Thursday, December 10, 2020

Loving Darkness

"In an era of diabolical inversion, should the enlightened man adopt the ways of the Devil? In other words, when navigating an upside-down world, it may be necessary to take an upside-down orientation, so as to forge a path that is rightside-up." Christian Chenswold

“Love destroys the lover if he cannot obtain what he loves. It goes where it is led, not where it ought to go. Love gives birth to desire, it bursts into flame and that fire draws it to seek forbidden things. What more is there to say?” Saint Peter Chrysologus

The Chrysologus quote is from today's Divine Office. He means that as commendation for love. This is what he thinks love of God should be like.

I've read a lot of Edgar Allan Poe during the lockdown, especially the poetry.

A couple of weeks ago I ran into a woman I know and she told me she was dismayed at her two teenage daughters who have been devoting themselves to becoming as hot as possible. I said I thought it was one of the more intelligent responses to the lockdown I'd heard of.

Being perversely contrarian, I find myself intuitively rejecting lockdown spirit. Part of it is based on evidence; there is nothing quite like seeing someone you’ve known to be a selfish, narcissistic jerk all their life their life tweeting “We’re all in this together.” Said the pirhanna to the minnow. Mostly, though it’s just perverse and I am not ashamed of that. Where everyone else has been seeking comfort, community and conformity, I’ve been exporing the dark side and loving it.

Esotercism is nonsense, of course, but it is what Wittgenstein called “important nonsense”. What is called “primordial tradition” was invented in Late Antiquity. That said, It’s managed to last and to be reborn in countless forms since then. It’s a form of nonsense that is oddly reassuring, not least because it doesn’t require me to put faith in “experts.” It's also fun.

Tomorrow is abdication day, (which I read someone calling Rexit) think of something important to shirk!

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

"Brideshead Revisited changed my life"

 That's a search string. I typed it in looking for a particular article that I found a while ago and wanted to comment on again. I did find it but I also found a whole lot of other links on the same theme. That shouldn't surprise as it changed my life too. I think I actually saw it first in the winter of 1982. Anyway, that's another post for another day.

The article that caught my attention was, ‘Brideshead Revisited’ changed my life. Can it work its magic on the ‘Downton Abbey’ generation? It appears in the Jesuit publication America. Alas, there is nothing particularly Jesuitical about it anymore; perhaps not surprising as there isn't much Jesuitical about the Jesuits anymore either.

Luckily, the article is written by a Protestant, not a Jesuit, and it features the following brilliant insight:

A key thread of the novel is the Augustinian insight that our cravings for the delicious, fleeting experiences of the world—the things we feel, in our youth particularly, as love or pleasure—may lead us to sin, to excess or to addiction; but these seemingly superficial delights are signifiers of, even gateways to, the deeper felicities of creation.

That's right. Waugh was very much out of the decadent tradition. Is that really an Augustinian insight. Well, it's neo-Augustinian for sure and that's good enough for me.