Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Finally, an explanation for what's wrong with government, academia, and The DaVinci Code

A re-post from 9/28/05: I stumbled on this one while hunting through the past and was surprised to realize how much this strange book influenced my writing at the time. I wonder if it's common for a nonfiction book to take such hold of a writer's imagination... And I can't say that it has happened since.

Like everybody else, I've wondered why the world sometimes appears such a miscreant place, full of lies and badly written books and mean-spirited nonsense.

So I am glad to find the answer.

In a footnote to Powers, Weakness, and the Tabernacling of God, Marva Dawn cites one William Stringfellow's description of the tactics used by fallen powers and principalities: "denial of truth, doublespeak and overtalk, secrecy and boasts of expertise, surveillance and harassment, exaggeration and deception, cursing and conjuring, usurpation and absorption, diversion and demoralization, and the violence of babel (including verbal inflation, libel, rhetorical wantonness, sophistry, jargon, incoherence, falsehood, and blasphemy.)"

Think about it. Government and politico-speak. Academia and the glorification of the impenetrable. Bad but bestselling books.

All, all explained!

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Mysteries of life settled, I wonder if that Stringfellow was a relation of my beloved Mrs. Stringfellow, who taught me in first and second grades at University Terrace in Baton Rouge?

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I should add that the Dawn book is a very curious one, suggesting that some of the ways we human beings see the world have changed far more radically that we commonly understand. "The Powers" have crept into my imagination and forced me to write several stories and poems, including "The Nesting Doll." 

Addendum: See Philippa Robbins' Red Riding Hood, Wolf, and Granny nesting dolls: here. They cover several posts... Thanks, Clive!

2 comments:

  1. I've sent Philippa a link to The Nesting Doll! And you have to take a look at her brilliant Nesting Doll reinvention of Red Riding Hood! (I shall send an image by e-mail as I can't make the link work here.)

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  2. Oooh, I loved that! Grand Robbinsiana!

    Gotta run, but shall add in a link later (you have to use the full html arsenal--they make you think "a" bracketed and closed is enough, but it's not...)

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.