{    Cnytr   }

{Saturday, July 30, 2005  }

.:{I told you! I told you!! What did I say?}:.


I told you it was the Jesuits behind everything, didn't I? Didn't I??



Exposed by the Shrine.
posted by Lauren, 7:56 AM | link | 1 comments

{Friday, July 29, 2005  }

.:{Now they tell me}:.


I wish I had see this before I made one myself:

How a Medieval manuscript is made.

Via Paul at Contemplata.

Update: Link fixed.
posted by Lauren, 8:32 AM | link | 6 comments

{Thursday, July 28, 2005  }

.:{Pope is a penny-pincher?}:.


According to the Vatican Information Service,

VATICAN CITY, JUL 28, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father's vacation at the locality of Les Combes in the municipality of Introd in Italy's Valle d'Aosta is due to come to an end this afternoon. His airplane is scheduled to take off from the airport of Aosta at 5.30 p.m. and to land at Ciampino airport in Rome an hour later. Benedict XVI will then travel to the apostolic palace of Castelgandolfo, south of Rome.



Beginning on Sunday, July 31, Benedict XVI will pray the Angelus from his summer residence at Castelgandolfo. General audiences will be held regularly from Wednesday, August 3.


The main Rome airport is the Fiumicino airport. Ciampino is for cheapo flights like Ryanair, where one can fly from London to Bari for 50 Euro cents. Except when they say "London" they mean "way the heck outside of London" and when they say "Bari" they mean "two towns over", but there's usually an expensive bus one can take from the place of a Ryanair airport to where you actually want to be.

So what's up with that -- is the Pope pinching pennies? Now I can identify with the Pope more than ever... living like a poor college student. Pity, though, he probably won't take the metrobus to the Anagnina metro station.
posted by Lauren, 8:40 AM | link | 1 comments

{Tuesday, July 26, 2005  }

.:{And by the way ...}:.


Oh, you may not think I'm pretty,
But don't judge on what you see,
I'll eat myself if you can find
A smarter hat than me.


Want to Get Sorted?

I'm
a Gryffindor!


And I thought I was going to be a Ravenclaw. No complaints. I did always like Nearly-Headless Nick ("Nearly headless? How can anyone be nearly headless?"...)
posted by Lauren, 11:32 PM | link | 0 comments

.:{Snip Snap Snape}:.




If you don't want Harry Potter spoilers (though I imagine most of the enthusiasts aka the people who care have finished the book by now) then don't go to Cacciaguida's comment box in re: the subject Do We Give Up On Snape?
posted by Lauren, 11:17 PM | link | 0 comments

{Monday, July 25, 2005  }

.:{I should probably explore this more outside of an internet quis}:.


You scored as Sacrament model. Your model of the church is Sacrament. The church is the effective sign of the revelation that is the person of Jesus Christ. Christians are transformed by Christ and then become a beacon of Christ wherever they go. This model has a remarkable capacity for integrating other models of the church.

Sacrament model

89%

Institutional Model

67%

Mystical Communion Model

67%

Herald Model

39%

Servant Model

28%

What is your model of the church? [Dulles]
created with QuizFarm.com


Because anything Zadok can do, I can do better.
posted by Lauren, 9:19 PM | link | 0 comments

.:{Random cute baby picture!!!}:.


And this was part of the advantage of the massive power-outages -- excuse to go home and see my nephew!
posted by Lauren, 7:50 PM | link | 3 comments

{Friday, July 22, 2005  }

.:{The younger Potter fans have finished the book...}:.


...and I was afraid of their reaction.

Young Potter readers need to talk, grieve

As she was leaving for summer school Monday morning, the day after she had finished ''Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," 14-year-old Chelsey Bowman of Newton asked her mother, ''Will you be here when I get home at 1 o'clock? I don't want to be alone."

The neediness took June Bowman by surprise. Not only is it unlike her daughter to be frightened, it's also unlike ''Harry Potter" to cause that degree of intensity.

...

The 14- to 19-year-old reader is emotionally vulnerable because her thinking is more abstract and metaphysical. Celeste Hughey also had a group read. A 19-year-old counselor at Park, she was the first of her three friends to finish. ''I watched them close their books. They kind of curled up into a ball. You feel numb, let down, wrung out," she says. She's anxious for her mom to finish the book so they can talk about it. ''I want to say to her, 'I'm so glad I still have you,' " Hughey says.

...

Sophie Lazar of Jamaica Plain, a 12-year-old at Park who has reread each of the previous Potter books as many as three times, isn't so sure she'll reread ''Half-Blood." ''Way too scary and sad, and disappointing," she says. ''I liked it better when Harry, and Ron and Hermione just had adventures."


Hey -- me too, kid, me too.
posted by Lauren, 8:40 AM | link | 1 comments

{Thursday, July 21, 2005  }

.:{Quick plug}:.


Tom does it again. Veritas, baby.

I've got to put that on a t-shirt...
posted by Lauren, 11:45 PM | link | 0 comments

.:{Illustrations from the Life of St. Thomas Aquinas}:.




Today at job #2 (I LOVE job #2) I came across the first medieval manuscript I've ever seen -- I was supposed to be recording barcode numbers in the rare book room... yeah, right -- and ooohhh the most beautifully carved wooden cover with leather and iron clasps and hand-written gothic script. Another student had dutifully scribbled in the margins of what looked like either a commentary on Aristotle or a Latin translation of Aristotle himself. I didn't stop to linger because then I found ...

the Illustrated Life of St. Thomas Aquinas.

This volume itself, though falling-apart, was not very old -- 19th century, I'd say -- but it had some strange and wonderful images from the life of St. Thomas Aquinas.

And so, for your enjoyment, behold the scans of the illustrated life of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Very soon I shall transcribe and translate the Latin inscriptions, stay tuned.
posted by Lauren, 11:35 PM | link | 7 comments

.:{Showoff}:.


Oh sure, but he has no style.
posted by Lauren, 7:57 PM | link | 4 comments

{Wednesday, July 20, 2005  }

.:{Independance Revoked}:.


Prepare to snort milk out your nose.

John Cleese revokes USA independance. My favorite:

You should look up "revocation" in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then look up aluminium, and check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'favour' and 'neighbour.'

Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters, and the suffix ize will be replaced by the suffix ise.

Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up vocabulary)...

Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable.


Hat tip: Happy Catholic
posted by Lauren, 11:57 PM | link | 1 comments

.:{Evah so clevah}:.


Saw beans, lots of beans, lots of beans lots of beans...
posted by Lauren, 11:38 PM | link | 1 comments

{Tuesday, July 19, 2005  }

.:{Dominican Postulant Pictures}:.




From Sr. Majorie's entry into the postulancy; Dominican Contemplative Sisters of the Monastery of the Heart of Jesus in Lockport, LA .

The love story of the bride of Christ can be found (with more photos) on this Phatmass forum.

This almost makes me want to give them a buzz. Of course, I should have thought of that when I was in Texas (a lot closer).
posted by Lauren, 11:12 PM | link | 2 comments

.:{More Latin}:.




I am lately under the burden of proving to my new university that I can, in fact, whoop the university's collective butt when it comes to Medieval Latin. *cough* Since I haven't technically had a Latin class in over a year now (though I've been doing Greek and reading Latin on my own), I find myself slightly nervous in the face of a Placement Test and turning back to my old friend, my Wheelock's Latin (5th ed) with the duct tape on the cover (the only thing that keeps it from being two separate volumes). If it weren't for a Latin teacher I respect telling me that he revisits Latin grammar books often, I'd feel embarrassed reading about the first declention. However, my requirement of this book was justified when, in my reading, I realized I had forgotten the existence of the 5th declention (everybody slap your forehead on three; one, two...)

But rereading grammar books and translating the sentences in one's head only gets one so far.

And so I've been poking about on the internet to find exercises for Wheelock's Latin, and I've found a most fun one with crossword puzzles ( University of Victoria). Some of the translations are a little PC ("amare -- to care for deeply"??? What's the Latin for "it's not you, it's me" or "let's just be friends"? What is this, "Latin for Seinfeld"? [Casus belli])

Dr. Dale Grote of UNC Charlotte was my favorite guy in 8th grade, as he wrote a marvalous companion to Wheelock's textbook. I can't find the book, but he does have a number of soundbytes/lectures(?) and exercises online and available for others. I still recommend him and think he's cool. One day, in fact, he sat in on one of our online Latin classes, and he furthermore gives our school a plug on his page.

So -- what are you waiting for? Go learn some latin!!! I'd teach you myself if you weren't such an ungrateful wretch ... why in my day, we had to walk to school up hill both ways in three feet of snow in the middle of summer... *humbledy-grumble...*
posted by Lauren, 10:44 PM | link | 4 comments

.:{Harry Re-Visited}:.


After a day, I come back to orgainze my jumbled post-midnight cogitations to find out firstly that I had not, in fact, been inspired to turn over the events of the book in my mind constantly (which is unusual). In fact, only a scene or two even stuck out from the book. Like "Order of the Phoenix", it's generally forgettable.

One can say it does, with some efficacy, move the plot along. Some. Later on in the book. The action comes fast and furious towards the end of the book, and there's not enough of it. Not to say that Harry Potter is all Action and Excitement -- au contraire, Hermione serves to make it a brain-teaster/mystery occasionally. However in this book, there are no false leads. Harry basically is brilliant enough to put two-and-two together, but nobody believes him. And this has been done before. Hermione actually doesn't add a whole lot. And there's a slight bit too much teenage drama that seems pushed at times.

