Tuesday, February 22, 2011

As this is not a bissextile year...

Today, being February 22, the feast of the chair of St. Peter in a non-bissextile year, we begin our traditional novena in commemoration of the Papacy and of Subsidiarity.

It would take me far more disk space than anyone is willing to allocate for free if I were to begin to set forth a proper discussion of how Subsidiarity and the Papacy are interconnected, and why they ought to be honored together. They are; it is not simply a matter of Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum or Pius XI's Quadragesimo Anno or John Paul II's Centesimus Annus - nor even of John XXIII's Pacem In Terris. It is something inherent in the office, as it is inherent in the priesthood: it is a matter of right order, and the setting into functional arrangment of huge organizations, indeed, of organizations of cosmic size.
And such huge organizations need to be organized exceedingly well, and there is no other scheme of organization which can excel subsidiarity, either from a technical or efficiency standpoint, or (what is more important) from the view of fairness, justice and moral good in the social realm. (It's also simple, which is a critical trait for such things. The fact that it is also dramatic is a matter I must defer to another time.)

But I am already taking too long. I am still seeking a publisher for my book. (See here for an introduction.) Once it comes out, you will know more about the inner details. (Just two quick examples: what personal virtues would you expect to be required in such a system? And why? Also: what happens when things go wrong in that system? I have answers to these and more.)

However - I am sure you are curious to know why I begin on this feast, and not end on it? That one happens to be much easier to answer. It is because March 2 is the "Feast Day of Subsidiarity" - the day on which my system for local ad insertion (providing transport and playback and all ancillary functions like monitoring) went live, back in 2000 - a system which implemented subsidiarity in a visible and indeed study-able manner. Even before that year, March 2 was a famous day, and one which I will explain in my book. (But that is a surprise I am saving.)

For today, I would simply suggest that you add a prayer for Benedict XVI - today, and each day until and including March 2. And also for every organization, large or small, for management and for workers, for all which could benefit from this grand scheme of "thirteenth century metaphysics"... that is, of putting things into their proper order.

Tu es Petrus et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam.
You are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church. [Mt16:18]

St. Peter and all holy popes, pray for our Holy Father, Benedict XVI, and for the flock he guides, and bring us home to our Father's house. Amen.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Why I am writing my Saga (according to GKC)

In my search for dragons - eh? You can't envision me, wooden sword in hand and a stewpot on my head, stumbling through a forest looking for dragons? No? Ah well, how little you know of me. In fact, I've dealt with a variety of dragons - even some human ones - and... well, perhaps I ought not mention that here. Some of them are still alive, and some even read bloggs. It's amazing how annoying they find computer scientists, especially those who know how to spell DNA and work magic by satellites and read Chesterton and Jaki. But I have my attic and cellar sprayed every full moon with Dragon-B-Gon® and I run "Professor Norbert's Anti-Drag"® twice every nanosecond on all of my computers, so I am not too worried.

As I was saying, in my search for dragons, I came upon an excellent condensation - a sort of hand-held explanation, or miniature outline, explaining what is necessary in a Story. Yeah, I know it says "romance" but it means "adventure" and hence it really means "Story". It is a lot like what Glen Larson said in a commentary he made about his "Knight Rider" series, the need for humor, adventure, and heart. But here GKC specifies a different trio, and I think it is very interesting. What was startling to me was the hint that he had a clue about why I might be writing my great Saga... But read it for yourself, and then you decide.

