Substack: on The Heart Machine (2014)

On my Substack, I posted a slightly re-worked piece I wrote for the now-defunct (and off the web, unfortunately) site The Dissolve, on Zachary Wigon’s surprisingly harrowing The Heart Machine. When you hear the plot, you might think you know what it is going to be. But John Gallagher, Jr. gives such an amazing performance of an obsessed-to-the-point-of-being-terrifying man: it’s not to be missed. I don’t hear it getting much chatter, if any, so I thought I’d share my thoughts again. Kate Lyn Sheil, someone I’ve written quite a bit about – an actress I really admire, including the roles she chooses – plays the girl in this skewed-Internet-romance-drama. This one I’m putting out for free, so if you’re interested, have a read: Wherever you go, there you are. Unfortunately.

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Review: Muzzle (2023)

I reviewed Muzzle for Ebert.

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“Either be hot or cold. If you are lukewarm, the Lord will spew you forth from his mouth.” — The Killer

“There is more of the Devil and of salvation — of the power of the eternal idea of those forces — implicit in that kicking than in all their crying unto heaven combined. And in this age of safe sex and rock ‘n roll, the fire in that power seems hotter than ever before.” — Nick Tosches on a Jerry Lee Lewis box set

It’s his birthday today. He was – until he died last year – The Last Man Standing (one of Jerry Lee Lewis’ final album titles) from the first mass-produced rock ‘n roll generation. His death really rocked me. The final thread … first Little Richard, then Jerry Lee … the world suddenly seemed so much less interesting, vital.

To answer your question, Jerry Lee:


Nobody’s gonna play that ol’ piano after you’re gone.

There are so many great clips of Jerry Lee Lewis in his heyday, or even recently, and there are a few black-and-white clips of him performing making it clear how radical and out-there and frightening he really was. He made Elvis look tame.

Here he is in 1957, his first appearance on the Steve Allen Show, which was also his introduction to the national public.

Just one year before, Steve Allen put Elvis in a tuxedo for Elvis’ first appearance on the show, and made him sing “Hound Dog” to an actual – terrified – hound dog. This “skit” completely misses the point of the whole song, of course, and was an attempt to make Elvis palatable to middle America, as well as having a laugh at Elvis’ expense: “Tee hee, look at the hillbilly in a tux.” Allen tried his best to neuter Elvis. But that was 1956. Just one year later, Elvis’ impact opened the door for what was to come. 1957 was a whole different story.

Steve Allen succumbed to the inevitable. He lets Jerry Lee Lewis do his thing. He doesn’t make Jerry Lee Lewis sing “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On” while making him, say, stagger around the stage with bottles and plates falling off of a fake set. He just introduces him, and gets out of the way. Good thing too.

Jerry Lee Lewis’ performance here is one of the most explosive things to ever happen on national television (the Beatles’ appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show doesn’t even come close.) When he kicks the chair out of the way to stand up, you think he’s going to jump through the screen right at you. (Steve Allen tossed the chair back out onstage.)

“It was that belief in the sinfulness of his own music, the sinfulness of himself, that set the music aflame with the frenzy of wickedness and the blackness of doom. Like his cousin Jimmy Lee Swaggart, he was a man for whom life had no meaning without the torments of hell.” — Nick Tosches

Here’s another clip, a live TV performance on UK television from 1964 – this was during Jerry Lee’s wilderness years, when he couldn’t get a job in America. It shows Jerry Lee Lewis surrounded by kids – kids he has put into a frenzied trance – their hands reach out to touch him, they need to touch him … is he real? Can I have some of whatever it is he has? The magic of him? He takes them on a journey: he is in total command of the situation. Watch how they explode – and then subside – and explode again – depending on the cues he gives them.

What we’re seeing there is not a concert. It is a pagan ritual.

But the clip below, of a duet with Tom Jones in 1969, singing a rock ‘n’ roll medley, is one of my all-time favorites. It satisfies on multiple levels: their communication, their joy in performing, their support of one another’s awesomeness without ceding their own power.

This is good old-fashioned entertainment. Entertainers willing to just BE in front of us. Simply BE. They are full enough to handle it, full enough with fantastic talent and presence to be more than enough, just as they are.

