|Sedition in Haiku Form|
Another way 1984 influences this book is through the journal John starts keeping in the early days after his wife dies, when he's working through the worst of his angst against the Divine Rite. In fact, a more direct hat tip/Easter egg for the book is that John's journal is red leather, just like the one Winston uses.
But it's really John's venturing into leaving slips of seditious haiku around town that becomes his most ambitious act of subversion.
I’d also taken up a new form of defiance, my most daring one yet. I wrote Haiku-style poetry on little slips of paper and left them lying around in various public places: park benches, grocery baskets, store shelves. One of my last trips into the Divine Rite Fellowship was to leave a slip of paper in one of the Bibles.
Divine Rite is Wrong
Peddles death, yet we don’t act
Where is your outrage?
I realize I’m no poet, but it no less felt cathartic to envision my words spreading around like viruses, in the form of hushed dinner conversations or murmurs at church social events. A waiter on the night shift at the Daily Bread Café may have swept one up into his dustpan and become curious enough to read it. Would those seventeen syllables awaken a longing spirit in him and spur him into action? Would he then write a poem of his own or just pass mine along? Even if only five more people read it and spread it on to another five, I’d consider that an accomplishment. The population of God’s Hope wasn’t very big, a couple thousand at most, but even if a tenth of them became intrigued enough to write something, it could change the whole chemistry of the place.I guess you could say John was still practicing the ways of viral marketing, long after the death of the internet.
Writing about John's early rebellion was one of the funnest parts of writing the book, because there is nothing better than riding along in the head of someone just discovering his true freedom. I am more or less a collectivist kind of thinker, but even in that, there is a need for individual thoughts and feelings. When Publishers Weekly called THE LAST SUPPER "a paean to indvidualism," I wasn't sure how well many would take that, but ultimately I think it's a good thing. Together we accomplish a lot, but as individuals, we have unique thoughts and feelings and experiences. We should be allowed to write in our diaries, love who we want, express ourselves through poetry, even the dangerous kind that questions the authority of the collective.
THE LAST SUPPER, ultimately, is a book of awakening and rebellion, one that in many ways heralded awakenings of my own as a budding author. And John's own personal awakening sets him on a path that is dangerous, enlightening, tragic, and ultimately meaningful, as any good rebellion should be.
Since we're coming up soon on the release, the last five entries of Scenes from the Last Supper will be appearing in quicker succession!
Part 1: What's in a Meal?
Part 2: Life in God's Hope