prisonship seasonal phonics (prisonship forensic rorschach)

(bumped up, because this is a great thread.)

Voluntary Short Essay Assignment for Readers/Froonds

(subtitled, say something about Advent)

please respond by including 2 of the 4  recently-overheard terms, fragments, sentiments, motifs, etc., within a brief blurb on the topic of …Advent.

  1. “joy”
  2. “self-loathing”
  3. “irreverence”
  4. “fantasy”

And so it stays just on the edge of vision,
A small, unfocused blur, a standing chill
That slows each impulse down to indecision.
Most things may never happen: this one will,
And realisation of it rages out
In furnace-fear when we are caught without
People or drink. Courage is no good:
It means not scaring others. Being brave
Lets no one off the grave.
Death is no different whined at than withstood.

from Philip Larkin, Aubade

Posted in foom. 25 Comments »

25 Responses to “prisonship seasonal phonics (prisonship forensic rorschach)”

  1. evil r + b guy Says:

    uh, well — the “Christmas spirit”. What if I acknowledge somehow that those advent calendars with chocolates for each day somehow related directly to my joy and fantasies about Christmas during this season as a little kid?

  2. lexdexter Says:

    did you eat them chocolates, boy?

  3. evil r + b guy Says:

    yes, daddy, I ate em’. They were reaaaaaall good.

  4. lexdexter Says:

    did you eat them one-by-one, on a daily basis, ben? or did you cheat?

  5. lexdexter Says:

    my advent fantasies/memories involve perfunctory weekday church services. the otherwise empty, grey-on-grey, stone church, sprinkled with 9 and 10 year-old girls and chaps. a certain self-loathing emerges, if only that brought on by the polyester pantaloons that were standard issue. Nuns everywhere.

    Advent doesn’t make me think of Christmas, as such. rather, i think of the weird village scenes portrayed on the calenders, and i note the worlds between THEIR joyful sing-song community of the non-existent past and the drab and wise-assed contours of MY day-to-day shit. MY mystic secularism, which is, i guess, my half-envisioned “socialism.”

    But having your own socialism in 2008 is about as distinguished as having a back tattoo (or “back plate”) with the Primus logo.

    fa la la la la.

  6. evil r + b guy Says:

    Man, I liked the whole chocolate bit at about the same time that My Side of the Mountain was a fantastic idea to me. Middle period Elementary School I think — 3rd or 4th grade.

    Episcopal Church in my youth had the feeling of dated fabric on the pew stools, singing along to some pipe organ, casseroles, and the weird ernest looks on the faces of the people who normally were playing golf or honing business practices in as profitable way as possible. Or kids who played football or smoked cigarettes behind the corner of the building and taught me to do it, too.

    My mysticism comes from an embarrassing bridge from 60’s psychedelia to French poetry and Aldous Huxley shite.

  7. evil r + b guy Says:

    BTW, I occasionally drop a Primus reference on the day job.

  8. Elvira Says:

    Alright, a sincere response. I don’t have many memories of advent as a child. Maybe we had a calendar occasionally. Now that I teach children, advent is something I spend more time thinking about. I don’t talk about it much to my 7 and 8 year olds, but we have an event every year called the advent spiral or advent garden. I described it on returntograss a couple of years ago. Briefly: in a very dark room, the children find their way along an evergreen spiral toward one center candle to light another and place it along the path. Eventually, the room is lit by the collection of candles placed along the the path. I have found it to be a beautiful event, and it has been a joy to watch the children proceed more confidently and capably over the course of a few years. It’s really nice to watch them take this up rather seriously considering the irreverence that is often present in our culture. Next year (I move with my class), we will retire from this festival, so it was special knowing it was the final year in this form and perhaps for good.

  9. gabbagabbahey Says:

    I don’t remember ever actually having a calendar with the chocolates in it, though I’m familiar with the idea. It seems a bit indulgent. (I guess that comes under the heading of ‘self-loathing’, but I’m coming from the Protestant perspective here).

    ‘perfunctory weekday church services’. definitely some indulgent self-loathing there. my experience was seeing the advent candles once a week (I assume they were lit on a daily basis, though) in the hour-long Sunday service. pretty much matches r+b guy’s description, except for the casseroles.

    as for fantasy, I do remember a children’s book about a kid called Joachim who had a magic advent calendar, and every door he opened allowed him access to a story about a girl who travelled back in time (in stages) from 1940s Norway to Bethlehem. now that was weird.

  10. Wilbro Says:

    Do you think that advent calendars are made at the same place they make other stuff? Surely the entire factory isn’t dedicated solely to churning out advent calendars year-round. There’s gotta be something else to fill the gaps. Fortune cookies, maybe?

  11. lexdexter Says:

    this thread is everything i hoped for it to be.

    elvira, i dunno what to say except “that’s beautiful.” my head-shrinker made a weird comment about my “irreverence” the other day, and i’ll be damned if i don’t find myself envying your students for their proximity to positive ritual life. chances are they won’t even realize how important it is/was until years down the road. you educator, you!

    wilbro, i bet there are weird print shops that do advent calenders and other seasonal jobs, but hopefully also movie one-sheets for stuff like “Kangaroo Jack” and the Metallica documentary.

    gabba, it’s scary to think of time traveling backwards in stages. but it’s nice to see how you and R+B remain relatively unscathed from xianity, despite prolonged and (in r+b’s case) willing exposure to it.

    i used to think that “mysticism” and i had a future together. but you wouldn’t know it from my internal monologue these days. that probably means some real “black mass”-style and/or “liminal” shit is about to come down any second.

    or am i rather crudely conflating mysticism, ritual and the occult, here?

