Monday, November 30, 2020

I wonder . . .

Is there some deeper significance to the fact that both my scholarly work and my fictional work center upon dangerous drinks, namely, some poisonous vinegar soaked into a sponge and a never-ending bottle of highly addictive beer?

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Poison, or refreshing drink?

Professor Webster does not take a consistent position concerning the vinegar, whether it is a poison or a refreshing drink:

The correct interpretation is probably somewhere in between; it is probably neither poison nor a refreshing drink. On the one hand, the drink does coincide with Jesus' death and so may appear to be life-taking. On the other hand, Jesus' death enables life for those who believe in him, so the vinegar is ultimately - and ironically - life-giving. (Ingesting Jesus, page 179)

Webster needs to present a clear argument to settle her interpretation, but I doubt that the solution is found somewhere in between. There is irony, of course, in that Jesus accepts the vinegar, and in doing so carries out the Father's will, completing His works, which is the Son's food, as we know from elsewhere in John.

I think that Webster didn't read my entire thesis, or she would have found the answer to her question.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Vinegar again, this time with Suzanne Webster

Here's Suzanne Webster's summary in her book Ingesting Jesus of my view on the vinegar in John's Gospel:

The [Fourth Evangelist's] choice of vinegar is strange here and may be dependent on Ps 69:21, a Psalm that is culled for images and citations throughout the Gospel (see Ps 69:9 and John 2: 17; Ps 69:4 and John 15:25). Hodges argues that the vinegar, like a poison, causes Jesus' death, because Jesus as a man "from above" has ingested substances from the earth.[Footnote 6.] This argument is unconvincing, however, because the Gospel claims crucifixion as the cause of death, the marks of which are used as proof of his death to the disciples and to Thomas after his resurrection (20:20, 25, 27).[Footnote 7] 

[Footnote 6. Hodges, "Food," 612-67. The Gospel implies a negative comparison between the delicious wine (oivos) provided in 2: I-II and this vinegar (oxos).]

[Footnote 7. The Gospel of Peter describes the mixture of gall and vinegar as if it were a poison to hasten death (16).]

As I have noted elsewhere, the acceptance of the vinegar is the final event in a series of events that constitute the crucifixion. Vinegar could scarcely leave behind a mark of its action, so that objection by Webster lacks force. Her own footnote 7 even supplies evidence that at least one other early text (mid-second-century AD) included vinegar as part of the crucifixion process. Moreover, my argument concerning vinegar is more complex than here depicted. Elsewhere, I note that the Hebrew radicals for vinegar are identical with the Hebrew radicals for leavening. As the symbolic Passover lamb, Jesus must be kept  pure from contact with leavening (including vinegar). Also, one ancient rabbinical text states that as one settles down to eat, one must not say a blessing over vinegar because one does not say a blessing over a cursed substance. Such examples and more add to my argument.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Another scholar's summary of my doctoral thesis

The Johannine scholar Suzanne Webster (Ingesting Jesus: Eating and Drinking in the Gospel of John, 2001) drew upon my thesis a few years before Esther Kobel did, but her reading is much the same:

The most comprehensive study of ingesting language and its symbolic interpretation has been conducted by Horace Jeffery Hodges in a dissertation entitled, "Food as Synecdoche in John's Gospel and Gnostic Texts."[Footnote 111] Hodges compares the synecdochical use of food (i.e., food as being part of and as signifying both the heavenly and earthly realms) in early Jewish and Christian texts, with a focus on the Gospel of John and Gnostic texts. He concludes that the Gnostic understanding of the heaven/earth dualism is quite distinct from that of the Gospel of John. The Gnostic texts represent the world as essentially evil; the dualism is ontological. The Gospel, however, reflects the Jewish ethical notion of a good-creation-gone-bad. By identifying Judaism as the principal source of background for the Gospel of John, Hodges argues that Jesus exists by doing the will of the Father (his "food," see 4:34) until he consumes the vinegar on the cross. The vinegar represents the curse that the world took on with the fall from paradise. In this way, Jesus takes on the curse of the world in order to redeem it.[Footnote 112] The real strength of his study is his thorough investigation into the development of ingesting images throughout various religious traditions. 

