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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Let’s talk about reverence

<thur is dying. The evil Prince Mordred has stabbed him in the head with his dying breath. And now, there are bandits roving around killing the wounded and stealing from the dead. Sir Lucas, poor, wounded, near-fainting Sir Lucas, decides they must move Arthur, lest his noble body be despoiled. This is what happens:
Sir Lucas and Sir Bedivere made one further attempt to lift the king. He fainted as they did so. Then Sir Lucas fainted as part of his intestines broke through a wound in the stomach. When the king came to, he saw Sir Lucas lying dead with foam at his mouth.

Do you have it in you to love something, anything, until your guts are literally falling out of your body?

Let’s talk about reverence.

Sir Lucas was a butler, a man of service, and he died a working-class death. His hands were better shaped to carry than to wield. He died foaming like a feral dog, and the bandits stole gladly from his unbeautiful corpse.

Sir Bedivere wept for his brother.

They were brothers. Sir Bedivere, I wept for your brother, too.
(Later that day)

[Archbishop]: Do I not recognize you as Sir Bedivere the Bold, brother to Sir Lucas the Butler?

Even in death, Lucas is ever the Butler, and Bedivere, his brother, is the bold one.
Let’s talk about reverence.


Sir Thomas Mallory made up a story in which made up white people died for an idea. Maybe he made up chivalry, too. Maybe he thought it was something only fictional people would believe in.

You were a fictional person once. You were always a person, but for a stretch of years before you hit puberty you were a fictional person, too. Maybe your fictional self had a suit of armor so strong that your guts could never fall out of it. Maybe you had a pony. Your fictional self lived in a world with different rules than ours, maybe better ones.

In our world, the real world, chivalry is sometimes and gravity is always, but in the world your fictional self lived in, maybe it’s the other way around. No matter the circumstances you always try to lift King Arthur, but sometimes when you drop him, he doesn’t hit the ground.

Imagine being your fictional self. Take a few moments to shake the dust off. I know, its been a while. But imagine your fictional self on the shores of a lake. Imagine a boat. Put the boat on the lake. Set the boat on fire. You are now the proud owner of the image of a burning boat on a dark lake. But the screams sound real, so what will your fictional self do? Will you save them? Or do you still fear death even in dreams? Can you even swim with all that armor on?
The burning boat wont seem nearly as poetic from the inside.


What would happen if our fictional selves read the books we read? What if our fictional selves got to write our papers?

Fictional Todd might write a paper like this about Sir Lucas the Butler:
He loved his king until his insides became outsides. This is chivalry. This is service. This is what it looks like to believe in something. He deserves to have a poem written about him, and I hope someone already has. He’s just a butler-knight in a story, but I love him in the way you can only love people you know so little about. He makes me want to lift things I can’t carry. I think about his death more than I think about my grandfather’s. There’s so much here. Can’t we just have a little silence before Arthur steals the show with his own damn death?

Lets talk about reverence and why even though I’m an English major, and it’s about literature, I can’t write that paper. Writing a paper implies an air of mastery over the subject, an air of mastery that feels so far removed from awe.

This may be why plastic surgeons have trouble finding much of anything beautiful these days.

This is why, most of the time, I don’t ask for feedback on my poems. You have to give people a chance to fall in love before you hand them a scalpel.

Let me begin again.
I want to be holy
-Terrance Hayes

We all want to be holy. Especially the atheists among us. If you don’t have a brick and mortar religion, there’s a tendency to make a religion out of other things in your life. The site of your first kiss, the bath you take in the mornings that lasts longer than it should, the ice cream that you only let yourself eat on Sundays. And for those of us who don’t invest full authority in the Bible, Torah, Quran, there’s a tendency to form your own set of scripture. Some people borrow from Whitman, from Thoreau. I borrow from Sir Thomas Mallory. I borrow the death of Sir Lucas the Butler.

That’s all reverence is really. The state in which were reminded of our desire to be holy. To be something more. The things we build our personal religions out of resonate with us on that level. By making them holy, they remind us that we can be, too. The John Mayer song Bigger than my Body is kind of about all of this. Ive always been embarrassed to like it as much as I do.

I’m bigger than my body gives me credit for.

My high school English teacher had four pieces of advice about college that he gave to all the seniors as we graduated. The first was to revel. To revel in everything there was to enjoy about college and about all the life that happens there. I don’t remember the other three.

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