?
Man: When it’s finished. But the last chapter is worrying me. I’m not sure how it’ll turn out.
Girl: [laughs] why should that worry you?
Man: Because it might not turn out alright.
Girl: [still jestingly] don’t kid yourself, dad. You should be able to decide that.
Man: [Closes book] we’ll see. But who are your friends?
Girl: [angrily] why are you so interested in my friends all the sudden?
Man: I’m only asking. You look distressed about something.
Girl: I’m not distressed.
Gets up to grab her backpack and head inside. The zipper is open, however, and as she picks it up, the contents spill out. She hastily stoops to pick them up, but the old man picks up one of the books. The girl snatches it away.
Girl: That’s recreational reading.
The man is silent.
Girl: One of my friends gave it to me. I haven’t really looked at it yet. I don’t think it’ll be that good though, anyway.
The man says nothing. The girl continues to defend herself.
Girl: I don’t even know what it’s still doing there. I meant to finish it last week. I mean, start it. But I was gonna return it. My friend though, she’s—my friends are crazy about it. It’s weird. I think they’re pretty weird. I mean, I like them, but I don’t get it.  They make me. It’s all for fun, but sometimes I don’t want to.  But they push me and annoy me about it, so I try it, and it’s actually not that bad, really. But why do you care? Why do you care about my friends? Why do you ask so many questions?
The man stands up and rests his hands on her shoulders.
Man: I’m not asking. Tell me who your friends are.
After a pause, the girl finally drops her eyes and speaks almost inaudibly.
Girl: Samaria and Sodom.
Man: Jerusalem, where have you been?
Jerusalem becomes defensive again and shakes herself from his grasp.
Jerusalem: You don’t care.
God: I do.
Jerusalem: You don’t! You hardly ever speak to me! You’re always busy writing your precious book, and you only give attention to me to punish me!
God: Jerusalem…
Jerusalem: Don’t deny it, Father.  You didn’t have to strike me down just because I touched the Ark.
God: Well next time you should read the instructions.
Jerusalem: [not listening] you nearly let me starve in the wilderness too.  Don’t forget that.
God: I saved you from Egypt.
Jerusalem: My life wouldn’t need saving if you hadn’t showed up to save it! You let me wander into trouble just to get me out of it. Because you’re vain. Because you want me to admire you. And I did.  But then you left me. You started doing things behind my back. You were gone up on Sinai for months. You didn’t look like you were coming back.  I got frightened. What else could I have done?
God: Well what did you do?
Jerusalem falls silent.
Jerusalem: I told you, I was frightened.
God: What did you do, Jerusalem?
Jerusalem: I made a golden calf. But I wanted—I wanted something to believe in.
God: Jerusalem. I trusted you.
Jerusalem: I trusted you! But you never came! You forgot me!
God: Forgot? There’s a whole lot more you’ve forgotten, daughter of Canaan.
Jerusalem: Really? Then refresh my memory.
God: I will. Your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. On the day you were born no one thought to cut your naval cord or wash you with water. You weren’t rubbed with salt or even wrapped in clothes. No eye looked with pity on you. No one had compassion on you. You were abhorred on the day you were born. They threw you out into the field. And that’s where I found you. I passed by you and saw you squirming in your blood, and I said to you, “Live!” Yes, I said to you while you were in your blood, “Live!” I bathed you with water, washed off your blood and anointed you with oil. I clothed you with embroidered cloth and put sandals on your feet, and I wrapped you with fine linen and covered you with silk. Do you remember that?
It is now Jerusalem’s turn to be silent.
God: Then you grew up, became tall and reached the age for fine ornaments, your breasts were formed and your hair had grown. I adorned you with gold and silver, and you were beautiful and advanced to royalty. Do you remember that?
Jerusalem: Yes.
God: Then your fame went forth among the nations on account of your beauty, because it was perfect. But it was only perfect because of My splendor which I bestowed on you. But you have trusted in your beauty instead. You have played the harlot against me.
Jerusalem: [terrified] how did you know?
God: I can tell when you’ve not been in school. No teacher would assign this [holding up one of her books] or this, or this, and what have you done with your jewelry? You used to wear it everywhere. But then you made for yourself male images that you might play the harlot with them. Then you took your embroidered cloth and covered them, and offered my oil and incense before them.
Jerusalem: You gave them to me. Why does it matter?
God: Were your harlotries so small a matter? You slaughtered my children and offered them up to idols by causing them to pass through the fire. You built yourself a high place at the top of every street and made your beauty abominable, and you spread your legs to every passerby to multiply your harlotry. You played the harlot with the Egyptians, your lustful neighbors, just to make Me angry.
Jerusalem: Father…
God: You adulteress wife, who takes strangers instead of her husband! How languishing is your heart while you do all these things, the actions of a bold-faced harlot! Have you forgotten when you were naked and bare and squirming in your blood?
Jerusalem: It’s hard to remember when you never talk about it.
God: I have never ceased to remind you since the day you were born.
Jerusalem: Oh God. You know what you’re doing every time I come home? You’re sitting here on this porch, writing that stupid book. And you never let me read it. What’s in that book, dad?  Tell me that.
God doesn’t answer.
Jerusalem: So don’t accuse me for keeping dark secrets.
God: You are telling me, Jerusalem. I’m only writing it down.
Jerusalem: You mean…the book…is about me?
God: And this is the last chapter.
Jerusalem: Then…you knew this would happen.
God: Let what happen?
Jerusalem hesitates and then breaks down in tears.
Jerusalem: I got—I got so hungry. I tried the Assyrian men. For all it was worth, I tried them. But it was never good enough. I would leave them in the morning and never see them again. I tried the land of merchants, Chaldea, yet even then I was not satisfied. But they found me out today.  Samaria and Sodom met me on the road this morning. The daughters of the Philistines and of Edom were with them. They pointed at me and said “Look, its Jerusalem the prostitute! Where have you been, princess? You’re lovers are looking for you. They’re all clamoring at the door of your shrine, yelling ‘Come out here harlot! Come out and face us!’” I ran back to my shrine. The sisters followed and mocked me the whole way. When I arrived at the shrine they were all gathered at the entrance, all the ghosts and faces of my past, brandishing knives and swords. They saw me. One of them pointed and said “there she is!” I tried to run, but they formed a circle around me. They stripped my dress off and slashed my body with their swords.  Some of them had stones. “We know who you are, we know you are!” they kept on saying.
As Jerusalem is speaking she is rolling of the legs of her jeans and revealing her bare arms, which are covered with wounds and clotted blood.
Jerusalem: Then they turned around and shoved me up in front of the all Philistine sisters, who jeered and spat at me. I think I must have been knocked out. When I woke up they were gone, and my house was burning to the ground. I ran and hid in the reeds for hours. I didn’t know what to do. I—I found these clothes there. They must have belonged to a tramp. I tried to cover it up the best I could, so you wouldn’t know.
God: I knew. I put the clothes there.
Jerusalem: Then you did know all along, did you? You could have said so earlier!
God: I didn’t have to. You told me yourself.
Jerusalem: So you allowed that? You just allowed it?
Jerusalem: Why didn’t you stop me!? You can’t possibly love me if you let me do whatever I like!
God: O Jerusalem, my daughter. I didn’t allow it. I ensured it.
Jerusalem: What?
God: Because you have not remembered the days of your youth but have enraged Me by all these things, behold, I in turn will bring your conduct down on your own head, so that you will not commit this lewdness on top of all your other abominations.
Jerusalem: What sort of father are you—you would risk your daughter’s life for— a lesson! To teach me a lesson!
God: Not just to teach you. You are the lesson. This book, Jerusalem. Would you like to know how it ends?
Jerusalem realizes her fate is sealed, and she falls to her knees, awaiting her judgment and doom.
Jerusalem: Yes, Father.
God: It is a book that the proverbs will quote for generations to come. The story of the girl who forgot the days of her youth, her lied and betrayed her father, and paid the penalty. It is the book that mothers will read to their children at and say “Now, children, don’t be like Jerusalem.” It is the book that wicked men will read and be consoled that they are not half as wicked as she was. But that’s not now it ends. It is the story of how she came home. Her father was sitting on the porch and writing a book.  She told him everything that day.  And that tired, wandering child fell to her knees. And you know what she said?
Jerusalem: What?
God: I don’t know. What did she say?
A new hope dawns on Jerusalem, and she lifts her eyes.
Jerusalem: She said, “Dad, I’m so hungry.”
God smiles.
Jerusalem: And what did her father say?
God: He said, “Come on inside Princess. I made a feast just for you.”

