As told to Mary Jane , who has hereforth documented and set to rights the many rumors surrounding this tale, and has translated this vibrant story into more than twenty languages.
A FOREWORD OF THE UTMOST IMPORTANCE
This tale serves a dual purpose; on one hand, it is the engaging allegory of a charming, young, inquisitive gentleman experiencing such an experience that has never before graced the pages of the human story. On the other, of course, the reader engrossed in other matters of importance is not forgotten(although the work is more than significantly flavored by the fables and fancies of the characters, and reader would do not to read this work if engrossed in other matters that would decrease the pleasure of savoring such a tale.) In any case, the publishers have made accommodations for such a peruser, and the brunt of this essay can be found in the sharp indents marking the meaty richness of the actual comparison and contrastation of Henry and Edwards. That being said, just as vanilla ice cream needs walnuts and sprinkles for maximum enjoyment, as blouses need sparkles and frills to spruce them up, and as palaces need golden parapets for deification and mummification in time's memory, so this story is greatly aided by the perusal of the entire tale.
If there was a portrait of every man in the library of time, whether impecunious or nouveau-riche, from every epoch, every era, undoubtedly the astute archaeologist would discern a plethora of a certain breed of men. So started the thesis report of Jacques Joncafilliont, budding historian.
"It's just not what I want to say, Henri!" he said, crumpling the parchment into a sad sphere.
His roommate surfaced from his work. Unrolling the paper, he nearly went purblind gazing at it.
"Mon Dieu, Jac! Five hundred pages I've written already on Smollett and Thackeray, and all you have is a pathetic paragraph? Merde... what's this on?"
"Edwards et Henry," Jacques replied sullenly. "I'm tired of these Americans...God I have nothing to say!" Bursting from his chair, Jac tore into the dorm hallways, legs pumping as fast as his thoughts.
"Tonight! Tonight! That's all I have! Oh God....God....what do I do?"
Up and down the many stairwells of Universite' he flew, barely conscious of the movement. As he calmed down, he realized he was hopelessly lost.
Desolate hallways engulfed him, devoid of the human ocean that swarmed it daily. He turned a corner, and his appendix could barely keep itself from bursting in shock.
"Oh, sweet Gesu'!"
The walls were intricately designed with fleur-de-lis and paisleys. Jacques sharply jerked his head around to check where he was. The corner from which he turned was gone. In its place stood a large, foreboding wall decorated like the others. Further down the hallway, he stood mouth agape watching men with tall white wigs lead over-dressed women with twelve-inch waists through a tall wooden door.
"Oh, Marie! Mother of God!" he made the sign of the Holy Trinity and followed them in.
Simple pews were arranged, practically overstuffed with parishioners. Jacques stood in the back, spine ramrod straight against the wall. The ripple of conversation rose and fell like the full moon waves as the event neared its commencation. An empty dais, sans the podium and religious paraphernalia stood the center of attention. Jacques palpitated in anticipation with the audience once he had gleaned the centerfold of this convention from a pair of old hens in the back. Edwards! Jonathan Edwards! Whipping out a Sharpie from his jeans pocket, the young Frenchman's excitement was greater than his realization that the only writing utensil he had was a Sharpie, and the only medium on which he could write was his Levi's.
A spotlight fell on the dais as the house lights died. The chatter died. Jacques though he was about to die, but his blood burnt his veins just like the rest. Anticipation is the most vivifying thing. Chewing nervously on the soft flesh lining his mouth, our hero uncapped his Sharpie and smoothed out his denim notebook. As Edwards' presence dominated the hall, one wouldn't be alone in deifying the pursed-lip pursuer of righteousness. The Sharpie flew across Jac's leg as he bent at a virtually ninety degree angle to write. The scent (seductive yet noxious) of the marker wafted into his flared nostrils. Unobserved by any of the other members of the audience, he was spurred on by the booming bass melodies and passionate lyrics to the spell that captivated the people. This was a completely different experience from the textbook. He remembered from a pre-writing assignment that he was asked the methods of persuasion Edwards used. Once bereft of an answer that did not deviate from the trite, common answer that the rest put, our brave academic Perseus now had all the answers.
"It's not a question of the writing solely," his jeans read. "It is the blithe, passionate threesome of vocal cadence, the speed at which the reader or listener is taken along, and the crescendos and troughs the story takes. Edwards brings his listeners to heights and pits through word choice, evoking the "tidal waves of God" to enrage and the "mercy of God" to mollify. Just as suspense movies build excitement through setting silence before the SWAT team bursts down the sniper's door, just as roller coasters depend on the union of potential and kinetic energy to thrill and pacify at alternate times, Edwards discourse is not to be read solely as a non-stop diatribe...it is a delicate piece of machinery; and like the number of positive charges in an atom are balanced off by the negative, so do the high and low points of the story; Jesus and Lucifer get an equal amount of screen time."
