Eucatastrophe

Despite all of the marvelous design specific publications out there, I find myself consistently drawn to a little Victorian publication about fresh Australian writing. Harvest is excellent. It is varied, it is pretty, it is emotive and contains some truly brilliant work and some rather nice illustration. I took Harvest on the train with me to work the other morning and read it with my window seat. The first article was an opinion piece, which you can kindly read here: To Our Generation of Precious Snowflakes and it made me stop. I was struck by either brilliant personal recognition or absolute horror and I couldn’t work it out. It forced me to think about life and about blogging and about youth/my peers.

The opinion piece addresses the thoughts of writer Ted Genoways.

At the same time, young writers will have to swear off navel-gazing in favor of an outward glance onto a wrecked and lovely world worthy and in need of the attention of intelligent, sensitive writers.

By way of overview – this is the opinion piece:

Pardon us for filtering out the unimaginable suffering we watch on live broadcasts with a sickening compulsion and can replay on YouTube. In the chasm between vacuous celebrity and the realities of insidious fundamentalism, perhaps it is only our own lives, logged hourly and picked over, that we can clutch on to for purpose, meaning and creative inspiration, in order to tune out the loud, fast world.

For now, might we be excused our navel gazing? When you have seen men glide down from burning towers on slipstreams of hate, perhaps it’s not too big a leap to conclude that one’s navel is the only safe place to be looking.

And to dear Ted, we are the wrecked and lovely world. It’s there in our writing if you can bring yourself to read it, and while it may not be ‘sterling’ enough for you, it’s as real as the Iraq war, and often as heartbreaking.

I find that I am struggling to hold my intense introverted and internal methods living and processing – my narcissism, with the outward looking life I desire to have. Perhaps this is why this article plucked deep hurt on the strings of my soul.

From letter 89 by Tolkien:
“…I coined the word ‘eucatastrophe’: the sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings tears (which I argued it is the highest function of fairy stories to produce). And I was there led to the view that it produces its peculiar effect because it is a sudden glimpse of truth…. It perceives– if the story has literary ‘truth’ –that this is indeed how things really do work in the Great World for which our nature is made. And I concluded by saying that the Resurrection was the greatest ‘eucatastrophe’ possible in the greatest fairy story– and produces that essential emotion: Christian joy which produces tears because it is qualitatively so like sorrow, because it comes from those places where Joy and Sorrow are at one, reconciled, as selfishness and altruism are lost in Love…”

Cannot we find some way to correlate our local and personal sorrow and experiences of living with the greater sorrow of this world, to lean on eucatastrophe and hope – wait and live that reconciliation of the overlapping now but not yet.

There is another response (in a more literary sense) to the Harvest piece here: A response to harvest.

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