I Used to Live Here: Old Interview w/John Darnielle About “The Life of the World to Come”

w/various things about his religion, but this was the part which struck me the most: Pitchfork: "Genesis 3:23" is about breaking into a house where you used to live. Is that something you've ever done?JD: Sort of. Not breaking in. I don't do B&Es anymore. I actually never did B&Es, I just did Bs. [laughs] But the inspiration for this is twofold, and is going to be a bit of a long story. I have that feeling that this is something that other survivors of abuse do. When I go back to … [Read more...]

Your Profession of Faith Is Not the Catholic Church’s TOS

Walk with me through some possibly ill-formed and definitely ill-informed thoughts about what it means to profess one's faith. I had to do this when I was becoming Catholic--I think this took place during Confirmation? probably that's wrong--and there was a set formula which I always misremember but which was probably actually, "I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God."What (on earth) did I mean? What should I have … [Read more...]

Four Feuilletons for Friday (almost)

Some links.When I was listing my favorite underrated/underseen horror movies I didn't think to name Deadgirl. It's a tough, sad, grimy and rancid indie horror which is (to be somewhat reductive) about misogyny but not itself misogynistic. Not entirely sure I can revisit it sober, but it's really stuck with me; and my anecdata agree w/the Deadly Doll that women horror fans tend to like (if that's the word) the movie more than men do. Which is especially fascinating since it's a movie by and … [Read more...]

Snow Day Thoughts

A series of points too small for a real post.* While I was in Boston for the US National Figure Skating Championships (of which more later!! THEY WERE SO GREAT) I also got to go with Ratty to the Museum of Fine Arts. It has some terrific Spanish painting from the Counter-Reformation era--I love this stuff, even in the court paintings you feel like you can smell the blood. The only thing that glows is the flesh of the Crucified. There's an extremism which I think some people find wearying but … [Read more...]

“Identity Theft”: I review (and LOVE) “The Goldfinch”

in the Weekly Standard: When we speak of “the permanent things,” we should mean the enduring, inescapable, and unfulfilled longings of the contradictory human heart: the helpless yearnings found across radically different times and cultures. And among these permanent desires, the need for home and the need for ecstasy stand preeminent.Donna Tartt made her name with 1992’s bestselling murder-by-paganism tale The Secret History, which explored our longing for ecstatic release from the self. Th … [Read more...]

“The Giraffe Trick”: I review Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Great Beauty”

at AmCon: In decadent Rome, an aging art critic rides the success of his one, long-ago novel, and wonders if there’s more to life than having the best conga line in the Eternal City. He watches young nuns playing in a hedge maze, drifts into and through relationships with damaged women, and does a lot of eloquent smoking.The Great Beauty, Paolo Sorrentino’s update of/homage to La Dolce Vita, offers a lot of expected pleasures. Our antihero, Jep Gambarella (Toni Servillo), sometimes seems to … [Read more...]

In Defense of “Spiritual, But Not Religious”

So today I learned that I'm bizarrely defensive of this much-mocked self-description.I think my basic defense is that "spiritual, but not religious" means radically different things to different people, and some of those things are the result of profound and painful attempts to love and serve God. ("God, as you understand God," as they say.) Here are some things I think people may mean when they say that they're spiritual but not religious:* I had a consumerist relationship with a church … [Read more...]


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