Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Logres, Book I (The Devil's Son), Chapters 1-6

I'm hoping to start this work back up in earnest in July, so I am taking the opportunity to do some revision of the complete Book I (of a projected seven), which mostly follows the Prose Merlin and I think holds up pretty well, before moving on to revising and completing Book II (The Swords of Destiny) and finally getting to Book III (The Round Table) in July -- if everything goes as planned.

Book I: The Devil's Son

Chapter 1

In all this realm between heaven and hell is found both shadow and light, which wax and wane like the moon, going in and out like the tide. Ever and anon the devils scheme, and ever and anon grace brings new tidings, and men and women are found to serve the ends of both, until the judgment comes.

In ancient days there was fought a great war, culminating in the siege of a mighty city that ruled the regions west of the Hittite Empire, which had long before been founded by Truwis, and his son Wilus, great men whom the people there believed to be descended from the gods they worshipped. Those lands were known in the West as Troia and Wilusa. The people of that land were defeated by the cunning of their foes; their city, Troia or Troy, splendid beyond imagination, was burned; those of its people who were not slaughtered fled. Among these was a prince named Aineias or Aeneas, whose people settled in a land called Latium; there his son, Ascanius, founded the city of Alba Longa and married a local king's daughter, who soon was with child. As the people in that region of the world were much given to divination, Ascanius paid a diviner to read the lightning and thunder so that the future of the child might be known. The diviner consulted the storm and his books and concluded that the child would be a boy and would kill both his parents. In a rage, Ascanius, thinking that the diviner was seeking to foment sedition, slew the diviner, but when the child was born, his mother died in childbirth. The child was named Brutus, and he grew strong and adventurous. But one day, seeking to refine his skills in archery, at which he excelled, the young man accidentally slew his father with an arrow and was banished from those lands. 

Wandering far and valiantly, Brutus gathered around him a band of fellows, also of the lineage of the people of Troia and Wilusa. One night he fell asleep on the porch of a temple to Diana and had a dream of a fair island to the north and west. With his men, through many adventures, in Spain and Gaul and Brittany, he eventually came to the island and settled there. This island was known as Albion, and the followers of Brutus who settled there were known as Bruti, and they were founders of the British nation. Brutus divided the island among his three sons, Locrinus, Albanactus, and Camber, and his chief warrior, Corineus, whom he loved as a brother. To Corineus he gave the southwest, and it became known as Kernow, and later Cornwall. Locrinus received the south and east, which became known as Logres, and Albanactus the north, which became known as Alba, and Camber the west, which became known as Cambria. But Brutus himself settled on the river Tamesas in the southwest, which later became known as the Thames, and the region there was called Trinovant, which some interpret as 'New Troia'. These peoples prospered and grew many and fierce, for they fought among themselves but were protected from the wide world as if their island were a fortress on the sea. 

But any fortress may be reached, and there came a time when a great power crossed the sea to the island and conquered the peoples there. These new people were also descended from Aeneas, being themselves Latins from the land of Latin, where Aeneas in his travels had finally come; and their chief city was Roma or Rome Under Julius Caesar the Roman legions seized the island in a mighty grip. The strongest tribe in those days was the people of Trinovant, under the King Cassivelanus. Cassivelanus's father, Lud, had built a mighty fortress on the river Thames, known as Caer Lud, which the Romans called Londinium, and from this base they were able to cause great suffering to the Romans. Nonetheless, Cassivelanus was in a feud with his brother, Mandubracius Androgeus, and when the latter allied himself to the Romans, they defeated Cassivelanus. In thanks, Julius Caesar gave to Mandubracius the responsibility of collecting tribute from the tribes of Logres and Cambria. Caesar returned to Rome, and the Trinovantines grew less, but the tribes had discovered that relations with Rome made them wealthy, and they continued to give tribute in exchange for trade and self-governance, so that under Augustus the tribute received from the region was very great.

Eventually the Romans returned to Britain, and the armies of Vespasian defeated the tribes that allied against them. The most powerful of the tribes in those days were the Cantiaci, and the region they ruled was known as Kent. They set up over Kent a king, named Cogidubnus, who ruled the neighboring Regni tribe and had allied with them. But from those days the Romans themselves took an ever greater share of the rule of the island, eventually setting over it three military governors. The senior of these was known in the island as Dux Britanniorum and his junior governors were known as Comes Britanniorum and Comes Littoris Saxonici per Britannia. The Romans grew weak, however, and eventually a general named Magnus Maximus took the Roman armies in Britain and invaded Rome itself. He became emperor, but the island of Britain was then little defended, and was in great disorder until God had mercy. 

The times were very dark and shadowed. Tribe fought against tribe, and brother against brother. Foreign peoples raided the coasts of the land. The greatest scourge of all, however, was the Saxons, for there came a time when a usurping king of Kent, named Vortigern, invited a large band of Saxon mercenaries to settle in his kingdom in order to shore up his support. 

As those days drew near, the prince of demons, seeing that the shadow was great upon all lands, and wishing to seize again the world which Christ had saved, took counsel with his demons and determined to bring about the kingdom of Antichrist.

Chapter 2

There was in Brittany, in northern Gaul, in a region near to the forest of Broceliande, which is said to stand on the border of all worlds, a wealthy baron who owned many cattle and whose wife did traffic with the fiends. Upon a day the demons came to her and asked her how he might rule the soul of her husband.

"That is no great mystery," said the woman. "There is nothing on this earth for which he cares more than his wealth. Destroy his cattle and he will surely sin."

Then the devil caused a terrible sickness to fall upon the herds, and men marveled to see the cattle drop dead in the fields. The wealthy baron grew furious and took out his anger on one and all. Then the devil caused another illness to take the baron's horses, and, delighted in the wrath this caused, continued to work to destroy him. In the dark of the night, as everyone was sleeping, he strangled the baron's infant son, and the next day, as all the house was in anguish, he whispered in the ear of the baron's wife until she went out to the barn, where she tied a cord around a beam and the other end around her neck and hanged herself. Then in great grief the wealthy baron grew ill, and in great anger he refused confession, unction, and viaticum, and he died and was delivered unto the lands of hell, leaving behind him three daughters.

But the devils spare nothing that they are able to devour, like wicked men but more so. The fiend turned his thought to the destruction of the three young women. He knew of a young man in town, dissolute in ways and half of the devil's party already, and he whispered in the young man's ears until he came to one of the three sisters and spoke the enticing words that the devil put in his heart, seducing her. Then the devil whispered again in his ear, so that he boasted all over town of his deeds. But soon the matter came to the attention of the magistrates, for in those days in that land it was the law that a woman guilty of fornication should be put to death unless she was a prostitute for hire. Then the young man, fearing that he too would be put to death, fled in cowardice, and the young woman was brought before the bench and condemned to be put to death by being buried alive.

As these things were happening, a hermit in the forest, a young man whose name was Blasius or Blaise, hearing of these things, came to the two sisters who remained. They told him all their tale and then one of the sisters said, "And thus, you see, good sir, that the gods hate us."

But Blaise replied, "There is but one God, and God hates no creature; such things can only be the malice of the devil." Then he advised them to keep themselves free from evil deeds, lest they give an opening to their devour, and to pray that they might be delivered. They did not understand him, and so he taught to them creed and catechism. The elder of the two sisters heard him well, and studied in the Christian way, and learned from him how to love and fear God. Then Blaise, having given much thought to the problem, said to her, "In these matters we are outmatched, but, regardless of the devil's doing, I will not leave you without such help and counsel as I can give."

Then the fiend, ill-pleased, whispered in the ear of a woman in the town, who then came to the younger sister and said, "Does your sister love you as she ought? For a woman such as you, who has seen such hard things, surely deserves more joy than is shown in your face."

And the younger sister said nothing, but on a later day the woman asked her again the same question, and she sighed.

"Alas," she said, "my sister and I used to be quite close, but ever since the death of our father she has given all her time to the holy man, Blaise."

"Ah," said the woman, with the devil in her ear, "I know well what this is about, for a woman who has a man has great joy, and a woman without one has none. One as fair in body and face as you could have any man she pleased."

"How can you speak this way," said the young woman, marveling, "seeing that my sister was killed for such things?"

"But your sister had neither counsel nor friend," said the other woman, "and that is all. Listen to me, and you will have delight without penalty. But mark my words: a woman is made for no other end than to have the fellowship and comfort of a man."

And they spoke no more of these matters that day, but the sister thought of them. After a week she asked the other woman about it again.

"The error your sister made was in taking comfort in only one man," said the woman, "for one man may always leave you. But who does not select one, may have many, and comfort and protection at all times, and wealth in great store; and under the law of this land, one who has many men cannot be put to death." With this and other such things, the townswoman persuaded her, and she began to work for the townswoman by giving herself to many men.