[Footnote 111. Ph.D. diss., University of California, Berkeley, 1995. UMI9621181.]
[Footnote 112. Hodges, "Food," xii-xiii.]
(Pages 34-35.)

That's a pretty fair summary.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Curt Niccum, briefly

In Curt Niccum, "Toward Locating Eucharistic Theology in the Fourth Gospel," an essay appearing in Eucharist and Ecclesiology: Essays in Honor of Dr. Everett Ferguson (2017), edited by Wendell Willis, we find a brief reference to my doctoral thesis (in a passage pertaining to the eucharist and the Passover in the Fourth Gospel) and a call for re-examining the eucharist in light of the Passover:

Additional passages [in John] have been interpreted eucharistically and perhaps should be revisited in light of the Gospel's macrostructures. See the extensive and sometimes overreaching study of Hodges, "Synecdoche."

This is from footnote 28 of Niccum's article (page 116 of Willis's edited essays, Eucharist and Ecclesiology). It's a short reference, but a brief cover is better than no cover at all. Except for that overreaching bit . . .

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Existential Inertia

My philosopher friend Bill Vallicella has me thinking about the difference between the God of classical theism and the God of Deism, with respect to creation.

In traditional theism, God creates the world and maintains the world's existence.

In Deism, God creates the world and leaves the world to exist on its own.

Deists therefore assume what Bill calls "existential inertia," which Bill explains as follows: "an existing thing continues to exist on its own without external assistance unless acted upon by an external annihilatory force."

I posted two comments on his blogpost about this concept, and showed my ignorance, but I think that I understand it now. Go to the link, if interested.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Holy One of God and ritual impurity

Discovering that one's scholarly work finds use by other scholars is always gratifying, so John Poirier and I were both pleased to find mention in Matthew Thiessen's book Jesus and the Forces of Death: The Gospels' Portrayal of Ritual Impurity (2020). At issue here, so to speak, is the healing of the woman with a flow of blood:

[T]his depiction of Jesus portrays something unexpected. Whoever Jesus is, even contact with his garment can provoke an unconscious flow of healing power from his body. Such power (dynamis) emanating or leaking out of Jesus's body through mere contact with his clothing (with, of course, the woman's trust) demonstrates that Jesus's body contains some sort of contagious holiness. Jesus is the Holy One of God. He is a force of holiness that opposes the forces of impurity. As Horace Jeffery Hodges and John Poirier observe, "The dynamism of Jesus' holiness is a closer parallel to the dynamism of the holiness present in the inner sanctuary that the high priest enters on the Day of Atonement than the holiness of the high priest himself.[Footnote 74] "Contact with Jesus's clothing is analogous to contact with a variety of holy objects within the tabernacle or temple. After all, contact with the altar or certain tabernacle furnishings or even certain offerings renders an object holy . . . Just as the tabernacle and its accoutrements exercise no will in sanctifying objects that come into contact with them, Mark portrays Jesus's body automatically and involuntarily purifying those who touch him in faith. In contrast, when Jesus presumably wants to heal others in his hometown of Nazareth, their lack of confidence constrains his power (Mark 6:1–5).

The article by Poirier and me is cited in footnote 74 ("Jesus as the Holy One of God"). I've read a lot on impurity systems and find them really fascinating. Anyone who wants to understand the New Testament needs to read some anthropological work on (im)purity systems.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Missed Spellings of my name in Kobel's book

One of the regular visitors to my blog, Kevin Kim (aka Big Hominid), suggests that I tap Professor Kobel on the shoulder and inform her of the correct form of my name. I have already done so, but the mistake remains on the internet. Interestingly enough, Professor Kobel once spells my name two different ways on the same page of her book, Dining with John:

page 95: Jefferey H. Hodges

page 95, footnote 169: Jeffery Horace Hodges

With "Jefferey," you can see Kobel struggling between what her eye says is "ery" and her brain says is "rey,"  the latter being the conventional spelling. I am actually "Horace Jeffery Hodges," which doesn't seem so difficult, but nevertheless poses difficulties for so many people.

