Saturday, November 13, 2004 +

There Goes an Actor

A series of Armistice Day posts in Decline and Fall of Western Civilization reminded me of Alexander Granach's autobiography, some excerpts from which I posted in September.

GS 007 Many and One

A census is ordered by the Emperor, Augustus. Being of David’s house, Joseph takes Mary with him to register in David’s village, Bethlehem in Judea. While they’re there Mary’s time comes and she gives birth to a boy. She winds strips of cloth around the baby and puts it in a trough, because there is no room for them in the inn.

02004 11 13 +

Please bless Oliv, whom you now see taking the Academy of Holy Names entrance exam.

A Letter from Wil Baden with Addendum

Tue, 9 Nov 2004 19:42:42 -0800

Hi Leo,

It was good to get your email. I miss the comradery of c.l.f.

The notes on Peirce were interesting. He was an extraordinary genius born a generation too soon. Sometimes though he did things backward—he'd posit categories, and then try to assign items to them, instead of taking things and learning how they really are.

Your blog is fun. You are certainly doing good work. I think it's great that you use Java.

I have put Java aside in favor of Perl. Its grammar makes Forth look like Green Eggs and Ham, but it's a marvel at editing text. It did Markov Chain in 20 lines, as opposed to 180 in C. Look into it—I think you could do miracles with it at work.

As always, health, joy, and peace,

Addendum from WB:

Sat, 13 Nov 2004 08:54:46 -0800

[For your blog - from Ency.Brit.]


Peirce is now recognized as the most original and
the most versatile intellect that the Americas have
so far produced. The recognition was slow in coming,
however, and much of his work is still known only to
specialists, each grasping a small part of it,
severed from its connections with the rest. Even his
Pragmatism is viewed in relation to that of other
Pragmatists rather than to other parts of his own
work. A philosopher will know him also for his
evolutionary metaphysics (theory of basic reality)
of chance and continuity. A mathematician may know
him for his contributions to linear algebra. A
logician will know him as one of the creators of the
algebra of logic—including the logic of relations;
quantification theory (on the usages of “every . . .
”, “no . . . ”, and “some . . . ”); and three-valued
logic, which admits a third truth value between true
and false—and may know him also for his two systems
of logical graphs, which he called entitative and
existential. A psychologist may discover in him the
first modern psychologist in the United States. A
worker in semiotics will know him as co-founder of
that science. A philologist may encounter him as an
authority on the pronunciation of Elizabethan
English. A computer scientist may find in one of his
letters the first known sketch of the design and
theory of an electric switching-circuit computer.
But all of this, and much besides, lay beyond the
scope of his professional career.

Friday, November 12, 2004 +


Prayer (I)

Prayer the Church’s banquet, angels’ age,
  God's breath in man returning to his birth,
  The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth;
Engine against th’ Almighty, sinner's tower,
  Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
  The six-days-world transposing in an hour,
A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear;
Softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss,
  Exalted manna, gladness of the best,
  Heaven in ordinary, man well dressed,
The milky way, the bird of paradise,
  Church-bells beyond the stars heard, the soul’s blood,
  The land of spices; something understood.
George Herbert

GS 006 Mary Pregnant

Joseph, her fiancé, a kindly man unwilling to shame her, resolves to break off their engagement privately. Mulling over his resolve, falling asleep, dreaming, he sees God’s angel come to him.

THE ANGEL. David’s son Joseph, don’t be scared to make Mary your wife, for what is alive in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son whom you’ll name Jesus, because he will free his people from their sins.

Joseph remembers Isaiah’s words, “The Lord himself shall give you a sign: a virgin shall conceive and give birth to a son, who shall be called Immanuel, God-with-us.” He marries Mary but does not have intercourse with her.

Notes 55

I know a man who didn’t make love to a woman because she said another woman wouldn’t make love to him.

Temptation wouldn’t be temptation if it weren’t tempting.

It is hard to kick against the pricks.

You convinced your Apostles not through your wisdom but through your power.

