Saturday, 26 April 2014

Dried up...

I have said before that there is an element of vulgarity about blogging, understood as a form of journalism; as an human being, and indeed an idle one, I cannot be expected to churn out post after post of thoughtful, even the occasionally original, posts day after day. What can I say? Three months ago I began the composition of a post about elevations in the Roman Rite. This, you understand, was bethought of that page in the Canon Romanus of a 1576 Belgian missal, about which I made such a fuss. The post was going well; I was even quoting the patrimonial wisdom of Fr Hooker about the rationale of ceremonies, but in the end I gave up and retired to my bed. Like the renewal of my passport, which I have put off for four years now, I aim to accomplish my design one of these days. Similarly, the other day I was discussing with a friend of mine the rudiments of a post about the treblefold significance of the rooster in relation to Tolkien and Christianity. Blending the account of St Peter's denial, bits of antient Church hymnody and the psalter, and the breach of the brazen doors of Minas Tirith; that the cock, recking nothing of wizardry and war, heralding only the Sun of Righteousness and the hope of Men which comes with the Dawn, is the most sublime emblem of Christ. As Eliza Doolittle said, "O, wouldn't it be loverly!" Only, it wouldn't now as I have given the plot away.

I started this job in retail banking just over a month ago. I never was so convinced of my incompetence. It's one thing to be utterly incapable of passing for a "normal" person, it's quite another to be taken for an intelligent person by a well-meaning display of articulateness and then to appear utterly foolish by the inability to perform even the simplest tasks. I don't understand the concept of money. I cordially dislike new surroundings. Nobody can understand that I have no ambition and the reasons for that. Nobody understood my profound disgust with a man forty-two years my senior threatening to leave the bank for the sake of a "better rate" which amounted to a few points of a point of interest (incidentally, another concept wholly over my head). Woe is me that I am in the midst of a fierce, modern world of Mammon in which I want no part. On Wednesday morning I felt so depressed I was giving very serious thought to throwing myself under the next fast-moving train.

My mother came to the rescue. We went to see La boheme at the Orchard Theatre in Dartford. My contempt for Puccini notwithstanding, the evening was enjoyable on a number of levels. The average age of the audience seemed to be 75. I found this funny because I had heard an advert on the wireless earlier that day in which it was said that a large portion of old people have had no contact with friends, neighbours or enemies for over a month. I was not alone in finding this funny. My father, who turned 57 on Easter Day, laughed and said "good for them!" Perhaps I am just used to the comparatively high standard of Covent Garden but everything about the Orchard was tacky. For example, I don't think that you can really hold it against a provincial theatre for having piss-poor stage art; but the irony of Act II, in which the Bohemians were mocking Musetta for taking up with an elderly gentleman (played by a man of 30) and then her defection to Marcello (played by a man of about 55) was too much. The only gin at the bar was Gordon's rinse water (I thought better of paying £40 for a bottle of champagne), not to mention the standard of the performance. The libretto was cheap, predictable, rather shallow and given to lasciviousness and the musick was abysmal. Volunteers from the Salvation Army contributed their skills to Act II. The evening was a success on account of the sheer lack of dignity and I went home with a smile on my face and takeaway Chinese food and the thought that while I may have become insensitive to all else, my sense of taste is still in tact.

Nothing much else to report, really. My brother has bought whichever hobbit film is out on DVD at the moment and has twice asked me to watch it. I simply will not do that. I feel as strongly about Peter Jackson as I do about Pius XII; both men eviscerated great works of art, to their irredeemable shame, and I will not countenance their works. Anyway, another day past means another day closer to the grave. If death is oblivion, a sleep of everlasting forgetfulness, then God is indeed a merciful God!

Art: I think that's John Bunyan's Pilgrim; I forget. It's been in my pictures for some time. No need to name the artist.


  1. The first hobbit film was a misguided adaptation that still followed the book, the second one (the one I assume is released now) is ridiculous and generic. I had been optimistic before, maintaining that with careful editing and recutting these films might be salvageable. Not anymore. This was a low point, even for Jackson. Even my father, who has never read a single line of Tolkien (he despises books in general), disliked it strongly, despite thoroughly enjoying what came before. No longer a poor adaptation, but a horrible derivative work. It is telling that mainstream media praised it so intensely, whereas they criticised the first film exactly for those parts that followed the book closely. All pretences of Jackson being misguided but having good intentions are dropped.

