Monday, January 31, 2011

Max Monday

Sea and Clouds, By Max Beckmann

North Sea I, with Thunderstorm, By Max Beckmann

Friday, January 28, 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Medium: HB Pencil


"'Yet such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere.'" --Elrond in The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien

At Shores of the Sea of Blood

I don't know if there's a name for this type of time travel scenario that many are familiar with: the one in which the traveler goes back to an ancient moment, squishes a mosquito, and the singular act has cataclysmic consequences for the time from which he came. Surely delicate could be postulated as part of its title. Was it H.G. Wells who came up with it?

Something of the idea behind that scenario comes to mind sometimes when thinking about abortion. Mouthpieces for the abortion industry have said on numerous occasions, in reference to the impossible-to-fully-fathom number of abortions committed, that they have saved the world from that many more murderers, rapists, criminals and just overall, from consumers depleting resources.

To which many a commentator has responded: and what about those inventors, innovators, geniuses, healers, among which was perhaps the person who was to cure cancer and AIDS?

To some, among those who think that abortion is evil, it may be no more than that - an abstract speculation, because perhaps at heart they believe that it doesn't really matter what we do or have done: God's Providence rules as an Iron Fist (in which case it is not true providence) and our participation in it is, at best, only a sort of puppetry on which grace is, as on the Jansenist, wasted.

Considering (granted one could genuinely consider for a sustained amount of time) the number of abortions that have been committed in North America alone, the possibility becomes haunting; the very real possibility that we aborted, say, the person who was to cure cancer; or who was to give birth to the person who would cure cancer, or who was to give birth to the person who would give birth to the person who would lay the groundwork for the person to accidentally find the cure for cancer.

"Cancer" here is to be used as a synonym for any bad thing, physical or spiritual, with which our age has been afflicted.

Maybe God has sent us His salve and mercy directly on route through the ways in which we have most offended Him. If people stopped killing the unborn (and born) babies, there would not be some other reward like a bonus given after having done His will; but His healing, His "reward", would come directly from and through those children.

Abortion is not evil for the reason of negating blessings upon ourselves, but we ought to consider how we have truly unblessed ourselves through abortion.

This "ourselves" language is used in as direct and simple a meaning as possible. Abortion is public: it is a vast sea of blood at the center of our civilization. All manner of responses are drawn from people, and all people, whether or no they will it, are drawn to those shores - or to their rumour. Abortion is impossible to ignore; it keeps coming back. And it has not been brought about in the main by feminism but by fatherlessness. Feminism was a mediation of sorts that came after. Try not taking all the credit there, ladies.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Medium: HB Pencil

Monkey Puzzle

The day after my mother died I went to Redwood Park in the late afternoon for some fresh air and space. The gloaming was too deep to get any drawing done, but I found under the two monkey puzzle trees a solitary seed. This tends to be somewhat rare, as the squirrels have a voracious appetite for them.

It was a couple years back that I found three seeds under the two trees and planted them, out of which one took. Now, it is this:

I was giving up on the seed which I most recently brought home. I had it planted in a little clay pot on top of the fridge. The pot kept getting some mould on the outside of it, and whenever I pulled out the seed to check for that wonderful sight of the white taproot coming out, my hopes were dashed, and there would be mould spots on the seed.

Just today, a bit more than a month and a half since planting, I pulled out the seed and found this:

And this afternoon I went to Redwood Park and hit the jackpot:

Better now

Vomiting is one of the most miraculous of the biological phenomena that God wove into our bodies - like a microcosm of the overhauling quickness of His cleansing power. For who would say that deliverance from the brink of dizzying uncertainty - when, hovering at the toilet bowl the soul prays, please, please, just let me throw up, and lo, your prayer is answered, and streams lead to further streams, causing one to contemplate the fascinating hydraulics by which the body seems to take care of itself, and one's nausea is, on an instant, relieved, at least for ten minutes - who would say this is to be praised any less than another thing?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Saturday, January 8, 2011

At the new fruit's core is the tree's starting seed

In a powerful vision, St. Gertrude the Great (d. 1302) was allowed to rest her head near the wound in the Saviour’s breast. As she listened to His beating Heart, she asked St. John, the beloved Apostle, how it was that he, whose head had reposed on the breast of the Savior at the Last Supper, kept complete silence about the throbbing of the adorable Heart of his Master in his writings. She expressed regret to him that he had said nothing about it for our instruction. The saint replied to her:

My mission was to write for the Church, still in its infancy, something about the uncreated Word of God the Father, something which of itself alone would give exercise to every human intellect to the end of time, something that no one would ever succeed in fully understanding. As for the language of these blessed beats of the Heart of Jesus, it is reserved for the last ages when the world, grown old and become cold in the love of God, will need to be warmed again by the revelation of these mysteries. —Legatus divinae pietatis, IV, 305; "Revelationes Gertrudianae", ed. Poitiers and Paris, 1877

From Mark Mallett's The Last Effort

Friday, January 7, 2011

Card. Turkson on GMOs and High-tech Agriculture

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- If farmers in Africa had greater access to fertile, arable land safe from armed conflict and pollutants, they would not need genetically modified crops to produce food, said the head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Making growers reliant on proprietary, genetically modified seeds smacks of "the usual game of economic dependence," which in turn, "stands out like a new form of slavery," said Cardinal Peter Turkson.