Paul Fussell on Religion in War

From The Initial Shock . . . A Conversation with Paul Fussell

Hackney: But to get to the reality of war, you have to grapple somehow with the horror, do you not?

Fussell: Indeed. And one thing one can't help noticing is the efficacy of religion before the nineteenth century at dealing with these problems and answering some of these unanswerable questions. By the time of the Great War, religion is practically dead. By the time of the Second World War, it's no help at all.

The chaplains that were attached to the infantry that I was in practically never did spiritual work because they knew they'd be ridiculed. What they did was to apply bandages and surgical scissors, assisting the medics and calming people down psychologically. But everybody recognized that religion was no help whatever.

. . .

Hackney: You write in one of your essays—your essay “My War” in The Boy Scout Handbook and Other Observations, which is a wonderful collection—you say toward the end of that essay, “Those who fought know a secret about themselves, and it is not very nice.”

Fussell: They have experienced secretly and privately their natural human impulse toward sadism and brutality. As I say in this new book of mine [Doing Battle], not merely did I learn to kill with a noose of piano wire put around somebody's neck from behind, but I learned to enjoy the prospect of killing that way. It's those things that you learn about yourself that you never forget. You learn that you have much wider dimensions than you had imagined before you had to fight a war. That's salutary. It's well to know exactly who you are so you can conduct the rest of your life properly.

Thursday, November 11, 2004 +

GS 005 Elisabeth’s Time Comes

She gives birth to a son. Hearing of God’s gift to her, her relatives and friends gather to be happy with her. For seven days they call the baby Zachary after his father. Then it’s time to circumcise the boy.

ELISABETH. No—his name’s John.

They go to Zachary for some sign what he’ll call his son. Asking for a tablet, he writes, to everyone’s surprise, “His name is John.” Immediately, Zachary’s mouth opens—his tongue loosens.

ZACHARY. Praise the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and rescued his people. He has sounded the horn of our salvation in the house of his servant David. As he spoke through the mouths of his holy prophets since the world began, so he will save us from our enemies and free us from the hand of all that hate us. He will perform the mercy promised to our father Abraham, that he will grant that we, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, shall serve him without fear, upright and holy before him, every day of our life. You, baby boy, will be called the prophet of the Highest. You will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people the knowledge of their salvation through God’s tender mercy in forgiving their sins. The morning sun of heaven has risen before us to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death: it will guide our feet to the way of freedom.

God’s hand is on John. As the story of his birth becomes known, people stop, look into themselves, and ask, “What will the boy be?” He will grow up strong and impetuous, and go to live in the wilderness till the day comes when he shows himself to Israel.

02004 11 11 +

We spent Veterans Day in Great Barrington. Jude was with us. On the way, we stopped in West Stockbridge at Charles H. Baldwin & Sons to buy some vanilla extract as a present for the Holdens. In GB, I came across in a used-book store a quotation from Max Beloff about JB which I had read before and which I have now added to From the Barzun File. Bought in Rabiner's two bars (Jude paid for one) of Bernard Castelain chocolat noir, one “Intense 77%” and the other “Extreme 85%,” because I couldn't remember which I liked better. Mary bought an assortment of olives from the same store. Coming back, we listened on tape to some of The Story-Teller: A Session with Charles Laughton, including his “Chartres Cathedral Story.”

Christian Carnival XLIII

Wednesday, November 10, 2004 +

GS 004 Elisabeth’s House in the Judean Hills

Mary calls to her cousin. Elisabeth hears Mary’s voice—her unborn child jumps in her womb.

ELISABETH. Exalted of woman and exalted the child in your womb. But why to me—why should my Lord’s mother come to me? I heard your voice—my baby in me jumped for joy. Exalted the woman who held firm. There’ll be the doing of everything the Lord promised her.

MARY. My mind glorifies the Lord, and my heart revels in God my Savior, who sees the humiliation of his servant Israel. Look: every generation shall see me exalted, for the Almighty has done great things to me and shows mercy to them who feared him from age to age. Holy is his name: he unveils his arm’s strength and scatters the proud to their hearts’ despair. He throws down the mighty and lifts up the lowly. He fills the hungry with glad things and sends away the empty rich. He remembers his mercy and befriends his servant, as he promised Abraham and all our fathers.

