“Appellate Jurisdiction” | Marianne Moore (1887-1972)

What's the appeal?

What’s the appeal?

For pondering our appeals of all sorts.

 

Appellate Jurisdiction

by

Marianne Moore

Fragments of sin are a part of me.
New brooms shall sweep clean the heart of me.
      Shall they? Shall they?

When this light life shall have passed away,
God shall redeem me, a castaway.
      Shall He? Shall He?

 

About This Poem

“Appellate Jurisdiction” by Marianne Moore was published in the May 1915 issue of Poetry along with four other poems by Moore.

Marianne Moore was born in Saint Louis, Missouri, on November 15, 1887. Moore, a former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, was the recipient of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. She died in New York City on February 5, 1972.


Red Harvest: Crime Fiction and Gospel Conviction

Forgot how itchy this suit is.

Forgot how itchy this suit is.

Pop culture and theology mix fruitfully in pulp-crime fiction.

Here’s a four-part course from 2012: Red Harvest: Crime Fiction and Gospel Conviction          .

Here’s the blurb that went with the class:

Crime fiction, in its varied forms, both illuminates and counterpoints the Gospel.  Crime fiction correctly presents and analyzes the sinful human condition, even where its conclusions are horribly wrong.  And, in crime fiction as nowhere else, the law is most definitely the Law: God did not get after Cain for shoplifting.

Second-hand smoke.

Second-hand smoke.

So: four classes’ worth of dark human hearts and blazing Gospel light, interspersed with mayhem, Augustine, detectives, 1930s pulp novels and the overlooked theological punch from the opening line of The Postman Always Rings Twice: “They threw me off the hay truck about noon.”

These are complete classes, so prepare a stiff drink before hitting “Play.”

As an example of what not to drink, consider this assault on civilization from that Pravda of sentimentality, Parade magazine: Girl Scouts Cookie Thin Mints Martini

Ingredients

  • 3 parts chocolate vodka
  • ½ shot creme de menthe
  • 1 shot chocolate milk liquor
  • Chocolate syrup (as needed)
  • 1 Thin Mint, crushed

Directions

  1. In a martini shaker, mix together chocolate vodka, creme de menthe, and chocolate milk liquor. Shake well. If you don’t have a martini shaker, use a glass filled with ice and mix well.
  2. Coat a martini glass with chocolate syrup. Crush the Thin Mint cookie and coat the brim of the martini glass with the cookie. Then, pour your martini drink mixture into the glass.
Thin Mints Martini: ready for Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber and Red Lobster.

Thin Mints Martini: ready for Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber and Red Lobster.

 

The mind, as well as the bowel, races.  One might add:

3.  Insert Luger under tongue to minimize the aftertaste

 

 

 

The Seelbach.

The Seelbach.

Here is something more appropriate: Garden & Gun magazine’s Guide to Southern Cocktails.

 

 

 

 

We have, of course, written on crime fiction and how it relates to business crime, cocktails and theology before.

 

 


Criminals In Ties: Contract Law and Reservoir Dogs

Mephibosheth and David.

Mephibosheth and David.

The interplay between law — especially criminal law — and theology is more subterranean and nuanced than many give it credit for.  The same is true of civil law, as here:  Contract Law and Reservoir Dogs

A contract is an exchange of promises: “I promise to do x if you promise to do y.”  Each party must undertake an obligation—called “consideration”—for the contract to be binding.  A simple unilateral promise with no consideration (“I will give you my car on Monday”) is not usually binding.  These law-rules about obligations in our daily lives provide a contrast to the covenant that the Lord makes with David and to the way that David treats Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son.

Off to compliance training.

Off to compliance training.

Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (1992), of course, shaped an entire generation of criminals-in-ties on film.  We have discussed crime and theology before, at Spare the King and Seize the Spareribs, in what may be the only paragraph in English to discuss both King Saul and John D. MacDonald’s fictional private eye, Travis McGee.


John D. MacDonald and King Saul

The Quick Red Fox (1964).

The Quick Red Fox (1964).

We worked John D. MacDonald’s private eye, Travis McGee, into this discussion of King Saul and the young David:  Spare the King and Seize the Spareribs.  I most recently read The Quick Red Fox, which I was thinking about for the Saul and David post.

MacDonald had fine PI prose:

Darker Than Amber (1966).

Darker Than Amber (1966).

“We were about to give up and call it a night when somebody threw the girl off the bridge” (Darker Than Amber (1966)).

 


George V. Higgins and the Archeology of White-Collar Crime

George V. Higgins

George V. Higgins

In popular culture, business-crime is presented cartoon-fashion. In movies, on television or in novels, businesspeople who are corporate targets of government investigations come across as Snidely Whiplashes with French cuffs.  This practice is predictable, its results boring.  Not so with the work of the late Boston-based novelist and one-time Assistant United States Attorney George V. Higgins (1939 – 1999).   From the George V. Higgins Collection at the University of South Carolina:

George V. Higgins (1939-1999) succeeded in nine distinct careers, all of which are documented in his archive.  Armed with two English degrees and a law degree, Higgins became a journalist for the Associated Press, The Boston Globe and The Wall Street Journal, as well as a federal prosecutor, district attorney and defense attorney, novelist, critic, historian and a creative writing professor at Boston University (1988-1999).  He was also a fierce Red Sox loyalist, so much so that he wrote a book on Boston baseball in 1989 titled The Progress of the Seasons: Forty Years of Baseball in Our Town.

