Sunday, June 29, 2014

Charles Dickens: Where To Begin The Feast

"A Christmas Carol" 
Disney production with Jim Carrey "doing all the voices."
Eleven Words From Charles Dickens 
A Sample Page From Wordnik

Dear Fred,

Thanks for Frog Hospital.

Pick any Dickens' on your list. 

You can even cast lots. 

Or dust off the I Ching.  

What fun to cast a hexagram again!

But if you want a "sure thing," take"A Christmas Carol" to the beach. 

"Carol" is a quick "read" - a novella at most.

After reading it, you'll be set to watch Jim Carrey's "Christmas Carol" this Advent.

Invite a houseful of friends. Serve stuffed turkey, Caesar salad and champagne.

I realize Carrey may have the appeal of an optional dose of ipecac. 

Trust me. 

Carrey -- indeed, this whole Disney production -- is brilliant, luminous. 

Even numinous. 

Partly this rendition is great because it is so faithful to Dickens' text - along with such lush illustration and sky-high sparkle... even when it deviates from the script as it does in a few ebullient, de novo bits).

My favorite reviewer, Roger Ebert -- requiescat in pace --  gave Disney's production Four Stars

Last but not least...

The Maraschino Cherry! 

Dickens "Christmas Carol" is literary proof of John Kenneth Galbraith's historical Truth:

No matter how "right" conservatives may be "on principle," they are transcendentally wrong in their uncharitableness.

We are all sinners and wisely advised to remember: "Love covers a multitude of sins."

"The Message" puts it like this:

1 Peter 4:8

The Message 
7-11 "Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help."

I would add: "Love one another as if your After-Life depended on it."
Conservative Christians can make their existential stand on doctrine, dogma and The Majesty of Papal Monarchy.
But when push comes to shove -- when our nose is finally pressed against the glass of eternity -- our forgiveness will depend on our give-ness.

Dogma, doctrine and bibliolatry be damned.

Pax tecum

On Sun, Jun 29, 2014 at 12:34 PM, Fred Owens <> wrote:

FROG HOSPITAL – Unsubscribe anytime

June 29, 2014

Oliver Twist, also “Israel or ISIS”

By Fred Owens

Oliver Twist is an angelic sap, devoid of mischief and guile. I would not want to play with him. He might run home and tell on me. What you’re looking for in a friend is a co-conspirator, not a role model.

I’m half-way through this novel by Charles Dickens – I am disillusioned. I don’t care very much about young Oliver, but I will bring the book with me to the beach and soldier on.

My next Dickens novel might by Nicholas Nickleby, Martin Chuzzlewit or Bleak House.

Nicholas Nickleby, being the one written after Oliver Twist, seems like a good choice.

Martin Chuzzlewit is funny, and since Oliver Twist is humorless, I might need a laugh.

Or Bleak House -- people say this is his best work, and I had been saving it for last, but why not now?

It’s summertime, beach reading season, in Southern California – all conditions point to a sublime experience, so it might be Bleak House.

Feel free to advise me on this choice.

I could write at much greater length about the novels of Charles Dickens, but I suspect not all of you are interested.

Israel or ISIS

Rather a dramatic change of topic, and yet it is what we are considering. Let me talk about having dinner with younger friends last week. They cheerfully admitted to a lack of news, as in not reading the news, not the newspaper or the Internet. It depressed them, so they avoided it.

You avoid bad news in order to be happy? How shallow. Happiness comes when you square up to the misery and cruelty of this world and still smile. I make a daily effort to be the good news, or at least part of it. And that makes me happy. But if there’s trouble, I want to hear about it, and hear about it right away. And people say, wrongly, that it does no good to hear about war in the Middle East because there is so little we can do about it.

Paying attention is doing something. Paying attention is no small thing. Read and learn about all the turmoil and all the calamities of all the people of the earth and make your heart big enough to be happy just the same.

And that brings me to this news item that I found on the Daily Beast. (Kids read news sites like the Daily Beast, if they read any news at all)

Who has the toughest, most zealous, most determined military force in the Middle East? The Israelis. They’re not “weighing their options.” That is our luxury, not theirs.

We don’t defend Israel. It defends itself quite well. Israel has its boots on the ground right now and has no exit strategy.

You can find much fault with this society, but Israel does exist. And I will state, with my limited knowledge, that Israel might be just a hair less psychotic than the rampaging religious maniacs called ISIS. People might not feel free to say that out loud but it’s true.

Realizing this almost made me smile, because the ISIS is downright scary, and who can stop them?  I will tell you who can stop ISIS – those same people you said don’t exist, the ones you will drive into the ocean. Now you will swallow your words because you will need their help.

And that would be a good thing, if people admitted, without actually having to come out and say so, that Israel is part of the solution to the future of the Middle East, not a peaceful and good future, but any future at all, because at this point, with all that war and fear of war, and martial intoxication, and the wild urges of young men to join in battle, any future at all is worth seeking and believing in, and this future will include Israel in some way, and it will not include ISIS.

That’s the choice. Those are the options.  Israel or ISIS.

Thomas Friedman. Honestly, I should pass this on to Thomas Friedman at the New York Times, but he’s a clever man and will likely arrive at the same solution that I have just declared.

Not Forgetting Charles Dickens. This is why we read Charles Dickens on the beach, in the summer in sunny Southern California. Good books are not an escape at all. They are a part of what makes us alive, and that’s how we can be happy without hiding from the raging realities.

Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital

send mail to:

Fred Owens
35 West Main St Suite B #391
Ventura CA 93001

No comments:

Post a Comment