Monday, December 11, 2017

Abstract for an Essay on Wilbur’s “Marginalia”

Grendel's mother drags Beowulf to the bottom of the lake by Henry Justice Ford 

All Thomas More College students studied the poetry of Richard Wilbur and were assigned a specific Wilbur poem during our semester in Rome. Richard Wilbur died this October at the ripe old age of 96. I was assigned Marginalia during my Rome semester in the spring of 2005. The below abstract is for an essay I am working on for an upcoming collection of papers on Wilbur that is being put together by alumni of the college as a tribute to “our” poet.
This essay will examine the idea of the marginal and of the border between perceived reality and the more complete reality that Wilbur points to beyond our perception. What collects at the margin of our experience is often broken, ugly, and dangerous. Yet, “our riches are centrifugal” and the tide of history continually pulls to this outer rim. While the undiscovered country cannot be visited, we are given a means of fathoming it through dreams, myth, and our collective experience. It will be the goal of this essay to describe how the poem provides a means of speaking about the marginal and of conceiving of it as not just a integral part of the human experience, but potentially the means for its completion.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Most of The Time The Earth Is Flat.

by Jonathan Pageau in Orthodox Arts Journal July 16, 2014

"The scientific world machine is so pervasive, so iron cast that it retrofits itself to the entire history of human experience. We therefore encounter in most modern historical narratives the tales of “superstition”, of “if only they knew” culminating to that pernicious statement we have all heard: “people used to think this, but now we KNOW…”. 

Full essay here:

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Book of Tobit 

Prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Also a dog, sparrows, a large fish, a demon, and an archangel. 

Tobias with the Fish - Pieter Lastman 1613

I. The book of the words of Tobit, son of Tobiel, the son of Ananiel, the son of Aduel, the son of Gabael, of the seed of Asael, of the tribe of Nephthali; 2 Who in the time of Enemessar king of the Assyrians was led captive out of Thisbe, which is at the right hand of that city, which is called properly Nephthali in Galilee above Aser. 3 I Tobit have walked all the days of my life in the ways of truth and justice, and I did many almsdeeds to my brethren, and my nation, who came with me to Nineve, into the land of the Assyrians. 4 And when I was in mine own country, in the land of Israel being but young, all the tribe of Nephthali my father fell from the house of Jerusalem, which was chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, that all the tribes should sacrifice there, where the temple of the habitation of the most High was consecrated and built for all ages. 5 Now all the tribes which together revolted, and the house of my father Nephthali, sacrificed unto the heifer Baal. 6 But I alone went often to Jerusalem at the feasts, as it was ordained unto all the people of Israel by an everlasting decree, having the firstfruits and tenths of increase, with that which was first shorn; and them gave I at the altar to the priests the children of Aaron. 7 The first tenth part of all increase I gave to the sons of Aaron, who ministered at Jerusalem: another tenth part I sold away, and went, and spent it every year at Jerusalem: 8 And the third I gave unto them to whom it was meet, as Debora my father's mother had commanded me, because I was left an orphan by my father. 9 Furthermore, when I was come to the age of a man, I married Anna of mine own kindred, and of her I begat Tobias. 10 And when we were carried away captives to Nineve, all my brethren and those that were of my kindred did eat of the bread of the Gentiles. 11 But I kept myself from eating; 12 Because I remembered God with all my heart. 13 And the most High gave me grace and favour before Enemessar, so that I was his purveyor. 14 And I went into Media, and left in trust with Gabael, the brother of Gabrias, at Rages a city of Media ten talents of silver. 15 Now when Enemessar was dead, Sennacherib his son reigned in his stead; whose estate was troubled, that I could not go into Media. 16 And in the time of Enemessar I gave many alms to my brethren, and gave my bread to the hungry, 17 And my clothes to the naked: and if I saw any of my nation dead, or cast about the walls of Nineve, I buried him. 18 And if the king Sennacherib had slain any, when he was come, and fled from Judea, I buried them privily; for in his wrath he killed many; but the bodies were not found, when they were sought for of the king. 19 And when one of the Ninevites went and complained of me to the king, that I buried them, and hid myself; understanding that I was sought for to be put to death, I withdrew myself for fear. 20 Then all my goods were forcibly taken away, neither was there any thing left me, beside my wife Anna and my son Tobias. 21 And there passed not five and fifty days, before two of his sons killed him, and they fled into the mountains of Ararath; and Sarchedonus his son reigned in his stead; who appointed over his father's accounts, and over all his affairs, Achiacharus my brother Anael's son. 22 And Achiacharus intreating for me, I returned to Nineve. Now Achiacharus was cupbearer, and keeper of the signet, and steward, and overseer of the accounts: and Sarchedonus appointed him next unto him: and he was my brother's son.

II. 1 Now when I was come home again, and my wife Anna was restored unto me, with my son Tobias, in the feast of Pentecost, which is the holy feast of the seven weeks, there was a good dinner prepared me, in the which I sat down to eat. 2 And when I saw abundance of meat, I said to my son, Go and bring what poor man soever thou shalt find out of our brethren, who is mindful of the Lord; and, lo, I tarry for thee. 3 But he came again, and said, Father, one of our nation is strangled, and is cast out in the marketplace. 4 Then before I had tasted of any meat, I started up, and took him up into a room until the going down of the sun. 5 Then I returned, and washed myself, and ate my meat in heaviness, 6 Remembering that prophecy of Amos, as he said, Your feasts shall be turned into mourning, and all your mirth into lamentation. 7 Therefore I wept: and after the going down of the sun I went and made a grave, and buried him. 8 But my neighbours mocked me, and said, This man is not yet afraid to be put to death for this matter: who fled away; and yet, lo, he burieth the dead again. 9 The same night also I returned from the burial, and slept by the wall of my courtyard, being polluted and my face was uncovered: 10 And I knew not that there were sparrows in the wall, and mine eyes being open, the sparrows muted warm dung into mine eyes, and a whiteness came in mine eyes: and I went to the physicians, but they helped me not: moreover Achiacharus did nourish me, until I went into Elymais. 11 And my wife Anna did take women's works to do. 12 And when she had sent them home to the owners, they paid her wages, and gave her also besides a kid. 13 And when it was in my house, and began to cry, I said unto her, From whence is this kid? is it not stolen? render it to the owners; for it is not lawful to eat any thing that is stolen. 14 But she replied upon me, It was given for a gift more than the wages. Howbeit I did not believe her, but bade her render it to the owners: and I was abashed at her. But she replied upon me, Where are thine alms and thy righteous deeds? behold, thou and all thy works are known.

III. 1 Then I being grieved did weep, and in my sorrow prayed, saying, 2 O Lord, thou art just, and all thy works and all thy ways are mercy and truth, and thou judgest truly and justly for ever. 3 Remember me, and look on me, punish me not for my sins and ignorances, and the sins of my fathers, who have sinned before thee: 4 For they obeyed not thy commandments: wherefore thou hast delivered us for a spoil, and unto captivity, and unto death, and for a proverb of reproach to all the nations among whom we are dispersed. 5 And now thy judgments are many and true: deal with me according to my sins and my fathers': because we have not kept thy commandments, neither have walked in truth before thee. 6 Now therefore deal with me as seemeth best unto thee, and command my spirit to be taken from me, that I may be dissolved, and become earth: for it is profitable for me to die rather than to live, because I have heard false reproaches, and have much sorrow: command therefore that I may now be delivered out of this distress, and go into the everlasting place: turn not thy face away from me. 7 It came to pass the same day, that in Ecbatane a city of Media Sara the daughter of Raguel was also reproached by her father's maids; 8 Because that she had been married to seven husbands, whom Asmodeus the evil spirit had killed, before they had lain with her. Dost thou not know, said they, that thou hast strangled thine husbands? thou hast had already seven husbands, neither wast thou named after any of them. 9 Wherefore dost thou beat us for them? if they be dead, go thy ways after them, let us never see of thee either son or daughter. 10 Whe she heard these things, she was very sorrowful, so that she thought to have strangled herself; and she said, I am the only daughter of my father, and if I do this, it shall be a reproach unto him, and I shall bring his old age with sorrow unto the grave. 11 Then she prayed toward the window, and said, Blessed art thou, O Lord my God, and thine holy and glorious name is blessed and honourable for ever: let all thy works praise thee for ever. 12 And now, O Lord, I set I mine eyes and my face toward thee, 13 And say, Take me out of the earth, that I may hear no more the reproach. 14 Thou knowest, Lord, that I am pure from all sin with man, 15 And that I never polluted my name, nor the name of my father, in the land of my captivity: I am the only daughter of my father, neither hath he any child to be his heir, neither any near kinsman, nor any son of his alive, to whom I may keep myself for a wife: my seven husbands are already dead; and why should I live? but if it please not thee that I should die, command some regard to be had of me, and pity taken of me, that I hear no more reproach. 16 So the prayers of them both were heard before the majesty of the great God. 17 And Raphael was sent to heal them both, that is, to scale away the whiteness of Tobit's eyes, and to give Sara the daughter of Raguel for a wife to Tobias the son of Tobit; and to bind Asmodeus the evil spirit; because she belonged to Tobias by right of inheritance. The selfsame time came Tobit home, and entered into his house, and Sara the daughter of Raguel came down from her upper chamber.

