Monday, March 20, 2006

Postmodernism, T.S. Elliot, and the Literary LVM...

[Over the last week (my spring break) there has been alot of reflection in my life, yet I have come up short with the right words to say in Daniel's passing. During this time I recieved an email from good friend, Shawn Hartje, and thought I'd share it. Thanks Shawn]

I got home yesterday at five p.m. and there was no LVM
in the mailbox. I wasn't even expecting one. Mary
finds LVM #18 outside the front door when my Aunt and
Uncle leave our house later that night at nine p.m.
So it mysteriously arrives on my 30th birthday, it's
called "The Best One Yet... ," and it also contains
The Rangelife segment, whose co-creators I had just
reconnected with, in Utah and California, after
several years apart. Blatant ironies and subtle
connections abound for me in this DVD, just as they do
in everything in my life...

T.S. Elliot, a forefather of modernist and
postmodernist thinking, thought the key to good living
was to connect nothing with nothing. He thought
modern life was fragmented, and that one needed to
have faith that a universal, human thread somehow
connected all of these fragments. "Always connect,"
was Elliot's most famous creed, and he meant this
especially in regard to human connections, regardless
of whether the connection was made through physical
contact, spiritual work, or art--which in this case is

The latest (the last?) LVM is fragmented--to say the
least--in that it presents a collage of regional
paddlers, every segment being its own individualized
fragment. In light of Daniel's tragedy, every paddler
who watches LVM #18 will no doubt strive to find the
human connection between all of these fragments. This
is of great literary significance to a literary-geek
such as myself, as it has been a chief concern for
nearly every serious postmodern writer/artist/musician
of the 20th century. I think T.S. Elliot would agree
with me, though he would probably add that the
underlying tragedy is that it took a tragedy in a
train tunnel for me to realize this about a kayaking

Last night, when I watched my surprise birthday gift,
the parallels to Elliot's most acclaimed work, "The
Wasteland," were obvious, and thence followed the
drafting of this email. Below is an excerpt from "The
Wasteland," which paints a metaphorical desert of
fragmented human relationships where water is the
missing element required to connect the discordant
parts. To associate LVM with one of the most
important works of 20th century literature might seem
to be a bold stretch, but the connective water of LVM
#18 runs strong and deep:

If there were water
And no rock
If there were rock
And also water
And water
A spring
A pool among the rock
If there were the sound of water only
Not the cicada
And dry grass singing
But sound of water over a rock
Where the hermit-thrush sings in the pine trees
Drip drop drip drop drop drop drop
But there is no water

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