Constantly Risking Absurdity
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
 
A Valuable Lesson

"Hey, Dr. S! Check this out, it's hillarious!"

"Hmm..."

"Err..." I'm thinking: "Oh shit..."

Lesson: Never assume that your philosophy professor's sense of humor is as vulgar as your own.

Santiago
 
Monday, August 15, 2005
 
Feast of the Assumption

(Cross-posted from Cahiers Peguy)

The universal calendar of Holy Mother Church deems August 15 the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the day when we remember Our Lady's rocket-firing up to the dizzying heights of ontological exaltation. But few outside of my native land will ever know that it is also the anniversary of the founding of the city of Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay, the first major Spanish post in the Rio de la Plata region in the southern cone of South America.

Notice that Asuncion was founded by the Spanish in 1537, four hundred and thirteen years before Pope Pius XII infallibly proclaimed the dogma of the Assumption in 1950. Not only does this corroborate the claim that belief in the dogma of the Assumption was already present in the deposit of faith way before Pius spoke ex cathedra (and some years before the Reformation, too), but it goes to show that Paraguayans are always on the cutting edge of doctrinal development.

I recall visiting the Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago last summer with this guy and witnessing a medieval design featuring the Assumption that dated back to 1396. So perhaps Paraguay wasn't first. But close.

To celebrate today, here's a few lines from Robert Lowell's poem, "Beyond the Alps," written to commemorate Pius' ex cathedra exclamation:

"When the Vatican made Mary's Assumption dogma,
the crowds at San Pietro screamed Papa.
The Holy Father dropped his shaving glass,
and listened. His electric razor purred,
his pet canary chirped on his left hand.
The lights of science couldn't hold a candle
to Mary risen--at one miraculous stroke,
angel-wing'd, gorgeous as a jungle bird!
but who believed this? Who could understand?
Pilgrims still kissed Saint Peter's brazen sandal.
The Duce's lynched, bare, booted skull still spoke.
God herded his people to the coup de grâce--
the costumed Switzers sloped their pikes to push,
O Pius, through the monstrous human crush. . . . "

Santiago

 
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
 
Sincere Apologies...

But it's the summertime. I am blogging periodically here.

Santiago
 
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
 
LitMap

The New York Times has a totally hip map of Manhattan Island, highlighting all the mythical literary spots of interest.

Santiago
 
Saturday, June 04, 2005
 
Booklists

From Human Events:

"The Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries."

"The Ten Books Every Student Should Read in College."

From Image:

"Top 100 books of the twentieth century."

Santiago
 
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
 
Soccer, Mozart, Hiatus

Hiatus

I will be travelling westward tomorrow morning on a weeklong retreat/vacation, sponsored by these people. I'm going on a media fast, so no blogging 'til I return (I doubt I could get access to a computer over there anyway). I will be driving to my destination, which of course means packing a copy of this book with me, because to read On the Road on the road is just too cliche not to do. Sort of like discussing Radiohead in a college dorm.

Mozart

This rendition of the Requiem is worth the price just for the essay by Luigi Giussani found in the liner notes. It's called "A 'Fount of Mercy' for Making Man Anew." An enticing passage:

Every phrase of the Requiem (as the music makes evident) begins with the undisupted affirmation of the dominion of justice and truth, and then is as though suddenly interrupted by something that comes in and mitigates unexpectedly the harshness of justice, the acrid affirmation of truth, softening it in a request, a supplication that knows it can be made.

I can't find the essay online, so you'd probably have to buy the CD to read it.

Soccer

From Zenit:

German Soccer Defers to Pope's Trip
ROME, MAY 25, 2005 (
Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI's visit to Germany for World Youth Day has led to a change in the country's soccer championship calendar. All games scheduled for Aug. 20 and 21 have been postponed to the following week, the German Soccer Federation announced. The Pope is scheduled to travel that weekend to Cologne, for the event expected to attract hundreds of thousands of young people. Both first- and second-division games have been deferred. Soccer is Germany's national sport.

It really tells you something about the Great Game of Soccer when a simple rescheduling makes for international news. I read somewhere that that great Argentine, Jorge Luis Borges, famous writer and famous soccer hater, deliberately scheduled a conference at the same time as the World Cup Final--when it was being held in his own city of Buenos Aires in 1978--as if to say, "There are greater things in the world than even this, the World Cup Final." A consensus on whether there actually is something greater than the World Cup Final--or better than winning the World Cup Final---probably does not exist among soccer fans worldwide. But it's nice to see that the Bundesliga (the German soccer league) respects the sacred enough to defer to it for this important occasion. They exhibit a sort of existential humility that Borges himself may have lacked.

(A Note to the Purists: I understand that many of you may cringe at my use of the word "soccer." It's football, I know. But here in America that word has not caught on yet. I am sorry.)

More Soccer

Watching AC Milan's breakdown and debacle in today's Champion's League final with an authentic Rossoneri from Milan was not easy. My poor, frustrated Italian friend Carlo had been yelling at Andrea Pirlo since the 40th minute of the game, but Pirlo did not listen, did not pick up his game, and, alas, missed a key penalty in the tie-breaking shoot-out. Shevchenko's miss was more of a surprise. On the other hand, Liverpool's rally from three goals down--unprecedented in the history of the Final--is as inspiring as any sports-themed Disney movie ever made, with the added bonus that there was no silly sideplot, no saccharine music score, and, of course this really happened.

Santiago
 
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
 
Revenge of the Sith, One More Time...

I promise, no more after this! But the Star Wars universe is strangely seductive. Some links:

John J. Reilly was nice enough to link to me in a very interesting roundup of reflections on
"Manicheanism & World Order."

Mary of
View from the Corner draws different conclusions from my own on the line, "Only a Sith deals in absolutes." She links to sci-fi novelist Orson Scott Card, who takes a view closer to my own:

Good and evil are in a constant and nearly equipoised tug-of-war in the Star Wars series. But in the more recent movies, it seems that the goal of good people is not to wipe out evil, but rather for there to be a balance between the Light and Dark sides of the Force.

The new movie itself asserts a kind of equivalence. When the evil Palpatine says, “Good is a point of view--the Sith and the Jedi are almost the same,” we can dismiss this moral relativism as part of the deception of the dark side.

But in a pivotal scene, Obi-Wan says what amounts to the same thing: “Only a Sith deals in absolutes.”

Isn’t that odd? The only thing both sides agree on is that people who believe in absolute good and evil are bad!


Though I argue that Lucas can't escape his own universe, Scott Card doesn't seem to think so. In any case, I still like Star Wars.

Santiago
 
The intimations of a mild-mannered Paraguayan undergraduate, studying Eng. Lit. and philosophy in a small, midwestern Jesuit college.

Email Me: constantlyrisking [at] yahoo [dot] com

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