In terms of tone, I wonder, with one Amazon.com reviewer, how Rowling is going to do a 180 and pull the reader out of the depression/despair of the previous books without making it seem contrived (and how is she going to wrap this all up in one book? Pleaaase don't drag it out any longer...). The atmostphere is rather bleak at the end of this book, and paranoia and terror reigns with Voldemort on the loose and gaining power. As he does every book. (Obviously an antagonist of sorts has to exist for most modern plot, I'm not denying that) Once Voldemort gets defeated, there are still two and a half major characters dead. I bet another major character will be killed off in book 7 as well. Furthermore, there is no "happy place" in this book -- there's nowhere to hide anymore.

The book also gives the reader no more than what is absolutely required for this part of the series. Even in regards to Voldemort's past, it is only in relation to What Has To Happen Next, and kind of chucks out bits of information about Tom Riddle's diary, etc. Slightly inconsistant in places as well.

Another problems with these books (in addition to their number being seven) is the fact that they're set in a school, and hence certain things have to happen every year, and the author is locked into a formula. Sometimes the reader will get sick of certain elements: like Quidditch. It was cool in the first book, it was useful in the third book, but then it got annoying (esp. in the 4th book).

Also it bugged me that the funeral scene seemed really rushed.

On the whole, this is not a book to be enjoyed or experienced but to be *used*, which is inferior and intrinsically self-centered. This book serves the *purpose* to bridge the gap between books, and therefore puts itself in a place to be used functionally like a bridge or a desk and not to be enjoyed as literature is properly meant to be. It is practical, and that is, I think, felt by the gipped-feeling reader.

Come come, Rowling, is the font drying up? You can do better than this. D+, student shows lack of effort/editing skills.
posted by Lauren, 9:10 PM | link | 3 comments

.:{A record}:.


(with as few spoilers as possible)

Having had a copy of the new Harry Potter book donated me yesterday, I have hereby officially finished it at 12:33am Tuesday morning, in something like 18 hours per 650-odd pages with 8 of those hours being working hours.

I think that beats the time I read "Till We Have Faces" in one sitting.

Initial thoughs:

* This book is not for kids, as it scared the living daylights out of me. I'm glad it's over, but I want the next book NOW.

* I still think the first three books were the best; this book follows the same pattern as 4 and 5. Yes, a major character dies. What's with that? Does she feel the need to kill off major characters to keep it interesting?

* As the characters grow up, they get meaner. Blahblahblah, they're facing more and more serious (read: life-and-death) situations, but still. Harry says and does some downright awful things such that if I were his mother or even Hermione, I would have kicked him or washed his mouth out with soap.

* When it comes to the manner of Harry's protection (i.e. his mother laying down her life for his), it was best left to the last chapter of the first book. Rowling tries to break it down a bit more in some chapter of this book. Didn't really like that.

* Stop naming the chapters already! I'm notoriously impatient and when I gosh darn couldn't stand it any longer, I skipped ahead to the chapter whose title gave away the location wherein I could find the identity of the Half-Blood Prince (I do have to say ... this was probably the lamest concept of the book that one could kind of see coming.)

* Speaking of seeing things coming, Rowling isn't quite as good at covering up her tracks like she was in book #3, arguably the most confusing yet interesting of the series.

* Speaking of departures from previous books, there was little of her Scottish humor in it that I like so much. I will say that for such a dreadful Anglophile as I'll occasionally come out of the bookshelf to admit, it did have some lovely Britishisms in it. "Snogging", for example. But that's hardly justification for a book.

Does this book justify its own existence, as malt and Milton etc? I think this suggestion had been made to me by someone else before I started to read the book, but it strikes me as kind of the function (but not caliber) of Star Wars Episode II -- it kind of had traces of the series in it, but it seemed to exist mostly to bridge a gap. In the last chapter, Harry does has his Scarlet O'Hara "As God as my witness I'll never go hungry again" scene.

In terms of frightening-ness, pace, likeability and overall "thingness" (to quote the eloquent Bertie Wooster), I'd have to rate it as my next-to-least favorite of the series (with the least favorite being #2, because of the huge spiders ... who are sort of in this one, too). The order of enjoyability remains (to my mind):

1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
2. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
3. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
4. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
5. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
6. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

That is not to say that one couldn't/shouldn't read the novel. If one dies with curiosity about the series one has to -- there is absolutely no escaping it. But that seems all there is to it. It's definitely not a stand-alone work. It's like the band-aid to bridge the gap between the mess created in Order of the Phoenix and the end.

Geeze, I will be so HAPPY for the end of this series because I require cloooosure. It reminds me of the time that, when I was ill and therefore inactive and therefore bored, I read The Exorcist. I read that in a sitting and a half. I did *not* want to finish that book, it was hands-down the most psychologically traumatizing, horrible and generally maddeningly frightening book I've ever touched, but if I ever wanted to sleep ever again, I had to have the closure of knowing how it ends. I didn't feel "safe" until I did. The Harry Potter series is beginning to take on this kind of character for me -- each book has the level of fear increasing, and growing more personal, closer and closer to the reader who is so involved with the characters. And when something happens to the characters (not like, to continue the Gone with the Wind imagery, when Meg dies -- you know she *has* to) it wheels closer and closer to oneself.

It's scary, really. Like suddenly realizing with Catherine that you are Heathcliffe.

Or, this may be my overactive imagination. I wonder if I am giving Rowling too much credit. It is also nearly one o'clock in the morning.

Sleeping off the madness, I shall give my final verdict after work tomorrow (when I've had time to properly digest the book) and then posting will resume as normal.

Thank you for your indulgence.
posted by Lauren, 12:33 AM | link | 4 comments

{Saturday, July 16, 2005  }

.:{So}:.


Is there any way there will be any copies of Harry Potter leftover anywhere this weekend for Cnytr? I forgot to storm the stores at midnight last night ...


(p.s. no comments of the "Harry Potter is evil" sort, otherwise they will be laughed at, publically humiliated and then deleted. I'm a dictator, not a democrat.)
posted by Lauren, 9:24 AM | link | 2 comments

{Friday, July 15, 2005  }

.:{St. Thomas Aquinas triumphs over heresy}:.



Zounds, foiled again!

It was a lovely day at job #2, as it always is because I love job #2. I was happily doing my duties at said job when suddenly appeared to me a falling-apart manuscript, printed in Rome in 1922 titled In honorem Divi Thomae Aquinatis; sexto saeculo exeunte a sanctorum caelitum honoribus ipsi decretis documenta pontificia miris artis operibus illustrata.

And illustrata it was.

Sandwiched between the various papal documents on our beloved St. Thomas Aquinas (i.e. the ones proclaiming him doctor of the church, patron of scholars, etc) were the most lovely illustrations. For this reason I borrowed it at once and scanned one or two of them which I could not find online. And I found a most wonderful trend amongst them.

Of course one of the images was Gozzoli's Triumph of St. Thomas Aquinas which hangs in the Louvre which I was fortunate enough to see and of which I have a closer image that I took myself. You'll note the Evangelists above him appear to be taking notes! ;) Christ himself, of course, hovers above with his bene scripsasti de me, Thomma -- "You have written well of me, Thomas". This is of course what Christ on the cross said to St. Thomas Aquinas in his vision. These words are often shown in Thomistic iconography of a certain sort. Furthermore, Plato stands at Thomas' left and Aristotle at his right. Aquinas was of course not only a brilliant theologian but an excellent philosopher, although he never taught philosophy at the University of Paris. Many of the manuscripts of Plato and especially Aristotle are acceptable (and not hidden away) because of Aquinas' purgation of the texts of Aristotle by the errors of Averroes. He often quotes Averroes in the wrong and, what's more, Averroes is in these pictures shown wonderfully splayed at Thomas' feet.

Another famous image of St. Thomas Aquinas and the heretic pagan philosophers is found in my favorite church, S. Maria Sopra Minerva in Rome. The sidechapel of Fra Lippi has this frescoe -- detail here. Averroes is again at Aquinas' feet, holding a scroll reading sapientia vicit malitiam ("wisdom conquers malice"); Aquinas sits surrounded by the virtues, pointing to Averroes and holding a book which reads sapientiam sapientum perdam ("I shall destroy the 'wisdom' of the wise" -- 1 Cor 1:19).

Traini's Triumph of St. Thomas has many of the same things that Gozzoli imitates. But Gozzoli doesn't emphasize (though this image doesn't show it) the rays of Thomas' wisdom touching every person (or book, in Averroes' case) in the painting.

The famous Triumph of St. Thomas in S. Maria Novella in Florence has seated below Thomas the sacred philosophers (on Thomas' right -- explanations here) and the secular (corresponding page). Again at his feet is the dejected-looking Averroes.

Two images by Massanensi(?) I was unable to find online. I am certain they are more lovely in color, but this is the best I can do.
In this image, it's God the Father with the "bene scripsisti"; Averroes seems to say "...and I would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for those meddling kids."
Here Aquinas is between Peter and Paul, and the altar on which he is enthroned has famous Dominicans on it (pick one). Note St. Catherine of Siena receiveing the stigmata. The centerpiece is of St. Thomas' famous vision of the crucifix speaking to him. And the usual Averroes chilling.

But what really prompted this post was the same author who did this image. St. Thomas isn't even in this one, but it is still glorious -- The Doctrine of St. Thomas Confounds the Heretics.

