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      The Jesus Cow

      Michael Perry 9780062289919


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Men in the off Hours


Men in the off Hours Cover




TV Men: Lazarus


Yes I admit a degree of unease about my

motives in making

this documentary.

Mere prurience of a kind that is all too common nowadays

in public catastrophes. I was listening

to a peace negotiator for the Balkans talk

about his vocation

on the radio the other day.

"We drove down through this wasteland and I didn't know

much about the area but I was

fascinated by the horrors of it. I had never

seen a thing like this.

I videotaped it.

Then sent a 13-page memo to the UN with my suggestions."

This person was a member

of the International Rescue Committee,

not a man of TV.

But you can see

how the pull is irresistible. The pull to handle horrors

and to have a theory of them.

But now I see my assistant producer waving her arms

at me to get

on with the script.

The name Lazarus is an abbreviated form of Hebrew 'El'azar,

meaning "God has helped."

I have long been interested in those whom God has helped.

It seems often to be the case,

e.g. with saints or martyrs,

that God helps them to far more suffering than they would have

without God's help. But then you get

someone like Lazarus, a man of no

particular importance,

on whom God bestows

the ultimate benevolence, without explanation, then abandons

him again to his nonentity.

We are left wondering, Why Lazarus?

My theory is

God wants us to wonder this.

After all, if there were some quality that Lazarus possessed,

some criterion of excellence

by which he was chosen to be called


from death,

then we would all start competing to achieve this.

But if

God's gift is simply random, well

for one thing

it makes a

more interesting TV show. God's choice can be seen emerging

from the dark side of reason

like a new planet. No use being historical

about this planet,

it is just an imitation.

As Lazarus is an imitation of Christ. As TV is an imitation of

Lazarus. As you and I are an imitation of

TV. Already you notice that

although I am merely

a director of photography,

I have grasped certain fundamental notions first advanced by Plato,

e.g. that our reality is just a TV set

inside a TV set inside a TV set, with nobody watching

but Sokrates,

who changed

the channel in 399 B.C. But my bond with Lazarus goes deeper, indeed

nausea overtakes me when faced with

the prospect of something simply beginning all over again.

Each time I have to

raise my slate and say

"Take 12!" or "Take 13!" and then "Take 14!"

I cannot restrain a shudder.

Repetition is horrible. Poor Lazarus cannot have known

he was an

imitation Christ,

but who can doubt he realized, soon after being ripped out of his

warm little bed in the ground,

his own epoch of repetition just beginning.

Lazarus Take 2!

Poor drop.

As a bit of salt falls back down the funnel. Or maybe my pity

is misplaced. Some people think Lazarus lucky,

like Samuel Beckett who calls him "Happy Larry" or Rilke

who speaks of

that moment in a game

when "the pure too-little flips over into the empty too-much."

Well I am now explaining why my documentary

focuses entirely on this moment, the flip-over moment.

Before and after

don't interest me.

You won't be seeing any clips from home videos of Lazarus

in short pants racing his sisters up a hill.

No footage of Mary and Martha side by side on the sofa

discussing how they manage

at home

with a dead one sitting down to dinner. No panel of experts

debating who was really the victim here.

Our sequence begins and ends with that moment of complete


and sport--

when Lazarus licks the first drop of afterlife off the nipple

of his own old death.

I put tiny microphones all over the ground

to pick up

the magic

of the vermin in his ten fingers and I stand back to wait

for the miracle.

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication Date:
Carson, Anne

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Anthologies » Miscellaneous International Poetry
Fiction and Poetry » Poetry » A to Z

Men in the off Hours
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Product details 176 pages Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group - English 9780307557872 Reviews:
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