Monday, November 30, 2009

Che: The Motorcycle Diaries

I watched the Steven Soderbergh Che films on the weekend, and was enthralled by the story of Ernesto 'Che' Guevera. I am so intrigued by how the Che I've seen in film* seems to get many parts of 'the kingdom', and yet at some point rejects it thoroughly. Why? I wonder aloud. The next couple of posts surround my fascination with Che and, more importantly, the kingdom.


I can still remember the moment. It's third year at Mac. I'm in the living room of a student house with a bunch of friends and we're watching The Motorcycle Diaries. The movie ends, the credits run, and the DVD title screen loops for about 5 minutes before someone utters a word.

"Wow... That was good."

Most of us wanted to drop out of school, buy motorcycles, and travel around South America after seeing the film. Some developed mad crushes on Ernesto. Either way, most people had been unsettled by the film because of how foreign, and yet how close, it was to our experience living in Hamilton. We were students in programs we didn't necessarily love, and we wanted more out of life than academia offered. We wanted adventure, and we wanted to see change in the world.

It was in this context that I saw what is hands down my favourite scene in film. While on the way to visit a leper colony separated by a mighty river from the healthy medical staff, Che and his friend Alberto refuse to wear gloves to protect them from contact with the lepers. They reject the rules of the nuns, knowing full well leprosy doesn't spread through touch. Once they arrive, Che is welcomed by Papa Carlito, a leper excited to see newcomers. When Che extends his exposed hand as a gesture of friendship, Papa Carlito is shocked and apprehensive - is this a joke? After being assured otherwise, the two shake hands, and in this moment the unclean and the clean meet; the divide between healthy and sick falls; Papa Carlito experiences the sweet sensation of an identity beginning to be redeemed.

Shortly after seeing this film, I found myself studying scripture and following the story of Jesus. Over and over again Jesus is the one stepping into unclean places and making them clean - all the while shirking the social and religious taboos of the day. Che does the same, and as such shares in the gospel in this moment. Yep, he does. The guy who doesn't believe lives out the good news right there. Thus began the enigma of Che and the kingdom for me.

Some might say the more moving scene in the film is when Che swims across the alligator and piranha infested river to spend the evening with the lepers rather than the medical professionals. For me it is the look on Papa Carlito's face when he holds the hand of a healthy person who has deemed him important enough to extend friendship and touch.

*Yes, I am merely referring to the film portrayals of Che, and not the Che found in biographies and history textbooks. Those books tell stories, as does film. Both are important, but only one shows up here.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

New Aesthetic

I felt like the blog needed a shake up. This is that shake up.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

pause. read. pause. think. act.

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.


Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.


One of the dinner guests, on hearing this, said to him, "Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!" Then Jesus said to him, "Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, 'Come; for everything is ready now'. But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, 'I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets'. Another said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets'. Another said, 'I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come'."


"So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to the slave, 'Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame'. And the slave said, 'Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room'. Then the master said to the slave, 'Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

finding inspiration

Recently I've been working on some poetry that has seemingly arrived out of nowhere, landing on the tips of my tongue and fingers. I am no poet-extraordinaire, but it has been refreshing to explore this approach to creative writing again. There have been times when I have forced myself to attempt poetry, and it's been so contrived and banal that I would never imagine letting eyes see the short pages of journal space it occupies - yet it is an attempt, and I find solace in that notion.

Some recent poetry has been influenced by moments when the ear catches something that sends it on a journey. The sound of a singer that brings up connotations that connect to memories that connect to a general aesthetic wrapped around said sound/voice/accent. The sound of a foreign language that invites the "what-if" dreams of immersion in another culture, and what one's story would look like in another life. The sound of the divine incarnating these sounds, and joining them at once to each other as a portrait of humanness, and courting that portrait with the intent of marrying the human to the divine. It may sound all abstract and aery-faery, but it is a dance of theology that I have sorely missed for a long time.

These poems that I am writing are pregnant with desire - desire for a kingdom that embraces, renews, and recreates human desire. This is as unabashed as my writing has been. It is new, and it is fascinating.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

cabin fever

Thursday: The first couple of coughs at night

Friday: Coughs, sore throat, run through a pack of halls in three hours, crash when I get home.

Saturday: Bed-ridden (missing the pub night celebration for my friend Greg who just got engaged). To say I had the symptoms of utter misery would be an understatement

Sunday: Bed-ridden with a few brief forays to the living room to watch TV. I am caught up on FlashForward (a decent show, but it has nothing on LOST).

Monday: Finally realize that my symptoms match the dreaded piggy flu. Spend part of the day watching TV (I hate it). The other part trying to sleep it off. The house is empty and the extrovert in me wants to hang out with someone

Tuesday: House is empty, I'm more alert but get a ton of cold sweats. Sleep a bit, but otherwise am stir-crazy and wanting to hang out with someone.

Wednesday: House is empty, feel alert and back to normal self (minus the cough - which I'm told will be around for a while). The extrovert in me is going insane. I want to hang out with people, but fear I'm a liability. I can't phone or email someone asking them to come over. Self-quarantine sucks.

Seven days (the lifespan of this possible illness) and I'm ready to return to the real world. Ontario Health says I shouldn't be contagious anymore. I feel physically fine now, but man is my mental/social well being at a loss.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Why You Should Listen To The Swell Season

This wasn't even the best song of the night. But bloody brilliant it still is.

Now this... this was the best part of the concert. Standing ovation mid-concert.

And another one for you...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Strictest of Joys

I'm closing out the final hours of the weekend listening to the new Swell Season EP "Strict Joy" in preparation for the concert Tuesday night. It's aptly titled to say the least. It's a really enjoyable listen, and probably the best break up album I've heard. Too bad I'm not in the mood for a break up album. This guy wants a heart-laid-out-on-the-guitar-strings-and-piano-keys album full of simple joys like enjoying love, or at least the hard earned joys that come with working love out. Man this is one of the best albums I don't want to listen to right now.

And this is not what I really want to be posting about at this juncture. I had a great weekend at a camp reunion - with the best costume I've ever created - and am still thinking about everything I learned/heard/experienced there. Funny, I feel like one of the best ways to describe the weekend is "strict joy," but that delves into a greater story that will no doubt be explored on here and involves, of all things, international intrigue.