Friday, January 15, 2021

Dashed Off I

As always, dashed off notes; take with a grain of salt.

natality as potential for newness and as need for help

the three terms of the human heart, each pointing to something beyond: natality, mortality, conscience

By resurrection in Christ we are freed not merely from the limit of mortality but also in a way from the limit of our natality, without these having been simply undone.

To respect oneself properly, one must respect others appropriately.

rebutting, undercutting, and costliness defeaters -- we do in fact treat excessive revision cost as a defeater

Ingarden's four existential moments of dependence
(1) contingency: for continuing to be
(2) derivation: for coming to be
(3) inseparateness: required co-existence in a whole
(4) heteronomy: for being and qualitative endowment

Most of what people think is public opinion is a false impression.

The created world itself is the first step of God breaking in.

"Men really pious delight in doing good by stealth." Cowper

All human reason is aided reason.

People have a tendency to say that things are meaningless from a cosmic perspective when their argument actually implies that there is no cosmic perspective.

Every living moment is a sliding from birth.

derivation of principles from normative descriptions
e.g.: 'Medicine is a cooperative endeavor between doctor and patient for the purpose of restoring and maintaining the health of the patient." From this one can derive a version of "Do no harm" (i.e., act in a way consistent with restoring and maintaining health), patient autonomy, doctor autonomy, and even more if you add supplementary principles.

Directed social change very often occurs by apprenticeship.

The Old Testament prophets prophesy by deed and type as well as by word, and Christ is consummately prophet in this, as well.

"The Bible may be considered as a consolidation of partial revelations." Alexander Stewart (The Tree of Promise)

Stewart on taking priests and Levites to be typical of ministers, elders, and deacons: "This principle, if admitted, would soon land us in Popery."

"...we ought to cherish an entire sympathy with the Church in all ages and nations. This, at least, is a catholicity which modern schism ought not to disturb." Stewart

the principle of Korah in attempts to revolutionize the priesthood: 'You take too much on you, seeing that the whole congregation is holy.'

the eucharist as holiness of holiness (Lv 10:12)
donation for the upkeep of the Church a memorial for atonement (Ex 30:16)
-- but note that it is always equally so (Ex 30:5)
cp to Cornelius in Acts 10:4 (prayer and alms as memorials for atonement)

holy of holies: Church Triumphant
sanctuary: Church Patient
outer court: Church Militant

shew-bread, incense, and candlestick symbols of Purgatory

The Gospel is for all, but the meal offering requires priesthood.

The Father : Father :: The Name : Son :: The Kingdom : Holy Spirit (Maximus the Confessor, on the Lord's Prayer)
-- this makes the prayer have a Trinitarian part and a Providential part

the habits appropriate to rights

The problem is never with philosopher-kings but with sophist-kings.

Repentance requires a prior mercy.

circumstances as ways of being relevant

moral heroes vs. moral geniuses

We may become obligated by choice, but obligation as such is not the sort of thing that depends on choice.

reception of human nature in conception // reception of human role in birth // reception of covenant in circumcision // reception of citizenship // reception of new character in baptism // reception of new roles in confirmation and ordination

Over half the Latinisms in the New Testament are in Mark, and this is unusual with respect to Greek texts generally, as well.

civility in discussion and hospitality to reasons

"These three sacrifices -- the burnt-offering, the meat-offering, and the peace-offering -- form a system, more or less complete. The 'holocaust', as a whole burnt-offering, shadows forth the completeness and perfection of the great atoning sacrifice. It was accompanied by the 'mincha', itself an atoning offering, as we have seen, and which points to the suretyship of the great antitype. The sufficiency of the surety was then shown to rest on the completeness of the sacrifice which it accompanied. Then followed naturally the peace-offering as a feast of joy and thanksgiving, in celebration of the peace which resulted from the sufficiency of the atoning offerings which preceded it." Stewart

the Feast of Tabernacles as a type of Purgatory

Parables teach by stages, and requiring being mulled over.

Note that the angel explicitly highlights St. Joseph's descent from David (Mt 1:20); in Luke, the angel seems to imply Mary's descent as well ("His father David").

None are so poisonous as those who try to use ethics to control the minds of others.

Noah and his family were saved by the ark from destruction; Moses and the Israelites were saved at the Red Sea, which destroyed Pharaoh's army; baptism saves the people of God, and outside it is a genuine destruction.

