Wednesday, November 23, 2022

This Thing of Darkness (Turley and De Maria)

After the heavy load of reading Dostoyevsky's great The Brothers Karamazov, I decided to go for "lighter" fare.  I had seen This Thing of Darkness by K. V. Turley and Fiorella De Maria promoted in some Catholic publications, and was intrigued by the fact that it involved Bela Lugosi, so I decided to give it a try.

First, let me say that after Karamazov, any non-classic would suffer in comparison!

With some reservations, I enjoyed the book, and in particular all Lugosi aspects. I was somewhat familiar with his life and career, the horror genre, and German horror films, so the historical references worked for me. Murnau. Nosferatu. Chaney. Karloff. White Zombie. Whale. Browning. All familiar territory.

The writers clearly did some research. I wonder if as part of their research they viewed Shadow of the Vampire? They touch on a few of the ideas in that movie, but that may have been unintentional. 

The basic premise of the novel was interesting, and the underlying examination of evil, film, and culture, and the importance of faith, all rang true.

The reservations arise over some of the details about the main non-Lugosi characters. Something about them just did not click, and some of the incidents involving them seemed questionable. I found one of the plot details at the end totally predictable. At times the writing seemed hard to follow and a little choppy - as if the two authors wrote sections each and the sections did not fully come together (I don't know if this last observations is true, but that's the impression I got). I also had the advantage of being familiar with some of the biographical and historical elements, but wonder if other readers would find them confusing - the business of the horror classic Nosferatu, for example: How many modern readers have seen it? Finally, some of the details at the end seemed a little rushed - an exorcist conveniently appears and seems to understand everything, for example. It was as if the authors needed just to get it done. Consequently, I think some things were left unresolved.

Bottom line, the book fit my need for lighter fare (even if dealing with some heavy elements of evil). The writing is better than a lot of what's offered in contemporary fiction. It certainly was worth reading.

Pax et bonum

Monday, November 21, 2022

Why Dostoyevsky?

I recently finished rereading The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. 

Dostoyevsky has long been one of my favorite writers, which, given the personality I project, may seem odd.

His characters tend to be over sensitive, talkative, extremely passionate and demonstrative, and sometimes violent.

I tend to seem quiet, reserved, undemonstrative, and unemotional.

But really, inside I am a Dostoyevsky character. Occasionally, it has come through in uncomfortable ways; I have been violent with things, and, to my shame, twice against people.

So I consciously try to keep the passion in check.

Even still, it comes through. I am subject to bouts of depression. I have made sudden decisions that surprise people. I dropped out of college, dealing with depression and the loss of a someone with whom I was hopelessly in love. I left the seminary over the same woman. I suddenly took a job in a distant city, showing up there even though I knew no one there and had no place to live. I have suddenly quit jobs or cut off friends and other people. I have occasionally spouted things that have gotten me in trouble.

And even when I have kept the passion in check, I tend to let things fester. I linger over perceived slights. I take offense easily. 

Not very healthy, I know. But keeping it in check cuts down on the chance of my hurting others, things, or even myself.

However, as I look back, I see how it has affected my career and my relationships in negative ways.

So as I read Dostoyevsky, I often see myself in his characters. 

That's scary!

Pax et bonum

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Christmas Card Poem In The Works

Started work on a possible Christmas poem for this year, sorted through the Christmas cards I already have (odd ones left over from previous sets), and compiled a preliminary list of people to whom to send cards. 

The poem will be two or three verses long, I think. It focuses on the shepherds in contrast with the wise me.

On that star-bright night
the wise men trudged along
while shepherds in the fields
heard the angel's song ...

Something like that to start. 

I just have to finish that poem, then I can start sending out the cards.

Pax et bonum

Saint Agnes of Assisi

Born Caterina Offreducia, Agnes was the younger sister of Saint Clare, and her first follower. When Caterina left home two weeks after Clare’s departure, their family attempted to bring her back by force. They tried to drag her out of the monastery, but her body suddenly became so heavy that several knights could not budge it. Her uncle Monaldo tried to strike her but was temporarily paralyzed. The knights then left Caterina and Clare in peace. Saint Francis himself gave Clare’s sister the name Agnes, because she was gentle like a young lamb.

Agnes matched her sister in devotion to prayer and in willingness to endure the strict penances that characterized the Poor Ladies’ lives at San Damiano. In 1221, a group of Benedictine nuns in Monticelli near Florence asked to become Poor Ladies. Saint Clare sent Agnes to become abbess of that monastery. Agnes soon wrote a rather sad letter about how much she missed Clare and the other nuns at San Damiano. After establishing other monasteries of Poor Ladies in northern Italy, Agnes was recalled to San Damiano in 1253, as Clare lay dying.

Three months later Agnes followed Clare in death, and was canonized in 1753.

- From Franciscan Media 

Pax et bonum

Friday, November 18, 2022

Candace Cameron Bure's 'Traditional Marriage' Backlash Response -

Candace Cameron Bure's 'Traditional Marriage' Comments Spark Backlash - Here's Her Beautiful Response -: Actress and producer Candace Cameron Bure responded after she received harsh criticism from those who support homosexual marriage.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

The Brothers Karamazov

I've spent the last month rereading The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

At 877 sometimes dense pages it's not surprising it took me a month to get through it. And, of course, I have been reading other works and doing other things - including beginning to volunteer at a hospice.  

I first read this book about 40 years ago, and, to be honest, had forgotten most of it. 

The book is considered one of the great works of Western literature. I agree, but also recognize it's not to everyone's taste. The long monologues and the difficult issues make it tough reading. 

It did inspire a clerihew (of course):

Fyodor Dostoevsky

was plagued by vices that proved pesky .

To pay his bills he took a successful gamble

creating characters who were prone to verbally ramble..

I'm currently reading The Imitation of Christ in small chunks. But as for fiction, lighter reading for a while. I'm starting off with a novel about Bela Lugosi, This Thing of Darkness by K.V. Turley and Fiorella De Maria. 

Pax et bonum

Saint Elizabeth of Hungary - Secular Franciscan

In her short life, Elizabeth manifested such great love for the poor and suffering that she has become the patroness of Catholic charities and of the Secular Franciscan Order. The daughter of the King of Hungary, Elizabeth chose a life of penance and asceticism when a life of leisure and luxury could easily have been hers. This choice endeared her in the hearts of the common people throughout Europe.

At the age of 14, Elizabeth was married to Louis of Thuringia, whom she deeply loved. She bore three children. Under the spiritual direction of a Franciscan friar, she led a life of prayer, sacrifice, and service to the poor and sick. Seeking to become one with the poor, she wore simple clothing. Daily she would take bread to hundreds of the poorest in the land who came to her gate.

After six years of marriage, her husband died in the Crusades, and Elizabeth was grief-stricken. Her husband’s family looked upon her as squandering the royal purse, and mistreated her, finally throwing her out of the palace. The return of her husband’s allies from the Crusades resulted in her being reinstated, since her son was legal heir to the throne.

In 1228, Elizabeth joined the Secular Franciscan Order, spending the remaining few years of her life caring for the poor in a hospital which she founded in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi. Elizabeth’s health declined, and she died before her 24th birthday in 1231. Her great popularity resulted in her canonization four years later.

- From Franciscan Media

Pax et bonum