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ARCHIVED ENTRIES FOR AUGUST 2014

August  31,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The puritan is a pervert, the whole of his sense of mental corruption is squirted down a single groove of sex.  The scale and proportion of evil, as delimited in Dante's hell (or the catholic hell) was obliterated by the Calvinist and Lutheran churches.  I don't mean to say that these heretics cut off their ideas of damnation all at once, suddenly or consciously, I mean that the effect of Protestantism has been . . . to obliterate values, to efface grades and graduations.

--Guide to Kulchur by Ezra Pound

August  30,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

[T]he "often thought yet ne'er so well express't" angle very often means that the idea is NOT thought at all by the expressor during or preceding the moment of expression.  It is picked up and varnished, or, at best, picked up and rubbed, polished etc.

Hence ultimately a greater trust in rough speech than in eloquence.

--Guide to Kulchur by Ezra Pound

August  29,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Consult a small man or a fussy man or an idle man, if collaborating perforce with such.  With a large man or a busy man, consult as little as possible.  Present the fait accompli.  He will prefer an error on your part to a waste of his own time, or a sign that you cannot make a decision.

--Guide to Kulchur by Ezra Pound

August  28,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

I can not over-emphasize the assertion that the Catholic Church rotted when its hierarchy ceased to believe its own dogma.  Cavour was the best XIXth century friend of the Church.  The Church rises with the rise of civilization around it.  There is an infinite gulf between the Italian church in our time and what was in Cardinal Antonelli's.  Shaw made at least one valid assertion in saying: conversion of savage to Xtianity = conversion of Xtianity to the savage.

--Guide to Kulchur by Ezra Pound

[N.B.:  At least Pound is an equal-institution offender.  The point, by the bye, that Pound is trying to make in his sketchy way is that the Church is better off with a civilized, unified Italy as championed by Cavour then a mess of feuding, uncivilized principalities as sought by Cardinal Antonelli (sometimes referred to as the "Italian Richelieu.")]

August  27,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

When a code ceases to be regarded as an approximate expression of principles, or of a principle, and is exalted to the rank of something holy in itself, perversion ineluctably sets in.  The attempt to square nature with the code, leads perforce to perverted thinking.  The Mohammedans killed off their own civilization, or at least truncated and maimed it out of 90% of its vitality.  All through an exaltation of conformity and orthodoxy.

Code-worship appertains properly to tribes arrested at nomad level.

--Guide to Kulchur by Ezra Pound

[N.B.:  Pound wrote these words in 1938--I wonder if he would dare write them today.  Then again, he was a crazy crank, so . . . yep.]

August  26,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The supreme crime in a critic is dullness.  The supreme evil committable by a critic is to turn men away from the bright and the living.  The ignominious failure of ANY critic (however low) is to fail to find something to arouse the appetite of his audience, to read, to see, to experience.

It is the critic's BUSINESS adescare to lure the reader.  Caviar, vodka, any hodge-podge of oddities that arouse hunger or thirst is pardonable to the critic.

He is not there to satiate.  A desire on his part to point out his own superiority over Homer, Dante, Catullus and Velasquez, is simple proof that he has missed his vocation.  any ass knows that Dante was not a better racing driver than Barney Oldfield, and that he knew less of gramophones than the late Mr Edison.

--Guide to Kulchur by Ezra Pound

August  25,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

I mean to say that one measure of a civilization, either of an age or of a single individual, is what that age or person really wishes to do.  A man's hope measures his civilization.  The attainability of the hope measures, or may measure, the civilization of his nation and time.

--Guide to Kulchur by Ezra Pound

[N.B.:  Fortunately we have the internet so we never have to ask this question but instead can constantly update our Facebook status.]

August  24,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

When they were bound to the stake, Ridley said, in order to console Latimer (think the contemporary anonymous writer): "It will not be long before we are together in the same place."  Then fire was set to the faggots.  The wind blew the fire and smoke towards Latimer, thereby exploding the bags of gunpowder tied to him, so that--calling on the Heavenly Father--he died.  But on account of this same wind Ridley was only touched by the summit of the flames and cried out miserably in the fire.  His brother, pitying him, piled up the faggots, which only damped the fire; but at last it reached him and the powder, and he too suddenly fell.  The crowd said: "would that they had been burnt earlier, for then we should have had better crops."