The Virgin is closely linked to the divine visible missions, being the one to whom the Annunciation happened and one of the ones for whom Pentecost happened.

forms of cooperation
(1) antecedent (preparatory)
(2) subordinate (instrumental)
(3) coordinate
(4) consequent

It is better for a bishop to be holy than to be intelligent or learned, but it does not follow from this that it is acceptable for bishops to be stupid and ignorant.

Sloppy liberal policy degenerates into kleptocracy; we see this again and again.

category theory in mathematics as a theory of operations on operations

internal morality of law: in legislature, in execution, in enforcement, in adjudication

internal morality of medicine: in prevention, in diagnosis, in remedial treatment, in regimen, in surgical treatment, in palliation

Every political system eventually turns into a mockery of itself.

the personalist principle as taking specific form within the context of humanitarian traditions

Marginal cases and gray areas in ethics show the limits of specific articulated rules; they do not show the falseness of the judgment or sense articulated. Good sense is not harmed by difficult cases.

'ground' as that by which it is knowable why a thing exists

No one is exempt from being able to commit any evil solely on the basis of the kind of person they naturally are.

No society can be free that treats itself as if it were the only society of which its members are a part.

rational pluralism of societies & conscientious objection

No single human society can fulfill all needs of the human person.

The Anecdota of Procopius is so over-the-top and tabloid-like, nothing in it can be taken seriously.

Recognizing conscientious objection is part of
(a) respecting persons as ends in themselves
(b) justice toward others in nonmaleficence
(c) reciprocity in recognizing that you might find yourself in an analogous situation
(d) building a wall against totalitarianism
(e) giving people power in a free society.

conscientious objection and the right to protest
conscientious objection and subsidiarity

The rights of children develop within the environment of the rights of their parents, the rights of spouses overlap with each other, etc. Rights are not atomistic but things that unite us.

Scandal as a sin against justice has a certain range, scandal as a sin against charity an even greater range.

command, counsel, consent
praise, protection, participation
concealment, nonprevention, nonrejection

liturgy as folkswork, theology as Godlore

the internal morality of parenting

personhood, spousehood, parenthood, citizenship, profession

The natural and obvious meaning of Scripture is that which it has in the preaching, practice, and prayer of the Church.

typology based on a sense of the resemblance of the whole
typology based on comparison of features, point by point
typology based on function within the broader organization

"progress in science depends upon the observation of the right facts by minds *furnished with appropriate ideas*" (Peirce) -- as he notes, this is Whewellian

Concretely Possible Chicken

But most possibles are not bare, they are concretely grounded, or well-grounded, as we say. What does this mean pragmatically? It means, not only that there are no preventive conditions present, but that some of the conditions of production of the possible thing actually are here. Thus a concretely possible chicken means: (1) that the idea of chicken contains no essential self-contradiction; (2) that no boys, skunks, or other enemies are about; and (3) that at least an actual egg exists. Possible chicken means actual egg--plus actual sitting hen, or incubator, or what not. As the actual conditions approach completeness the chicken becomes a better-and-better-grounded possibility. When the conditions are entirely complete, it ceases to be a possibility, and turns into an actual fact.

William James, Pragmatism, Lecture 8: Pragmatism and Religion

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Locus Focus

The East Room
Mansfield Park

Jane Austen

The little white attic, which had continued her sleeping-room ever since her first entering the family, proving incompetent to suggest any reply, she had recourse, as soon as she was dressed, to another apartment more spacious and more meet for walking about in and thinking, and of which she had now for some time been almost equally mistress.

Reading the description of the East room brought to mind Enbrethiliel's Locus Focus posts, in which you review a work by reflecting on a place within it. What better time to do something like this than with a novel, Mansfield Park, structured around a place? And the East room, the larger room adjoining Fanny's little bedroom, is one of the most notable places in Mansfield Park. More than anything else, it captures the fact that Fanny Price comes to be at home at Mansfield Park. It also captures the way in which she does so: she grows into it so that it becomes a place of comfort that is uniquely hers.

The comfort of it in her hours of leisure was extreme. She could go there after anything unpleasant below, and find immediate consolation in some pursuit, or some train of thought at hand. Her plants, her books—of which she had been a collector from the first hour of her commanding a shilling—her writing-desk, and her works of charity and ingenuity, were all within her reach; or if indisposed for employment, if nothing but musing would do, she could scarcely see an object in that room which had not an interesting remembrance connected with it. Everything was a friend, or bore her thoughts to a friend.

