Monday, April 09, 2007

The Return

Well, I’m back. Lent… Lent worked out much better than I thought it would. At the outset I had worried that blogging would be an easy thing to give up; worried, even, that I was giving it up not because it was a pleasure and an indulgence but rather because it had become a hassle and a chore. What lesson would be learned from that beyond that which is the commonest sense? What spiritual good could be reaped therefrom? I’m happy to report that I very quickly discovered that, while the technical aspects of blogging can indeed be burdensome, being deprived of the power of commentary was most arduous indeed. My hands trembled for the keyboard when the “Tomb of Jesus” story broke; it was all I could do not to break. Any number of other events have happened between then and now that have cried out for analysis, but I had to content myself with just discussing them with friends and neighbours, which was itself a good thing, too.

In any event, I’m back. My idle hours during the last month did indeed see me reading a goodly chunk of GKC, as well as varied outlying works (I found both Michael Coren’s biography of Gilbert and A.N. Wilson’s biography of Belloc in a second-hand shop), but primarily I took the opportunity to expand my horizons beyond even England, wonderful though it is. Flaubert was a good friend to me; so too were the Latin Americans, like Julio Cortazar, Alejo Carpentier and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I continued my quiet love affair with Borges, delved hungrily into more of Solzhenitsyn, considered the delightful wastelands of Lovecraft, chuckled at Harold Bloom’s inadequacies, embraced C.S. Lewis’ Milton criticism, and on the whole enjoyed myself immensely. My creative output increased, seeing the production of several short stories, a few more poems, and a number of well-received essays on various subjects. In this short Lenten span I produced/revised, edited and submitted work to two of my university’s student journals (one academic, one artistic), both of which submissions have subsequently been published. I’ve been accepted to both of my top choice graduate programs, and will be fully funded into the bargain. I’ve gotten out of the house more, made loads of new friends, and on the whole been much improved by the break.

Most importantly, however, it made me realize some things about myself in a spiritual sense, however preposterous that may sound. Such is the point of Lent, but come on, it’s only blogging… right? Well, no, it’s not. It’s an empty void into which I can pour torrents of prose, only the void isn’t really so empty. There are people out there - you! - who read this stuff, and the more reflective and less active I became about my blogging habits, the more I realized that I was doing and saying things that I would never do to someone’s face. There’s been a certain arrogance, which in the course of BEING arrogant I felt was just excessive sass, that taints a lot of what I write. It ends now.

In any event, I’d like to say that I have some exquisite GKC stuff to show you after all this time, but this message is sort of a placeholder, honestly. I’ve been going flat-out on essays for the last couple of days, and it will continue for a couple more yet. Having just finished a treatment of Robert Frost’s “The Black Cottage,” I now have to finish up a comparison of Job and Ecclesiastes, and then move onto a paper concerning Chesterton’s influence on Borges, an essay I’ve been looking forward to for months. I may have some spare time today between handing one in and getting back to work on another, though, so I fully intend (but do not promise, regrettably) to use some school facilities to bring you something that really is pretty neat, and which will be of unspeakable novelty even to some of the Chesterton aficionados we have here.

Until then, though, it’s good to be back. I hope you all had a fulfilling and dolorous Lent, and that we may now stride boldly forward in the jovial, head-busting good humour that has been the mark of men and women of good cheer since time immemorial.

2 comments:

Eric said...

Welcome back, Nick.

Nick Milne said...

Thanks Eric. It's good to be back.

It's also good to sleep every once in a while, so I'm going to have a nap before getting back to writing. Didn't want to leave you hanging, though, so here we are.