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Genesis of a Historical Novel

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

prophets without honor

I awoke sometime before 2:00 and lay awake in the dark, thinking about problems. The night air was cold. By 3:15, feeling farther from sleep than ever, I got up, pulled on a sweatshirt, sweatpants, socks, and moccasins, and padded downstairs.

In the silence of night the front-porch light glowed dimly in the corridor. I twisted on the heat in the living-room and reset the furniture, which I had moved for TV viewing earlier on, as every night. I switched on the standing lamp, poured myself a cranberry juice (I've decided to forgo whisky in these late-night times in favor of something more productive), and cracked open Asimov's Guide to the Bible (Old Testament), highlighter in hand.

I pushed on with his discussion of the Book of Jeremiah, the prophet of the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians, in whose long prophetic career he enjoyed virtually no attention, respect, or success (in terms of influencing the behavior of his countrymen). A witness to the destruction of the city and temple, which he had for so long predicted, he wound up a captive of hostile countrymen, finishing his days, apparently, in exile in Egypt.

What a career. He was buffeted by the same forces that swirl around us today: nationalistic and jingoistic passions, people pinning their hopes on tribal violence to produce good outcomes. Jeremiah was an early advocate of realpolitik, telling people, in effect, that God favors realists. Long before the arrival of Nebuchadnezzar, he was urging Judah to submit to Babylon, and thereby save the temple and walls of Jerusalem.

Jeremiah was right, but he was ignored.

Am I a prophet? I wondered. Is it my destiny to send a futile message to my fellow humans?

Maybe. But my life is easy--so far.

After two glasses of juice, I set down Asimov, switched off the light and heat, and padded back upstairs to spend the last hour of night in the warmth of bed. I dozed briefly before the alarm went off at 5:30.

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  • Maybe we all have a futile message? A lot of us have something insightful to share, but not many people want to listen it seems...

    Sorry to take this little part off topic.... I recently discovered your old show The Odyssey and I just want to say thank you for such a wonderful television series. I wish it could get another season to resolve itself at least, double cliffhanger ended at the end of season, makes ya curious for what comes next.

    Well again, thank you for that great, great show.

    By Anonymous Squall142, at February 05, 2008 10:18 PM  

  • Hello, Squall142.
    I agree with you about the "The Odyssey", I liked the film, especially the first season. It could have been a good mini-series ar even a full-length film. And I would like to ask Paul Vitols some questions about the film, one of them about the inital idea -- what was it, if it was? But my text is not ready yet.
    Pity, there is no clear satisfying ending, there's a need for one 9may be to write about it?). And the idea was good.

    Yes, not many people are ready to respond to insightful things, as you say.

    By Blogger Liza, at February 06, 2008 2:44 AM  

  • Thanks very much Squall and Liza--there's no such thing as too much fan appreciation or too many fan comments. To me, they're never, ever off topic!

    Yes, I'm still proud of "The Odyssey", which was both a triumph and a meat-grinder for its creators. I intend to say more about it, so watch this space.

    Again: thanks.

    By Blogger paulv, at February 06, 2008 6:20 AM  

  • ^Yay.

    I'm so glad I refound the series, it was such a great, great program.

    And I'm also glad I found you here and you posted a blog on the beginning.

    And Hello Liza, the first season was quite awesome! Like the rest of the seasons. I thought season 3 had some GREAT character development :D.

    By Anonymous Squall142, at February 06, 2008 1:34 PM  

  • Squall,
    What I didn't like about the second and the third seasons is that infatuation of Jay with Medea/Sierra. It did not seem appropriate -- that turn. (At that point, at that time my sister and I, we stopped watching).
    And also, it felt as if the original idea had been altered to a considerable degree (don't know how to express it), if you know what I mean.
    Forgive me if I hurt anyone's feelings.

    By Blogger Liza, at February 08, 2008 4:04 AM  

  • I liked that Jay and Madea fell for each others. It was more forbidden since they were on opposite sides, made it very interesting.

    Well the original course of action for Jay was to get home, and that was still present in the second season. When he did get home, he couldn't leave that other world. I liked that idea, hard to cope without a place you spent two years stuck in.

    By Anonymous Squall142, at February 08, 2008 1:23 PM  

  • Squall, as for the idea -- you described the general idea? the situation. What I'm interested in is an overall picture, the original concept, what it was, if there was an idea of the whole story.

    By Blogger Liza, at February 10, 2008 2:37 AM  

  • Oh me too, I'd like to know how it came to be as well :)

    I was just describing season 3, and what I liked about it :D

    By Anonymous Squall142, at February 10, 2008 10:47 AM  

  • Oh man! I'm so ready for this Paul!!!

    By Blogger David Streever, at February 17, 2008 4:39 PM  

  • I just found this blog thanks to facebook.

    I am SOOO excited to read the text above this blog post.

    I have been a H U G E fan of this series since it first aired. I have all three seasons on DVD (recorded from VHS) and have a marathon AT LEAST once a year. (I'm actually in the middle of one right now)

    Thank you so much for posting about this series.

    I can't say enough about it. All I can really do (other then shower you with praise) is thank the Internet for making it possible for me to even share my feelings with the person who brought this series to life. Thank you so much! I'm going to start reading all of your posts, in order, starting NOW! :D

    Thanks again!

    One HUGE Odyssey fan,

    --Ethan Smith

    By Blogger Ethan Smith, at March 03, 2008 6:06 PM  

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