Saturday, May 07, 2022

Umberto Eco, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana


Opening Passage:

"And what's your name?"

"Wait, it's on the tip of the tongue."

That is how it all began. (p.3)

Summary: Giambattista Bodoni, known to friends and family as Yambo, is a Milanese seller of old books who has a stroke which causes him to lose his memory. He and his wife Paola (whom he does not remember) attempt to expose him to familiar things in the hope that something will jog his memory, with very little success. However, in looking at an old Disney comic (Clarabelle's Treasure), makes comments about it that lead Paola to realize that he is remembering something -- he's not simply remembering 'what everyone knows' (that Dante is a famous poet, for instance) or a skill like language (which can allude to broader context), but something autobiographical, because it's the sort of thing most people would never have read, but he remembers the story and its details clearly. This leads Paola to recognize that a promising line for attempting to recover his memories is to fall back on "paper memory". His childhood books are at his family house in Solara, so she encourages him to go back to Solara, so that he will be able to explore his paper memory in surroundings that might ring a bell. Exploring the paper memory does not uncover personal memories, but he does remember the stories, and going through them relives -- by a sort of paper experience, although it also includes music from old records -- the events of his generation, who grew up and lived through Fascist Italy and the Second World War. Eventually, however, he will find begin rediscovering his personal memories, when he finds an old folio by his grandfather and has another stroke because of it. One memory, however, the face of a girl he loved as a young man, remains elusive to the end.

The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana is a detective story in a single mind. Most of the clues are psychological (and not always obviously clues), like his interest in old books and his taste in women, or the fact that he cannot quite remember the girl. Some are physical, like his old love poems. But slowly as we wander through Yambo's paper memory, Yambo and the reader begin to pull together an answer to a mystery, one that perhaps was not obviously a mystery to begin with, namely: What actually occasioned Yambo's stroke and amnesia? I suppose we could say that he lost his personal memory when one key set of memories were lost -- but those memories had structured his entire life and so when they went, all his memories of his life went, leaving only a skeleton of stories. A great deal of our sense of ourselves is in fact just our internalized culture (the story of 'our generation'), or else culture-based reconstruction, our inference from it  about how we must have been and thought -- but not the whole.

The 'mysterious flame' mentioned in the title is the Flame of Resurrection; Yambo's memories have died, and he is seeking for what will resurrect them. Here and there he gets a flicker, but when he gets the full flame, it will burn through his paper memory. 

Eco is probably the author that could come closest to pulling this all off. The book is a fascinating exploration of personal identity, but I don't think it completely succeeds as a novel. Part of the problem is that Yambo is just not a very likeable character, and (in any case) the story is Yambo discovering himself, so he starts out as an empty cipher to us because he is one. At several points I had the sense that there was an excellent short story here, but that it was getting a little lost as Eco's taste for encyclopedia and list expanded it to the size of a novel. Perhaps the best way to read it is not to read it as a story about Yambo but as a cultural tour of the generation that lived through Fascist Italy. And as such it is full of interest.

Favorite Passage: Given that the author is Umberto Eco, this is a bizarrely unquotable book; the way it is written makes almost any passage you could pick seem strange or random. But there are good passages, allowing for this:

If a cellar prefigures the underworld, an attic promises a rather threadbare paradise, where the dead bodies appear in a pulverulent glow, a vegetal elixir that, in the absence of green, makes you feel you are in a parched tropical forest, an artificial canebreak where you are immersed in a tepid sauna. (p. 120)

Recommendation: Recommended. It's a fascinating work, but you also shouldn't go into it expecting a normal kind of novel.


Umberto Eco, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loanna, Harcourt (NY: 2004).

Links of Note

* Jennifer Frey, The Somerville Quartet, on  Anscombe, Foot, Murdoch, and Midgley

* Dani Ross, Sacrifice and the Ascension of the Incarnate Son in Hebrews

* Ted Nordhaus, In Sri Lanka, Organic Farming Went Catastrophically Wrong 

* Stefano Bacin, Kant's Idea of Human Dignity: Between Tradition and Originality (PDF)

* Jamin Asay, Deflationism, Truth, and Desire (PDF)

* Michael P. Foran, The Rule of Good Law: Form, Substance, and Fundamental Rights (PDF)

* Conor Casey & David Kenny, How Liberty Dies in a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Star Wars, Democratic Decay, and Weak Executives

* Aleph with Beth, a Biblical Hebrew course on YouTube. They have more information about their approach on their website.

