Saturday, July 02, 2016

Radio Greats: A Tooth for Paul Revere (Escape)

"Tired of the everyday grind? Ever dream of a life of romantic adventure? Want to get away from it all? We offer you... Escape!"

Escape is probably second only to Suspense as the great anthology show of the Golden Age of Radio. It lasted seven years and had 230 episodes, generally of excellent quality, often adapting the great short stories of the early and mid-twentieth century.

"A Tooth for Paul Revere" adapts a tale by Stephen Vincent Benet. It's a Fourth of July episode, having aired on 4 July 1948. But it takes a charmingly indirect route. It's troubled times in the American colonies and there is revolution in the air, but Lige Butterwick, a Massachusetts farmer, is not particularly concerned about that because he has a very bad toothache. It will need to be pulled, but will leave a nasty gap. He hears tell of a silversmith who is a bit of a wizard when it comes to making artificial teeth: Paul Revere. With the resolve of a stubborn country boy determined not to let the city folk stand in his way, he sets out to find Paul Revere. In so doing he ends up opening a whole box of trouble he would never have imagined before....

You can listen to "A Tooth for Paul Revere" online at Escape and Suspense!.

You can also read the Stephen Vincent Benet story on which it is based, at Internet Archive.

Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose


Opening Passage:

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. This was beginning with God, and the duty of every faithful monk would be to repeat every day with chanting humility the one never-changing event whose incontrovertible truth can be asserted. But we see now through a glass darkly, and the truth, before it is revealed to all, face to face, we ee in fragments (alas, how illegible) in the error of the world, so we must spell out its faithful signals even when they seem obscure to us and as if amalgamated with a will, wholly bent on evil. (p. 3)

Summary: It is 1327. Tensions are high between the Pope in Avignon, John XXII, and Louis of Bavaria; tensions are high between the Spiritual Franciscans and the Conventual Franciscans; tensions are high between nations. Adso of Melk, an Austrian Benedictine novice, is in Italy with his parents, who are accompanying the Emperor; to keep him out of trouble, and at the advice of Marsilius of Padua, his parents hand him over to assist the Franciscan friar, William of Baskerville, who is entrusted with a mission for the Emperor. Legations from the Emperor and the Pope are meeting at an abbey in Northern Italy to negotiate various matters of mutual importance.

When William and Adso get to the abbey, however, they begin to discover a string of mysteries. Adelmo of Otranto, one of the young monks, has been found dead under suspicious circumstances, and the abbot of the monastery, Abo, asks Brother William to look into it, so that it will not interfere with the delicate political matters with which the abbey currently must deal. But one death leads to another death, and the meeting of legations becomes a heresy hunt. At the center of it all is the library, a vault of secrets and conspiracies, and in the library there is a book to which all the deaths are connected....

There is so much to the work that one must pick and choose what to talk about. As one might expect, there is a tendency to the allegorical in this work, as there is in all of Eco's writing. The abbey with its outsized library is in a sense the medieval world itself. The monastery is radically multinational: it represents all medieval Europe from Italy to Sweden. It is the locus of all the major political debates of the day, both ecclesiastical and secular. The library even literally represents the world.

The strength of the novel, however, is in the characterization. Even the secondary characters all stand out as distinctive, and the interaction between William and Adso as they attempt to unravel the mystery is excellent -- they are such very different people. Either would likely become tiresome if they had to carry the tale on their own, but they bring out each other's strengths and compensate for each other's weaknesses. Without Adso, William would come across as ruthless and manipulative, because in a sense he is -- almost every conversation he has with anyone other than Adso involves him leading the discussion in a direction he wants, to get what he wants, if he can. Adso, on the other hand is too thoroughly medieval for the mystery genre.

It is also a brilliant move that the narrating character is not a mediating character. We are all closer to William of Baskerville than we are to Adso, very nearly by definition. Adso is not an Everyman; he does not represent the modern reader but the medieval people about whom we are reading. If you think about the way medieval tales usually work, this is quite rare, and while no doubt difficult to do properly it avoids the great danger of modernizing the medieval into oblivion.

Eco's most common weakness is that his philosophical interests tend to overwhelm the story. He is quite ingenious in working around this, but it is often noticeable in other works. The Name of the Rose, however, is arguably Eco's greatest work precisely because his philosophical interests never manage to overwhelm the story. Eco pulls the whole tale in an agnostic direction -- but the medieval worldview inherent in much of the tale is powerful enough to fight back, and the tale itself, as a mystery, gives it room to do so, since the mystery genre is itself not particularly friendly to agnosticism (people do not generally read mysteries in order to discover that there may be no solution, but to see a disorder turn out to be order after all). Since Eco is indeed very agnostic but he is also informed enough about medieval thought not to slip into mere caricature (which is not to say that he does not ever caricature), this gives the story an extraordinary richness.