Taking a breath, our inspired Bezuhov continued.
"Furthermore, his persuasive techniques are significantly aided by the definite consequences he places at the end of each disobedient act. Moreover, these consequences are not to be perceived as so simple as the threat of death; Edwards utilizes a great deal of imagery as punishments for evil, such as "God's hand is the only thing holding you from falling into the pit of fire." The sheer ambiguity of his statements again instate fear, as the audience knows the bloody buboes of plague, it is acquainted with the soupification of man in a pot of water rolling at feverish pitches of heat to create a thick, fleshy broth, it is aware of the practice of peeling the layers of skin off man as one peels the rind off the orange. But does it know the pains of afterlife? Of course Dante has tried for humanity to describe it, the ad infinitum flaying of Judas' back in Inferno, the eyes of the proud bound together with barbed wire in Purgatorio, but has he really answered the question? Here these grown men sit with Edwards playing Virgil. It almost feels as if this man lords a divine knowledge over them, challenging their purported wickedness with pains so horrific they know not of. And of course, ignorance is fear incarnate."
As the spotlight burnt holes into the man's wig, Jacques delved into his memory, thinking of other relevant topics to be interlaced in his essay.
"The audience is held raptly in the sway of this as am I-"
No more room to write; the jeans were covered in ink as thick as the prose.
Jac began where he left off in a very fine print starting at the tips of the fingers of his left hand, rapidly working down to the forearm.
Clearly, all this figurative God-talk was meant for Calvinist and neo-Calvinist purists, not a disillusioned Roman Catholic raised on Nirvana and Sartre. But what seems to be colonial claptrap garbage in that hideously cumbersome textbook actually has a purpose now that I hear it live. The consequences of sin are still permeate in this world where the idea of patriotism has boiled down to soulless flag worshiping, where consumerism has replaced education, where obedience is paramount and initiative is denounced, and where chicken is injected with a fifteen percent water and salt solution that we are unaware of."
"My God! How he has opened me!" our Oliver exclaimed, feeling just as the orphan felt when Fagin and the thieves reclaimed him.
"Modernists, postmodernists, neo-conservatives, rationalists, Mormons, even Voodoo priests are an audience for this! This is universal in all respects of the term!"
Edwards speech came to a boiling apex, as the themes of salvation and damnation intertwined together.
"Yes! Yes! Tell me more! How can I save myself?" Jacques shouted over the din of the audience, with a zeal not to be confused as less strong than theirs. This was better than any mass he had ever been to in his life.
"Hell, this is better than any rock concert I've ever been to in my life!" he thought, permanent ink drowning the hands gripping pockets tightly.
And it disappeared. Everything.
"Jacques Joncafilliont! Monsieur Joncafilliont!" he heard a faint voice calling.
Jac fell through the now non-existent floor. Softly, softly yet with the force of an ice pick jammed through his ears, he fell down what seemed to be a distance the height of the Eiffel Tower. As the ink sank into his skin, he felt his head spinning. Familiar songs sprang into his mind. He felt as if he was "held over the gaping mouth of hell by a precarious string,"....which is cut....precisely...NOW!
Jac fell into a hard wooden seat, surrounded by apparently rich colonial men of all types, arranged in a circle and equally unaware of his presence. Brandishing his mighty marker, our hero prepared for some notation elation; but he was running out of body space! The malodorous stench of angry older men covered in hundred degree swear produced a smell akin to dog excrement on an old sneaker. Killing two birds with one stone, as the proverbial expression goes, our keenly intelligent Phileas Fogg of the oration world ripped off his shirt and laid it on his ink-blackened lap, (taking great pains not to smudge, mind), and got ready to write.
"And next to speak," a phlegmatic pedant type took the stand, "Patrick Henry."
Barely getting a clap, it was obvious that this audience was not as easy as Edwards'! A small, dark man stood before the rest, spectacles perched atop balding crown. Four hour speech, memorized by heart, began. But it felt shorter than a minute for Jacques, as the crowd of men was riled up bit by bit until calls of "yea!" occurred in frequent supportive bursts throughout the room. At these points, Jacques began to feel assimilated into this culture, so many years and furlongs away from his own. As the gist of the speech hit him at his core, Jacques, our hero, the fervent Frenchman who waved his flag ardently on Bastille Day, who was impervious to all the American trends his friends followed, was prepared to die for the U.S.A, for a different red, white, and blue than those represented on his motherland's placard. That was Henry's power. That was Henry's purpose.
