Thursday, November 21, 2013
Ten BUTS Thru Ten COMMS: DIRT & MURDER
In the sixth pairing of the Ten Buts thru Ten Comms Project reading “Dirt and Not Copper.” through “Thou shalt not kill,” Mark Snyder opened the discussion. Various Buttons, like voices from a Greek chorus, chimed in.
DIRT AND NOT COPPER.
Dirt and not copper makes a color darker. It makes the shape so heavy and makes no melody harder.
It makes mercy and relaxation and even a strength to spread a table fuller. There are more places not empty. They see cover.
MURDER, HE SEES
Starting with the disclaimer that Eleanor Smagarinsky would have to “turf specific details of Jewish funeral rites,” Mark began, “Dirt is scattered and shoveled on the newly buried coffin. I have the mental image of a murder scene (too many Law and Order reruns) with a body lying in the dirt, in a pool of blood. The body is dead weight. The victim sings or speaks no more—makes no melody. Mercy killing? After rigor mortis, muscle tone is lost (relaxation). After the funeral, mourners gather together at a reception or meal (spread a table). I picture many mourners with few or no empty seats at the table. The casket is closed (they see cover).
LITTLE MURDERS LIKE GOSSIP
Steiny, blown away with the economy and precision of Mark’s vision, added,
“I'm seeing blood as it dries in that murder scene: Dirt and not copper makes a color darker.
“I'm also thinking about those little murders like gossip that kill the spirit and what alchemy one has to invoke to keep this commandment. (yeah, I know this blasphemy to talk alchemy in this context.)
“Also here is Stein trying not to kill words but to revitalize them to resurrect them.”
DEATH, A COLOR OF EVIL
T. De Los Reyes rhapsodized line by line:
“Dirt and not copper makes a color darker—I am thinking—dirt as an intent to kill? That this dirt—perhaps maliciousness in thinking or spirit—is what makes death (color) darker, evil? And not blood (copper), which can signify life, the natural course of things.
“It makes the shape so heavy and makes no melody harder.
The desire to kill someone makes the body and spirit (shape) heavy. It makes one not in tune with the world, it disrupts harmony, peace.
“It makes mercy and relaxation and even a strength to spread a table fuller. There are more places not empty. They see cover.
Perhaps this is why forgiveness (mercy), peace (relaxation) and kindness (strength to spread a table) make one's life more meaningful (fuller)? The awareness of the presence of dirt in our lives can be an anchor—that we are not immune from murderous thoughts, but that we choose not to act on it. Hence there are places, spaces in our lives that are not empty, that can be full of love and grace. Cover can mean protection—perhaps choosing to be good can protect the self, and others as well?
MURDER MYSTERIES & GERTRUDE STEIN
Pausing to reflect over the original close reading of “Dirt and Not Copper.”, which focused heavily on the possibly that Stein is depicting a painting and its manner of style (small patches of color), Steiny finds this Ten Commandment pairing a juicy edge, especially remembering that the original close reading included the terrain of alchemy. During World War II, Stein worked on a murder mystery called Blood on the Dining Room Floor. This raises the question as to when Stein began reading murder mysteries.