Reading Notes: As I Lay Dying, Moby Dick, The Iliad, and the Noetic Effects of Sin and Anger-and-Revenge’s Power to Degrade

Several months ago I read Gene Fant’s article at First Things titled “William Faulkner’s Peculiar Calvinism: As I Lay Dying.” The author reflects on elements from a handful of different works by Faulkner, highlighting his “Peculiar [Read Redemption-Less] Calvinism”, and vouches for the truthfulness of Faulkner’s Southern characterizations (Fant is a native-born Mississippian). The author’s reflections are tied up with the recent film adaptation of As I Lay Dying, written/directed/starring James Franco.

This has made me think of when, several years ago, I first read As I Lay Dying: I thought it was an emotionally-weighty but good read, especially since the noetic effects of sin are soberly portrayed. (The characters in As I Lay Dying do genuinely bizarre and irrational things again and again.) Also, recently I finished reading Moby Dick (I already read half of the book 3 or 4 times, but finally plowed through to the end. Yay!), and, again, I was impressed by the noetic effects of sin: Melville captures that untoward power in his characterization of Captain Ahab, a man who, like Achilles from The Iliad, becomes drunk with anger and revenge to the point of his own demise. Yikes. Gives me the heebie-jeebies.