Check out the animated show Bat out of Hell on Kickstarter!

Augustine on the Delta Factor?

Delta-Factor-Walker-Percy

As I read my Lenten reflections, Augustine’s “On the Psalms” (sadly, the ACW series translation only got as far as Psalm 37) I hear little squeaks of Percian linguistics peeking through Augustine’s take on Psalm 9…

“Thou hast blotted out their name forever to the age of ages [Psalm 9:7]. The name of the wicked has been blotted out; for they who have come to believe in the true God can no longer be called wicked. Their name is blotted out forever: as long, that is, as this world shall last. To the age of ages. Now what is this age of ages? Is it not that of which this world is, as it were, an image and shadow? The course of the seasons following one another, the waning and waxing of the moon, the sun returning to the same position year by year, spring, summer, autumn and winter each passing away only to come round again – all this is a kind of imitation of eternity. But the duration underlying an immutable continuity is termed the age of ages. It may be compared with a line of poetry, first conceived in the mind and then uttered by the tongue. The mind gives form to the spoken word; the one fashioned an abiding work of art, the other resounds in the air and dies away. Thus, too, the age which passes takes its pattern from that unchangeable age which is termed the age of ages. The latter abides in the divine workmanship, that is to say, in the Wisdom and Power of God, whereas the former is worked out in the government of creation.”

Further along, looking at verse 11, Augustine rounds out the notion thus:

“And let them trust in thee who know they name [Psalm 9:11]. Again, the Lord says to Moses: I am who am; and though shalt say to the children of Israel: HE who is hath sent me. Let them trust in thee, then, who know thy name, so that they may not trust in the things that flow by on the rapid stream of time, possessing nothing but the future  “will be” and the past “has been.” For the future, when it comes, at once becomes the past; with longing we await it, with sorrow we see it pass away. [Augustine revisits this idea in greater detail in his Confessions.] But in God’s nature there will be nothing future, as if not yet existing, nor yet past as if existing no longer, but only that which is; and this is what we mean by eternity. Those, then who know the name of Him who said I am who am, and of whom it was said, He who is hath sent me, must cease to trust in and set their hearts upon the things of time, and must betake themselves to the hope of things eternal.”

The question, then, is this: Is the “search” Percy talks about a sort of fumbling around in these ages looking for that age of ages the way Helen Keller fumbled around with her fingers before she grasped the idea of water? Furthermore, when one stumbles upon the search, does he do so as a gift from God or is there something within our nature that desires to find that age of ages even if we’re as deaf, dumb and blind as Ms. Keller?

 

‘the kitten games of syntax and rhetoric’

He [i.e., Lactantius] delighted in writing, in the joinery and embellishment of his sentences*, in the consciousness of high rare virtue when every word had been used in its purest and most precise sense, in the kitten games of syntax and rhetoric. Words could do anything except generate their own meaning.

–Evelyn Waugh, Helena (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2012), Nook edition, chap. 6, p. 8.

[Read more…]

Meataphor as Miss Steak

image

Is Neuroscience Catching Up with Walker Percy?

Lakoff and Johnson’s program is as anti-Platonic as it’s possible to get. It undermines the argument that human minds can reveal transcendent truths about reality in transparent language. They argue instead that human cognition is embodied—that human concepts are shaped by the physical features of human brains and bodies. “Our physiology provides the concepts for our philosophy,” Lakoff wrote in his introduction to Benjamin Bergen’s 2012 book, Louder Than Words: The New Science of How the Mind Makes Meaning. Marianna Bolognesi, a linguist at the International Center for Intercultural Exchange, in Siena, Italy, puts it this way: “The classical view of cognition is that language is an independent system made with abstract symbols that work independently from our bodies. This view has been challenged by the embodied account of cognition which states that language is tightly connected to our experience. Our bodily experience.”

More

Art Is a Joke

‘[The Goldfinch] can strike the eye […] from afar [as a true-to-life image of a bird]. [But] Fabritius, he’s making a pun on the genre […]  a masterly riposte to the whole idea of trompe l’oeil […] because in other passages of the work – the head? the wing? – not creaturely or literal in the slightest, he takes the image apart very deliberately to show us how he painted it. Daubs and patches, very shaped and hand-worked, the neckline especially, a solid piece of paint, very abstract. […] There’s a doubleness. You see the mark, you see the paint for the paint, and also the living bird. […]

‘It’s a joke, the Fabritius. It has a joke at its heart. And that’s what all the greatest masters do. Rembrandt. Velazquez. Late Titian. They make jokes. They amuse themselves. They build up the illusion, the trick – but, step closer? it falls apart into brushstrokes. Abstract, unearthly. A different and much deeper sort of beauty altogether. The thing and yet not the thing.’

From a monologue by Horst, an art dealer (of sorts) in The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013.

Rhababerbarbarabarbarbarenbartbarbierbierbarbärbel

My oldest’s newest nickname…

(Not to be confused with that other fella, Johann Gambolputty-de-von-Ausfern-schplenden-schlitter-crass-cren-bon-fried-digger-dingle-dangle-dongle-dungle-burstein-von-knacker-thrasher-apple-banger-horowitz-ticolensic-grander-knotty-spelltinkle-grandlich-grumblemeyer-spelter-wasser-kurstlich-himble-eisenbahnwagen-guten-abend-bitte-ein-nürnburger-bratwürstel-gespurten-mitz-weimache-luber-hundsfut-gumeraber-schönendanker-kalbsfleisch-mittleraucher-von-Hautkopft of Ulm.)

An interesting case of metaphor as mistake for the holidaze

This morning, I was listening to Bono belt out a cover of Greg Lake’s “I Believe in Father Christmas” when a line from the song grabbed aholt of me. It was this: “… a vale of tears for the virgin birth…” Vale is how I wanted to spell it, anyhow, in my mind’s notepad, but the sense of the line simultaneously inclined me towards the suspicion that Mr. Lake spelled it veil. I Googled around a bit and didn’t locate any official lyrics for the song, but all the unofficial ones I could find indeed scribed it out as veil, which is just fine, I think, but also wrong, wonderfully, marvelously wrong. Of course, it could be Mr. Lake is an even cagier fellow than all that and actually intends both veil and vale, capitalizing on the common mistake to make a double metaphor mean more. I wouldn’t put it past him. In any case, it’s a fine song. Enjoy.

Freedom and truth in language and metaphor …

http://korrektivpress.com/2012/11/21621/

Homo Symbolicus

“O pomo che maturo
solo prodotto fosti, o padre antico…”
– Paradiso, XXVI, 91-92

When Adam found his voice, the wilderness
Was ready: “Washed in meaning made complete
By Eden’s living stream, what names confess
Our roots commune in fruitful vine and wheat…”

Confirmed in nature, called by name, each word
Collects the truth as branches bearing fruit.
Our father, first in faith and doubt, had heard
And seen the ripe and raw, the soft and brute –

The babbling minaret’s catastrophe
Ordained his words to plant in thorns – he reaped
The wind, though not alone, since unity
Betrothed distinctions love alone has kept

Since Adam’s tongue anointed everything
With rites that verbalized the wilderness –
Each blade and leaf, each paw and fin and wing
That Adam’s ripened apple strained to bless.

Cut and Paste

Over at The Millions J. Greg Phelan explores why Paul Elie is irked.

Let’s review: David Shields extracts Paul Elie’s quote from a larger narrative, changes the words, and purges any reference to the ideas’ original source: Walker Percy. Then Gideon Lewis-Kraus quotes Shields’s misquote of Elie, contradicts his misquote, and characterizes what he wrongly alleges Elie having written as a “shoddy lament.” But no citations; this is art.