--Cranmer by Hilaire Belloc

August  23,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

We know it now, and from at least the middle of the seventeenth century, the restoration of the Stuarts, that is for nearly three hundred years or even longer, men have realized what a treasure of prose they possessed in the English Prayer Book.

It is by that quality that Cranmer has impressed himself upon history.  Thereby, through the Litany which is from his hand, through the collects, through the prefaces, through the admirable music of the special prayers, mainly due to his invention, he gave a strenth to the newly established religion which it could never have drawn from any other source.  He provided a substitute for the noble Latin rhythms on which the soul of Europe had been formed for more than a thousand years, and he gave to the Church of England a treasure by the aesthetic effect of which more than by anything else her spirit has remained alive and she has attached to herself the hearts of men.

--Cranmer by Hilaire Belloc

[N.B.:  Belloc wrote this book in 1931, just three short years after a revision of The book of Common Prayer was brought forth that could be adopted as an alternative.  This turned out to be an unsatisfactory compromise and no further attempts were made to revise Cranmer's book but rather alternative books were introduced pell-mell from the 1950s through the 2000s.  And the result?]

August  22,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Now, in this new vernacular service, he not only omitted whatever would emphasize the Real Presence but also the Sacrificial quality of the Mass.  This was called, in the English of the day, its "satisfactory" character--by which word was meant the doctrine that the Mass was offered up to God in satisfaction, a perpetually renewed sacrifice of Calvary, having effect for the living and the dead.  For the Mass was and is in the eyes of Catholics that by which the Crucifixion is extended throughout time, and the consecration n the Mass is also the vehicle whereby Jesus Christ remains perpetually and corporally present among men, not through their imagination and opinions but in the Sacrament Itself, whether men be present to worship It or not.

--Cranmer by Hilaire Belloc

August  21,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Latin not only represented a mysterious sanctity but it stood for the universality of the Mass, common everywhere throughout the West.  And though not one word of the whole Sacrifice were uttered, though it had all been in dumb show, no more than a series of acts, it would still have been for the bulk of Englishmen the central religious mystery which they had attended all their lives and their fathers before them from generation to generation, from what may be called the beginning of English time; for the Mass is not a set of prayers: it is a drama.

But, for those who were intent upon the political and religious revolution they had taken in hand, the use of the vernacular was essential.  It helped to destroy the sense of mystery and by it the power of the clergy; it made the new religion national; it broke down that general unity of religion throughout the West on which was founded the hieratic authority of the universal Church with the Pope at its head, and to destroy that unity the destruction of the Mass was essential.

--Cranmer by Hilaire Belloc

August  20,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Though the word "King" be no longer used, though the word "Divine" has fallen out of fashion, the strength of the thing is as vigorous as ever.  The lay state is sovereign; it claims undivided allegiance; it has full power over the bodies and souls of Christian men; it admits n superior authority to represent the universality of Christendom or the Christian moral law; it stands equal and independent with other states, its like, round about it.  The Christian Commonwealth of which each Christian state had been but a province and a part is wholly denied: for the Divine right has passed from the religion by which Europe once lived to governments which are but the heirs of the Kings.  That Divine Right still rules.  and against it the citizen has to-day no power at all.

--Cranmer by Hilaire Belloc

[N.B.:  What is remarkable about the United States is that it was the first attempt to abolish this Divine Right of Government in favor of the People, but, of course that has proven a failure--and an early one too.  The adoption of the Doctrine of Sovereign Immunity occurred near the beginning of its history.]

August  19,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The chief historical thing was the new pronouncement which Cranmer made.  For the congregation saw advancing down the Choir the Archbishop, with his heavy face and weak eyes, who, lifting his hand, gave them no homily but such a declaration of doctrine as Europe had not yet heard.  It was not addressed to the Peers, or the people, or the Churchmen, but to the little frail figure in the dalmatic and the robes upon the throne.  And this was what he said:

That no matter what promise the boy might have made, no matter what engagements made or oaths taken, his right to rule the English was from God and God alone.  None could constrain him, none cold question him, least of all the Church--or him whom men had held from immemorial time to be the spokesman and ruler of the Church, the Pope.  No action of Edward's own or of another could separate him from that Crown which he now wore, nor could any deprive him of it.  The little chap was God's Vice-Regent upon earth and Christ's Vicar.

