Of all the words and phrases that are common in or unique to Mormonism, added upon is perhaps the most connected with a work of literature. Though perhaps infrequently used today in Mormon vernacular (except to refer to the book Added Upon), in the past it was frequently used in discussing Mormon doctrine, and it is still used today because it appears in scripture and refers to a key concept of that doctrine, one touched on in my recent definition of the Mormon use of the word exaltation.
Unlike exaltation, however, added upon is today almost exclusively Mormon.
Continue reading “Defining ‘Added Upon’”
Last night I was reading the second chapter of Seth Lerer’s Inventing English: A Portable History of the Language (Amazon), and was struck by a phrase from Archbishop Wulfstan’s 1014 sermon Sermo Lupi ad Anglos, a phrase that Lerer calls “as powerfully alliterative as anything in poetry” (35): “Ac worhtan lust us to lage” (or as Lerer renders it: “but we have made pleasure our law”).
That’s a chilling idea, although I suppose it’s a bit comforting that it could be said almost 10 centuries ago. But it’s also, as Lerer notes, a wonderfully evocative way of putting things. It sent my mind spinning off in to the world of language and especially of phrases that poetically call to me and it soon lit on another phrase, one used by that great post-punk-inflected-with-funk Minneapolis band the Suburbs (Wikipedia), a band that has been on my mind lately because of the death of guitarist Bruce Allen, and used to great effect, I think, because it captures the inherent contradictory impulses of our fallen natures (but that need not contradict because of the atonement, there’s always that caveat, thank goodness), that is Love is the Law. Continue reading “Lust, lage, love, feeling, sensation, soul”
I have been thinking lately about what I’d do if I had more time to engage in Mormon literary criticism. This is, of course, a spectacularly unproductive way of going about things. But it’s all I have time and energy for at the moment. And at the very least, it’s about the only thing I have going at the moment (most of my non-AMV but Mormon arts-related efforts are in writing creating fiction with a modest goal of producing 3k words per month*). Terryl Givens provided the field with some interesting formulations for Mormon criticism via his paradoxes. But his was more of a cultural studies/sociological approach, and I’m thinking more here in terms of straight up dealing with works of narrative art (both those currently out there and as themes for those who are looking to create more).
I have no idea if these would be productive avenues to pursue. Nor am I as well versed in the doctrinal and philosophical arguments — both those specific to Mormonism and those regarding the wider strains of Western/Christian thought — as I’d like to be. This list simply comes out of reading a fair amount of Mormon (mostly literary) fiction. I also note that there may already be fantastic articles and presentations out there that deal with some of these issues. Feel free to reference them in the comments**. Continue reading “Possibly productive themes for Mormon criticism”