* Max Baker-Hytch, Debunking Arguments in Parallel: The Cases of Moral Belief and Theistic Belief (PDF)

* Aaron Wells, Incompatibilism and the Principle of Sufficient Reason in Kant's Nova Dilucidatio (PDF)

* Sjang L. ten Hagen, History as a Tool for Natural Science: How Ernst Mach Applied Historical Methods to Physics (PDF)

* Brendan Hodge, Fact and fiction: Vatican II and the 'vocations crisis'

* Perry Hendricks, The Impairment Argument against Abortion (PDF)

Friday, May 06, 2022

Dashed Off X

 This begins the notebook that was begun in May 2021.

Preparation for disaster is always hard to scale.

ex pacto causality as a kind of sine qua non causality vs as a kind of moral causality

condign vs congruous approaches to moral causality in the scaraments

D'Ailly's argument against physical causality in sacraments (that nature is such that one should always posit the least required to save appearances) is baffling, because the reason for positing supernatural virtue is that nature is precisely not adequate to the effect.

The Whigs advocated free trade as a way to make foreign nations colonies without having to govern them.

Hegel on reigns of terror: "Virtue is here a simple abstract principle and distinguishes the citizens into two classes only -- those who are favorably disposed and those who are not. But disposition can only be recognized and judged of by disposition. *Suspicion* therefore is in the ascendant, but virtue, as soon as it becomes liable to suspicion, is already condemned."

The poet does not merely speak but works with speech.

" thinking about things we always seek what is fixed, persisting, and inwardly determined, and what governs the particular. This universal cannot be grasped by means of the sense, and it counts as what is essential and true." Hegel

the instrumetnal, moral, and juridical mineness of the body
the body as a sphere of technical, moral, and legal responsibilities
the body as a gift of God

arbitrary/indifferent as a mathematical concept (e.g., any arbitrary positive integer)

Our possible obligations change depending on what exists.

"Community by itself cannot overwhelm the loneliness of our lives." Hauerwas
"The problem with the word *nonviolence* is that people think they know what nonviolence is *apart from Christ*."
"The church doesn't have a mission. The Church *is* a mission."

Close attention is like rings of different kinds of consciousness, one within or on top of the other.

The subordination of church to civil power makes of Christianity nothing but a customary religion, since civil power has authority only over a civil religion, like the religious practices of pagan states.

Christian monarchs as first laypersons, and the lay apostolate

"Mr Hobbes having taken upon him to imitate God, and created Man after his own likeness, given him all the passions and affections which he finds in himself, and no other, he prescribes him to judge of all things and words, according to the definitions he sets down, with the Authority of a Creator." Edward Hyde

the angels as liturgical spirits

Like a great estate, tradition requires preservation, maintenance, reconstruction, and conserving development.

poetry, reasoned argument, rich experience, common conversation as part of the nutrients of reason

To teach is to do something which only another can make succeed, and thus most of it consists in setting the student up for such a success-giving.

"Money is the estranged essence of man's work and existence; this alien essence dominates him and he worships it." Marx

group-singability as an aesthetic concept

The ability to assess intent presupposes trust.

Intellectual monocultures impede adaptability.

Value is a scaffolding for better seeing good.

The will is intrinsically a moved mover and the intellect a relatively (i.e., w/ respect to the will) unmoved mover.

feeling vs using one's feelings (sensibility as faculty)

Hursthouse's four natural ends: survival, continuance of species, characteristic pleasure and freedom from pain, good functioning of social group

normative authority as dominance of reasons

'Self legislation' only has normative authority if it draws from a prior normativity.

Love is goodness conforming to goodness.

Much of our sense of progress is dominated by progress in toolmaking, which has a well defined functionality to designate a final cause.