The central angel raises aloft with verital majesty the "Summa Contra Gentiles" and the heretics stumble; an angel to the right holds the "Commentary on Sacred Scripture" and the pagans are amazed (one seems to slap his forehead); the third angel points to the "Summa Theologica" and the pagans are at once shocked and intrigued. Books and scrolls and pens lie abandoned, for the great Angelic Doctor has confounded them all in his wisdom. In the background, the emblems of antiquated paganism (the statue, the column) are broken, the temple has come down and the wisdom of My Lord Thomas has triumphed.

Nunc et in saecula. Amen, amen!

(Isn't it all wonderful?)
posted by Lauren, 10:22 PM | link | 4 comments

.:{"Adso, if I always had the answer to everything, I'd be teaching theology in Paris."}:.


My vows before the Lord I shall fulfill, in the sight of all the bloggians...

Behold, I am making good on said promise to watch and review "The Name of the Rose" with Sean Connery and F. Murray Abraham.

Behold.

"Your classical education serves us well" -- The Good

Oooh, yummy yummy -- the trappings of the middle ages that I love so well are here -- the illuminated manuscripts, the divine office (chanted, of course, and what glorious chant!), and Dominican habits in their glory. When people actually wore them to be warm and so -- lots of fabric. Swooshy capes. Ooh.

The library.

Moment of silence for the library.

*wipes away a tear*

I do have to say that the library in my imagination was better -- taller archways, stone stairs and not wooden stairways (that doesn't make a whole lot of medieval sense to me) and shelves, not stacks of books. The individual rooms of the Aedificium in the movie look like any given point of my room, but with less dust and spiderwebs.

I still think Bernard Gui was cool in this movie. A Dominican walks around and everybody shrinks in fear. Mwahahahaa. ;)

"Without fear of the devil, there is no more need of God." -- The Bad

* Acting. A lot of it. Bad. For example: the abbot. A friend's mom once had a name for his type: "etherlips." He opens his mouth and puts you to sleep. Wretched. Awful. Most of the other characters were along these lines. However Sean Connery was, as usual, quite good (not his best). But I wouldn't say he's worth the price of admission.

* Telegraphing what's going to come next. I remember watching season one of "Fr. Ted" with the commentary on. At one point, the director (or whoever it is) mentions that they often will telegraph what's coming next. However, this adds, I think, a lot to the cheesy/comedic part of the show. In this movie, however, the director has all the subtlety of the Amtrak 9:15. Or the person who is at this moment driving down the street and continuously honking his horn. Both draw the same reaction: wth? In a mystery, you don't DO that. I admit that Eco's not the best at covering his tracks in the book, and if you like the book enough you can snarlingly forgive him. However the movie basically shows the murders in sequence as they happen, almost by the person who commits them. He, at least, doesn't make it hard to figure out. So there's no surprise when a monk bursts in on matins freaking out about Br. Venantius being dead. "Of course," says the viewer, "I just saw this three seconds ago." It's like showing the shark in Jaws, and it's the reason why the end of Signs stunk when they showed the alien. It's a cop-out and it's too easy. It doesn't take any brains at all and it insults our intelligence.

* The historicity. Yes, while the sets are good (though, I think, ugly) and the costumes appear "exemplary" as someone said (though I dispute some details of the habits), they forget that the Middle Ages was not an era of utter, absolute, desolate, squalid misery. It was bad at times. The plague was bad, raids were bad, the hierarchy was bad, Spain was bad, they forget what wasn't bad: the Inquisition (not as bad), the church in general, dairly life.

I remember once in history class, our teacher (the late Peter McClellan, pbuh) once talked about the middle ages in the light of a happy society. Indeed, he said that some conditions for a happy or at least contented society were something like:

1) A sense of place in society -- though not like a caste system. Feudalism and manorialism were not based off peasants as if they were born such and could go nowhere. Nor, in many places, was ownership of the land a big dispute: the knight/lord of the land/manor was not a desired presence, as he knew nothing about farming. The idea was that he would fight off the people with pointy hats (i.e. the vikings) and in exchange for protection and justice and codified laws etc, every so often the farmers would give him food. The lord himself was not entirely foreign to the society, as they also had

2) a sense of connection to their rulers: they were all Catholic. On a manor, they all went to the same church if they had a priest. And they'd be there a lot during the year (comparatively) because they had

3) a lot of religious holidays. Who works on Easter? Christmas? St. John the Baptist's day? Corpus Christi (as they would have had in this, the 14th century)? Et cetera -- the list goes on.

People also forget that between plagues, there were tremendous times of agricultural prosperity and a general population boom with new agricultural instruments (i.e. the horse ... beats having the wife pull the plow, eh?) and the discovery of beans.

Among the religious, learning was preserved, discovered continuously as manuscripts flowed in from Byzantium and the Arab world. Theology blossomed. Philosophy grew. This was a heydey of learning.

Among the clergy. Not the farmers. What did farmers think when they saw books (which they didn't know or have time to read)? Kindling!

I'm not saying that the middle ages was, in any way, a paradise. Fleas. Rats. Bad. Plague. Bad. But not miserable. No society can prosper in misery. And the middle ages did. When they weren't being wiped out by the plague. And the muslims. And the Huns.

The other sweeping cliche was the general blindedness of the church. Bernard Guidonis, instead of cleverly/fanatically stepping around Br. Remigio's at first equally clever and evasive answers (now there was a verbal dance), Bernard Gui kind of said stuff and people went along with stuff. An interesting scene from the book became rather limp and listless, like the lettuce from my three-day-old tuna sandwich.
The buildup to the debate which was supposed to be the point of Brs. William and Adso coming to the monastery was made ridiculous, a question which was not really all that laughable if one considers the theological ramifications ("Did Christ own the clothes he wore?" -- i.e. the poverty of Christ in general, boiled down too simply by Br. William in one scene, describing the difference of the Franciscan love of the poverty of Christ and the Dolcinian heresy: the Franciscans love poverty, yet they do not seek to make everybody else poor).

The homosexuality question. Eco's book was written in the 80's, so of course he's going to treat the topic. He does it alright in the book, but the movie takes Eco's tap-dance and again treats it with a hamfist.

They also forget what WAS bad-- the Benedictines! What happened to the decadence of the order that Bernard of Clairvaux sought to reform, that Thomas Aquinas vehemently rejected? The setting/habits etc. were more Cistercian then Benedictine. But this is a picky detail.

"Bernardo Gooey" -- The Ugly

1) Why didn't they stick to "Guidonis"? Everyone who tried to say "Gui" made it come out like "Gooey".

2) Ew! Do we really need to see pigs being gutted?

3) Berard Gui's demise: not in the book, and eww.

4) Everyone in the movie who wasn't Sean Connery and Christian Slater. I didn't know that many ugly people existed in the world.

5) Salvatore's tonsure/corona/whatever the heck it was. Someone seriously needs to teach him how to cut his hair properly -- it looks as if he got in a fight with a razor and lost.

6) An extended and over-detailed sex scene. Usually I don't even talk about movies with non-family content in them, let I be accused of supporting said movie. I was unaware of this scene -- it reflected the same occurrence in the book, but usually such scenes involve a bit of suggestion and then are over. This is not the case in this movie -- I leaned quite heavily on the fast-forward for a while. This is in no way to be recommended to anybody: nearly full nudity on both accounts. They seemed to bare the girl's breasts whenever they got the chance. In the end, again, the incident was not treated the same way as Eco -- i.e., in short, "oh crap! I screwed up. I'm going to confession and dealing with the effects of my sin, which I repent and will never commit again, though I am sorry for the girl and want to help her blahblahblah". It was done in an eye-rollingly 60's we-don't-understand-anybody-who-is-still-a-20-year-old-virgin way -- i.e., the audience thinking "Poor X, if he weren't so repressed, he would know how to glory in this instead of feeling so guilty, blahblahblah." Furthermore the confessor shrugs off, sort of, the need for confession. This is in every possible way bad.

Lauren's official review: Amidst the visual ugliness, occasional badness of phrasing (one could literally tell what lines were taken from other sources and what lines were written by the screenwriter), much badness of acting, disgustingness of pig guts and utter moral depravity, Lauren gives this nine thumbs down. ("This movie is worse than Godfather III.")

Honestly. You'd get more out of reading the book, and that still goes depressingly nominalist at the end. At least when Eco is negative, he's negative in a consistantly medieval way, instead of a modern/post-modern way, which totally jars and is generally gross. Yet I still wouldn't call this movie fundamentally anti-Catholic.

The things I liked about it can be enjoyed other ways:
1) The manuscripts -- totally available online.
2) The chant -- available on Amazon and even done by Benedictines.
3) The library -- it's better in your head.
posted by Lauren, 8:06 PM | link

.:{Um... not ... pigeons...}:.


HUG IT!!!!

Keeeppp oooonnn huggin' it ...

(Best Strong Bad email in a while. Also -- A HINT TO WHAT A CNYTR IS. Sort of. Kind of. If you can guess it, you win.)

(I showed a Dominican my blog in person the other day, he asked of the title: "What is 'Cnytr'? Is it a Welsh word? One of these new made-up ones? Like a 'sub-compact car' or soemthing?" While I have to say that "sub-compact car" is the most amusing guess so far, I must say "no").
posted by Lauren, 9:03 AM | link | 3 comments

{Thursday, July 14, 2005  }

.:{Pange, linguae...}:.


Ah, I cannot leave you with nothing.