In many ways the novel is a way to tell of a clash between the medieval worldview of the fourteenth century and a modern worldview that did not actually exist yet but whose foundations were being laid, a fact occasionally indicated by a little authorial cheating (e.g., Adso's prophetic dreaming, or William's quoting Wittgenstein toward the end). Technically, the medieval worldview loses the fight. Historically it must. But it is represented with such power that a reader might well be left wondering if its loss was due more to technicality than the greater strength of the modern worldview. We may be left with Adso gathering fragments of a lost past, left with nothing but words, but the appeal of the story itself is all in the medieval mystery.

William Weaver's translation, of course, is a tour-de-force. It takes a special kind of erudition to translate Eco, but the English works in its own right.

Favorite Passage:

"But is the unicorn a falsehood? It's the sweetest of animals and a noble symbol. It stands for Christ, and for chastity; it can be captured only by setting a virgin in the forest, so that the animal, catching her most chaste odor, will go and lay its head in her lap, offering itself as prey to the hunters' snares."

"So it is said, Adso. But many tend to believe that it's a fable, an invention of the pagans."

"What a disappointment," I said. "I would have liked to encounter one, crossing a wood. Otherwise what's the pleasure of crossing a wood?" (pp. 379-380)

Recommendation: Highly Recommended.


Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose, Warner (New York: 1984).

Friday, July 01, 2016

Three New Poem Drafts and Three Poem Re-Drafts


Who would be the first must first be last;
who grasps for first will soon be last.
By pride you fall; you will not last.
God pounds you on His maker's last.


The fairest of all things
is the bloom-burst of the rose,
or so the clever poets say
(with justice, I suppose),
but fairer still, I will insist,
is the smudge upon your nose.

Wherein I Sing Your Praises

You are imperfect, love.
I suppose you had to be.
Were you a little better,
you would be too good for me.
The felix culpa of your failing,
the wonder of your flaw,
fills my heart with gladness,
fills my mind with awe.
A sinner you were fashioned;
you fail upward to holy God.
The same is true of me,
so your faults I firmly laud.

Shaded Isles

Alas, no more the morning light
will catch the eye and spark to sight
the verdant earth, the azure blue,
and every other rainbow hue
that vests the world to make it bright;

alas, no more the morning light
will understanding's power fire
with vision and with heart's desire,
with waking thought and morning grace
as sunlight gladdens loving face;

instead the darkness, old and deep,
shall turn your eye and heart to sleep
and dreams no more shall haunt your brain,
nor tragic hopes, nor sorrow's pain,
but somewhere, lost in shaded isles,
your thought will stop to rest a while.


The cloud was an elephant chasing a whale
with a sun-gloried body and a vaporous tail
and a turtle went swimming in deep azure sea
as I walked by the road with my heart careless-free.
Before and behind in long, slinking style
swam two whisps and puffs of dread crocodiles
as the sun turned the whale into loving-cup lambs
who kissed and who played in the gaze of their dam;
then a boar and a reindeer did battle with horns
ere the angels went sweeping and twilight was born.
Take time from your day, and the wonders you'll see
if you walk by the road with your heart careless-free!

A Subdued and Pure Crimson

My reason said to me,
I am overarched!
This subtle arrow
that leaves no mark
has wounded me
with logical worship, blessed
to adore her name,
her deity confess,
to sacrifice
with the love of ardent mind,
on altar place the best in me
that thought can find.

My spirit said to me,
Heaven is to have the eyes
to see her
framed by morning sky
and by seeing
to find beatitude in the vision,
a new happiness,
a wisdom in passion,
to be charged with fire
that lifts on high
in sight's exaltation
where eye meets eye.

My instinct said to me,
I am undone!
I will ever be troubled
by this troubling one
who turns me over;
and in my reins
I am cast into ache
of love's violent pains,
so pleasant yet harsh,
such truth and such lie
that beats through my veins
and leaps in my sigh.

Rome, Naples et Florence: Preface; September 1816, Part I

If I'm ever going to do this, I suppose I must start it: Stendhal's Rome, Naples et Florence, Tome Premier. (Daniel Muller's notes to Tome I are in Tome II.) The reading's not going to be high or deep. This is tourism, not study: don't worry about catching it all, don't worry about misunderstanding, just read a bit in the guidebook, look at a map, read up a bit about the history, take a snapshot, make a comment, pass on to something else. (Putting it that way makes one realize that with social media we are all now just tourists in our own lives.)