The Ghanaian cardinal's comments came in an interview with the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano Jan. 5.

It is "a scandal" that nearly 1 billion people suffer from hunger, Cardinal Turkson said, especially since there is more than enough food to feed the whole world.

Crops and livestock are destroyed because of strict trade restraints or in order to keep food prices high and, in wealthier countries, edible food "is thrown in the garbage," he said.

"All it would take is a little bit more solidarity and much less egoism" and there would be enough food to nourish even twice the current world population, he said.

The cardinal said high-tech agricultural practices and techniques are all but useless in areas of conflict and areas that are ravaged by the exploitation of natural resources.

"In searching for and extracting petroleum, gold or precious minerals present under African soil, multinationals cause enormous damage: they excavate large pits and irreparably devastate fields and forests," he said. Whether such areas would ever be arable again is uncertain "even if one relied on genetically engineered plants."

Cardinal Turkson said some multinational companies are actively engaged in trying to persuade bishops in Africa to support greater use of genetically modified organisms.

"I think that the real issue is not being for or against GMO," he said.

There would be no need for such crops if African growers had access to fertile land that was "not destroyed, devastated or poisoned by the stockpiling of toxic waste" and if growers were able to benefit from the fruits of their labors by being allowed to set aside enough seeds for planting the next year and not be forced to continually buy genetically modified seeds from abroad, he said.

"Why force an African farmer to buy seeds produced in other lands and by other means? I'm beginning to wonder if behind this there isn't the usual game of maintaining economic dependence at all costs," he said.

Cardinal Turkson said he is not opposed to scientific and technological progress, but it's important to evaluate whether there is a real need for genetically modified crops.

He said people should "honestly ask themselves whether it's more about business trying to make somebody rich," which was "a reasonable suspicion" given the many examples of similar exploitation in Ghana.

The rest at: CNS

H/T: Spirit Daily

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Fatherless Artist

In a previous post, Faith, concerning the man in Spain who has been building a cathedral (not to any planned design, code, and without real structural integrity) for the past fifty years on his own, a reader - Catawissa Gazatteer - made the remark that "there's an analogy to our modern world in there someplace" - in regards to the haphazardness of the structure.

There could not be a closer metaphor - it's my contention - for the predicament of today's artist than this man who clearly has some particular undying faith; something inside him that God planted there, who at the same time, resorting to junk material and lacking foundational craftsmanship, must come to the sad realization of the extent of his limits - indeed, outright fallacy - when his art is given form without the objectivity that the Father gives.

Upon first viewing the video, it immediately brought to mind the Bell-maker at the end of Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev: some emissaries of the prince ride by a small town that has been ravaged by plague looking for a bell-maker who will make a great bell for the prince's new church. A young, waif-like man, little more than a boy, reclining against a low building tells them his father was the bell-maker but he's now dead from the plague, as is just about everyone else in the town, and that they should take him on as bell-maker, for he knows how to make bells.

The emissaries pass him off, and are riding away to another town, when the young man shouts after them insistently that he is the only one to whom his father passed on the secret of making bells. The emissaries ride back and take the young man. He's under commission now and if the bell he makes (requiring, among other things, expensive material from the prince) does not in the end ring it will cost his head.

Who is this boy? Does he know the secrets to making bells? What causes him to suddenly stand up and determine that the emissaries take him on as the bell-maker, his very life being at stake? Is he even the son of this now-dead bell-maker? Why does Andrei Rublev, under a self-imposed vow of silence and not having painted an icon in years, hover around the boy's bell-making operation, watching on? If the bell does not ring, does that necessarily mean that his father never passed on the secret? If the bell does ring, does that necessarily mean that his father did pass on the secret?

(You have to turn up the volume on these ones to hear them at all)

We are fatherless today, but we have the privilege of finding the father through faith - and that faith not only informing our work, but ushering in an entirely genuine Cultural Renewal. As I said in my comment to the previous post, our cultural heritage has a value of Zero if we do not have the faith which that man in Spain has - or greater than he has. See how he's given himself, his being, over to this folly completely?

Though, our cultural heritage having a value of Zero without faith does not mean the objective reality of symbols, which do not depend on our faith to be imparted, or indeed, to be real - are somehow dead without our faith giving them efficaciousness.

I'm simply talking about Catholic artists engaged in their work: we tend to take our faith for granted, Catholic artists not excepted. This is partly because faith has largely come to mean, as with conscience, a personalized, wholly subjective experience: it's my faith - as in my inherent powers. With this kind of nonsense that's been floating around for decades, it's no wonder any notion of faith is left on the back-burner.

But by leaving it on the back-burner we submit to that false idea of faith. So it is that we regard faith as a tool which we use to attain the object of our art. This is a kind of gnosticism. We seem to think it's enough that our faith is there while we speak in the language of art history - or that it must be there because we are speaking in the language of art history. We are a race of applicators - a race of gnostic applicators.

