More on the Heretics Conference
It would he hard for me to give good commentaries on the talks which I attended, as I did not take notes (a habit I acquired during my doctoral work) and I have not trained myself in "Kim's Game" or its aural equivalent. (Kim's Game is a memory training technique appearing in Kipling's Kim.) The "tape-recording memory" (if the term be allowed; the aural parallel to the visual "photographic memory") is hinted as having been part of the training of the Jewish scholars and priests in ancient days, and credited with St. John's preservation of the "priestly prayer" of Jesus at the Last Supper. And mystery story lovers will recall that it is one of the skills of Rex Stout's amazing "Archie Goodwin" in the Nero Wolfe stories. Anyhow, I cannot do that - especially at the Chesterton Conference, where I spend much of my time laughing. Thank God there is a tape recorder, and one can get the tapes as I mentioned elsewhere (there is a button for the American Chesterton Society - ask them!)
As usual, I also like to hang out with some of my friends. Greg, who usually handles the refreshments, and also sells used books, and his children; Mark, who has a large used-book selection, and brings his children, cousins, and friends; other local Chestertonians like Sue and Mary; Patty from Real View Books (who do Fr. Jaki's books); and many others, including the Ahlquists. It was sheer delight to meet the youngest Ahlquist: Gabriel Benedict, attending his first Chesterton Conference (though I did not see him at many lectures!)
One of the topics which comes up in discussion is whether any of the talks will be available in a book form. The ACS released the talks from 2000 under the title The Gift of Wonder and I have heard that various speakers have published their talks in academic journals. But there have not been any collections since 2000. Part of the difficulty, of course, is the cost of printing. Another complexity is the time required to edit the talks - not everyone is an academic, and not everyone uses footnotes - GKC himself included! but it is part of good style to have these things annotated properly, and does increase the value for academics. Then there is the question of demand... Now the typical academic conference may require its speakers to submit a version of the talk for publication (which may or may not be the same as the talk given!) but as you ought to have guessed by now, this is definitely NOT an academic conference, nor are the speakers necessarily academics. So the question of publishing a "proceedings" or volume of talks is, for the moment, deferred. Unless there would be a demand, or some resolution to the editing/printing complications is achieved.
But the talks - whether in audio form, or in what Dale calls the "tactile" or printed form, hich is quite acceptable, though lacks the laughter and crowd noises! - can only go so far. There is just so much more to it. Certainly there are events of singular value: meeting Fr. Jaki in person; hearing Mark Shea chuckle at his own jokes; the Lepanto recitation; - or in another year, the Chesterton-Shaw debate! These do not translate well to the tactile form. Nor does the Petta wine. The late night talks about anything and everything. Hurrying to morning Mass in the chapel at the other end of the campus. The Mass on Saturday afternoon (anticipating the Sunday following), often with a Chestertonian priest (this year there were four concelebrants, including Fr. Schall and Fr. Jaki!) together with so many Chestertonians... No, they are NOT anticipating a canonization Mass! However that is something I need to discuss in a future posting.
And of course, best of all, sitting with other Chestertonians in the dining hall, eating - well, it doesn't matter what we are eating, but what we are drinking tastes of the "good wine" ... the good wine which He is keeping for us, to be poured in its fullness in the Inn at the End of the World. It is a foretaste and a promise, of the time when we will be together and have unbounded time to talk, heart to heart, mind to mind, soul to soul.
IF YOU ARE READING THIS, YOU HAD BETTER MAKE PLANS TO BE THERE NEXT YEAR - and then you will see what you missed!