But that perhaps fits the book itself, since in the Preface (to the third edition), Stendhal tells us that it's not a book, but a brochure! That can mean what it does in English, but since the brochure is several hundred pages long, unless he's being ironic I'm fairly sure Stendhal's not calling it a pamphlet. Rather, I think we are closer to the original meaning of the word: various pages sewn together.

[Berlin, 2 septembre 1816]

* The notes for this opening paragraph mention that it was examined closely in the review of the first edition in the Edinburgh Review, November 1817, so I looked it up. The first two paragraphs of the review are worth quoting in full:

The plan of this book is by no means a bad one. The author proposed to himself to set down, without any other arrangement than the order of time, what he saw from day to day with such remarks as occurred to him ; and to select for publication his notes respecting the three great cities of Italy beyond the Appennines. It is evident, however, that the value of a work constructed upon this plan, must depend wholly upon the talents and accomplishments of the author ; and that the cursory observations of a superficial, flippant, ignorant person, must form one of the most insignificant books in the world. It will be as empty as his conversation, without any of the liveliness, by means of which a great deal of silly talk is often made bearable in society ; and it will contain none of the materials by which a dull author frequently contrives to make a tolerable book out of other men's sayings or writings.

The writer of this volume is announced, in the newspaper advertisements, though not in the title-page, as a Baron Stendahl. He tells us, at the beginning of his journal, that he is thirty years of age ; is attached to the embassy at Berlin ; and was thrown into transports approaching to delirium, on receiving the leave of absence which enabled him to see Italy. 'Mais' (adds he) 'je me cache soigneusement du Ministre ;' — and the reason is a whimsical one — 'les eunuques sont en colere permanente contre les libertins.' From the envy, then, of his unfortunate superior, (for jealousy of course is out of the question), he anticipates a cold reception for at least two months after his return ; but he consoles himself with the reflexion, that he shall enjoy himself in the mean while ; and 'who knows,' he asks, 'if the world will last three weeks ?' The first paragraph of the work which we have analyzed, may give the reader a guess of the flippant character he has to deal with, in the person of the Baron de Stendahl.

That is such a splendidly ruthless take-down that I will keep the Edinburgh Review by my side for as long as I continue through RN&F. Even if Stendhal gets wearing, we can trade snide comments about his flippant character. Stendhal seems to have been a bit stung by the review; Muller notes that when he was putting together the second edition, he commented to a friend that the additions were «plus solide, plus sérieux, méritent moins l'accusation de flippancy».

* «Transports de joie, battements de coeur», though, seems a fit response to being able to go on a four month vacation to «belle Italie»...

[Ulm, 12 septembre]

...and a Mediterranean climate to contrast with the north wind in Germany, apparently. We just blow through Ulm, without even a glance at Ulm Minster; the book rushes us to Italy.

[Munich, 15 septembre]

But we do get the first taste of Italy before we even get there, as Stendhal meets the operatic singer, Angelica Catalani (1780-1849), a soprano who is said to have had a range of nearly three octaves. At this point, though, as far as I can tell from her biography, she hasn't been focusing on singing for a few years, but running her own opera company in Paris. According to Wikipedia: "In May 1816, Catalani left her opera in the hands of managers, and went to Munich to give some concerts and representations. Thence she proceeded to Italy, and only returned to Paris in August 1817." I find it amusing, from everything I can find online about her, that she was almost universally considered to have extraordinary musical talent and bad musical taste. But Stendhal seems to have had a lower opinion of German musical taste than of madame Catalani's.

And that suffices for now, with the preliminaries. On 24 septembre, Stendhal arrives in Milan and gushes, and gushes, and gushes about the Scala theater. Transports de joie, battements de coeur! I'll continue next Friday. (Although this won't be a weekly thing; but we aren't even to belle Italie yet.)

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Irrecoverable Mind

On a Volume of Scholastic Philosophy
by George Santayana

What chilly cloister or what lattice dim
Cast painted light upon this careful page?
What thought compulsive held the patient sage
Till sound of matin bell or evening hymn?
Did visions of the Heavenly Lover swim
Before his eyes in youth, or did stern rage
Against rash heresy keep green his age?
Had he seen God, to write so much of Him?
Gone is that irrecoverable mind
With all its phantoms, senseless to mankind
As a dream's trouble or the speech of birds.
The breath that stirred his lips he soon resigned
To windy chaos, and we only find
The garnered husks of his disused words.

Maronite Year LVII

Memorial of the Twelve Apostles
Romans 10:12-21; Matthew 9:36-38

Twelve disciples You called to Yourself;
You gave them power against evil.
Simon Peter was first, then Andrew,
and then came James and his brother John,
Philip, Bartholomew, and Thomas,
Matthew and James, son of Alphaeus,
Thaddeus, Simon, last Matthias.
From everywhere they drew disciples,
spreading light to the ends of the world.

