Sara Weinraub introduces us to the lovely book
THE DAY-TO-DAY LIFE OF ALBERT HASTINGS
I’m charmed by many of the books Princeton Architectural Press publishes. A recent PAP favorite is The Day-to-Day Life of Albert Hastings.
Photographer Kaylynn Deveney struck up a friendship with the then 85-year-old Albert Hastings after becoming his neighbor in Wales. She began to photograph his simple daily acts, asking Hastings to write captions under each of her pictures.
With so much bad news these days, there’s something surprisingly heartening about the pictures that fill this book.
Read the full review:
THE DAY-TO-DAY LIFE OF ALBERT HASTINGS.
Hardcover: Princeton Architectural Press, 2007.
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Brandon Rhodes examines the tensions
of privilege and creation care in the New Monasticism
Living in an intentional Christian community of university students in college, I was the fella who persistently insisted that faithfulness to Jesus meant buying more organic food, driving less, avoiding Wal-Mart, and gardening year-round. Never was a sincere argument given for why I was wrong in pleading these things, yet the community struggled to seriously pursue them. I had a point, but nobody could muster the time, zeal, or money to live much of it.
Since then I have realized a key ingredient for why I was able to do these things, but others struggled so much to. I am a child of privilege; my parents graciously paid for my college tuition. This freed me from working over 12 hours a week, and so gave time for garden maintenance. And I was financially in a position to buy more organic foods, where my friends in the community were working their way through college. How silly was I to name as sin their inability to afford organic bell peppers! How shallow was my contempt at their inability to devote a couple hours a week to the garden! My convictions about creation-care were spot on, even as I ignored the privilege which let me embody those ideals.
I did not offer to share my money to help them buy healthier food. I did not share my money to free them up from work. I just clanged my idealism without perceiving the structures of privilege and class which allowed me to behave that way. May God help me to learn the lessons of this…
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SCHOOL(S) FOR CONVERSION:
12 MARKS OF A NEW MOANSTICISM
Edited by Rutba House.
Paperback: Cascade Books, 2005.
Buy now: [ Doulos Christou Books $18 ] [ Amazon ]
THE OTHER JOURNAL reviews
THE JOURNAL OF JULES RENARD
Renard understands, as the literary theorist Paul Ricoeur has argued, that we are “entangled in stories” and that every thread is worthy of our best effort. He sustains an incredible concentration on the particulars, as though he believes the very force, momentum, and meaning of life to be stowed in the branches of a tree, the depth of a well, the silence of a cemetery, and even the incongruities of one’s laziness, moods, and aspirations, even going so far as to say that a dream “is only life madly dilated.”
All the while, he wins us over by never slackening his precise hold on language, and never glossing the grim realities of finitude and sorrow. Death, God, memory, beauty, and truth are featured in each month of each year, casting Renard as a kind of precursor to French existentialism, though without the clove cigarettes, pomp, embittered atheism, and amphetamines, “I am in no great hurry to see the society of the future [. . . .] What most surprises me is this heart which keeps on beating.” He even plants his own play of surprise when he admits, “Yes, God exists, but He knows no more about it than we do.” He doesn’t overstate the tragic side of familial angst (even if he had his reasons), but still says of his mother with a shudder, “How will I manage to pass from her life to her death while being aware of it?” And he does not overlook the loving miracle that is his wife, Marinette, bestowing on her the highest compliment a writer can muster: “You have prevented me from becoming a satiric poet.”
The manifold ability to close the distance between literary skill and lived reality, without boasting about it, is perhaps the reason why the name Renard has been a shibboleth of sorts among writer’s writers who, with Nietzsche, would confess, “We want to be the poets of our life—first of all in the smallest, most everyday matters.” Previous incarnations of The Journal have passed through the hands of Donald Barthelme, Susan Sontag, Somerset Maugham, and others. Michael Silverblatt calls it “a secret book.” And as Cheston Knapp of Tin House remarks, “After I read The Journal, the stakes of making art became higher for me, the borders expanded, the depths deepened.” Indeed, what contemporary art needs is a recovery of the tempered romanticism that seems to exude from the pen of Jules Renard, despite his best efforts to contain it. Art is not a matter of self-expression or capitalist venture; rather, it is alive. It is the point at which the divisions between subject and object are removed, where art and artist become one, not in the sense that art is a an expression of the individual artist, but as the active participation in what is at once within and beyond the artist’s grasp. It is this fresh encounter with reality, a reality that is not self-contained, that Renard offers the modern artist—indeed, offers us all.
Read the full review:
THE JOURNAL OF JULES RENARD.
Paperback: Tin House Books, 2008.
Buy now: [ Doulos Christou Books $16 ] [ Amazon ]