Daily Dose of Immortality

“Why can’t I be good?” Lou Reed sings this question in Wim Wenders’s film Far Away, So Close! “Why can’t I act like a man? Why can’t I be good?” Was John good? Am I good? What does good mean? The American Heritage Dictionary says that the root ghedh- means “To unite, join, fit. 1. GOOD, from Germanic *godaz, ‘fitting, suitable.’” You are good then, in the root sense, if you unite, join, or fit, if you are fitting and suitable. But who decides what and who is suitable? And what if that leaves you out?

[from Immortal for Quite Some Time; watercolor by John Abbott]

watercolor of barbed wire

About Scott Abbott

I received my Ph.D. in German Literature from Princeton University in 1979. Then I taught at Vanderbilt University, BYU, and Utah Valley State College. At Utah Valley University, I directed the Program in Integrated Studies for its initial 13 years and was also Chair of the Department of Humanities and Philosophy for three years. My publications include a book on Freemasonry and the German Novel, two co-authored books with Zarko Radakovic (REPETITIONS and VAMPIRES & A REASONABLE DICTIONARY, published in Serbo-Croatian in Belgrade and in English with Punctum Books), a book with Sam Rushforth (WILD RIDES AND WILDFLOWERS, Torrey House Press), a "fraternal meditation" called IMMORTAL FOR QUITE SOME TIME (University of Utah Press), and translations of three books by Austrian author Peter Handke, of an exhibition catalogue called "The German Army and Genocide," and, with Dan Fairbanks, of Gregor Mendel's important paper on hybridity in peas. More famously, my children are in the process of creating good lives for themselves: as a model and dance/yoga studio manager, as a teacher of Chinese language, as an ecologist and science writer, as a jazz musician, as a parole officer, as a contractor, as a seasonal worker (Alaska and Park City, Utah), and as parents. I share my life with UVU historian Lyn Bennett, with whom I have written a cultural history of barbed wire -- THE PERFECT FENCE (Texas A&M University Press). Some publications at http://works.bepress.com/scott_abbott/
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3 Responses to Daily Dose of Immortality

  1. II. says:

    oh this image is very wonderful and very sainte-victoire….
    all those questions about goodness, fairly heartbreaking in its exclusionary sense….
    maybe that’s why repetition is so soothing, one can always start again….

    Like

    • Scott Abbott says:

      i found it behind a pastel John had done. the barbed wire fence is common in the American West, as are demands like “don’t fence me in” — and Matthew Shepard is tied to a fence and left to die because he is not “good” and the brokeback cowboy is destined for his family graveyard surrounded by sheepfence
      wir ordnens, es zerfaellt, wir ordnens wieder . . .

      Like

    • Scott Abbott says:

      nachdenken ist auch beten, denkst du . . . wonderful, as is the Schneiderin scene

      Like

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