Now it was all coming easy. He began to see how these two men were so dissimilar, yet utilized almost identical techniques to arouse feelings in their respective listeners.
"Allons, Edwards' audience were the religiosi, the sentimentalists, not to mention that he had a great deal of women in the crowd who were easily swayed by abstract concepts and familiar themes of Jesus and God. Mais, Henry's audience consisted primarily of rational, logical, thinking men making preparation for war. Therefore, his ideas had to be more concrete than abstract while still retaining the emotion to move them. D'accord, I see it now. Where Edwards threatens the "pit of hell" and "tidal waves of God", Henry evokes "the storm of British siege", and "the chains they bind us with." Both use fear of something to capture the audience. Henry's clinchers are conceptualized and idealized, bringing it to a different level than purely metaphysical (Edwards). Just as the threat of Britain manifested itself in the real world, so Patrick's metaphors mirror that."
He grinded down his thumb nail with his front teeth. The bitter poison of the marker soured his tongue.
"Bahama mama, canned llama....what the Hello Kitty?" Jac shook his head, trying to get back on track.
"Monsieur! Monsieur Joncafilliont!" that same voice called to him, not so far off this time.
And then it was back to business. Just too many thoughts in his head.
"Bien. Well, Edwards used the stop-and-go, up-and-down method for his audience, tempering each instant of misery with one of forgiveness. Henry uses this same method, (only with Britain's power as misery and America's ingenuity as the saving grace.) But another thing Henry uses is the rhetorical question in his rhetoric, as exemplified by the statement he made just now! "Shall we lie prostrate on our backs as Britain's warships advance?" By making these unabashedly harsh declarations, he gives these guys a guilt-trip and makes them see his own way by devaluing and humiliating the pacific viewpoint. Such alacrity! Facts, facts, facts (or what he makes out to be facts) support his other views, such as "their navies are practically on our land as we speak." Though this exclamation might be wanting in verisimilitude, it serves the purpose of convincing, as these fellows are not likely to consult their respective manuals of current events (given that they existed) during the speech. Ah, there's a power in making opinions fact!"
"OOOODAY!! OODAY OH!" He felt his head alight with a flash of blue flame. It was consuming his entire body! The ink on his jeans, his hands was melting away!
"God, no!" As the writing on his shirt began to ignite, becoming engulfed by the flames, he wrote his ideas faster and faster. No time for contemplation! Write, write, write, what comes! Compare and conclude! Contrast and conclude! No time to waste! No time for tears! Our roasted hero began to write, ignore the fire that burned higher and higher.
"These two men presented American [sic] with ideas to better the welfare of humanity. By refusing to condone wickedness, Edwards influenced generations of thinkers after him, perhaps benefiting a great number of individuals indirectly as well. Henry's "Give me liberty or give me death!" really culminated the American feeling at that point, and liberated the country. They each used similar rising/falling action devices, rhetorical questions, and impassioned harangues that were balanced out with facts and emotional grabbers. However, just as their causes and audiences were different, so the two men were intrinsically....but we're all the same on the insidde[sic].
"We're all the same on the inside? Dammit Jacques it you're not the clichedest thing yet!" our hero berated himself.
Poor roasted Jacques au jus, writing an essay while enjoying the after effects of spontaneous combustion, and if that's not enough, denouncing his use of a single cliché while the rest of his writings burned up. Not to worry, our little Raskolnikov of the English language, your shame has already been consumed. Do you see the ink on the floor, Jacques? There lies your compare and contrast essay scribbled on your shirt. There is your prose and brilliant insight. Pity! And the flames go up and up and up, consuming Henry and the British and their navies and their chains and their storms and their sailboats and their pudding pies, and their big clock that ring rings, and their metric system....up and up and up.
"MONSIEUR! MONSIEUR JONCAFILLIONT!" Jac awoke to the stern, doglike visage of the Universite's headmistress.
"Joncafilliont, we accepted you here on the words so kind from your benefactor! Mais regardez-vous! Sleeping in the hallways! Without a shirt, at three in the morning! After some drunken orgy I ascertain from the writings on your hand! Mon Dieu! Is that Sharpie? And all over you! Oh, this is going straight to Monsieur Moreau! I can assure you that, Monsieur!"
"Writing all over?" Jacques replied with alacrity.
It was there! It was all there! Every glorious word of his notes was there in sparkling technicolor!
"Yes! YES! Oui, oui, pardon Madame, but I have an essay to finish!"
"Monsieur, you wait here a minute I say!"
But her supplications were too late. Jacques had run into his room, straight to his laptop, and began the essay that would change his life, forever.