Richard Maddox
Author Archives: Richard Maddox

A Review of “Remembering Eternity” Shared to his Audience

“This is the first time I’ve written you about anything other than something I’ve written or recorded myself. But it is a rare occasion, given the quality of this work. My dear friend Richard Maddox has written what may well be the most important novel of the postmodern era. I don’t say that lightly, and I am not alone in this opinion. Both literary experts and a general readership (which includes me) have acclaimed this book as nothing short of extraordinary. When I say that it is a great book, I mean that it deserves to be on a short list of the most important works of fiction in the English language. I hope you’ll read it yourself, for the enjoyment, enrichment and enlightenment it can provide.

“One of my favorite aspects of this massive piece of fiction, is that it includes a complete aesthetic philosophy, or theory of beauty. A serious discussion of aesthetics is not only highly unusual in our day and age, but also more needed than it’s ever been. Richard beautifully elucidates his aesthetics, and also makes his work itself an iteration of a deep understanding of beauty itself.

“This novel is rather long, and has thus been broken up into nine volumes. But make no mistake, this is one book.”

“The Speaking Sea” from “Remembering Eternity”

“The sea, though mute of voice, yearned to speak to me, to communicate with a more profound tongue mysteries and lessons it wanted me to learn.  Friable cliffs faced the ever-charging vast power of the water like overly brave young boys bracing their shoulders and torsos to meet a great wave head on.  For as strong as rock could be when meeting flesh, it was no match for water that would lap, slap, bang, chomp, and pulverize it into oblivion over the course of the years. On this morning, pot-bellied cumulus filled the sky plains. From the edge of one such cloud, stuck out a rabbit’s-foot shape, drawing forth my mental fingers to stroke it for good luck.  The arched portal in one of the nearby rock formations was backlit and shone as if the opening itself were a structure: a light-house built entirely of radiance.”

“Autumn” from “Remembering Eternity”

“Autumn meant the return to school, which he loved.  It meant broad, dehydrated, and brittle oak leaves colored in raw sienna and cinnamon, that crunched like Frosted Flakes under his intentional footsteps.  It meant raking dry, moist, and semi-rotten leaves into vegetative tumuli upon which he and the neighbor kids threw themselves in gleeful abandon.  Autumn was the smell of fireplace smoke drifting through the suburban-night air, that homey, bundled-against-the-cold smell that was like no other, which resurrected species-old memories of encampments set up on similar windy and chilled nights, when all eyes stared at the nursling fire that meant food, warmth, and life itself.  Every gaze fixated, as if entranced, on the fulgent, fulminating dance of contained flame.  From the molten, white-hot core of the fire emerged visual echoes in poison yellow, edging into viridine green, then outward to dark peach, persimmon, and burnt umber.  Fascination fell on all who watched the wraiths imprisoned and tortured in these fires, ever struggling, twisting, and leaping in pursuit of release.  There were vast nebulae in the pangs of formation, delicate undersea ferns buffeted by the tides, satin ribbons looping and delicate, and atmospheres from strange and distant worlds.  Flashes of blue would appear and sap would crackle and explode sending cinders toward the observers.”

“Ecstatic Dancer” from “Remembering Eternity”

“Keats’s sharpest veer from truth, as I saw it, came in his chosen path to what we both understood to be the Unity underlying the labradorescence, the variability of appearance based on vision angle, of dualistic “reality.”  For him it came through ecstatic dance and drugs.  In dance, he claimed, he could discover moments when everyone on the floor with him suddenly moved as one, in a naturally evolved, perfect harmony of graceful flow and gesture.  At such times a fellow dancer would wordlessly ask him “Did you notice that we two are really only one?” But suddenly the spell would break, the unity dissolve, and the perfection, flaw.  The other dancer, it turned out, had really asked him if he wanted another drink.  Had he experienced, Keats wondered, an hallucination or a glimpse of an alternative reality?”

“The Wise Child” from “Remembering Eternity”

“The greatest of all challenges to be faced in a lifetime, then, was finding one’s way, not only back to a childlike state of innocence, but forward to the permanence of Being a wise and saintly child. A merely young child compares to a saintly child as deep sleep compares to enlightenment: in youth and sleep one enjoys the peace of non-mentality but cannot maintain it amidst the chaotic Sturm und Drang of the worldly illusion. One had not only to rediscover the innocence and expansive immediacy of childhood but to find for the first time Eternity, Silence, and Peace on the very battlefield of daily life.”

