May 16, 2013

Snippets & Thoughts

Poetry anthologist Quiller-Couch:

Writing in 1939, I am at a loss what to do with a fashion of morose disparagement; of sneering at things long by catholic consent accounted beautiful; of scorning at 'Man's unconquerable mind' and hanging up (without benefit of laundry) our common humanity as a rag on a clothes-line. Be it allowed that these present times are dark. Yet what are our poets of use - what are they for - if they cannot hearten the crew with auspices of daylight?
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Happened across a Catechism passage and it made me think of anti-Catholic Catholic Garry Wills:
The chosen people was constituted by God as “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” But within the people of Israel, God chose one of the twelve tribes, that of Levi, and set it apart for liturgical service.
It's interesting to me that in Wills's systematic attempts to dismantle the Church he began with producing a book he called “papal lies”. In other words, let's look at the words of popes and refute them. But now he goes “one better” by trying to undermine the whole institution of the priesthood. It's as if he first said, “Oh don't listen to those out-of-touch Catholic prelates, especially on birth control!” Then, without achieving noticeable success he decided to say, “And another reason not to listen to them is that the whole schema lacks credibility!” If you can't undermine the popes by their actions then do so by the office itself. It seems childish, like saying, “I don't like cops because they are often in the wrong” and then saying, “I hereby question the whole need and justification for cops.” Methinks he protests too much. It really feels like he's doing Satan's bidding.

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Pascal observed the problem in seventeenth-century France when he saw the obsession with entertainment as the offspring of the fallen human desire to be distracted from any thought of mortality. “Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for miseries, and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries.”
Sounds similar to Homer Simpson's claim that alcohol is the cause and solution to all life's problems. Quote above is from an article in First Things about how tragic the author finds the lack of tragedy in current church services. Death is the thing we constantly hold at arm's length. Very provocative to say that the problem with church is that it isn't entertaining enough - because there's no addressing the reality of death in current services. He wonders if it didn't start when cemeteries were separated from church grounds. He also makes the dubious claim that Joseph Conrad was a better writer than Charles Dickens because the former dealt in tragedy. He makes the much less dubious claim that Shakespeare's best plays were the tragedies. The author adds:
Today tragedy has, with few exceptions, dropped from popular entertainment. Whether it is the sentimentalism of the Hallmark Channel, the pyrotechnics of action movies, or the banal idiocy of reality TV, the tragic sensibility is all but lost.
The news is depressing enough it seems it's no wonder most people don't want to dwell on the tragic even if it is said to be cathartic. Besides, even back in the “golden age” of the '40s and '50s there weren't too many tragic films by my recollection.

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I need a beer due to stress of the NTSB recommending that a.05 blood level of alcohol being criminal. Which I think is ridiculously over-the-top. The prohibitionists live again. Soon federal highway funds will be linked to the lower limit and all the states will buckle under like they did with the .08 limit.

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