Friday, October 31, 2014

Aphorism III

The ideal Catholic modern art has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Oct. 25 Medjugorje Message

"Dear children! Pray in this time of grace and seek the intercession of all the saints who are already in the light. From day to day may they be an example and encouragement to you on the way of your conversion. Little children, be aware that your life is short and passing. Therefore, yearn for eternity and keep preparing your hearts in prayer. I am with you and intercede before my Son for each of you, especially for those who have consecrated themselves to me and to my Son. Thank you for having responded to my call."

Friday, October 24, 2014

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Some Links

"I cannot waste any more time debating with those who are “little popes,” who refuse to humbly and carefully examine the facts and what our Tradition teaches; those cowards who stand at a distance casting stones over the Vatican walls at the Holy Father; those armchair theologians who judge and condemn as though they sat on thrones ("super apostles" as St. Paul called them); those who, hiding behind avitars and anonymous names, betray Christ and the family of God by attacking the rock which He established; those who passively-aggressively obey the Holy Father while casting him in deep suspicion, harming the faith of the little ones, and dividing families through fear." --Mark Mallett, The Testing

Other posts by Mark Mallett:

Can a Pope be a Heretic?

The Five Corrections

Steady as She Goes

The Synod and the Spirit

Not Oak

Oak leaves are the most intransigent corpses,
piling over ground, slathering roads,
a ply of tannin shield that holds
their dead selves undissolving, past the maple's
matting litter pulp, and grass-eaten coins
of the katsura, aspen, birch.

Maple too is nemesis to sewer drains.
But oak the all-weathering Saxon,
has the whole of fall and winter for its fain
dropping and clinging, such that on
oak leaves strewing, there resides a cohering air,
not much changed in colour from colour,

hardened without crumbling, no sunset blood
in them, such as maples lave in floods
that gives the raker some exchange. Not oak.
And so also its thousand-raining acorns.
And so its trunk and limbs - unending presence.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Pride is from hell

Two classic essays by the master essayist G.K. Chesterton are on humility and pride.

Here is a quote from the essay on pride, entitled, If I Had Only One Sermon To Preach:

"There is produced also a sort of subconscious ossification; which hardens the mind not only against the traditions of the past, but even against the surprises of the future. Nil admirari becomes the motto of all nihilists; and it ends, in the most complete and exact sense, in nothing."

Here is a quote from Pope Francis' closing speech for the Synod:

"One, a temptation to hostile inflexibility [trans: rigidity], that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises, (the spirit); within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve."

Here is another quote from the pride essay:

"The moment the self within is consciously felt as something superior to any of the gifts that can be brought to it, or any of the adventures that it may enjoy, there has appeared a sort of self-devouring fastidiousness and a disenchantment in advance, which fulfils all the Tartarean emblems of thirst and of despair."

Here is another quote from Pope Francis' closing speech:

"...and also to transform the bread into a stone and cast it against the sinners, the weak, and the sick (cf Jn 8:7), that is, to transform it into unbearable burdens (Lk 11:46)."


"The temptation to neglect the “depositum fidei” [the deposit of faith], not thinking of themselves as guardians but as owners or masters [of it]..."

Here is a quote from G.K.C.'s essay on humility, A Defense Of Humility:

"Looking down on things may be a delightful experience, only there is nothing, from a mountain to a cabbage, that is really seen when it is seen from a balloon. The philosopher of the ego sees everything, no doubt, from a high and rarified heaven; only he sees everything foreshortened or deformed."

Here is a quote from Pope Francis' closing speech:

"And this is the Church, the vineyard of the Lord, the fertile Mother and the caring Teacher, who is not afraid to roll up her sleeves to pour oil and wine on people’s wound; who doesn’t see humanity as a house of glass to judge or categorize people."


"Many commentators, or people who talk, have imagined that they see a disputatious Church where one part is against the other, doubting even the Holy Spirit, the true promoter and guarantor of the unity and harmony of the Church – the Holy Spirit who throughout history has always guided the barque, through her Ministers, even when the sea was rough and choppy, and the ministers unfaithful and sinners."

Anyways, my allegiance is with Peter.

"When we shut our door on the wind, it would be equally true to say that the wind shuts its door on us. Whatever virtues a triumphant egoism really leads to, no one can reasonably pretend that it leads to knowledge. Turning a beggar from the door may be right enough, but pretending to know all the stories the beggar might have narrated is pure nonsense; and this is practically the claim of the egoism which thinks that self-assertion can obtain knowledge." --G.K. Chesterton, A Defense Of Humility

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Intellectual Pride

Great is the fall that goes with that sin.

Great and hard and horrible and complete.

It is the masterpiece of sin.

Great, hard, horrible and complete.

