Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Who uses it: Priests
What it means: Hey I’m just a Jewish kid from the suburbs. I leave this definition to my Catholic buddies.
How you can use it: To describe a moment of sudden and deeply realized intellectual or emotional truth.

Dear Ellen:

Over the past year your blog has become a daily ritual for me. Your primary reader has always been your mom, and it’s striking to me when I go back over prior entries to see how deeply that has informed everything that’s appeared here. So here’s my request:

Keep writing.

I’ll tread water here gladly till you can jump back in and swim the channel. But I can’t imagine you not continuing this. And off course you can, in some ways, simply pick back up where you left off.

Here’s a few words from Clair this AM:

“Went over to the funeral home last night to see Mom laid out. I'm not usually a fan of that, but she looks so good -- so peaceful, and really beautiful -- that I was grateful, and I may spend a chunk of time over there this afternoon. She is so present in this house, and in my mind, that it's hard to imagine her gone. All day yesterday I kept catching myself saying, "Mom knows that," or "Ask Mom what she wants to do."

“In lighter news, I have a story up on Paul Guyot's blog ( You will probably have no trouble recognizing the one that is mine….”

And as for the idea of epiphany, in terms of keeping with the blog’s theme of finding what you mean to say in what others say, I’d like to cite two crystalline moments.

The first from Joyce’s The Dead. Technically I guess the moment of truth would be Gabriel’s remorseful conclusion “Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age." But for me the true emotion of the story is expressed in the gorgeous final paragraph, one of the most sumptuous and moving conclusions that I know of:

“A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of the last end, upon all the living and the dead.”

And let’s not forget Yeats’ The Cold Heaven

Suddenly I saw the cold and rook-delighting heaven
That seemed as though ice burned and was but the more ice,
And thereupon imagination and heart were driven
So wild that every casual thought of that and this
Vanished, and left but memories, that should be out of season
With the hot blood of youth, of love crossed long ago;
And I took all the blame out of all sense and reason,
Until I cried and trembled and rocked to and fro,
Riddled with light. Ah! When the ghost begins to quicken,
Confusion of the death-bed over, is it sent
Out naked on the roads, as the books say, and stricken
By the injustice of the skies for punishment?

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