Like everybody else, Fanny collects odds and ends of her life. The things themselves are not important; indeed, most of them are castoffs and hand-me-downs. But everything is a friend or a reminder of a friend. Any difficulties, trials, tribulations, are given context here; in hours of quiet her mind can be be exercised here. I particularly like the mention of "her works of charity and ingenuity". The East room represents for Fanny the leisure of home; but leisure is not a matter of wasting time, or mere diversion, it is a time of reflection and doing good for oneself and others, in comfort and without toil. We get all the essential components of leisure in this room: consolation, thought, charity, ingenuity, musing. Fanny escapes into the East room to work and meditate, as her activities in the room are later described, to store the little knick-knacks of life that she treasures.

The peculiarities of Fanny's situation, however, follow her into the East room, and this includes the little persecutions of Fanny's aunt, Mrs. Norris. Fanny is able to grow into the East room because it is habitable through most of the year, but Mrs Norris, always willing to be economical at someone else's expense, refuses to let a fire be lit in it, ostensibly because, being allowed to use a room that nobody else was using, Fanny already has it too good. One of the turning-points in Mansfield Park is when Sir Thomas returns and finds, to his shock, that Fanny gets no fire even in the snowy days of the year, particularly as she has a history of health problems. Sir Thomas has let the world ("ambitious and mercenary connexions", as they are described at one point) take him away from his responsibilities to his household for far too long, and he has still much to learn about his own failings in this matter, but one of the first signs of renewal in this respect, one of the first signs of him taking up his responsibilities again, is his insistence that on cold days, there should always be a fire in the East room. It is the first real acknowledgment, from anyone other than Edmund, of what the East room itself organically shows: that Fanny belongs there.

Of course, this recognition comes only as other events are set in motion that will take Fanny away from the East room and Mansfield Park itself. Our places of leisure, however, are just staging grounds for things that take place within; consolation, thought, charity, ingenuity, and musing are all things that take place within us, although they all easily lend themselves to outward expression. We externalize them in a place only so that we can become better at doing them. And the advantages of that, we carry with us everywhere.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Maryam Tsiyon

 I only just came across the report of an attack on the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion (Maryam Tsiyon) in Axum on January 8 (or earlier). There is extensive fighting between the Tigran Peoples' Liberation Front and the Ethiopian National Defense Force. Apparently a large number of people took shelter in the church but were dragged out and shot. This should be bigger news than it is. Although, to be sure, the whole region is practically under a news blackout. And, of course, some allowance has to be allowed for the possibility that the report is inaccurate.

Maryam Tsiyon, which is an Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo church, is one of the great churches of Christendom. Ethiopia, of course, is one of the oldest bastions of Christianity, and the first version of the church is said to have been built in the reign of King Ezana in the fourth century. (The current version, although incorporating elements of prior churches on the spot, was built in the reign of the Emperor Fasilides in the seventeenth century.) According to Ethiopian tradition, the Church of Maryam Tsiyon long held the Ark of the Covenant, which is now said to be held in the neighboring chapel, the Chapel of the Tablet. It is said to have come to Ethiopia in the days of Menelik I, whom legends say was the son of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. It can only ever be viewed by its guardian monk, who, once appointed, lives in the Chapel and in its presence offers prayers in the liturgical Ge'ez language for the rest of his life. Whether you accept the tradition or just that there's an old wooden box in the Chapel that represents the Ark, it's nonetheless the case that the Ark of the Covenant (and its association in Christian theology with the Virgin Mary) is central to the religious traditions of Ethiopia, and the church is the foremost symbol of that. 

I wrote a poem years ago about the church:


A cathedral hewn of a single stone
holds a golden cross and an ancient throne
where the glory sat above the cherubim
in the holiest holy.

The Ge'ez prayers of an ancient rite
softly rise into velvet night
as Ezana's children pray by the wall
of the holiest holy.

I dreamed of Aksum where angels rest
on every tabot and stars are guest
at revels of hope and undying light
near the holiest holy.

Maryam Ts'iyon walks a path alone
through the cherubim beneath the throne
of the Highest High with His glorious gift,
the holiest of holies.