It is the worst of the worst.

Write it on a sticky note.

Stick it on the fridge.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Friday, October 17, 2014

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Basic money stuff

So a government "borrows" 4 billion dollars to have a bridge built.

The money did not exist before, whether the bank from which it "borrows" is publicly owned (as in Canada) or private (as in the U.S.).

This is a transaction. The transaction is what brings that money into existence. The money did not exist before. That is the way it works. The promise to pay 4 billions dollars, plus compounding interest on top of the four billion dollars over time, is what brings the money into existence.

So the government makes this transaction with the bank in order to get a bridge built. Commuters have to pay a toll fee for thirty plus years. They have to pay the fee (whether a direct fee or through taxes) for thirty plus years in order to "pay off" the "cost" to build the bridge which also includes compounding interest. It will take thirty plus years to "pay off" the "cost" to build the bridge mostly because of compounding interest - compounding interest on the money that was "borrowed" that didn't exist before it was "borrowed".

Just a moment...ROFLMAO!!!!!

Anyways, where was I? Oh yes, debt as a precursor and attachment to the issuance of money.

Though that bridge has been built, has been completed, and you can touch the bridge, and it is a solid bridge and a stable bridge, and you can drive across it (paying a fee both ways), yet it is not actually wealth evidence.

Why and how so? Precisely because the transaction has not been completed.

It is in effect a thirty plus year transaction. Debt and delay: the velocity with which transactions come to completion does one say...of the essence.

Velocity does not mean "efficiency" or "speed" necessarily. We are talking about proportionality. Attaching thirty plus years onto the building of a bridge is wickedly disproportionate.

We really need to understand what sort of burden debt causes - and for what?

Money can be inflated, deflated, brought to a grinding crash, whatever - and resurrected the very next day. Gold is given value. Moreover, we owners of gold give gold value precisely through transaction. Transaction is the way in which gold receives its value by owners of gold. Then they up the ante of its value further through high frequency trading. It's all fiat no matter what.

Money is a sterile instrument. Money is a means. Saving? Saving implies spending, by someone, at some point. Save a bunch of money. Don't spend it but pass it on to your inheritor. And he in turn does not spend it but passes it on to his inheritor. That one in turn does not spend it but passes it on to his inheritor, and so on, and on, all the way to doomsday. That money is worth less than nothing. That money which has been saved all the way to doomsday is in fact less than waste. A man cutting down a big old tree just for the sake of letting it rot into the ground would be better, for at least he has provided the ecosystem with the nutrition and good bacteria of its decomposition.

Proportion: the quantity of money issued into circulation without debt to anyone by a transparent agency held to account by the public.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The crucified is more defenseless than a bird
whose wings have been beaten of their symmetry
in love's descent; gathering pinions spurned.
He does not fly away until he dies, descends
for death, and love is the weight that lowers him
to pitiable state. From skin's fouled rents
sour spittle, light helplessly emanates:
face pouring face into wax of souls
that mangle him and murder; blood and light
going perfectly up through cruelties devised
with atoning wings: Filius ad Patrem.
Depths of exile past our own - coruscating
nether dark with its own defeat and death.
Upbraiding every naked nerve
until pouring out the soul-fruit’s pit,
cruciforming outward until it splits
in bleated-blood-bloom germination,
parts from broken lips: Pax Christi.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Dark Horse Fourth

Reading this wikipedia entry on Rachmaninoff's fourth concerto makes we want to read a biography. It is worth the read - very interesting.

I know that saying Rachmaninoff had a dark horse in his oeuvre is kind of like saying that Andrei Tarkovsky had a masterpiece in his. So while I think there is something dark horse about all of Rachmaninoff's music, there is something especially dark horse about his fourth concerto. But as his pieces are also frequently masterpieces, his fourth is in my opinion the best of his concertos.

It's not that I'm just a sucker for dark horses (I am) but what is in fact initially dark horse is actually that magnanimity; that expansiveness-from-inwardness carrying an internal logic; that generosity which doesn't care about showing off, but would rather have your ear as collaborator in listening; that special quality of Rachmaninoff that has pleased me so much since listening to his work with some semblance of attention (not the studied sort).

I simply cannot understand the ridiculous viciousness of some of his critics back in the day. Were they so glutted with the repertoire of the intelligentsia that they were rendered totally deaf and stupid and robbed of all sensibility and sensitivity?

From comments I've read, some people say that Rachmaninoff was insecure, and it was this that led him to constantly revisit his fourth, cutting it down each time. I don't know anything about his life, but I wonder if it was rather that the same receptive sensitivity that gave birth to his music was also the same sensitivity that rendered him particularly vulnerable to criticism. A blessing and a curse.