It’s hard to do what they’re doing here. If it were easy, more people would do it. You have to know what it is to be a performer. You have to have come up in a world where you can ONLY rely on your talent. You have to have started out playing in barns and church picnics and county fairs in the middle of the day with a lot of other shit going on all around you, cows walking by, ferris wheels in the background, whatever, etc. No sounds and lights to cue the crowd that it’s time to listen to you. You had to MAKE them listen.

What we see here is the result of years of performing in front of live audiences. Years of experience. They know who they are. They know why they are there. They need us, but they need each other more. That’s confidence.

And so we in the audience get to relax. They are not demanding our attention by giving us something over-produced and in-your-face, a spectacle meant to “wow” us. They don’t need any of that.

They rely on each other, and themselves, and the joy of the music they are singing.

I don’t need to worry about them. They’ve got this.

With all of his albums, there’s very little that’s cursory, phony, or lazy. I am not sure if I have all of it, but I have most of it, and none of it gets old, or becomes less fresh with repeat listening. It doesn’t feel like a throwback, you don’t have to adjust your context to get into the music. It still leaps out at you from the speakers, claws bared. There were many different phases. The first reckoning, with the merging of boogie-woogie, country and rhythm and blues – ignited by his piano playing which is out of this world. Sam Phillips always said that of all the Sun Records artists, including Elvis, the two most brilliant on the roster – brilliant to an otherworldly degree – were Howlin’ Wolf and Jerry Lee Lewis. Elvis himself said he would trade his singing voice if he could play the piano like Jerry Lee Lewis did.

Then of course came Jerry Lee Lewis’ extremely rapid fall from grace, the result of his marriage to his 13-year-old cousin. He was on tour in England when the news broke, causing a firestorm of controversy, and he basically had to flee the country. When he returned to America his career was over. Untouchable. (This was one of the benefits of a Colonel Parker-type figure. Colonel Parker had many flaws but he knew how to control the press, how to manage publicity. The tight rein he held over Elvis was constricting to Elvis but it protected him. Jerry Lee Lewis had no such protection.) Then came a lengthy period for Jerry Lee Lewis out in the wilderness. He continued to tour, in smaller venues, and mostly in Europe. Eventually, Jerry Lee Lewis started going back to his country roots, coming out with a series of country music albums catapulting him to the top of the country charts. And the notoriously socially conservative Nashville embraced him (perhaps reluctantly, but numbers don’t lie: JLL’s sales spoke volumes). It was an unbelievable and unforeseen resurrection of a demonized figure. And since then he became an institution. Amazingly, his work was never compromised throughout. You can always hear HIM, and always feel the Jerry Lee Lewis fingerprint.

During his time in the wilderness, he played a show at the Star Club in Hamburg. It was 1964. It’s a miracle, but the show was recorded – and the sound quality is out of this WORLD. Clear as a bell. The Star Club became legendary because it was there that the Beatles really cut their teeth and got a taste of the worldwide frenzy that was to come. They played three gigs at the Star Club over the course of 1962, and the crowds went apeshit. Those shows were recorded, too. The club had a good set-up for recording, placing the microphones close to the instruments – so it almost feels like a studio recording – but the club was small enough that the crowds come across on recordings as a visceral entity, you feel like you’re in the room. So, two years after the Beatles shows, Jerry Lee Lewis – a relic himself – after the initial promise of the 1950s – played a gig there. The whole thing was recorded, and an album was put out but it was only available in Europe. For decades.

I am not alone in saying this: Jerry Lee Lewis: Live at the Star Club is one of the greatest live albums ever made. Rolling Stone wrote:

Live At The Star Club, Hamburg is not an album, it’s a crime scene.

He is there to MURDER the crowd. And he does. And they love it. There’s a moment during the album when the crowd starts to chant, “JER-RY. JER-RY. JER-RY. JER-RY.” It’s so ferocious and insistent it sounds like a battle cry, a political rally, some frightening display of love and adoration ready to trample anything in its way. And Jerry Lee Lewis? He blasts the ROOF off that joint. If you have not heard the album, not sure what you’re waiting for.