At one conference that I attended, my name was spelled Geoffrey Horrace Hodges. I caught the attention of some good scholars, but if anybody went looking for me, I'll bet I wasn't easy to find.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

The Johannine Jesus needs no earthly nourishment

The following three paragraphs are borrowed from Professor Kobel's book Dining with John [372-374], and they deal with her analysis of the vinegar (sour wine) given to Jesus as he suffered on the cross:

Some commentators appear to be uncomfortable with the idea that Jesus was thirsty at this climactic moment. Hodges suggests that the sour wine functions as a poison and that Jesus, by drinking the oxos [i.e., vinegar], synecdochically takes upon himself the sin of the world. This explanation, however, is not convincing, for the Gospel claims that crucifixion – not poison – is the cause of Jesus' death. Others argue that, because Jesus' death paradoxically enables life for those who believe in him, the wine is in actual fact life-giving. Under any interpretation, however, the passage draws attention to Jesus' corporeality. Jesus' one and only unambiguous and explicit act of consumption is the immediate prelude to the most fundamental testimony to his corporeality, namely, his death.

The narrative analysis has elaborated that the Johannine Jesus has a peculiar way of dealing with earthly food. While he acts as the host in many scenes and provides abundant food and drink for others, he himself is never portrayed as actually eating. When the disciples offer earthly food to Jesus, he rejects it with a reference to his own food which is to do the will of the Father. The exception to the pattern is the one and only drink that Jesus receives on the cross moments before his death.

Perhaps the Gospel's silence with regard to Jesus' own consumption of food and drink simply means that during his earthly life Jesus ate and drank like any other human being. But the absence of references to his partaking of physical nourishment, and the focus on food and drink as metaphors for the faith that leads to eternal life, suggest that Jesus, the Son of God, does not require earthly food, because he subsists entirely on the will of the one who has sent him. In other words, Jesus is on a very special diet, one that is dictated by the Father and not by the normal corporeal needs of mortal beings. [372-374]

Kobel's insistence on the corporeality of Jesus is not far from my own such insistence concerning Jesus's body, so I am not "uncomfortable with the idea that Jesus was thirsty at this climactic moment."  Does Kobel's view "that Jesus, the Son of God, does not require earthly food" undermine her insistence that Jesus is corporeal and that he thirsts? As I wrote in yesterday's post, the fourth evangelist does indeed think that the crucifixion killed Jesus. I emphasize today that the acceptance of the vinegar was simply the culminating step in the crucifixional process. I would note only one additional point, that Jesus himself is shown as being fully in charge of the crucifixional process at all times. As such, he allows himself to die.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Gospel of John: Not Gnostic

Here is Esther Kobel's summary of my reason for rejecting the view that John's Gospel is Gnostic:

[The motif of food rejection fits into a docetic interpretation of Jesus. Jeffery Horace Hodges, in an investigation on food avoidance and acceptance in John (Jn 4:31-34 and 19:28-30), considers the idea that the Johannine dichotomy is Gnostic. In the Mandaean Gnostic story from the Ginza revealer Hibil-Ziwa refuses food offered by the children of darkness. And in the “Hymn of the Pearl” the prince, a Gnostic revealer, makes the mistake to accept food and falls into a deep sleep. Jesus, however, unlike the Gnostic revealers, does not try to avoid the world but intentionally mixes himself with it, an idea that does not fit with Gnostic thinking. According to Hodges, the sour wine symbolizes the world that has gone bad. The vinegar in John 19:29 is not just a symbol of the world but a pars pro toto of it. By consuming it, Jesus takes upon himself the sin of the world. Hodges concludes that the author of the Fourth Gospel neither presents Jesus as a Gnostic revealer, nor does he presuppose a substance dualism. The dualism in John belongs to the family of ethical dualisms and not Gnostic ones. Jeffery Horace Hodges, ‘Ethical’ Dualism of Food in the Gospel of John (1999); available from; Internet; accessed 02.09.11.]

