“If you figure a way to live without serving a master, any master, then let the rest of us know, will you? For you’d be the first person in the history of the world.”
Paul Thomas Anderson, the director of The Master, is my favorite character director. What I mean by ‘character director’ is that each of his films creates a universe that lives to serve one character. Punch-Drunk Love puts you into the mind of a psychologically abused brother in a family of sisters. There Will Be Blood allows you to accept the suave selfishness of Daniel Plainview. And The Master puts you inside the unsettling and uneasy state of mind of Freddie Quell, a World War II veteran dealing with PTSD and substance abuse.
I should say, I really didn’t like The Master. The film is brilliant, without a doubt it is one of the most important films Paul Thomas Anderson has written and directed. As for me, it went too deep for me to handle, surpassing my threshold of relatability. That being said, the message of the film is clear. We all serve a master. In one way or another, through vices, temptations, servitude, or commitment; we all serve a master.
Despite my frustration while watching this film, I really appreciated the character of Lancaster Dodd. To me, Lancaster Dodd serves as a point fo relatability throughout the plot-lacking story of The Master. I don’t mean to say I relate with him as a person, nor would anyone else watching. I mean to say his character serves as a familiar metaphor of those things we gravitate towards on a search for identity. In a scene from the film, Lancaster Dodd sits with Freddie Quell, hammering him with questions attempting to pull out honesty. This scene shows the break through of Freddie Quell who has now gotten a taste of his identity even if it is littered with things he abhors.
often i’ll write about my relationship with God in a way that might be uncomfortable for some. notably, all of my writing about God is in the form of a conversation. i think God values absolute honesty in communication, even if it is at times heretical. i feel when i am able to speak with God like this i am able to strengthen my relationship with him in a way that is honoring to Him. because i do love Him.
this is written as a set of four mirroring a backwards walk through the stages of grief. traditionally there are five stages to grief, the last stage being acceptance. this poem omits acceptance as i feel acceptance is unwritable. acceptance, to me, is a continuous process and since it involves so much change and continuous contemplation, the feeling itself can’t be isolated into a poem.
i wrote beginning with the last stages of grief so as to show the exchange of losing confidence in myself and losing my confidence in God. so here are the four poems and an extrapolation of my times wrestling with grief.
For Kanye West, the album Jesus is King is a 4. For Christians, this album is a 10 and a much needed reflection.
Christians are throwing down their best zingers on Facebook threads for this album and it’s causing a bit of division. And that’s good. If i don’t say anything else that hasn’t already been said about the album i’ll say this: the division that this album brought on is good.
Average church-going Christians tend to struggle with change. I mean, that’s not really fair to say because people in general struggle with change. But you would think that as Christians, who praise the controversial nature of Christ, would be sort of okay with changing our thinking. The average sermon has the backbone message of “Christ didn’t come to serve you but to change you” and, yeah, that applies to everything still.
So let’s get into to the sources of division. Kanye West was known for being kind of terrible (i said ‘was’ and you should hang onto that as you read on). Not only was he an icon for self-indulgence and pride but he has a pretty well-documented history of diving into controversial things. So you may say the album follows a trend of benefiting from controversy once again. And here’s the thing; if this is your position, you might be right. but what if you’re wrong? Discernment is a valuable quality to the church and a gift from God but don’t confuse God’s discernment with cynicism. God doesn’t ‘call’ you to speculate the validity of someone’s confession. God gave Christians the church, a place for accountability and discernment to go hand in hand. When the church operates as intended there’s no need for that kind of cynicism.
Here’s another point of speculation i’ve seen recently: while the albums themes are spiritual it lacks the authenticity that would be called ‘faith’. And let me tell you that is the stupidest thing i’ve ever heard. How many Christian movies need to be made before the Christian community can accept we’re putting ourselves into a bubble. I’m including myself here. There’s a bit of fear inherent that comes with being a Christian. It’s common for Christians to feel like not only do you need the answers but you need to sound confident in them. Faith is not blind and that’s a common pulpit phrase but who gets to define faith besides Christ? Faith is a process of growth as well as belief amongst failures and thorough conviction, not to an ideal, but to an ideology.
Also, some people have condemned the album because it’s blasphemous at times. I can’t really argue that as comparing your ‘hard times’ to Christ’s death on a cross isn’t a great message. At the same time plenty of Christian artists do the same so let’s be consistent in who we rebuke.
I don’t know what else i have to say. I think what i hope to say is, Christians, don’t be afraid in your own faith. Discern with discernment and be slow to condemn. Understand music preferences have nothing to do with the truth of the gospel. Christ’s message is stronger than that.