My first hearing of the fourth concerto was - as with most - the "final" version. I loved it then and still love it, but when I listened to the original I was quietly gobsmacked. What was wrong with it?! It was perfect! As one commenter wrote on youtube, "it breathes". Indeed.

Nonetheless, I love both; I love how it emerges whole-cloth. Just listen to that opening! I thank God for such music. Rachmaninoff's music suits me down to my bones.

And here is the original (it bugs me that the person posted it in parts according to movements - meh):

Saturday, October 11, 2014


"Women who satisfy their vanity in their dress can never put on the life of Jesus Christ; moreover they even lose the ornaments of their soul as soon as this idol enters into their heart." --St. Padre Pio

Beautiful Middle-Earth Art

Along with Cor Blok and Sergei Iukhimov, Jef Murray is my favourite living Middle-earth artist. Unlike the two former, Murray is solidly in the western-baroque tradition. I find his images are literalist but "with space". In many of his images there is a meditative quality - even when they are gloriously lavish with sensual light and thundering waves and powerful mountains - that keeps them from being illustrative; they draw upon the books, but in a deep sense, so that they exist as images in their own right. He's able to dramatize without killing the image. His paintings explore from the inside.

This is also the reason why the commentary he writes for each image gives a narrative as though he was actually present in what he has painted. And in a way, he has been.

I always look forward to his latest work. Among his most recent batch there is this image of a giant with a club - entitled "Forest Dweller" - that I found mesmerizing and frightening (in the best way). It could be a troll from The Hobbit.

If you haven't been, do check out his work, and sign up for his newsletter.

Friday, October 10, 2014

There are a million thoughts in the mind of the swallow
when it flitters wings to an inborn sickle,
and gulfed in silent burning air - of evening's hallow,
all the spectral human buzzing becomes full fickle.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Lilies that fester

"A theologian who does not love art, poetry, music and nature can be dangerous. Blindness and deafness toward the beautiful are not incidental: they necessarily are reflected in his theology." --Cardinal Ratzinger, The Ratzinger Report

Does reactionary campaigning for pastiche-as-traditional-art count for love of art?

No. It could be included in the category of those who have no love for art. In fact, they could be considered even more dangerous. For they do not merely stay out of the field like a bunch of philistines, but positively infect the field with a false consolidation. And art comes from being at play in the fields of the Lord, which are inexhaustible. Those fields know not any reactionary stringency, political propaganda, however much it may be in the name of tradition.

Remember when Rorate Caeli posted an article speculating about the work of Tolkien as being Gnostic?

And then they refused to link to any sort of rebuttal unless the person rebutting was a "traditional" priest?

Reactionary campaigning. Pastiche. Internet. Deadly. Dangerous, spiritually.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Glory-bound, leaf-capering October:
you forge streets fit for a daunting king
but make way to burnish a young girl's brown hair;
the death of leaves you make an offering.
To breathe your unadulterated air
is to be both drunk and sober.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Friday, October 3, 2014

Cornus Kousa!

Grows well in PNW as in other places. Collected for seed. Easy to grow from seed. Fruit is sweet and mild. Has to be fully ripe. Looks like martian eggs.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The threat to art is no longer post-modernist ugliness

Pastiche is not just pastiche. It is not just empty forms about which we could say, "It may be pastiche, but at least it is some kind of preservation of the past forms; at least it's better than brutalist modern ugliness." Such thinking is idiotic. The forms of the past (and carried forward) were a cooperative with the inspiration under which they came; you are not only falsifying the past, but erecting barriers into the future. There is no such thing as pastiche that preserves anything. For it is positive mockery, regardless of the intent of the pastiche-maker. Pastiche is ten times deadlier than post-modernist, brutalist, deconstructionist art. That's not hyperbole. I say that in dead earnest seriousness. Those who do not see this, yet claim to care about tradition, positively settling with pastiche if only in some kind of "for the meantime" as at least preserving past forms, are not to be trusted, in my opinion. They do not know what they are talking about.

And no, that does not mean that conservative copying of past works necessarily equals pastiche, just in the same way that liberal expressionism does not necessarily equal ugliness. (I use the terms "conservative" and "liberal" as extreme shorthand by the way, and with much loathing for the inadequacy of the terms, not to mention their inaccuracy.) The whole point about pastiche is in its attaining. Professional perfectionism and pastiche are convertible. Perfectionism is ultimately pastiche. Perfectionism is highly imperfect. One is starting from the wrong place. It is the failure of achieving exactly what you set out to achieve. Thus, relying on perfectionism will only show up as as something very flawed, flabby, shallow, imperfect. The higher its perfectionism the greater it stands there like a lump of coal. Nor is the "solution" to be understood as some balance between techni and spontaneity.