O apostles, disciples of Christ,
we entrust ourselves to you with joy.
You are a great light to all the world;
you are the eyes of the holy Church;
you are the sowers of the good seed;
you are the builders of God's temple;
you fill the silos of joy with grain.
Intercede for us and pray with us!
We celebrate your names with gladness.

O Lord Christ, Sea of mercy and grace,
the twelve apostles stream out from You.
They are poured over our dying world,
bringing joyful life to the desert.
Their words flow to the end of the world.
We call on Your name because of them;
through their preaching we know Your mercy.
Their waters heal, flowing through Your Church,
and thus we sing hymns to Your great love.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Students and Change as Being in the Mind

Every term for Intro I have a class or two on Aristotle, looking at change and causation. One of the things I do is not to jump into Aristotle -- if you just jump into Aristotle, students don't have any sense of how much thought is going into each of Aristotle's moves -- but instead simply ask students to tell me what change is. I'll do some guiding here and there -- pointing out when they are falling back into mere synonyms, asking them how something different can also be the same when it comes up (as it always does), asking them what they mean by 'time' when they argue that change is difference through time (as they always do at some point) -- and particularly note and direct the discussion toward things that are relevant to understanding Aristotle, without telling them that I am doing so. At some point I start transitioning to actually talking about Aristotle's account. They don't actually like the discussion. But they do get a better sense of the actual difficulties Aristotle is facing.

As I've already noted there are things that always, always, always come up if the discussion goes on long enough -- time, or difference of the same. One of the things I've found, though, is that students are actually pretty open to the idea that change might just be in the mind. 'Perception', 'thought', and 'perspective' regularly come up as parts of definitions students propose -- for instance, they might propose, as someone did today, that change is different insights or perceptions of the same thing, or they might say that it is a perception of difference in something thought to be the same, or what is perceived by the senses, or a measurement of difference, all of which came up today.

At one point, I noted that several of the suggestions seemed to require that change be purely mental, and asked how many people thought that was true. About half the class said they did, with the other half saying that such an idea was absurd. One can't take that too seriously! There is always a portion of the class that is responding not with their own views but the view that they think at the moment I am looking for, or, indeed, responding in an attempt to find something, anything, that will make me stop asking them what change is. But it comes up every term. And every term there are at least a few students who argue for it quite intensely. And having lots of experience with it coming up, I think it actually arises in a given conversation from more than one cause. It comes up so often because several things allow for an easy transition to it, so if any of these things come up, the idea that change is all in the mind is likely to come up.

(1) The questions, "What is change?" and "How do we know what change is?", are difficult for people to distinguish, particularly in a group conversation. But, of course, knowing things is mental.

(2) Trying to explain change in terms of time makes it very difficult not to treat change as a mental phenomenon of some kind. We do not directly sense time, but only know it by measurement (in a broad sense of the word), and there are at least some reasons to think of time as perspective-dependent. But, of course, in English we naturally tend to talk about change in terms of time, and they have all heard discussions of particular changes that treat time as the fundamental thing, so any tendency to think of time in mental terms carries over to change.

(3) Perception is an obvious way you can have differences of the same without contradiction.

(4) One kind of change is mental change. Once that comes into view, it is surprisingly easy to assimilate physical change to mental change -- mental change is, in a sense, the change we know best.

(5) The Parmenidean notion, that what is and is known is not changing, has more traction than one might expect, in part, I think, because change is clearly not a thing, and they often take what is not a thing to be a mental construct rather than something known to exist.

(6) Pop Buddhist ideas encourage it.

(5) and (6) don't come up all the time, but they tend to be the causes that lead most consistently to students arguing for the position at length rather than (as they do with most of the other suggestions they make) jumping to something else at the first hint of a problem.

The Twin Light of the Eyes

And over this band [of martyrs], dearly-beloved, whom God has set forth for our example in patience and for our confirmation in the Faith, there must be rejoicing everywhere in the commemoration of all the saints, but of these two Fathers' excellence we must rightly make our boast in louder joy, for God's Grace has raised them to so high a place among the members of the Church, that He has set them like the twin light of the eyes in the body, whose Head is Christ. About their merits and virtues, which pass all power of speech, we must not make distinctions, because they were equal in their election, alike in their toils, undivided in their death. But as we have proved for ourselves, and our forefathers maintained, we believe, and are sure that, amid all the toils of this life, we must always be assisted in obtaining God's Mercy by the prayers of special interceders, that we may be raised by the Apostles' merits in proportion as we are weighed down by our own sins.

