Reading Edwidge Danticat’s novel Claire of the Sea Light is like swimming through a gentle tide in a body of water known for riptides. The feeling that something invisible, fierce, and irreparable is just under the surface never quite leaves the corner of the reader’s mind.
The story traces relational ties in Ville Rose, a small coastal village town in Haiti.
So, I write church music. (I've probably mentioned this before.) I've made lead sheets and full-band recordings for just one set of songs, my settings of the three Luke canticles. (One of them—Simeon's—is also on this Cardiphonia compliation.) At this point, mostly what I've done is create home demo recordings, playing and singing all the parts myself, some of them better than others.
Here's one I just posted, not a biblical canticle but a song with original lyrics.
This weekend, I went and saw The Grand Budapest Hotel. It was good. It also failed the Bechdel test spectacularly: I don’t think two female characters ever spoke to each other at all, much less about something other than a man.
Later, I watched the new episode of The Good Wife. Now there’s a show that aces the Bechdel test, week after week.
There are no plumy accents when traveling by coach, just ordinary people going about extraordinary lives. The bus grinds through small, forgotten villages, stops for elderly women with rheumy eyes dragging plaid shopping trolleys, stops for old men under flat woolen caps, hearing aids at odd angles whistling in their hairy ears, stops for weary young mums with impossibly complex prams. We bump by sodden fields of sheep, into market towns no longer proffering produce, only plastic. Yet three times on this journey I have seen standing stones, great, gray plinths alone in fields, reminders of time immemorial, reminders there is more than what appears to be. They watch us hurtle by.
“Our best college students are very good at being critical. In fact being smart, for many, means being critical,” says Wesleyan University president Michael S. Roth. In the last half century an emphasis in education on inquiry has been reduced to exposing error and undermining belief. Not only does this stance not get college graduates very far later in life, “fetishizing disbelief as a sign of intelligence” has diminished our culture. Liberal learning, argues Roth, should have an equal commitment to finding meaning in culture and becoming absorbed in creative and compelling work (New York Times, May 10).