IV. 1 In that day Tobit remembered the money which he had committed to Gabael in Rages of Media, 2 And said with himself, I have wished for death; wherefore do I not call for my son Tobias that I may signify to him of the money before I die? 3 And when he had called him, he said, My son, when I am dead, bury me; and despise not thy mother, but honour her all the days of thy life, and do that which shall please her, and grieve her not. 4 Remember, my son, that she saw many dangers for thee, when thou wast in her womb: and when she is dead, bury her by me in one grave. 5 My son, be mindful of the Lord our God all thy days, and let not thy will be set to sin, or to transgress his commandments: do uprightly all thy life long, and follow not the ways of unrighteousness. 6 For if thou deal truly, thy doings shall prosperously succeed to thee, and to all them that live justly. 7 Give alms of thy substance; and when thou givest alms, let not thine eye be envious, neither turn thy face from any poor, and the face of God shall not be turned away from thee. 8 If thou hast abundance give alms accordingly: if thou have but a little, be not afraid to give according to that little: 9 For thou layest up a good treasure for thyself against the day of necessity. 10 Because that alms do deliver from death, and suffereth not to come into darkness. 11 For alms is a good gift unto all that give it in the sight of the most High. 12 Beware of all whoredom, my son, and chiefly take a wife of the seed of thy fathers, and take not a strange woman to wife, which is not of thy father's tribe: for we are the children of the prophets, Noe, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: remember, my son, that our fathers from the beginning, even that they all married wives of their own kindred, and were blessed in their children, and their seed shall inherit the land. 13 Now therefore, my son, love thy brethren, and despise not in thy heart thy brethren, the sons and daughters of thy people, in not taking a wife of them: for in pride is destruction and much trouble, and in lewdness is decay and great want: for lewdness is the mother of famine. 14 Let not the wages of any man, which hath wrought for thee, tarry with thee, but give him it out of hand: for if thou serve God, he will also repay thee: be circumspect my son, in all things thou doest, and be wise in all thy conversation. 15 Do that to no man which thou hatest: drink not wine to make thee drunken: neither let drunkenness go with thee in thy journey. 16 Give of thy bread to the hungry, and of thy garments to them that are naked; and according to thine abundance give alms: and let not thine eye be envious, when thou givest alms. 17 Pour out thy bread on the burial of the just, but give nothing to the wicked. 18 Ask counsel of all that are wise, and despise not any counsel that is profitable. 19 Bless the Lord thy God always, and desire of him that thy ways may be directed, and that all thy paths and counsels may prosper: for every nation hath not counsel; but the Lord himself giveth all good things, and he humbleth whom he will, as he will; now therefore, my son, remember my commandments, neither let them be put out of thy mind. 20 And now I signify this to they that I committed ten talents to Gabael the son of Gabrias at Rages in Media. 21 And fear not, my son, that we are made poor: for thou hast much wealth, if thou fear God, and depart from all sin, and do that which is pleasing in his sight.

V. 1 Tobias then answered and said, Father, I will do all things which thou hast commanded me: 2 But how can I receive the money, seeing I know him not? 3 Then he gave him the handwriting, and said unto him, Seek thee a man which may go with thee, whiles I yet live, and I will give him wages: and go and receive the money. 4 Therefore when he went to seek a man, he found Raphael that was an angel. 5 But he knew not; and he said unto him, Canst thou go with me to Rages? and knowest thou those places well? 6 To whom the angel said, I will go with thee, and I know the way well: for I have lodged with our brother Gabael. 7 Then Tobias said unto him, Tarry for me, till I tell my father. 8 Then he said unto him, Go and tarry not. So he went in and said to his father, Behold, I have found one which will go with me. Then he said, Call him unto me, that I may know of what tribe he is, and whether he be a trusty man to go with thee. 9 So he called him, and he came in, and they saluted one another. 10 Then Tobit said unto him, Brother, shew me of what tribe and family thou art. 11 To whom he said, Dost thou seek for a tribe or family, or an hired man to go with thy son? Then Tobit said unto him, I would know, brother, thy kindred and name. 12 Then he said, I am Azarias, the son of Ananias the great, and of thy brethren. 13 Then Tobit said, Thou art welcome, brother; be not now angry with me, because I have enquired to know thy tribe and thy family; for thou art my brother, of an honest and good stock: for I know Ananias and Jonathas, sons of that great Samaias, as we went together to Jerusalem to worship, and offered the firstborn, and the tenths of the fruits; and they were not seduced with the error of our brethren: my brother, thou art of a good stock. 14 But tell me, what wages shall I give thee? wilt thou a drachm a day, and things necessary, as to mine own son? 15 Yea, moreover, if ye return safe, I will add something to thy wages. 16 So they were well pleased. Then said he to Tobias, Prepare thyself for the journey, and God send you a good journey. And when his son had prepared all things far the journey, his father said, Go thou with this man, and God, which dwelleth in heaven, prosper your journey, and the angel of God keep you company. So they went forth both, and the young man's dog with them. 17 But Anna his mother wept, and said to Tobit, Why hast thou sent away our son? is he not the staff of our hand, in going in and out before us? 18 Be not greedy to add money to money: but let it be as refuse in respect of our child. 19 For that which the Lord hath given us to live with doth suffice us. 20 Then said Tobit to her, Take no care, my sister; he shall return in safety, and thine eyes shall see him. 21 For the good angel will keep him company, and his journey shall be prosperous, and he shall return safe. 22 Then she made an end of weeping.

VI. 1 And as they went on their journey, they came in the evening to the river Tigris, and they lodged there. 2 And when the young man went down to wash himself, a fish leaped out of the river, and would have devoured him. 3 Then the angel said unto him, Take the fish. And the young man laid hold of the fish, and drew it to land. 4 To whom the angel said, Open the fish, and take the heart and the liver and the gall, and put them up safely. 5 So the young man did as the angel commanded him; and when they had roasted the fish, they did eat it: then they both went on their way, till they drew near to Ecbatane. 6 Then the young man said to the angel, Brother Azarias, to what use is the heart and the liver and the gal of the fish? 7 And he said unto him, Touching the heart and the liver, if a devil or an evil spirit trouble any, we must make a smoke thereof before the man or the woman, and the party shall be no more vexed. 8 As for the gall, it is good to anoint a man that hath whiteness in his eyes, and he shall be healed. 9 And when they were come near to Rages, 10 The angel said to the young man, Brother, to day we shall lodge with Raguel, who is thy cousin; he also hath one only daughter, named Sara; I will speak for her, that she may be given thee for a wife. 11 For to thee doth the right of her appertain, seeing thou only art of her kindred. 12 And the maid is fair and wise: now therefore hear me, and I will speak to her father; and when we return from Rages we will celebrate the marriage: for I know that Raguel cannot marry her to another according to the law of Moses, but he shall be guilty of death, because the right of inheritance doth rather appertain to thee than to any other. 13 Then the young man answered the angel, I have heard, brother Azarias that this maid hath been given to seven men, who all died in the marriage chamber. 14 And now I am the only son of my father, and I am afraid, lest if I go in unto her, I die, as the other before: for a wicked spirit loveth her, which hurteth no body, but those which come unto her; wherefore I also fear lest I die, and bring my father's and my mother's life because of me to the grave with sorrow: for they have no other son to bury them. 15 Then the angel said unto him, Dost thou not remember the precepts which thy father gave thee, that thou shouldest marry a wife of thine own kindred? wherefore hear me, O my brother; for she shall be given thee to wife; and make thou no reckoning of the evil spirit; for this same night shall she be given thee in marriage. 16 And when thou shalt come into the marriage chamber, thou shalt take the ashes of perfume, and shalt lay upon them some of the heart and liver of the fish, and shalt make a smoke with it: 17 And the devil shall smell it, and flee away, and never come again any more: but when thou shalt come to her, rise up both of you, and pray to God which is merciful, who will have pity on you, and save you: fear not, for she is appointed unto thee from the beginning; and thou shalt preserve her, and she shall go with thee. Moreover I suppose that she shall bear thee children. Now when Tobias had heard these things, he loved her, and his heart was effectually joined to her.