I recently found a book of Dominicans Hymns of the Missal and Breviary. And so today, in honor of the virgin saint whose name I can't remember, can't pronounce, don't know (not in my OP proper, nor in the regular proper of saints) but whose office myself and the Dominican brothers nevertheless read this afternoon, I give you the gloriously titled "Hymn 105".

Pange, lingua, gloriosae
Virginis martyrium:
Gemmae jubar pretiosae
Descendat in mendium,
Ut illustret tenebrosae
Mentis domicilium.

Blandimentis rex molitur
Virginem seducere:
Nec promissis emollitur,
Nec terretur verbere:
Compeditur, custoditur
Tetro clausa carcere.

Clausae lumen, ne claudatir,
Illucet Porphyrio,
Qui reginae foederatur
Fidei collegio:
Quorum fidem imitatur
Ducentena concio.

Gloria et honor Deo
Usquequaque altissimo,
Una Patri Filioque,
Inclyto Paraclito:
Cui laus est et potestas,
Per aeterna saecula.


The Latin is enough for this hymn, obviously one can see the similarity between this hymn and St. Thomas Aquinas' more famous rendition.

Indeed, there was more than one "Pange, lingua" floating around the breviary and general hymnody before St. Thomas Aquinas himself wrote his own. However the original hymn (see end of this post) did not contain rhyme as this author and St. Thomas employed in their particular hymns.

We see this in our own day today -- the lovely O God Beyond All Praising is a hymn-adaption of Gustav Holst's "Jupiter" theme. So many lovely Welsh and Irish tunes, some traditional -- and existing in pubs to this day! -- become murdered by Haugen/Haas; others become pious hymns, or unholy Mormon ripoffs (if you ever doubted that Mormons believed in other worlds and other gods...).

A priest friend-of-the-family once encouraged me to write a totally new standard hymn book to replace the wretched versions of "Gather" too oft discovered in the pew today. "Sure," he said, "just write some words and set them to the tune of 'O My Darinlin' Clementine'! Like this: Pange lingua, gloriosi, CorporIIIIIIIS mysteriuuuuuuuum..."

(It was too horrible for words.)

It is true that, like the aforementioned modern equivalents, many of the old breviary hymns-based-on-other-hymns (and some of the hymns in general) can be awful or just plain bland, even if they are in Latin (too many people equate Catholic Latin with Catholic Orthodoxy, forgetting that Lucifer too knows Latin: non serviam). Yet I have found in these three "Pange Linguae" some real gems of Latin hymnody.

Enjoy the original Pange lingua in trochaic tetrameter catalectic, by an author known as "Fortunatus"; used in ferial Matins during Passiontide --

Pange, lingua, gloriosi
Proelium certaminis,
Et super crucis torphaeum
Dic triumphum nobilem,
Qualiter Redemptor orbis
Immolatus vicerit.

De parentis protoplasti
Fraude Factor condolens,
Quando pomi noxialis
Morsu in mortem corruit,
Ipse lignum tunc notavit
Damna ligni ut solveret.

Hoc opus nostrae salutis
Ordo depoposcerat,
Multiformis proditoris
Ars ut artem falleret,
Et medelam ferret inde
Hostis under laeserat.

Quando venit ergo sacri
Plenitudo temporis,
Missus est ab arce Patris
Natus orbis Conditor,
Ac de ventre virginali
Caro factus prodiit.

Vagit infans inter arcta
Conditus praesepia:
Membra pannis involuta
Virgo mater alligat,
Et manus, pedesque et crura
Stricta cingit fascia.

Gloria et honor Deo
Usquequaque altissimo,
Una Patri Filioque,
Inclyto Paraclito:
Cui laus est et potestas,
Per aeterna saecula.

Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle
With completed victory rife;
And above the Cross' trophy
Tell the triumph of the strife:
How the world's Redeemer conquered
By surrendering His life.

God, his Maker, sorely grieving
That the first-made Adam fell,
When he ate the fruit of sorrow,
Whose reward was death and hell,
Noted then this Wood, the ruin
Of the ancient wood to quell.

For the work of our salvation
Needs would have His order so,
And the multiform deceiver's
Art by art would overthrow,
And from thence would bring the med'cine
Whence the insult of the foe.

Wherefore, when the sacred fulness
Of the appointed time was come,
This world's Maker left His Father,
Sent the heavenly mansion from,
And proceeded, God incarnate,
From the Virgin's holy womb.

Weeps the Infant in a manger
That in Bethlehem's stable stands;
And His limbs the Virgin Mother
Doth compose in swaddling bands,
Meetly thus in linen folding
Of her God the feet and hands.

To the Trinity be glory
Ever lasting, as is meet:
Equal to the Father, equal
To the Son and Paraclete:
Trinal Unity, whose praises
All created things repeat.

~~~
Update: Oh, my goodness! Yesterday was the feast day of Kateri Tekakwitha, and for her we yesterday read from the proper of virgins at vespers and the office of readings. Apologies -- I could not understand Father when he pronounced her name.
posted by Lauren, 10:34 PM | link | 4 comments

.:{Arrrghhh....}:.


I had had a lovely post all prepared for you on some St. Thomas Aquinas iconography, but my computer crashed and ate it all. At present, I do not have the patience required go to through the process of re-finding and re-typing all that I had said (which was a lot), so you'll pardon me if I promise this for you tomorrow.
posted by Lauren, 10:13 PM | link | 0 comments

{Wednesday, July 13, 2005  }

.:{Zadok Sacerdos}:.




I'm almost a week late, but I'm just getting used to this two jobs-thing....

Last Friday in the Office of Readings saw the reading wherein a a blogger friend's namesake is found; namely, the coronation of Solomon by Zadok the Priest and Nathan the Prophet.

Before we continue, let us laugh at the non-native English singer.

Handel's great HWV 258, "Zadok the Priest", may be heard butchered here (mp3) by Spaniards and here (real media) by Italians. This one has a nice organ, but it isn't done by an orchestra, so it misses something. But a lovely choir, minus their equally bad pronunciation of English (ugh! those short "i"s in "live"! I fully admit that Americans are equally foreign to English as the Spaniards and Italians). Be that as it may, I elect this gets played just so at Zadok's ordination.

And now, behold the setup from the old breviary:

Latin:
Et respondit rex David dicens : Vocate ad me Bethsabee. Quae cum fuisset ingressa coram rege et stetisset ante eum, juravit rex et ait : Vivit Dominus, qui eruit animam meam de omni angustia, quia, sicut juravi tibi per Dominum Deum Israel dicens : Salomon filius tuus regnabit post me et ipse sedebit super solium meum pro me, sic faciam hodie. Summissoque Bethsabee in terram vultu adoravit regem dicens : Vivat dominus meus David in aeternum.

V. Tu autem, Domine, miserere nobis.
R. Deo gratias.

R. Recordare, Domine, testamenti tui, et dic Angelo percutienti : Cesset jam manus tua, * Ut non desoletur terra, et ne perdas omnem animam vivam.
V. Ego sum qui peccavi, ego qui inique egi : isti qui oves sunt, quid fecerunt? Avertatur, obsecro, furor tuus, Domine, a populo tuo.
R. Ut non desoletur terra, et ne perdas omnem animam vivam.

Lesson ii Chap. 1, 32-35

Dixit quoque rex David : Vocate mihi Sadoc sacerdotem et Nathan prophetam et Banajam filium Jojadae. Qui cum ingressi fuissent coram rege, dixit ad eos : tollite vobiscum servos Domini vestri et imponite Salomonem filium meum super mulam meam et ducite eum in Gihon, et ungat eum ibi Sadoc sacerdos et Nathan propheta in regem super Israel. Et canetis buccina atque dicetis : Vivat rex Salomon. Et ascendetis post eum et veniet et sedebit super solium meum et ipse regnabit pro me.


V. Tu autem, Domine, miserere nobis.
R. Deo gratias.

R. Exaudisti, Domine, orationem servi tui, ut aedificarem templum nomini tuo : * Benedic et sanctifica domum istam in sempiternum, Deus Israel.
V. Domine, qui custodis pactum cum servis tuis, qui ambulant coram te in toto corde suo.
R. Benedic et sanctifica domum istam in sempiternum, Deus Israel.


V. Jube domne, (Domine) benedicere.

Lesson iii Chap. 1, 38-40

Descendit ergo Sadoc sacerdos et Nathan propheta et Banajas filius Jojadae et Cerethi et Phelethi et imposuerunt Salomonem super mulam regis David et adduxerunt eum in Gihon. Sumpsitque Sadoc sacerdos cornu olei de tabernaculo et unxit Salomonem, et cecinerunt buccina, et dixit omnis populus : Vivat rex Salomon. Et ascendit universa multitudo post eum et populus canentium tibiis et laetantium gaudio magno, et insonuit terra a clamore eorum.

V. Tu autem, Domine, miserere nobis.
R. Deo gratias.

R. Audi, Domine, hymnum et orationem, quam servus tuus orat coram te hodie, ut sint oculi tui aperti, et aures tuae intentae, * Super domum istam die ac nocte.
V. Respice, Domine, de sanctuario tuo, et de excelso caelorum habitaculo.
R. Super domum istam die ac nocte.
V. Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.
R. Super domum istam die ac nocte.


English:

Then king David answered and said, "Call to me Bathsheba." And she came into the king's presence, and stood before the king. And the king sware, and said, "As the LORD liveth, that hath redeemed my soul out of all distress, even as I sware unto thee by the LORD God of Israel, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne in my stead; even so will I certainly do this day." Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the earth, and did reverence to the king, and said, "Let my lord king David live for ever."

V. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R. Thanks be to God.

R. Remember, O Lord, thy Covenant, and say unto the destroying Angel : Stay now thine hand, * That the land be not utterly laid waste, and that thou destroy not every living soul.
V. Lo, even I it is that have sinned, and done evil indeed : but these sheep what have they done? Let thine anger, I pray thee, O Lord, be turned away from thy people.
R. That the land be not utterly laid waste, and that thou destroy not every living soul.

And king David said, "Call me Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada." And they came before the king. The king also said unto them, "Take with you the servants of your lord, and cause Solomon my son to ride upon mine own mule, and bring him down to Gihon: and let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him there king over Israel: and blow ye with the trumpet, and say, God save king Solomon. Then ye shall come up after him, that he may come and sit upon my throne; for he shall be king in my stead."

V. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R. Thanks be to God.

R. O Lord, thou who hast had respect unto the prayer of thy servant, that he should build a temple to thy Name, * O Lord the God of Israel, bless and sanctify this thy House for ever.
V. O Lord, thou who keepest Covenant with thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart.
R. O Lord the God of Israel, bless and sanctify this thy House for ever.

V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
R. O Lord the God of Israel, bless and sanctify this thy House for ever.

So Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, went down, and caused Solomon to ride upon king David's mule, and brought him to Gihon. And Zadok the priest took an horn of oil out of the tabernacle, and anointed Solomon. And they blew the trumpet; and all the people said, "God save king Solomon." And all the people came up after him, and the people piped with pipes, and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth rent with the sound of them.

V. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R. Thanks be to God.

R. Hearken unto the prayer, O Lord my God, which thy servant prayeth before thee today, that thine eyes may be open and thine ears attent * Toward this House day and night.
V. Look down, O Lord, from thy holy place, and from thy dwelling place in the height of heaven.
R. Toward this House day and night.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
R. Toward this House day and night.

