Le Point Vierge: The Problem of Pilgrimage

“Przszedłeś jako ciekawy turysta, odchodź jako bogaty pielgrzym”     This inscription can be found on a plain wooden post at the base of the mountain Giewont in Zakopane, Poland. It glares at the traveler as he walks down the winding dirt path to the small hut that once served as the hermitage of Brother Albert Chmielowski. As one whose knowledge of the Polish language consists of … Continue reading Le Point Vierge: The Problem of Pilgrimage

Meditation on Memory

Several old journals sit on my bookshelf here, ranging in age from ten years to a few months, several of them worn and stained, some with small mementos, slips of notepaper, receipts, and sketches, all tucked between the pages or inside their covers. Whenever life seems to be taking a rather unexpected turn, I feel compelled to revisit these old, familiar books.  I always wrote … Continue reading Meditation on Memory

A Sense for the Sacred

There they were, standing in neat rows as if in a dance aerobics class, rock-stepping and swinging their arms to music funneled out of the tiny speakers of a smartphone. The only problem was that this was definitely not a dance studio and these people were not in a dance aerobics class. Instead they, along with a diverse crowd of other visitors, were in the … Continue reading A Sense for the Sacred

Comic Heroes of the Demos

Captain America, Luke Skywalker, and Harry Potter are ideal “heroes” for what Nietzsche would call a “democratic” soul. These caricatures of childhood imagination encourage a reversion to puerile notions of unearned self-importance among their devotees. The protagonists of these stories come from common backgrounds but are, within the first quarter of the film, serendipitously granted magical powers and a world-changing mission. To their audience, these … Continue reading Comic Heroes of the Demos

Empathy in Isolation: Sharing Loneliness with Nick Carraway

In Act IV of Coriolanus, Shakespeare uses a seemingly inconsequential simile about a solitary dragon leaving its swamp. It is in this simile that Shakespeare coined the adverb “lonely.” Similarly, in Act III of Hamlet, Polonius tells Ophelia to sit down and read, so that her “loneliness” would appear natural. It is odd that loneliness—a feeling universally understood today—is a relatively new term, and it … Continue reading Empathy in Isolation: Sharing Loneliness with Nick Carraway

“The Riddle We Can Guess”: On Clarity and Ambiguity in Writing

“The riddle we can guess / We speedily despise.” —Emily Dickinson, #1222 I was lying in the backseat of the car on an early October day in 2014, waiting while my mom grabbed a few things from the grocery store. It was probably very hot, as Tennessee autumns tend to be, but all I can recall about that moment was the book, William Faulkner’s The Sound and … Continue reading “The Riddle We Can Guess”: On Clarity and Ambiguity in Writing

Holiday Inn (1942)

Though cars, planes, and trains contrive to bring all your holiday guests around the table, circumstance doesn’t necessitate community. The black and white 1942 Holiday Inn understands this all too well. When the holiday performance trio of Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby), Ted Hanover (Fred Astaire), and Lila Dixon (Virginia Dale) collapses into a love triangle, Jim heads for the country to escape the hectic pace … Continue reading Holiday Inn (1942)