Any list of “great concert films” that doesn’t include Live at the Star Club is not a serious list.

Here’s the opener of the show, “Mean Woman Blues”:

A couple years ago, I went to the Play It Loud exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum, an exhibit showing the instruments of rock ‘n roll legends. At the entrance to the exhibit was Jerry Lee Lewis’ gold-painted piano, straight from his home.

AND LASTLY: my post about the brief moment when Jerry Lee Lewis played Iago in a rock ‘n roll adaptation of Othello, and yes, there’s audio from one of the rehearsals. It’s astonishing.

“That boy, that fourteen-year-old boy up there, sat there, rocking, howling a song that was about nothing but getting drunk and fucking up, and all the people there started howling along with him, loving it. For that boy, that fourteen-year-old boy up there, was making the sort of music that most folks had only heard in conjunction with the Holy Ghost, but the boy wasn’t singing about any Holy Ghost. He was singing something he had taken from the blacks, from the juke-joint blacks, but he had changed what he had taken, not so much the way someone might paint a stolen pickup to hide his theft, but rather the way that Uncle Lee had changed those cattle into horses: changed it by pure, unholy audacity. And he had changed it into something that shook those whitefolk, something that would hae shaken Leroy Lewis and Old Man Lewis before him. And he was doing it, that boy was not old enough to shave, right out in the open, in broad daylight. And as he was doing it, Lloyd Paul was running among the crowd with a felt hat in his hand, and people were putting coins into the hat. When Jerry Lee quit playing, Lloyd Paul gave him what was in his hat – almost thirteen dollars. Jerry Lee and Elmo lugged that great jangling mass of copper and silver home in a sack and poured it on the table before Marnie, and they grinned and laughed through their noses like highway thieves as they beheld it: hosanna.” — Nick Tosches, Hellfire: The Jerry Lee Lewis Story

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The Female Gaze (literally)

Joan Fontaine’s chilling “mirror moment” in the astonishing Ivy (1947). (Joan Fontaine? Playing an evil woman? Really?? YES.) In this moment, dressed in mourning for her husband – who died somewhat mysteriously – hmmm – she avoids looking in her own eyes in the mirror. And then … she can’t help it. You know me and mirror moments. I collect them like a miser. I could have predicted there’d be a mirror moment in Ivy, because mirror moments work so well in material like this, where someone who spends their life lying, or acting a part, is left alone, the mirror beckons (and it’s a great storytelling device, giving us a private moment, where the guard is dropped). This is a really good mirror moment, especially the way she avoids as hard as she can looking at herself – because … she’s a terrible person, really, and has done a terrible thing, and she knows it. The truth of what she has done – and who she is – will be waiting for her in the reflection.

(Streaming now on Criterion. I can’t believe I’ve never seen this before. It’s so GOOD.)

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R.I.P. Michael Gambon

All the headlines mention Dumbledore. and I get it. Fine. But Dumbledore Shmumbledore. Michael Gambon’s stage career was spectacular. He played everything (see him here as King Lear), and when I heard he passed, I thought immediately of a hilarious section in Antony Sher’s excellent book The Year of the King, about Sher’s year of preparation to play Richard III. (I highly recommend the book if you haven’t read it.) There’s a great entry where Sher recounts meeting Michael Gambon in the RSC canteen. Gambon shares some anecdotes about auditioning for Laurence Olivier when Gambon was still a “nobody”, and Gambon’s “big break”. It’s unexpectedly moving. And also hilarious.

Tuesday 21 February

CANTEEN I’m having my lunch when I hear a familiar hoarse shout, ‘Oy Tony!’ I whip round, damaged my neck further, to see Michael Gambon in the lunch queue …

Alan Howard (a previous Richard III at the RSC) is standing in front of him, puzzled as to who is being sent up.
Wonderful seeing Gambon again. He and Howard have been rehearsing a play here. They’ve just heard it’s been cancelled because of the scene-shifters’ strike. Everyone assures us that it will be over by the time we go into studio in four weeks.

