Trash and Bumfodder

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The muddled and inconsequent surface of things now and then parts to yield us a gift. In my boyhood I had the impression of being surrounded by an incoherent generosity, of—to quote a barefaced reminiscence I once wrote—a quiet but tireless goodness that things at rest, like a [ brick wall or a small stone, seem to affirm. A wordless reassurance these things are pressing to give. An hallucination? To transcribe middleness with all its grits, bumps, and anonymities, in its fullness of satisfaction and mystery: is it possible or, in view of the suffering that violently colors the periphery and that at all moments threatens to move into the center, worth doing? Possibly not; but the horse-chestnut trees, the telephone poles, the porches, the green hedges recede to a calm point that in my subjective geography is still the center of the world.

[from the “Foreward” to OLINGER STORIES, Vintage Books, 1964




Bryan Ferry Is Touring. On the set list is Robert Palmer’s Johnny and Mary. Very Updikean

Roxy Redux:

“I was backstage at the Orpheum in Boston, standing on one side of the stage door across from Bryan Ferry during Roxy Music’s Manifesto Tour.

WBCN DJ Mark Parento was attempting to get Bryan to recall a past intersection, but Ferry was politely distracted as the music swelled for his grand entrance. I coveted Ferry’s leather suit jacket. After the show I discovered a carton of Dunhill cigarettes and some poetry books left behind by the singer in his haste to escape ardent fans.  The Dunhills were lovingly inscribed:  “To Bryan Ferry…” by Boston Phoenix writer Robert Polito. Not quite the same as the iconic leather jacket. Still, I felt I was infusing myself with Ferry’s “serpentine sleekness” with every cigarette.”  Paul Moran

When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical may be madness. To surrender dreams, this may be madness. To seek treasures where there is only trash…Too much sanity may be madness, and maddest of all is to see life as it is and not as it should be.

Miguel De Cervantes, Don Quixote de la Mancha

“Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or better.” – John Updike

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The Duality Of Man

wife as critic 2


Yikes! An indelicate passage By JU gets a bad review from his wife?





“I’m willing to show good taste, if I can, in somebody else’s living room, but our reading life is too short for a writer to be in any way polite. Since his words enter into another’s brain in silence and intimacy, he should be as honest and explicit as we are with ourselves.”
John Updike


Of marriage and mortality


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Crystal Balls

lampoon cover



lampoon cartoon

Updike was frequently criticized for writing very well about nothing much as we see here in this interview in the Paris Review with Gore Vidal. Updike did the beautiful cover art for this issue of the Harvard Lampoon in 1954 and what is contained inside demonstrates an astonishing awareness of his literary mission and of the critics to come. John Updike was a prodigy and the following cartoon he drew foretells his own future impeccably. Take that Adam Begley!

– Paul Moran


The Paris Review

Gore Vidal, The Art of Fiction No. 50

Interviewed by Gerald Clarke


How about some of the younger writers? What do you think of John Updike, for example?


He writes so well that I wish he could attract my interest. I like his prose, and disagree with Mailer, who thinks it bad. Mailer said it was the kind of bad writing that people who don’t know much about writing think is good. It is an observation that I understand but don’t think applies to Updike. With me the problem is that he doesn’t write about anything that interests me. I am not concerned with middle-class suburban couples. On the other hand, I’m not concerned with adultery in the French provinces either. Yet Flaubert commands my attention. I don’t know why Updike doesn’t. Perhaps my fault.

As you can see Updike’s critics said that he had little to say but that he said it very well.

What is amazing is that WAS (in a good way), his plan all along, as you can see here in this cartoon by Updike in a 1954 issue of the Harvard Lampoon.

That is the definition of prodigy.


I presented this issue to Ian McEwan along with a pair of Updike’s reading glasses at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin Tx


Updike’s glasses and Lampoon near water glass


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“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons”-T.S. EliotSCN_0035

“The passage of my life is measured out in shirts”-Brian Eno

“Life is measured out in moments”-Woodbridge wine commercial

“The passage of my life is measured out in checks”







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First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage…

“The only thing Pope Francis could do better is to be Jewish–like Jesus”-Erica Jong


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If Updike Wrote Batman

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In Every Dream Home A Heartache

Page 6affair final

You think this is the end of the letter? You think Updike gets off that easy?  No more talk about his other lovers? The PS is a killer!


