Monday, April 4, 2016

4: Roger Zelazny Quote of the Day: Insofar as I may be heard by anything...

Insofar as I may be heard by anything, which may or may not care what I say, I ask, if it matters, that you be forgiven for anything you may have done or failed to do which requires forgiveness. Conversely, if not forgiveness but something else may be required to ensure any possible benefit for which you may be eligible after the destruction of your body, I ask that this, whatever it may be, be granted or withheld, as the case may be, in such a manner as to insure your receiving said benefit. I ask this in my capacity as your elected intermediary between yourself and that which may not be yourself, but which may have an interest in the matter of your receiving as much as it is possible for you to receive of this thing, and which may in some way be influenced by this ceremony. Amen.

Context: In Creatures of Light and Darkness, the immortal warrior-priest Madrak is saying a prayer for a man who intends to self-immolate for the entertainment of a crowd that has never seen a death.

Why I like it: I don’t. It’s one of those rare bits of Zelazny’s writing that I respect rather than enjoy. I appreciate the clever wordplay that went into it, but it holds no particular resonance for me.

So why is it here?

If you’ll permit a digression, I became a fan of Warren Zevon at about the same time I did of Roger Zelazny, and they’ve always occupied similar places in my mind. Aside from both of them coming at the end of the alphabet, not being as nearly well-regarded as I think they should be and dying too soon from cancer, they each had a long and productive career and are almost famous in broader culture for a small number of achievements out of more than thirty years of equally excellent work. For Zevon, it’s Werewolves of London. Werewolves isn’t even in my top twenty of Zevon songs, but that’s the only song a non-fan might recognize. I think the Agnostic’s Prayer is one of Zelazny’s creations (along with Amber and Lord of Light) that has cachet outside the narrow subculture of dedicated Zelazny fans, and I would be remiss if I didn’t include it.

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