The Tears of Mansfield Park

Crying and tears in Mansfield Park:

(Fanny, Chapter II) ...The little visitor meanwhile was as unhappy as possible. Afraid of everybody, ashamed of herself, and longing for the home she had left, she knew not how to look up, and could scarcely speak to be heard, or without crying. Mrs. Norris had been talking to her the whole way from Northampton of her wonderful good fortune, and the extraordinary degree of gratitude and good behaviour which it ought to produce, and her consciousness of misery was therefore increased by the idea of its being a wicked thing for her not to be happy. The fatigue, too, of so long a journey, became soon no trifling evil. In vain were the well-meant condescensions of Sir Thomas, and all the officious prognostications of Mrs. Norris that she would be a good girl; in vain did Lady Bertram smile and make her sit on the sofa with herself and pug, and vain was even the sight of a gooseberry tart towards giving her comfort; she could scarcely swallow two mouthfuls before tears interrupted her, and sleep seeming to be her likeliest friend, she was taken to finish her sorrows in bed. 

(Fanny, Chapter II) The grandeur of the house astonished, but could not console her. The rooms were too large for her to move in with ease: whatever she touched she expected to injure, and she crept about in constant terror of something or other; often retreating towards her own chamber to cry; and the little girl who was spoken of in the drawing-room when she left it at night as seeming so desirably sensible of her peculiar good fortune, ended every day's sorrows by sobbing herself to sleep. A week had passed in this way, and no suspicion of it conveyed by her quiet passive manner, when she was found one morning by her cousin Edmund, the youngest of the sons, sitting crying on the attic stairs.

“My dear little cousin,” said he, with all the gentleness of an excellent nature, “what can be the matter?” And sitting down by her, he was at great pains to overcome her shame in being so surprised, and persuade her to speak openly. Was she ill? or was anybody angry with her? or had she quarrelled with Maria and Julia? or was she puzzled about anything in her lesson that he could explain? Did she, in short, want anything he could possibly get her, or do for her? For a long while no answer could be obtained beyond a “no, no—not at all—no, thank you”; but he still persevered; and no sooner had he begun to revert to her own home, than her increased sobs explained to him where the grievance lay. He tried to console her.

(Fanny, Chapter VI) Fanny would rather have had Edmund tell the story, but his determined silence obliged her to relate her brother's situation: her voice was animated in speaking of his profession, and the foreign stations he had been on; but she could not mention the number of years that he had been absent without tears in her eyes. Miss Crawford civilly wished him an early promotion.

(Fanny, Chapter VII) Edmund said no more to either lady; but going quietly to another table, on which the supper-tray yet remained, brought a glass of Madeira to Fanny, and obliged her to drink the greater part. She wished to be able to decline it; but the tears, which a variety of feelings created, made it easier to swallow than to speak.

(Mrs. Whitaker, almost, Chapter X) “My dear, it is only a beautiful little heath, which that nice old gardener would make me take; but if it is in your way, I will have it in my lap directly. There, Fanny, you shall carry that parcel for me; take great care of it: do not let it fall; it is a cream cheese, just like the excellent one we had at dinner. Nothing would satisfy that good old Mrs. Whitaker, but my taking one of the cheeses. I stood out as long as I could, till the tears almost came into her eyes, and I knew it was just the sort that my sister would be delighted with. That Mrs. Whitaker is a treasure! She was quite shocked when I asked her whether wine was allowed at the second table, and she has turned away two housemaids for wearing white gowns. Take care of the cheese, Fanny. Now I can manage the other parcel and the basket very well.” 

(Fanny, Chapter XV) “I am not going to urge her,” replied Mrs. Norris sharply; “but I shall think her a very obstinate, ungrateful girl, if she does not do what her aunt and cousins wish her—very ungrateful, indeed, considering who and what she is.”

Edmund was too angry to speak; but Miss Crawford, looking for a moment with astonished eyes at Mrs. Norris, and then at Fanny, whose tears were beginning to shew themselves, immediately said, with some keenness, “I do not like my situation: this place is too hot for me,” and moved away her chair to the opposite side of the table, close to Fanny, saying to her, in a kind, low whisper, as she placed herself, “Never mind, my dear Miss Price, this is a cross evening: everybody is cross and teasing, but do not let us mind them”; and with pointed attention continued to talk to her and endeavour to raise her spirits, in spite of being out of spirits herself. By a look at her brother she prevented any farther entreaty from the theatrical board, and the really good feelings by which she was almost purely governed were rapidly restoring her to all the little she had lost in Edmund's favour.