VII. 1 And when they were come to Ecbatane, they came to the house of Raguel, and Sara met them: and after they had saluted one another, she brought them into the house. 2 Then said Raguel to Edna his wife, How like is this young man to Tobit my cousin! 3 And Raguel asked them, From whence are ye, brethren? To whom they said, We are of the sons of Nephthalim, which are captives in Nineve. 4 Then he said to them, Do ye know Tobit our kinsman? And they said, We know him. Then said he, Is he in good health? 5 And they said, He is both alive, and in good health: and Tobias said, He is my father. 6 Then Raguel leaped up, and kissed him, and wept, 7 And blessed him, and said unto him, Thou art the son of an honest and good man. But when he had heard that Tobit was blind, he was sorrowful, and wept. 8 And likewise Edna his wife and Sara his daughter wept. Moreover they entertained them cheerfully; and after that they had killed a ram of the flock, they set store of meat on the table. Then said Tobias to Raphael, Brother Azarias, speak of those things of which thou didst talk in the way, and let this business be dispatched. 9 So he communicated the matter with Raguel: and Raguel said to Tobias, Eat and drink, and make merry: 10 For it is meet that thou shouldest marry my daughter: nevertheless I will declare unto thee the truth. 11 I have given my daughter in marriage to seven men, who died that night they came in unto her: nevertheless for the present be merry. But Tobias said, I will eat nothing here, till we agree and swear one to another. 12 Raguel said, Then take her from henceforth according to the manner, for thou art her cousin, and she is thine, and the merciful God give you good success in all things. 13 Then he called his daughter Sara, and she came to her father, and he took her by the hand, and gave her to be wife to Tobias, saying, Behold, take her after the law of Moses, and lead her away to thy father. And he blessed them; 14 And called Edna his wife, and took paper, and did write an instrument of covenants, and sealed it. 15 Then they began to eat. 16 After Raguel called his wife Edna, and said unto her, Sister, prepare another chamber, and bring her in thither. 17 Which when she had done as he had bidden her, she brought her thither: and she wept, and she received the tears of her daughter, and said unto her, 18 Be of good comfort, my daughter; the Lord of heaven and earth give thee joy for this thy sorrow: be of good comfort, my daughter.

VIII. 1 And when they had supped, they brought Tobias in unto her. 2 And as he went, he remembered the words of Raphael, and took the ashes of the perfumes, and put the heart and the liver of the fish thereupon, and made a smoke therewith. 3 The which smell when the evil spirit had smelled, he fled into the utmost parts of Egypt, and the angel bound him. 4 And after that they were both shut in together, Tobias rose out of the bed, and said, Sister, arise, and let us pray that God would have pity on us. 5 Then began Tobias to say, Blessed art thou, O God of our fathers, and blessed is thy holy and glorious name for ever; let the heavens bless thee, and all thy creatures. 6 Thou madest Adam, and gavest him Eve his wife for an helper and stay: of them came mankind: thou hast said, It is not good that man should be alone; let us make unto him an aid like unto himself. 7 And now, O Lord, I take not this my sister for lush but uprightly: therefore mercifully ordain that we may become aged together. 8 And she said with him, Amen. 9 So they slept both that night. And Raguel arose, and went and made a grave, 10 Saying, I fear lest he also be dead. 11 But when Raguel was come into his house, 12 He said unto his wife Edna. Send one of the maids, and let her see whether he be alive: if he be not, that we may bury him, and no man know it. 13 So the maid opened the door, and went in, and found them both asleep, 14 And came forth, and told them that he was alive. 15 Then Raguel praised God, and said, O God, thou art worthy to be praised with all pure and holy praise; therefore let thy saints praise thee with all thy creatures; and let all thine angels and thine elect praise thee for ever. 16 Thou art to be praised, for thou hast made me joyful; and that is not come to me which I suspected; but thou hast dealt with us according to thy great mercy. 17 Thou art to be praised because thou hast had mercy of two that were the only begotten children of their fathers: grant them mercy, O Lord, and finish their life in health with joy and mercy. 18 Then Raguel bade his servants to fill the grave. 19 And he kept the wedding feast fourteen days. 20 For before the days of the marriage were finished, Raguel had said unto him by an oath, that he should not depart till the fourteen days of the marriage were expired; 21 And then he should take the half of his goods, and go in safety to his father; and should have the rest when I and my wife be dead.

IX. 1 Then Tobias called Raphael, and said unto him, 2 Brother Azarias, take with thee a servant, and two camels, and go to Rages of Media to Gabael, and bring me the money, and bring him to the wedding. 3 For Raguel hath sworn that I shall not depart. 4 But my father counteth the days; and if I tarry long, he will be very sorry. 5 So Raphael went out, and lodged with Gabael, and gave him the handwriting: who brought forth bags which were sealed up, and gave them to him. 6 And early in the morning they went forth both together, and came to the wedding: and Tobias blessed his wife.

X. 1 Now Tobit his father counted every day: and when the days of the journey were expired, and they came not, 2 Then Tobit said, Are they detained? or is Gabael dead, and there is no man to give him the money? 3 Therefore he was very sorry. 4 Then his wife said unto him, My son is dead, seeing he stayeth long; and she began to wail him, and said, 5 Now I care for nothing, my son, since I have let thee go, the light of mine eyes. 6 To whom Tobit said, Hold thy peace, take no care, for he is safe. 7 But she said, Hold thy peace, and deceive me not; my son is dead. And she went out every day into the way which they went, and did eat no meat on the daytime, and ceased not whole nights to bewail her son Tobias, until the fourteen days of the wedding were expired, which Raguel had sworn that he should spend there. Then Tobias said to Raguel, Let me go, for my father and my mother look no more to see me. 8 But his father in law said unto him, Tarry with me, and I will send to thy father, and they shall declare unto him how things go with thee. 9 But Tobias said, No; but let me go to my father. 10 Then Raguel arose, and gave him Sara his wife, and half his goods, servants, and cattle, and money: 11 And he blessed them, and sent them away, saying, The God of heaven give you a prosperous journey, my children. 12 And he said to his daughter, Honour thy father and thy mother in law, which are now thy parents, that I may hear good report of thee. And he kissed her. Edna also said to Tobias, The Lord of heaven restore thee, my dear brother, and grant that I may see thy children of my daughter Sara before I die, that I may rejoice before the Lord: behold, I commit my daughter unto thee of special trust; where are do not entreat her evil.

XI. 1 After these things Tobias went his way, praising God that he had given him a prosperous journey, and blessed Raguel and Edna his wife, and went on his way till they drew near unto Nineve. 2 Then Raphael said to Tobias, Thou knowest, brother, how thou didst leave thy father: 3 Let us haste before thy wife, and prepare the house. 4 And take in thine hand the gall of the fish. So they went their way, and the dog went after them. 5 Now Anna sat looking about toward the way for her son. 6 And when she espied him coming, she said to his father, Behold, thy son cometh, and the man that went with him. 7 Then said Raphael, I know, Tobias, that thy father will open his eyes. 8 Therefore anoint thou his eyes with the gall, and being pricked therewith, he shall rub, and the whiteness shall fall away, and he shall see thee. 9 Then Anna ran forth, and fell upon the neck of her son, and said unto him, Seeing I have seen thee, my son, from henceforth I am content to die. And they wept both. 10 Tobit also went forth toward the door, and stumbled: but his son ran unto him, 11 And took hold of his father: and he strake of the gall on his fathers' eyes, saying, Be of good hope, my father. 12 And when his eyes began to smart, he rubbed them; 13 And the whiteness pilled away from the corners of his eyes: and when he saw his son, he fell upon his neck. 14 And he wept, and said, Blessed art thou, O God, and blessed is thy name for ever; and blessed are all thine holy angels: 15 For thou hast scourged, and hast taken pity on me: for, behold, I see my son Tobias. And his son went in rejoicing, and told his father the great things that had happened to him in Media. 16 Then Tobit went out to meet his daughter in law at the gate of Nineve, rejoicing and praising God: and they which saw him go marvelled, because he had received his sight. 17 But Tobias gave thanks before them, because God had mercy on him. And when he came near to Sara his daughter in law, he blessed her, saying, Thou art welcome, daughter: God be blessed, which hath brought thee unto us, and blessed be thy father and thy mother. And there was joy among all his brethren which were at Nineve. 18 And Achiacharus, and Nasbas his brother's son, came: 19 And Tobias' wedding was kept seven days with great joy.