No scientific theory is final, but all scientific theories imply a finality to which they tend.

nations as legacies received

function in an organism, function in a population, function in an ecosystem

Every function is a function-in.

"Man has no need to travel to become greater; he bears immensity within." Chateaubriand

Civil liberty is made perfect in civil fraternity.

Political equality not rooted in political liberty or not oriented toward political fraternity, is a perversion.

academic partisanship-laundering

body, prosthetic, vestment
implement, dwelling, property

The Church indwells a culture.

Musical works are (1) repeatable (2) artifacts (3) wholly present in their manifestation (4) and enduring.
// stories

music and the sense of design

Beings of reason are made possible by concepts

rational artifacts vs real artifacts

A ruler turns points into lines; a compass turns points into other points.

"Geometrical points and lines have essentially simpler properties than do any physical objects, and this simplification provides the essential condition for the development of geometry as a deductive science." Courant & Robbins

In projective geometry, we think of points as line-relatings. Ideal points, i.e., points at infinity, are relatings for parallel lines, real points are relatings for nonparallel lines.

The record for the organism is not the gene but the organism.

A poorly ordered academia is a swamp in which diseases grow, for society as well as academia.

All countries are unhappy in some way, and so all countries need heroes of some kind.

The integration of liberty, equality, and fraternity, requires postulating God as a cause unifying the foundations of all three.

We are only accountable to one another generally within the context of a greater accountability.

the nondifference of mind and world

survival of fittest of mathematical concepts though many different kinds of problems

When philosophers today draw on experimental science, it is usually as a symbol or metaphor. It may sound scientific but it is a bit of poetic exposition of something other than itself.

Appreciating the gnomic requires enjoying thinking itself; one must enjoy rolling even the obvious around in one's mind, considering it from different points of view and in different expressions.

mapability and election-trackability

Discussions of interest convergence often seem to conflate several different kinds of things:
(1) greater facility of negotiation where interests actually converge
(2) the deliberate negotiation tactic of presenting interests in ways that appear convergent
(3) the universal influence of self-interest even when not dominant
(4) co-option of a supporting reason for what will be done independently anyway
At the same time, such discussions regularly overlooked:
(1) moral reputation and appearance as a common element in interests
(2) moral self-regard as same
(3) the fact that one thing can be for and against one's interests, in different ways
(4) the distinction between interest and motivation
(5) the distinction between what others think a group's interest and what the group itself does.

Mengzi's position on the goodness of human nature can be seen as an indirect way of recognizing full human goodness (good character) as second nature that is not skill. (Xunzi's position can be interpreted as conflating virtue and skill.)

The whole of what can be known cannot be wholly articulated into a set of propositions.

Thursday, May 05, 2022

Cat Hodge on Kristin Lavransdatter

 Cat Hodge, Sigrid Undset's Kristin Lavransdatter Turns One Hundred:

Though Ingvald and Charlotte Undset were nominally Lutherans, they raised their children in a secular milieu. Undset attended a progressive co-ed school that prepared women for the liberal arts exam required for university admission. Her father wanted her to carry on his work, and talked politics and history with her as if she were an adult. But this idyllic childhood was overshadowed by Ingvald Undset’s failing health, the lingering effect of malaria he contracted two years before Sigrid was born. As she sat by his bedside during his final illness, eleven-year-old Sigrid read to him from a book her grandfather had recently recommended to her, a literary revelation she remembered as “the most important turning point in my life”: Njál’s Saga, the great Icelandic tale of family feud, honor, and fate.

I first read Kristin Lavransdatter while in Italy -- it had been on my list for a while, and I wanted a big book for reading on plane and train -- and found it well worth lugging around.  I read it again for a Fortnighly Book last year. Like the sagas that influenced it, it seems to be the kind of work that shows new lights every time you pick it up.