St. Leo the Great, Sermon 82 (On the Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul).

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Labyrinths and Problems

In Semiotics and the Philosophy of Language, Umberto Eco identifies three kinds of labyrinth.

(1) Classical labyrinth: The classical labyrinth is unicursal, with a single path and no branches. (The famous mythological labyrinth of Daedelus seems to have been branching, and is occasionally represented as such in very, very early representations, but at some point the representation became invariably of a single, intricately folded path to a center.) Such a labyrinth involves no choice; if a path is possible, it is the path to take. However intricate its folds, it can be perfectly represented by a single line. Eco notes that Ariadne's thread is useless in such a labyrinth, or rather, "the labyrinth itself is an Ariadne thread" (p. 80). Any challenge, like the Minotaur, is distinct from the labyrinth as such.

(2) Maze: Except for rare cases, real mazes are almost never represented in art before the Renaissance. Structurally, it would be represented not by a line but by a tree. Unlike a classical labyrinth, a maze is multicursal. It offers choices: paths are not necessary paths, a path can be a mistaken path, and thus Ariadne's thread, the clue that shows where to go next, can be important. The challenge is built into the very structure:

A maze does not need a Minotaur: it is its own Minotaur: in other words, the Minotaur is the visitor's trial-and-error process. (p. 81)

(3) Meander: If we took the tree-structure and started connecting nodes, we would et a net. "A net is unlimited territory" (p. 81): there may still be wrong answers, but there may be more than one right answer, and anywhere could, at least potentially, take you anywhere. Meanders also allow for loops.

At one point Eco makes the interesting observation that the network of a meander can be seen as a system of hypothetical trees. If I want to go from Austin to Milan, there are any number of ways I can go; different ways I could go would lead me to be faced with different choices, and eventually, by the time I got to Milan, I would have narrowed it down to one particular series of choices, which would be one tree out of many. many of the trees making up the meander of possible air routes won't get to Milan at all; there will, on the other hand be many that do. Of course, if one thinks about it, the tree of a maze is a system of hypothetical lines, routes through the maze. One could perhaps imagine (although Eco does not) a labyrinth that was a system of hypothetical networks. (Eco suggests that the rhizomes of Deleuze and Guattari are meanders, but since rhizomes are able to change through time, it seems to me that they would be a better candidate for precisely such a system of possible meanders.)

We can adapt Eco's classification of labyrinths to a form a classification of problems we might have to solve.

A plain labyrinth-problem is one in which the rule for solution (Ariadne's thread) is the only option for working through the problem (the labyrinth itself). It may have obstacles to create a challenge (Minotaurs), but the way to solve the problem, however long and intricate, is set by the problem itself. Examples of problems like these would be purely mathematical or logical problems in which one simply has to work through the options, or apply the axioms, to get the right answer -- that is, you just have to solve in a straight line.

A maze-problem, then, would be a problem in which there are alternative ways one might go about trying to solve the problem, not all of which get you to the end. We have a branching tree of choices, or (what is the same thing) a set of possible paths. The basic challenge of the problem (Minotaur) is built into it, although, of course, additional challenges could arise from other things. In order to solve the problem directly, at least with any consistency, we need information from outside the problem itself (Ariadne's thread). Otherwise, we have to try options until we find the ones that work -- any problem that is solved by trial and error is a maze-problem.

A meander-problem is one in which we have more than one possible series of alternatives. Like a maze-problem, the Minotaur is built in; like a maze-problem, any Ariadne's thread requires additional information from outside the problem itself; unlike the maze-problem, there may be multiple Ariadne's threads heading in different directions, some of them better than others. A good way to think of the difference here is by thinking of what happens if the labyrinth is infinite. An infinite labyrinth-problem is insoluble -- you never finish the task required to solve it. This is true of an infinite maze-problem, as well. But it is not necessarily true of an infinite meander-problem -- it depends on where one starts and ends and on the topology of the network and on the actual process of choosing routes. Or, to put it in other terms, since the structure of a meander is that of a system of hypothetical trees, even if some, or most, of those trees are infinite (and thus lead to no solution), some of them could still be finite. An infinite network has finite as well as infinite trees for its parts. One often finds meander-problems with searches (although not all searches are meander-problems); and they come up a lot when we are beginning to explore ideas or possibilities about which we know very little (and thus do not really know what the best way to try to solve the problem might be).

Umberto Eco, Semiotics and the Philosophy of Language, Indiana University Press (Bloomberg: 1984).