All of this was done in secret, and the eldest sister did not yet know anything of it, but such things cannot be kept secret. The rumors eventually reached her ears, and, confronting her sister, learned that it was true. Then she was greatly grieved and told the tale to Blaise, who was astonished, and said, "The devil is busy about you; may God keep you!"

"May he indeed," said the eldest sister, "but how may I protect myself from so great an adversary?"

The Blaise said, "Pray often during the day. As for the night, we are told that the devil hates light, so look always to have a light when you sleep."

And for two years after, she followed Blaise's advice, and the devil did not approach. But he had not ceased to work for her torment, and he whispered in the ear of her sister, until one day the younger sister came to her and they argued, and the younger sister beat her older sister with her hands in wrath. Afterward, the elder sister fell weeping onto her bed with great anger in her heart, and she did not pray and she did not set a light. Then the devil raped her in the night and by devilish art made her to conceive, although she had been a virgin. And the child in her womb was conceived by the devil with the destiny to be the Antichrist.

And the young women on waking, and realize in horror and distress that she had been raped, prayed to the holy Virgin for aid, looked for the man who had done it. Every door in the house, every window in the house, was locked, and no one could have entered anywhere. Then she went at once to Blaise her confessor, who said, "What is the trouble? For you seem greatly afraid." And she told him all her story and asked for penance.

Blaise listened to her, but could not give credence to what she said, for it was something of which he had never heard. Therefore he said, "How can I give absolution if you will not confess honestly?" But she swore that she spoke the truth, and Blaise, baffled, took thought about what to do. Then finally he said, "Whatever may be the case, the only sin on your part which you have told me is that you let anger master you so as to give the devil entrance, for which your penance for that shall be to avoid meat on Saturdays. I understand nothing of this, but my promise holds; whatsoever the devil may do, I will not fail to give you such help and counsel as I can."

Then she accepted her penance, and he blessed her with holy water, and she went home. But from that time Blaise began to have dreams of death and destruction and entire lands laid waste.

It soon became clear to the people of the town that she was with child, and they asked her who the father was. When she did not know, for she had never known a man, they took her for a fool. Then she went to Blaise again and told him of what had happened, and she was so earnest that he marveled. Then he asked her again to tell her whole story, and he wrote it down, including the day and hour at which everything had occurred, and said, "When the child is born we shall know better the truth of these things. But we must beware, for the law of this land is harsh and unyielding. If you are taken captive by the magistrates, send for me and I will give what help I can."

And in a few weeks, as Blaise had said, the judges brought her before the court to answer. Then Blaise came before the court and argued that she should not be judged at all until the child was delivered. This they agreed, but wished her to be held in a strong tower until that time.

"Then let her have two strong women as companions, to help with the delivery, and that she not be worried with anything until she is strong enough again to go about on her own."

So they took her to the tower. But the town was currently receiving refugees fleeing from wars. Among them was a man gone mad from the evils he had seen and they passed him sitting on the side of the road. When he saw her, he gave a great shout, saying, "Do none of you see? She bears the desolation of all things. She bears the Antichrist." And Blaise would ponder this often in the days to come.

Before the young woman was locked in the tower, he said to her, "Do not be afraid, but trust to God. When the child is born, send for me immediately for baptism."

She then lived in the tower until she delivered a son, and Blaise came. And when he entered the room, the infant, not even a day old, spoke, saying, "And are you not the hermit Blaise who wishes to record great things? I will give you things to record that are surpassingly wonderful." Both Blaise and the mother were greatly afraid, the hairs on their arm and neck rising like that of a small animal in the presence of a wolf. It came to Blaise's thought that if this child was the Antichrist, many would be saved if the child were drowned. 

Then Blaise took the child, carrying him down to the river nearby. There he baptized him in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and then prayed, "Lord God, if this child is indeed given a destiny by the devil, I ask that he will by your grace instead undo the devil's work."

And the infant said, "The destiny you ask for me is a lonely prison." But Blaise shushed him and carried him back to the mother, who named the boy Merlin.

Chapter 3

The young woman sought to stay in the tower as long as she could, but in ten months it was clear that her time for judgment drew near. Then she took her child in her arms and wept, saying, "Fair son, alas, our time will soon be over, and I will be put to death for your sake. I do not deserve it, but I have no defense, because only God knows the truth."

Then the child, who had not spoken since his baptism, looked long at her and said, "Mother, you will not die because of me." And she was so startled by his speech that she dropped him and he cried. Then the women attending her came running, and when they heard her story, they tried to get the child to speak, but he continued to cry. 

She said to them, "Tell him that I will be burned because of my sins." 

And when they did, the child stopped crying and said, "You are lying, and you should repent, for you have more sins than my mother, for you are gossips and rumormongers." Then the women went out and told the story everywhere. The mother of Merlin was summoned before the magistrates, and she asked for Blaise, who came. She came weeping, but the child Merlin was merry and laughing as he came to court. Many people also came, out of curiosity.

"Hush, child," said the women, "for your mother will be put to death for you."

"No one in all the kingdoms of all the world can harm her," he said.

The magistrates then asked the child many questions in private, but he gave no answer, merely laughing at them. And the mother, wearing a smock and a mantle, took the young child in her arms and stood in the court awaiting the word of the judges. They questioned her again and refused to believe her, for no woman can have a child without the fellowship of a man, and they passed the sentence of death and began to debate the means.

But at this, Merlin leaped from his mother's arms, and angrily said to the judges, "Her death is not deserved, for she has done nothing wrong, and if you were to put to death even those in this courtroom who are guilty of adultery and fornication, there would be no end of killings. Ask the hermit Blaise, who is blameless in life and deed, if my mother is innocent."

Then Blaise, astonished, told the whole story as he knew it. Then Merlin said, "You have written the very day and hour of all these things happening; bring it forth." Then Blaise brought his writing forth into evidence. Nonetheless, the judges were reluctant to set her free, for it seemed to strange to them.

Then Merlin in anger said to the chief judge, "I know who my father is better than you know who your father is, and your mother knows better the one who is your father than my mother knows the one who is mine." Then, when the judge called him an insolent child, Merlin continued, "By your laws, your mother deserves death more than my mother, for you were the bastard child of a man with whom your mother committed adultery." And the judge grew very wrathful, and demanded that both mother and child be burned, and the other judges did not say nay.

"You shall accomplish nothing," said Merlin, "for you have no power."

Then Merlin and his mother were set in prison for five days. When they were brought before the judges again, this time for false accusation, the chief judge mocked him, saying, "It seems we do have power over her. Now you must apologize for dishonoring a good woman."

"You are not so wise as you think," said the child. "By law, those accused of false accusation may be allowed a test to prove that it was not false. Bring your mother forth and go with her into the final chamber, and I will take counsel with my mother along with God and the hermit." Then, before the judge could speak, he turned to the crowd gathered, and said, "If I deliver my mother from this judge, will you seek any further harm against her?"

Then the crowd, astonished, shouted, "Nay!" And the judges, taken at surprise, had no choice but to allow the test.

Then in a private chamber, the judge asked his own mother who his father might be, and she replied, "Who else could be your father than the one I have said, my husband, who died so long ago?"

Then Merlin said to her, "You shall tell the truth, and not these lies, for I know that his father is still alive." 

And she was abashed, and replied with anger, "Who, then, could it be?"

Then Merlin said, "No sooner had the one who begat this judge lain with you than you, teasing him, said that you were perhaps with child. Then he said you should never give birth to his child, for he feared that you were trying to pass off another man's child as his own, and he set down in writing the day and time for future reference. Is this not true? But if you will not acknowledge it, I have many worse things to say." But she would not acknowledge it, so he continued. "At the time that these things happened, you were estranged from your husband, and so to hide the fact of your adultery, you made peace with him. But you continued to lay with the other man, and you were with him just this past night, and he brough you part of the way here.Is this not true? But if you will not recognize it as true, I have things to say that are even worse."

Then the woman was visibly distraught. Then the judge, seeing this, said, "Mother, whoever my father may be, I am your son, and I will act as your son; only tell me whether what this devil-boy says is true." Then she, weeping, acknowledged it.

Then the judge turned to Merlin and asked who his father was.

"My father is a prince of the powers of the air," said Merlin, "as you yourself have thought, and because of this I know your mother's works, because I can know anything done, anything said, anything that has passed. But the good Lord wished to save me from my mother's true penance and the absolution of this priest by the authority of the Church, and because of this I know not only thins that were but things that shall be. And that you may know this, I tell you that the man with whom your mother has lain will, on hearing this, flee for his life, and the devil, whom he has always served, will lead him to water to be drowned."