A Poem Draft and a Poem Re-Draft

The Apple-Nymph

The apples gilded by the sun,
the apples pallid in the moon,
are plucked from heavy boughs of hope
by those who walk the shadowed ways.
These kisses from a dryad-nymph,
who hides behind the mask of bark,
refresh from journeys long and dark,
and bring the weary traveler peace.
The ache is fading into air,
a puddle that vanishes into sun,
and in the apple blossom sweet,
I catch a glimpse of dryad-nymph,
a glimmer of a goddess-girl.
A whisper of a goddess-name
lights my paper heart aflame
and brings me like a prayer to earth.
I am a fish in a fishful sea,
I am a berry bright on bush,
I am a star in a crystal sky,
but only when I catch her eye.
Then I am peeled like hazel wands
and, naked glass, the god shines through,
and lay my head on her lap to die
with apple-song both old and new.

 Life in the Valley of Hinnom

Moloch grins in the valley of Hinnom,
fiery smiles of burning death --
angel of light,
ringed and haloed with screaming flame --
anointed cherub,
chrismed with infant blood --
and we who have tasted lie
put children in the maw,
speaking the pieties of this age,
this world of very present darkness,
rejoicing in our freedom,
leaping in our joy.
But did we not see a glimmer,
a spark of another way,
when John leaped in the womb?
Then mother and unborn babe 
were prophets of a king unborn.

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

Alexander and Aristotle

It's interesting to read Plutarch's Life of Alexander on the education of Alexander:

 After this, considering him to be of a temper easy to be led to his duty by reason, but by no means to be compelled, he always endeavoured to persuade rather than to command or force him to anything; and now looking upon the instruction and tuition of his youth to be of greater difficulty and importance than to be wholly trusted to the ordinary masters in music and poetry, and the common school subjects, and to require, as Sophocles says--"The bridle and the rudder too," he sent for Aristotle, the most learned and most celebrated philosopher of his time, and rewarded him with a munificence proportionable to and becoming the care he took to instruct his son. For he repeopled his native city Stagira, which he had caused to be demolished a little before, and restored all the citizens, who were in exile or slavery, to their habitations. 

In the potted biographies we often use, very little thought seems to be taken to Aristotle's motivation for becoming the tutor of Alexander. But the story as told by Plutarch seems very strongly to imply that Aristotle did it to save his hometown and its people.

Plutarch also attributes an esoteric as well as exoteric component to Aristotle's curriculum:

As a place for the pursuit of their studies and exercise, he assigned the temple of the Nymphs, near Mieza, where, to this very day, they show you Aristotle's stone seats, and the shady walks which he was wont to frequent. It would appear that Alexander received from him not only his doctrines of Morals and of Politics, but also something of those more abstruse and profound theories which these philosophers, by the very names they gave them, professed to reserve for oral communication to the initiated, and did not allow many to become acquainted with. For when he was in Asia, and heard Aristotle had published some treatises of that kind, he wrote to him, using very plain language to him in behalf of philosophy, the following letter. "Alexander to Aristotle, greeting. You have not done well to publish your books of oral doctrine; for what is there now that we excel others in, if those things which we have been particularly instructed in be laid open to all? For my part, I assure you, I had rather excel others in the knowledge of what is excellent, than in the extent of my power and dominion. Farewell." And Aristotle, soothing this passion for pre-eminence, speaks, in his excuse for himself, of these doctrines as in fact both published and not published: as indeed, to say the truth, his books on metaphysics are written in a style which makes them useless for ordinary teaching, and instructive only, in the way of memoranda, for those who have been already conversant in that sort of learning.

The comment that the Metaphysics is "useless for ordinary teaching" is amusing, but the comment about the memoranda pretty clearly gives a Platonic interpretation to the book, since this is one of the purposes of teaching and of writing in particular that Plato indicates in his own accounts of education. Plutarch's characterization of the exoteric education, although presented as partly more speculative, would also be more recognizable to philosophers today:

 Doubtless also it was to Aristotle that he owed the inclination he had, not to the theory only, but likewise to the practice of the art of medicine. For when any of his friends were sick, he would often prescribe them their course of diet, and medicines proper to their disease, as we may find in his epistles. He was naturally a great lover of all kinds of learning and reading; and Onesicritus informs us that he constantly laid Homer's Iliads, according to the copy corrected by Aristotle, called the casket copy, with his dagger under his pillow, declaring that he esteemed it a perfect portable treasure of all military virtue and knowledge.

