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An Attempt

In lieu of disclaimer, I will merely announce to the group and to the world my present situation, and allow it to be interpreted any way the group and the world sees fit:

Last Friday was my first official day at The Job. Sadly, I am continuing to work as Typing Monkey #1 at Previous Job, and will do so for a number of days/weeks. Since I graduated in May, we are being forced (albeit lovingly) to move out of student housing. We are trying to process mortgage paperwork while simultaneously being courteous and gracious to the many real estate agents who cross our path.

That being said, reading is fairly limited, but I did have one thing to throw out there and see if it sticks. I’m sure one of the most esteemed Fathers of the Church enjoys having his work discussed like so many boogers.

Anyway, I was struck by two things while reading through Books I-III. Thing #1 was the sense of “unknowability” that we possess concerning our present, current circumstance. If I understand him right, and I doubt that I do, it is almost impossible for us to correctly interpret The Now. Were an infant even capable of such thought (trying to understand what was happening to him at such and such a time and place), he would need the advantage of age and wisdom (gained through life experience, I suppose) to interpret what exactly was happening to him, or how God was present or absent or disciplining, etc. Same is true for each of the stages (at least up through Childhood, so far): life is a winding road and we cannot see where we are headed, or exactly where we are, until life affords us some sort of lofty elevation from which we can see the contours and curves of our earlier lives, to see where God’s fingerprints are.

Thing #2 has escaped me at the moment, but I remember it had something to do with trying to “apply” this sort of thinking to our own lives, about reading our pasts through a theological lens, but I blame this entirely on Eddie Cloer’s Gospel Preachin’ class, and because I’m sure EC and A have never been used in the same sentence, I’m going to end there…



I meant that the urge to make application came from EC’s Preachin’ class, and not necessarily the need to interpret our lives theologically. I’m think I remember EC not being particularly fond of liberal junk like theology…

Or Catholic saints like A?

I’m pretty sure that any mention of breasts in your 12-minute mini-sermon would get you a “C.”

Of course, taking your sport coat off about 4 minutes into your mini-sermon because it had been in the closet so long and had accumulated so much dust that it was causing your eyes to water so much that they can barely discern either the points or the poem will get you a “C,” too.

the winding road, knowledge of self and fore-knowledge all has to do with the tension of autobiography and religious autobiography, especially… right?

the narrative of augie’s life is different than the narrative of other’s lives because God has set him apart for something… because God is the end of his life. his life is written before he even lived it, or so it seems.

that is, Augie’s ordering principle is much stronger than the ordering principle of, say Frey—i overcame drugs and lied about it in print. his ordering principle is the Ordering Principle.

and you are right… in terms of vantage point… looking back and seeing (memory) is key.

Augie, though, never lets us forget that at the moment of composition, he is a different man than the one he writes about… and, i suspect, that there is a little Pauline i’m the worst… if i could be converted, so can you.

i’m just rambling to avoid work…

frey and generally, contemporary memoir offer a poorer comparison, I think, than to the more traditional, straightup 18th-c autobio’s of the likes of rousseau (whose purpose was clearly a play on a, anyway), or franklin or even equiano.

but A’s an interesting case in the history of the self, something i’m thinking about pretty hard (to little avail)...

you should read petrarch’s letter on the ascent of mt ventoux. it’s in the links somewhere back. he departs from a…

specifically he plays with a’s conversion scene, but my hunch is that the opening of Book II is also there… all that talk of multiplicities, dividedness, etc.

p choses multiplicity over unity, this world over that, laura over God… well, literary fame over God.

check out charles taylor’s Sources of the Self: The Making of Modern Identity (1989)—he get’s criticized by certain lefties for being too catholic, too western. but it’s not bad.

oh, and i went with the modern memoirist precisely because the call to order life doesn’t seem as strong as pre-modernist biographies auto or otherwise…

I especially like A’s use of metaphor to explain himself. You cannot remember what it is like to be a baby, but you assume some sort of commonality with the thing called “Baby” and from studying its characteristics, you can determine what you must have been like at that age. I wonder if this sort of metaphor usage applies in the future as well…can I look at an old man and determine that since we are both part of “Man” that I will act and behave and perhaps look like that older gent I am studying?

In other news, in the 89th minute, Ghana is still up 2-1. Perhaps South Africa will be kinder to the U.S. squad (are they called the Eagles? I remember a U.S. Rugby team going by that name some time back…)

That sense of metaphor what I was getting at in talking analogy last week. I expect your parallel to agedness would be true….

If the agedness parallel is true, that brings up the question of destiny/Pygmalion effect, does it not?

Do you need, then, a wide sampling of older gents to create a basic list of common qualities which you will inherit? Or, could you pick one exemplar and try to attain the attriubutes of that one particular older gent.

The second one has some fascinating possibilities for spiritual development, but this is a reading group, so I’ll quit polluting the well…

pollute the well; it’s already got one crack-head, one poet and a frenchman… besides, you’re an m-div student, you can’t help but read in life-application ways!

Don't forget the librarian. Did someone just suggest the water was ever clean? LOL….

oh, i was refering to the author’s already mentioned… so, greg, are you the crack-head or the frenchman? must it be either/or?

oh! see, I completely misunderstood! Still, I’ll gladly lay claim to crackhead frenchman, if the court will allow it.

Well, if we’re already in polluted waters, I was going to say that the “exemplar” route could be pretty important in spiritual formation, specifically in terms of discipleship (and I think we all know who would be the Exemplar there). But, this is now two or three tangents away from a discussion of A’s work, and perhaps we might come back to this if a later section allows it, or perhaps it will be blogged elsewhere. I have a friend at Notre Dame who wrote a great paper about “living statues” and some other spiritual formation stuff from the patristics…som good stuff really.