13 March 2013


Hieronymus Bosch - The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things
I know people who have a hard time with friends being published. I have been in a situation where upon telling someone of a recent publication they talk about their own work in the context of how they really should get it out there more. This communicates that 'if you could do it, so could I'. And I feel it, I really do. But that reaction is not supportive.

People I know getting their work out there is a win-win. It allows me to say that they are good people and deserve it. Do I feel that little pang of 'why not me?' Of course. But I know that the people getting published are worth it.

It also allows for the mighty connection. And those are bread and butter honey. Envy really starts to rear its head when we start talking about books. There I can be catty, downright mean. Mostly I become self-loathing and terribly lazy with my own work.

I'm not even positive of why I have an internal distinction. It could be that a 'book' is a physical manifestation of timelessness. It means libraries, classrooms, generations, translations. It means being on shelves. Being in a magazine more and more means being at the end of a link - blahblahblah.com/yournamehere

The seven deadly sins are, of course, Wrath, Greed, Sloth, Pride, Lust, Envy, and Gluttony. These sins do not really pop up in the bible though. There are two places where the book gets specific with what pisses off the lord. In Proverbs 6:16-19 the list is given as:

1. A proud look.
2. A lying tongue.
3. Hands that shed innocent blood.
4. A heart that devises wicked plots.
5. Feet that are swift to run into mischief.
6. A deceitful witness that uttereth lies.
7. Him that soweth discord among brethren.

In Galatians 5:19-21 it is:

adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, 'and such like'

The current sins don't enter the world until the 4th century, though in slightly different variations. They took their current form when Pope Gregory I standardized the list in AD 590.

I am partial to the original Latin sins. There were 8 of those: Gula (gluttony), Fornicatio (lust), Avaritia (greed), Superbia (pride), Tristitia (sorrow/despair/despondency), Ira (wrath), Vanagloria (vainglory), and Acedia (sloth).

I look at the list and kinda love the lost sins.

Hieronymus Wierix
Acedia is apathetic listlessness or depression without joy. This was changed into Sloth over time. I figure it is because it is not as directly translatable. It is similar to ennui. Or the feeling I get when someone I know publishes a book.

Vainglory is unjustified boasting. The semantic change of the word vain from 'futile' to 'narcissism' led to this being folded into the larger Pride. Again, slightly ill defined. Also very far-reaching. Point me to someone who hasn't boasted once or twice.

Gregory I also got rid of Tristitia, adding Envy in its place. The idea that despair is a sin. A 'going to hell' sin...is amazing. It speaks to the harshness of the early church.

These three are evocative to me, more so than the others. I can point to places where I feel them when I read the work of friends. When I smile and say congratulations. I see it in myself when I don't submit to a magazine because I feel like the whole thing is rigged and stupid. I see it when I stare at the words I've written and want to delete until it's blank again. I see it when I talk myself up. When I say things like 'Your poetry is ho shit' and 'My poetry will read yours to filth'.

I see it, for what it is, smoke and mirrors. I love that people I know. People whom I critiqued in workshop, have become something. And I continue, with the idea that I am something too. Perhaps the 'sins' are there to light that fire. To keep us striving towards something more like the 7 graces - humility, charity, kindness, patience, chastity, temperance, and diligence.

Emphasis on the diligence.

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