This is from Kobel's Dining with John [Footnote 784, page 375.]

Friday, November 20, 2020

Professor Kobel rejects my interpretation of the vinegar in John's Gospel

In Dining with John, pages 372-373, Professor Kobel presents the following:

On the cross, . . . [Jesus] requests the sour wine and takes it for himself. Knowing that all is finished, and in order to fulfill scripture, Jesus expresses his thirst. This time, on the verge of death, Jesus needs the drink for himself, and drinks like a corporeal human being.

Some commentators appear to be uncomfortable with the idea that Jesus was thirsty at this climactic moment. Hodges suggests that the sour wine functions as a poison and that Jesus, by drinking the oxos [vinegar], synecdochically takes upon himself the sin of the world.[Footnote 777] This explanation, however, is not convincing, for the Gospel claims that crucifixion – not poison – is the cause of Jesus' death.

[Footnote 777: This is the overarching hypothesis in Hodges’ dissertation. The argument runs that Jesus as a heavenly creature is poisoned by consuming an earthly substance – somewhat analogous to Gnostic revealers. Hodges claims this on the grounds of the narrative sequence in John 19:28-30 and because of the reference to Scripture. As many others do, Hodges identifies the Scripture as Ps 69:22. According to his disputable interpretation (drawing on Semitic parallels), the vinegar mentioned there is poison. Hodges, “Food as Synecdoche in John’s Gospel and Gnostic Texts.” See also Jeffery Horace Hodges, ‘Ethical’ Dualism of Food in the Gospel of John (1999); available from; Internet; accessed 02.09.11; Jeffery Horace Hodges, Gift-Giving Across the Sacred-Profane Divide: A Maussian Analysis of Heavenly Versus Earthly Food in Gnosticism and John’s Gospel (1999); available from; Internet; accessed 02.09.11.] [Pages 372-373.]

Such - embedded in my views - is Kobel's argument against me. Briefly put, the crucifixion, not the vinegar, killed Jesus. I think that's a false dichotomy. I would say, in full agreement, that the fourth evangelist believes that the crucifixion killed Jesus. But the crucifixion was a process, the culminating act of which was the acceptance of the vinegar.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Dr. Esther Kobel's summary of my dissertation:

Pasted below is the passage in her book (2011) wherein Esther Kobel summarizes my doctoral thesis (an expansion on what I posted yesterday). Her book is titled Dining with John: Communal Meals and Identity Formation in the Fourth Gospel in its Historical and Cultural Context, Leiden: Brill 2011:

The challenge of considering all Johannine passages containing meal scenes and food issues has been met by Jefferey H. Hodges (sic., Horace Jeffery Hodges) in a doctoral thesis entitled Food as Synecdoche in John's Gospel and Gnostic Texts.[Footnote 169] Hodges explores the ingesting images in various religious traditions including Gnosticism. To date, this is the most comprehensive study of Johannine food imagery and its symbolic interpretation. Hodges suggests that basically all food passages explored are to be understood as eucharistic. Hodges also identifies a synecdochical use of food in the Gospel of John, according to which food signifies and is part of the heavenly as well as earthly realms. This dualism related to food is then compared to dualisms in Gnostic texts and texts of late-antiquity Judaism and Early Christianity. Although there are obvious parallels between John's food-related dualism, and the respective dualism found in Gnostic texts, Hodges affirms that the latter significantly differ from the former. The Johannine understanding presupposes an ethical [Page 96] dualism: a righteous God and a world that has grown sinful. The Gnostic texts, however, presuppose the dualism to be ontological: a perfect spiritual realm, versus the evil, material world. Thus, Hodges suggests, there is a different meaning to Jesus' avoidance of food different from the abstention revealed in Gnostic texts. Drawing on his investigation into early Jewish traditions, Hodges suggests that vinegar symbolizes the corrupted world. By accepting the earthly vinegar at the crucifixion, Jesus synecdochically consumes the entire world, and thereby eliminates its sinfulness. The fact that this happens willingly points to an irreconcilable difference when compared with Gnostic thinking. Johannine uses of food, Hodges argues, derive not from Gnosticism (despite the obvious parallels) but from Jewish traditions.

[Footnote 169: Jeffery Horace Hodges, "Food as Synecdoche in John's Gospel and Gnostic Texts," (Ph.D. Thesis, University of California, 1996).]

This is a pretty good summary, and Professor Kobel has since learned to spell my real name, so it's really now damn near perfect. Perfection awaits only her total agreement with me.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

More from the German scholar:

Yesterday's blog entry was a short visit down memory lame. I visit today a related crippled memory, leaning for support on Esther Kobel's book Dining with Jesus (2011), a reworking of her doctoral thesis on John's Gospel and food, where she has this to say:

The challenge of considering all Johannine passages containing meal scenes and food issues has been met by Jefferey H. Hodges in a doctoral thesis entitled Food as Synecdoche in John's Gospel and Gnostic Texts.

Like many others who cite me, Kobel has difficulties with my name. I am actually Horace Jeffery Hodges. That seems simple enough, though I've never really liked my name. Once in a post office, I was looking to pick up a package. The postal official shuffled through a pile of packages, picked one up, and asked, "Horace?" "Unfortunately," I replied. That got a laugh.

Anyway, Kobel does a pretty competent job of summarizing my own argument on food and Jesus in my thesis, though I'd emphasize "poison," namely, the vinegar accepted by Jesus on the cross, within a context that would make it fit better with my views on symbolism as understood by the fourth evangelist. I'd also ask what is meant by crucifixion. And I'd ask some follow-up questions . . .

By the way, I referred to Ms. Kobel yesterday as a German scholar. Technically, she's Swiss-German. I think.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

A German Scholar cites me:

I'm still, at least, being cited by some scholars in biblical literature.

Esther Kobel cites me in her article "'Let Anyone Who is Thirsty Come to Me, and Let the One Who Believes in Me Drink': The Johannine Jesus as the True Provider of Earthly and Heavenly Nourishment," published last year (2019) in T and T Clark Handbook to Early Christian Meals in the Greco-Roman World, edited by Soham Al-Suadi and Peter-Ben Smit.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Most Egregious Use of:


The strict instructor egregiously required his students to use the word "egregiously" in a most egregious manner.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Scientific Superstitions

If warthogs want no warts a-growing
over all their tusky nose,
then they ought refrain from eating
all those poison-pissing toads.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

COVID-19: Close Call

Through the grapevine came the news that one of my brothers had contracted the COVID-19 virus, so I wrote his wife to inquire, and the news was confirmed:

Yes he has COVID. He is getting better, however; he spent three nights in the hospital. We went in Saturday at midnight. Oxygen level got down too low. He was having difficulty in walking and communicating. He is doing better, but still having effects from the virus: body pain, headache, blurred vision and thought processing.

That was shocking news, but also good news, in that he is doing much better. Let's hope for no setbacks.

Friday, November 13, 2020

A Tornado's Foreordained Duty?

One of the memories of my childhood involved a small tornado in a small cloud, which I referred to, some days ago, in a humorous post on memories of farm life with an aunt and uncle. Upon reflection, I now add these words:

The tornado was not really so funny at the time. That thing went right over our heads. I know it did, because as we were descending the steps into the storm cellar, I glanced up and saw the cloud turning and turning and turning, scarcely a hundred feet up, directly over our heads. At that moment, I felt fear. And then, it was gone, leaving us safely behind as it went about its foreordained duty of tearing the roof off the school building in Bakersfield.

I've sent these words to one of my cousins who was also present during the tornado's passing, just to test my memory.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

A Snippet of High Praise

Although a recent paper of mine didn't quite meet the standard for publication, it received some kind words:

I really enjoyed reading this article and got so many insightful thoughts on the 20th and 21st century American national identity . . . This kind of rereading needs to be invited to the academic discourse of American literature and culture more readily.