Then they came forth from the chamber, and the judge told the people that the child had saved the mother by good argument. Then all things happened afterward as Merlin had said, and the judge marveled.

Blaise wondered at all this, and asked Merlin many questions, until the boy laughed and said, "You may ask and I will answer, but at least believe what I say; for I shall teach you the love of Christ and life everlasting, by stories that you shall remember."

"It seems clear that you are indeed the devil's son," said Blaise, "and thus I worry that you are a deceiver."

"By providence, good and evil are mixed in this world," said Merlin, "light intermingled with shadow, and I am the devil's son by origin, but I am christened, and thus adopted a child of God. The devil purposed that Antichrist should come; but God has set me as a wall to prevent it, for as long as I shall live. By nature I know the designs of the devil; therefore by grace I may prevent them. Grace I have received and shall receive, for my mother is a good woman and sacraments I shall have from you. But you must do something for me."

Then Blaise said, "If it is worthy, I will do it."

Merlin replied, "You must write all that I shall tell you in a book. I shall tell you such things as none others know, and those who read shall learn the ways of God. What I shall do shall surpass the ability of men to believe, and therefore you must testify to it in writing."

"I will gladly write it," said Blaise. "But I adjure you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, that you never at any point deceive me, or require of me anything against the laws of God."

"This I promise," said Merlin. "And let us begin it, for it is important for you to know the beginning of what will be done."

Then Blaise gathered his writing materials, and Merlin began. "In the days of Augustus, Jesus Christ was born to the holy Virgin Mary far to the east in the holy country of Judea, which was ruled by Herod as a client of the Romans. Recognizing that his time drew near, he gathered with his disciples in an upper room for Passover meal. Taking the bread, he blessed and broke it, saying, 'This is my body, given to you; do this in memory of me.' Then, taking the cup after the meal, he said, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, as often as you drink of it, in memory of me.' Betrayed by Judas Iscariot into the hands of his enemies, he was crucified under Pontius Pilate and was buried in a tomb provided by a rabbi, named Joseph of Arimathea. Christ rose from the dead, and after his resurrection appeared in a great flash of light to Joseph as he was praying on the sabbath. And Joseph fell to the ground, trembling, but was lifted up.

"'Are you the rabbi Elijah?' he asked.

"But Christ said to him, 'I am not Elijah.' And when Joseph asked him who he then was, Christ replied, 'I am Jesus, whose body you asked of Pilate, whose body you wrapped in clean linen, whose body who laid in your own tomb. Peace to you! I give to you a gift in thanks of your kindness.'

"Then Christ gave to Joseph of Arimathea the cup he had blessed at the supper before his betrayal. He became devout follower of Jesus, and was imprisoned; but the cup of Christ sustained him throughout his imprisonment. Eventually, approaching the end of his life, Joseph gave the cup to his son, also named Joseph, and this  Joseph became a companion of St. Aristobulus, who on one of his journeys came to the island of Britain, to a land of apple trees known as Avalon, and there founded a monastery and a shrine for the cup, which became known as the Holy Grail. But the regions all around were heathen, and therefore it was kept in secret from generation to generation."

And he spoke of many more marvels, both things that were and things that were yet to come. Then Merlin said, "This book shall be long in the making, for I have many more things that I must tell you. Men shall seek me out to slay me, but shall not, and you shall go to Avalon, where hides the Holy Grail. And there you shall continue to write the things that I shall bring you."

Chapter 4

In Britain in those days there was a leader among those families of Roman extraction who still lived on the island. His name was Constantine, and he was generally recognized as the Dux Britanniorum, or Duke of Britain. He had three sons: Constans, Ambrosius Aurelianus, and Uther. He also had a steward named Vortigern, a clever man on whom he greatly relied. When he died, the young Constans succeeded his father, but he was still quite young. Therefore the lords and barons chose Vortigern to be his regent, and Vortigern did all his will in the land as if he were himself the Duke. A competent men, he calculated very well how to gain the support of the people. However, the cities and towns soon began to be harried by Saxon raiders, and when Constans came to him begging that Vortigern should defend the Roman people of Britain, Vortigern put him off with delaying words. The young Constans, a valiant young man by then, attempted to organize a defense, but it failed completely, as if the Saxons knew beforehand what he would do, and the people began to grumble against the Duke, saying that if Vortigern had led them, they would not have been defeated. Then the lords and barons, whispering in secret, came to Vortigern and offered to recognize him as Duke of Britain.

But Vortigern was not a fool, and with a pious folding of hands, he replied, "My lords, there is already a Duke, whom you yourselves have set me to serve, and I will serve him with honor and devotion for as long as he shall live. Being a man who respects the law, I would not accept the Duchy from you unless our good Constans had died." The barons knew what he was about, and took thought for how Constans might be killed, for they considered among themselves that those who gave to Vortigern the office of Duke would be forever his friends indeed.

Then twelve of them came together to slay the Duke, and few there were who even resisted them. The blood had not yet dried upon the floor when they came to Vortigern saying, "Duke Constans has died; be now our Duke."

Vortigern, however, knowing well how to gauge the moods of the people, responded to them with simulated anger, saying, "You have done a great evil and violated your oaths; flee now lest the people have you put to death."

The cunning Vortigern then gathered an assembly of the people and told them of all this in fair and seemly words. The people were greatly affected by the tale, so that the remaining lords and barons proposed that Vortigern be made Duke of Britain, and this suggestion was made to joyful acclamation by the people. Thus did Vortigern usurp the office with the support of the barons and the people. 

There were two noblemen who watched all these happenings with shrewd eye, the elder of whom was named Kyner or Cunerius. To them had been chiefly entrusted the educations of Ambrosius and Uther, whom they had come to love greatly. They suspected that the two boys were in danger, so as soon as Vortigern was acclaimed Duke they fled with them to Gaul, to a place called Benoit. There Ambrosius and Uther would grow to be strong and valiant young men. There too would Kyner have a son of his own, whom he called Ector.

After Vortigern had seized the Duchy, the slayers of Constans came before him in public and accused him of ingratitude. Vortigern, however, feigned that he had never met them before, and as they had confessed with their own mouths to the slaying, ordered that they be executed by being drawn and quartered.

"For," said Vortigern, "it is not for any of us to lay an unkind hand on those who are our superiors. Nor can any man be trusted who will slay his lord; having done it once you would surely do it again."

The men had many powerful friends, and war broke out. The friends of the executed barons raised a great host, but Vortigern fought with cunning and after some time drove them all from the island. When he had done so, he attempted to consolidate his rule. His means of doing so were so harsh that there were many uprisings against him, some of which were able to gain the support of other tribes in the island. Vortigern, however, responded by making peace with the Saxons and the Jutes, whom he offered lands in Britain and generous mercenary pay as soldiers. The Saxons landed in Britain at the Isle of Thanet, in Kent, which was separated from the main island by a very narrow channel; they came in three ships, and their leaders were named Horsa and Hengist, great warriors among their people. They fought for Vortigern, but the numbers of Vortigern's enemies were multiplying, so Hengist and Horsa sent word to their peoples, speaking in bold terms of the worthlessness of the British and the beauty of their lands. The Saxon host began to swell.

Vortigern then began to be afraid for their strength. He went to the British tribes he had defeated with their help, raising them to fight the Saxons, and he also hired bands of Picts from Alba. They fought well, slaying Horsa in battle, but the Saxons waxed in numbers daily, so that Vortigern had to buy off Hengist with even more land; out of fear, he withdrew northward toward Cambria.

Chapter 5

Vortigern, recognizing that he had lost the love of the people and not trusting the Saxons to be appeased, conceived a plan to build a mighty fortress, a castle that could not be taken. He gathered together all the masons and builders in the land and set them to building a mighty tower. But after the tower had begun to rise, there was a great shaking of the earth and the tower fell down. Vortigern had them rebuild it again, but again it collapsed. Again he had them rebuild it, and yet again it collapsed. Then Vortigern thought to himself that there was some cause of this, and being a clever man knew that if he could discover and remove that cause, he could build his castle. He gathered together the wisest men in the land, but no one could tell him the reason for the tower's falling until he threatened them with death if they did not discover it. 

Then they, afraid, took counsel among themselves, saying, "This thing is a great marvel; surely it must be resolved by another great marvel."

But one of them said, "I have heard of no marvel on this order, except stories of a boy, seven years of age, who was born without a human father."

Then the wise men came to Vortigern and said, "Lord, in ancient times people would solve these problems with blood. But a great problem requires a commensurate solution. If you wish your tower to stand, you must place in its foundation the blood of a seven-year-old child without a human father."

Vortigern sent out twelve men to search his realm, two by two, for such a child, to bring back the child's blood. They searched high and low, and it happened one day that two of the pairs met together and journeyed on the road together for a while. They soon came to a town in which many children were playing the fields.

