It’s Holy Week, so I’m ignoring the world’s current self-inflicted death spiral (it’s like we need a Savior or something!) to post a trivial updates:
A. The Garden. We have a dwarf fig tree up front. I totally get why sitting in the shade of your own fig tree is one biblical image of what peace and happiness looks like on earth.
Nation will not lift up sword against nation,
And never again will they train for war.
Each of them will sit under his vineMicah 4:3-4
And under his fig tree,
With no one to make them afraid,
For the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.
Have 5 tomatoes in the ground; transplanted some vigorous and lovely oregano that took over a planter several years ago; threw some basil, string beans and okra in the ground. Have a couple spots earmarked for potatoes and sweet potatoes – and that’s it for the space this year. The last remaining major segment of the Never-ending Insane Brick Project of Doom will provide about 30′ of 18″ wide beds that I’m planning to sneak some vegetables in. But that’s about all – space has been maximized unless I want to start cutting down walnut trees – and I don’t.
B. Marrying off the the Middle Son. Got tickets and rented a van for a week for an extended end-of-May trip for our son’s wedding. He and his fiancé live in and will be married in a Fauxvid-panicked state – veritable feet from the border of a much more sane state. The wedding will be held in an out of the way location, with the reception just across the border from Karin and her pals (we sincerely hope). This will be our second child married off during the current insanity. At least this time, plans are unlikely to change by the minute.
Americans are not the stupidest people in recorded history, I keep telling myself, evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. We have been trained for this moment of mindless terror-stricken conformity for at least the last 50 years. This is the payoff moment for decades of schooling: we are all getting a Gold Star for remembering to raise our hands and ask for permission to go to the bathroom.
Sorry. Forgot we’re not bickering over ‘o killed ‘o at the moment. This is a happy occasion!
C. Rereading Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, for story ideas for additional stories in the White Handled Blade universe (Universe? Neighborhood might be a more accurate term). Read as history, it’s fascinating and depressingly realistic:
- King – Uther Pendragon – dies without a obvious legitimate heir;
- After a couple chaotic decades during which various kings, in the traditional Roman sense of a leader who the armed men will follow, and other lords vie for power in the vacuum, a (another?) candidate is proposed – a nobody hardly anyone has heard of.
- This nobody is backed by the Church, allegedly backed by a heavenly/magical sign.
- The sign is repeated over the course of months, until enough knights can be assembled to back the claimant.
- The new ‘king’ and his men then fights battle after battle, defeating other kings and their knights,
- who either submit to Arthur’s rule – cry ‘mercy’ and are sent to Arthur to pledge their fealty – or are killed.
- Arthur rules from the saddle, with a number of courts spread around his realm.
- After a while, enough kings and knights have been brought to heel for Arthur to be able to send knights on quests of one sort or another. Ruling from the saddle by proxy
- A story begins to circulate that he really is the legitimate heir, but, for his safety, had to be raised in secret once his mother and father were dead until he was of age.
The mandate of Heaven clearly rests upon him – but he’s doomed by his incestuous infidelity in fathering a son, then pulling a Herod to try to get rid of Mordred. (Thus, Sophocles and Scripture testify to his doom!)
The second striking part are the layers of anachronism. Malory is painting Arthur like a 1950s author might paint the Founding Fathers, projecting back on them the romanticized versions learned through myth and morality tales. The chivilary imagined for the centuries preceding the compilation is read into the stories. Yet his source materials hardly admit of such – these are violent men committing violent crimes once or twice a page, and getting away with it. Further, Arthur retains signs of what he was supposed to be: a Roman/Celtic king/chieftain. Further further, the sources have all sorts of magical and frankly irrational elements in them.
Malory mixes up a stew, in which knights, supposedly bound by a largely imaginary chivalry already ancient in Malory’s time, pursue often incoherent adventures involving magical creatures and appalling behaviors, lopping off heads left and right, as it were.
And it kind of works! He’s a better storyteller than he sometimes get credit for.
D. Writing continues at a somewhat slower pace. More on that later, world’s suicidal death spiral permitting.