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Both Ends Burning

Page 5affair 5

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Page 4affair 4


Updike’s lover had too many martinis and let him know that she knows that a mutual friend of theirs is/was also his lover. But it’s ok…..really.

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These Foolish Things



Page 3the affair 3


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Will you still love me tomorrow?




Page 2




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And In The Beginning…



Page 1

July 13, 1972 Final Night of the Democratic National Convention




“Johnny And Mary”

Johnny’s always running around
Trying to find certainty
He needs all the world to confirm
That he ain’t lonely
Mary counts the walls
Knows he tires easilyJohnny thinks the world would be right
If it could buy truth from him
Mary says he changes his mind
More than a woman
But she made her bed
Even when the chance was slimJohnny says he’s willing to learn
When he decides he’s a fool
Johnny says he’ll live anywhere
When he earns time to
Mary combs her hair
Says she should be used to itMary always hedges her bets
She never knows what to think
She says that he still acts like he’s
Being discovered
Scared that he’ll be caught
Without a second thought
Running around

Johnny feels he’s wasting his breath
Trying to talk sense to her
Mary says he’s lacking a real
Sense of proportion
So she combs her hair
Knows he tires easily

Johnny’s always running around
Trying to find certainty
He needs all the world to confirm
That he ain’t lonely
Mary counts the walls
Says she should be used to it

Johnny’s always running around
Running around

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Couples: The story your about to read is true…

the affair


Many  years later he still appears to to be intrigued by novel ideas (or ideas for a novel?)


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Celestial Seasonings (on being JUish)


Updike found a nuance in the New Testament that he saw as sorely lacking in the Old. His theology made explicit in his last days may be responsible for the embargo of his final work (until2029) on the foundations of Christianity and the militant theology of Saint Paul (whom he concluded “got it right”).

Updike annoyed “covenanted Jew” and author Cynthia Ozick by implying that Judaism (in Kafka’s case) might be admirably transcended. The difference between the Lord’s treatment of the woman at the well in the New Testament and Lot’s wife in the Old Testament speaks volumes.

The former was treated as a pillar of her community, the latter would become a  pillar of salt.  This begs a difficult question. Is Faith by it’s very nature…exclusive? Can beliefs that are not merely divergent but polar opposite be reconciled in our deepest natures? Here we plead confusion or often present allegorical dilution.

As Updike put it “To be [judged] sane, is to a great extent to be sociable”


 From the heartbreak of psoriasis to Lancome skin care model

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Here’s looking up your old address

address book inside 2address book outside

Updike’s old address book with child’s (?) writing: “I want to go back to Ipswich” and “I miss you 4 Highland Ave Ipswich Mass. The ink isn’t Updike’s could the pencil be be his?


Check for Mother’s trust?



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Ex Pat Updike? Not bloody likely!



“Saying that cultural objects have value,” Brian Eno once wrote, “is like saying that telephones have conversations.” Nearly all the cultural objects we consume arrive wrapped in inherited opinion; our preferences are always, to some extent, someone else’s. Visitors to the “Mona Lisa” know they are about to visit the greatest work of art ever and come away appropriately awed—or let down. An audience at a performance of “Hamlet” know it is regarded as a work of genius, so that is what they mostly see. Watts even calls the pre-eminence of Shakespeare a “historical fluke”.

From INTELLIGENT LIFE magazine, May/June 2014


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Cape Fear Redux

updike photo finish




san quentin

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Press Clipping

“Giving the mundane its beautiful due” – John Updike

“Attention is what creates value. Artworks are made as well by how people interact with them — and therefore by what quality of interaction they can inspire. So how do we assess an artist who we suspect is dreadful but who manages to inspire the right storm of attention, and whose audience seems to swoon in the appropriate way? We say, ‘Well done.’

The question is: ‘Is the act of getting attention a sufficient act for an artist? Or is that in fact the job description?’

Perhaps the art of the future will be indistinguishable.”  From Brian Eno’s diary

John Updike's things in need of home - Austin Statesman

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The End?

