My Thoughts on the End

I put in a scene, right about 1875, where we learn that Ben is interested in the Masons, because I was starting to think it was weird that he was so into it in real life, but it’s not mentioned in the book, really. And we learn that he thinks the Spiritualists are doing it wrong, because he’s twenty, and knows everything.

And we learn that he’s not really interested in the myth of the South, and that he’s going on a trip where he plans to sleep with hundreds of women.

So, that’s good. No, he’s mostly teasing Sue about his upcoming trip after she insists that he’ll find someone his own age. He just likes that gal and I like that about him.

But the end. Yes, it vexes me and I was going to spend the evening writing yet a third ending.

But I realized that, whatever the ending may be, it needs to come out of the whole book, you know?

So, now is the time to go in and get started on the second draft of the whole book.

The Belts at the Buchanan Log Home

They were talking about their book, Onward Southern Soldier, and the thing that blew my mind and distracted me my whole was home feeds into a lot of the conversations we’ve had here. So, there are a couple of contentions they make–I don’t mean contentions in a pejorative way, just in a “here’s what hooked me” way–one is that religion was the cultural mechanism in the South by which non-slave owners were primed to fight for slavery. I am used to hearing a more explicit argument for white supremacy being the hook, but I think, based on their talk, that white supremacy had a religious component or was a religious belief. After all, if whites are superior to black people, Who made it so?

This is a facet I’ve just not given enough thought to about white supremacy, but needless to say, their arguments about how a specific kind of Christian world outlook just completely permeated the culture were convincing to me and so it means I need to start thinking more carefully about this.

The other contention was that the idea that God was on the side of the Confederates to such an extent that every victory was read as evidence of God’s working in the world, but (and here’s the part that interests me) defeats were NEVER read as God possibly being on the side of the Yankees. Of course not, but in God being displeased with the sinful behavior of the Confederate soldiers in their camps.

I find this interesting for the quasi-human sacrifice implications. If only these soldiers could have hit on the right pleasing behaviors, God would have moved battles in their favor. But since He was not, clearly, they were not doing something right.

Anyway, the part that made me want to barf was listening to all these Southern pastors talking about how Shiloh–which you will recall in real life was a terrible defeat for the Confederacy–was actually a great victory for God because the very gruesomeness of the battle and its aftermath would serve to humble the Confederates and bring them to Christ.

That just takes me aback. If you believed that God wanted suffering, intentionally inflicted suffering, you might worship him, but you’d be fucked up to love him, you know?

I guess the thing that struck me, listening to this stuff, in these ministers’ own words, is that the mixture of the evil impulses of humanity (in this case, to steal someone’s life and labor and have it for yourself) with a justifying religion fucks up the whole society, whether the whole society is directly participating in the evil or not.

I don’t know. It troubles me.

Sticking the Ending

After I interviewed Sara Harvey, she gave me a copy of her novel Seven Times a Woman to read and so I did. It is fantastic. The story is good, but the technical savvy… ugh. People. She weaves this elaborate tale and then pulls the ending off so beautifully, so precisely, with everything falling into place that you about want to give her a standing ovation at the end. It’s satisfying, a little heartbreaking, kind of happy, and then, the last sentence makes you want to do that stupid thing where people kiss the tips of their fingers and then throw their hand open. You know what I mean? The “I’m imitating a French chef” move?

I despair. Honestly. It made me realize that the ending of the Sue Allen thing still sucks. And that I just may not be talented enough to pull off a non-sucky ending.

If I didn’t have so much to do today, I would sit around in a jealous stupor.