The Art is Weak

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Dear Maud,

Man’s oldest institution is man himself.

Yes, Maud, ’tis me again. And, yes, my latest assertion is my most outlandish yet; indeed, to apprehend it we must pull on our boots.

We start in soil and end up on the stove. That’s right, Maud – tomato relish have I made. Poorly, I fear. For, in a morning or more, three pounds of pampered fruit became eleven jars of sauce (amid an excess of overflow) and I was reduced to a simmer.

Society, I fumed, has outstripped human nature. Traditions have been supplanted by supermarkets, which fill only bellies. The urge to create might be powerfully strong, but, alas, the art is weak.

To soothe my soul, I baked bread.

It is not the only thing to have risen this day. Remember Jesus? I don’t, so I gawped at the gospels again this Easter. As usual, I was impressed by the perversity of his logic: ‘If a man in authority makes you go one mile, go with him two’ and the like.

But I was also touched by his fate. This rare glimpse of the inner man moved me:

Anguish and dismay came over him, and he said to them, ‘My heart is ready to break with grief. Stop here, and stay awake with me.’ He went on a little, fell on his face in prayer, and said, ‘Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by…’

I wonder if Socrates felt the same.

Finally, Maud, these are turbulent times. Recently, I experienced four things in one day – walking sticks, that is, not seasons. (Seasons are for the birds!) What does it mean? The Good Book, still open at my elbow, providentially supplies the answer:

For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and walking sticks, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.

Forgive me!

Yours etc.