Plutarch also suggests that they had some kind of falling out, although he's so vague it's unclear what it would be; Plutarch himself is more interested in noting that, despite the falling out, Alexander retained the passion for learning and reading that he had received from Aristotle. 

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

Iakobos ho Mikros

Due to grading, I missed the feast of Athanasius yesterday, so today I'll catch the feast of SS. Philip and James, Apostles of the Church, and talk about the latter, usually known as James the Less.

Jacob (which is the original name) is extremely common among Jews of the day, so unsurprisingly there ends up being some confusion about which James is which. James the Less is always mentioned in relation to his mother, who was Mary. Unfortunately, this doesn't help us any, because Miriam (the original name) was also extremely common, and being 'James, son of Mary' is a less helpful clarification than one might think. James and his connection with his mother are mentioned in four places:

Matthew 27:55-56

Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons. (NIV)

Here we see the problem, since Zebedee's sons are James (sometimes known as James the Great) and John, and their mother was also named Mary. There are three different Marys here and two of them have a son named James. 

Mark 15:40-41

Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.

This is the passage that gives James the nickname -- he's called the 'less' in the sense of 'less in years', i.e., younger, not as a sign of his quality. (Because of this passage and the previous, 'Salome' is sometimes held to be another name for the Mary who was the mother of the sons of Zebedee.)

The other two, associated with the Resurrection, are slightly more contestable, but still fairly certain given the company she keeps. 

Mark 16:1

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.

Luke 24:9-11

When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.

Thus, very interestingly, from the gospels we actually know more about the role of Mary the mother of James the Less among the followers of Jesus than we know directly about James the Less. It's fairly clear from comments that the gospels make about 'the women' that, besides the apostles or the Twelve (here the Eleven because it is after Judas's betrayal), there was an at least semi-organized, perhaps even formally recognized, group who are described only as 'the women' (perhaps we should capitalized it as 'the Women') who often were around and seemed to have handled various practical matters. (It's tempting, and perhaps defensible, to think that these may be the seed of what was later broken up into the virgins and the widows, who historically often had a similar practical calling in maintaining churches and missions.) A number of them -- Mary Magdalene and Joanna are explicitly mentioned as such in Luke 8:1-3 -- had been cured of evil spirits and in return helped to support Jesus and the apostles "out of their own means". Not all the women associated with Jesus were such (Jesus' own mother, for instance), so we can't assume that she was necessarily a woman who had been exorcised, but she seems at least to be functioning here as a well-known member of the Women.

Beyond this, things get a bit more speculative. There is one other possible situation that might mention James's mother; we can't be sure the woman in question is James's mother, because the passage doesn't mention James. But it seems at least a reasonable guess that she is, and if so, that is significant for working out who James the Less might be:

John 19:25

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

Given the company she is keeping here, it seems at least plausible that Mary of Clopas (or Cleophas) and sister (which could mean 'sister' or 'half-sister' or could possibly mean 'cousin', i.e., family in the same generational cohort) of Mary the mother of Jesus, is the same Mary as Mary, the mother of James the younger and Joseph. This verse is usually taken as saying that she was the wife of Clopas, but in fact the original just says, "Mary of Clopas", and we don't know for sure what that means (which becomes significant for discussing her relation to Alphaeus, see below). If this is so, we can identify more clearly James's role, because besides the Twelve and the Women, there was another group associated with Jesus, not so closely during his lifetime but very closely after the Resurrection, the Brothers of the Lord. (In fact, when the leaders of the disciples are mentioned in Acts 1:14, they are identified as the Eleven, the Women, Mary the mother of Jesus, and the Brothers of the Lord.)

Mark 6:2-3

“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?”

Matthew 13:54-56

Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked.  “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?”

So here we have a James and a Joseph in association, and if we accept that Mary, the sister of the Lord's mother, is their mother, then James the Less is one of the Brothers of the Lord. If we accept this, this gives us lots more information, in the sense that there are definite traditions about James the Brother of the Lord. The Church Fathers are consistent in saying that James the Brother of the Lord was also known as James the Just; that he had 'knees like a camel's knees' because he prayed so often; that he was the leader of the Jewish Christians (those Jews who converted to Christianity and continued to follow Jewish law) and the first bishop of Jerusalem. He would then be the James who, with Peter and John, Paul says was a pillar of the Church, and whose followers tried to get Peter and Paul in trouble in Antioch over their relations with Gentiles, leading to James hosting the Council of Jerusalem mentioned in Acts. 