Angel is a dark subversive piece that has its roots in Jamaican soul, ambient trip hop, and something else that could only be described as Massive Attackesque. the song provides an atmosphere that is complex but easily recognizable. from start to finish this song is a bank robbery, or a heist gone right, or a silent stalking through dark alleys. it builds on itself with tight and stressed snares and a boding bass line that dominates every corner. it’s ambient but choppy leaving behind a sense of safety amongst chaos. this is what music should do. music, no matter what the mood or the presence of the song is, needs to say something. it needs to be something definable and if not definable it should leave you wondering why it was captivating. Angel, as an opener for the album Mezzanine, sets the tone of the whole album. to me, Angel is the best example of an opener setting the appropriate tone of any album i’ve come across.
to start this off let me explain one of my favorite, and shortest, poems from 2017. around this time i was dating my now wife, Tanya. our relationship was tough and under the natural strain of distance. because of this, a lot of my writing in 2017 comes from a place of regret and longing. it was difficult for me to see where the relationship was going because of so many miscommunications and missed opportunities that come with dating over distance and my writing sort of took on that emotion.
/i would tear out a page of my past and relive the cold morning/
if life is a book i wanted to go back to the pages where things made sense and were more clear. that place in time was before i decided to leave for my home country leaving Tanya behind. ‘the cold morning’ is a reference to cold winter mornings. i wanted to relate the feeling of waiting for the sun to rise on a cold winter morning to the feeling of waiting for things to kind of get better.
/i would retrieve the figments i abandoned. i would dive into you/
‘figments’ is the stand out word in this poem. it’s the strongest. the feeling of our relationship at this time was that it was and it wasn’t. it was real but impossible to grasp. in a distance relationship the most important thing to manage is to hold onto the reality of two worlds in the same place. when i struggled to hold them, and would let go of them, i would wish i could hold onto them again. ‘i would dive into you’ is the strongest way i can say i would completely commit to this relationship if i could get past all of these feelings.
here are some of my favorite photos from Italian photographer, Franco Fontana:
franco fontana turns landscape shots into something that feels more like a matte painting with vibrant oily pastels and he does this by utilizing what he calls the concept of line. basically he has posited that the relationship of geometry and color is the basis for good color photography. moreover vibrant color and strict geometrical shapes brings out the best in natural rules for beauty. like an extreme taken extremely. the colors in his photos are what you would assume are the most basic form of each color. a yellow is at it’s most yellow and it should be accompanied by it’s complimentary blue.
i like this, i especially appreciate the concept of aggressive adherence to the rules of geometry and color. in my own photo i wanted to bring out the earthiness of certain yellows and blues while also maintaining their complementary nature. a little brown in the yellow adds to a little white in the blue. the green in my photo serves as a less harsh line between them softening the line of the horizon.
i decided to call my photo pomeriggio sulle colline which means ‘afternoon on the hills’.
sometime in 2016 i dove pretty deep into studying Flemish and Netherlandish paintings. while studying, i noticed a similarity in the composition of these paintings and my method of writing. the painting in this post is by the Brunswick Monogrammist, an anonymous painter accredited to several paintings which depicted Biblical events and the scenes already portrayed by the text. the painting shows Jesus’ trial before the people where the people were to decide between Barabbas and Christ. the painting does an amazing job of showing the response of the people within the crowd and i wanted to write what i saw in the painting.
/Peering through the masses clad in flesh and wine the seeking young men forged paths among those who cursed the day. Pillars of salt perched among those who had not yet feared the wrath of temporality. He who had purged his heart of tenderness./
i start by presenting the main characters of this post, the young men, in contrast against the masses. flesh is used in the Bible to refer to worldly things and here i use it in the same manner to describe the crowd of people as those who are there not understanding the purpose of the event or who may be there for entertainment only.’pillars of salt’ is here to represent faith with doubt and it is paired with ‘the wrath of temporality’ to connect those who doubt with those who have not yet heard but don’t believe (temporality being death). ‘purging your heart of tenderness’ is to show that to live in this state of anger and confusion is to remove your child-like innocence.
/Red, deep blue, ivory, and glistening black. Blissful peace exhumed from the dust bellow of his name./
the subject of the painting is Christ however the focal point leads you through the crowd towards Christ. i wanted to use color to mirror the journey the eye takes to find Christ in the crowd with the journey an individual takes to the same person, both leading to Christ over black. his name holds the highest significance here.
/Crowds of drunkards and wives chant for the king of scorn. Wisdom-boy stood on his toes to witness the feast of humanity laid at his feet. The dutiful few who will allot his salvation at the gallows. Among them the unconcerned, the unaware, and the unamused./
at the bottom center of the painting is a boy standing on a mound watching the events unfold. due to his contrasting colors i assumed him to be the righteous one watching over a scene of grand injustice. after introducing him in my post i write the last two sentences as words from his thoughts from the scene. he, like Christ, has noticed those who recognized Christ. furthermore, and finally, he has noticed that though they look similar the righteous are among the unrighteous and the characteristics that separate them are the ones that define the unrighteous: ‘unconcerned, unaware, and unamused’.