“Waking Up to California” from “Remembering Eternity”

“All these impressions struck Skylar at once.  Just the sight of the girls playing volleyball on the beach conveyed the totality of this understanding to him.  And no playwright could have scripted this first glimpse of California better than fate had.  To drive in at night—the darkness assuring that even the two boys still awake could tell nothing of the magnificence of the place—and to awake in the glare of day maximized the impact of seeing the Pacific Ocean and California for the first time.  They had not gotten hints of the ocean: scents of salt air carried inland and scalloped hems of coastline seen from many miles away; nor had they been gradually enlivened by the sight of pretty blondes on bicycles and of cars with surfboards strapped to their roofs.  Instead, the full force of the Golden State had been saved for one first amazed stare and compressed into one all-powerful image.  The staging proved so effective that Skylar would never forget it (and California would never lose its preeminent place in his heart) for the remainder of his life.”

“The American Elite” from “Remembering Eternity”

“But naturally no one, not even the families who benefited from them, liked to discuss these hidden aids (that put the odds of the game always in favor of the elites).  After all, they dimmed the mystique surrounding the “self-made man,” seeming to indicate, as they did, that he took unfair advantage of those not standing in the inner circle; one inclined to be cruelly blunt might even have leveled an accusation of cheating at these insiders, claiming that they had finessed their accomplishments by overreaching those less sophisticated.  Girls such as Patricia and Cecily grew up with the conviction that their fathers and uncles had gained their positions from dogged perseverance and shrewd intelligence and that other Americans had the same right to employ their energies and skills toward the same end.  The odd element in this naïve article of faith was how it managed to coexist alongside the truth: the girls’ living realities: their status as privileged members of the social aristocracy.  Every day of their lives, they saw others working for them, looking up to them, deferring to them, and currying their favor.  They attended schools with girls from nearly identical backgrounds.  Vacations found them skiing, swimming, and attending parties with those in their set.  While opportunity for all was a tenet of their shared philosophy, cosseted comfort for the few was the axiom of their surroundings.”

“A Friend” from “Remembering Eternity”

“As he gazed into his young friend’s eyes, seeing there only welcome and joy, Skylar felt himself unfolding, as if he had been a long-locked jewelry box whose mechanism had just sprung open.  His heart, which had long lain hidden beneath layer after layer of protection, behind shield, armor, and mail, like a cherished princess locked deep within a fortified castle, on a sudden revealed itself: began to walk about in the sacred night like the royal maiden wearing only her white shift and golden crown.  Then the princess waved her hand and all the barbicans, moats, baileys, battlements, portcullises, archers, infantry, and enemies disappeared as if they had never existed—and all that endured, that reigned over everything, was the brilliant white beauty and the glittering golden crown of Her Highness, the Love Princess of the Principality of the Heart.”

“1969” from “Remembering Eternity”

“The Vietnam War dominated the attention of Americans and citizens of other nations, but the famine in Biafra generated images (of skeletal children) as horrific as any coming out of the war zone.  Eleven months earlier, in what constituted the largest demonstration in the country’s history, two million Americans had protested against the war.  The first draft lottery drawing, to select inductees to the Armed Forces, occurred in December of the previous year.  April of that year saw the inaugural celebration of Earth Day, with 20 million people in the United States participating in a grassroots display of environmental concern.  Domestic society was culturally spasmodic.  A large majority of the baby-boom generation, in typical youthful style, rejected the conformist values of their parents, choosing fanciful clothing, psychedelic music, anti-establishment politics, open sexuality, and drug usage as symbols of their rebellion.  In the summer of 1969, the Woodstock Rock Festival, the jubilation of that generation—the 500,000-person, living, loving, loud, licentious, and intoxicated emblem of the flower-child culture: mad, rhapsodic, and fantastical—burst into bloom in Sullivan County New York like a  rapid and rank inflorescence of light-gray-blue lupines, lavender asters, and cadmium-yellow primroses.”