Bernini’s sculpture of Aeneas, Anchises, and Ascanius fleeing Troy, on their way to eventually found Rome.

Anchises, the father of Aeneas, grabs the household gods while the city of Troy burns. Aeneas grabs his father, and has the boy Ascanius grab the fire. The boy carries the fire. The old man carries the gods. All their actions hope for some future civilization.

A while ago I mentioned that Cormac McCarthy sees himself as Dante’s Virgil, able only to take Dante through hell and purgatory before ending his journey at the threshold of heaven. However, the other evening my good friend, David Ritchie, was over for supper and we were discussing my recreational thesis and the resemblance McCarthy has to the actual Virgil.

David and another friend and myself visited Rome a few years ago where we toured the Galeria Borghese and saw Bernini’s sculpture. We were reminded of this scene portrayed by the actual Virgil in the Aeneid and also of the scene in McCarthy’s The Road where the father and son, fleeing a burning world in hopes of finding some civilization, come across an old man. The three eat canned peaches around a fire and discuss God.

Throughout the novel, the boy and the father promise to “carry the fire”, but this old man at the campfire says, “There is no God and we are his prophets.” This seems an intentional contradiction to Virgil’s scene. Once again, McCarthy won’t take any step further than Dante’s Virgil did, and it seems that it is his choice not to.

Ms. Odradek: The Chimera of Modern Culture

… our relationship with mass culture is in itself interminable. There can be no conclusion or certainty, where the very structure of communication has founded the reign of perplexity, of dissociation, of procrastination. ‘The consumer’s relation with the real world, with politics, history, and…

I both like and hate this. It’s true, therefore I like it. It’s pointing its finger accusing my guilty heart, therefore I hate it.

I am Francesca and Paolo in a whirlwind of eternal almost-pleasure. My chimera of choice would be the Minotaur.

Ms. Odradek: The Chimera of Modern Culture

Winter Wheat (EP Review)

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Ryan Culwell’s last studio album, Heroes on the Radiowas released in 2006. Since then he led the rock band The Young Senators through a storm of shows in oil-field bars across West Texas before walking away from the lifestyle to plant his young family in Nashville. Upon arrival in Music City, he could only make sense of the new world in the laconic language of his barren Flatland upbringing, and his first EP in 6 years – Winter Wheat – was born.

While it may be fine to talk about these songs in terms of a career, it falls short of the ambition in the opening lines of “Walking Away” – The wheat field is all but dead // There’s a pure white snow under my heel // But the old timers say it’ll be a crop someday. 

For all the paradox this seems, these songs tell what it is for a man to hate his life – lay down his vain ambitions in the dirt, hoping they bear a better fruit than the meager scraps he’d known. In the world decaying-to-dust that Ryan narrates, hope is the crop germinating in Winter Wheat

I’ve said a few things about Ryan (here and here) in the past, and I do so again now proudly and without regard to any sort of Internet personality I may have cultivated. I think these four songs are great. They have been my accompaniment as I drive the 40 uninhabited miles home from work every day and can literally say that the songs have kept me alive (or at least awake, which at 70 mph is the same thing). 

If my recommendation holds any weight for you, then click through and download Ryan Culwell’s Winter Wheat. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope it whets your appetite for the full-length album that he’ll release in 2013.

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* If you don’t know anything about NoiseTrade, here’s the basics: you enter your email and zip code so the artist has the information in case they are ever in your area. You don’t have to pay anything to download the music; although tips are nice. Pretty simple.