XII. 1 Then Tobit called his son Tobias, and said unto him, My son, see that the man have his wages, which went with thee, and thou must give him more. 2 And Tobias said unto him, O father, it is no harm to me to give him half of those things which I have brought: 3 For he hath brought me again to thee in safety, and made whole my wife, and brought me the money, and likewise healed thee. 4 Then the old man said, It is due unto him. 5 So he called the angel, and he said unto him, Take half of all that ye have brought and go away in safety. 6 Then he took them both apart, and said unto them, Bless God, praise him, and magnify him, and praise him for the things which he hath done unto you in the sight of all that live. It is good to praise God, and exalt his name, and honourably to shew forth the works of God; therefore be not slack to praise him. 7 It is good to keep close the secret of a king, but it is honourable to reveal the works of God. Do that which is good, and no evil shall touch you. 8 Prayer is good with fasting and alms and righteousness. A little with righteousness is better than much with unrighteousness. It is better to give alms than to lay up gold: 9 For alms doth deliver from death, and shall purge away all sin. Those that exercise alms and righteousness shall be filled with life: 10 But they that sin are enemies to their own life. 11 Surely I will keep close nothing from you. For I said, It was good to keep close the secret of a king, but that it was honourable to reveal the works of God. 12 Now therefore, when thou didst pray, and Sara thy daughter in law, I did bring the remembrance of your prayers before the Holy One: and when thou didst bury the dead, I was with thee likewise. 13 And when thou didst not delay to rise up, and leave thy dinner, to go and cover the dead, thy good deed was not hid from me: but I was with thee. 14 And now God hath sent me to heal thee and Sara thy daughter in law. 15 I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels, which present the prayers of the saints, and which go in and out before the glory of the Holy One. 16 Then they were both troubled, and fell upon their faces: for they feared. 17 But he said unto them, Fear not, for it shall go well with you; praise God therefore. 18 For not of any favour of mine, but by the will of our God I came; wherefore praise him for ever. 19 All these days I did appear unto you; but I did neither eat nor drink, but ye did see a vision. 20 Now therefore give God thanks: for I go up to him that sent me; but write all things which are done in a book. 21 And when they arose, they saw him no more. 22 Then they confessed the great and wonderful works of God, and how the angel of the Lord had appeared unto them.

XIII. 1 Then Tobit wrote a prayer of rejoicing, and said, Blessed be God that liveth for ever, and blessed be his kingdom. 2 For he doth scourge, and hath mercy: he leadeth down to hell, and bringeth up again: neither is there any that can avoid his hand. 3 Confess him before the Gentiles, ye children of Israel: for he hath scattered us among them. 4 There declare his greatness, and extol him before all the living: for he is our Lord, and he is the God our Father for ever. 5 And he will scourge us for our iniquities, and will have mercy again, and will gather us out of all nations, among whom he hath scattered us. 6 If ye turn to him with your whole heart, and with your whole mind, and deal uprightly before him, then will he turn unto you, and will not hide his face from you. Therefore see what he will do with you, and confess him with your whole mouth, and praise the Lord of might, and extol the everlasting King. In the land of my captivity do I praise him, and declare his might and majesty to a sinful nation. O ye sinners, turn and do justice before him: who can tell if he will accept you, and have mercy on you? 7 I will extol my God, and my soul shall praise the King of heaven, and shall rejoice in his greatness. 8 Let all men speak, and let all praise him for his righteousness. 9 O Jerusalem, the holy city, he will scourge thee for thy children's works, and will have mercy again on the sons of the righteous. 10 Give praise to the Lord, for he is good: and praise the everlasting King, that his tabernacle may be builded in thee again with joy, and let him make joyful there in thee those that are captives, and love in thee for ever those that are miserable. 11 Many nations shall come from far to the name of the Lord God with gifts in their hands, even gifts to the King of heaven; all generations shall praise thee with great joy. 12 Cursed are all they which hate thee, and blessed shall all be which love thee for ever. 13 Rejoice and be glad for the children of the just: for they shall be gathered together, and shall bless the Lord of the just. 14 O blessed are they which love thee, for they shall rejoice in thy peace: blessed are they which have been sorrowful for all thy scourges; for they shall rejoice for thee, when they have seen all thy glory, and shall be glad for ever. 15 Let my soul bless God the great King. 16 For Jerusalem shall be built up with sapphires and emeralds, and precious stone: thy walls and towers and battlements with pure gold. 17 And the streets of Jerusalem shall be paved with beryl and carbuncle and stones of Ophir. 18 And all her streets shall say, Alleluia; and they shall praise him, saying, Blessed be God, which hath extolled it for ever.

XIV. 1 So Tobit made an end of praising God. 2 And he was eight and fifty years old when he lost his sight, which was restored to him after eight years: and he gave alms, and he increased in the fear of the Lord God, and praised him. 3 And when he was very aged he called his son, and the sons of his son, and said to him, My son, take thy children; for, behold, I am aged, and am ready to depart out of this life. 4 Go into Media my son, for I surely believe those things which Jonas the prophet spake of Nineve, that it shall be overthrown; and that for a time peace shall rather be in Media; and that our brethren shall lie scattered in the earth from that good land: and Jerusalem shall be desolate, and the house of God in it shall be burned, and shall be desolate for a time; 5 And that again God will have mercy on them, and bring them again into the land, where they shall build a temple, but not like to the first, until the time of that age be fulfilled; and afterward they shall return from all places of their captivity, and build up Jerusalem gloriously, and the house of God shall be built in it for ever with a glorious building, as the prophets have spoken thereof. 6 And all nations shall turn, and fear the Lord God truly, and shall bury their idols. 7 So shall all nations praise the Lord, and his people shall confess God, and the Lord shall exalt his people; and all those which love the Lord God in truth and justice shall rejoice, shewing mercy to our brethren. 8 And now, my son, depart out of Nineve, because that those things which the prophet Jonas spake shall surely come to pass. 9 But keep thou the law and the commandments, and shew thyself merciful and just, that it may go well with thee. 10 And bury me decently, and thy mother with me; but tarry no longer at Nineve. Remember, my son, how Aman handled Achiacharus that brought him up, how out of light he brought him into darkness, and how he rewarded him again: yet Achiacharus was saved, but the other had his reward: for he went down into darkness. Manasses gave alms, and escaped the snares of death which they had set for him: but Aman fell into the snare, and perished. 11 Wherefore now, my son, consider what alms doeth, and how righteousness doth deliver. When he had said these things, he gave up the ghost in the bed, being an hundred and eight and fifty years old; and he buried him honourably. 12 And when Anna his mother was dead, he buried her with his father. But Tobias departed with his wife and children to Ecbatane to Raguel his father in law, 13 Where he became old with honour, and he buried his father and mother in law honourably, and he inherited their substance, and his father Tobit's. 14 And he died at Ecbatane in Media, being an hundred and seven and twenty years old. 15 But before he died he heard of the destruction of Nineve, which was taken by Nabuchodonosor and Assuerus: and before his death he rejoiced over Nineve.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Art + Architecture | Adam Nathaniel Forman’s Colorful, Transcendent Vision of Rome

In the artist’s words:

“The Roman Singularity explores and celebrates Rome as the contemporary city par-excellence, an urban version of the internet, in which subjective experience merges with an abundant profusion of historical artifacts. It is a place where the analogical-whole history of society, architecture, politics, literature and art coalesce into a space so intense and delimited that they collapse under the enormity of their own mass into a singularity of human endeavour, in which time is suspended as a dimension and everything is simultaneous, coextensive, feeding off of everything else in a city-scale feast of endlessly creative auto-cannibalism. This blog documents an exploration of emblematic case studies, and fictive investigations, as well as drawings, writings, research and digressions, and at each point of discovery architectures have been designed that evolve within the upended logic and transgressive physics of La Singolarità di Roma. The project concludes with an uncovered ‘city of singularity’ in ceramics, and an Architectural Film-Poem that encapsulates a fraction, a sectional slice through one part of the Roman Singularity, of specific narratives and contexts implied in its streets, telling their tales and revealing their forms in a cabaret of tectonic denouement.”

