14 September 2011

A line back to my enemy

Chance connections...

Just over a year ago, I enthused over N D Wilson's fantasy novel 100 Cupboards. I then read the sequel, Dandelion fire, and was disappointed; it was well told, but somehow more ordinary than the first novel. Why do fantasy novels so often default to epic battles? I left it until now to read the third and final book, The chestnut king – which was better, though still less than the first. But, to get back to point: in this novel, a frequent image was the child protagonist following a grey fibre (invisible to others) which connected a wound in his cheek to the villainous witch who had caused it.

Now (this minute) I listen to Jesca Hoop (thank you, David) singing Enemy:

alone with my enemy
and share a bitter cup
of poisoning
my countenance
to see his face in mine
and follow every line
back to my enemy

The tenth anniversary of 9/11, as Jim Putnam posted on the day, has just passed. Seven years ago, in the aftermath of Abu Ghraib, I received an email from an Arab friend (which Jim, always perceptive and thoughtful, disseminated) reminding me that 9/11 itself was part of a violent cycle of tit for tat ... that there is always a “line back to my enemy”.

A shame that while we keep lines of that kind always alive (the child hero of The chestnut king, by the way, used his grey sickness line back to his enemy first to spy upon her and then to kill her ... she used hers in much the same way), we put much less time and effort into establishing lines of communication back to the same enemies.

  • N D Wilson,
    • 100 cupboards. 2007, New York: Random House. 9780375838828 (pbk.).
    • Dandelion fire. 2009, New York: Random House. 9780375838842.(pbk)
    • The Chestnut King. 2010, New York: Random House. 9780375838866 (pbk)
  • Jesca Hoop, Kismet, "Enemy". 2007, New York: Red Int/Red Ink.

1 comment:

Dr. C said...

Thanks for posting Jim Putnam's comments and your own. I don't know whether you follow Paul Krugman (Nobel Economist) or not, but I consider him one of the saner heads around. His comments on the 9/11 anniversary are pithy:
They also generated a huge controversy.

I went to a funeral the other day (my best friend; a 94 year old Grande Dame). It was a beautiful day and a poignant time. It is the first time I had been in a church in a long time. It was a very old Church (for the States) dating back to the English settlement here in the 1600's. High Episcopal. Anyway, I was struck by the hymns and verses used in the service for this most wonderful of ladies. Even Psalm 23, everybody's favorite, has a line in it about "enemies." Another hymn was all about soldiering against your enemies, etc. It made me feel sad for our culture that in a setting ostensibly under the influence of the person, Jesus Christ, we should have so much about fighting of enemies.