~~~

Happy semi-late quasi-feastday, Old Bean!

(Erratum: embarrassing erratum fixed. I knew that, really, I promise...)
posted by Lauren, 8:56 PM | link | 3 comments

{Tuesday, July 12, 2005  }

.:{Harry Potter!}:.


I forgot Harry Potter is coming out this Friday!!! Zadok -- duel postponed until I read "Harry Potter"(!!!).

Furthermore, Cacciaguida makes me double-over cough-laughing with his series of "Harry Potter Operas", most notably ...

Mozart:
Harry Potter and the Stone Guest: There’s statue on his way and man is he pissed!

Wagner:
Harry Potter and the Flying Dutchman: he turns up at Hogwarts every seven years; which of our wizard-swains will lose his heartthrob to the mysterious captain?

Puccini:
Harry Potter and the Three Riddles: Cho reads up on Chinese princesses and decides to play seriously hard-to-get

Strauss (rejected):
Harry Potter and Salome and Elektra

[I mean -- enough said! ~L]

Under Consideration:
Menotti: Harry Potter and the Night Visitors: will the wizards finally understand why they get presents on Christmas?

Coffee-all-over-computer-screen moment.
posted by Lauren, 11:20 PM | link | 1 comments

.:{Cosa???}:.


Your Daddy Is Patrick Stewart


What You Call Him: Old Man
Why You Love Him: He's the Mack Daddy

Who's Your Daddy?



The scary thing is that, when dad and I used to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation together (when I was, um, 7-11) I used to think my dad look liked Patrick Stewart.
posted by Lauren, 8:16 PM | link | 4 comments

{Sunday, July 10, 2005  }

.:{Some people just don't get it}:.


"They who have ears to hear, let them hear" as we heard in the gospel today.

In re this article by the august Cardinal Schoenborn comes this idiotic article out of Tucson.
posted by Lauren, 11:40 PM | link | 1 comments

{Saturday, July 09, 2005  }

.:{Stuff}:.


It feels like a Friday, but it's Saturday. Going away for the remainder of my weekend (Sunday) and am usually exhausted after job#2 gets through with me (that'll be Monday).

And so even though some excellent readers have emailed me some things I simply must post, it'll have to wait for a short while -- but I promise I'm not ignoring you.

In the meantime, enjoy this post by Matt from the Shrine. Everything he touches turns to Gothic Architecture, and this is no exception (well, if not gothic, certainly beautifully ornate). I'd like to brag and say I watched over his shoulder (literally) when this project was a mere twinkle in his eye.

Enjoy this, and I'll be back with more Cnytrcy mid-next week.
posted by Lauren, 7:09 PM | link | 1 comments

.:{London Blogs}:.


London blog coverage of Thursday.

Via Contemplating the Laundry.
posted by Lauren, 8:16 AM | link | 0 comments

.:{Eh?}:.




What the frig???
posted by Lauren, 8:13 AM | link | 4 comments

.:{Cardinal Schoenborn in the NYT}:.


Many thanks to Contemplating the Laundry for this one (registration required, but worth it) --

Op-Ed Contributor
Finding Design in Nature
By CHRISTOPH SCHÖNBORN
Published: July 7, 2005

Vienna

EVER since 1996, when Pope John Paul II said that evolution (a term he did not define) was "more than just a hypothesis," defenders of neo-Darwinian dogma have often invoked the supposed acceptance - or at least acquiescence - of the Roman Catholic Church when they defend their theory as somehow compatible with Christian faith.

But this is not true. The Catholic Church, while leaving to science many details about the history of life on earth, proclaims that by the light of reason the human intellect can readily and clearly discern purpose and design in the natural world, including the world of living things.

Evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense - an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection - is not. Any system of thought that denies or seeks to explain away the overwhelming evidence for design in biology is ideology, not science.

Consider the real teaching of our beloved John Paul. While his rather vague and unimportant 1996 letter about evolution is always and everywhere cited, we see no one discussing these comments from a 1985 general audience that represents his robust teaching on nature:

"All the observations concerning the development of life lead to a similar conclusion. The evolution of living beings, of which science seeks to determine the stages and to discern the mechanism, presents an internal finality which arouses admiration. This finality which directs beings in a direction for which they are not responsible or in charge, obliges one to suppose a Mind which is its inventor, its creator."

He went on: "To all these indications of the existence of God the Creator, some oppose the power of chance or of the proper mechanisms of matter. To speak of chance for a universe which presents such a complex organization in its elements and such marvelous finality in its life would be equivalent to giving up the search for an explanation of the world as it appears to us. In fact, this would be equivalent to admitting effects without a cause. It would be to abdicate human intelligence, which would thus refuse to think and to seek a solution for its problems."

Note that in this quotation the word "finality" is a philosophical term synonymous with final cause, purpose or design. In comments at another general audience a year later, John Paul concludes, "It is clear that the truth of faith about creation is radically opposed to the theories of materialistic philosophy. These view the cosmos as the result of an evolution of matter reducible to pure chance and necessity."

Naturally, the authoritative Catechism of the Catholic Church agrees: "Human intelligence is surely already capable of finding a response to the question of origins. The existence of God the Creator can be known with certainty through his works, by the light of human reason." It adds: "We believe that God created the world according to his wisdom. It is not the product of any necessity whatever, nor of blind fate or chance."

In an unfortunate new twist on this old controversy, neo-Darwinists recently have sought to portray our new pope, Benedict XVI, as a satisfied evolutionist. They have quoted a sentence about common ancestry from a 2004 document of the International Theological Commission, pointed out that Benedict was at the time head of the commission, and concluded that the Catholic Church has no problem with the notion of "evolution" as used by mainstream biologists - that is, synonymous with neo-Darwinism.

The commission's document, however, reaffirms the perennial teaching of the Catholic Church about the reality of design in nature. Commenting on the widespread abuse of John Paul's 1996 letter on evolution, the commission cautions that "the letter cannot be read as a blanket approbation of all theories of evolution, including those of a neo-Darwinian provenance which explicitly deny to divine providence any truly causal role in the development of life in the universe."

Furthermore, according to the commission, "An unguided evolutionary process - one that falls outside the bounds of divine providence - simply cannot exist."

Indeed, in the homily at his installation just a few weeks ago, Benedict proclaimed: "We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary."

Throughout history the church has defended the truths of faith given by Jesus Christ. But in the modern era, the Catholic Church is in the odd position of standing in firm defense of reason as well. In the 19th century, the First Vatican Council taught a world newly enthralled by the "death of God" that by the use of reason alone mankind could come to know the reality of the Uncaused Cause, the First Mover, the God of the philosophers.

Now at the beginning of the 21st century, faced with scientific claims like neo-Darwinism and the multiverse hypothesis in cosmology invented to avoid the overwhelming evidence for purpose and design found in modern science, the Catholic Church will again defend human reason by proclaiming that the immanent design evident in nature is real. Scientific theories that try to explain away the appearance of design as the result of "chance and necessity" are not scientific at all, but, as John Paul put it, an abdication of human intelligence.

Christoph Schönborn, the Roman Catholic cardinal archbishop of Vienna, was the lead editor of the official 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church.
posted by Lauren, 8:08 AM | link | 0 comments

{Friday, July 08, 2005  }

.:{Suggestions, Please}:.


Bloggians --


I've rather intensely disliked the statuary picked out for my home parish church for some time. It's ugl-eee. And I finally was able to mention it to my (very patient) Dominican pastor. And he basically suggested that I come up with alternatives.

Okay!!!