Full story and video here:

Saturday, November 4, 2017

More Spoonerisms

Red beeds.

Hadrian's Villa

A selection of images from a 2010 visit to Tivoli:


Friday, November 3, 2017

Wilbur Interview

A wonderful interview with Wilbur I stumbled on  from a decade ago:

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Dr. Connell on Richard Wilbur

Richard Wilbur reposed on the 14th of this month at the ripe old age 96. Oddly, I visited New England the following week to convene with fellow alumni of Thomas More College, or as we call ourselves in the wake of our college’s usurpation, Cowan program alumni. We listened as one of the first TMC students to do Wilbur for a junior project read “The Beautiful Changes” in his honor. Dr. Connell continues to teach at the current school on their Rome campus. I seem to remember participating in a delegation to him to continue the study of Wilbur in Rome, but that would have been 2005.

Richard Wilbur wrote in one of his essays that the Commencement Address was one of the most difficult prose genres because the writer had so much to take into account. I would say the same for a tribute to Richard Wilbur himself.

The poetry of Richard Wilbur has been an integral part of the College (Thomas More) curriculum for decades. On the front page of my old marked copy of his New and Collected Poems is my name and “Roma 1997.” Thomas More College is the only institution of higher education in the United States (as far as I know) that undertakes something of a special study of Wilbur’s poetry for all students. Wilbur knew that fact and would always brush it off in his self-effacing manner, but secretly knowing that we were onto something, recognizing the order, precision, wonder–and insight–embodied in his work.

One year, probably about 2002, I thought the students might be tiring of Wilbur so I dropped his poetry from the Rome book list. As soon as the list was posted, I had a delegation of prospective Rome students come to my office wondering why I had done so. I explained my feeble reasons, and they responded emphatically that they wanted to read, study, and know Wilbur’s poetry in Rome and that it had become something of a College tradition to do so. So that was that.

Wilbur’s time in Rome at the American Academy in the early nineteen-fifties had a profound influence on his poetic sensibility. I have long thought that Wilbur embodied the quintessential American character, but that his muse was Roman. Compounded with these two elements–the American and the Roman–is a third of considerable importance. When Richard Wilbur served in the Second World War with his division, the 36th Texans, mainly in France and Italy, early on in his service a Catholic chaplain gave him a missal which he studied throughout the fighting. You can see the significance of this event in manifold ways in virtually all of his poetry.

Many times over the years students would choose a study of the poetry of Richard Wilbur as their Junior Project. I would always encourage those who undertook such a study to write Wilbur a letter at his home in Cummington, Massachusetts. Those who did so always received a reply that was courteous, witty, and urbane, so much a reflection of his character and poetry in general.
Ever since graduate school, I harbored a secret hope that I would have dinner with Wilbur one day. The opportunity for that in this life is no more, so now I must place my honest hope and well-founded expectation in the next.

Paul Connell ’85
October 17, 2017

The Beautiful Changes

One wading a Fall meadow finds on all sides
The Queen Anne’s Lace lying like lilies
On water; it glides
So from the walker, it turns
Dry grass to a lake, as the slightest shade of you
Valleys my mind in fabulous blue Lucernes.

The beautiful changes as a forest is changed
By a chameleon’s tuning his skin to it;
As a mantis, arranged
On a green leaf, grows
Into it, makes the leaf leafier, and proves
Any greenness is deeper than anyone knows.

Your hands hold roses always in a way that says
They are not only yours; the beautiful changes
In such kind ways,
Wishing ever to sunder
Things and things’ selves for a second finding, to lose
For a moment all that it touches back to wonder.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Urbanism: Profaned and Reclaimed

Carroll William Westfall in “Traditional Building” September 29th, 2017
Demonstrators at the University of Virginia march to reclaim their campus and city.

The recent tumultuous events surrounding Confederate statues attest to urbanism’s role in political discourse. Robert E. Lee and others from the Civil War have drawn riotous mobs, but why on Friday night before the bloody Charlottesville rally did a mob with torches shouting Nazi slogans and hurling racist slurs march across the central Grounds of the University of Virginia and conclude by circling a statue of Thomas Jefferson?

Not because it was convenient: Lee’s statue is a mile away. Was it protesting the University’s being a citadel of liberalism and privilege? Was it enlisting Jefferson in its cause? Was it hoping to return the University to when women and African Americans were not admitted, slaves worked in constructing it, and slaves ministered to the university and to slave-holding students? Wretched thought!

The mob rejected the University’s intention, which is to educate guardians of justice and liberty. In Jefferson’s day students would come from the elite by birth and from those of “worth and genius” emerging from the universal, graduated system of education he envisaged. In our day the elite by birth must pass muster (legacy status does help; this is Virginia) and women, African Americans, other minority Americans, and even foreigners are admitted!

In his day the physical setting was to provide models for the architectural lecturer teaching leaders who would go forth and build. They saw the buildings and Grounds as physical manifestations of the curriculum’s diversity and unity and the content that it organizes. The Grounds, the curriculum, and the content of what they studied were united in conveying fundamental truths that had stirred people since antiquity and who transformed tradition ever after and into the present through new insight, knowledge, and experience. At the University students would learn to reason and to fund truth to dispel error, a program that was as new to the world as the nation itself was, a nation that followed “The maxim held sacred by all free people: obey the laws” and where the people made those laws.

That inscribed maxim greets people entering the Palmyra County Courthouse in Virginia designed by a friend of Jefferson. This small brick building followed the model of Jefferson’s Capitol in Richmond that itself adapted the model of ancient Greek and Roman temples.

The ancients isolated their temples within precincts where they honored the gods whom they believed were the source of their blessings. We don’t. We place them in the landscape among other buildings where they are accessible to all people and where all the buildings work together to make the place where individuals working together pursue the blessings available to a free people.

That open landscape is carefully nurtured into four parts with each serving a distinct role, something that in his day Jefferson’s University beautifully illustrated. It begins in the wilderness; Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark out to map it (there are two statues of these local boys in Charlottesville), and we now preserve fragments before it all disappears. Carved from wilderness is the rural district providing sustenance. Within its extent are dispersed civil centers with two parts. One is composed of gardens, both public parks and the private gardens where buildings are set and where cultivation grows plants for pleasure and the kitchen. The other is the concentration of buildings and open spaces defined by buildings we identify as urbanism where people pursue justice and happiness. At the University’s urbanism buildings embrace the planted Lawn; elsewhere paving prevails. Here is the center of the public, civil life, the place where we plant statues, and later we question their continued presence.

Urbanism doing good service to the civil life, and the civil life it serves cannot flourish without respecting tradition and introducing the innovations that the course of human events call for. Jefferson’s buildings are prime displays of this axiom. Its broad pallet of conventional parts and compositions and open spaces offer an emotionally fulfilling, beautiful, and rationally comprehensible distillate of the good life, here dedicated to the role that education plays in attaining it. Walls, columns, arches, and pediments compose a domed pantheon library, residence-classroom temples, dorm rooms flanking them, and colonnaded and arcaded walkways. Interlacing them are gardens and trees that culminate in the Lawn, a Common where buildings illustrate and discourse interrogates the collected wisdom and knowledge of the recent and distant past. Here antiquity and the experience of millennia are captured in the new, modern world, a place where students, faculty, and others may encounter, modify, reason, and dispute as they expand the body of knowledge and wisdom that we must command if justice is to make us free.

It is tragic that higher education continually distances itself from teaching and developing this civil, humane culture devoted to justice and the common good. Instead now almost everywhere future architects and those who will hire them are taught that architecture is yet another visual art used to display aesthetic or technical accomplishments displayed in buildings that are beyond the capacity of ordinary people to understand or appreciate. Urbanism fares no better; it is separated from architecture and is presented as the implementation of efficiencies that technology and economics define.

