Death and Beauty and Time

I’ve been reading Norwegian novelist Tomas Espedal’s book Against Art. After a confrontation with a neighbor who brings a shotgun to the conversation, the narrator walks away with a sense that he has lost the day, that he can no longer see: “No trees, no road, no freedom, no future, nothing. And so it was a fragile thing, this day of mine.”

Yesterday Espedal posted this note on his Facebook page: “Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Illich, harrowing reading, about life’s end, it made me think of this song by Lucinda Williams, her prayer before death.”

It’s her song “Faith & Grace” from The Ghosts of Highway 20. All I need is a little faith and grace, she sings, gravelly voice and searching guitar, a slow song…over 12 minutes long.

Last night I sat on the deck as the sun set and listened to the song and thought about death.

IMG_0121

And about beauty. And time. Time passed and the sky changed.

IMG_0071

The minutes passed. I watched the sky change and listened to Lucinda Williams sing that she’ll stand on the Rock, stand on the Rock, stand on the Rock as she hopes for faith and grace.

IMG_0112

Get right with God, she sang, get right with God, get right with God. And time passed. And the sky changed.

IMG_0115

Darkness gathered and I thought about loss, about despair, about change, about longing while Williams’ steady percussion continued and the guitar searched and the song stretched out and the sky changed and I thought about beauty. I didn’t think about God or faith or grace. I don’t believe in them anymore than she does. And yet I did think about the grace of beauty and my faith in healing time.

IMG_0124

 

About Scott Abbott

Ph.D. in German Literature from Princeton University, 1979. Then I taught at Vanderbilt University, BYU, and Utah Valley State College. At Utah Valley University, I'm Director of the Program in Integrated Studies and former Chair of the Department of Humanities and Philosophy. My publications include a book on Freemasonry and the German Novel, two co-authored books with Zarko Radakovic (published in Serbo-Croatian in Belgrade), and translations of a book by Austrian author Peter Handke and of a catalogue of an exhibit called "The German Army and Genocide." More famously, my children are in the process of creating good lives for themselves: as a model and manager, as a teacher of Chinese language, as a watershed scientist and science writer, as a jazz musician, as a corrections officer, as university students, and as parents. I share my life with UVU historian Lyn Bennett and our yellow dog Blue. Some publications at http://works.bepress.com/scott_abbott/
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Death and Beauty and Time

  1. roughghosts says:

    Moving words and beautiful photos. Thank you for this Scott.

    Like

  2. Nancy says:

    Scott. This is beautiful, both in thought and image. What to do when what we believed in is beauty and time. And there’s not much more time?

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s