Nathaniel Martin sailed with his friend and fellow-naturalist Stephen Maturin on two long sea voyages in Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series, first as the ship's chaplain and later as Maturin's assistant surgeon. Never much of a fist at sermonizing, Martin took to writing and publishing impolitic tracts that offended the Royal Navy Board and prevented him from returning as a chaplain.
Martin lost an eye to an owl, and, as long as Martin's eye was single, O'Brian let him rival Captain Jack Aubrey for Maturin's time and friendship. Martin married between voyages, however, and his newfound obsession with providing for his family began to make him tedious company for Maturin. (Banality is the worst symptom a character can present with in these novels.) Martin's overheated conscience led him to an end straight out of Hawthorne, with whom he shared his first name.
These are the sermons he never wrote.
This is my first “sentence,” modeled after the aphorisms of the Desert Fathers, which their followers collected in manuals of instruction. It is a “praktikos” — that is, it is intended to assist someone in her preparation for a life of prayer. The best and most approachable book I have found on the subject is The [...]
The world was still pregnant with Hopkins’s fame almost twenty years after his death, and Coleridge did not bother to name him in her preface. She apparently had had access to Dixon’s papers, though, since she seems to have had access to the letter from Hopkins that had meant so much to Dixon. I wonder if she read Hopkins’s odes that he had sent to Dixon or if her assessment of Hopkins as possessed of “brilliantly original power” was simply borrowed from Dixon.
That quality of hyperalertness is one of the things that has fueled the writing of this blog. Always searching, thinking forward to the next post. Hyperalertness has an addictive power of its own. During this window then, I think it will be better to obligate myself as little as possible. I want to relax the [...]
Is there a sense in which we may safely forget even the greatest words? Do words contain inherent limitations that somehow keep us from the reality they may move us toward? Thomas Merton examines the nature of words in The Way of Chuang Tzu, his paraphrase of works by the fourth century BC Chinese philosopher who [...]