However, I'm not finding a whole lot more than the cheap poured-and-spraypainted statues that one often finds in backyards. Previous statuary was metal -- one of St. Thomas Aquinas (looking ticked off!!) and a kind of half-moon icky one of the Holy Family. If we could find some nice, modern-but-not-ugly statues -- one of St. Thomas, the other preferably of the Holy Family but not necessarily, then I could pass this along to said pastor.

And so I turn to you, my readers. Priests, deacons and seminarians especially -- you can help me out in a big way!

If you see something nice in a catalogue, if you could scan it and send it to me along with the company name, the item number, the height, the price and a phone number it would help out in a big way.

And if other bloggers could spread this around -- and contribute! -- I'd much appreciate it.

Thanks for helping to beautify our church!!!
posted by Lauren, 7:37 PM | link | 2 comments

{Thursday, July 07, 2005  }

.:{Six Explosions in London}:.


Fox news

LONDON — A series of explosions struck London's public transportation system Thursday in what Prime Minister Tony Blair declared to be a coordinated series of terrorist attacks.

After several hours where public officials cautioned against reaching conclusions about what caused at least six blasts on subways and buses, Blair gave a brief televised address where he concluded it was a terrorist action.

At least two people were killed and nine injured in the nearly simultaneous blasts, and officials shut down the entire underground transport network. Media reports said the number of casualties was about 90 people.


Horrible and shocking news. I have a dear friend who has been in London for the past month. She sent friends and family an email this morning to let us know she & co. are alright. But please pray for her safe return. She was supposed to return today, but they're not leaving until they know what's going on.

Please pray for her safe return!
posted by Lauren, 7:19 AM | link | 0 comments

{Wednesday, July 06, 2005  }

.:{Meaning and Martyrdom and the Need for Contemplation}:.


contemplata aliis tradere
~St. Thomas Aquinas

I said I was going to post more on St. Maria Goretti and I very nearly forgot. This is less about St. Maria Goretti, however, and more about martyrdom.

I had a few points to ponder today from things I've been readning, and from this evening's homily. I've been reading The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton (my first encounter ever with the man, I'm usually a Lewis person myself). There were some particularly striking things about the work, some particularly interesting lines. One thing that I had dog-eared was the exchange,

"My dear Syme," she said, "do the people who talk like you and my brother often mean what they say? Do you mean what you say now?"
Syme smiled.
"Do you?" he asked.
"What do you mean?" asked the girl, with grave eyes.
"My dear Miss Gregory," said Syme gently, "there are many kinds of sincerity. When you say 'thank you' for the salt, do you mean what you say? No. When you say 'the world is round', do you mean what you say? No. It is true, but you don't mean it. Now, sometimes a man like your brother really finds a thing he does mean. It may be only a half-truth, a quarter-truth, a tenth-truth; but then he says more than he means -- from sheer force of meaning it."


In light of today's saint, it coupled well with another quote from another book I started five minutes after I finished Chesterton, Shadows of Ecstacy" by Charles Williams:

...The Archbishop said that the noble peer would remember that Christianity assumed a readiness for martyrdom as a mere preliminary to any serious work...

At first I had considered the Chesterton quote in terms of persons who say stupid things vehemently. I'm firmly convinced that people aren't as stupid as they seem. But then I considered it in the opposit vein, saying things without really meaning them.

In intrigued by the verbal dances that go on between people. When people come downstairs in the morning, they generally go through a "hello" "how are you" routine, very carefully rehearsed and entirely predictable. Only one time out of seven is it ever serious. If someone has been ill or away then one asks "how are you?" and truly means it. But when you saw the person less than 24 hours ago, one would be hard-pressed to care about the small ailments of someone you hardly know (and it seems that close friends sometimes or often don't say "how are you?", and the other is not slighted if they skip said salutation). Indeed, if someone were to complain about their every ailment everytime one greeted them, the person would get to be a bore.

But this verbal dance isn't entirely pointless -- it's a veil behind which we hide our mutual and semi-neutral well-wishings (which are, to a point, sincere, even if it only boils down to "I'm glad you're still alive since last night") and from this point one can truly begin communication. One can't drive up to Wendy's and have the person behind the crackly speaker go "Yeah, whaddaya want?" or just "What?" because that's rude and inconsiderate. We treat people we barely know as glass eggs, because we know how little it takes for them to break.

There is part of the verbal ritual in liturgy, too, of course. It's the same thing: rehearsed, predictable verbal processions. But just as a conversation can't consist entirely of small-talk if it is to be genuine, neither can liturgy and prayer consist only in said verbal prancings.

This is always a struggle to be faced, I think. It is really easy to let one's mind wander uncontrolled instead of directing it where it ought (instead of contemplating the mystery of the liturgy, one suddenly notices the person a couple pews over and goes "whoa, what is ON that guy's head??"). And it is just as easy to let the routine become tiresome -- not just in liturgy and prayer, but in anything.

How easy is it to wear one's Christianity on one's shirt-sleeve? Especially in groups with other Christians. Sometimes we air out our own, personal Christianity and trot it out for others to admire. It becomes our own chia-pet like object that we attend to every once in a while without really contemplating too much, however much we think about it.

Obviously this is not serious. But Charles Williams has his Archbishop mention that for a Christian, martyrdom is a preliminary to any serious kind of work. If one is to be at all serious, one has to be so serious as to stake one's life on it. Am I serious that I like purple? I wouldn't be willing to bet my life on it. Am I serious that I want to follow in the footsteps of St. Dominic and live as a Dominican (tertiary)? Absolutely. Would I say the same if someone were pointing a gun at my head?

I want to say yes, but this exact scenario is one I have never contemplated before. Others have given their life for faith and vocation, but I have never considered martyrdom seriously.

Before Christ went out preaching, he fasted and prayed for forty days and forty nights. Without this sort of reflection and contemplation, I believe it's difficult to take anything seriously. And if one can't be serious, so serious one is ready to literally bet one's life on it, one cannot seriously witness and be an example to others. In this way we would be lukewarm and entirely unconvincing. Christ knew that he would suffer and die, it was a prerequisite for his coming into the world (this has been hotly debated but I say Scotians etc, among other things, are asking the wrong questions). He gave us an example of martyrdom being a prerequisite for any serious kind of work. We, too, will all be born into eternal life one day, but in ord to be really serious, we should assume (and not wonder or hope) that it's something that will request of us our life -- because it will.
posted by Lauren, 8:08 PM | link | 1 comments

.:{St. Maria Goretti}:.



A statue of St. Maria Goretti, as there are too many bleh images of her

Today is the feast day of St. Maria Goretti, one of my (four) Confirmation saints. It is also the semiduplex octave feast of Sts. Peter and Paul by the old calendar. St. Peter is also one of my confirmation saints.

Although Paul doesn't think her a martyr for purity because she was never actually sexually tempted (though how do we know this?), she nonetheless died defending firstly her own chastity -- as our duty is first to save our souls -- and secondly, amazingly, the soul of her attacker. She resisted even when, tied up and threatened with a dagger, she could have consented with no threat to her soul. She knew that either by assaulting her virtue or by assaulting her physically, Alessandro was going to endager his soul; and nonetheless she chose to die rather than to consent. In this way, I think she is very viably a martyr for purity.

From the office of readings today is part of the homily by Pope Pius XII from her 1950 canonization. One paragraph I found most interesting --

Not all of us are expected to die a martyr's death, but we are all called to the pursuit of Christian virtue. This demands strength of character though it may not match that of this innocent girl. Still, a constant, persistend and relentless effort is asked of us right up to the moment of our death. This may be conceived as a slow steady martyrdom which Christ urged upon us when he said: "The kingdom of heaven is set upon and laid waste by violent forces."

(I find the Irish concepts of "red, white, and green martyrdom" interesting, green martyrdom being the renunciation of the world to live as a hermit, red being the actual shedding of blood, and white being holy [or unholy] exile, be it on the continent or on, of all places, Iona: [H]enceforth all who followed Columcille's lead were called to the white martyrdom, they who sailed into the white sky of morning, into the unknown, never to return. A concept with which only the Irish could have come.)

Hopefully more on St. Maria Goretti when I get back from work.
posted by Lauren, 8:10 AM | link | 3 comments

{Tuesday, July 05, 2005  }

.:{When in the course of Cnytr events...}:.


Attention, one and all.

I hereby challenge the infamous Zadok the Roman to a duel, for the reasons that here stand:

* Firstly: he hath many times asserted that he is "slightly smarter" than her Cnytrness, Lauren of B.
* Thirdly: he hath very greviously added water to his coke.
* Sixth and Lastly: he doth eateth his Frankish fries with a knife and fork.
* And to conclude: he hath never paid me $5 he owes me.
* Also: His face offends.

Furthermore, it is well and widely known that he is a scurrilous knave.

And therefore before God and neighbor I formally challenge said Zadok to a duel, to be held whenever I finish "The Man Who Was Thursday".

The duel shall be executed thus:

* On a set date, both Cnytr and Zadok shall begin reading The Degrees of Knowledge by Jacques Maritain at 19:00 local time.
* Every 100 pages, both shall post and sum their progress to ensure that neither is cheating by skipping, skimming, or consulting a third party.
* The duel shall continue until such point that:

a) One party forfeits, at which point the other shall be deemed "winner";
b) Both parties forfeit, as which point the duel shall be deemed a "draw";
c) One party completes the volume, at which point said party shall be deemed "winner";
d) In the case that one or both parties ceases reading for two weeks or more, at which point the person furthest along in the book shall be deemed "winner"

Before the start of the duel, appropriate consequences shall be appointed for the loser.

