Thursday, March 03, 2005 +

Harry Partch

Today in St. Blog’s Parish Hall, Freder1ck asked:

What if Chaucer, Dante, or Shakespeare stepped through a time warp to the present? And what if they started producing new works, drawing on the rich, earthy, Catholic culture of their own times? How would we judge their literary productions?

I wonder.

I know that my taste has been formed by American puritanism and secular post-puritanism. This is the current that Flannery O’Connor swam against. To read Chaucer, Dante, and others I have had to acquire a taste for earthiness, body/baudy, a sensibility that can discover humor in all dimensions of human life.

As Catholics we may intellectually believe that God created the world good and that much good remains among sinfulness. As Americans, however, we have a cynical, hopeless attitude toward the body and the world as evil.

There is nothing funny for those who see man as a dunghill covered in snow, evil to the core. Nonetheless, had Dante heard this heresy about man’s nature, he would have had a comic field day.


I responded:

He’s not Chaucer, not Dante, not Shakespeare, not even Catholic—but I recommend Harry Partch’s Barstow.

See Corporeal Meadows