Archives for 2004

Gossip on a Grand Scale

It occurred to me this morning as I sat in the WC reading A Short History of the Catholic Church that such books, and in fact all that falls under the rubric of historical studies, consist of nothing more than gossip on a grand scale. But I wouldn’t therefore dismiss historical studies. Gossip can be good, can weave the threads that bind us together in a meddlesome and beautiful fabric of love.

Idea For a Children’s Book

From Webb:

An Idea For a Children’s Book I’ll Never Write: Pinnochio isn’t made of wood, but, he is a real child who yearns to turn others into wood. At some point in this crusade he notices that he is, in fact, becoming a wooden puppet.

Idea for a Novel I’ll Never Write

From Webb:

A young man in prison, somebody’s Bitch, rises to become supreme potentate of the world. Under his inspiration a cult arises which has as its sacrament the act of imprisoning oneself and others. People would wear little cages around their necks and no one would be satisfied until all the earth had been conformed to a prison and we were all inmates.

So Many With So Little To Say

From Webb:

In the present age we have more sources of information than ever and never has there been less information worth knowing. We can communicate with each other more efficiently than ever, never have there been so many with so little to say. True ignorance, Socratic or otherwise, would be a revelation. That’s why the next great prophet will be a Nascar Hillbilly, inbred, playing banjo on the porch and married to his sister.


I’ve often wished that I had clear,
For life, six hundred pounds a year,
A handsome house to lodge a friend,
A river at my garden’s end.

— Jonathan Swift, Imitation of Horace

I wish I were an extravert –
not so prim and not so curt.
Instead of mumbling, I would blurt
Out truths that now remain inert.

I wish I had the Internet
embedded in my brain,
then maybe I could forget
the memory of my pain.

I wish I’d win the lottery.
I’d go shopping at the Pottery
Barn and buy things for my daughter, E-
Dith who is neither old nor doddery.

I wish
I could fish.
A fresh trout
would be delish
without a doubt.

I wish I may, I wish I might
Turn all the colored people white
And turn the white folks into coloreds
And turn the smart ones into dullards.

When Everybody’s Right

Sometimes it’s worse when everybody’s right than when everybody’s wrong. Everybody in fifteenth-century Spain was wrong about where China was and as a result, Columbus discovered Caribbean vacations. On the other hand, everybody in fifteenth century Spain was right about heresies. They’re heretical. But that didn’t make the Spanish Inquisition more fun for the people who were burned at the stake. –P.J. O’Rourke, Parliament of Whores, p. 194.

Subjectivity and Catholic Truth

The Catholic Church is the keeper of the truth and a sign of contradiction in a world that swings madly every which way but loose. But the Church is run by the same knuckleheaded species that inhabits the rest of the world. Therefore it should not be surprising if the institutional behavior of the Church sometimes fails to measure up to the profundity of its magisterial teachings. Pettiness, paranoia, rigidity, bickering, backbiting, snivelling, prissiness, stupidity, and pharisaism creep in through the cracks. Moreoever the truths that the Church promelgates must be received within the sphere of subjective experience, within the complex interplay of sin and love and virtue and logic and insanity that characterize the human experience. That is why everything must point back to Christ. In Christ the mess of human subjectivity is confronted by divine objective truth incarnate.

Recommended Reading

The Miracle Detective by Randall Sullivan

A Woeful Error

These are the correctives. It is a woeful error if he who is used for applying the corrective becomes impatient and would make the corrective normative for others. That is the temptation to bring everything to confusion. –Soren Kierkegaard

The Conservative Corrective

With regard to the “established order,” then, seeing that my special concern was “the individual,” which was the point of my polemic against the numerical, the crowd, etc., I have always done the very opposite of attacking it; I have never been in or with the “opposition” which wants to get rid of the “government,” nor have I been allied with it; but I have furnished what may be called a “corrective.” — Soren Kierkegard, “On My Work as an Author”

The Liberal Corrective

He who must apply a “corrective” must study accurately and profoundly the weak side of the Establishment, and then vigorously and one-sidedly present the opposite. Precisely in this consists the corrective, and in this too the resignation of him who has to apply it. The corrective will in a sense be sacrificed to the established order. If this is true, a presumably clever pate can reprove the corrective for being one-sided. Ye gods! Nothing is easier for him who applies the corrective than to supply the other side; but then it ceases to be the corrective and becomes the established order. — Soren Kierkegaard

Socratic Ignorance

The majority of men in every generation, even those who, as it is described, devote themselves to thinking (dons and the like), live and die under the impression that life is simply a matter of understanding more and more, and if it were granted to them to live longer, that life would continue to be one long continuous growth in understanding. How many of them ever experience the maturity of discovering that there comes a critical moment where everything is reversed, after which the point becomes to understand more and more that there is something which cannot be understood. That is Socratic ignorance, and that is what the philosophy of our times requires as a corrective…It is quite literally true that the law is: increasing profundity is understanding more and more that one cannot understand. And there once again comes in “being like a child,” but raised to the second power. — Soren Kierkegaard