My body decided to ring in the new year with an upper respiratory disease. During a particularly unpleasant night of congestion, I found myself moved to sketch out a five part story describing a different kind of bodily betrayal.
When I made my top ten reads of 2017 list the other day, I forgot to mention Jack Vance’s novel, The Languages of Pao. It’s pretty much what you would get if you used the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (that our language has a fundamental role in shaping how we perceive reality) as the basis for a space opera with Vance’s literary aplomb, and tendency to have characters speak as if they were in a comedy of manners – instead of a character responding to a question with, “I don’t deny it” you get “to deny it would be banal.”
I’m pretty dubious about Sapir-Whorf, but it makes for some good sci-fi. The movie Arrival is another good example.
Getting sick has also prompted me to pick up The Lord of the Rings again, which was due for a re-read, anyway. One of the novel’s aspects that doesn’t translate very well into cinema is its function as a travelogue: Tolkien’s painterly description of Middle-Earth’s unfolding landscape and the minutiae of Frodo’s journey is sometimes criticized for being a bit dull, but I find it soothing. The early chapters in particular always make me feel like I’m in the middle of a languid summer.
I do find it neat how drawing is now one of my first go-tos for distraction from something irksome like a cold – there’s something inherently joyful about creation, even if you’re just tossing off something silly and weird.
It feels sort of like a moral victory over the cold, to make it bear more fruit than just a lot of snot.
As a Catholic, I’m embarrassingly bad at the whole “offer it up” thing, whether it be a minor nuisance like this, or deeper hurts. It often feels very abstract in the face of what I happen to be dealing with. But, among other things, the point of it is to give suffering some definite shape, where it’s no longer this senseless thing you endure, but rather something which, in a mysterious fashion, bears spiritual fruit. Good thus comes out of evil, even if we may not always see that in this life. So I’m perhaps grasping something analogically instructive viz-a-viz art here.
It’s a bit of a deep pull in the context of a series of sketches where I rip my pants, but blame that on the viruses still inhabiting my head.