679: A Life of Its Own.

A man coming out of a fight, eyes blackened, swollen… One always looks first at the eye. It is the thing most living, most eloquent, most insolent in a face. It lives with a life of its own, radiates light. It attracts even very young children, who always want to stick their fingers into eyes.

(Alphonse Daudet, “Notes on Life.” In: The Novels, Romances, and Memoirs of Alphonse Daudet, Vol. 14. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1904, pp. 184–185).

Anúncios
679: A Life of Its Own.

678: Ancient Soil.

The ancient soil of our country, surcharged as it was with the most marvellous creations of the imagination and faith, becomes day by day more naked, more uniform, more bare — nothing is spared. The devastating axe attacks alike forests and churches, castles and hotels de ville. One would say that the intention of our contemporaries was to persuade themselves that the world began yesterday, and was to end to-morrow, so anxious are they to annihilate everything whose duration exceeds the life of a man.

(Charles de Montalembert; quoted in Margaret Oliphant, Memoir of Count de Montalembert, Vol. 1. Edinburgh: William Blackwood & Sons, 1872, pp. 242–243).

678: Ancient Soil.

677: Um Vulto Sempre em Movimento.

É preciso não querer demarcar a sombra de Deus na terra… Nós, o que vemos da vontade de Deus, é uma sombra apenas — é como se víssemos a sombra que se projeta sobre a terra, de um vulto sempre em movimento… Como fixá-la? Como demarcar essa sombra em eterno movimento? Como julgar se é maior ou menor que uma outra?

(Otávio de Faria; citado em Rodrigo Gurgel, “A Sombra de Deus,” Rascunho, Fevereiro de 2018).

677: Um Vulto Sempre em Movimento.

676: The Clown.

Western man for centuries now has lost the key to his own meaning. He has been striving for a long time to break out of the ruins of a City half destroyed at his own hands. Political Liberalism of the old-fashioned Marxian variety grew out of a psychological desire to get away from where man actually found himself. Post-World War II existentialist despair, considered as a socio-historical reality, is a philosophical justification for this urge to break all existing cultural and historical limits. What must be done, at all costs, is to exorcise our common historical heritage, our faith, our corporate memories. A fresh beginning can be the only beginning. This is a presupposition that is operative everywhere, most concretely in the arts, most consciously in philosophy, and most dangerously in religion.

Such is the estrangement modern man has carved for himself. In social and economic life the masses are estranged from their spiritual and cultural past. Politically, techniques forged by Western man himself have alienated him from his ancient freedom. The home, the nation, the Church, the West, the past, roots, origins — these are always wrong, always wicked: only the wilderness of the future promises salvation. The poet has retreated to that uniquely modern place invented in the early nineteenth century — the state of mind called Bohemia. His destiny seems assured when he has pruned away everything reminiscent of the objective order, and when he finds himself alone with his broken soul. Philosophically, the age has had urged on it the clever monstrosity that since consciousness renders to me what is Other than Myself, then my personality is defined by a negation. Theologically, the Barbarian God of the peat bogs has come back with “neo-orthodoxy,” and man is told that he is so utterly other than God that he is in no sense the image of his Creator. The human fabric has been so cut to ribbons that man has been reduced to a nothing that can parade his utter absurdity only by putting on a mask. The clown has come into his own.

(Frederick D. Wilhelmsen, Hilaire Belloc: No Alienated Man. New York: Sheed and Ward, 1953, pp. 44–45).

676: The Clown.

675: Mental Tabasco Sauce.

Books were once my refuge. To be in bed with a Highsmith novel was a salve. To read was to disappear, become enrobed in something beyond my own jittery ego. To read was to shutter myself and, in so doing, discover a larger experience. I do think old, book-oriented styles of reading opened the world to me — by closing it. And new, screen-oriented styles of reading seem to have the opposite effect: They close the world to me, by opening it.

In a very real way, to lose old styles of reading is to lose a part of ourselves.

For most of modern life, printed matter was, as the media critic Neil Postman put it, “the model, the metaphor, and the measure of all discourse.” The resonance of printed books — their lineal structure, the demands they make on our attention — touches every corner of the world we’ve inherited. But online life makes me into a different kind of reader — a cynical one. I scrounge, now, for the useful fact; I zero in on the shareable link. My attention — and thus my experience — fractures. Online reading is about clicks, and comments, and points. When I take that mindset and try to apply it to a beaten-up paperback, my mind bucks.

Author Nicholas Carr (The Shallows) writes that, “digital technologies are training us to be more conscious of and more antagonistic toward delays of all sorts.” We become, “more intolerant of moments of time that pass without the arrival of new stimuli.” So, I throw down the old book, craving mental Tabasco sauce. And yet not every emotion can be reduced to an emoji, and not every thought can be conveyed via tweet. […]

For a long time, I convinced myself that a childhood spent immersed in old-fashioned books would insulate me somehow from our new media climate — that I could keep on reading and writing in the old way because my mind was formed in pre-internet days. But the mind is plastic — and I have changed. I’m not the reader I was.

(Michael Harris, “I Have Forgotten How to Read,” The Globe and Mail, February 2, 2018).

675: Mental Tabasco Sauce.

674: States of Life.

It is a grave error to place exclusive confidence in old men. The mission of old men is to hinder evil. That of the young is to do good; and this double destination requires the united action of both states of life. Give the helm to a young man, he will upset everything under the pretext of reforms. Give it to an old man, he will let everything become corrupt for fear of innovation. But as all human institutions hold within themselves the germ of decay, and one must continually repair if one would not see the building fall in ruins it follows that public affairs cannot get on without the activity of youth. Old age learns nothing, corrects nothing, establishes nothing.

(Joseph de Maistre; quoted in T.L.L. Teeling, “Joseph de Maistre,” The American Catholic Quarterly Review, Vol. XX, 1895, p. 837).

674: States of Life.

673: Social Justice.

I must introduce a parenthetical protest against the abuse of the current term ‘social justice’. From meaning ‘justice in relations between groups or classes’ it may slip into meaning a particular assumption as to what these relationships should be; and a course of action might be supported because it represented the aim of ‘social justice’, which from the point of view of ‘justice’ was not just. The term ‘social justice’ is in danger of losing its rational content — which would be replaced by a powerful emotional charge. I believe that I have used the term myself: it should never be employed unless the user is prepared to define clearly what social justice means to him, and why he thinks it just.

(T.S. Eliot, Notes Towards the Definition of Culture. New York: Houghton, Brace and Company, 1949, p. 15).

673: Social Justice.