Friday, October 2, 2015

refining process sketch for wine column

There's a sly self-reflexive tone to it, The Grand Inquisitor scene of The Brothers Karamazov.  Here's Dostoevsky at the culminating work of his career.   The rational mind, played by the Inquisitor, is interrogating that part of a mind that would trouble itself with literary effort and spiritual questioning, played here by a hypothetical Christ.  The Inquisitor is the only one speaking, and Christ is mute, not a single word in self-defense.

Here he is at the top of his game, Dostoevsky.  He is writing The Brothers Karamazov, in installment form, the finest synthesis of his work and all his juggled themes, bringing home the proof of the nobility of his long strange idiosyncratic individual endeavor here (in uncertain health.)  And at the core, the inner struggle, the self-questioning, the rational observing mind asking of that habit of a deeper subconscious and all its own processes that only reveal themselves through the doing, why.  Why?  What are you doing?  What's your point?  Why did you have to come along and ruin anything?  We'd be just fine without you.  You are the bad habit just as we are trying to get our thinking right and practical.  Leave us alone, writing mind.

It is a well-observed scene.  One might suspect it had been one he'd studied many times in his musings and in his notebooks.  He too had a self-questioning mind, his own frustrations, fears, gambling addictions, anxieties.  Somehow it seems to have helped him here in his later life to visit the monastery and meet the original real life model of Father Zossima, letting real life events gel in a creative mind.

Writing is the only way some of us to figure things out, to lend some shape to chaos.  The rational mind asks why, what's the point, but the writing part of the mind seems to know what it's doing as it finds its own voice.

Nothing lastingly good is written without that self-reflection inherent in writing, as writing must be done by the amateur long before he would ever be considered a pro.  A pain one has to go through.

There is the other great scene in Karamazov, Alyosha's dream at the passing of his mentor of the Wedding at Cana, of the first miracle itself, vivid, of water made into wine for the sake of human joy which God loves and wants for people.   I suppose it depends upon what mood your in, which one to listen to.  There's always the scene about the stray dog that comes back to the sick child, or the schoolboy's gentle hurrah toward their peacemaker, but for the most part in DC, The Grand Inquisitor is the one driving around, about to stop in with all his logical minions.  "We'd be better off..."

Then Pope Francis came to town and touched upon all our lives.

The light of his humility, reflecting upon a greater source, shown upon us and the truer nature of our work.  Confidence replaced my sense of the company in which I shared beer and wine was unfocussed, unaware of their true task of serving the gospel to the real poor and to the confused.

There is faith in wine, and wine indeed can give us the courage to lead the brave life of the spiritual, as there is an obvious link between spiritual communities and vineyard.  Wine calls us to the life of Christ, as much as bread does.  Wine carries the reassurance of Christ.  Wine carries the Christian community, and this is often misinterpreted by society for its color and colorfulness.

If wine is understood for its spirituality it is enjoyed in the right way.

Hands serve, opening countless bottles, a musician has played his instrument.  And there has been warm talk to accompany, not some fake pointed over-talking of the merits of a material thing, but a sharing of the struggle of work and sweat of earning the daily bread...   Let the wine speak for itself.

And there is great woe in the world, and great questions, and not much reassurance that any of it has any meaning beyond achieving economic security and the power to express an opinion.

Woe unto the world.  Giveth wine unto the poor and let them come too to the feast.  Dostoyevksy had that right.  "Come, my shy one... " (the voice of the old monk Zossima)  He had it right.  Come, Alyosha, to the feast, be not afraid.

And wine gives us to say the right thing, to appreciate what we all go through.

But who of the high and mighty would want to admit that, the basic truth of God's love that civilizes humanity through a support of human joy that exists in wine?  "We're doing fine on our own, and in fact I've got a big Cab here.. to go with my scallops."  The town seemed to revert back upon itself after the Holy Father, representative of Christ and Peter, went back to Rome.  The frequency changed back.  Or, maybe, it didn't, having been informed.

There still is Dostoevsky, and there is still the First Miracle of The Wedding at Cana, and wine is wine, and wine is good, soothing, and even better at weddings, as if to remind us, it's not about the Inquisitor, but about the practitioners of joy and the love of the divine for us here.

And somewhere, here, to put in this lesson, is the fact, or rather, the truth, that when we reject people, at least in a certain way, that only means that we like them, or even love them, as much as ourselves, for what that represents, a part of 'we,' a part of 'me,' that other thing sometimes.  That intolerable writer part in ourselves, always following us around, like an idiot uncle of boisterous happy modes of self-clarity limping along someway, perhaps not un-wine-related, or, rather, not unrelated to poetic realms of the mind, as much as we'd be wanting to run on forward, slip into a hiding place of trees, we'd ultimately feel guilty, no, that's not it, we'd really be nowhere without such people as those idiots we have, here, there, in you and me.

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