41TR1NTKVSL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_disc in boximgresJohn Updike's Award



Updike Photos from Wikipedia

{in} “this time of foreboding about the future of Western culture, it is crucial to identify and preserve our finest artifacts.”                Camille Paglia


Dedicated to Patrick Joseph Moran, Genevieve Moran and to my wonderful wife Mary


White House

Thank you all for visiting The Other John Updike Archive. Special thanks to James Yerkes, Jack DeBellis, Jim Plath and the entire John Updike Society for their support and encouragement. I have decided that this would be an appropriate time to end this project. There are many more personal effects in this collection as well as unpublished and sensitive material, but I would be be risking copyright infringement if I were to persist. The thousands of photographs taken by this master of observation alone are priceless.

Of course my greatest thanks go to John Updike for taking the time to talk to me even when he was sick, and for his generosity. I believe that the intellectual output of John Hoyer Updike has something to say to all of us about faith, politics, independent thought and leading a fully actualized life.

The avant-garde art world increasingly struggles with trying to appeal to a jaded audience with the latest attire worn by the Emperor.  I hope to see the quiet trend of Kula Art develop. This is my feeble attempt to see the hand of a loving God at work within common, everyday and ordinary objects. That is the enduring legacy that this great artist and fellow spiritual traveller left for us. In the words of Warren Zevon when asked if he had learned anything from his diagnosis of terminal cancer: “Enjoy every sandwich”

 Paul J Moran December 15, 2013       



This was taken from his “Remarks upon Receiving the Campion Medal” which was bestowed upon him by the Catholic Book Club in New York City on 11 September 1997. It came from the lead essay in “John Updike and Religion,” edited by James Yerkes.

John said that the “faulty cosmology” was a literal interpretation of the first chapters of Genesis (a la Creationists.) The “shrewd psychology” was that St. Paul and St. Augustine had “got it right.” The Christian existentialist, Kierkegaard, has expressed this more recently as “Man is in a state of fear and trembling, separated from God, twisted by the conflicting demands of his animal biology and human intelligence, of the social contract and the inner imperatives.”


“there is a loneliness in this world so great
that you can see it in the slow movement of
the hands of a clock.people so tired
either by love or no love.people just are not good to each other
one on one.

the rich are not good to the rich
the poor are not good to the poor.

we are afraid.

our educational system tells us
that we can all be
big-ass winners.

it hasn’t told us
about the gutters
or the suicides.

or the terror of one person
aching in one place

unspoken to

watering a plant.”
― Charles Bukowski, Love is a Dog from Hell



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#1- John Updike’s final notes on St Paul, Judaism, and the foundations of Christianity to be released.

#2-  J.F.K. Assassination files to be released to the public.  


John Updike on the JFK “Umbrella”  Man conspiracy theory:6th Floor Museum

 “We wonder whether a genuine mystery is being concealed here or whether any similar scrutiny of a minute section of time and space would yield similar strangenesses—gaps, inconsistencies, warps, and bubbles in the surface of circumstance.”- JU


Also in 2029:                                          April 13  – The asteroid 99942 Apophis (previously better known by its provisional designation 2004 MN4) will pass within 30,000 km (18,600 mi) of the Earth, very briefly appearing as bright as 3rd magnitude. -wiki



Pyxis Redux


The Sambucus bears it’s noble rot


Decanted of its fluent prize


Within the lair once called a hutch


A nascent cipher on the rise


The sangre flowing from a shoot


A ribbed vessel cried aloud


The claret spread around like soot 


On stone it fell and rose in cloud


Within this wood a cache was kept


A hoard of food for future thought


In grace like dew a garden wept


A new sarcophagus was wrought


A northward wall that stems the tide


Makes one last stand on lucky foot


And trips upon an awkward stone


Ensnared within that ancient root

 -Paul Moran



Do Not Open Until Christmas

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Christmas Cards


Christmas Cards By John Updike

December, Outdoors by John Updike

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George SJ

XMAS Martha

Sorry FredFord 1Ford 2Ford 3Ford 4Ford 5

Ford 6

XMas Goodies

Lithgow 1

Lithgow 2

XMas DonaldNew Yorker ChristmasMerry Xmas LindaLove MChristmas Concert

HendersonsCat Man 2

Lithgow 3

Lithgow 4



Jimmy Carter1 Jimmy 2

Eliot Richardson ER 2

Bush 3 Bush 4

Bush 1 Bush 1 pt 2

Bilary Bilary 2



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