LONDON , ONTARIO – Striving to make good on my recent and reckless pledge to read every last unread book on my shelves before the Chinese Batflu lockdown is lifted and I’m allowed once again to freely pillage the second-hand shops, I’ve knocked back about fifteen titles in social isolation so far and only have a few hundred more to go. Yeh, I know. Restrictions are incrementally lifting as we speak and it’s starting to look like I might not pull it off.
LONDON, ONTARIO - Regular Hermaneutics readers will know that by about mid-May, it’s time for your host to clamber aboard a chartered bus full of hopped-up zealots to travel through the cramped and sleep-deprived night up to Ottawa where he will take part in - and then file his report on - the latest edition of the National March for Life. For 50 years this annual gathering, timed to protest the legalization of abortion in Canada on May 14th of 1969, has drawn as many as 25,000 Canadians. In more recent years the head count usually comes in at an estimated 15,000 participants.
LONDON, ONTARIO – It was forty-five years ago last November that Nick Drake (1948-74), lying low at his parents’ comfy Warwickshire home and depressed out of his gourd because his life and his brain and his musical career were all spiraling out of control, killed himself by ingesting more than thirty Tryptizol anti-depressant tablets. He was twenty-six years old and left behind three arrestingly melancholy albums of utterly original songs – Five Leaves Left (1969), Bryter Layter (1971) and Pink Moon (1972) – that hadn’t sold worth spit or garnered much in the way of critical attention during his lifetime.
LONDON, ONTARIO – Most years I can expect to endure one cold, usually in January, and about once a decade I will host a flu bug for about a week. While I don’t exactly enjoy these feverish bouts of downtime, they do have their compensations. Aching muscles and protracted coughing fits are a drag but it’s always a treat to be able to book a few days off and devote what energies remain to nothing more productive than reading and watching old movies. And the timing of my annual cold is perfect for tackling that stack of books and DVDs I’ve invariably received for Christmas a few weeks before.
This week we bring you a new work of short fiction . . . ECLIPSED
THE NEWSPAPER HAD predicted a partial eclipse of the moon for the Sunday night before Labour Day. Though his parents sometimes had reservations about allowing their children to have too much fun on Sundays, Nigel Mawson surmounted such half-baked scruples with surprising ease by stressing the educational value of being allowed to sleep out with Little Loss and Stu on the evening of such a rare and instructive occurrence. “I’ll probably be in my twenties before there’s another one of these,” he told his mother. “And in grade seven science we’ll be studying the solar system.”
LONDON, ONTARIO – The American short story writer and novelist, Flannery O’Connor (1925-64), was always ready to joke about her Catholic faith and the apparently crazy things it drew out of her and made her do. She knew there were times others bristled at the depths of her convictions, and would attempt to head them off at the pass, proclaiming, "You shall know the truth, and it will make you odd." But she wasn’t prepared to soft-pedal (let alone deny) her faith for the sake of keeping any social exchange pleasant; not even one that could advance her literary career if she played her conversational cards diplomatically. Her epistolary account of how she stunk out the joint at a salon-type evening at Mary McCarthy’s is one of the highlights of her collected letters, entitled, The Habit of Being:
LONDON, ONTARIO – Recurring dreams are funny things. Sometimes I wake up reflecting on a dream which I believe to have been a repeated phantasy, yet when I think about it again several hours later, I realize that’s not so; that its flavour of reiteration, so convincing at the time of its unfolding, was artificially baked in and was in fact not true; that this was actually a one-off. I believe I could identify about a dozen dreams that are actually repeaters. While some details will certainly change each time out, the broad outlines of those repeating dreams numbingly remain the same.
LONDON, ONTARIO – Events have conspired these last few hunkered-down weeks to make me reflect on a considerably shorter term of quarantine which I endured at the age of twenty-two.
I have lightly tweaked this forty-six year-old essay about my stay in the old Middlesex County Jail in the last year of its operations.
lONDON, ONTARIO – It is startling to realize that the last time I shook hands with another human being was only twenty-three days ago. Wuhan Virus awareness was definitely starting to rise by then but there hadn’t been any lock-downs yet locally. Those wouldn’t arrive in earnest until the end of that week. On the day in question, I was standing with a younger chap at the back of our church before we processed in as readers at what would turn out to be the last 12:30 Sunday Mass at St. Peter’s Cathedral. I initiated the gesture and could see a flicker of hesitation in this man’s face before he took hold of my proffered hand.
LONDON, ONTARIO – We are sailing into the second week of a two-week hunker-down at our house as an asymptomatic friend who came to dinner earlier this month learned that her asymptomatic ex-mother-in-law (who regularly babysits her kids) had briefly visited with a barely symptomatic woman who only tested positive for the dreaded Wuhan Bat Soup Flu three days after our dinner. So our friend did the socially responsible thing and, along with an abject apology, issued a radioactive cootie alert to everyone she’d been in contact with since her ex-mother-in-law made that fateful visit.
If you would like to contribute to the ongoing operations of Hermaneutics, there are now a few options available.
THE AQUINAS LECTURE
G.K. CHESTERTON AND THE GIFT OF GRATITUDE
ALL LIFE IS A GIFT :
THE IMPORTANCE OF TRADITION :