(Fanny, Chapter XVI) ...Everything was a friend, or bore her thoughts to a friend; and though there had been sometimes much of suffering to her; though her motives had often been misunderstood, her feelings disregarded, and her comprehension undervalued; though she had known the pains of tyranny, of ridicule, and neglect, yet almost every recurrence of either had led to something consolatory: her aunt Bertram had spoken for her, or Miss Lee had been encouraging, or, what was yet more frequent or more dear, Edmund had been her champion and her friend: he had supported her cause or explained her meaning, he had told her not to cry, or had given her some proof of affection which made her tears delightful; and the whole was now so blended together, so harmonised by distance, that every former affliction had its charm.

(Mrs. Norris, attempted, Chapter XXI) It was a very proper wedding. The bride was elegantly dressed; the two bridesmaids were duly inferior; her father gave her away; her mother stood with salts in her hand, expecting to be agitated; her aunt tried to cry; and the service was impressively read by Dr. Grant. Nothing could be objected to when it came under the discussion of the neighbourhood, except that the carriage which conveyed the bride and bridegroom and Julia from the church-door to Sotherton was the same chaise which Mr. Rushworth had used for a twelvemonth before. In everything else the etiquette of the day might stand the strictest investigation. 

(Fanny, Chapter XXIII) But this could not impose on Fanny. She felt that the carriage was for herself, and herself alone: and her uncle's consideration of her, coming immediately after such representations from her aunt, cost her some tears of gratitude when she was alone. 

(Fanny, Chapter XXVII) He was gone as he spoke; and Fanny remained to tranquillise herself as she could. She was one of his two dearest—that must support her. But the other: the first! She had never heard him speak so openly before, and though it told her no more than what she had long perceived, it was a stab, for it told of his own convictions and views. They were decided. He would marry Miss Crawford. It was a stab, in spite of every long-standing expectation; and she was obliged to repeat again and again, that she was one of his two dearest, before the words gave her any sensation. Could she believe Miss Crawford to deserve him, it would be—oh, how different would it be—how far more tolerable! But he was deceived in her: he gave her merits which she had not; her faults were what they had ever been, but he saw them no longer. Till she had shed many tears over this deception, Fanny could not subdue her agitation; and the dejection which followed could only be relieved by the influence of fervent prayers for his happiness.

(Fanny, Chapter XXVIII) Fanny was too urgent, however, and had too many tears in her eyes for denial; and it ended in a gracious “Well, well!” which was permission.

(Fanny, Chapter XXIX) The ball was over, and the breakfast was soon over too; the last kiss was given, and William was gone. Mr. Crawford had, as he foretold, been very punctual, and short and pleasant had been the meal.

After seeing William to the last moment, Fanny walked back to the breakfast-room with a very saddened heart to grieve over the melancholy change; and there her uncle kindly left her to cry in peace, conceiving, perhaps, that the deserted chair of each young man might exercise her tender enthusiasm, and that the remaining cold pork bones and mustard in William's plate might but divide her feelings with the broken egg-shells in Mr. Crawford's. She sat and cried con amore as her uncle intended, but it was con amore fraternal and no other. William was gone, and she now felt as if she had wasted half his visit in idle cares and selfish solicitudes unconnected with him.

(Fanny, Chapter XXXII) He ceased. Fanny was by this time crying so bitterly that, angry as he was, he would not press that article farther. Her heart was almost broke by such a picture of what she appeared to him; by such accusations, so heavy, so multiplied, so rising in dreadful gradation! Self-willed, obstinate, selfish, and ungrateful. He thought her all this. She had deceived his expectations; she had lost his good opinion. What was to become of her?

“I am very sorry,” said she inarticulately, through her tears, “I am very sorry indeed.”

“Sorry! yes, I hope you are sorry; and you will probably have reason to be long sorry for this day's transactions.”

“If it were possible for me to do otherwise” said she, with another strong effort; “but I am so perfectly convinced that I could never make him happy, and that I should be miserable myself.”

