This is a post that analyses themes in two books – Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman and JM Coetzee’s The Childhood of Jesus. There will be reference to the plots, including the endings, of both books so beware of spoilers!
Hell has been imagined in many circumstances. Heaven, perhaps less often, has been used as a plot device or a theme for artistic creation. The dichotomy of “eternal suffering Vs eternal bliss”, in whatever form these two things take shape, is a common theme in religious teachings, and has also been used to form philosophical theory in literature. After recently reading JM Coetzee’s divine The Childhood of Jesus I was reminded of Flann O’Brien’s devilishly good satire The Third Policeman, and this post is an analysis of the concepts of heaven and hell through these two works of literature. Continue reading “Heaven or Hell: Two literary journeys in the afterlife”
In Ancient Greek literature sudden and vast travel occurred regularly. As the nomadic and expansive ideas of the writers of that era sought to understand their world through travel they often created mystical methods of transcontinental journeying. Great waves tore Odysseus and his crew from his homeland, and the wings that Daedalus built helped him soar to freedom from his island prison. Airplane travel in the 20th Century led to unprecedented opportunities for travel and communication that mimic the adventurous nature of these fictional tales. If travel should broaden the mind then broader travel may have stretched the mind even further. The concept of travel has been broached across the arts, culminating in works in the late 20th Century and early this century that create a reality from the myth.
It is sad to think on how long ago MUW last had a post, but it is 2014 now, and activity will start again. Writing sank down a priority list in 2013, but is now kicking off with inspiration from a Franco-artistic group of authors, known as Oulipo. For this post, I will avoid all utilisation of that most common of all symbols in our vocabulary, “E” (apart from just now!). In illustrations using a book, film or author’s call-sign, a * will stand in for that infuriating symbol.
When Shakespeare plays were originally performed, it was not allowed for audience members to bring in paper for fear that they would write down and steal the plays. To counter this, furtive audience members would go to performances and each remember different sections of the plays, then meet later and write down all they could remember. Each section was then stitched together, and the works were stolen regardless.
Once upon a time two armies assembled, opposed to one another on a battlefield. The crystal army, led by a foolish king, charged their king’s guard forward without thinking of the consequences. They left their king open to attack…
In “A Course On General Linguistics“(1916) Ferdinand de Saussure made comparisons between chess and language. Saussure was observing some intrinsic relationship between language and games, showing how changes in the design of pieces from ivory to wood make little difference, but changes in the movement or number of pieces distort the “grammar” of a game of chess. In The Medium Is The Massage, theorist Marshall McLuhan put forward a concept that the messages that we receive are not so much in what is said, but in what is used to say it.
There is a saying in school games, “to have pax”. This reminded me of chasing (tag), and something that we used to say as children, “tax” (probably a distortion of “pax”). The origins of the word pax are in Latin – it means peace. We said this in order to take a break, for example when we needed to tie our shoelace. I posed the question to my Facebook community about what was the common term in their school-yards, and received a spate of alternatives from across Ireland, from “boxed”, “tax” and “pox” to, bizarrely, “keys” and, predictably, “f**k off I’m tying my shoe”. There are many variations (my American and Canadian friends suggested “Time-out”) but the rule is the same regardless of where it is played. When you have pax, you are outside the game. Continue reading “Fool’s Mate – Language and storytelling in games”
For any who have ever experienced caving, you will remember unsure footing, tight squeezes and low-hanging rocks and the claustrophobic feeling that can come in the moist earthy air. You will be aware of how extraordinarily dark it can be in the gloomy underground. It can be stifling and unsettling in the depths of a cave, but with light to guide the way, the experience can instead be extremely fulfilling. Continue reading “Illuminating the Grotesque: Crawling into political satire”
The future is coming, or so they say. And as it approaches us head-on, we can do little to avoid collision with its impending certainty. I for one am looking forward to the invention of hoverboards in 2015, but am still nervous every time I turn on my computer of the day when robots rule the earth.
After deciding on the next topic for Moon Under water, i.e. the wonderful literary style of American author Cormac McCarthy, I decided to do a little research on the ambiguous public character of and found a piece online on The New Yorker’s webpage by writer James Wood. It’s an interesting criticism and a great introductory piece for any who are unfamiliar with the author. The subtitle for the article is “The sanguinary sublime of Cormac McCarthy”. I thought this far to apt a subtitle to pass up on quoting, as in assonance, double-meaning and literary style this is the perfect starting point for a critical reading of McCarthy’s later works. All I can say is damn him for thinking of it first…