Cnytr, confident of her immanent victory, calls Zadok a rogue and a scoundrel if he not accept, and a fool an' he does.

ISSUED ON THE FIFTH DAY OF THE SEVENTH MONTH OF THE YEAR OF OUR LORD, TWO THOUSAND AND FIVE, LONG LIVE THE CNYTR
posted by Lauren, 8:33 PM | link | 10 comments

.:{Addendum}:.




I have been told the movie of "The Name of the Rose" is awful.

Therefore, I think I'll watch it and review it on here.

It makes me sad that a movie with Sean Connery and F. Murray Abraham could be awful, however! (But just look at the badness of that habit ... )

Update: They have a preview of said movie on Netflix. Hmmm... "A man of reason in a world of blind faith..." I have a suspicion the movie is not going to treat the subjects mishandled by Eco any better.

But dude! F. Murray Abraham is the Dominican inquisitor!!! Cool. (I loved him in Amadeus which I recommend, even if it isn't historically accurate. It will give you a goodish grasp on Mozart's music. Besides, the last scene where they're composing the Requiem is just short of brilliant.)
posted by Lauren, 8:56 AM | link | 6 comments

.:{Lauren's ten-minute book review}:.




I must be quick because I have to go to work soon, but having finished this book last night, if I DON'T post about it RIGHT NOW it will drive me nuts all day.

I bought "The Name of the Rose" somewhere around two years ago. I began reading it almost immediately, and I ate it up. Eco sets the book in the middle ages (14th century?), but he writes the book as if it were written in the middle ages. This I found fascinating.

For example, the first few pages of the book have Br. William (a Franciscan) with his sidekick/scribe/whatever Br. Adso (a novice Benedictine/Cluniac/something -- he's the guy from whose POV the book is written) finding a horse Brunellus with the help of the Universals. Adso asks a question, and, Plato-like, a short dialogue on the Universals ensues. Random things would set Eco (for Eco's authorial presence often overrides Adso's voice) off on such tangents.

At first, it was fascinating. Then cute -- "awww, he's being all medieval." Then towards the end, as the novel reached its climax and began to unfold, it got cumbersome and annoying. Especially when the villain at the end starts diatribing, the same way he's done throughout the rest of the book (somewhat akin to the prophecies of Merlin in Geoffery of Monmouth -- read: unintelligible and mostly pointless).

This is part of the reason its taken me this long to finish the book -- occasionally Eco lost me in the middle of a philosophical, theological, or historical diatribe.

Furthermore, though the book is steeped in everything of the middle ages, it lacks a sympathy with said era, so it's a fairly pessimistic book in its worldview. If it weren't for Brs. Adso (not even Br. William, because one is left with the impression of his slipping into nominalism in despair at the end of the novel), one would have an almost irredeemably bad view of humanity/monasticism in the middle ages. This is also annoying, because come on, it wasn't that bad.

I will have to say that he does make use of a literary device I've only seen in some of the Great Western Classics: the ecphrasis. I will define this in a subsequent post if anybody cares (a quick google shows only very limited meanings of the word -- "a very lively description"??? not quite).

But the last part of the book that I found rather depressing was the end in general. The end, the answer to the mystery, comes as a letdown given the buildup and the sequence of the murders. I found that when Br. William confronted the villain (who, unfortunately, could be seen a mile away) and either had him confess or dictated to him the sequence of how events unfolded, I thought "what, that's IT?"

Furthermore, Adso has two dreams/visions which were exsessively weird (even if one was imitating the Coena Cypriani), and the latter was slightly Deus ex machina.

There are a few other vaguely annoying parts of the book. Like the description of holy poverty and some random council that seems mostly pointless except to make fun of the Italians and point fingers at the Dominicans.

However, I do think it's cool that the only Dominican in the book is an Inquisitor. Even if he is ... not exactly a good character, and rather a characature of an Inquisitor, I still found it kind of cool.

In short, the medieval trappings of this point are fun, to a degree. I found the incorporation of Latin into the regular writing a blast. But it gets tiresom, I found it anti-climactic, and slightly depressing/disturbing in the view of human nature.

I'd give the book a take-it-or-leave-it, though leaning slightly more on the latter.
posted by Lauren, 8:37 AM | link | 7 comments

{Monday, July 04, 2005  }

.:{The resolution that started it all}:.



The Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia -- the first colony, where I was raised and where I call home.

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!


Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

A happy Independence Day to all my fellow Americans, especially those serving in the Armed Forces:

To my friends who graduated from the United States Military Academy this year -- I'm sorry I couldn't join you this summer.

To all my friends from Army ROTC, especially for those who are fully committed by now. And to Alipie, who's now been through Marine ROTC, Navy ROTC, Air Force ROTC, and will be doing Army ROTC this next semester courtesy of the only exclusively female corps of cadets, the Virginia Women's Institute for Leadership (VWIL).

To all my friends in the Marines, especially Stephen "Mudslogger" K who graduates (finally!) from Boot Camp September 9th, to the soon-to-be deployed-to-Iraq Jonathan Lee, to the probably-already-deployed-to-Iraq 2LT Brian D. We are keeping you in our prayers.

To all my veteran and non-veteran former military friends and comrades and co-workers: a job well done, you could not have given us better. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!


O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!


posted by Lauren, 11:26 AM | link | 0 comments

{Sunday, July 03, 2005  }

.:{Give them enough rope and let them hang themselves}:.


Quick! Name the most sunshiney and most harmless family movie in history.

I'll give you a hint, it's a musical and it's got Julie Andrews in it.

No! Not "Camelot" -- I wouldn't want my fictional four-year-old asking me about the whole Lancelot-Guenevere-Arthur triagle. Nor would I want my seven-year-old running around singing "Had I been made the partner of Eve we'd be in Eden still!" (Though that's got to be one of the best lines of the movie)

No -- "The Sound of Music".

I'm not overly fond of Lerner and Lowe musicals and, while I liked this one in the past (I even played one of the nuns in a local stage production of it, though I should/would have gotten the part of Marta if our casting director weren't blatantly nepotistic) I find it far too sugary for my taste now. A bit too cute and leave-it-to-Beaver-ish.

And that's EXACTLY what makes it evil!

Or so say those crazy right-wing Latin-mass-is-the-only-valid-mass more-Catholic-than-the-Pope schismatics in this article.

The root of the schismatics' theological problems come, I think, from their general anti-intellectual and generally pessimistic nature. This article is rife with such things, and annoying asides such as

Fortunately the Mother Superior is also nice (of course, at least in 1965. Today she would be a child abuser)...

and also,

But enter now the villains! Firstly a glamorous Baroness previously engaged to be married to the Captain, who schemes to get Julie Andrews out of the way, back to the Convent (but didn't you know, "The path of true love never did run smooth"?). Secondly, villain of villains, a - a - a NAZI! (Original sin? - never heard of it! Isn't all sin Nazi sin?)

That sort of theatrical sneering is about the same level of sophistication and intellegence as Jack Chick.

Furthermore, the author of this letter dated 1997 has no sense of literary criticism. A letter like this and The Da Vinci Code's place on the NYTimes best-seller list are just a few examples of America's declining literacy, and by "literacy" I mean not the simple ability of reading letters in coherent patterns to form words in coherent patterns to form sentences, but understanding what one reads beyond what it says and how it fits into a larger schema of Western tradition. The author of this letter ignores a vital part of Western literary tradition: genre. This can also be seen in the modern, mostly Protestant, mis-use of Scripture and the howling outrage at J.K. Rowling's books. The author, by the above sentence, essentially nullifies any use of any creative art form (literature, visual media, etc) that is not explicitly Catholic (read: schismatic, despite the fact that the movie was written and set and very nearly filmed in their favorite era, the Pre-Vatican II era) and directly moral. By his philosophy and thinking, the Medieval morality and mystery plays are too obtuse to be of any merit.

As if attacking the all-time wholesom, family classic weren't enough, Bp. Williamson (the author) goes on to hang himself with the rope has started to climb down:

As for cleanness, many films may be worse than the Sound of Music, but stop and think - are youth, physical attractiveness and being in love the essence of marriage? Can you imagine this Julie Andrews staying with the Captain if "the romance went out of their marriage"? Would she not divorce him and grab his children from him to be her toys? Such romance is not actually pornographic but it is virtually so, in other words all the elements of pornography are there, just waiting to break out.

Hm. Let's think about the movies that came out before this one: namely, all of Marilyn Monroe's movies. Even Cleopatra had its very-nearly-naked dancers running all around and shakin' their collective booty in front of the screen.

Now let's think about The Sound of Music. It has nuns in it. Julie Andrews did not leave the convent because the Captain was hott. Nor did she leave the convent because he promised to lavish his wealth upon her. In fact there is absolutely no reason to suspect that her leaving the convent (before she's made any permanent vows, therefore she cannot feasibly called an "ex-nun") was for anything but the love of Captain VonTrapp and his children. This is a key element which precisely keeps the movie from being pornographic, because pornography (like contraception) by its very nature is self-centered and therefore anti-children. The romance of the movie is due to its setting overall worldview, not because of any contrived plot devices. Many movies of the 60's have this kind of rose-colored-glasses outlook reflected in the setting.

Not to fall into a tu quoque fallacy, but I find Williamson's raising the topic of pornography the product of a genuinely repressed and possibly diseased mind.

Finally as for edification, in The Sound of Music the Lord God is mere decoration. True, His Austrian mountains are beautiful (beautiful decoration), but His nuns are valued only for their sweetness towards the world and their understanding of its ways, while His ex-nun is wholly oriented towards the world.