Another burst of tears; but in spite of that burst, and in spite of that great black word miserable, which served to introduce it, Sir Thomas began to think a little relenting, a little change of inclination, might have something to do with it; and to augur favourably from the personal entreaty of the young man himself.

He knew her to be very timid, and exceedingly nervous; and thought it not improbable that her mind might be in such a state as a little time, a little pressing, a little patience, and a little impatience, a judicious mixture of all on the lover's side, might work their usual effect on. If the gentleman would but persevere, if he had but love enough to persevere, Sir Thomas began to have hopes; and these reflections having passed across his mind and cheered it, “Well,” said he, in a tone of becoming gravity, but of less anger, “well, child, dry up your tears. There is no use in these tears; they can do no good. You must now come downstairs with me. Mr. Crawford has been kept waiting too long already. You must give him your own answer: we cannot expect him to be satisfied with less; and you only can explain to him the grounds of that misconception of your sentiments, which, unfortunately for himself, he certainly has imbibed. I am totally unequal to it.”

But Fanny shewed such reluctance, such misery, at the idea of going down to him, that Sir Thomas, after a little consideration, judged it better to indulge her. His hopes from both gentleman and lady suffered a small depression in consequence; but when he looked at his niece, and saw the state of feature and complexion which her crying had brought her into, he thought there might be as much lost as gained by an immediate interview. With a few words, therefore, of no particular meaning, he walked off by himself, leaving his poor niece to sit and cry over what had passed, with very wretched feelings....

...Here Fanny, who had looked up, looked down again. “Of course,” continued her uncle, “it cannot be supposed but that he should request to speak with you alone, be it only for five minutes; a request too natural, a claim too just to be denied. But there is no time fixed; perhaps to-morrow, or whenever your spirits are composed enough. For the present you have only to tranquillise yourself. Check these tears; they do but exhaust you. If, as I am willing to suppose, you wish to shew me any observance, you will not give way to these emotions, but endeavour to reason yourself into a stronger frame of mind. I advise you to go out: the air will do you good; go out for an hour on the gravel; you will have the shrubbery to yourself, and will be the better for air and exercise. And, Fanny” (turning back again for a moment), “I shall make no mention below of what has passed; I shall not even tell your aunt Bertram. There is no occasion for spreading the disappointment; say nothing about it yourself.”

This was an order to be most joyfully obeyed; this was an act of kindness which Fanny felt at her heart. To be spared from her aunt Norris's interminable reproaches! he left her in a glow of gratitude. Anything might be bearable rather than such reproaches. Even to see Mr. Crawford would be less overpowering.

She walked out directly, as her uncle recommended, and followed his advice throughout, as far as she could; did check her tears; did earnestly try to compose her spirits and strengthen her mind. She wished to prove to him that she did desire his comfort, and sought to regain his favour; and he had given her another strong motive for exertion, in keeping the whole affair from the knowledge of her aunts. Not to excite suspicion by her look or manner was now an object worth attaining; and she felt equal to almost anything that might save her from her aunt Norris. 

(Fanny, Chapter XXXVI) Fanny was affected. She had not foreseen anything of this, and her feelings could seldom withstand the melancholy influence of the word “last.” She cried as if she had loved Miss Crawford more than she possibly could; and Miss Crawford, yet farther softened by the sight of such emotion, hung about her with fondness, and said, “I hate to leave you. I shall see no one half so amiable where I am going. Who says we shall not be sisters? I know we shall. I feel that we are born to be connected; and those tears convince me that you feel it too, dear Fanny.”

(Fanny, Chapter XXXVII) Poor Fanny! though going as she did willingly and eagerly, the last evening at Mansfield Park must still be wretchedness. Her heart was completely sad at parting. She had tears for every room in the house, much more for every beloved inhabitant. She clung to her aunt, because she would miss her; she kissed the hand of her uncle with struggling sobs, because she had displeased him; and as for Edmund, she could neither speak, nor look, nor think, when the last moment came with him; and it was not till it was over that she knew he was giving her the affectionate farewell of a brother. 

(Fanny, Chapter XXXVIII) Anxious not to appear unhappy, she soon recovered herself; and wiping away her tears, was able to notice and admire all the striking parts of his dress; listening with reviving spirits to his cheerful hopes of being on shore some part of every day before they sailed, and even of getting her to Spithead to see the sloop. 