He was eventually martyred by Jewish opponents who saw his practices as heretical, in an event that shocked even many Jews who had no particular sympathies toward the Christians, as Josephus records in his Antiquities of the Jews (Book XX, Chapter 9):

But this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity [to exercise his authority]. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king [Agrippa], desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified; nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria, and informed him that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrim without his consent.

Some argue that the "brother of Jesus, who was called Christ" part is a later Christian interpolation, but it's actually very difficult to find good grounds on which to argue this, so the common view is that the particular phrase is probably authentic. (No one doubts that the passage as a whole is authentic.)

Traditionally, James the Just is the James who wrote the biblical book of James.

Now, another, even more speculative, possibility is that the James the Less is the figure also known as James son of Alphaeus, one of the Twelve. And, indeed, this is a common identification historically: James the younger would then be the son of Mary of Clopas and Alphaeus. Now, it's possible from this that Alphaeus was also called Clopas (Jews having more than one name was extremely common in those days, as is perhaps given that they all have the same given names, and a fragment attributed to Papias, who would be a relatively early source identifies Alphaeus and Clopas), or it could be Mary was called 'of Clopas' for a different reason we don't know, perhaps her father or older brother or something. (Cleophas was also the name of one of the disciples who met the Risen Jesus on the way to Emmaus, so if it's the same man, he seems to have been considered quite significant and well known despite not being one of the Twelve.) The only thing we know from Scripture about James son of Alphaeus, if he is not James the Less or James the brother of Jesus or James the Just (all of whom may or may not be the same person), is that he is always listed as one of the Twelve. However, we have very early tradition that James the son of Alphaeus was stoned to death by Jews and buried outside the Temple, which sounds very similar to the death we find attributed, independently, to James the Brother of the Lord, and can be taken as a minor confirmation of the identification. In any case, we know one other person identified in Scripture as a son of Alphaeus, Levi the tax collector; Levi is pretty universally identified with Matthew. But having a father with the same name of course raises the possibility that James was Levi's brother.

So of James the Younger, as we really should call him, we know for certain that his mother was Mary, one of the women (or Women, if we think of it as a specific semi-formal or formal group of followers, as it sometimes seems to be) who followed Jesus, and his brother was named Joseph. It is extremely likely that his mother Mary was Mary of Clopas, the sister of the Virgin Mary. If that is the case, James the Younger is definitely the cousin of Jesus and therefore probably also James the Brother of the Lord, since the term 'brother' here can often cover family members in the same generational cohort. (Some people want to argue that the the Brothers of the Lord were closer relatives than cousins, so it's not quite as certain, but it would be very plausible.)  In that case, his other brothers besides Joseph are Simon and Jude. And according to tradition, James the Brother of the Lord was the first bishop of Jerusalem, and traditionally is said to have been succeeded in that see by his brother Simon (or Simeon). He would also, again according to tradition, be the author of the Epistle of James and the brother of the author of the Epistle of Jude. He might also be James the son of Alphaeus, one of the Twelve, in which case he might possibly also be the brother of another of the Twelve, Levi or Matthew.

Or it could turn out to be that any of these Jameses are different Jameses. Historically, the feast of St. James the Less or the Younger has usually been celebrated as if they were the same, so if they are different, then, as someone has noted, we can consider today's feast to be the Feast of St. Philip and the Holy Jameses.

Monday, May 02, 2022

And All the Sweetness of the Long Ago

 Sweet Weather
by Lizette Wordworth Reese 

Now blow the daffodils on slender stalks,
Small keen quick flames that leap up in the mold,
And run along the dripping garden-walks:
Swallows come whirring back to chimneys old. 

Blown by the wind, the pear-tree's flakes of snow
Lie heaped in the thick grasses of the lane;
And all the sweetness of the Long Ago
Sounds in that song the thrush sends through the rain.