    I'm content, for the matter has been settled with this film, and on it alone I can soundly dismiss Jackson completely. I will see the third film, as I am sure it will only strengthen my conviction, and I can dissect as I did with the previous films. He won't risk the wrath of the critics by suddenly following the book again.

    Your comparison with Pius XII is apt. Pius has spawned masses of "traditionalists" only familiar with a mutilated liturgy. Jackson has spawned masses of "Tolkien fans" only familiar with a mutilated adaptation.

    1. That is precisely the point I am trying to make about Peter Jackson. He is the fat hippie equivalent of Pius XII, just as malicious and faithless. I was talking to a woman at work the other day who claimed that she loved Tolkien...but hadn't read a single one of his books. I can't understand that. It's like Traddies who claim to love the Roman Rite, yet have no experience of it save in some bastardised form far removed from the customs of the fathers.

      And people think I'm mad!

    2. Peter Jackson was knighted for it, too. Pius XII hasn't been canonized (I hope this current craze doesn't extend to him), but he has been declared Venerable.

      Reminds me that I threw a framed indulgence depicting Pius XII in the rubbish bin a few weeks ago.

  2. Indeed, my dear Prometheus,

    This is the day, which down the void abysm
    At the Earth-born's spell yawns for Heaven's despotism,
    And Conquest is dragged captive through the deep:
    Love, from its awful throne of patient power
    In the wise heart, from the last giddy hour
    Of dead endurance, from the slippery, steep,
    And narrow verge of crag-like agony, springs
    And folds over the world its healing wings.

    Gentleness, Virtue, Wisdom, and Endurance,
    These are the seals of that most firm assurance
    Which bars the pit over Destruction's strength;
    And if, with infirm hand, Eternity,
    Mother of many acts and hours, should free
    The serpent that would clasp her with his length;
    These are the spells by which to re-assume
    An empire o'er the disentangled doom.

    To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite;
    To forgive wrongs darker than death or night;
    To defy Power, which seems omnipotent;
    To love, and bear; to hope till Hope creates
    From its own wreck the thing it contemplates;
    Neither to change, nor falter, nor repent;
    This, like thy glory, Titan, is to be
    Good, great and joyous, beautiful and free;
    This is alone Life, Joy, Empire, and Victory.

    I was brought to think of this piece of Shelley as I read your article. We all face The Pit in life and detest it. We suffer as soon as we begin to oppose…

    Your posting about the elevations in the Roman rite was not in vain. It brought me to examine the rubrics in the Sarum missal and challenge my old assumptions. You helped me to correct something I was doing wrong in the liturgical tradition I use.

    Why don’t you do some serious writing, the sort that gets published in books? Have you ever tried poetry? I share your feeling about the banking world. It’s the last thing I imagined you doing for a living. I suppose I’m lucky to be able to work at home translating stuff that makes sense to factory machine technicians!

    I’m not a great regular at the Opera, but we have a decent setup in Rouen, even if it doesn’t quite come up to the Paris Opera. Madame Butterfly was quite nicely done about 3 years ago, and I’m rather fond of that degree of chromaticism in post-Romantic music. I can’t imagine those pieces being easy to perform – best to leave it to the professionals.

    The writer’s block will pass. I’m doing all I can to get over my composer’s block and have managed to produce two little pieces for vocal quartet for a performance next December. Keep going, and don’t get discouraged!

  3. I do hope you finish your post on the elevations; in the meantime, may the rains come to the desert.

    Neither do I understand those threatening to leave for a few parts of a percentile. Whilst I'm maybe more conniving with my money than I imagine you to be, there are many lengths that I simply won't go to for the simple excuse of the profit margin. What about custom and patronising an establishment? But, I fear, in this day and age there is little loyalty from the customers; why then should the bank be loyal either?

    I am re-reading the History of Middle Earth, having finished Lord of the Rings. It wasn't the pleasantest of reads, because I realised how my mind's eye's version of it all had been infected by the, at times patently false, version of events presented by Jackson et. al.