The Ordinary Hairpins

E. C. Bentley,
Loved History
And Mystery.

I enjoyed Trent Intervenes more than I did Trent's Last Case.

A thick carpet of rich pasture began where the deep birch-belt ended at the top of the height. It stretched away for miles over a gently sloping upland. As Trent came into the open, panting after a strenuous forty-minute climb, the heads of a score of browsing cattle were sleepily turned towards him. Beyond them wandered many more; and two hundred yards away stood a tiny hut, turf-roofed.

This plateau was the saeter; the high grass-land, attached to some valley farm. Trent had heard long ago, and never thought since, of this feature of Norway's rural life. At the appointed time, the cattle would be driven up by an easier detour to the mountain pastures for their summer holiday, to be attended there by some peasant—usually a young girl—who lived solitary with the herd. Such wires as that he had seen were kept bright by the daily descent of milk-churns, let down by a line from above, received by a farmhand at the road below.

And there, at the side of the hut, a woman stood. Trent, as he approached, noted her short, rough skirt and coarse, sack-like upper garment, her thick grey stockings and clumsy clogs. About her bare head her pale-gold hair was fastened in tight plaits. As she looked up on hearing Trent's footfall, two heavy silver earrings dangled about the tanned and careworn face of this very type of the middle-aged peasant woman of the region.

She ceased her task of scraping a large cake of chocolate into a bowl, and straightened her tall body. Smiling, with lean hands on her hips, she spoke in Norwegian, greeting him.

Trent made the proper reply. “And that,” he added in his own tongue, “is a large part of all the Norwegian I know. Perhaps, madam, you speak English.” Her light blue eyes looked puzzlement, and she spoke again, pointing down to the valley. He nodded; and she began to talk pleasantly in her unknown speech. From within the hut she brought two thick mugs; she pointed rapidly to the chocolate in the bowl, to himself and herself.

“I should like it of all things,” he said. “You are most kind and hospitable, like all your people. What a pity it is we have no language in common!” She brought him a stool and gave him the chocolate cake and a knife, making signs that he should continue the scraping; then within the hut she kindled a fire of twigs and began to boil water in a black pot. Plainly this was her dwelling, the roughest Trent had ever seen. He could discern that on the two small shelves were ranged a few pieces of chipped earthenware. A wooden bed-place, with straw and two neatly folded blankets, filled a third of the space in the hut. All the carpentering was of the rudest. From a small chest in a corner she drew a biscuit-tin, half full of flat cakes of stale rye bread. There seemed to be nothing else in the tiny place but a heap of twigs for fuel.

She made chocolate in the two mugs, and then, at Trent's insistence in dumb show, she sat on the only stool at a rude table outside the hut, while her guest made a seat of an upturned milking-pail. She continued to talk amiably and unintelligibly, while he finished with difficulty the half of a bread-cake.

“I believe, madam,” he said at last, setting down his empty mug, “you are taking simply to hear the sound of your own voice. In your case, that is excusable. You don't understand English, so I will tell you to your face that it is a most wonderful voice. I should say,” he went on thoughtfullly, “that you ought to have been one of the greatest sopranos that ever lived.”