Supra dicitur... she's not an "ex-nun".
Praetera, God is not a mere decoration, nor is the specific Catholicism exhibited throughout the film, as it plays an essential role to all or most of the good characters.

But, somebody may object, The Sound of Music is only entertainment. Reply, is the world in a mess, or not?

Respondeo dicendum: non sequitur. What the heck do those two things have to do with each other?

His attempt at syllogism is laughable:

Then if the world around us is corrupt, it sure fits these films being corrupt

...furthermore, that sentence structure is bad.

whereas if someone can see no problem with The Sound of Music (1965), how can he see a problem with Vatican II (1962­-1965)? The simultaneity in time is no coincidence

Nor can one draw viable conclusions by the way he had set up his argument. He mistakes a correlation for specific causation, another fallacy of the post hoc ergo propter hoc sort.

Dear friends, "entertainment" requires serious attention.

Then what does a lecture require? What is the difference between entertainment and lectures, then?

The Seminary is nevertheless providing, as per the enclosed flyer, a wide variety of VCR tapes. Contradiction? Not quite. These tapes are instructional rather than entertaining...

I rest my case.

This could probably be dismissed, as Kevin of Philokalia Republic has it, with "schism makes you stupid". Yet I find it frustrating and fascinating that in their mad denunciation of outsiders as heretics that a representing member of the SSPX slanders the picture of innocence with, of all things, pornography. Their rejection of reason is almost Orwellian, and their paranoia will breed ill, as it did in the red scare and the Salem witch hunt: they have no idea what they're talking about because of their rejection of reason so in their ignorance they accuse anything and anyone.

But let's look on the bright side: an SSPXer (in, it figures, the seminary) once called me "the apogee of what Vatican II can produce". Therefore, you all should strive to be like me or else you'll go to hell. ;)
posted by Lauren, 12:25 PM | link | 7 comments

{Friday, July 01, 2005  }

.:{On the modern (mis)use of Latin}:.


Typos happen in any language, even in Latin.

But when people use Latin, even badly, I think that it can be seen as a start. Better than nothing, you know. (My new mantra is "it could be worse".) The day when I say some well-known Latin phrase like de gustibus , or even more cliched and elementary, et tu, Brute?, and someone stares at me blankly, I think I will jump into the Tiber. Better bad Latin (at present) than no Latin at all (forever).

And, like Juliet's nurse sprinkling her choppy mutton-headed prose with supposedly wise saying, or Dogberry telling Borachio he will be "condemned into everlasting Redeption for this", those who know the lingua materna (or should I use the accusative so it fits into the English sentence structure? Linguam maternam, then?) can laugh at those who only think they do. But it betrays the fact that although Latin is dying, it is, I insist, not dead yet (it feels much better ... perhaps it can talk a walk). There are very few people in the world who speak fluent Latin, but those who try refuse to let the language die. Shall we pull its feeding tube? I'm horrified at the thought.

Hopefully this new ascendency of Latin will lead to more people interested enough in the language to enroll in some grammar classes or hire a tutor (*coughahemI'mAvailablecough*). Besides, by using the language is how one learns it.

It's also how one turns Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Nostra Signora del Perpetuo Soccorso) into Our Lady of First Aid (Nostra Signora del Pronto Soccorso).
posted by Lauren, 9:11 PM | link | 3 comments

.:{Random bits that I don't expect anyone will pay attention to}:.




As the US travel embargo to Libya was recently lifted, I hereby make the following announcement:

Wanted: Somebody -- anybody -- to a) fund Cnytr's trip to Libya, or b) take Cnytr to Libya. Please. I'll read all the Latin inscriptions for you. And then I'll give you a big hug. Preeeetty pleaaaaaaase, I've wanted to go to Libya foreeeeever. It's the only hot place (aside from Istanbul, Afghanistan and Iraq -- the latter for humanitarian aid reasons so they kind of don't count) I've ever voluntarily wanted to go. And when I become a millionaire writer, I shall remember you generously in my will.

This bit of information I found out from the Oprah magazine, which someone left sitting on the chair in the common room where I am wont to watch my evening sitcoms to rot my brain and then bring you the kind of quality you've come to expect from this blog.

Now I've always laughed at Oprah's book clubs and whatnot, but in she lists "Five Books Everyone Should Read at Least Once", "Five Big Books to get Lost In" and "Five Short, Tough, Brilliant Modern Books". I must say I was impressed with the lists, more or less. They were:

1. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. My response -- you're kidding, right?
2. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achehe. ... Never heard of it.
3. Four Quarters by TS Eliot ... And now I'm surprised. Yes. Everyone should read and *really* think about TS Eliot. I find him depressing yet fascinating at the same time. I would also recommend his famous "Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock" and "The Waste Land". "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" doesn't count as having read Eliot. Seeing the musical counts earns you negative points.
4. The Wisdom of the Desert: Sayings from the Desert Fathers of the Fourth Century; translated by Thomas Merton. This is probably highly selective bits from the desert fathers, but still... I must say I give this a surprised eyebrow-raise of approval.
5. Waiting for Gofot by Samuel Beckett ... I haven't read it but I heard it's good.

The key thing in this list is the title -- "Five Books Everyone Should Read at least Once. Against the consumerist chew-it-up-and-spit-it-out society. Hurrah. (Much to my chagrin, my father has said to me "I've read it once, why do I need to read it again?" where the word "read" actually means "listen" [to a book-on-tape]; the only two books I've ever known him to read twice are Star Wars: The Last Command by Timothy Zahn -- a mutual favorite of ours -- and The Source by James A. Michner.
In short, I think I was adopted.)

"Five Big Books to get Lost In"
1. The Odyssey by Homer ... ... *jawdrop* ... this is Lauren shocked that she's reading this in a magazine.
2. The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu ... Pardon me for not being politically correct, but I would say that one ought to first learn Western tradition before one can begin to appreciate the Eastern tradition. Otherwise one gets a kind of muddy soup understanding of neither.
3. The Divine Comedy by Dante ... I think there's a closet classicist and a closet Catholic on the team who composed this list. Yes. Read this. Over and over again. All of it. Even the boring bits of the Paradiso which, to tell you the truth, despite my love for this work, I've never really finished all of it.
4. Don Quixote by Cervantes ... One definitely needs a bit more behind one before reading Quixote, I think.
5. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy ... Now I think the person who recommended this book should be exiled in a log cabin in the middle of the Steppes. Of all the wonderful things I read in my senior year of highschool, this was not one of them, and our English teacher was mad at the class because everybody -- except one -- hated the book and nobody finished it. Ugh. It's so LONG and so AWFUL. I couldn't stand it, and made me weep to think of reading it. I think I'd rather have my eyes gouged out by Wordsworth.

"Five Short, Tough, Brilliant Modern Books"

A note: again I say before one studies modernity, one has to know why modernity is so ... modern. Kudos to the promotion of the Odyssey (Fagles translation!), but let's have some more of the tradition of Western Literary Tradition before we move on to the modern books. Otherwise they make no sense. Sometimes they make no sense anyway.

1. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
2. Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo
3. Dubliners by James Joyce
4. A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O'Connor ... Speaking of making no sense...
5. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.

With the exception of nos 3 and 4, I have never heard of these books (I'm a classicist-turned-medievalist with a random fondness for the roaring 20s) so I have nothing to say about them.

When I was studying classics at my old university, I became immensely disillusioned and, I'm sorry to say, rather bored with the whole field. However, since declaring myself a "classicist athiest", I didn't believe in the classics anymore (which now I see I didn't really mean), I've actually come to see their value. Possibly the aforementioned anti-classicism was a despairing reaction, perhaps my insistence on practicality was a valid complaint. Either way, I began down a slippery slope of questions with no satisfactory answers. Once I began questioning the classics, I also began wondering about a liberal arts education in general. It had gotten so bad, I was very close to asserting that the true goal of philosophy is to cleverly undermine the beliefs of others and pick up girls whilst playing billiards. But suddenly I find myself holding the opinion usually held by stodgy old math professors and Latin tutors, or the professor in CS Lewis' "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe":

'Logic!' said the Professor half to himself, 'Why don't they teach Logic at these schools?'.

Quite. In fact, why don't they teach classics anymore? Not merely Greek and Latin, but the whole of Western tradition. I had a classical highschool (home schooled) education and I'm glad of it. In fact, in my precocious over-educated inflated opinion, I think it would benefit the whole of society to be raised with a classical education. If one thinks Dido is a female vocalist, that Plato is kind of putty and that Tolkien invented the Middle Ages (or if you think that Renaissance Faires remotely resemble the Renaissance at all), there us 90% of the the world still to be discovered.

I have previously said that I think more people should know Latin. Now I have professed that most people ought to have a classical education. I hereby certify myself as "Stodgy Old Coot", as I myself branded my 6th grade gym teacher, an ex-Marine who taught Latin (albeit badly) at my Catholic school.

Thus ends my rant to which, as I say, I don't expect people to pay attention... but I get to say it because it's my blog, the one thing in life over which I have complete control. That is to say someone messed-up my paycheck and I can barely pay rent this month, let alone pay for food. Just moved out of parents' house a month ago -- Ah, "able was I, ere I saw Elba" -- and so I dream of being rich and famous ... i.e. affording rent ... and traveling to Libya. Anyone want to go to Libya?)

Rant over. That's all you hear about my personal life for the next two years. Tata!
posted by Lauren, 7:18 PM | link | 4 comments