One of these children was Merlin, who at that time was seven years old. Merlin's mother and Blaise had deemed it wise to move from Brittany because of the attention that Merlin drew; however wise he might be, the child was prone to mischief. He delighted in illusion and trick, and loved to startle people and make them marvel. Thus they had crossed the water and come to Britain.

Seeing the four knights approach and knowing immediately their aim, Merlin took a stick in his hand and, going up to the child who was closest to them, hit the child on the shoulder, knocking him to the ground, and ran away. The child Merlin had hit began to cry and called him many names, saying among other things that he was misbegotten and fatherless. This caught the attention of the knights and they asked the weeping boy who had hit him. He told them what he knew, which was only that nobody knew who Merlin's father was. 

Then Merlin came running up again, laughing, and said, "I am the child you seek, whose blood you are to bring Vortigern."

"Then you must come with us," they said.

"No," said Merlin, "for you might well kill me. But if you will give me your word that you will instead take me to Vortigern, I will tell him the true reason why his tower falls whenever he tries to build it. Let me only take leave of my mother and my teacher." To this they agreed, and Merlin brought them to his house to be fed, and had them tell all the story to Blaise.

As they set out to see Vortigern, Blaise offered Merlin to go with him for safety's sake, but Merlin said, "This is not the best way. Instead, look to find a land north of the River Humber, and I will meet you again there. Do not fear for my sake. This petty chieftain has no power over me, for I am destined to raise up the greatest of all the kings of Britain."

And Merlin said to his mother, "Fair mother, I commend you to Christ, for I am summoned to court and must leave you. And I fear our teacher Blaise must also leave you."

"Fair son," she replied, "surely it would be better if Blaise would stay."

"Alas, no," he said. "It would be much worse; he must go." She knew him well enough to see that he was earnest, so she asked no more questions, giving her leave. Thus Merlin and Blaise both set out, but they went separate ways.

Chapter 6

As Merlin journeyed on the road with the four knights, they overtook a peasant with his cart, and on seeing it, Merlin laughed. When they asked why the boy laughed, he replied, "I laugh because it is funny. This man has bought new shoes, and takes such great pains with his cart, but he will be dead before he reaches home and, although he will wear the shoes, he will wear them not on his feet but on his neck."

The four knights wondered at this, and decided to test it; two followed the carl as he turned down a different road and two remained with Merlin. The two who followed the peasant had hardly done gone half a mile when they found him dead on the road. His cart had been ransacked and his new shoes were hung around his neck, for he had been strangled with the leather thongs used to tie them up. They swiftly rode back to their companions and told what they had seen. 

Then one of the knights, a young half-Saxon warrior whose name was Ulf or Ulfius, said, "Surely the men who recommended that this child be slain were not wise, but great fools."

He said this quietly to his companions so that Merlin might hear, but Merlin said, "I thank you, Ulfius, for your good will. Because of it, you shall play a greater part in these matters than you know. You have seen the beginning of great things, and you will see their end."

Some time later, they came across a funeral procession carrying a dead child to church to be buried in the cemetery. Priests went before it singing psalms, and the people who followed it wept with sorrow. When Merlin saw the funeral, he laughed again and said to his companions, "This is truly a wonder."

"What do you mean?" asked Ulfius.

"Do you see the man who follows behind the bier, weeping that he has lost his son?"

"Yes," they said.

"Do you see the priest at the head of the procession?"

"Yes," they said.

"Then know this. The child was not the son of the weeping man but of the singing priest. Go to the mother and ask her why she weeps. When she says that she does so for her son, tell her that it is not her son but the son of the priest, and hear what she has to say." 

Two of the knights took the woman aside and did as Merlin had said to do, and the woman, frightened, begged them not to tell her husband of it. They went back and reported the result, and the four knights were astonished.

So they came to Vortigern. Then two of the knights said, "We will go before you to inform Vortigern that we have brought you; but Vortigern had commanded that we bring back your blood, and he may not take it well that we have brought you back alive. We beg you, give us counsel as to what we may say to him."

Merlin replied, "Speak as I tell you and you need have no fear. Tell him that you have found me, but that I claim to know the true reason why his tower falls, and more than that, show him how to make it stand enduringly. Moreover, I shall tell him the true motive of his wise men, who are lying." 

The knights then did all that he asked and, returning, brought him to Vortigern. For Vortigern, being a man of schemes, easily believed that others were scheming against him, and, being a cunning man, was forever afraid that others might make a fool of him, and would not put Merlin to death before he had heard what he had to say.

Then Merlin said to Vortigern, "If you give me leave to speak to the wise men, I will show you the truth so that it cannot be doubted."

"If you do as you say," said Vortigern, "I give them to your power; you may do as you wish with them."

Then Merlin spoke to the wise men, asking them why the tower fell.

"We cannot say why the tower fell; we can only tell by divination what will secure it," they said.

But Merlin said, "You think to make the Duke a fool. You knew that you had no answer, and if you did not provide one, he would kill you. You thought instead to delay him, and hoped that I might kill him to prevent him from killing me."

Vortigern, watching all the wise men closely, could tell from their reactions that what Merlin said was true. "Then what is the reason for the falling of the tower?"

"Sir," said Merlin, "beneath the earth here there is a great mass of water and in the darkness beneath it are two great stones. Beneath the stones are two dragons. One is white, the other is red. As you build the tower, it presses downward into the earth, and the stones begin to weigh heavily on the dragons, at which they rise up against the stones, creating a wave in the water and shaking the earth until the tower falls."

"This seems unlikely," said Vortigern drily.

"You may see it for yourself," said Merlin, laughing. "Bring forth your laborers and let them dig deeply."

Then there was a great earth-working, and soon enough the laborers came to the water and could not dig farther. Vortigern was astonished and asked how the water was to be moved.

The child replied, "Make deep  ditches all around and draw it off by gutter." And he drew on the ground to show them how this was best done.

They followed the child's plan, and as the water ran out, Merlin said, "When the dragons are uncovered, they will fight a great battle and one will slay the other. For safety's sake, bring your men, and summon people from all over your realm to come. Many should see this wonder, for it is a sign of great things."

Thus Vortigern did, and as the water was drained, they saw the stones.

"We shall solve the problem of the dragons easily," said Merlin. "As soon as they feel each other, the two great worms will fight until one dies."

"Which shall slay the other?" asked Vortigern.

"This is a great secret," said Merlin, "but in secret I will tell you and the four knights who brought me to you." When Vortigern had withdrawn with the four knights and Merlin to a private chamber, Merlin continued, saying, "That you may know that all that I say is the truth, know that the white worm will slay the red worm, but shall be gravely wounded. As for the rest, it must be seen."

Then they pulled up the stones in the early morning, and the people saw the dragons and were afraid, because they seemed fierce and deadly. The dragons sprang up and fought together tooth and claw, scraping and biting in a great noise, until midday. At that time, it seemed that perhaps the red dragon would win, but the white breathed out such a terror flame that the red dragon, screaming, was burned up. The white dragon lay down to rest, but its wounds were so terrible that it died within three days.

"Now you may build your tower, for only the dragons could topple it," said Merlin.

"Tell me the meaning of all this," Vortigern said.

"I will gladly do so, if you honor your promise to give the wise men into my power, and further promise your protection of me before all the people, and guarantee me that no one shall do me harm throughout your realm."

When Vortigern had done this, Merlin pardoned the wise men who had sought his death, on condition that they would do penance for it, and said to all who were assembled, "Hear now the meaning of the dragons. You, O Duke, are the red dragon, and the sons of Constans are the white dragon. You have taken their heritage wrongfully, and thus one of you, the red or the white, must die. You seem to have the upper hand, but by their power they shall burn you. Your tower shall not be finished before you fall."

Then Vortigern was afraid and, being afraid, grew angry. "Where are these children now?"

And Merlin said, "They are even now at sea, with a great host. They will arrive in vengeance within three months."

to be continued

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Bloodless Envenomed Roses

 A Song of Circe
by Gordon Bottomley 

Thin flakes of light drop through
The trees yet wet with dew,
And flicker in the grass
Whereo'er I pass

To reach the wood's mid deep
Ere day theredown shall creep;
Strange secret weeds to win
That bloom therein; 

Where every moon uncloses
Bloodless envenomed roses
For my dread anodyne,
My pallid wine. 

For lovers evermore
My white-armed maidens pour
Dull languid draughts that soothe
Mad age, mad youth: 

Draining the oft-lipped chalice,
They find love cold as malice
And malice dead as love;
Despair they prove 

Mid musky colonnades
And twilit garden-glades,
Where dim lights come and go
And winds ne'er blow.

