Monday, April 07, 2008

Annie Dillard’s theology, part 1: ridiculous

In the essay on the captive deer (the one supposedly making itself tastier through its fear fraught struggles) Annie Dillard compares the suffering of the deer (destined for the cooking pot!) with a man in a burn ward. This is the man’s second stay in the burn ward. “’Why does God hate me?’ [the man] asked from his hospital bed. … He had been burned … thirteen years previously, by flaming gasoline. For years he had been having his body restored and his face remade in dozens of operations. … This time a bowl of gunpowder had exploded … ‘I was burning. I rolled to put the fire out and I thought, “Oh God, not again.”’”

“Will someone please explain to [him] … what is going on?” Dillard says. “And mail me the carbon.” She reflects back on the little deer, exhausted and doomed. As she left the village where it was tied up she said, “’Pobrecito -- ‘poor little thing.’ But I was trying out Spanish. I knew at the time it was a ridiculous thing to say.”

In the DIR post of Feb 23 I quoted Dillard, “If you were to glance out one day and see a row of mushroom clouds rising on the horizon, you would know at once that what you were seeing, remarkable as it was, was intrinsically not worth remarking. No use running to tell anyone. Significant as it was, it did not matter a whit. For what is significance? It is significance for people. No people, no significance.”

In that post I puzzled over what she meant. No significance? And in the above quote about sympathy for the deer, what was ridiculous?

source: Teaching a Stone to Talk, by Annie Dillard

No comments: