Scott Beauchamp is a writer and infantry veteran whose work has appeared in Paris Review, The Atlantic, and New York Magazine, among other places. His book Did You Kill Anyone? is published by Zer0. He lives in Maine.
As God is beyond space and time, all things, wherever they are located in space and time, are equally present to him and he is equally present to them and is equally the cause of their being and reality. He “uphold[s] all things by the power of his word” (Heb 1:3). So it is not just the things that existed at the beginning of time that were created by God. All things that have ever existed or ever will exist have their existence from God. You are, right now, being created by God, as he is “upholding” you in existence “by the power of his word.”
So why does Genesis say that God created “in the beginning?” St. Augustine and with him the whole of Catholic tradition sees more than one level of meaning in this phrase. At the most obvious level, it refers to the temporal beginning of the universe, which, as St. Augustine profoundly realized, was the beginning of time itself. But “beginning” here also means, at a deeper level, the ultimate origin or source of the world. That origin stands outside of time altogether and is the power and wisdom of God. St. John’s Gospel calls it the Logos of God, which means both Word and Reason. “In the Beginning was the Logos . . . through Him all things were made” (Jn 1:1). Thus St. Augustine sums up his understanding of creation in this way:
In the beginning, O God, you made heaven and earth in your Word, in your Son, in your Power, in your Wisdom, in your Truth, speaking in a wondrous way, and working in a wondrous way . . . “How great are your works, O Lord, you have made all things in wisdom!” (Ps 103:24). That wisdom is the beginning, and in that beginning you have made heaven and earth.
"This Dead Zone, which was originally aired on Sunday, February 16, 2020 on WRHU 88.7FM Radio Hofstra University, features guest DJ Scott Beauchamp, St. Louis native and now fellow Mainer. The show was recorded at Scott's home in Bath, Maine overlooking the Kennebec River. Scott selected a mostly St. Louis themed show, which features a tour de force "Dark Star" and some gems from the end of the line performances of the GD with Donna and Keith Godchaux, which, coincidentally occurred during the nascent days of the Iranian Revolution."
London, Los Angeles, Lahore: the place hardly matters. All urban spaces have that deep ineradicable stench of so many people so close together. They all decay. They foster the commerce of dishonesty. They breed disease. Peel back the centuries of cracked pavements. The subways, sewers, and rusted steam pipes. The stained soil crushed beneath the city’s unnatural weight. And even then we would not discover the enchanted whisper of beginning, the fresh green breast of a new world. Peel back the city to the time of its foundation. Peel back the corpses piled on corpses, the generations of violence. Peel it back to the bare ground of origin, and all we would find is the first grave of a founding murder. The city is built on death, all the way down. A city of bones.
There’s another city, too, of course. Or, at least, another way to see it: The city is the place of flowers, cut carnations and roses in buckets at the corner grocery. The city is the place of parks and tree-lined boulevards and flags waving over paved streets. The place of awnings and marble vestibules. The place of manners, for that matter: No civilization exists without the civitas. No urbanity without the urban. Nothing politic without the polis.
My latest, a review of Foldenyi's collection of essays Dostoyevsky Reads Hegel in Siberia and Bursts Into Tears, for the Washington Examiner magazine:
This is, essentially, a book about outcasts and the exiled. It argues on behalf of experiences that struggle to be articulated in a society bent on eliminating any emotions that could “endanger its optimism.” Foldenyi echoes other contemporary cultural critics, most notably the German Korean philosopher Byung-Chul Han, in arguing that we suffer from an excess of positivity that severs us from the full range of human experience. In trying to save ourselves from any pain or negativity, we also miss out on the meaning they allow us to access. For instance, the desacralization of the human body, its reduction “to material, to its bones, muscles, guts, flesh, blood, skin,” prevents us from experiencing our bodies spiritually. We might tell ourselves that this reduction is a sort of freedom — that unlike the superstitious people of the past, we are liberated to use our bodies as we see fit, whether for pleasure or for health. But, Foldenyi warns, the cost of this freedom is meaningless, fragmented nihilism.
The strongest essay in the collection shares the blistering title of the book. It is a work of intellectual speculation: Guessing that Fyodor Dostoyevsky, while exiled in Siberia, must have read G.W.F. Hegel’s lectures on history, in which Hegel pronounced that Siberia (as well as Africa) lay outside of historical significance, Foldenyi imaginatively recreates Dostoyevsky’s reaction. Already in physical exile, Dostoyevsky might have felt intellectually exiled by Hegel’s words. He might have felt compelled to rage against the “secularized concept of history” popularized by Hegel and other leading thinkers of the 19th century, which “suggests suffering — here, in this earthly existence — might be eliminated.” In what Foldenyi sees as Hegel’s delusional rush to systematize history into something we can understand, some of the most vital human experiences, including terror, love, redemption, and divine wisdom, must be passed over in silence. Hegel, Foldenyi writes, “obeys one of the fundamental laws of modern civilization: to eliminate suffering from life, accomplishing this even at the price of the most appalling suffering. Hegel does not try to comprehend the Africa ... within his own soul.”
I wrote about how dead malls are our new haunted houses for The American Conservative:
The great strength of ghost hunting videos is the ambience they create. If sound tracks were composed for them, they’d be made by Brian Eno or The Dead Texan. It’s the sound of music that’s already decayed into a gentle equilibrium with silence. Music that gestures with such subtlety that its movements seem counterintuitively exaggerated. That’s the mood of these ghost hunting videos. And it’s something they share with a similar YouTube genre, which might not at superficial glance seem related: dead and dying mall videos. My personal favorite of these channels is The Proper People, who explore all sorts of buildings. The setup is exactly the same as ghost hunting videos, save the necessity for darkness. A small group enters into and explores the vaguely menacing innards of a physical locus for past events. And while whatever took place at the Northbridge Mall in Wisconsin might not be as evil as a Manson locale, they share the same uncanny sense of a place where the past has accumulated and then come to reside, half forgotten and half remembered, waiting for a seance or exploration to come alive again. And perhaps even more than the ghosts on the Queen Mary or the minimalist ambulations of Brian Eno, dead mall videos give us the chance to project our own nostalgic desires for communion with the past onto a decaying surface. Dead malls are our new haunted houses.
"Violence robs its victim of the dignity of human freedom—or, in a Thomistic vein, the capacity to discern, choose, and act in the natural pursuit of truth, goodness, and happiness. It renders the body an impersonal cipher: a zero to which the aggressor may apply a value in a brutal exchange."
Reading through the stories collected in Machines in the Head, one will notice that Anna Kavan had a talent for violence.
A narrator envisions being hit by a car “with the full force of its horrid horsepower” and “transformed into an inexhaustible fountain, spouting blood like a whale.” A doctor visiting a psychiatric hospital is disturbed when a narcosis patient awakens suddenly “from their clouded greyness” with “a look of terror, of wild supplication, of frantic, abysmal appeal.” Machine guns “grind elephantinely over" the narrator during a London air raid. “I can feel the broad beams sawing and the narrow beams scissoring through my nerves.” A flock of gannets swarm over a brood of seemingly abandoned children, undertaking a ritual in which a child’s face is left with “shocking blankness … darkened by two great holes, bloodied pits from which the eyes had already been torn.”
Such passages would make Kavan out to be something of a shock artist, and, perhaps, in a way, she was. She wrote some of the most elegant, lyrical English this side of modernism, but when applied to the precariousness of the human psyche and the world around it, her writing took on a destructive power. In Kavan’s world, even dew-covered crocuses can’t simply gleam in the sun. They must have a “neat, low fire of symmetrical flames.”
Writer - Critic - Poet - Editor