I doubt that few if any in the Friday night torch-bearing mob of would-be Nazis and proud racist were concerned about the deteriorating state of higher education today. But the power of the place that Mr. Jefferson built, the place where his buildings and urbanism still teach powerful lessons to those who are receptive to them, moved students and townspeople to act on behalf of what it stands for. They recognized the mob’s action as a profanation and desecration of that civil, humane culture, and so four nights later, simply by word of mouth and without preparation, they assembled and, carrying candles, they retraced the mob’s steps and filled the Lawn where they purged the mob’s stench and rededicated the University to its original, present, and continuing purpose. Here is the power of good urbanism.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Westfall on the Confederate Statues of Richmond's Monument Avenue
Addressing the Wrong of Lost Cause Urbanism
Carroll William Westfall in "Traditional Building" Aug 25, 2017

NOTE: I wrote and submitted this blog three days before the events of August 11-12 an hour’s drive away in Charlottesville. Since then there has been much written about what to do with these statues and others in other cities. I stand by the comments made here. August 21, 2017.

Several southern cities are embroiled in controversies surrounding public sculpture celebrating the “Lost Cause of the Confederacy.” New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu reminds us that the Southern generals planted in our cities portray a false history and supplement the Ku Klux Klan’s program of terror and Jim Crow degradation. In his city the Confederate generals are being exiled to “a museum or other facility where they can be put in context.” Robert E. Lee Park in Charlottesville has been renamed Emancipation Park and its equestrian statue is now for sale. Here I present a review and suggestion from Richmond where a Commission is looking into the topic.

When Civil War veterans began to face the grim reaper the Cult of the Lost Cause began to place statues in cities. In Chicago in 1891 General U. S. Grant appeared in Lincoln Park astride his horse three years after Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ “Lincoln standing” started standing in the same park. Saint-Gaudens began a “Lincoln sitting” in 1908, but it had to wait until 1926 for land to be made from the lake for Grant Park.

Chicago was vigorously anti-slavery, but Richmond was second to New Orleans as a slave market. The grounds of Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia’s Capitol that served as the Confederacy’s Capitol already had a monumental sculpture group of George Washington and six other Virginia revolutionaries made in 1850-58. Nearby since 1875 was a standing statue of Stonewall Jackson by John Henry Foley donated by an “English Gentlemen.” Elsewhere places were found for other Lost Cause heroes. In 1891 General A. P. Hill, defender of Richmond, was reburied at one of his command posts with his statue atop a tumulus; it is now engulfed in a traffic circle. And across town General Robert E. Lee was intended for Libby Park’s romantic landscape overlooking the James River, but because a different site gained favor this one, that overlooked Confederate Navy operations and the last defense of the city, received a very tall Corinthian column in 1894 topped by a Johnny Reb representing Confederate Soldiers and Sailor.

Lee then became the proposed fixture of an 1888 land development scheme that extended the better residential distinct and would be fitted out for the most important Confederate figures. Eventually extending a mile and a half with a broad median with evenly planted trees, its flanking roadways attracting churches and large residences, many by important architects with circles for statues producing a Confederate Valhalla. Here, in order, we now meet the men on horseback: Jeb Stuart (1907), Lee (1890), Jefferson Davis (1907; standing because he was the President and not a warrior), and Stonewall Jackson (1919). The Cult had waned by 1929 when Matthew Fontaine Maury, Commander of the Confederate’s water defenses and oceanographer, the “Pathfinder of the Seas,” found a place farther down the Avenue.

For 67 years this spine through the good part of town remained unchanged until the first post Reconstruction African-American to be elected governor of any state managed to find a place for a fellow Richmonder, Arthur Ashe, the international tennis star who broke the sport’s racial barrier and tragically died prematurely. His podium stands at the very edge of the city limits where he urges children to read, read, read. And then this year, 31 year later, another barrier-breaking African American received her due. Maggie Walker (1864-1934), teacher, entrepreneur, banker, and millionaire, is now present in a standing statue not on the Avenue but in a tiny park between downtown’s main street and Jackson Ward. That is the site of her home, now a National Historic Site, and the former center of African American business and social life with the 1973 statue of Richmonder Bill “Bojangles” Robinson.

And now Richmond has been stirred to address those Lost Cause heroes, reminding us again that cities are not merely art galleries or market places but theaters where individuals, then and now, work together in confronting the moral dimensions of life.

Johnny Reb up on the column and the General in the traffic circle seem unproblematic while the men with the greatest urban presence on one of America’s great streets dominate the issue. Some voices want to exile them, but from exile will the body politic’s discourse lose the salt that flavors the quest for extending liberty today and beyond? Others suggest leaving them in place and “contextualizing” them, but what “contextualizing” could hold its own against the statues themselves?

The controversy concerns the statues’ content, not their aesthetic quality. After people let beauty be in the eye of the beholder beauty lost its role as a complement to and completion of meaningful content, and meaningful content did not call forth beauty to add impact. Beauty became a nonpartisan issue. Why else can atheists and anti-Catholics be moved by Raphael’s and Titian’s altarpieces, Michelangelo’s Pieta, or Notre Dame in Paris or Saint Peter’s in Rome? And why else can works in Chicago and New York paid for with public money through the federal art program that devotes 0.5% of a federal building’s cost be considered art? Content is needed to fix Monument Avenue, but to be effective it needs art adequate for its job. Together, art and content can fulfill urbanism’s traditional role, which is to serve the common good, facilitate the pursuit of happiness, and serve justice.

Let me propose that rather than exiling these figures we add to Monument Avenue people who stood for the right, who helped vanquish that evil past, and who, today, urge us to follow a better path? Suppose four generous traffic circles were carved out of Monument Avenue and equipped with statues as impressive as those of the rebels. Who might they be? Here is the starter list to add to: Sojourner Truth, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Grant, Lincoln, William Tecumseh Sherman, and Martin Luther King, Jr. The process of selecting the four would surely involve a robust discussion, one that would have to be conducted with good will, but doing so could forge a powerful unity in the community. With their presence Monument Avenue could become a glorious American Valhalla and not the problematic Southern one it is now, and this might make it a model for other cities to follow.

Why Airplanes Actually Fly

By David Millward, and Nick Collins for the Telegraph

Scientists have debunked one of the most commonly held myths in science - why aircraft fly. Aeroplanes can fly because their wings cause the air pressure underneath to be greater than that above, lifting them into the air. But engineers have for years been frustrated by a theory which wrongly explains what causes the change in pressure to occur. The myth is commonly found in school textbooks and aeroplane flight manuals, and is so widely believed that even Einstein was rumoured to subscribe to it.

Now a Cambridge scientist has become so fed up with the bogus explanation that he has created a minute-long video to lay it to rest once and for all. The video, published on YouTube by Prof Holger Babinsky of the university’s engineering department, seeks to explain in simple terms why the myth goes against the laws of physics. According to conventional wisdom the pressure change happens because the air on the curved upper surface of the wing has further to travel than that below the flat underneath surface, meaning it must travel faster to arrive at the other side of the wing at the same time.

In fact the real explanation is nothing to do with the distance the air has to travel. The curvature of the wing causes the change in air pressure because it pulls some of the air upwards, which reduces pressure, and forces the rest beneath it, creating higher pressure. A law known as the Bernoulli equation means that when pressure is lower, air moves faster – so the air stream above the wing does move more quickly than the one below, but this is not what causes the difference in pressure.

Prof Babinsky proved his theory by filming smoke passing across a wing. If traditional wisdom had been correct the smoke above and below the wing should have reached the front edge at the same time. The video demonstrates that the explanation is fundamentally flawed because the plume above the wing reached the edge much sooner than the plume below. If the distance the air had to travel was causing the pressure to change, then a boat's sail – where the air travels the same distance on the inside and outside of the curve – would not work, Prof Babinsky said. He added: "I don’t know when the explanation first surfaced but it’s been around for decades. You find it taught in textbooks, explained on television and even described in aircraft manuals for pilots. "There is no law in physics which states when streams of particles start at the leading edge of the wing they should reach the tailing edge at the same time. "I've even heard a story that Einstein drew a design for an aircraft wing with a long, squiggly line on top of an aerofoil to make the distance for the air to travel greater, but this would not work."

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

A Fresh Review of A Postmodern Codex

"Of course complexity and contradiction but also: ambiguity, paradox, incongruity, exclusion, vestigial, both-and, discord, brokenness, irony, distortion, unresoluition, chaos, inconsistency, superadjacency, superimposition, perversion, hyperproximity, contrast, juxtaposition, tension and violence, violence, Venturi revels in violence."

