“JE suis un monstre!”

As an intermittent mackerel-snapper, every now and then I look around at what is supposed to be my church and feel like the guy in Ionesco’s RhinocĂ©ros who looks around and sees everyone turning into a rhino. And when I read a story like this, I’m pretty sure the wrong guy is pope.

Speaking of Ionesco, I saw an amateur production of “The Bald Soprano” this weekend that was mindblowing. The actors were high school students and (candidly) I wasn’t expecting much. The play’s lines are so meaningless, or so mind-trappingly nonsensical (not the same thing, I guess), that almost everything depends on the delivery, which was great, especially in the penultimate conversation scene, where the actors’ timing was flawless. I wish I had a sample to post here. (“My theater-of-the-absurd let me show it to you.”) But it was a great reminder of how important theater, even amateur theater, can be, something I’m apt to forget here in the Great Black Swamp, which does not possess one of the great theater districts in the world.

On another note, I celebrated Superbowl Sunday by going to a movie (as I usually do): this year’s non-football was Taken, the Liam Neeson vehicle. It’s a pretty good movie, if you don’t mind seeing lots of people get shot. (I mean that unironically.) Some reviews I’ve seen suggest that this is beneath an actor of Neeson’s caliber. But, as the first movie I saw him in was probably Darkman, I can’t agree.

About JE

James Enge is the author of the World-Fantasy-Award-nominated novel Blood of Ambrose (Pyr, April 2009). His latest book is The Wide World's End. His short fiction has appeared in Swords and Dark Magic (Harper Collins, 2010), Black Gate, the Stabby-Award-winning anthology Blackguards and elsewhere.
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18 Responses to “JE suis un monstre!”

  1. j_cheney says:

    I first saw Liam Neeson in Krull, so almsot anything is high art after that. ;o)

    • JE says:

      I was just looking at his IMDb entry, and his early roles all sound like someone clearing their throat: “Kregan… Grak… Blackie…”

      I guess the first thing I actually saw him in must have been Excalibur, where he played Gawaine (says IMDb), but I don’t remember much about the movie, except it had a good Merlin and lots of improbably shiny chrome-bright armor.

      • j_cheney says:

        That’s right! I remember that….

        Sadly, we bought that movie on DVD. I still don’t know why….

        • JE says:

          Excalibur is apparently one of those movies that had 10 or 15 minutes hacked out of it for the US theatrical release, and ever since I read that I’ve wondered if the story would make more sense with the footage restored.

          • j_cheney says:

            As I recall, I don’t think so. I will not, however, watch it again to be sure ;o)

          • Anonymous says:

            My Arthurian lit class watched Excalibur for our second-to-last meeting. It was not well received. Given the fundamental nature of the issues we had with it, I’d be surprised if an extra 10-15 minutes would have changed that. It does, however, manage some bonus points for an excellent use of “O Fortuna.”

            For our last meeting, we watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail. That one we enjoyed.

          • j_cheney says:

            Yes, the music almost made up for….certain scenes…but not quite.

          • JE says:

            I’d forgotten about the Orff on the soundtrack.

            Now I’m going to have to rewatch it, I guess.

            Not Krull, though. Darkman possibly. (It had its points as an over-the-top actiony movie.)

          • j_cheney says:

            Yes, the music in Krull was completely forgettable….

          • fpb says:

            Frankly, I know as much about Arthurian epic as the next guy (if the next guy has written a comprehensive study of its historical sources: http://www.geocities.com/vortigernstudies/fabio/contents.htm) and I can’t imagine what may have been found so ideologically wrong about Boorman’s movie. It certainly is not more subversive of the original material than The Once and Future King or the Idyls of the King or Prince Valiant. And it happens to be a very fine movie. You have forgotten to mention the use of Wagner in the soundtrack.

          • fpb says:

            That explains it. I saw it in Italy and then Britain, and I regard it as one of the great movie experiences of my life.

          • JE says:

            Well, I may give it another try. I do remember thinking that Boorman would do a good job with Lord of the Rings (in the brief period when it looked like he was going to adapt the trilogy).

  2. fpb says:

    This is not said in anger – at least, not in anger at you, but at the Anglo-American idea that the Catholic Church is some sort of tribal identity. The Church is not a tribe, not even a nation. It is a community of people with similar beliefs. If you do not honestly believe what the Church believes, you should leave. A statement such as “the wrong guy is Pope” suggests that you think the Church should be adapted to you; if anything, the opposite is the case.

    • JE says:

      “A statement such as ‘the wrong guy is Pope’ suggests that you think the Church should be adapted to you; if anything, the opposite is the case.”

      No, it means I think he makes some very bad decisions. We may, of course, differ reasonably on this.

      The church is a community, but there is an identity to it which is deeper even than belief, and there have always been differing opinions in it about significant issues.

      It is, to put it mildly, not your business to be telling people to leave the church.

      • lemuriapress says:

        As an avowed atheist, might I offer the same suggestion?


        • JE says:

          Well, I figure people can be atheists if they want, but since I’m not…

          Mind you, I’m not claiming this is a rational choice. But everyone has to go ahead and scratch where it itches (as Dante says somewhere).

      • fpb says:

        As a matter of fact, if you inspect my blog you will find a most severe reproach about the decision to lift that excommunication, followed by an angry debate with a couple of “The-Pope-can-do-no-wrong” types. (Which is sad, because they are two people I otherwise like very much.) But to say this is one thing and to say that “the wrong guy is Pope” is quite another.

        What, in the name of Heaven, is “deeper than belief”? This would allow any atheist with Catholic roots to call him/herself a Catholic. No, sir, I am sorry; the definition of a Catholic is someone who accepts the teachings of the Church. I am a Catholic; my brother, whom I love and respect, born of the same mother and father, taught at the same schools, sharing the same experiences, is not. For reasons which seem good to him, he does not believe. And that is that.

        What I said was intended in general and not in particular. If a person does not share the beliefs of the Church, s/he should be consistent and leave it, because the Church is the community of believers. I did not mean that you yourself should leave – or, for that matter, stay. That is entirely up to you. All I ask for is coherence.

        • JE says:

          The body and blood of Christ is deeper than belief. It is deeper than any human thought or understanding. That is all I intend to say on this matter.

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