Gambon tells me the story of Olivier auditioning him at the Old Vic in 1962. His audition speech was from Richard III. ‘See, Tone, I was thick as two short planks then and I didn’t know he’d had a rather notable success in the part. I was just shitting myself about meeting the Great Man. He sussed how green I was and started farting around.’
As reported by Gambon, their conversation went like this:

Olivier: ‘What are you going to do for me?’
Gambon: ‘Richard the Third.’
Olivier: ‘Is that so. Which part?’
Gambon: ‘Richard the Third.’
Olivier: ‘Yes, but which part?’
Gambon: ‘Richard the Third.’
Olivier: ‘Yes, I understand that, but which part?’
Gambon: ‘Richard the Third.’
Olivier: ‘But which character? Catesby? Ratcliffe? Buckingham’s a good part …’
Gambon: ‘Oh I see, beg your pardon, no, Richard the Third.’
Olivier: ‘What, the King? Richard?’
Gambon: ‘ — the Third, yeah.’
Olivier: “You’ve got a fucking cheek, haven’t you?’
Gambon: ‘Beg your pardon?’
Olivier: ‘Never mind, which part are you going to do?’
Gambon: ‘Richard the Third.’
Olivier: ‘Don’t start that again. Which speech?’
Gambon: ‘Oh I see, beg your pardon, “Was every woman in this humour woo’d.”‘
Olivier: ‘Right. Whenever you’re ready.’
Gambon: ‘ “Was ever woman in this humour woo’d –” ‘
Olivier: ‘Wait. Stop. You’re too close. Go further away. I need to see the whole shape, get the full perspective.’
Gambon: ‘Oh I see, beg your pardon …’ Gambon continues, ‘So I go over to the far end of the room, Tone, thinking that I’ve already made an almighty tit of myself, so how do I save the day? Well I see this pillar and I decide to swing round it and start the speech with a sort of dramatic punch. But as I do this my ring catches on a screw and half my sodding hand gets left behind. I think to myself, “Now I mustn’t let this throw me since he’s already got me down as a bit of an arsehole”, so I plough on … “Was ever woman in this humour woo’d –“‘
Olivier: ‘Wait. Stop. What’s the blood?’
Gambon: ‘Nothing, nothing, just a little gash, I do beg your pardon …’
A nurse had to be called and he suffered the indignity of being given first aid with the greatest actor in the world passing the bandages. At last it was done.
Gambon: ‘Shall I start again?’
Olivier: ‘No. I think I’ve got a fair idea how you’re going to do it. You’d better get along now. We’ll let you know.’

Gambon went back to the engineering factory in Islington where he was working. At four that afternoon he was bent over his lathe, working as best as he could with a heavily bandaged hand, when he was called to the phone. It was the Old Vic.

‘It’s not easy talking on the phone, Tone. One, there’s the noise of the machinery. Two, I have to keep my voice down ’cause I’m cockney at work and posh with theatre people. But they offer me a job, spear-carrying, starting immediately. I go back to my work-bench, heart beating in my chest, pack my tool-case, start to go. The foreman comes up, says, “Oy, where you off to?” “I’ve got bad news,” I say, “I’ve got to go.” He says, “Why are you taking your tool box?” I say, “I can’t tell you, it’s very bad news, might need it.” And I never went back there, Tone. Home on the bus, heart still thumping away. A whole new world ahead. We tend to forget what it felt like in the beginning.’

Please read my friend Dan Callahan’s beautiful tribute over on Ebert.

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“I was a silent actress: a body. I belonged to dreams – to those who can’t be broken.” — Sylvia Kristel

Today is the birthday of Dutch actress and – briefly – international superstar – Sylvia Kristel. The timing is fortuitous. Often pigeonholed due to the massive success of the soft-core classic Emmanuelle, Kristel was a gifted and intuitive actress, who worked with some of the biggest stars of the era. Emmanuelle was such a massive (and notorious) hit that it in a way it hindered her reputation (particularly posthumously). Kristel wasn’t ashamed of Emmanuelle – she was very much in favor of the sexual revolution and freedom of expression – but to ONLY be known for that film does this actress a great disservice. My pal Jeremy Richey wrote a book about Kristel, Sylvia Kristel: From Emmanuelle to Chabrol – which came out last year. I could not be more proud of him if I tried. He and I go way way back and I know this has been a dream project for him. I interviewed him about the book, and really enjoyed our discussion.

