Impossible without a body: a song, (breath), and dust
Postscript – definitions and the like
I made this redacted poetics from a found copy of one of my father’s papers that was reprinted online entitled Man: Image of God (it was first published in Australia in the Christian print journal Creation (Ex Nihilo) in 1981). This text by John Rendle-Short formed part of a book that was subsequently published under the title Man, Ape or Image: the Christians Dilemma, first in 1981 by Creation Science Publishing (Sunnybank, Queensland, Australia), then reprinted in 1984 by Master Books Publishers (San Diego, California). It has one review on Amazon, which reads: “Informative-Enlightening-Intertaining Fictional Theory.”
In its purist sense, the word redact (a verb) means to edit or adapt or revise a text for publication. It comes from the Latin redactus, to bring into organized form. It can also mean to draw up or frame a statement or proclamation. A third meaning is to obscure or remove parts of the text from a document prior to publication. Redacting in this case is a form of editing, where chunks are deleted. This “delete” definition of redact comes from the idea of censoring a text, or removing confidential or sensitive (secret) material from a document before it is released. It is often used in legal circles or by government when a text is “blacked out” on a copy of the original document for security reasons or for reasons of freedom of information. Sometimes so much of a text is redacted it makes the original text virtually meaningless, but meaningful nonetheless—more so, in some cases. Funny too.
An agnostic is a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God. A creationist—in my father’s view—is someone who believes in a literal reading of the Book of Genesis, that the world was created by God with breath and dust in just six days (in the way we understand the word day, a twenty-four hour cycle), and that the earth and everything we know about this universe is merely 6,000 years old. He was also of the belief that only those Christians who have faith in this literal interpretation of Genesis—in biblical inerrancy—are in fact Christians. Given this view, heaven, if we believe in such a place at all, will be full of creationists. The rest of us will go to hell.
And on making art? Composition (from componere “put together”)? What would my father make of this “found poetry”? What of deletions and conjunctions?
hear birds singing
The story goes that my father came to creationism through a phrase in the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which he read once in the 1970s on a plane from England to Australia. Mind you, he wasn’t enamored of that book, he was always quick to put it down from the pulpit, like a dog, because of its wayward thinking. I wish I knew what that phrase was that he read, the one phrase in that particular book that set him thinking, stirred his writing. In any case, on the question of composition, and art, he was more of the variety who proclaimed that good art should glorify God, or rather that the artist should glorify God with her work, whatever these words and phrases might mean. Whichever way you like to use them.
Technical note: this text was redacted with my finger using the drawing function and black colour in iAnnotate on my iPad and was touched up with a broad-nibbed texta after printing a copy so as to cover words that refused erasure, such as “shall mention six: language, creativity, love, holiness, immortality and freedom. You will probably be able to add to this list.”
Francesca Rendle-Short is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir-cum-novel Bite Your Tongue (Spinifex Press), a work about her mother, Angel Rendle-Short, a dedicated moral-rights crusader and anti-smut campaigner. She is an associate professor at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. Her website: www.francescarendleshort.com.