The rhetoric he puts in the mouths of the Green Revolutionaries contains nuance, if also tending toward the irascible and polemical, such as this quote that has been passed around the web for some years, even though there must be very few readers of this obscure, limited-run novel: Things are set up as contraries that are not even in the same category.
Listen to me: the opposite of radical is superficial, the opposite of liberal is stingy; the opposite of conservative is destructive. Thus I will describe myself as a radical conservative liberal; but certain of the tainted red fish will swear that there can be no such fish as that. Beware of those who use words to mean their opposites.
At the same time have pity on them, for usually this trick is their only stock in trade. But do not pity them overly: it is your own death and your soul's death that they work by their deception. More than can be said on many a social media account. Omega: there is not a God. To adhere to either of these two statements strongly is to be logical at least. Not to do so is to be in the snivelling wasteland between and to have no point of contact with logic or reason. Upon either of these two statements a total system can be built, and it can be true to itself in each of its million details.
But the two systems cannot have points of contact in even the least detail. Some do so by principled agnosticism. I sympathise with doubters and agnostics, yet I also feel the force of the alleged logical divide set up in this quote. At any rate, it makes for fiery reading. Yet the way the details of the novel play out show a more generous and muddy view. Dana is a very compromised character, especially by his own movement's lights. He quite fleshily falls from grace by literally sleeping with the ideological enemy. And is restored by grace. Dana and other characters have a huge drinking party with the son of the Devil at one point in the novel, another falling from grace moment, from which they are again restored.
Easter is God's Great Yes to Earth
Saints and sinners, as in most of Lafferty's fiction, often blend in this novel. Trajectories of good or evil may be strong in various characters, but no one is untainted by either grace or sin. It's richly human reading in that respect.
And the Green Revolution rhetoric can be downright beautiful and strange and inviting as well. A character named Catherine Dembinska, who eventually marries Dana, speaks like a St Francis or a Black Elk: Listen, all you people, the green-growing world is not restricted to its vegetation.
See a Problem?
There is a green-growing God above, there are green-growing people on the earth, and plants and rocks and ores and machineries, and graces and dedications and ideas and arts. There are green-growing prayers arising. But the devils in Hell are not green-growing, and those on Earth are not.
Listen, all you people: no, I am not a pantheist, not even a green one. To be that is to confuse the bridge with the ultimate shore. It is to confuse the pot with the potter. It would seem a caution to anyone wanting to slap some final interpretation on Lafferty's work, much less the world. All the final answers were given in the beginning. They stand shining, above and beyond us, but they are always there to be seen. They may be too bright for us, they may be too clear for us. Well then, we must clarify our own eyes.
Our task is to grow out until we reach them. We ourselves become the bridges out over the interval that is the world and time. It is a daring thing to fling ourselves out over that void that is black and scarlet below and green and gold above. And we must be rooted deeply. A bridge does not abandon its first shore when it grows out in spans towards the further one.
Labels: 19th century , agnostic , Carlist , conservative , Enlightenment , Europe , grace , green , historical fiction , history , liberal , magical realism , myth , rational , reason , revolution , The Flame Is Green , theology. Saturday, December 24, "I always break them," said the monstrous face. There was the morning that Dana saw the whole fair landscape from horizon to horizon and realized that it was all on the inside of one very large soap-bubble.
He saw then, beyond and dwarfing it all, the pipe that was blowing the whole bubble, and the face that was blowing the pipe. The wide world was quite small in comparison to that face. It was the face of a rather lack-eyed monster, somehow like an old Irish bummer, a little like that of one of the Other People who live under the hills. Lafferty, The Flame is Green , p. Pseudo review forthcoming! Have a happy Christmas Eve. Labels: devil , fair folk , goblin , kobold , lack-eyed monster , monsters , monstrous face , soap-bubble world , world , worldview , zeitgeist.
Thursday, August 4, A rundown of a dozen or so of Lafferty's novels. A year or so ago someone asked me on Facebook where they should start with reading Lafferty. I've been asked many times. In response I went a bit overboard and said a little something about nearly every novel I've read by Lafferty. This is because the collections of his short stories are in such short supply. These days more and more people first encounter Lafferty through his novels, which are usually thought to be not the place to start. Yet many who start there become just as hooked as those who started with the short stories.
Anyway, I'm re-posting here more or less what I wrote on FB. I'm also doing this because I hear from time to time that my particular Lafferty blog is 'not for beginners' or something similar. Maybe this slightly helps the uninitiated. He's brought to a future utopia on another planet and there's a ton of wild stuff going on.
