Today is the 46th anniversary of my grandmother Edna Rogers Krahenbuhl’s death in Asheville, the 32nd anniversary of my cat Gingie’s death in Woodstock, and the first anniversary of My Awful Teacher’s Inauguration.
In Buddism, your teacher can be the Awfullest person in the world if he teaches you something. My AT (Awful Teacher) has reacquainted me with the writings of George Orwell, seeker of true words. My AT has made me watch far too much cable news. My AT has started me drawing again with colored pencils in order to ambush true things via silent art. My AT has been one of the reasons I felt compelled to start this blog.
Last night I sat in front of the TV until midnight and watched the silent body language of our elected senators on the senate floor. It was mesmerizing. By now I recognized them and could call them by name. They gathered in little clumps, then some bigger clumps, and nodded their heads and waved their arms, and then the groups shifted, the two leaders left the floor for who knew what negotiation, then they came back and sat behind their respective desks and let the latest clumps gather round them. Periodically the senate cameras turned the room around so you saw everything from a different angle.
When the Shutdown had begun its own countdown on my screen and elected officials began to speak aloud, I was actually unprepared by the acrimony of the exchanges. The body language pageant had looked, well, promising. When their demons had been on mute, the silent senators had still looked like the interacting selves they might yet become.
Dante’s triple-faced devil (lower half trapped below ice)
This past week I have been deep into demons: Facing the nasties of the demon in my novel in progress and drawing drinking demons for my future “Drinking” posts. My first drawing was a failure:
Tame Little Tempters
I was not at all happy with these rather sweet courting figures. The single part I liked was her left hand “saying no.”
So I looked to St. Catherine of Siena, a formidably intelligent woman, (first female Doctor of the Church) who was also beset by really destructive demons–no courtier aspects to them. An unnamed Renaissance painter tried to render them and I more or less copied St. Catherine’s demons according to him. (Or perhaps it was a her.)
Another Artist’s Demons (c. 1500, Warsaw)
Still not there. Research more demon images. What made a demon a demon back in those days? A mixup of animal body parts. Mixture of human bodies with animal bodies. Bodies wearing faces in their bellies. “Unshapely things.” After an hour or so, I stopped. Some of them were getting to me. Which ones? Why? In my 1994 novel The Good Husband, Magda, a prominent young scholar, makes herself deathly ill researching her second book on Evil and ends her promising career.
I felt somewhat like Magda.
Here is an evening prayer for January 20, 2018
O God, make speed to save us/ O Lord, make haste to help us.
(Book of Common Prayer)