Monday, June 27, 2016

Two New Poem Drafts

The Rose

O none can hold swift beauty fast
as it to scattered winds is cast:
the rose is fair, she does not last.
The thorns remain when she is past.

The fair to scattered winds is cast;
the rose is fair: she does not last.
The thorns remain when she is past,
and none can hold her beauty fast.

The rose is fair; she does not last.
The thorns remain when she is past,
for none can hold her beauty fast
as it to scattered winds is cast.

The thorns remain when bloom is past,
and none can hold its beauty fast
as it to scattered winds is cast.
The rose is fair. She does not last.


In the dawn of the sun,
in a hope bright-lit,
strong, pure, with the light
of the truth and the grace
of the angels of God,
hearts leap to the task
of a life well-lived
with a will and resolve
that endures to the end.

Rough Timeline of the Early Avignon Papacy

Some dates are approximate; events for a year are not necessarily in order.

1260 Gherardo Segarelli begins preaching and gathering what would become the Apostolic Brethren, Segarelli's version of a mendicant order; Siena (Ghibelline) defeats Florence (Guelph) at the Battle of Montaperti

1268 Pope Clement IV dies and the papal conclave deadlocks between the French and the Italians

1271 The last major Crusade, under Edward Longshanks, makes some notable but very temporary gains in the Holy Land; Bl. Gregory X becomes Pope as a compromise candidate to break the deadlock (he is very surprised to be elected because he is not a bishop and is on crusade with Edward)

1272 Second Council of Lyon convoked in Lyon, France; St. Thomas Aquinas dies on his way to attend the council

1274 Second Council of Lyon restructures papal elections and forbids new mendicant orders without papal sanction; Rudolph I proclaimed Holy Roman Emperor; St. Bonaventure dies while attending the council

1276 Pope Gregory X dies and Bl. Innocent V becomes Pope; Pope Innocent V dies and Adrian V becomes Pope; Pope Adrian V dies and John XXI becomes Pope

1277 Pope John XXI dies and Nicholas III becomes Pope

1280 Pope Nicholas III dies and Martin IV becomes Pope, being crowned at Orvieto due to the hostility of the Romans to him

1282 Sicilian Vespers: a rebellion against French rule breaks out in Sicily, with the result that thousands of French are slaughtered; the Sicilians appeal to King Peter of Aragon for defense and the War of the Sicilian Vespers begins, plunging Europe into war

1284 Pope Martin IV declares the Aragonese Crusade against Peter of Aragon as part of the War of the Vespers, leading to civil war in Aragon

1285 Pope Martin IV dies (never having visited Rome during his pontificate) and Honorius IV becomes Pope

1287 Pope Honorius IV dies

1288 Nicholas IV becomes Pope (the first Franciscan Pope)

1291 Fra Dolcino joins the Apostolic Brethren

1292 Pope Nicholas IV dies

1294 Four Segarellians are burned at the stake and Gherardo Segarelli is imprisoned; St. Celestine V becomes Pope in July and abdicates in December; Boniface VIII becomes Pope and imprisons Celestine; Pope Celestine V welcomes the Fraticelli pf Angelo da Clareno but Pope Boniface VIII revokes their privileges

1296 Pope Boniface VIII declares the Fraticelli heretical

1298 Peter John Olivi dies

1300 Gherardo Segarelli burned at the stake in Parma; Fra Dolcino becomes the leader of the Apostolic Brethren; Pope Boniface VIII declares the first Jubilee Year

1301 Pope Boniface VIII issues the papal bull Ausculta Fili, requiring King Philip IV (the Fair) of France to do penance for intrusions on papal authority

1302 King Philip has the bull Ausculta Fili publicly burned in Paris; Pope Boniface VIII issues the papal bull Unam Sanctam, emphasizing papal supremacy; the Peace of Caltabellota ends the War of the Sicilian Vespers

1303 Pope Boniface VIII excommunicates King Philip the Fair; Pope Boniface VIII dies; Bl. Benedict XI becomes Pope

1304 The Dolcinians retreat to mountain fortresses, from which they conduct a guerilla compaign against the crusaders sent to rout them; Pope Benedict XI dies;

1305 Clement V is elected Pope, and refuses to go to Italy for his coronation, choosing Lyon instead; the Curia is moved to Poitiers

1307 Fra Dolcino and Margareta are burned at the stake; King Philip IV begins rounding up the Templars to avoid having to repay loans from them and to enrich his treasury with their assets; Bernard Gui begins his tenure as Inquisitor of Toulouse

1309 The papal curia is moved to Avignon: the Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy begins

1311 Under pressure from King Philip, Clement V convokes the Council of Vienne, which will suppress the Templars in the next year; Henry VII is crowned King of Italy in Milan