In every pure romance there are three living and moving characters. For the sake of argument they may be called St. George and the Dragon and the Princess. In every romance there must be the twin elements of loving and fighting. In every romance there must be the three characters: there must be the Princess, who is a thing to be loved; there must be the Dragon, who is a thing to be fought; and there must be St. George, who is a thing that both loves and fights. There have been many symptoms of cynicism and decay in our modern civilisation. But of all the signs of modern feebleness, of lack of grasp on morals as they actually must be, there has been none quite so silly or so dangerous as this: that the philosophers of to-day have started to divide loving from fighting and to put them into opposite camps. There could be no worse sign than that a man, even Nietzsche, can be found to say that we should go in for fighting instead of loving. There can be no worse sign than that a man, even Tolstoi, can be found to tell us that we should go in for loving instead of fighting. The two things imply each other; they implied each other in the old romance and in the old religion, which were the two permanent things of humanity. You cannot love a thing without wanting to fight for it. You cannot fight without something to fight for. To love a thing without wishing to fight for it is not love at all; it is lust. It may be an airy, philosophical, and disinterested lust; it may be, so to speak, a virgin lust; but it is lust, because it is wholly self-indulgent and invites no attack. On the other hand, fighting for a thing without loving it is not even fighting; it can only be called a kind of horse-play that is occasionally fatal. Wherever human nature is human and unspoilt by any special sophistry, there exists this natural kinship between war and wooing, and that natural kinship is called romance. It comes upon a man especially in the great hour of youth; and every man who has ever been young at all has felt, if only for a moment, this ultimate and poetic paradox. He knows that loving the world is the same thing as fighting the world. It was at the very moment when he offered to like everybody he also offered to hit everybody. To almost every man that can be called a man this especial moment of the romantic culmination has come. In the first resort the man wished to live a romance. In the second resort, in the last and worst resort, he was content to write one.
[GKC Appreciations and Criticisms of the Works of Charles Dickens CW15:255-6]

Monday, February 07, 2011

In spite of defects such as dragons

Huh? Who said that?

Do you really have to ask? Er... no, it wasn't Tolkien. Nor Hagrid.

This is an awesome phrase, and it ought to be a blogg-name, except I have the Best Blogg name, at least from Gilbert Chesterton's perspective. Hee hee.

Anyway, I mentioned dragons because the dragon has shown up again, in a very strange place, and I was wondering just how many tmes GKC uses the word. According to AMBER, "dragon" or "dragons" appear nearly 500 times, which is a healthy number. There are some great quotes, and some which I may decide to use elsewhere.

One of my favorites, which I based a story upon, is this:

"A man cannot deserve adventures; he cannot earn dragons and hippogriffs."
[GKC Heretics CW1:72]

But here are some more, just to delight you:

If there was a dragon, he had a grandmother. [Tremendous Trifles]

The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon. [Ibid]

[While GKC was making cutouts for his toy theater, he noted:] Plato, who liked definite ideas, would like my cardboard dragon; for though the creature has few other artistic merits he is at least dragonish. The modern philosopher, who likes infinity, is quite welcome to a sheet of the plain cardboard.

A child of seven is excited by being told that Tommy opened a door and saw a dragon. But a child of three is excited by being told that Tommy opened a door. Boys like romantic tales; but babies like realistic tales - because they find them romantic.
[Orthodoxy CW1:257]

...life was as precious as it was puzzling. It was an ecstacy because it was an adventure; it was an adventure because it was an opportunity. The goodness of the fairy tale was not affected by the fact that there might be more dragons than princesses; it was good to be in a fairy tale. The test of all happiness is gratitude...
[Orthodoxy CW1:258]

And, finally, this mighty excerpt, GKC's miniature summary of his philosophy:
I felt in my bones; first, that this world does not explain itself. It may be a miracle with a supernatural explanation; it may be a conjuring trick, with a natural explanation. But the explanation of the conjuring trick, if it is to satisfy me, will have to be better than the natural explanations I have heard. The thing is magic, true or false. Second, I came to feel as if magic must have a meaning, and meaning must have some one to mean it. There was something personal in the world, as in a work of art; whatever it meant it meant violently. Third, I thought this purpose beautiful in its old design, in spite of its defects, such as dragons. Fourth, that the proper form of thanks to it is some form of humility and restraint: we should thank God for beer and Burgundy by not drinking too much of them.
[Orthodoxy CW1:268]
And I for one, am grateful to find such a close and Chestertonian link between dragons and drinking beer.