The faith of the artist is to expand as he plies his work; faith becomes of the essence, and that expansive faith is to be enfleshed as somehow the pinnacle end of that's artist's work - like a prayer that he has left behind for the uptake of others who come along and view the work: it's to break through the work.

It's not a very good way of putting it - mainly because it makes it sound somewhat melodramatic But it sounds that way because we have the wrong image and idea of faith.

How Green Was My River

Here is Fluorescein being used by the Illuminati to track the current patterns of Goldstream in Victoria on Vancouver Island for use in future chemical warfare:

I mean, they couldn't have at least waited until St. Patrick's Day?

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Professor!

Well, I made my toast to Beren on this his 119th birthday - a little something I picked up from The League - with a good glass of unchilled oatmeal stout, which is still being drunk as I write this.

I hope to ask Beren some time if my thoughts are correct in thinking that Saruman with his voice purposefully turned Radagast aside from his ultimate mission, even as early on as when they both arrived at the shores of Middle-earth. In other words, that it wasn't just Radagast being distracted by love of animals and such, but his being turned aside had something to do with the cunning of Saruman; Saruman's hating having to take Radagast along with him.

I know I'll be admitted (purely through love and mercy of course) into his company, granted I make it there, without having to first spend time apologizing for having made equivalent comparisons between The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter while I was on earth, unlike what many other Catholic bloggers will have to do.

Ah well.


Oh beer, you are so good;
you are my midnight food.
You are also finest proof
(no less than with the stars above)
of God's uncaused existence,

as has been already noted
by others numerous, before me.
Likewise the full grammatical sentence
that goes to build up paragraphs
without them being bloated.
Likewise the rolling seablue;
likewise the fitted horseshoe.

So many things prove as evidence
which do not remain mere evidences:
not mere items in a juried court,
to prove a hindsight case,
but stronger and stronger they become
to wash the Thomas doubts
and all the baleful bouts:

there is always oatmeal stout.

Medium: B Pencil

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Mark Mallett Interview

An Interview on the End Times from Mark Mallett on Vimeo.

Made to deny our senses

It's a scary thought, isn't it, to know that the epitome of our age is not to be found in our grand technological achievements, in our access to information or human development or knowledge or leaps in science, but by what is found in our dumpsters: billions of babies and astronomical amounts of food.

Would like to see this

Dive! Trailer from Compeller on Vimeo.

H/T for the video: The Aesthetic Elevator

The simple answer, which I'm sure the documentary gets to, is that grocery stores throw the food away instead of giving it away because otherwise people would be asking for the throwaway stuff before buying it. There's also the liability factor.

Of course it's wrong. The wrongness of it runs deep into the underpinnings of our society and culture, and does not just exist as a matter with the grocery stores themselves - something which I'm sure the documentary gets into as well.

A close friend of our family who we called uncle (and his wife, aunt) immigrated here in his youth from Denmark with his wife, and they homesteaded up northeast. They were in a sense pioneers. When they had retired, the time at which we knew them, a good few decades before they both died, they were pretty well off. But he, our uncle, dumpster-dived to the end of his days - and more so after his wife died. I went with him on a couple of occasions to help.

Knowing scarcity of food, or the acquaintance with labouring to make and get food and to preserve it - its existence in your life being entirely dependent on your time and effort - I guess that's something which does not really leave you, even when you have the money later on. At least that's what I understood, observing my uncle.

The grocery store at which he dumpster-dived later reconfigured their bin system, so that it was basically connected to the building and could not be accessed by anyone other than employees.

The waste of food is intimately connected with the production of food as a commodity. Many will say, but food is a commodity. In fact, you might say that, in the end of things, food is the only real commodity. Yes, in many ways it is. But the "commodity" we're talking about right now is something vastly removed from Harry walking to Tom's farm and saying he'll exchange some cedar shakes for a sack of potatoes. The very principle on which today's industrial farming is based is a monster. Hundreds upon hundreds upon thousands upon thousands of acres of land get literally raped - milked solely for profit. That's the short of it of course, but it's true.

And when corporations like Monsanto come along and try to tell us that they are feeding the world and keeping us all from starving, just remember certain things: how much goes to waste in such a system, not only after the grocery stores but before them, through transportation and packaging. Remember the multitude of things that go wrong when we are so disconnected from the production of what we eat. We become slaves. That's the main thing: we become servile. And people still starve. In fact, I think that after the right to life, the deep-seated issue of abortion, the issue of food and its control (and all the related issues of stewardship and creation) is the next big one, which for all the talk concerning it, to me is the baby elephant in the room that we are going to find, perhaps shortly, has suddenly grown to full size.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy Solemnity of Mary, Theotokos!

And happy New Year!

Yeah, the song either makes you kind of happy or it makes you kind of queasy. Sorry if it makes you queasy. When Knopfler's geetar starts up it makes me kind of happy - as in driving a rusted-out pick-up truck and doing a lawn-job in front of parliament happy.