1312 Henry VII becomes Holy Roman Emperor

1313 Marsilius of Padua is rector of the University of Paris; Pope Clement V canonizes St. Celestine V

1314 Pope Clement V dies; John of Jandun begins publishing works of natural philosophy

1316 John XXII becomes Pope; Michael Cesena is elected minister general of the Franciscans

1317 Pope John XXII excommunicates Angelo da Clareno; Ubertino of Casale allowed to leave the Franciscan Order and become a Benedictine

1318 Pope John XXII excommunicates Ubertino of Casale

1320 The Shepherds' Crusade: a popular movement of reconquest takes fire in Normandy and leads to assaults on castles, priests, and Jews

1322 Ubertino of Casale summoned to Avignon and manages to do well there; the Franciscans declare in favor of the doctrine of the absolute poverty of Christ; Pope John XXII issues the bull Ad conditorem canonum renouncing claim over all property the Church held for the Franciscans, thus forcing them to have property

1323 Louis IV becomes Holy Roman Emperor and sends an army to defend Milan against Naples; Pope John XXII opposes his accession and begins canonical proceedings against him; Pope John XXII issues the bull Cum inter nonnullos, declaring heretical the position that Christ and the Apostles had no property; Bernard Gui finishes his tenure as Inquisitor of Toulouse, having had over 900 heresy convictions in his fifteen years as Inquisitor

1324 Marsilius of Padua writes Defensor Pacis, arguing for imperial supremacy over the Church; Louis issues the Sachsenhausen Appeal, accusing Pope John XXII of being a heretic for his views on the poverty of Christ; Pope John XXII excommunicates the Emperor

1325 Ubertino of Casale accused of heresy for defending the ideas of Peter Olivi

1327 Louis is crowned King of Italy in Milan; Pope John XXII excommunicates Marsilius of Padua and John of Jandun; Michael Cesena is summoned to Avignon over the dispute about the poverty of Christ; the events of Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose begin

1328 Louis reaches Rome and crowns himself Emperor; he issues a proclamation declaring Pope John XXII deposed for reasons of heresy and installs Nicholas V as antipope; John of Jandun becomes part of the Imperial court; Michael Cesena and his advisors (including William of Ockham) flee Avignon and are excommunicated by Pope John XXII

1329 Pope John XXII excommunicates Nicholas V

1330 Nicholas V begs pardon of Pope John XXII in Avignon and is absolved, but remains under house arrest; ; Michael Cesena accuses Pope John XXII of heresy; the Franciscans expel Michael of Cesena from the Order; Bertrand de Turre becomes Vicar General of the Order

1331 Bernard Gui dies

1333 Nicholas V dies

1334 Benedict XII becomes Pope

1336 Pope Benedict XII issues the bull Benedictus Deus establishing the doctrine that the souls of the saints go to the reward on death

1337 Angelo da Clareno dies

1342 Michael of Cesena dies; Pope Benedict XII dies and Clement VI becomes Pope

1346 Pope Clement VI excommunicates King Louis IV again and puts his support behind Charles IV to replace him; reports of the Black Death in Asia begin to filter into Europe

1347 William of Ockham dies; the Black Death reaches Sicily; Louis IV dies and after a short period, Charles IV is the only serious claimant to be Holy Roman Emperor

1348 The Black Death reaches Genoa, Venice, and Pisa; from Pisa it spreads throughout Europe; Pope Clement VI begins to attend the sick in Avignon personally and issues the bull Quamvis perfidiam, condemning anyone who initiated violence against Jews because of accusations that they were to blame for the plague

Sunday, June 26, 2016

A. V. Dicey on Rule of Law

Jeremy Waldron has an interesting article on The Rule of Law at the SEP. The section on Albert Venn Dicey seems to me to be very misleading, however: Waldron says, "For Dicey, the key to the Rule of Law was legal equality," but while legal equality is important, I think it is not the key to Dicey's understanding of the idea of the rule of law.

What Dicey tells us is that there are actually three 'kindred' notions that are involved when we talk about 'rule of law':

(1) Security from arbitrary governmental power: This is the 'first principle of the Rule of Law' that Waldron quotes, "no man is punishable or can be lawfully made to suffer in body or goods except for a distinct breach of law established in the ordinary legal manner before the ordinary Courts of the land".