Monday, June 17, 2024

Error and Controversy

 A direct controversy with error entails one disadvantage. By such a course the latter is unduly acknowledged for a positive power of evil. But in reality it only becomes so conditionally, through the atomistic splitting and diffusion of false ideas, and by the mass of its followers, when once every thing is resolved into elementary decomposition. Moreover, one extreme of exaggeration, whenever in controversy we enter into it and get involved in it, easily introduces its opposite, which then again is on its side carried too far or which even, though strictly and literally it be right enough, is yet asserted with too little of limitation, and applied with unsalutary rigor. It is, therefore, a lamentable mistake if men of great and deserving talents, who from a scientific point of view have devoted themselves to the great task of morally regenerating the age, have adopted a too decidedly polemical tendency. For it is partly through exclusively following such a course that their influence for good has been so narrow and limited, and has not met with a more general and more unqualified success.

[Friedrich Schlegel, Philosophy of Life, p. 314.]

Sunday, June 16, 2024

The Mystery of Piety 1.5.1&2

To say that this one was immensely difficult is an understatement, and to say that it is therefore rough and preliminary should go without saying.


Fifth Part of the First Question

1.5.1  On Attributes of Divine Being

Having considered how we know God and how we name God, the natural next step is to consider God insofar as He is the object of our knowing and naming. In naming God as we know Him, we attribute certain things to Him, and what is attributed to Him is therefore called a divine attribute. (Some people confine the term 'divine attribute' to cases involving positive rather than negative names, but I do not regard this as a substantive and stable distinction, and therefore will count all names that may be truly attributed to God.) A divine attribute, therefore, is God insofar as He is known and named in a certain way. As we have previously noted, divine names, insofar as they follow our genuine knowledge of God, must be understood in a way appropriate to causation, remotion, and eminence. Therefore we must only count as divine attributes those things that we have established to belong to God on causal inference, from which we have carefully removed those things that indicate imperfection or defect or the nature of an effect, and that we understand in such a way as to recognize that God exceeds all our knowing and naming.

From this we can see that if we apply a term to God like 'being', we must do so in a way that is constrained by its causal inference. In this case, the causal inference is that we begin with the being of other things as effects that must participate being itself, and thus God insofar as being may be attributed to Him. To this, revelation adds the mystery of the Ineffable Name, in Exodus 3, which is testimony, an effect from which we infer what is testified, namely, that God may say (Ex 3:14 LXX), I am Being. As everything conceived is conceived in relation to being, and the attribution of anything to anything depends on how it is conceived, what is true of being serves as a kind of template for all other divine attributions. However, since 'being' as a divine attribute must be understood in a way appropriate to causation, remotion, and eminence, may use terms attributing being to God in ways that emphasize more or less any of these three. Understanding this is important for understanding differences in theological language over time or across cultures. This is also helpful for sorting out certain confusions about the divine attributes. 

(1) Some people have said that God exceeds anything that is attributed to him. In this they were thinking of terms and concepts insofar as they applied to creatures. Thus they held that God is beyond being, beyond wisdom, etc. 

(2) Others have held that divine attributes apply to God as perfect in all ways and wholly subsistent, and thus that God is perfect being or preeminently being, preeminently wisdom, etc.  In this they particularly considered God as that which is most excellent.

(3) Yet others have said that divine attributes are in God, so that God has being, has wisdom, and so forth. These attributions are attributed to God insofar as things attributed to creatures must derive from God as cause and source.

All three of these ways of talking are acceptable, if they are understood in such a way as not to rule out the others; that is, insofar as they are each understood in a manner appropriate to the unified triplex via of remotion, eminence, and causation. What we attribute to God is based on participation of and assimiliation to Him, and is to be understood in such a way; but any such participation and assimilation suggests that there is more to God than can be participated, so we must recognize it as suggesting God insofar as He is imparticipible and beyond all imitation. Thus we attribute being to God, insofar as beings derive from Him by participation and imitation, and the being we attribute to Him is not exhausted by such participation and imitation, and He is not confined to what we can attribute to Him even in this way. As all other attributions presuppose the attribution of being, this is true of every other divine attribute.

Actual being is the most fundamental form of being, and therefore is especially appropriate to attribute to God; thus we say, for instance, that God is pure act (actus purus). Everything that has actual being, however, is known by being related to another; that is to say, we are aware of and come to understand what actually is insofar as it actually is to, in, or with another. Such relative conception of being is known by many different names in different contexts, because there are many different ways anything can be to, for, or with another; for instance, depending on the context and intent we may call use terms like energy (energeia), active power, habit or active disposition, activity, action, operation, and many others. As all being can be conceived under a relation of some kind, only nonbeing lacks energy or activity in this sense. Because of this, when Damascene discusses the meanings of the term 'energy' (De Fide 2.23), he is quite generous in what he allows, saying that energy is the natural force and activity of each essence and natural energy is the activity innate in every essence and no essence can be devoid of natural energy; he calls it as well the force in each essence by which its nature is made manifest and the primal, eternally moving force of the intelligent soul and the eternally moving word of the soul, which ever springs naturally from it, and the force and activity of each essence which only that which is not lacks, and finally, drastic (δραστική, i.e., self-moved) activity of nature. Elsewhere (3.15), he calls it complete realization of power. As examples he gives faculties, actions, and affections or passions, as well as, in a looser sense, the results of these things. Activity is thus the expression of actuality; what is actual acts and acts only insofar as it is actual. We may even say that particular actions, i.e., activity with respect to a particular object, are the actual thing being not merely actual in itself but actual to, in, or with another. On the other side, what acts does so insofar as it is actual, precisely because to act in this sense is to be actual with respect to a given way of being related to another.

All of this follows of God as well, who is known through divine activity. Indeed, it is in some sense more true of God than other things that God is known through His activity, because we do not know what God is in Himself. St. Basil also says the same in discussing whether we know the God we worship (Ep. 234): I do know that He exists; what His essence is, I look at as beyond intelligence. This is because, as he notes, we know that God has certain attributes, even though this falls short of knowing God's very quiddity; in his words, We say that we know the greatness of God, His power, His wisdom, His goodness, His providence over us, and the justness of His judgment, but not His very essence; but he goes on to note that he who denies that he knows the essence does not confess himself to be ignorant of God, because our idea of God is gathered from all the attributes which I have enumerated. In Epistle 235, he gives an analogy to this. If someone were to ask whether we knew Timothy, and on being told that we do, began to claim that we had said we know and understand Timothy's nature, he would have erred in his inference, because from the fact that we know Timothy in one way it does not follow that we konw him in such a way as to be able to give an exact, or even in any direct, account of his nature. We know him according to some of his attributes, but not in his very nature. This is, as Basil goes on to note true even of our self-knowledge (Ep. 235): I both know, and am ignorant of, myself. I know indeed who I am, but, so far as I am ignorant of my essence I do not know myself. And he concludes that those who conclude from our recognition of our ignorance of God that we therefore cannot worship Him err by ignoring that there are many ways we can be said to know and instead trying to force a single sense, direct contempation of divine substance. 

This line of thought can perhaps be thought of as symbolically represented in Exodus 33:19-23, in which the Lord shows Himself to Moses. The Lord promises to do so by way of His activity or energy: I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, ‘The Lord’; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. However, the Lord also notes the limitations of this: But, he said, you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live. As Nazianzen comments on this (Oration 28.3), For these are the Back Parts of God, which He leaves behind Him, as tokens of Himself like the shadows and reflection of the sun in the water, which show the sun to our weak eyes, because we cannot look at the sun himself, for by his unmixed light he is too strong for our power of perception. In this way then shall you discourse of God; even were thou a Moses and a god to Pharaoh; even were thou caught up like Paul to the Third Heaven, and had heard unspeakable words; even were thou raised above them both, and exalted to Angelic or Archangelic place and dignity.