"In 1966 Postmodernism escapes the bounds of continental philosophy and literary criticism making its grand splash in architecture with the publication of this book, the broadly acknowledged gospel of architectural Postmodernism*. Since its publication three generations of architects have been indoctrinated in it. Therefore, if you wish to understand why the architectural and planning professions dysfunction as they do today, then this is a seminal text you are obliged to consider."

Here is a wonderful review by Patrick Web of Robert Venturi's famous book, Complexity and Contradiction and the beginnings of a discussion of the postmodernist movement. I would add that an understanding of postmodernism in architecture is perhaps a better introduction to the movement, and its fallacies, than in literature or philosophy. 

Read the full review here:

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Conversation with John Burgee

One of my ND professors Duncan Stroik, a noted Catholic classicist architect, discusses the work of Philip Johnson with the famous postmodernist' colleague, John Burgee.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Augustine and Monica


Good reading from my friend Adam's blog, Buckets, Wells, and Aquaducts (see right column):

     Augustine's mother, Monica, was a native African. Married to an unfaithful, and even abusive husband—she possessed a grounding center and refuge in two realities: the consolations and promises of the Christian religion, in whose teachings and rituals she placed a total, simple, and unquestioning belief; and in the love of her children—Augustine, his brother, his sister. When Augustine came to despise Christianity, she experienced this as a rift in her own being not to be consoled or healed. Indeed, her tears and prayers, the suffering that he caused her, exerted a constant weight in Augustine's life quite other than the attractions of various intellectual paradigms.

     Augustine was an ambitious, precocious, willful, hot-blooded young man. As a boy he fell in love with Latin poetry—and as a young man wanting to cut a figure in the world, he studied for a legal career. He so excelled in school, that he remained there to teach rhetoric (first in his hometown, later in Carthage), consistently admired by his peers for his intellectual capacity and commanding intensity.

     “To Carthage then I came, into a cauldron of unholy loves.” The school was dominated by a superficial love of prasie, the pleasing victories of public debate, and the vain desire to be best in the eyes of teachers and fellows. The culture of Carthage too, was permeated by the decadence of the late empire: the gladiatorial games, the pornographic rites of the theater.

     In Carthage, Augustine became attached to a mistress, with whom he lived for ten years, and had a son, Adeodatus. He also entered the sect of the Mani—a Gnostic mixture of Christianity and Zoroastrianism. The Manicheans' rather mystical spirituality, and the sense that they were guarding a secret knowledge, was enticing. They spoke in riddles that had special meaning for an elite inner circle—but they basically believed that there were two Gods, two equal and opposite powers that permeated the universe, constantly at odds with each other: good and evil, light and darkness, spirituality and matter.

     Human beings were sparks of the good God that had been trapped in bodies, enmattered, by the evil God. The key to life was to undergo certain moments of enlightenment in which one would come to know one's spiritual being as pure and apart from embodied experience. Since the material world was considered evil, natural passions, affections, and desires were fundamentally irredeemable. Once you recognized that your body was not "the real you," it could be allowed to do the works of its evil God, without staining the soul, or derailing the process of enlightenment.

     You can see the attraction here. On the one hand, Manicheanism allowed one to feel that one was participating in experiences that were pure and spiritual—and, on the other, it gave one license to indulge lower desires without worry that this would damage one's soul.

     It also allowed one to feel that one had an enlightened perspective from which to look down on traditional religion. As a Manichee and a master dialectician, Augustine positively delighted in running intellectual circles around believers, refuting the teachings of Christianity, and skilfully construing bible passages to mean what he wanted them to mean.

     Even more than his licentious life-style, this argumentative scorn for the faith tore Monica's heart. Here was her charming, witty, intelligent, sensitive Augustine (the son of her heart) enlisting his powers and talents to deconstruct the faith in which she rested, in which she had found—in all her life's very real difficulties—consolation, liberty, and strength. She did not attempt to refute his arguments with arguments but met them with the solidity of her person. At this phase she was given two signs of hope, a dream and word of encouragement from a thoughtful and perceptive pastor:

     "In her dream she saw herself standing on a sort of wooden rule, and saw a bright youth approaching her, joyous and smiling at her, while she was grieving and bowed down with sorrow. But when he inquired of her the cause of her sorrow and daily weeping (not to learn from her, but to teach her, as is customary in visions), and when she answered that it was my soul's doom she was lamenting, he bade her rest content and told her to look and see that where she was there I was also. And when she looked she saw me standing near her on the same rule.

     "Whence came this vision unless it was that thy ears were inclined toward her heart? O thou Omnipotent Good, thou carest for every one of us as if thou didst care for him only, and so for all as if they were but one!

     "And ... when she told me of this vision, and I tried to put this construction on it: 'that she should not despair of being someday what I was' she replied immediately, without hesitation, 'No; for it was not told me that "where he is, there you shall be" but "where you are, there he will be".' I confess my remembrance of this to thee, O Lord, as far as I can recall it -- and I have often mentioned it. Thy answer, given through my watchful mother, in the fact that she was not disturbed by the plausibility of my false interpretation but saw immediately what should have been seen—and which I certainly had not seen until she spoke—this answer moved me more deeply than the dream itself. Still, by that dream, the joy that was to come to that faithful woman so long after was predicted long before, as a consolation for her present anguish. ...

     "But thou gavest her then another answer, by a priest of thine, a certain bishop reared in thy Church and well versed in thy books. When that woman had begged him to agree to have some discussion with me, to refute my errors, to help me to unlearn evil and to learn the good—for it was his habit to do this when he found people ready to receive it—he refused, very prudently, as I afterward realized. For he answered that I was still unteachable, being inflated with the novelty of that heresy, and that I had already perplexed divers inexperienced persons with vexatious questions, as she herself had told him. 'But let him alone for a time,' he said, 'only pray God for him. He will of his own accord, by reading, come to discover what an error it is and how great its impiety is.' He went on to tell her at the same time how he himself, as a boy, had been given over to the Manicheans by his misguided mother and not only had read but had even copied out almost all their books. Yet he had come to see, without external argument or proof from anyone else, how much that sect was to be shunned—and had shunned it.

     "When he had said this she was not satisfied, but repeated more earnestly her entreaties, and shed copious tears, still beseeching him to see and talk with me. Finally the bishop, a little vexed at her importunity, exclaimed, 'Go your way; as you live, it cannot be that the son of these tears should perish.' As she often told me afterward, she accepted this answer as though it were a voice from heaven."

     Meanwhile, Ausgustine—always a questioner and a seeker at heart—was becoming dissatisfied with Mani's dualistic account of reality. The intelligibility of the world and the possibility of human communication and communion rest on an underlying coherence that permeates reality, giving it stability, order, proportion, and above all the radiance of, at moments, piercing beauty.

     Dualism puts incoherence, opposition at the center of reality. And its consequences for one's view of the human will—caught between two powers neither of which it can wrest free from—destroy the nobility of human life. Augustine kept asking questions, and always from the higher members of his cult he got the same answer. A distant look would come into their eyes, and they would say, “Wait till Faustus comes, he knows, ask him."

     When the Manichean bishop Faustus did come but could not answer his questions—and even, in an ironic turn, enrolled in Augustine's rhetoric class—Augustine gave up Manicheanism, and began the search for truth all over again.

   For a time he became a skeptic, one whose principle it is to doubt everything. The skeptic maintains that the ground of reality is unknowable, it may be coherent or incoherent. Probabilities alone and not knowledge are possible. As members of the New Academy, the skeptics claimed to be followers of Socrates—who was wisest because "he knew that he did not know"—but in fact they had abandoned the quest of the man they revered, and became mere caricatures of him.

     They would have been startled to hear the flesh and blood Socrates say:

     "Some things I have said of which I am not altogether confident. But that we shall be better and braver and less helpless if we think that we ought to seek and inquire, than we should have been if we indulged in the idle fancy that there was no knowing and no use in seeking to know what we do not know;—that is a theme upon which I am ready to fight, in word and deed, to the utmost of my power."

     In this period of doubt, Augustine who had broken with his first mistress (of ten years) in order to be betrothed to a young girl (who could not marry till she was older), now despite his betrothal fell in with a second mistress. He was as dejected and unmanned as Odysseus on the island of Calypso—and could find no guiding Hermes in his skepticism. Though his mother came to Carthage to offer him support, he could not listen to her either. In desperation, he gave mother and mistress the slip and left for Rome, taking another teaching post—in which, giving an uncharacteristically lackluster performance in order to support himself, he tried to solve the riddle of his existence: Who and what was he? What to do? How to live?

