Thursday, March 24, 2011

More about my Saga

Sooner or later you will probably wish you had Something Good To Read... especially if you like Chesterton, and Norton Juster and Bertrand Brinley and Walker Tompkins and... oh yes, and Franklin Dixon and Carolyn Keene and Victor Appleton II, and Doyle and Sayers and Stout, and so on: adventures "for boys" as they say, though such stories appeal to all sorts of people, even OLD people, and even GIRLS. (hee hee)

It is partly that desire of having Something Good To Read - perhaps I should say MAINLY that desire - which urges me to write the thing I call "the Saga". It is NOT named from the Norse term, but from the Latin: saga is the nominative plural for sagum, a military cloak - which seems appropriate to me since it is about the Battle. You know, the War - the BIG war. The one that we're still fighting, against the Dragon, the ancient serpent. Of course there's a lot of other fun stuff in it, since it is a STORY, not a textbook, or a catechism, or a study of some vaguely allegorical sort, or a scaffold for me to build elven tongues upon, etc. It's not set in Middle Earth, it does not have a Platform 9.75 or a wardrobe without a back - but rather than spending money on a model train layout, I have decided to play with the middle-Atlantic States, and have revised their geography to provide me with a "toy train layout" I wanted to have. (By the way. it's fun; you should try it.)

The Saga is chock full of all the modern things like trains and cellphones and computers and even space travel, but also it has relics and pipe organs and industrial sabotage and kidnapping - and young men trying to get through college. Oh yes, and secret societies, too. Several. VERY secret. (Don't you want to know more about them? You will find out, someday.) But Chestertonians know that there are healthy reasons for having such secrets, just like the reason why I don't tell you exactly what happens in the Saga: because it is better for you to find out in the right way and at the right time, like the wrapping conceals a Christmas present:
The man who tells the truth about a detective story is simply a wicked man, as wicked as the man who deliberately breaks a child's soap-bubble - and he is more wicked than Nero. To give away a secret when it should be kept is the worst of human crimes; and Dante was never more right than when he made the lowest circle in Hell the Circle of the Traitors. It is to destroy one human pleasure so that it can never be recovered...
[GKC ILN Nov 7 1908 CW28:210]
Ah yes... But even a Christmas present might be considered in its SIZE and WEIGHT (cf Jaki's favourite scripture verse, Wisdom 11:21) and maybe (if possible) lifted and shaken to see if it rattles, since maybe it has PARTS which will have to be put together, or played with, and isn't just a sweater, or SOCKS... (hee hee)

And so, I shall not break the Great Law of Fiction in telling you that my Saga has parts, and yes, you may find it fun to play with. Also, I happened to spot an interesting GKC paragraph which seemed quite relevant to this matter, and I decided to let you see it. It gives a little more of the underlying basis for my work:
Our own countrymen, and the men of other countries, loved to claim like Virgil that their own nation was descended from the heroic Trojans. All sorts of people thought it the most superb sort of heraldry to claim to be descended from Hector. Nobody seems to have wanted to be descended from Achilles. The very fact that the Trojan name has become a Christian name, and been scattered to the last limits of Christendom, to Ireland or the Gaelic Highlands, while the Greek name has remained relatively rare and pedantic, is a tribute to the same truth. Indeed it involves a curiosity of language almost in the nature of a joke. The name has been turned into a verb; and the very phrase about hectoring, in the sense of swaggering, suggests the myriads of soldiers who have taken the fallen Trojan for a model. As a matter of fact, nobody in antiquity was less given to hectoring than Hector. But even the bully pretending to be a conqueror took his title from the conquered. That is why the popularisation of the Trojan origin by Virgil has a vital relation to all those elements that have made men say that Virgil was almost a Christian. It is almost as if two great tools or toys of the same timber, the divine and the human, had been in the hands of Providence; and the only thing comparable to the Wooden Cross of Calvary was the Wooden Horse of Troy. So, in some wild allegory, pious in purpose if almost profane in form, the Holy Child might have fought the Dragon with a wooden sword and a wooden horse.
[GKC TEM CW2:288, emphasis added]
In my case, it's an Iron Horse and the sword is made out of... ah but I can't reveal that today. However, I insist that my writing (whether tool or toy) is NOT an allegory, even though it may be very wild, and will no doubt be considered quite profane in form, though I intend it for some pious purpose. But then I am using tools (or toys) which most people use for software development to produce fiction, and you might expect that sort of anomaly.

P.S. I can assure you, though I take advantage of my technical apparatus and training, the Saga really IS a story, and not software. And just in case you are wondering whether this Saga will ever be completed, I cannot guess. All I can say at present is that it continues to enlarge as we approach the major events of the adventure... So be patient, and keep praying.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Eleven Years Ago

About 11:30 in the morning on Thursday March 2, 2000, two of our headends in "A Certain Town In Central Pennsylvania" went live, playing local spots on cable networks for "A Certain Big Cable Company". The 30-second commercials were stored as MPEG-2 files, each taking about 20 megabytes of storage. They were delivered by satellite from our headquarters in a suburb of "A Certain Town in Southeastern Pennsylvania", using software which was designed according to Chestertonian techniques, and based on the dogmatic methods of the Thirteenth Century: in particular on recent papal encyclicals such as Centesimus Annus by John Paul II which was cited in the source code for PUMP, the main spot transport program. This method became known to everyone there, to account reps and to Field Techs and, yes, even to Upper Management, as "Subsidiarity" - and people used to stand at the huge glass windows and watch the WATCHERS as PUMP did its work...

For five and a half years, that machinery ran, delivering and playing an astronomical number of TV commercials and quite efficiently too, and keeping everyone aware of what was happening as it happened. It was exciting while it lasted...

Even now, the satellite dish that we used

is still there, behind the building where our headquarters used to be, though that software and the machinery and so much of that advanced technology is gone...

But the memory of the successful workings of those five-and-a-half years shall last: much as the Trees of Valinor, in dying it has given rise to fruits of light: to both fiction and nonfiction. I told you Subsidiarity is dramatic; what did you expect - a poem?

Moreover, the Feast Day of Subsidiarity on March 2 shall endure, since the concept is embedded in Scripture, and His words shall never pass away:

"I am the vine; you are the branches... apart from Me you can do nothing." [See John 15:5]

And though it does not beam out into space as the cues and the schedules and the logs and the spots and the CUSTOS packets once did, I send my thanks to those who worked with me to make it happen... that gratitude also endures.