(2) Equality before the law: This is what Waldron says is key to his account, namely, that "every man, whatever be his rank or condition, is subject to the ordinary law of the realm and amenable to the jurisdiction of the ordinary tribunals." Waldron's objection is irrelevant here; officials are not 'above the law', and they are not exempted from the ordinary law of the realm. If we say, as Waldron does, that officials "need to be hemmed in by extra restrictions" then if the restrictions are extra, they obviously are not exemptions from being subject to the law of the realm; and where are these restrictions coming from? If they arise from the ordinary legal means of ordinary tribunals, then this is precisely the kind of thing Dicey means. If you think that you need special courts for officials, or a special law governing officials only, the problems that immediately arise are (a) conflicts of jurisdiction in dealing with problems arising from the relations between officials and non-officials; (b) how is this not to say that one of the two groups, officials or non-officials, is a second-class citizenry, if they do not have the same protections for their rights and freedoms as everyone else?

[Note that Dicey's understanding of the rule of law in this second sense does not automatically generate a presumption of liberty, because Dicey specifically formulates his account of 'rule of law' so that it is consistent with a very, very strong view of parliamentary sovereignty (Parliament, understood as Crown, House of Lords, and House of Commons in cooperation, without restriction or limitation may make or unmake any law whatsoever, and the laws of Parliament may not be set aside by anything other than Parliament itself). Liberty is not what Dicey primarily has in mind when he is talking about rule of law.]

(3) Organic constitution: The constitutional law is not the source of but the consequence of the rights of individuals, as defined by courts; that is to say, "the constitution is the result of the ordinary law of the land." As Dicey points out in an example later on, English freedom is not guaranteed by a proposition in a document; freedom of person is not a privilege to be guaranteed at all -- it is the outcome of the ordinary law of the land as applied by courts. The Englishman's rights are built into the system, and require no paper guarantee or special intervention.

Dicey occasionally treats these as three perspectives on one thing (when he is talking about English law, usually), but more commonly treats them as distinct but related elements. Note that in all three cases the key concept is not 'equal' but 'ordinary'. Rule of law is, at a crude, vague level, about the primacy of ordinary law arising out of ordinary tribunals in an ordinary legal system. All three are ways in which one might recognize the supremacy of the ordinary law of the realm. If we look at droit administrif, one of the things this conception opposes, we find two ideas alien to English 'rule of law':

(1) That officials of the state have special privileges beyond those of ordinary citizens simply by being officials.
(2) Government should be structured by a separation of powers, which guarantees that other powers in the government are independent of the ordinary course of law as applied by courts.

Dicey's big idea with regard to rule of law is that the fundamental structure of government arises out of a normal course of law concerned with standard and stable protections for citizens, simply as citizens. He regards this as being, essentially, the power of courts to penalize any illegal activity, regardless of who has done it. This he sees as almost exclusively found in England (of his day), although he thinks that in practice the United States was also at least in the vicinity, despite its written constitution, because of judicial review.

It is possible that Dicey's view of rule of law is somewhat extravagant, as Waldron notes critics have often suggested, but it has more structure to it than you would get from Waldron's summary.

Maronite Year LVI

The Maronite calendar usually does not allow weekday feasts to be transferred to Sunday. Part of the reason for this is that most of the major feasts are already on Sundays, of course, and most of the rest are either saint's days or have such a close connection with a given date that it makes little sense to transfer them. There are some exceptions, however; a church can transfer the feast of its patron saint to Sunday, and there are two feasts that have fairly consistently been transferred to the closest Sunday, Holy Cross in September and the feast of Peter and Paul. Peter and Paul is on June 29, but liturgically it is transferred today to replace what would usually be the Seventh Sunday of Pentecost.

Feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul
2 Corinthians 11:21-30; Matthew 16:13-20

Two grapes were pressed by the unbeliever,
from their pure wine the world's thirst is quenched.
O Christ our God, hope of all the martyrs,
You chose simple men to be Your lights;
fisher and tentmaker did great wonders,
You made them wise with Your wise Spirit.
You sent them to announce life's renewal
and salvation.

Two temples rise! The Spirit dwells within,
the Spirit of Christ the Word of God.
From among His friends, the Lord chose Simon,
giving him keys for heaven and earth.
Stand firm, Simon; you are the foundation;
the Church built on you shall not be lost.
O holy Peter, the Lord said, "Follow,"
and you followed.

Two precious pearls shine with splendid light,
bright on the crown of the Bride of Christ.
From among His enemies, Christ chose Saul;
the terror of lambs became a lamb.
He preached, worked wonders, built communities,
endured all things, converted nations.
O holy Paul, the Lord said, "Follow,"
and you followed.

Two tall columns stand, straight and unbending,
upholding the cathedral of heaven:
do not fear, O Church, for they shall endure;
the gates of hell shall not survive them.
On Peter the rock, Jesus built His Church,
through Paul's labors He raised up the frame,
a temple not made of timber or stone,
but of the saints.