Therefore, as Basil says (Ep. 234), knowledge of the divine essence involves perception of His incomprehensibility, and the object of our worship is not that of which we comprehend the essence, but of which we comprehend that the essence exists. On the basis of this, it is common in the Greek tradition of sacred doctrine to distinguish between knowledge of God in His energies, which is the knowledge that we may have, and knowledge of God in his ousia, which belongs only to Himself. When we translate ousia into English, we generally do so by translating it either as 'substance' or as 'essence', but either way but we must be wary because in this context specifically, energeia indicates divine being insofar as divine being is participable (whether by imitation or by cognition), and thus able to be known under these relations, but ousia, when it is contrasted with this, indicates divine being insofar as it is supereminent beyond all possible participation. It is clear that when we do this, we need to make the distinction between the two; thus St. Cyril of Alexandria says (Thesaurus 18), Essence and energy are not identical, and Palamas says (Cap. 127), Energy is neither essence nor accident. The energetic attributions in these contexts is relative to other things; as Palamas says (Philokalia IV, p. 127),  Not all things said of God betoken His essence. For what belongs to the category of relation is also predicated of Him, and this is relative and refers to relationship with something else, and does not signify essence. Such is the divine energy in God. In order to maintain this distinction, a certain sort of grammar is in play in Greek theological vocabulary, in order to prevent confusion; we may speak of energies in the singular or the plural but the ousia must be spoken of in the singular; energies may be described by figures of speech associated with change, but ousia may not be; ousia is treated as beyond name but energy as having many distinct names. On the other side, ousia and energeia may not be opposed in such a way as to suggest that they are separate, separable, or components of a composite whole; as Palamas says (Triads 2.8), We do not treat the unity of essence and energies as if they had the same meaning, but as something inseparable, and (Triads 3.2.7), God is entirely present in each of the divine energies. Thus the energy is said to proclaim the essence and the essence is said to be contemplated in or through the energy.

Ousia in the sense contrasted with divine energies is an example of the figure of catachresis, a stretching of the word into paradoxical territory in order to make simply a point that would otherwise take much labor or many words. Ousia in other contexts, however, may indicate that divine energy we know to be in God from the fact that other things actually are or have being, that is, divine being insofar as it is participable. When essentia is used in the Latin theological tradition, it mostly is associated with this latter energetic meaning rather than the catechretic meaning, although with it, too, there may be uses in which one emphasizes divine supereminence rather than the participability of effects in their first cause.  It is obvious that in general the use of a term will not be catechretic unless there is specific contextual need to take it in such an extended way; otherwise, it would not be catachresis. These matters have caused endless confusions among those who have difficulty understanding that Greek and Latin are different languages or, indeed, that even in a single question one term may be used differently depending on context and intent. We all suffer from the curse of the pride of Babel, and only the grace of the charity of Pentecost can overcome it.

We may therefore say, looking more to the reasons than to the particular vocabulary, that the following principles are true:

(1) Active power is to be attributed to God. As God is known from His effects, whether those of the natural world or those of grace and revelation, one must attribute to Him the power for producing those effects. Power, potency, potentiality, capability, capacity, and other such terms are attributed relatively and in two ways. When the manner of the relation by which it is attributed is in some way contrary to actuality, this is called passive power; for instance, we say that something has the power or ability to be changed into X, which attributes to it a power that is contrasted with the actuality of X. However, the relation by which we attribute power to something may be such that it is not contrary to actuality. This is called active power. We have already seen that the relation connecting God to His effects must be such that God has no potentiality, only actuality. For instance, incomplete actuality as an effect requires complete actuality as a first changing or making cause, which we call God. Therefore the power to be attributed to Him is not to be contrasted with actuality. Therefore active power is to be attributed to God.

(2) The active power of God is not other than the divine being, considered as that from which creatures have their being. First, active power belongs to something insofar as it is actual; thus God, as pure act, is not something receiving its actuality from something else, and therefore His power is not the kind that requires actualization or completion by anything. As He is God in His own simplicity, His power is not other than Himself. Likewise, God is subsistent being itself, and therefore does not have the kind of power that depends on participating in some other being, and therefore the power that God is is that which pertains to actual being itself. Any active power separable from the being of its agent is a categorical accident related to the agent as its substance; but there can be no accident or incidental characteristic in God, since that would make Him incompletely actual, deriving being participatively from some other being. Therefore the active power of God is not other than the divine being itself. What is more, we call this being 'active power' in terms of its being the principle of what has being from God, and we call this very active power 'action' insofar as we emphasize that which derives from God. 

(3) Distinguishable active powers are attributed to God, our attributions representing God imperfectly. When we speak of powers in created living things, or in things like water and fire that we think of as very active, we often speak of them as 'rooted in' or 'flowing from' the thing or from its essence; this language is sometimes used to speak of divine power. Such created things cannot act toward other things directly from their essence because whatever acts, acts in the way it is actual, but created things have to be disposed to their actions, whether in themselves or in how their actions relate to the material on which they act. Therefore their externally directed powers are, as it were, instruments that they use, and so accidental forms. This is not true of God, who produces directly and immediately by His action rather than by modifying his capabilities in various ways to produce the effect. However, in every action that produces an effect, the effect is in some way like the agent from which it is distinguished and from which it comes, which in created living things is associated with this aspect of their action; therefore we transfer the same language to speak of God's production of His effects. Likewise, we often think of created living creatures as arrayed or clothed with their powers, through which they express themselves, and therefore we may speak of the divine active power being  'around the essence' or 'about the essence' of God. These are metaphorical, but this flowing and procession is that in created living things which imitates what in God is active power without fluctuation or movement.

If we keep these principles in mind, then when we attribute different actions to God, we do so truly, but also always relatively, remotively, and recognizing that God is eminent beyond what we can attribute to Him. Where the energies appear, they proclaim the unseen essence, such that the essence is contemplated with the energies; this is the constant testimonhy of the Greek theologians. This is because divine action is divine active power understood with respect to its term, while the divine active power is the divine being itself understood insofar as it is related to and participated by creatures. But it is also the case that God is not exhausted by the ability of any or even all creatures together to participate, i.e., 'take a part of', His active power and action in this way. In recognizing the participation, we also recognize the inexhaustibility of what is participated; in recognizing that creatures imitate Him in their way, we recognize that divine being exceeds all capacity of creatures to imitate Him as He is. Thus Basil says (Ep. 234), The operations are various, and the essence simple, but we say that we know our God from His operations, but do not undertake to approach near to His essence. His operations come down to us, but His essence remains beyond our reach. As noted above, this is often described metaphorically in terms of fluid, as a river flowing from a spring, or flame, as a radiance proceeding from a fire, in each case the one presupposing the other yet inseparable and indivisible with it. In the same way, God in Himself is absolutely prior to any and all creatures, depending on them not at all, and therefore cannot be wholly understood in terms of attributes derived from His relation to the latter. But all of these attributes presuppose that absolute priority, and can only be properly understood as attributed to God insofar as it is also understood that the attribution itself can never be adequate to the divine being itself. As Palamas says (Triads 3.2.7), Since God is present as a whole in each of the divine energies, we give names to God on the basis of each one of these, while, at the same time, affirming that essentially he transcends all of these. Otherwise, how would God be fully and indivisibly present in each of the many divine energies, and how would he be fully seen and named in each by virtue of his supernatural and indivisible simplicity, if he did not also transcend all of these. 

1.5.2  On the Multifold Simplicity of the Divine Energies

From all that has been said, we have seen that God exceeds what we or any created mind can identify as divine energies, active powers, activities, or operations. Understanding this helps us to avoid many errors. As God is first principle, when considering the distinction between being absolute and being relative, it is an error to think that this distinction is somehow prior to God, so that He must be placed simply on one side or the other. Of Himself, God is absolute, simple, incommunicable, infinite, necessary, but He is so only insofar as we understand this to mean that He eminently contains their opposites as well. Thus He is both, although it is crucial to understand that He is not both in the same way: thus it has been said that He is beyond being, beyond necessity, and so forth. This raises the question of how we may better conceive the way in which he is, in Palamas's phrase (Triads 3.2.7), fully seen and named in each by virtue of his supernatural and indivisible simplicity.

When we speak of divine energies, or active powers, we can think of them either absolutely or relatively, as one or as many. They are one, insofar as any attribution to God of active powers or energies is concerned with divine being, which is one. The unities we find in the world are divisible according to unity and multitude and thus can have unity in common while nonetheless receiving it in various ways and degrees. Whenever we find agreement in some respect we trace it back to primary unity. But all things agree in being, and therefore there must be a primary unity for all beings, and other unities must refer and trace back to it as source and measure. Since one is undivided being, if anything is supremely one it must be, and being itself would have to be utterly indivisible, since it cannot have its unity by participation. The one itself, from which all other things have their unity, is likewise being itself, from which all other things have their being. This we call God; as St. Anselm says (Pros. 18), You are unity itself. Thus everything attributed to God is attributed to Him as indivisible being; attribution of anything to God in such a way as to understand it as dividing the divine being is a false attribution. As St. Maximus says (Two Hundred Chapters 2.1), God is one, because divinity is one: a unity without first principle, simple, and beyond substance, both inseparable and indivisible.