(Betsey, Chapter XXXVIII) Fanny, fatigued and fatigued again, was thankful to accept the first invitation of going to bed; and before Betsey had finished her cry at being allowed to sit up only one hour extraordinary in honour of sister, she was off, leaving all below in confusion and noise again; the boys begging for toasted cheese, her father calling out for his rum and water, and Rebecca never where she ought to be. 

(No one, not even Fanny, Chapter XLVIII) She was regretted by no one at Mansfield. She had never been able to attach even those she loved best; and since Mrs. Rushworth's elopement, her temper had been in a state of such irritation as to make her everywhere tormenting. Not even Fanny had tears for aunt Norris, not even when she was gone for ever. 

That last one, after an entire novel of Fanny crying, really carries a heavy punch! It also makes very clear that Fanny crying so often is deliberate and not an inadvertence. Looking at the tears also highlights very clearly the fundamental importance of Chapter XXXII, which might be called the Chapter of Tears.

The following numbers are somewhat approximated, since it's easy to miscount crying -- 'crying' in the sense of crying out or talking loudly rather than in the sense of weeping is very common in Austen's novels. In addition, as with the above passages, sometimes crying or tears are mentioned in order to say that they did not happen (I try to count them even so), and, of course, crying and tears often occur in the same context. 'Cry' used of tears is used once in Pride and Prejudice (of Kitty); 'tears' is used ten times (twice of Kitty, once of Mrs. Bennet, the rest of Elizabeth).  'Cry' is used five times in Sense and Sensibility (once of a child, the rest of Marianne);  'tears' are very common, since they are mentioned twenty-three times, occasionally of Elinor but usually of Marianne. 'Cry' is used twice in Northanger Abbey (of Catherine); 'tears' are used twelve times. 'Cry' is never used of tears in Emma, and 'tears' are mentioned nine times. 'Cry' is never used of tears in Persuasion, and 'tears' only once. 'Cry' is used twice in Lady Susan, once of Frederica, and once of Lady Susan merely pretending; 'tears' is also used twice, once of Lady Susan (in context pretending again) and once of Frederica.

Thus the big weepers in Austen's novels are Marianne and Fanny, an interesting contrast, since they are in many ways exact opposites. It's also notable that while Fanny's weepiness is a common reason why she is the least popular Austen heroine, it's not a sufficient condition, because Marianne is even weepier and is much more popular. However, it's also true that Fanny's tears always mark something important, whereas Marianne's profligate tears only rarely do, and Sense and Sensibility simply does not put the emphasis on Marianne's crying that Mansfield Park puts on Fanny's.

Athanasius of the West

Today is the feast of St. Hilary of Poitiers, Doctor of the Church, the major Western opponent of the heresy of Arianism. From his most influential work, De Trinitate, Chapter XII:

And so God Only-begotten, containing in Himself the form and image of the invisible God, in all things which are properties of God the Father is equal to Him by virtue of the fullness of true Godhead in Himself. For, as we have shown in the former books, in respect of power and veneration He is as mighty and as worthy of honour as the Father: so also, inasmuch as the Father is always Father, He too, inasmuch as He is the Son, possesses the like property of being always the Son. For according to the words spoken to Moses, He Who is, has sent Me unto you , we obtain the unambiguous conception that absolute being belongs to God; since that which is, cannot be thought of or spoken of as not being. For being and not being are contraries, nor can these mutually exclusive descriptions be simultaneously true of one and the same object: for while the one is present, the other must be absent. Therefore, where anything is, neither conception nor language will admit of its not being. When our thoughts are turned backwards, and are continually carried back further and further to understand the nature of Him Who is, this sole fact about Him, that He is, remains ever prior to our thoughts; since that quality, which is infinitely present in God, always withdraws itself from the backward gaze of our thoughts, though they reach back to an infinite distance. The result is that the backward straining of our thoughts can never grasp anything prior to God's property of absolute existence; since nothing presents itself, to enable us to understand the nature of God, even though we go on seeking to eternity, save always the fact that God always is.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Aelredus Riaevallensis

Today is the memorial of St. Aelred of Rievaulx (1110-1167). After spending some time in the court of King David I of Scotland, he became a Benedictine at Rievaulx Abbey, in modern day North Yorkshire. His most famous work is On Spiritual Friendship, which I discussed here.