Many of Kristel’s films are hard to see – many aren’t available at all – but hopefully that will change. In the meantime, coinciding with the publication of Richey’s book, The Metrograph in New York put up a Sylvia Kristel series, still running now.

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Substack: On Dustin Guy Defa’s Bad Fever

I’m a big admirer of the filmmaker (and occasional actor) Dustin Guy Defa. Currently, many of his shorts and a couple of his features are streaming on the Criterion Channel. I wrote about his 2011 feature Bad Fever on my Substack.

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“Sunlight on a broken column.” It’s T.S. Eliot’s birthday.

Poets like William Carlos Williams and Hart Crane both said that they needed to forcibly divorce themselves from Eliot’s influence in order to be able to write. His language and influence had that strong a pull. Too much pull. His voice, his way, became THE way. (Interestingly enough, Eliot felt that way about Joyce’s Ulysses, published in 1922, same year as The Waste Land was published. Eliot said about Ulysses: “I wish for my own sake that I hadn’t read it.”)

I went through an Eliot phase in high school, mainly because my drama class had gone to see Cats in New York (I love how culture works, especially with young people: EVERYTHING gets in), and also we had had to read “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” in English class: this all happened around the same time, and there was something about his descriptions (the yellow fog and I loved the part about the yellow smoke rubbing its back against the window panes) that I really liked. I was very into adjectives back then, and maybe one day I will write about my whole “adjective thing” because it took a truly obsessive form (I had to break myself of the habit, which lasted well into adulthood) and I’m not sure what it was all about. Perhaps it was part of my obsession in capturing beauty, because I knew beauty was not built to last. Eliot’s work was rich with adjectives. I kept lists. I was afraid I would forget.

Eliot had a struggle committing to be a poet. His parents thought it was a waste of energy, and they wanted him to have a “real” job. For a while he kept up the pretense, studying philosophy, going for his dissertation, but all the while, poetry was growing in him.

So guess who entered the picture around this time?

Ezra Pound. What a shock.

Pound read early drafts of Prufrock and browbeat Harriet Monroe (editor of Poetry) to publish it. Monroe didn’t want to at first. Pound tried again. And again. Until finally she caved in 1915.

This is why Ezra Pound was such an important figure (fascism and treason and anti-Semitism notwithstanding). He was a ferocious ADVOCATE of other writers, especially writers who were doing something new, who were changing the rules.

More – much more – on T.S. Eliot after the jump.

Continue reading

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Happy Birthday, John Lynch

A fine actor, hailing from Northern Island (County Armagh), he made his debut – and it was a striking one – in Cal, based on the novel by Bernard MacLaverty, a novel of “the troubles”. He plays a young IRA member who becomes romantically involved with the widow of a man killed by his unit (Cal was “the driver”). Helen Mirren plays the widow, and this Irish film is dark, gloomy, moody, and excellent. My father loved the book and the movie, and it was through his recommendation I came to both, and it was how I was introduced to John Lynch.

Helen Mirren, John Lynch, “Cal”

He has gone on to have an excellent career. (His sister Susan is also a wonderful actress.) I loved him recently in the mini-series The Fall, with Gillian Anderson. A Belfast serial killer murder mystery. His character’s “arc” is drastic: we witness his steep descent into all the bad habits he thought he had given up, a tormented man throbbing with shame and passion and rage. I also loved him in Some Mother’s Son, directed by Helen Mirren, where he plays Bobby Sands, the de facto leader of the hunger strikes in Ireland in the early ’80s (my family was THERE at the time. I was young but I was intensely aware of what was happening and it was SO upsetting and I didn’t understand why someone didn’t stop these men from dying.) I saw the movie in the theatre, and now I own it on DVD, but for a long time it was hard to find and it doesn’t get much play. Lynch makes a perfect Bobby Sands. He even looks like him.

John Lynch, Jacqueline McKenzie, “Angel Baby”

The only thing I’ve written about involving him – and it’s a big one – was a piece for my Film Comment column (RIP) about 1995’s Angel Baby, directed by Michael Rymer and starring Lynch and Jacqueline McKenzie. My friend Rebecca and I went to go see it at the Angelica when it came out. We were riveted. We were devastated by the end. We could barely speak.