  12. lexdexter Says:

    is it time for me to dust off the old copy of The Exorcist?
    book or movie? the only way i might be able to handle it is with the Friedkin commentary. somehow he soothes me.

  13. Wilbro Says:

    “…my head-shrinker made a weird comment about my “irreverence” the other day, and i’ll be damned if i don’t find myself envying your students for their proximity to positive ritual life…”

    WOW. This guy sounds good. REALLY good. All mine does is feed me pills that make me sluggish and lethargic (and sometimes impotent!). I’ve begun to feel more like a science experiment in growing living flesh than someone who’s really getting a lot out of their psych. “Working through” and all, ya know.

  14. Wilbro Says:

    Oh yeah, one more thing: this is kind of like “stooping to the Next Level,” but check my blog. It’s back. I’ve been updating it. A lot. But no comments ‘cept for Drew P. Is it that my posts just suck or the hiatus I took from blogging (i.e., l’hopital) made my readers look elsewhere?

  15. gabbagabbahey Says:

    I just read the AV Club interview with Damien Abraham of Fucked Up, and he self-describes as formerly a ‘lapsed Anglican’, and now an agnostic. I think that’s pretty cool. Although the joke over here is that being Anglican is pretty much halfway to being agnostic in the first place!

    the last time I was in my Anglican church (a big 140-yr old Gothic suburban tree-lined hangover from the Union) was probably the 11.30pm Christmas Eve service; and I remeber reading the creeds and trying to see if I could understand them metaphorically (or ‘liminally’) and say them honestly. I think the answer was probably no…

  16. evil r + b Says:

    I’m also a member of the lapsed Anglican/now agnostic bracket. I haven’t been to a church service in about ten years.

  17. gabbagabbahey Says:

    I meant to say, Christmas last year. so, fairly long ago, but not decade-long.

  18. lexdexter Says:

    are Fucked Up a bunch of britons? that changes everything! (ha)

  19. Wilbro Says:

    Are there a lot of Anglicans in the South? Where are big concentrations of Anglican parishes in the U.S. (and, are they even called parishes in the Anglican church?). As a Catholic-turned-agnostic dude who did 12 years cold, hard time in parochial school in the South (preschool all the way through h.s.! that’ll leave a mark, let me tell you), I really don’t know anything about Protestant-related stuff, even though I went to a Episcopal undergrad school (though never really learned much about it there, either, as I tended to avoid All Saint’s-based functions). I vividly remember being in Smith’s adjacent dorm room my freshman year (we were suitemates) and disclosing the fact that I was born Catholic. One of the people in the room then announced to everyone: “Catholic?!?! HA! Weird.” Yeah, he made my Death Warrant list.

  20. gabbagabbahey Says:

    given that Fucked Up are from Canada, it guess it makes more sense that the guy would be Anglican. As I understand it, the Episcopal Church in the US is the regional part of the global Anglican Communion. I can see that word not being very popular since the 1770s.

    another word, “disestablishmentarianism” – one of the longer words in the English dictionary, and integral to the political history of the Anglican Church. I’m still part of the ‘Church of Ireland’, even though 90% of the population belongs to the other, ‘Roman’ church.

    so to answer Willbros’ question, it’s the same – parishes and dioceses up to the national level, at least in the British Isles.

    And Gene Robinson (first openly gay + consecrated Anglican bishop) was from Massachusetts, right? not that he would be a typical example, south or north, though.

  21. gabbagabbahey Says:

    my bad – Robinson was New Hampshire. Mass. was where a congregation disaffialiated itself from the Anglican Communion on the issue.

  22. lexdexter Says:

    as i mentioned previously, the whole lot of other commenters in this thread and I attended an Episcopal university.

    while i couldn’t attempt to summarize the history of the Communion since the (American) Revolutionary War, i will share this bit of anecdotal testimony from my college days: when the Archbishop of Canterbury visited Sewanee, he was placed on the cover of the University magazine, and the entire Sandstone cathedral was filled to standing-room-only (mebbe 1,000 people?). however, when Paul Muldoon visited, there were about fifty of us there at best.

    all this to say, it’d seem that Episcopo-Anglican exchange is, at very least, far more energetic and dialogical than the state of contemporary poetry. in the deep South, at least.

  23. evil r + b guy Says:

    But a cadre of drunken would-be poets attended many a session in other campus locations. And two students got into trouble for having sex in the same aformentioned cathedral.

    • lexdexter Says:

      But a cadre of drunken would-be poets attended many a session in other campus locations.

      i recall one memorable meeting of this cadre, in a hallowed “Reading Room” at St. Luke’s Hall. on the nod during a literary magazine workshop, Minx filed a long necked pabst among the letters of Robert Penn Warren, and I splintered off with him to behold his advanced driving tactics.

      i’d like to show some of that footage to a focus group of the Archbishop of Canterbury and Paul Muldoon.

  24. Wilbro Says:

    Oh yeah. That DID happen, didn’t it?

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