Not all distinctions, however, are divisions, and because of this we may also think of divine activities as many; the attributions are many because we reach them by diverse routes with diverse starting points. Thus for instance, we attribute to God knowledge of the sun and knowledge of the moon. 'God's knowledge of the sun' and 'God's knowledge of the moon' are not divided from each other in God; God in knowing Himself knows all things. But 'God's knowledge of the sun' and 'God's knowledge of the moon' are not synonymous expressions, because 'sun' and 'moon' are not synonyms; they are distinct ways of referring to God's knowledge, wholly one, by which He knows all things, whether the sun or the moon or anything else. They do not signify the same thing, because they have reference to other things; as Palamas says (Philokalia IV, p. 127),  Not all things said of God betoken His essence. For what belongs to the category of relation is also predicated of Him, and this is relative and refers to relationship with something else, and does not signify essence. But the diversity does not in any way threaten the divine simplicity, because we do not attribute them to God as if they were component parts of any kind.

Likewise, it is not prejudicial to God’s simplicity if many relations are predicated of Him, although they do not signify His essence; those relations are dependent on God and the predications are consequent upon our way of understanding. Nothing prevents our intellect from understanding many things and referring them to a simple thing, so as to consider that simple thing under a manifold relationship. But more than this, the more simple a cause, the greater is its power and the more our minds can think of in relation to it, so that it is understood as related in so many more ways. God is the limit case of this; everything else can be related to Him as cause, and therefore when we seek to understand Him as cause, we do so by many different relations to His many different effects. As Damascene says (De Fid. 1.14), the divine effulgence and energy, being one and simple and indivisible, assuming many varied forms in its goodness among what is divisible and allotting to each the component parts of its own nature, still remains simple and is multiplied without division among the divided, and gathers and converts the divided into its own simplicity. The very fact that so many things are predicated of God in a relative manner bears witness to His supreme simplicity, which is therefore, as Augustine says (De Trin. 4.4), a simple multiplicity, or multifold simplicity.

Augustine uses the phrase simple multiplicity, or multifold simplicity in analogizing the divine unity to the unity of virtues. Each virtue has its own meaning, but the virtues are not separable but have a sort of circumincession and interpenetration. Fully to have fortitude requires prudence, justice, and temperance, and the full exercise of acts of fortitude requires that they involve the other virtues in some way. We see the effectiveness of this analogy in thinking of integrity of character; this integrity has often been thought, by the Neoplatonists, for instance, in terms of a simplicity by which we imitate the One. When our character is defective, it is more obviously composite, with different aspects clashing and our character as a whole most easily characterized in terms of warring parts. As we become more virtuous, these divisions and inconsistencies are healed and character becomes more unified. When virtue comes into its full completeness, the virtues are one, so that to have any virtue is to have them all. Even in this state, 'prudence' and 'fortitude' are not synonyms and can be distinguished, but prudence and fortitude in their completeness involve each other in such a way that to know one fully requires knowing the other fully; the diversity of attributes to a character of full integrity does not indicate any lack of simplicity. In the case of divine attributes, the unity is even greater than that which we find in fully virtuous character, but their very perfection means we must attribute more to the divine being. Thus after giving the analogy, Augustine continues (De Trin. 4.4), How much more therefore is this the case in that unchangeable and eternal substance, which is incomparably more simple than the human mind is? Since, in the human mind, to be is not the same as to be strong, or prudent, or just, or temperate; for a mind can exist, and yet have none of these virtues. But in God to be is the same as to be strong, or to be just, or to be wise, or whatever is said of that simple multiplicity, or multifold simplicity, whereby to signify His substance.  Thus we may borrow a phrase from elsewhere and say that diverse attributions are attributed to God, not in confusion, not in separation, but in such a way that each is in each, and each in all, and all in each, and all in all, and all are one.

In all of this, we have been concerned with divine active power primarily insofar as it is attributed to God; but we can also consider it primarily insofar as creatures are related to it. Thus we must also consider the divine presence and glory, to which we will now turn.

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Music on My Mind


Kyu Sakamoto, "Ue o muite arukou". As the translation in the video notes, Ue o muite arukou means 'I look up as I walk', but the song is almost universally known by its second title, "Sukiyaki". It was  chosen just to make it more recognizable to Americans when the song was released  in the U.S. -- sukiyaki was the best known Japanese dish in the U.S. prior to about the 1980s. Nonetheless, despite what the video says, the title is actually well chosen. In the song, the singer is looking up at the stars, alone, trying not to cry, thinking back on happier days in spring, summer, and autumn; sukiyaki is a traditionally a winter dish, and often associated with meals at the end of the year. In any case, the original song, a rather melancholy version, came out in 1961. A slightly more upbeat version with lyrics changed to make them more bittersweet than sad was made for the American market, and became the one everyone knows. It hit the American charts in 1963 and skyrocketed, became the first East Asian song to make it into the Billboard 100, overflowed onto the music charts of several other countries, and became one of the top 20 best-selling singles of all time, a position it still holds. It's not just the most famous Japanese song in the world, it is one of the most famous songs, period. And it's easy to see why; it's instantly recognizable but it never gets old. Simple, sincere expressions of the most basic things in human life never do.

Two Poem Drafts

In the second poem, Zaum (literally, 'beyond-mind') is the name for a style of Russian nonsense-poetry, and bezumiye is Russian for 'insanity, madness'. The poem is not a Zaum poem; there is only one line that might plausibly ever be found in Zaum; rather, Zaum's taken as a symbol for the inarticulate moment of poetic creation that is like, but directly opposed to, madness; between zaum and bezumiye, poems are born.

In Shadows Walk the Gentle Dead

 In shadows walk the gentle dead
along the paths of stone and star
and whisper words inside my head
of realms of dimlit forest far.
The ships may sail on moon-bright seas
where phantoms walk in waving foam;
in dreams I sail, and walk on leas
where quiet wraiths in sorrow roam.
An ache of temple, weary brow,
and mists that curl in haunted brain,
and heavy head may nod and bow
to walk on strange, enchanted plain.

Between Zaum and Bezumiye

Somewhere between zaum and bezumiye,
where some dark Enochian stream
is mashed into clay and Anglicized form,
the Spirit broods on dark waters,
preparing the poetic word
in a breath not yet informed.
Whooshing is the condition for meaning,
wind for high sails.
Here in dark silence anticipating,
word unknown,
way unseen,
the agent intellect contemplates,
then speaks and shines.
Runs forth the red;
evening and morning
are born only in word,
a flutterby from a feline pillar
that stands at the gates of the dead
where the pyramids rise by river's flood
as new lands bloom with gold grain.
The angels perhaps are singing:
azel, azel, azel, menar abazim;
the morning stars proclaim in joy
the proto-words descending
from seraph to throne.
And round goes the cycle,
sealed with a selah,
returned to the quest
of the formless unformed,
the leviathan of madness
by divine spear slain
in a cyanocholic sea.
Swishing with wishes,
the waves of that sea shy from all shores;
yet by division lands will soon show
when word is born again.

Friday, June 14, 2024

Dashed Off XIV

 Attitude coordination is a major aspect of spoken language, regardless of other aspects of meaning.

All social animals can be taught simple patterns of exchange.

Much of how any market works is done by the visible hand.

probability axioms and the structure of conservation laws?

In every field, skeptics can be deliberately stupid faster than dogmatists can form arguments; this is part of their lack of paideia.

The purpose of human law is the temporal tranquillity of civil society, and thus the pacific order of civilized life.

In Christ, the human race is given a new vocation, but it is given this vocation explicitly through the Church.

Beattie's traditionary argument: Theory of Language, Part II, ch 3, pp. 315-316

The liturgical year is a theology of the Eucharist and nothing less than the whole liturgical year is adequate even to a sketch of such a theology.

virtue as that which maintains the peace appropriate to common good

the Aristotelian primum mobile as boundary-cycle, the point of convergence between place & time

the internal morality of having a common good

Maritain's four characteristics of a free society: personalist, communal, pluralist, theist

"...the development of the human person normally requires a plurality of autonomous communities which have their own rights, liberties, and authority...." Maritain

incipit : generables :: desinit : perishables

Organizations don't use diversity programs to increase diversity, in the main; they use them as symbolic substitutes for diversity.

sacrilege against the human image

The fullness of happiness can only lie in common good. We cannot be fully happy in a hell of solitude.

Operations lead to ends by being contributors to them, or by being makers of them, or by being meritorious of them where the end is in the gift of another.

subsidiarity as "a normative structure of plural social forms" (Hittinger)

"Nature gives speech to human beings, and speech is directed to human beings communicating with one another regarding the useful and harmful, the just and unjust, and the like." Aquinas

The source of contingency in the effect is nondetermination in the cause.

The divine intellect, like the human intellect, is a free power, and therefore like and with the divine will is the source of contingency in creatures.

The human person is in destination the representation of God.

Every proof may be interpreted either as a proof, or as a procedure, or as an exposition of relations.

