Monday, February 20, 2012

Natural disaster and human self-sabotage

There's a heartless avalanche or tidal wave or desert, and within that monster of creation Jim Shepard places his poor humans fighting like hell against that which brings healing.

There's fear of pain and exposure coupled with knowledge of something better as a result. The fear wins out again and again even when it's quite clear that without productive pain you've only death and sorrow.

Helplessness against furious nature without, helplessness against neurotic nature within.

"Hey," the dog said. "There's a shitstorm of biblical proportions headed your way." "Please. I'm busy," the man said.
And later:
Bishop Prudentius of Troyes wrote in his annals that in the ninth century the whole of the country was devoured by the sea; all the settlements disappeared, and the water was higher than the dunes. In the Saint Felix Flood, North Beveland was completely swept away. In the All Saints' Flood, the entire coast was inundated between Flanders and Germany. In 1717 a dike collapse killed fourteen thousand on Christmas night.
Shortly after:
At each stage in the transfer of assets, financial advisors or bank officers have asked if my wife's name would be on the account as well. She still has no idea it exists. It means that I now have a secret net worth more than triple my family's. What am I up to? Your guess is as good as mine.
We modeled risk management for our son when instead we could have embraced the freefall of that astonishing Here, this is yours to hold. We told each other I think I know when we should've said Lead me farther through your amazing, astonishing interior.
I doubt Shepard thinks in such terms, but it leaves me thinking on Eliot's wounded surgeon.

Jim Shepard, "The Netherlands Lives with Water," You Think That's Bad (New York: Knopf, 2011).