4B 6A 54 27 7F 15 00 7D 55 6F 30 5A 67 17 35 2A
30 4F 7A 15 28 20 31 7F 16 14 25 32 6C 63 3A 4C
21 5B 16 48 4A 62 3F 34 3B 73 10 3E 52 2E 1D 60
10 0A 1A 39 38 20 1A 03 11 1A 54 7D 56 42 31 77
32 19 0E 44 33 66 72 7E 51 78 63 7B 64 4A 20 3E
3A 45 55 70 17 11 3C 67 1F 5B 68 6C 25 13 6B 58
03 3B 1B 46 0D 66 16 63 44 70 1F 09 0E 18 2F 52
7B 0A 02 7E 10 5A 10 0F 64 49 70 72 16 77 12 5B
0C 58 39 75 1E 40 6A 18 66 24 59 4B 13 7C 27 05
7A 4B 71 5F 2D 33 7C 39 04 04 5E 1D 66 00 05 7E
77 18 7F 15 3B 2B 09 57 11 66 26 7C 1B 4D 44 15
64 14 12 76 36 56 55 30 5F 76 5A 29 75 34 52 6B
1A 55 2C 3C 62 0B 14 4D 43 0F 65 68 53 20 5A 24
09 29 74 0A 2A 79 15 01 38 16 1F 7F 43 53 30 58
78 5B 3F 7A 6F 34 0E 3D 53 7B 33 47 7D 25 34 75
74 79 73 08 23 4D 7C 43 7F 77 67 6D 5F 1E 54 3F
0E 36 41 4F 6E 7A 6E 60 47 1B 50 67 0E 13

—E. C. Bentley, in “The Ordinary Hairpins,” Trent Intervenes (1938).

A Letter from Brother Barnabas

Tue, 09 Nov 2004 14:40:08 +0100

Lieber Leo,

Morgen feierst Du Deinen Namenstag.
Ich sende frohe Gruesse, gute Wuensche
und Gottes reichen Segen zum Festtag des
heiligen Leo!

Deine Freund und Bruder

Viele Gruesse an Mary und Olivia!

Tuesday, November 09, 2004 +

GS 003 Nazareth Six Months Later

God sends the angel to a girl.

GABRIEL. Hail, Well-Loved, the Lord is with you.

The girl’s scared.

GABRIEL. Mary, don’t be scared: God loves you. Look: you’ll become pregnant with a son who’ll be called Jesus. He’ll be great and be called the Son of the Highest. The Lord God will give him his father David’s throne, and Jacob’s house he’ll rule always. His kingdom won’t end.

MARY. How can it be? No man is God’s son.

GABRIEL. The Holy Spirit will come over you, and the power of the Highest will consume you: therefore that holy thing which will be born will be called God’s son. Look: in her old age your cousin Elisabeth is pregnant also with a son. She who was thought barren is in her sixth month. To God nothing can’t be.

MARY. Look on the Lord’s servant: let the word you say be done to me.

The angel leaves her.

The Third Catholic Carnival

Monday, November 08, 2004 +

GS 002 Zachary Goes Home

Soon after, his wife becomes pregnant.

ELISABETH. The Lord has done this for me: he has looked on me and repelled the scorn of men.

Notes 54

Do you love Jesus, or your idea of Jesus?

Sunday, November 07, 2004 +

Easy Timepiece

WIDTH = 200 HEIGHT = 165>

A Java applet.

GS 001 Jerusalem in the Time of Herod the Great

A priest enters the Temple sanctuary. He and his wife live in the Judean hills: old and childless descendents of Aaron, a pious couple, strict observers of God’s ceremonies and laws. He has been called with others of his order to officiate for a term and has been chosen by lot to burn incense while the people pray outside. He sees an angel standing next to the altar of incense on the altar’s right side.

THE ANGEL. Zachary! Don’t be scared: your prayer’s heard. Elisabeth will give you a son, whom you’ll call John. You’ll be jubilant and his birth will be a festival, because he’ll be great in the Lord’s eyes. He will not drink wine: in his mother’s womb he’ll be filled with the Holy Spirit—in Elijah’s spirit he’ll walk before his Lord—turning fathers’ hearts to the children and naysayers to the wisdom of the loyal, making a people ready for the Lord: many of Israel’s children he’ll turn to the Lord God.

ZACHARY. How will I know this? I’m old—so is my wife.

THE ANGEL. I am Gabriel, who stand in God’s presence and am sent to you to speak this good news. Look: you’ll not talk till the day these things are achieved—because you don’t believe my words, which will be accomplished in their time.

The congregation waits for Zachary, wondering what’s delaying him. He comes out unable to speak but gestures that he has seen a vision.

02004 11 07 +

Read Trent's Last Case. Took a growing dislike to Mrs. Manderson, whose pride led to the death of her husband.