 

Here’s a collection of articles about Higgins: the NYT on George v. Higgins

Wonderful Years, Wonderful Years (1988)

Wonderful Years, Wonderful Years (1988)

What distinguishes Higgins, above all else, is voice.  The term is “voice” is both over-used and under-used: over-used, when the critic means something like “tone.”  Under-used, when the meaning conveyed is “narrator.”  With the lawyers, crooks, businessmen and prosecutors of a Higgins novel, “voices” means actual “voices” — the sounds that one immediately recognizes as true, as here from Wonderful Years, Wonderful Years (1988), where a lawyer advises his client:

“‘You take your victim as you find him,'” Morse said.

“What?” Farley said.

“It’s a law thing,” Morse said.  “You run over an eighty-year-old derelict with your car, no living relatives, and kill him.  It’s not gonna cost you anywhere near as much, you hit a thirty-year-old brain surgeon with four kids and a wife and the only injury he suffers is the loss of his right hand.  You didn’t pick your victim right, and so it’s gonna cost you.  Sounds kind of mean, but that is the law.  And the law’s fuckin’ life — so they say.”

The Friends of Eddie Coyle

The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1970)

Doubtless, Higgins can be difficult to read: a torrent of dialogue, and common, barely-linked events.  Higgins’s novels are not thrillers, nor mysteries.  Not only do they lack suspense, some barely have a plot.  The best two in my experience are The Friends of Eddie Coyle (his first one) and Wonderful Years, Wonderful Years.

Higgins was also adept at describing the dynamic of business-crime prosecution, politics and disloyalty.  Here, again from Wonderful Years, Wonderful Years, is a portion of a conversation between Saxon, a criminal-defense lawyer, and Farley, the owner of a Boston paving company and the target of a federal investigation.  (For our younger readers, “Bobby” is Robert F. Kennedy):

“Now,” he said, “you’re telling me, these federal guys might do that?  I must be getting old.  This used to be America.  What a rotten bunch of pricks.”

“Don’t kid yourself,” Saxon said.  “They are a bunch of pricks.  But they’re no worse’n the rotten bunch of pricks that Bobby’s men, and Ike’s appointments, FDR’s and Truman’s, all of those guys were.  They all did the same damned thing.  Suited them to crucify someone because the public’d like it, well, the next sound you hear’ll be the carpenters at work.  War is the extension of diplomacy by other means?  Justice is quite often the extension of politics by prosecution.”

“Well,” Farley said, “guess all I can do now’s hope she [his wife] keeps a good grip on her marbles, this whole shitty thing blows over.”

“That,” Saxon said, “and that nobody else in your little entourage gets cold feet and lets you down.”

“Never happen,” Farley said.  “My people are loyal.”

“Right,” Saxon said.  “That’s what Jesus thought.  ‘Have a piece of bread, Judas.  ‘Nother cup of wine?  Nothing like a little supper with your friends all by your side.'”

The lawyer has his theology wrong — Jesus knew exactly what Judas was about — but that conversation likely happens in law offices somewhere each and every day.


Thanksgiving, the Bay Psalm Book and Jonathan Edwards

Bay Psalm Book

(Bay Psalm Book)

 

The week of Thanksgiving, the Bay Psalm Book is auctioned for $14 million:

The little volume of psalms, one of only 11 known to exist out of roughly 1,700 printed by 17th-century Puritans in Massachusetts, went for $14,165,000 at auction on Tuesday.

The Bay Psalm Book was published in 1640, more than a century and a half after the first Gutenberg Bibles and 20 years after the Pilgrims had landed at Plymouth. It was the first book turned out by a printing press that had been shipped over from England. The press operator was a locksmith who was apparently learning as he went along: some of the pages were bound in the wrong order. At the bottom of one, someone wrote, “Turn back a leaf.”

00v/47/arve/G1893/058

(Jonathan Edwards)

Thinking of the Psalms and New England, one is put in mind of Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), the Puritan preacher and one of the great minds in American intellectual history.  His Farewell Sermon, given on July 1, 1750 after being fired as pastor of  First Church is long but powerful:

The improvement I would make of the subject is to lead the people here present, who have been under my pastoral care, to some reflections, and give them some advice suitable to our present circumstances, relating to what has been lately done in order to our being separated, but expecting to meet each other before the great tribunal at the day of judgment.

The deep and serious consideration of our future most solemn meeting, is certainly most suitable at such a time as this. There having so lately been that done, which, in all probability, will (as to the relation we have heretofore stood in) be followed with an everlasting separation.

How often have we met together in the house of God in this relation! How often have I spoke to you, instructed, counseled, warned, directed, and fed you, and administered ordinances among you, as the people which were committed to my care, and of whose precious souls I had the charge! But in all probability this never will be again.

 



KimKierkegaardashian: Kim and Soren

If you’ve never checked out on Twitter KimKierkegaardashian (@KimKierkegaard), you should. It’s a mash up of quotes from 19th century Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard and, naturally, Kim Kardashian. Sharp-witted and intentionally-unintentionally funny. A recent post:

“It is said that God allows the sun to shine upon the good & the wicked, to help bring out that summer bronze you’ve been working so hard on.”

Very much so.


Why read White Collar Wire?

This is a blog about business crime. We post stories about news, cases, judicial opinions, practical tips and scholarly work regarding white-collar criminal and civil enforcement, grand jury investigations and regulatory compliance. We want to be useful to businesspeople, internal counsel, defense lawyers in private practice, prosecutors and law-school teachers.

Sometimes, we write about crime fiction, cocktails and theology. As anyone who’s ever been involved in the defense or prosecution of a white-collar case can testify, all three come in handy.

Don’t read us because you’re a criminal. Read us because, some time or other, someone may think you are.

Follow me onTwitter — @WhiteCollarWire — or email me at jsharman@lightfootlaw.com.

If you want more info about me, it’s here: http://lightfootlaw.com/alabama-lawyer/jackson-r-sharman

Jack Sharman