There were some flaws as well, and the referees declined to accept my paper in its current form but suggested that I rework it and reapply for publication.

That I will do.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Foxy as in clever!

I can't say that I had time, but I made time and read the short story "Coterie," by Elkie Riches, in Carter Kaplan's anthology, Octo-Emanations (pp. 1-17), and I found it to be excellent. Riches is one of those rare people who can combine knowledge of science with knowledge of the arts and the humanities.

Riches earlier wrote the novel Reclamation, which I found interesting, and this short story shows a more polished, mature style. The two stories share a common theme of environmentalism.

Highly recommended.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Popular Etymologies

Arizona: From Arid Zone

Monday, November 09, 2020

the cramped Wissenschaftlichkeit of a 19th cent. German philologist

A philosopher friend and I got into a brief discussion of "taking offense" that led to this anecdote of mine:

I only get offended at things like personal betrayal. I once proofread a book on women and religion for a feminist friend, and I showed her how she could strengthen her basic argument considerably by a few adjustments. When I told her this, she stared at me for about three long seconds, then said, "Well, I guess you learned something from my book." I was speechless. Later, when I applied for a job in which I'd need to teach a bit about women in religion, she refused to support me and wouldn't acknowledge my input on her own book. Our friendship didn't survive. 

My philosopher friend replied:

A good maxim of psychological hygiene these days: Avoid personal contact with leftists . . . Nothing good is likely to come of it. I have a policy of non-pollution: Physically, psychologically, and spiritually I watch what I allow into my system. 'Blogically': comment moderation! How did your "feminist friend" become your friend?

I responded:

We met in Germany. She had recently left a nunnery and was still a pious Catholic who carried a guitar that bore the words "Jesus is Lord!" Or something like that. She had a good sense of humor, so we hit it off as friends. She had a generous side, and she invited me to Australia to work on her research as an assistant. There, she began to change, partly as she started to recognize that I was more knowledgeable than she was, though she was stronger in the necessary languages than I was, except for Coptic, in which I then excelled. Apparently, I made some sort of mistake, missed an important Manichaean fragment, though she acknowledged that the same material was found later in another fragment, which I did transcribe. But she said she couldn't trust my research any more. I pointed out that she had also made mistakes, which she acknowledged, but she was adamant that I was untrustworthy. She wrote a neutral paragraph as letter for me to use as I "deem fit"(her words), and I couldn't believe she thought I would try to use such a thing in applying for a job. Nobody would hand a letter to a job committee as supposed support. Everybody knows that the one doing the 'recommending' sends the letter. I was disgusted with her. That's how it ended.

My philosopher friend remarked:

A renegade nun! . . . With the cramped Wissenschaftlichkeit of a 19th cent. German philologist. This must have been during your Wanderjahren before Korea, before Weib und Kind, Haus und Hof

I replied to my philosopher friend that there was overlap. That's a reason I didn't stay in Australia and fight. I had no job. I had a wife and and two small children to care for. I left for Korea because I knew that I could at least teach English there. Which I have . . .

Sunday, November 08, 2020

"Slow count pushes Biden close"

See? Even the New York Times admits that the vote-counting is being conducted in Biden's favor. Today's GS blog title was Friday's NYT front-page headline (International Edition, November 6, 2020). By now, they'd have to admit that the slow count has pushed Biden all the way into the lead! I suggest that if they do a recount, they should make it a fast one.

Saturday, November 07, 2020

Election results still hanging in the balance

The election remains unresolved at seven-thirty on this Saturday morning, November 7, 2020, Korea time.

Two eastern states - Georgia and Pennsylvania - have Trump trailing by only about two-tenths of a point, and the Western state Nevada has Trump trailing by a bit over a point, but just 87 percent of the vote has been counted there.

If Biden wins by such a small margin, Trump could call for a recount in these three states, and this election might drag on and on . . .

Friday, November 06, 2020

Election Nervous . . .

I'm hanging on tenterhooks yet . . . along with the rest of the world.

