Acts of grace

15 March 2009

spiral

I’ve always been interested in stories about technique – how stories work – and there’s a good example this weekend in a review by Frank Cottrell Boyce:

Stories are chains of consequence, one thing leads to another. But some of the most sublime stories end when an act of grace or love that means “it ain’t necessarily so”. Abraham doesn’t have to sacrifice Isaac. The Green Knight has the right to decapitate Gawain but barely nicks him with his sword. The prodigal son thinks he has spent all his father’s love but discovers that it is endless.

I’m a sucker for such moments: impossible, for example, for me to watch It’s A Wonderful Life without a lump in the throat during the final scene. And without necessarily wanting to imply a religious meaning (although it’s revealing that two of Boyce’s examples are Biblical), I think the ‘sublime’ aspect comes from the moment of transcendence embodied in such acts; the creation through choice and action of a different meaning.

The picture is from The Evolution of Jeremiah blog.

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