Blog Post

Reading Journal, January 26, 2017

I read my eleventh book for the year, this one to be reviewed, entitled The Mountains of Parnassus by Czeslaw Milosz, a sort of dystopian novel that was never completed. Don’t want to say much about it here because I’m reviewing it but it’s well worth reading, especially for Milosz admirers.

Here is a taste, from pp. 23-24:

“For let us consider what occupied their thoughts: namely, an Earth without fatherhood. Long ago, fathers had existed, towering over the generations like the cool, calm peak of Onwego over the resinous monotony of the forests. People could depend on their wisdom and knowledge, and even rebelling against them gave some sense of security. Yet the fathers had departed, and the children were left alone in their kindergarten. They–those who exercised power–did not deserve the name of fathers; people referred to them with a mixture of fear and contempt, as they did to the computers playing semantic tournaments with themselves. Except that the yearning for patriarchal majesty had not disappeared, and many hoped or even believed that their own solitary thoughts corresponded with the heartfelt needs of many solitary others. If the fathers had departed, then the children could surely do nothing else but strive to become their own fathers.”

There is a lot there. I love the phrase “resinous monotony,” but of course the main point is about fatherhood. I first thought this was a paean to fatherhood and might come under the ire of feminists (which it still might) but it speaks to me of a true problem: fatherhood has been denigrated and nothing has taken its place, except perhaps proto-Fascism (because of the denigration?); also, the fathers have left. They have abandoned their families and duties. Their “wisdom and knowledge” mean nothing if they have left town. It’s very hard to become your own father.


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