     Through reading Cicero, Augustine found his way to the books of Plato and the Platonists, which presented a very full view of philosophy's liberation of the mind. Unlike the school of the skeptics, such books did present a coherent image of reality—a reality whose underlying ground is one and eternal, perfect and stable, the cause of the existence and form, the intelligibility and radiance of all things. Everywhere in this philosophy Augustine seemed to hear an echo of the Christianity he had received from his mother as a boy. But when he turned to the Bible, it seemed to be full of old wives' tales, contradictions, superstitions, and to the rhetorician its style seemed so plain as to be embarrassing.

     After leaving Carthage, Augustine met the bishop Ambrose, whose golden tongue and clear calm intelligence (immediately winning Augustine's ear) nevertheless flowed from his faith and intimate knowledge of Scripture. Ambrose showed Augustine how Scripture is a layered work, that its stories while literal and simple—speaking so to the everyday life of each human being—also carry deeper and higher meanings. These higher meanings are not concealed behind simple things as if something alien to them, a secret teaching for which the literal story could be thrown away; instead they permeate the common matter of human life, lifting it into its own highest and deepest meanings and possibilities.

     By Ambrose Augustine was persuaded that, in Chirstianity, the God whom the Platonists understood to be the ground of things had in fact actively spoken and revealed himself to human beings. Had entered the limits of human existence, had had a mother, a body, a death—had redeemed our human life from within. But he hesitated to become Christian because he knew that this would require him to give up certain indulgences of the flesh. So that he would famously pray, “Lord, make me chaste, self-mastered ... but not yet.” Augustine knew such a prayer was shameful hypocrisy, and bitterly felt how his heart was set in conflict with itself. Yet he could not muster the will to launch into the new life that he now was convinced (at least with the top of his intellect) was the true life. In the garden of his house at Rome (where he was staying with his mother and his friend Alypius), he was agonizing over these contradictions—when suddenly he heard a voice:

     "I was praying and weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when suddenly I heard the voice of a boy or a girl—I know not which—coming from the neighboring house, chanting over and over again, 'Pick it up, read it; pick it up, read it.' Immediately I ceased weeping and began most earnestly to think whether it was usual for children in some kind of game to sing such a song, but I could not remember ever having heard the like. So, damming the torrent of my tears, I got to my feet, for I could not but think that this was a divine command to open the Bible and read the first passage I should light upon. For I had heard how Anthony, accidentally coming into church while the gospel was being read, received the admonition as if what was read had been addressed to him: 'Go and sell what you have and give it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me.' By such an oracle he was forthwith converted to thee.

     "So I quickly returned to the bench where Alypius was sitting, for there I had put down the apostle's book when I had left there. I snatched it up, opened it, and in silence read the paragraph on which my eyes first fell: 'Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.' I wanted to read no further, nor did I need to. For instantly, as the sentence ended, there was infused in my heart something like the light of full certainty and all the gloom of doubt vanished away."

     Augustine finished teaching his courses and withdrew with his mother and his best friends, who became Christians with him, to a country villa in Cassiacum, where they spent their time in prayer and philosophical conversation—in which Monica too took an active part. At one time, the group had come to an agreement that to be happy a person must have the things he desires. Monica interrupted with an important distinction: “If he wishes to possess good things, he is happy; if he desires evil things, no matter if he possesses them, he is wretched.” Augustine told her that she spoke like a master philosopher and compared her to Cicero himself.

     After this retreat, Augustine concluded that he should begin his work for God in Africa, his home, and he and Monica made the journey down to Ostia where we find them in Book Nine, "refreshing themselves from their journey, and preparing for the greater voyage"—for Monica the voyage to the other world, for Augustine the Herculean work of his life, as teacher, pastor, bishop, and thinker. He was to face the collapse of the Roman empire and the sweeping away of the world of Classical antiquity, and lay the groundwork for a new culture. He is perhaps the single most important thinker, laborer, and architect for the founding of the new Europe whose rich and radiant humanity was to shine in the works of Dante, Aquinas, and Shakespeare, a culture grounded (as Pope Benedict has said) in the profound rapport between what is Greek and Roman—in the best senses of those words—and what is revealed in Scripture.

Original post here: Good

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Weekend Sailing/Camping in Harbor Springs

Joe and I have been planning a shakedown sail on his late 70's Chrysler C22. It's only 22' long, but packs a lot of cabin room for such a small boat. At 3000lbs, it's big for a trailer sailor but is small enough to launch from a truck. We spent a day practicing stepping and unstepping the mast in the driveway and have many ideas for improving the process to the point where it can be a single-handed operation. Originally, we considered an expedition from South Haven to Saugetuck, but as it was Labor Day with limited slips available and we were new to the boat, we decided to try something a bit more conservative. For this trip we decided to stick to an area I was familiar with and use our family mooring in Harbor Springs as a base of operations as we learned about the boat.

Headed north with the Chrysler C22 in tow
Posed in front of the Wequetonsing Post Office while we picked up the dingy.
It took a while to rig and provision the boat, but we motored down to the mooring and prepared dinner under an improvised boom tent.
Pancakes and sausage for breakfast after our first night on the boat.
And we're off. A fresh breeze proved a bit too be a bit too much action fir the younger members of the crew, but we had plenty of time to practice tacking, jibing, and various points of sail up and down the Weque shore in the lea of point.
Enjoying the sights of the Harbor Saturday afternoon
Our improvised anchor light on the forestry. 
A lot was learned about the boat, its rigging, and sailing; what we do and don't need to pack for longer excursions; skills we need to practice; and additional skills and knowledge we need. Next summer, the plan is to sail from Harbor Springs down along the coast and across Grand Traverse Bay to Northport. This would be a great trip in the C22 or perhaps the Mariner if I can get it s bit more seaworthy this winter...

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A Halcyon Morning

The pasture across from our house in a blanket of mist this morning. These mornings are starting to get a bit chilly, even if the days are still hot.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Sailing the "Grebe"

After much work, some hastily done, my rescued Mariner 19 got some time on Little Traverse Bay this summer after years of disuse (more on the boat to come). It is a joy to sail and seems to be a hit with the whole family. Now that she has proven herself, I think I'm ready to allocate a bit more time into further work on her. I hope to record further repairs, restorations, and improvements to the "Grebe" here.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Vintagent Features the Janus Documentary

The vintagent has selected our documentary for his new website!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Mast Raising on a Chrysler C22

A friend brought his sailboat by for a preparatory daysail last Sunday. We are planing a 3-day voyage from Grand Haven to Saugetuck in two weeks and I wanted some experience with the boat prior to taking it out on Lake Michigan. After the relative ease of mast raising on my very light little Mariner 19 "Grebe", I was not prepared for the operation it would take to step the heavy mast on a Chrysler C22. The C22 is a trailer sailor, but about as big as they come. Heavy, well ballasted, and rigged for adventures further from shore. We spent 3 hours test stepping and lowerering the mast in my driveway and decided against doing it all over at the boat launch without a bit more research... We managed to jury rig a gin pole and mast bridle out of a 2X4 and some spare line, but it was not a perfect system, and was quite nerve racking to raise and lower. Turns out we were very close to figuring it out, but not quite. Apparently the C22 mast can be stepped single-handed with the right experience and equipment. I will say, once everything was rigged, it was a very straightforward operation, perhaps easier even than the Mariner. You're just dealing with four times the weight. With a bit of research and sketching, I look forward to trying this again and actually going sailing in this great boat.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Back out of all this now too much for us

I have been thinking a lot lately about the incredible waste of time represented by "social media". While I have not yet reached the ultimate goal of no cellphone or perhaps a "dumb" phone, a return to the old blog and a more mindful online interaction is perhaps a good first step. I have finally been able to divest myself of the burden of Facebook (I may still forward posts there and maintain desktop interaction with friends and family that I would not otherwise be able to stay in touch with) and am planning further online self-emancipations. But this old blog has always been a source of enjoyment and a meaningful way of sharing thoughts, experiences, information, and intellectually stimulating stories, etc. from the internet. The internet does, after all, provide an incredible resource when used responsibly. As always, this is more a series of spontaneous, informal pensées than a polished essay, but at least it won't be a "status update" (thinking about it, what a ridiculous term that is). So, there it is. In the words of Frost, "back out of all this now too much for us"...

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Color Coordinated

Our customer, Mark, picked up his Halcyon 250 today in his matching 80's Ford pickup.