16 April 2013

The stars just don't care

Don't worry, the world isn't going to get any worse. There will always be blood in the streets and the scorched, bloated, cracked faces of underfed families. The will always be blind angry men who strap bombs to their backs and set off to ruin the lives of people they don't know for no reason, and if for a reason, because they were bored. There will always be fat, soft-handed, stupid old men who dress up in suits and watch the world burn as they sit on leather couches on the top floor of glossy glass towers, drinking fine wine and signing contracts for Lord-knows-what. There will always be the blasphemers, the false religions, the heathens, the rapists, the homosexuals, the perverted artists, the strip-teasers, the abortions, the weeping prostitutes left to die. This generation is not worse than the last and no better than the next. There will always be suffering. So stop complaining.

But yet, for some weird reason, there are men and women who still bother to fall in love, grass that still bothers to grow, and comrades who still bother to stick by each other.  The force of good is as unstoppable and relentless as the evil it opposes. There will always be men who carry the weeping women off the streets and feed them hot soup. There are always people who survive the bombs. And  there are always bombs that happen to land on the stupid old men on the top floor.

But most importantly, from the beginning to the end of history, there will always be children looking outside their bedroom windows at night. There will always be stars, and the stars don't give two cents about what's going on down here.

08 April 2013

Okay...just ONE more

I nearly forgot Merida.

It turned out better than I thought it would so I figured I might as well post it.

01 April 2013

Adventure Is Out There

Sooo...I've kinda been on a posting spree here. I can't help it. There's just so much cool stuff to talk about. But I'm going to be gone for a while, doing school and speech tournaments and stuff. HOWEVER, when I come back, I'll have A Fancy New Treat just for you guys. I won't tell you much about it, only that it won't be for a while and it involves drawing. A lot of drawing.

Speaking of which, it's kind of weird because I started this blog with the intention of writing things. It's just that I seem to think in poems and pictures and songs more than I do with words, and translating them into English is tedious. Why should I change them anyway? Why change these wayward fancies?

IN THE MEANTIME, and probably for quite a while, enjoy:


Figure A: Rapunzel

(I'm really picky when it comes to drawing girls)

Figure B: Me Russel

I kinda like this kid.

"South America. It's like America, but south."

See ya guys! I love y'all! Adventure is out there!!
-The Minstrel Boy