By Alexander Penrose Forbes - The Historians of Scotland: The Lives of S. Ninian and S. Kentigern (frontispiece), Public Domain, Image Link

Monday, January 11, 2021

Disordered Loves

This thematic link between Austen and Dante can be explored by using the vocabulary of the Purgatorio to describe disordered love in Mansfield Park. Like the former, the latter represents a variety of disordered loves in the principal characters. The Purgatorio divides these loves into three categories: perverted love, defective love, and excessive love. Pride, envy, and wrath, are perverted loves, and, to various degrees, Sir Thomas, but especially Maria, Julia, Henry, and Mary represent these vices. By her sloth, Lady Bertram represents defective love. Hers is a will too weak or lazy to pursue the good. Excessive love includes avarice, prodigality, gluttony, and lust. Mrs. Norris has an excessive love of money, or avarice, while Tom's wasteful spending and dissipation demonstrate his prodigality. Furthermore, Maria's adultery with Henry, which continues for an extended period of time after their initial flight, reveals the way in which the perverted loves of pride, envy, and wrath can so affect the will that it loses the power to curb wrong desires; they then become excessive desires such as lust.

Joyce Kerr Tarpley, Constancy and the Ethics of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, p. 137. Tarpley, of course, is not indicating a historical influence; rather the argument is that you can see that Mansfield Park has a theme of what can be called disordered loves from how easily the language of the Purgatorio, which is explicitly on the theme of disordered loves, can be adapted to describe the novel.

Margaret Morrison (1954-2021)

 I see from the Department of Philosophy at the University of Toronto that Margie Morrison has died. She was a very charming person, capable of both extremely rigorous analysis and lightly playful humor. I didn't know her extremely well; as a graduate student, I co-instructed an Intro course with her and talked with her a number of times. (I don't remember details at this distance, but I think there was a scheduling error that led to me being brought in to help cover it over; I did a history-survey portion of the course as a sort of preparation for her more problem-focused component.) When a philosopher dies, you always wish you had vivid memory of deep philosophical discussions with them, but in reality you mostly remember small, pleasant conversations about not much. In my case, I mostly remember talking to her about Anselm (she liked Anselm, not so much for the content as for his logical focus, how he put arguments together) and about her car (which she liked having, but with Toronto's public transportation rarely drove, and then mostly to make sure it was still working). Such are most of our memorable human connections, I suppose: light touches that you don't forget, in which the importance is less the content than the people themselves. 

Her published work, in philosophy of science, was always excellent and thought-provoking, and the profession is the less for the loss of her.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

The Sublimity of Nature

Fanny agreed to it, and had the pleasure of seeing him continue at the window with her, in spite of the expected glee; and of having his eyes soon turned, like hers, towards the scene without, where all that was solemn, and soothing, and lovely, appeared in the brilliancy of an unclouded night, and the contrast of the deep shade of the woods. Fanny spoke her feelings. “Here's harmony!” said she; “here's repose! Here's what may leave all painting and all music behind, and what poetry only can attempt to describe! Here's what may tranquillise every care, and lift the heart to rapture! When I look out on such a night as this, I feel as if there could be neither wickedness nor sorrow in the world; and there certainly would be less of both if the sublimity of Nature were more attended to, and people were carried more out of themselves by contemplating such a scene.”
[Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Chapter XI.]

Lustral Illumination

 Today is the feast of the Holy Baptism of the Lord.

He was born
and was baptized
that by His Passion
He might cleanse the water.
-- Ignatius of Antioch, Ephesians 18:2

Gelder, Aert de - The Baptism of Christ - c. 1710

Aert de Gelder, The Baptism of Christ (c. 1710); Aert de Gelder (1645-1727), famous for painting in style that focused on telling a story, was one of Rembrandt's most talented students.

by St. John Henry Newman

-- "I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me?"

How didst thou start, Thou Holy Baptist, bid
To pour repentance on the Sinless Brow!
Then all thy meekness, from thy hearers hid,
Beneath the Ascetic's port, and Preacher's fire,
Flow'd forth, and with a pang thou didst desire
He might be chief, not thou.

And so on us at whiles it falls, to claim
Powers that we dread, or dare some forward part;
Nor must we shrink as cravens from the blame
Of pride, in common eyes, or purpose deep;
But with pure thoughts look up to God, and keep
Our secret in our heart.

At Sea.
June 22, 1833.