For the first time men had heard in England--loudly proclaimed--and in the seat of the English Kings, in Westminster Abbey--that strange new doctrine which was to be of such prodigious effect throughout the world, the DIVINE RIGHT OF KINGS: the new Protestant doctrine, fruitful of many things.

--Cranmer by Hilaire Belloc

August  18,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Cranmer's motive was quite other.  He was not ambitious for power, he was not greedy for wealth, but in all his weakness and vacillations and servile attendance upon power, the solid inward kernel of his thought was still the passion to destroy that which he, with so many more outspoken, much more determined, men--careless as he could never be of consequence--now hated, the ancient ecclesiastical structure of Christendom.  To replace it by what he and his called "The Gospel," to erect in its place what ultimately was erected--a personal religion based upon private emotion, and, when it sought authority, clinging to private interpretation of Scripture as the alternative to the external authority of the Church--this was Cranmer's inner motive.  He desire what he could not then enjoy but what he looked for in the long run, a day in which that detestable mummery of the Mass which he himself was constrained to celebrate continually in such pomp would be done away with, and when the Sacrament of the Altar, as Papists called it, should be shown for the base thing it was--no more than bread.

--Cranmer by Hilaire Belloc

August  17,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Julian said with a responsible air, "Bradley, I'm very sorry I got that all wrong."

"Nobody could have got it right.  Real misery cuts off all paths to itself." 

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

August  16,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

She looked raffish, but had put on a self-consciously humble young person's expression, the kind of expression which says: I know I'm the youngest person present and very inexperienced and unimportant but I shall do my best to be helpful and it is very kind of you to pay any attention to me at all.  This attitude is of course a special kind of vanity.  The young are self-satisfied really and utterly ruthless. 

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

August  15,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Some clever writer (probably a Frenchman) has said: It is not enough to succeed; others must fail. 

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

[N.B.:  There was also this once semi-popular author, at least among a certain class of people who thought that intellectual superiority and "edginess" could be found in the pages of the New Yorker, named, of all things, Gore Vidal (a wonderfully Dickinson name--all that needed to be added was some gross personal tic such as picking at the carbuncles of one's face) who also favored this quotation.]

August  14,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

When one has a secret source of satisfaction it is pleasing to talk of everything in the world but that.

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

August  13,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

There are no spare unrecorded incapsulated moments in which we can behave "anyhow" and then expect to resume life where we left off.  The wicked regard time as discontinuous, the wicked dull their sense of natural causality.  The good feel being as a total dense mesh of tiny interconnections.  My lightest whim can affect the whole future.  Because I smoke a cigarette and smile over an unworthy thought another man may die in torment. 

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

August  12,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

As it was, I was humiliated and defeated in her humiliation and defeat.  I tasted injustice and the special horror of seeing its perpetrators flourish.  How frequent and how bitter is this aspect of human wretchedness.  The wicked prosper in front of our eyes and go on and on and on prospering.  What a blessing it must have been once to be able to believe in hell.  A great and deep human consolation was lost to us when that ancient and respectable belief faded from our minds.  Yet there was more offence even than that, something profoundly ugly and repulsive to me: that vision of Roger with his grey hair and his genial pseudo-distinguished air of an ageing worldly man, holding a girl who could be his daughter, a girl unused, unmarked and fresh.  That particular juxtaposition of youth and age offends, and, I felt, offends rightly.

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

August  11,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

They were shooting pigeons.  What an image of our condition, the loud report, the poor flopping bundle upon the ground, trying helplessly, desperately, vainly to rise again.  Through tears I saw the stricken birds tumbling over and over down the sloping roofs of warehouse.  I saw and heard their sudden weight, their pitiful surrender to gravity.  How hardening to the heart it must be to do this thing: to change an innocent soaring being into a bundle of struggling rags and pain.  I was looking at a ship's funnel and it was yellow and black against a sky of tingling lucid green.  Life is horrible, horrible, horrible, said the philosopher.