Both Lynch and McKenzie give performances as good as it gets. This film remains criminally hard to find and/or see. Many people haven’t even heard of it. It was a critical success, an arthouse hit. It was only the mid-90s. What has happened to collective cultural memory? It wasn’t THAT long ago.

Keep your eyes peeled for this one. Again: Here’s a link to the piece I wrote.

Thank you so much for stopping by. If you like what I do, and if you feel inclined to support my work, here’s a link to my Venmo account. And I’ve launched a Substack, Sheila Variations 2.0, if you’d like to subscribe.

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“Paper, tobacco, food, and a little whiskey.” — William Faulkner on his writing requirements

“The writer’s only responsibility is to his art. He will be completely ruthless if he is a good one. He has a dream. It anguishes him so much he must get rid of it. He has no peace until then. Everything goes by the board: honor, pride, decency, security, happiness, all, to get the book written. If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ is worth any number of old ladies.” — William Faulkner

Faulkner wasn’t fucking around.

It’s his birthday today.

While I haven’t written here about Faulkner’s books, I did write about the film adaptation of Faulkner’s 1940 story “Tomorrow”, starring pre-fame Robert Duvall (it was my Dad’s favorite Duvall performance. He referenced it to me before I had even seen it. Dad only saw it once, and it stuck in his mind all those years.)

Faulkner was a great interview. His Paris Review is fantastic and rich. A couple quotes:

On Moby-Dick:

“Writers have always drawn, and always will draw, upon the allegories of moral consciousness, for the reason that the allegories are matchless – the three men in Moby-Dick, who represent the trinity of conscience: knowing nothing, knowing but not caring, knowing and caring.”

On the writers and books he loves:

“The books I read are the ones I knew and loved when I was a young man and to which I return as you do to old friends: the Old Testament, Dickens, Conrad, Cervantes, Don Quixote – I read that every year, as some do the Bible. Flaubert, Balzac – he created an intact world of his own, a bloodstream running through twenty books – Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Shakespeare. I read Melville occasionally and, of the poets, Marlowe, Campion, Jonson, Herrick, Donne, Keats, and Shelley. I still read Housman. I’ve read these books so often that I don’t always begin at page one and read on to the end. I just read one scene, or about one character, just as you’d meet and talk to a friend for a few minutes.”

On Ulysses (Faulkner’s first-response is one of my favorite quotes about the book):

You should approach Joyce’s Ulysses as the illiterate Baptist preacher approaches the Old Testament: with faith.

And finally: Faulkner’s Nobel Prize speech. It’s a doozy. He bought his first dress suit for the ceremony. It was a big deal that he even showed, that he left Oxford, Mississippi at all. 1950. Important to consider the context. The bombs had been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki just 5 years before. The horror of what was unleashed was fresh. Humanity faced extinction. Faulkner, one of the bleakest writers who ever lived, spoke about “the end of man” and where he stood on that urgent issue.

Stockholm, 10 December 1950
“The agony and the sweat”

I feel that this award was not made to me as a man, but to my work — a life’s work in the agony and sweat of the human spirit, not for glory and least of all for profit, but to create out of the materials of the human spirit something which did not exist before. So this award is only mine in trust. It will not be difficult to find a dedication for the money part of it commensurate with the purpose and significance of its origin. But I would like to do the same with the acclaim too, by using this moment as a pinnacle from which I might be listened to by the young men and women already dedicated to the same anguish and travail, among whom is already that one who will someday stand here where I am standing.

Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only the question: when will I be blown up? Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.

He must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid; and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed — love and honour and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he does so, he labours under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, of victories without hope, and, worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grive on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.

Until he relearns these things, he will write as though he stood among and watched the end of man. I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal simplyl because he will endure; that when the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking. I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endue: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honour and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man; it can be one of the props, the pillars, to help him endure and prevail.

Thank you so much for stopping by. If you like what I do, and if you feel inclined to support my work, here’s a link to my Venmo account. And I’ve launched a Substack, Sheila Variations 2.0, if you’d like to subscribe.

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