Hammer Through Daisies

@curatormagazine posted my most recent essay. Surprise, I write about death again. And Dylan Thomas.

Irony isn’t bad, of course. It allows us to grasp the nebulae of death or time or memory and examine them as things, briefly, because irony is a posture toward existence that grants the bizarre possibility that things like flowers could stand in the place of gigantic death. We need it. But in the end, the metaphors of irony’s garden are ridiculous little signs. If we forget that and carry on tending our metaphors, or worse preserving them as though they lived beyond their moment; if we forget that there is real life and death beyond these things, or maybe even a god that makes and sustains these things, then soon enough, all of existence is rendered ridiculous. Elegant maybe, but absurd. See more: http://www.curatormagazine.com/seth-wieck/hammer-through-daisies/

Hammer Through Daisies

Finalist in Narrative’s 2013 Spring Contest

“Lantern, Name Thy Bearer”, an excerpt from a long story I’ve been working on, was selected as a finalist in Narrative Magazine’s 2013 Spring Contest. Here’s a list of the finalists, a group in which I’m proud to be found:

Jerad Alexander On Our Next Stop in Modern War
Robert Bausch Rescue
Joe David Bellamy Bad
Stephen Carson River of the Crumbling Banks
Camilla Collova The Year I Grew Up
Pete Fromm Grief
Roberta Gates The Man Who Wore Violets
Nhi Huynh Caught
Katherine James Fishhook
Louise Marburg Poor Bob
Elizabeth Mosier Animator
Lynn Stegner Cedros Island
Seth Wieck Lantern, Name Thy Bearer
– See more at: http://www.narrativemagazine.com/node/223484

P.S. The inimitable msodradek looked at it this summer and made some much needed suggestions, for which I’m very grateful.

Finalist in Narrative’s 2013 Spring Contest

Melville without Milton

Like Shelley and Blake, Melville was charmed by the individualism and heroic striving of Milton’s Satan, and he imbued Ahab with the same sense of outsized self-mythologizing. His rereading of Paradise Lost during the composition of Moby Dick significantly altered the novel’s meaning and mythic scope. The extraordinary fact is that as late as 1849 (Moby Dick was published in 1851), Melville had yet to conceive of Captain Ahab and was focused instead on the non-epic bildungsroman of a shipmate called Ishmael. Take Milton’s Satan away from Melville and you can forget about the earthshaking achievement of Moby Dick.

The Writer as Reader: Melville and His Marginalia by William Giraldi

http://lareviewofbooks.org/essay/the-writer-as-reader-melville-and-his-marginalia

His Tomb Is With Us To This Day

Once again, the fine folks @curatormagazine have posted one of my essays. I have a few more scheduled over the next several weeks, so I’ll keep you informed.

My nephew Jude was stillborn. The diagnosis came early in the pregnancy: an extra chromosome written into the genetic language would lead to, among other maladies, a terminal heart condition. A period on a sentence still being thought. Yet. Inside the womb, Jude was vibrant. Strong even. I felt him kick my hand through my sister-in-law’s stomach. The reality of that touch was difficult to reconcile with the doctors’ predictions. The doctors had narratives built from a battery of tests and data, but I had flesh upon flesh.

His Tomb Is With Us To This Day

There is a certain kind of fascination, a strictly artistic fascination, which arises from a matter being hinted at in such a way as to leave a certain tormenting uncertainty even at the end. It is well sometimes to half understand a poem in the same manner that we half understand the world. One of the deepest and strangest of all human moods is the mood which will suddenly strike us perhaps in a garden at night, or deep in sloping meadows, the feeling that every flower and leaf has just uttered something stupendously direct and important, and that we have by a prodigy of imbecility not heard or understood it. There is a certain poetic value, and that a genuine one, in this sense of having missed the full meaning of things. There is beauty, not only in wisdom, but in this dazed and dramatic ignorance.

G.K. Chesterton, Robert Browning (via invisibleforeigner)

The task theology has to fulfill is continually to stimulate and lead [the community] to face squarely the question of the proper relation of their human speech to the Word of God, which is origin, object, and content of this speech.

Barth, Karl. Evangelical Theology: An Introduction. William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, Grand Rapids. 1979. p 41. 

Blaisedell, the poet, had said to him, “You love beer so much. I’ll bet some day you’ll go in and order a beer milk shake.” It was a simple piece of foolery but it had bothered Doc ever since. He wondered what a beer milk shake would taste like. The idea gagged him but he couldn’t let it alone. It cropped up every time he had a glass of beer. Would it curdle the milk? Would you add sugar? Once the thing got into your head you couldn’t forget it…

The waitress, a blonde beauty with just the hint of a goiter, smiled at him. “What’ll it be?”
“Beer milk shake,” said Doc.
“What?”
Well here it was and what the hell. Might just as well get it over with now as some time later.
The blonde asked, “Are you kidding?”
Doc knew wearily that he couldn’t explain, couldn’t tell the truth. “I’ve got a bladder complaint,” he said. “Bipalychaetorsonectomy the doctors called it. I’m supposed to drink a beer milk shake. Doctor’s orders.”
The blonde smiled reassuringly. “Oh! I thought you was kidding,” she said archly. “You tell me how to make it. I didn’t know you was sick.”
“Very sick,” said Doc, “and due to be sicker. Put in some milk and add half a bottle of beer. Give me the other half in a glass–no sugar in the milk shake.” When she served it, he tasted it wryly. And it wasn’t so bad–it just tasted like stale beer and milk.
“It sounds awful,” said the blonde.
“It’s not so bad when you get used to it,” said Doc. “I’ve been drinking it for seventeen years.”

Steinbeck, John. Cannery Row. Penguin, NY. 1994.

John Steinbeck was surely awarded the Nobel Prize solely for this section of writing.

Also, here is a recipe for an actual and tasty beer milk shake:

Ingredients
4 scoops good quality vanilla ice cream
½ cup whole milk, chilled
4 tablespoons chocolate syrup
18 ounces milk stout beer (recommended: Left Hand Brewing Company Milk Stout, chilled
Pinch salt
4 mini salted pretzels
Directions
Take the vanilla ice cream out of the freezer for 10 minutes or so to soften. Once barely softened, add to the blender 4 scoops of vanilla ice cream, the milk, chocolate syrup, and the chilled stout, pouring slowly so as not to generate lots of beer foam. Add the pinch of salt and blend to a smooth consistency. For a thicker consistency, add more vanilla ice cream.

Pour the milkshake into 4 glasses and float 1 mini pretzel on top of each glass.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/black-and-white-stout-milkshake-recipe/index.html?oc=linkback