Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Taking stock in a declining market...

Postlapsarian Paradise
Falling or Rising?
(Image from Poets Online)

I suppose that's a ball being tossed by John Updike, but I like to think of it as an 'apple' of his postlapsarian paradise and ask myself whether it's rising or falling.

In the foreward to John Updike: a Bibliography of Primary and Secondary Materials, 1948-2007, Updike himself writes:
Somewhere (was it in Time magazine?) the great Calvinist theologian Karl Barth said of the afterlife that he thought of it as this life, viewed under the aspect of eternity. It seemed to me a rather comfortless recycling, but now that I have, in this huge and fanatically detailed bibliography, something of the sort -- my life in print viewed under the aspect of definitive inventory -- I acknowledge some comfort. It comforts me to see that even those shreds of praise called blurbs, gouged out of a published book review or dragged from a feeble writer by the claims of friendship or public relations, did not die with the jackets they momentarily adorned but are lifted into the Heaven of scholarly record by the angelic De Bellis and Broomfield. The same vigilant guardians, with their flaming swords and twittering computers, have also assembled, of a size (but not, I hope, a worth) virtually equal to that of the thronged Paradise of my own verbal inventions, an Inferno of reviews by other pens; within these everlasting covers I am forever joined with my critics, however harshly dismissive and blithely inaccurate many of them may have been. (Updike, "Foreword to My Own Bibliography," in John Updike: a Bibliography of Primary and Secondary Materials, 1948-2007, edited by Jack De Bellis and Michael Broomfield)
Updike must have written this foreward in the age of 'twitter', so he's technologically ahead of me even though he is, technically, now dead.

I haven't read a lot of Updike, just a few of his novels, which didn't enthrall me, along with stories and essays that I liked somewhat more, but I've been captivated by the poem "Shipbored," which I first read last Saturday. Moreover, I have always found in Updike a kindred spirit for his interest in literature and theology, especially his manner of mixing the two -- as evidenced in his foreward above.

What Updike says there in a Barthean moment about his bibliography could also apply, properly modified, to my Gypsy Scholar blog: "this life, viewed under the aspect of eternity" . . . or so long as Google sees fit to maintain my blog online. Like the bibliography by Jack De Bellis and Michael Broomfield, with its heavenly blurbs and hellish critiques, my blog has in its comments section courtesies from gracious readers and flames from disgruntled critics. I rather prefer the former and rejoice that I've suffered relatively few of the latter.

But I hope that this is not the moment for taking stock of my entire life, which I trust has a few more light-blog-years left.

Like today's light blogging . . .

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