Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Rain Fell In Torrents

The wretched excess of Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s infamous opening paragraph:

“It was a dark and stormy night: the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”

has been memorialized everywhere from the The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest to Snoopy’s famous parody, “He was a dark and stormy knight.”

Tonight I was watching a Space Channel program on scenarios for the colonization of Mars (those who know me well may be amazed to know that my childhood dream, cut short by bad eyesight, was to be an astronaut). The closing segment was regarding the possibilities of life elsewhere in the solar system, either indigenous or brought by humans. Whenever I think of questions such as this, my thoughts are inevitably drawn back to two of the absolutely greatest, most awesome opening paragraphs anywhere. Forget how many times you have read them or heard them…imagine that you are hearing them for the first time, and that you are hearing them together:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And in the beginning, the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

(based on the English Standard Version)

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