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

August  10,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

When the believer, fortunate man, asks God to forgive not only the sins he can remember, but also the sins he cannot remember, and, more touching still, the sins he cannot even recognize, so benighted is he, as sins at all, the sense of liberation and subsequent calm must be tremendous.

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

August  9,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Almost any tale of our doings is comic.  We are bottomlessly comic to each other.  Even the most adored and beloved person is comic to his lover.  The novel is a comic form. Language is a comic form, and makes jokes in its sleep.  God, if He existed, would laugh at His creation.  Yet it is also the case that life is horrible, without metaphysical sense, wrecked by chance, pain and the close prospect of death.  Out of this is born irony, our dangerous and necessary tool.

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

August  8,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Art (as I observed to young Julian) is the telling of truth, and is the only available method for the telling of certain truths.  Yet how almost impossibly difficult it is not to let the marvels of the instrument itself interfere with the task to which it is dedicated.  There are those who will only praise an absolute simplicity, and for whom the song-bird utterance of the so-called primitive is the measure of all, as if truth ceases to be when it is not stammered.  And there are of course divinely cunning simplicities in the works of those whom I hardly dare to name, since they are so near to gods.  (Gods one does not name.)  But though it may always be well to attempt simplification, it is not always possible to avoid at least an elegant complexity.  And then one asks, How can this also be "true"?  Is the real like this, is it this?  Of course, we may attempt to attain truth through irony.  (An angel might make of this a concise definition of the limits of human understanding.)

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

August  7,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

When I had finished writing this letter I was not only sweating, I was trembling and panting and my heart was beating viciously.  what emotion had so invaded me?  Fear?  It is sometimes curiously difficult to name the emotion from which one suffers.  The naming of it is sometimes unimportant, sometimes crucial.  hatred?

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

August  6,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Art is concerned not just primarily but absolutely with truth.  It is another name for truth.  The artist is learning a special language in which to reveal truth.  If you write, write from the heart, yet carefully, objectively.  Never pose.  Write little things which you think are true.  Then you may sometimes find that they are beautiful as well.

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

August  5,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The most important thing a writer must learn to do is to tear up what he has written.

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

August  4,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

What is ugly and undignified is hardest of all, harder than wickedness, to soften into a mutually acceptable past.  We forgive those who have seen us vile sooner than those who have seen us humiliated.

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

August  3,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

"And you don't mind poetry, prose--?"

"On no, not poetry.  I can't read poetry very well.  I'm keeping poetry for later on."

"The Iliad and the Divine Comedy are poems."

"Well, yes, of course they are, but I'd be reading them in a prose translation."

"So that disposes of that difficulty." 

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

August  2,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

"Well, all right, I might think about some books for you.  But I'm no creative-writing guru, I can't give time to-- What sort of books do you mean, anyway?  Like the Iliad, the Divine Comedy, or like Sons and Lovers, Mrs. Dalloway--?"

"Oh Iliad, Divine Comedy, please.  That's marvellous!  That's just it!  The big stuff!"

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

[N.B.:  More blasphemy!  Some great works are actually greater than others?  Why that suggests that any of such so-called "great" works are better than the latest edition of Batman.  No wonder Murdoch has fallen out of favor.]

August  1,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

"I know I'm not educated and I know I'm immature.  And this teachers' training place is hopeless.  I want you to give me a reading list.  All the great books I ought to read, but only the great ones and the hard ones.  I don't want to waste my time with small stuff.  I haven't got much time left now.  And I'll read the books and we could discuss them.  You could give me sort of tutorials on them.  And then, the second thing, I'd like to write things for you, short stories perhaps, or anything you felt I should write, and you'd criticize what I'd written.  You see, I want to be really taken in hand.  I think one should pay so much attention to technique, don't you?  Like learning to draw before you paint. 

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

[N.B.:  Blasphemy!  What heretic would suggest one should actually read the best ever written before embarking on the more intrinsically interesting journey of forging from the coffee grinder of one's soul the limerick of one's race.]