Stay Hungry

by Shawn Crawford Like most Kafka stories, “A Hunger Artist” inserts you into a bewildering situation, appears to offer you some solace and meaning, and then bewilders you all over again. The Hunger Artist is just that: a man that starves himself for a living. But unlike Gregor Samsa awaking to find himself an enormous…

Our Own Private Waste Lands

by Shawn Crawford If T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” is the sacred text of Modernist poetry (With Joyce’s Ulysses the sacred novel), then his essay “Tradition and the Individual Talent” provides the theology to interpret and understand the poem’s byzantine lines and obscure references. How we pored over both, seeking to fathom the mysteries locked…

My Life in One Sobering Graph

by Shawn Crawford (The following is an excerpt from Crawford’s lecture at the Lausanne, Switzerland conference of The Society of Data Analysts Committed to Reducing Any Complexity to a Single Sobering Graph. Researchers will remember the group’s acrimonious split from the Social Scientists United for Reducing Any Cultural Crisis to a Single Meme. In a…

Formalities

by Shawn Crawford In January of 1841, passengers arriving from Europe would be greeted by anxious New Yorkers on the docks. They all had the same question: “Is Little Nell dead?” Such was the anxiety caused by Charles Dickens’ novel The Old Curiosity Shop. But why couldn’t tortured New Yorkers simply read to the end…

Get on the Bus

by Shawn Crawford In the 70s our church caught bus fever as an effort to bring in the sheaves with greater volume (we pass the salvation savings on to you!). We began deploying a fleet of ancient school buses, painted Baptist blue, out into the neighborhoods of town to bring anyone that so wished to…

Staying

by Shawn Crawford Why do we stay? We lack the resources or the opportunities. We remain faithful to a place given to us through an accident of birth. We rage and complain but never wander very far, the reasons a cipher to ourselves. Even in America, a land of nomads and self-fashioning, most of us…

Lost

by Shawn Crawford Make it one for my baby, and one more for the road—Arlen/Mercer On the 4th of July, the kids start acting jakey once the sun approaches the tree line. It’s maybe, kinda, sorta, starting to get dark, so shouldn’t we break out the fireworks? No. But soon you’ll relent and allow some…

The Bible Tells Me So

by Shawn Crawford For a Baptist, the Bible exists like gravity. Not believing in gravity will not change the outcome if you step off a building; not believing the Bible will not change the consequences if you ignore its precepts and commands. Both are laws of nature, fixed and unchanging. To really understand what it…