A band of nonconformist misfits traverse golden cities of perfection, horrifying cities of deprivation, and the freakish ecology of the planet's feral lands. I suppose the writing can be slightly uneven at times, but it's really genius, potent stuff and one of Lafferty's most overtly theological and political and philosophical works. It's also perhaps his most formally s. Labels: early novels , fiction , historical fiction , late novels , new readers , novels , primer , R. Lafferty , science fiction. Saturday, June 11, Lafferty's 80s novels. Academia and family have obviously kept me far too busy to keep up with this blog over the past many months.
The last post was in late February!
I've got so much to share on various fronts, but I always find myself tucking away a blog post idea that gets buried into the deep geological layers of ye ol' To Do list. I really want to write about LaffCon1, which I just attended in New Jersey last weekend, but that too will have to wait. Spoiler: it was wonderful. Possibly some as early as I remember Andrew writing that this was Lafferty's second wind sort of period where he landed on a newfound inspiration and approach and became very productive for a while in some quite new directions.
Andrew argues that these later novels are not the incoherent mess that some readers have thought them, but are rather Lafferty's maturation as a writer where he finally broke into the new ground that all his earlier novels were urging readers to break into. Lafferty's novels written in the early 80s are the next and continuing chapters as it were. These late novels are the new worlds that were birthed through the struggles of his earlier novels.
These new worlds are, admittedly, just as embattled and yet-to-be-finished as those of the earlier novels, but there are definitely new levels of perception and narrative experimentation happening. I think this groundbreaking creative aspect is also why the late novels remain somewhat 'choppy' as Lafferty said in an interview in style. Sometimes even knottier than the earlier novels. Even less commercially viable. But I'm pretty convinced it was because Lafferty had entered uncharted territory, even for him! And as a trailblazer he was bound to look rather 'primitive' nay, primordial in his slashing and hacking at the undergrowth he'd entered with this fresh spate of novels.
I know Andrew's gonna cover this period in his biography of Laff due out late perhaps? Labels: s , experimental , groundbreaking , late novels , late works , novels , perception , second wind , Sindbad , uncharted territory , writing. This is the way they tell it. A Skokie heard a Shelni jug flute jugging one night. He went down into the hole in the ground that his wife's voice was coming from. But all he found there was a Shelni playing a jug flute. Where is she? That is her very voice.
But he could not find any part of his wife. I remember part of the way I go. If you remember the rest of the way, then you can put me together again.
The Skokie put him together all wrong. There were not enough pieces for some parts and too many for others. Besides, I believe it was my own wife he swallowed. That was her voice on the flute. It was not a Skokie voice. Parts of the Shelni could not be found again, and some of the parts would not go into him at all. When they had him finished, the Shelni was in great pain and could hardly move, and he didn't look much like a Shelni. Where is Frog? Enough, and these pieces left over. I will just take them with me. Maybe I can make someone else out of them.
In his wrong form he walks the country by night, being ashamed to go by day. Some folks are startled when they meet him, not knowing this story. He still plays his jug flute with the lost Skokie Wife's voice and with Frog's voice. Listen, you can hear it now! The Shelni goes in sorrow and pain because nobody knows how to put him together right. The Skokie never did find his lost wife. This is how it is told. Lafferty, "Ride a Tin Can" The Argo Cycle seems to be some kind of metaphysical template or manual or schema by which to better grasp what Lafferty's doing in everything else.
At times, in certain respects, it almost lacks substance in and of itself while seeming to promise to flesh out everything else, like a spirit or soul or ghost that is elusive and ephemeral in itself but utterly animating when inhabiting a body. Lafferty said that he thought the entirety of his body of work kind of added up to one long unfinished novel that he called A Ghost Story.
Hans was in love. He was in love with Marie Monaghan. This had come swiftly to him who usually made up his mind slowly on important things.
Queer Gods for Queer Men:
Marie might not have seemed exceptional to anyone else. She had regular, nice features, but her hair was too red and her face was too freckled. She was chubby by contemporary standards, though divine by classical. Player FM is scanning the web for high-quality podcasts for you to enjoy right now. It's the best podcast app and works on Android, iPhone, and the web. Signup to sync subscriptions across devices. Your subcriptions will sync with your account on this website too. Podcast smart and easy with the app that refuses to compromise.
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