"For if essences, or possible terms of thought, are infinite in number and variety, it follows that every particular fact is contingent, arbitrary, and logically unnecessary, since infinite alternatives were open to existence, if existence had chosen to take a different form." Santayana
-- this is so fallacious as to be astounding; the conclusion does not follow, and, worse, it implies that there are necessarily particular possiblities (by introducing terms like possibility and contingency) and, worse still, the whole reasoning seems to imply that "There are no necessary truths" is a necessary truth.

We have a remarkable amount of knowledge of the immediate future. Almost everyone in almost every circumstance can predict exactly what will happen in the next fraction of a second.

We dramatize truth poetically because drama and poetry are imitations of truth.

"...allowing every man to pursue his own interest in his own way, upon the liberal plan of equality, liberty, and justice" Adam Smith, Wealth 4.9.3

symmetry as the sameness of the different
the different that makes no difference
symmetry as being relative to a change

Weaker modalities anywhere are explained by stronger modalities somewhere.

the link between symmetries and fields (fields as what makes it possible to do the comparison to identify a symmetry of a certain kind)
force as changing of a field

"The divine intellect is actual by its essence as the basis for understanding, and by this fact it has first act sufficient to produce everything else in esse cognitum, and by producing it in esse cognitum produces it as something that as dependence on it as intelligence (and the intellection is of that thing because the other thing depends on this intellection as on an absolute), just as in other things it is said that a cause considered as merely absolute as a first act, from which an effect proceeds, and the effect produced has a relation to the cause." Scotus (Ord. 1.35.1n47)
--This is a remarkable set of claims that deserves some thinking.

Scotus seems to take all modalities to be based on (principiated by) concepts (ultimately, but not exclusively, divine concepts).

The scientific study is exactly that, a study; it is a looking-into and only can become evidence in the context of a larger inquiry.

Historical knowledge is gained by perpetually circulating, continually thinking through the same acts.

"If the blessing of a man had so great power that he could change nature, what are we to say of that consceration to God wherein the very words of our God and Savior are instrumental? For that Sacrametn which you receive is made by the word of Christ. If the word of Elijah had so great power that it brought down fire from heaven, shall not the word of Christ have the power to change the species of the elements?" Ambrose

One does not 'choose a tradition'; one accepts what is handed down or one rejects it.

There is a tendency in bad attempts at phenomenology to assume a unitary phenomenon rather than to discover unities in the phenomena.

Reading Scripture as Scripture is training in understanding the things of the world in terms of their meaning, although it is not only this.

Theological doctrines of infallibility are not about cognition but about magisterial authority.

When you try to administer by statistics, you don't get administration according to rigorous inference, you get administration by the Circle-Is-Line school of statistics. That is, you don't get policies that are based on the best approach to analysis. You get policies based on the approach that always easily gives an analysis, whether good or bad.

People confuse improving themselves and giving themselves beneficial things.

"Every science and langauge and religion is big with unsuspected harmonies; it is for the genuine poet or philosopher to feel and to express them." Santayana

"A tradition, however firmly rooted, if it is never watered, though it dies hard, yet in the end it dies." Dorothy Sayers

One of Dickens's strengths is the ability to march the novel right up to the edge of allegory without ever actually tipping over.

-- Dickens on 'telescopic philanthropy' (Bleak House)
the foggy conscience as the root of the parallel between telescopic philanthropy and the interminable cases at chancery (confusion of ends and means, depreciation of present people)
-- rapacious benevolence, doing charity wholesale

"A development, to be truthful, must retain both the doctrine and the principle with which it started." Newman

the problem of ingratitude to saints

Resurrection : New Life :: Ascension : New Presence

the whole of Scripture as a divine-ecclesial speech act
-- much Biblical scholarship seems to confuse locutionary act and illocutionary force at this level

(1) Whatever is received is received according to some mode.
(2) transcendental disjunctions (e.g., infinite-or-finite)
(3) What is had in the lesser mode can be had from something having in the greater mode, but not vice versa.
(4) Therefore lesser mode is from greater mode.
(5) But there cannot be infinite regress in mode of reception.
(6) Therefore there is something having in greater mode that has in that mode without having received.

One: Christ as Head
Holy: Christ as Savior
Catholic: Christ as Lord (having authority in heaven and on earth)
Apostolic: Christ as Son (from God, mission)

The sun is clear here,
never hidden;
it shines with halo,
hale and holy.

By their very construction, possible worlds require truthmakers. However, different interpretations may require different truthmakers.

nonbinding standards & the 'reasonable person' in law

Our true reawakening is on the other side of death and judgment; but in this life we can have many small anticipations of it.

inner morality of legislation, of law enforcement, of adjudication, of citizenship

No legal system can exist without a pre-legal moral background

inner morality of liturgy, of pastoral direction, of parochial administration, etc.

the politics of redefinition

Mt 25:14 and the Ascension

Feynman diagrams as a diagrammatic classification system for interactions

Real & unreal Feynman diagrams -- for real:
(1) Conserved quantities are conserved at vertices.
(2) Processes have a minimum energy, which depends on context. (e.g., energy must be conserved from all perspectives) ---> Important for understanding 'virtual particles' (inside diagram, particles can have any mass at all; but the contribution of an interactions is related to how close such numbers are to real) --> These are basis of sum-over-histories approach.
(3) Fermions always interact with bosons, not fermions, but bosons can interact with both. 
--> photons (interact with particles that have electric charge); gluons (with colored particles, i.e., quarks and gluons); Z bosons (particles affected by weak interactions: fermions, Higgs bosons, W & Z bosons); W bosons (p-type quark <-> down-type quark; electrons and neutrino forms); Higgs bosons (with massive particles); gravitons (with everything)

Different kinds of people have different problem-solving skills.

Careers are means, not ends.

The monk converts physical to spiritual labor.

Parents often suffer in the person of their children.

All mathematics of which we know presupposes a background of interacting with the world.

space as possibility of boundaries

Every divine name is a moral ground of authority.

liturgy as mediation of infinite intelligibility

Self-understanding is not constituted by beliefs about ourselves.

the modal logic of the declared
X counts as Y in context C (e.g., whales count as fish for the purposes of such-and-such fishing law)
Box (xy)c -> T (xy)c -> Diamond (xy)c

impressionistic vs principled conscience

Melodies arise because tones are not purely separate but have at least loose tendencies to other tones, and sequences of tones have extrapolations to other sequences of tones.

Rhythms in music help us to sort out what else is happening in the music; it is what therefore allows layering.

"Verse is to poetry, what colours are to painting." Beattie
"Good breeding is the art of pleasing those with whom we converse."
"Translations are like portraits. They may give some idea of the lineaments and colour, but the life and the motion they cannot copy; and too often, instead of exhibiting the air of the original, they present us with that only which is most agreeable to the taste of the painter."

Instead of possible worlds, we could just as easily interpret modalities in a framework of permissible complexes for worldmaking or comprehensible cognizable systems. Structurally it would work much the same way.

free and responsible agents, equal in dignity, united in common purpose

Liberty, equality, and fraternity are each something that requires extensive training and planning.

La Cote Male Taille has to be chronologically early.

Simplified Moorman Scheme
I. Arthur
IV. Gareth
II. Lucius
III. Launcelot
VI. Santegraal
VII. Guinevere
VIII. Arthur
(V. Tristram overlaps IV, II, and III)
-- however, Malory presents Lancelot as recently knighted in Book II and one of the three best knoghts in the world in IV; yet Tristram is apparently a knight of the Round Table in II and not yet in IV. -- It is possible, though that Tristram is at court but has not yet joined RD in II.

Malorian inconsistencies
Bk I. Arthur fights with Excalibur before having it; Griflet fights as a knight before being knighted; Merlin's prediction of the death of the eleven kings fails; knight belong to the Round Table before there is a Round Table; Arthur's sisters are wed, but Merlin says Arthur will give one to Pellinore; Gawain's damsel is present despite having deserted; Pellinor says only he or his next kin can achieve the Questing Beast, but the QB is chased by Palomides after his death; the maiden of Balin's sword is present after she leaves.
Bk VI. inconsistent names for the Maimed King
-- Most supposed inconsistencies are just numbers that don't add up (e.g., in Bk VII, Arthur takes nine knights, but ten names are given)

Hume T 1.2.6 as an account of cognitional/intentional being
(1) What is cognized is cognized as being.
(2) Either this being is (a) cognized distinctly from that to which it is attributed or (b) the same as what is cognized.
(3) Hume rejects (a) on the basis of the separability principle, so he accepts (b).
(4) Distinction of reason is rejected based on the univocity of being.

"The supposit is the individuated nature considered as subsistent." Joseph Owen
"If its nature is intellectual, the supposit is called a *person*."

symbebekes: what goes along with being per se
accidens: what falls on / happens to being per se

place (ubi) : posture (situs) :: continuous : discrete