Nevada is still set to decide things, but stopped counting votes for the night, that the vote-counters might get a good night's rest.

Trump will need to hang onto Georgia, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania and fight tooth and nail in the courts to get Nevada, if the vote doesn't ultimately go in Trump's favor (Biden is leading by six-tenths of a point).

Thursday, November 05, 2020

Election Nerves . . .

I'm on tenterhooks - yes, I'm stretched out on a tenter to dry - while the votes cast like bread upon the waters return to us.

The election is very close right now, about 10:45 Korea time. Pennsylvania must not be very organized in its counting process. The percentage of votes counted there has been stuck on 64 for several hours.

When I get up tomorrow - about six in the morning, Korea time - the votes will surely have been counted.

I'll post an update then.


The clock says about six-thirty in the morning, Korea time, and no one's yet declared winner, but Biden is leading, and if he takes Michigan and Nevada, where he is currently ahead, he wins.

Update Two:

The clock now says about five forty-five in the evening, and Biden needs only Nevada to win.

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

Part of a letter home . . .

I sent this home as part of a longer letter to an aunt and uncle who had us on their farm every summer. The persons appearing below are Aunt Pauline, Uncle Woodrow, Brother Tim, and Cousin Velna: 

Remember the time I got tongue-tied and called you "Uncle Pauline and Aunt Woodrow"? And the time I stole two pieces of penny gum and gave one to Tim, who told on me, which prompted Velna to inform me I was going to Hell (who'd have known that a ticket to Hell would be so cheap, but I suppose it's one way)? And the time I shared some honey with the bees, and Uncle Woodrow knew it was me and one of my experiments (who would have known bees were so dilatory at sucking up free honey)? And the time I fell through the ceiling and got Uncle Woodrow in trouble for not having boarded up that ceiling for safety's sake? And the time I brought that little tornado right over our heads and sent it on to Bakersfield to take the roof off the schoolhouse? Hey, I didn't do that! I get in trouble for everything . . .

But those were good times. I always knew we’d look back at these little peccadillos of mine after fifty years and laugh. I knew because everybody always makes fun of me. And they never let me forget! Not even after fifty years.

There's more, but this is the only humorous part, thus the only part of interest to the general public.

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Finnegans Wake

I once tried to read Finnegans Wake:

[a way a lone a last a loved a long the] riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs . . . . a way a lone a last a loved a long the [riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.]

One knows not where to begin . . . plus even before setting forth to read (before the beginning? before the ending?), one must, as I have now come to understand, first settle on a correct manuscript, notoriously difficult in a text that breaks rules.

Monday, November 02, 2020

Mindless Muse

Here's a 'poem' I wrote when I was but a freshman at Baylor:

The Philosopher

"I think therefore I am," quoth he to me.
Said I, "What happens if your mind goes blank?
And quoting others takes no thought, I think.
To put another's words in verse is worse
than staying silent, or so I believe . . .

There were a few more such banal verses that followed, but those have, thankfully, disappeared down the memory hole . . .

Sunday, November 01, 2020

Mischief in Literary Affairs

I told my historian friend of my recent mischief in literary affairs:

I've lately been writing parodies of Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot, specifically, by having their imaginary brothers Extra Pound and P.S. Eliot appear on my blog as authors of poems. Here's a recent one by P.S. Eliot, who has, surprisingly, turned out to be critical of his more famous brother.

Here is the poem, which I blogged on several days ago:

P.S. Eliot: Said Lust for War

Why should my brother T.S. garner praise
for the Wasteland of his writing that lays
into the Westland sharper than unknown
legislators, who sharpen quills, atone
for the sins of Europa's sons, with thrills
of medieval mystery plays, whose chills
run down the spinelessness they so bristle
like quills more mighty than misled missile,
said lust for war, that is the dead'ning lust:
Show me that famed fear, that handful of dust.

My friend wrote back:

Many thanks for the excellent poem and the introduction to your brilliantly named appendices Extra Pound and P.S. Eliot.

My friend has high standards, so if he says "excellent" and "brilliant," who am I to demur?