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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana XVIII -- chapter 17: THE BIRTH OF AN ATHEIST

Baptism of Augustine of Hippo
  1. Interesting parallel: As an adult, the forgetfulness came without warning, like death in the night unexpected; as a child, death came without warning and all around him, and he had to work, "providently," to push out its memory, forget, and move on with his life.  The forced forgetting is very much like the Christian notion of repentance, but repentance must be voluntary like the childhood flushing of repugnant memory.  How then would you metaphorically qualify Yambo's adult amnesia?  Finally, as baptism is sometimes identified as a second birth, or spiritual birth/rebirth, does it fit in anywhere with all this?
  2. How is Yambo's conclusion, "God does not exist," not surprising, coming as it does, of course, from his life and development?
  3. Describe Yambo's relationship with sin.  How might this lead to the man we know (if we know) he became later?
  4. Fine books and fine music become Yambo's gods after the episode in the gorge.  How is this, well, idolatry so much more convenient, yet, at least by the strictures of human limitation, comparably satisfying/challenging?
  5. Yambo's life experiences were echoed in and formulated by his books.  He found meaning, explanation, and interpretation at writers' hands.  He experiences a form--perverted--of chaste indulgence by the leniencies allowed in text, "not flesh."  Does this open a window, as it were, overlooking the First Folio; and, by extension, how is the First Folio indeed Lila?


  1. 1. Yeah, but he clearly does not want to repent. He wants to remember all the gory details.
    2. Do you see this as gradual, or as an epiphany? I guess an epiphany can come gradually if there's a sudden movement that pushes one over the edge. I have to say that, while it's never led me to question the existence of God, I, too, have had moments when the pointlessness of everything has suddenly struck me, sort of as in Yambo's soccer game. But I find the point of my existence beyond this pointless world.
    3. I don't get the sense that he's really a horrible sinner. He's just overwhelmed by the demand of perfection from the priests, which makes him think that he has to choose between perfection and giving up the faith altogether. He eventually chooses the second.
    4. Both God and literature remove us from the mundaneness of the world (which I suppose is a bit redundant).
    5. I'll have to think about this one. It sounds quite possible, but I am not sure about it until I read the end of the book.

  2. 1. But he wanted to forget the childhood events after the war.
    2. I think it's gradual, because when it first occurs to him he confesses it. So I guess the first experienced doubt or realization was an epiphany, but if he became an atheist as he continued to grow, it was gradual. I agree about the doubt and confusion and pointlessness, but for that always tends to be when I'm deliberately not remembering the bigger picture.
    3. I agree exactly. The pressure gives him a distorted view of the gravity (or lack thereof) of his sins.
    4. Yes. The world will always and forever be mundane, even worldly.
    5. I'm not sure either. Mostly it "sounded" good when it occurred to me.

  3. 1. Oh, ok, we were thinking of different contexts then.
    4. Haha yes!


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