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An ironic coincidence

May 23, 2011

I decided a few days ago to stop publishing my previous blog, Túrin Speaks, and shift to new kind of journal. This one will be less ponderous, with briefer, perhaps more frequent articles, and will strive less to be all-encompassing than to offer many interesting starting points for reflection.

When I made this resolution, I began contemplating what the proposed new journal should be called, how it would look, and what name I should write under.

I decided first that I would keep the name Túrin Húrinson, both to preserve continuity with my previous journal and to mark the great influence J.R.R. Tolkien has had on my way of thinking.

I next decided on the tagline “only the beak-leaved boughs dragonish damask the tool-smooth bleak light,” a phrase from G.H. Hopkins’ poem “Spelt from Sibyl’s Leaves.” This poem is one of my favorite, and the image of sharp, steely, “dragonish” literature as our only protection against the bleakness of the coming night struck me as emblematic of what I want to explore here.

Having accounted for Tolkien and Hopkins, I resolved to integrate Herman Melville in some way. Flipping through my edition of Moby-Dick, I saw on the second-to-last page the phrase “ironical coincidings.” Reading the passage, I found another account of the struggle between heaven and earth (here Tashtego’s nailing of the Christological hawk to the mast), and realized that this passage could tie together the previous references I had made, and moreover that this phrase could both reference the manner in which I gathered the above references and add a self-consciousness to the entire endeavor that would alleviate its overbearing seriousness. So I chose it for the title.


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