Saturday, September 10, 2016

Dashed Off XX

the 'unconscious' as a reification of inspiration

Every virtue is said of things according to more and less, and thus according to how they resemble the pure case of that virtue. But this pure case is the measure and reason for every virtue of that kind; and thus there is something that is the ultimate measure & reason for each virtue' and this we call God. Thus we see that every virtue is a way to God. ((perhaps should be 2 step like Third Way))

Part of the ministry of Christ Ascended is the repentance of Israel. (Acts 5:30-32)

Let ◊ be 'at least variable part' and □ be 'invariable part'. Then common modal axioms are:
D = What is an invariable part of X is an at least variable part of X.
M = What is an invariable part of X is X.
4 = What is an invariable part of X is also an invariable part of an invariable part of X.
5 = What is an at least variable part of X is an invariable part of an at least variable part of X.
B = Everything is an invariable part of an at least variable part of itself.
CD = What is an at least variable part of X is an invariable part of X. (All parts of X are invariable parts.)
C4 = What is an invariable part of an invariable part of X is an invariable part of X.
C = What is an at least variable part of an invariable part of X is an invariable part of an at least variable part of X.
(D, B, 4, and C4 seem most promising for most things.)

personal identity // time travel
(personal identity is, of course, time travel in one sense)

time travel involving subjects going back in time to the past seem to require a strong subject-relativity of time

Fairy tales often have grotesque violences because such violences are as out of nature as fairy tale wonders.

Note that Paul's two referneces to the Cretica (Acts, Titus) suggest, in full context, the divinity of Christ: They made a tomb for you, holy great one, / Cretans, ever liars, evil beasts, idle bellies, / But you are not dead: you live and abide forever / For in you we live and move and have our being.

Attacks against legalism often serve as cover for attacks on the idea that there is any society other than the state, esp. the idea that the Church is a society in its own right. (They give state monopoly on law.)

human rights and the pluralism of societies

How others have attempted to deal with a problem is part of the evidence for what the problem is.

scarecrow arguments (ad hominems are often examples)

The attitudes of a Pythagorean or a Neoplatonist to truths of arithmetic are simply not the same as the attitudes of modern-day ultrafinitist. Humanity is always shifting its attitude towards mathematics. There is no agreement as to the most general conception of mathematics, and mathematical platonists and formalists, for instance, do not even agree as to what is meant by mathematical truth.

Even our innermost lives have a social aspect.

Ritual is such that it is simultaneously emotional expression, a teaching of participants and observers, and a system tending to coherence, so that it is a sort of overlap of all three.

Beliefs ritually practiced and beliefs about ritual practices are not the same.

Myth at root is spoken ritual.

Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom precisely because God is love.

breaking out of the solipsism of the now // breaking out of mental solipsism

development of doctrine
(1) inspiration of the Holy Spirit
(2) exemplarity of articulated faith
(3) rational community

parallels between Kant on immortality and certain universalist arguments

The rigorous rises out of the allusive and suggestive. Anyone who has constructed a rigorous argument has had this experience.

Many things are possible, not all of these are probable, and fewer still of these are presumptively true. If something is possible by free will, it may be something I never consider, or, considering easily reject; its being possible says nothing about its being easy, or being likely, or being more likely as time goes on, or being something that can be done at once rather than only over time with practice, or being compossible with other things, or being something that i even ever consider, or being something that I would ever accept given my history, or any other such thing.

virtues and vices as traditions of choice

The faith admits of definition because it is neither arbitrary nor merely subjective.

articles of faith // icons
(our minds do not terminate in propositions or images but in what they express)

the relation between awe and ungaudy simplicity

the task of youth: to walk as the heart leads and the mind sees fit, but to remember that there is a reckoning and to be mindful of one's Creator

Man cannot be transfigured by improving the body or augmenting the intelligence -- this merely shifts modalities.

The greater part of the power of reason is that it does not have to rely on itself alone.

metric mereotopology

Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev and the various aspects of artistic life (as well as the relations between art and violence)
- note that the horse imagery expresses this in addition to the main storylines

an extended mind conception of history

To know the end of a thing is to know an immense amount about it; the end is in some ways the most powerful principle of knowledge.

No one needs to plumb the soul of the painter to know that his painting is intended to represent a bison.

How do those who claim science is not causal explain cases needing control groups or distinguish important from incidental correlations?

The nodes of an economic transaction may be all one person or more than one -- almost any two-person transaction, for instance, has an isomorphic one-person counterpart. (Bookkeeping and budgeting often exhibit many of the latter.)

Competition gets its value from unpredictability (Hayek; note Vernon Smith on experimental confirmation)

Experimental observation requires integration with nonexperimental observation.

tools-to-theories heuristics of discovery

etiological and causal role aspects of papal function in Church

analogical vs a fortiori functions of parabolic discourse

All of physics is based on principles of cycles, boundaries, and causal actions.

We know the world not merely by thinking and inquiring about it, but also by enduring it.

An act of love, like a concept, is capable of uniting the mind that knows with what it knows with what it knows, as an intentional sign or instrument.

articulated networks of insights

The just person in misery seeks not commiseration but companionship. Christ did not rebuke the disciples for failing to suffer as He did; He rebuked them for falling asleep rather than waiting with Him.

the dignity of work as part of the dignity of the human person

Even justice cannot make a human society immortal.

To found moral lives on natural law one must have moral customs; the flowers do not grow directly form the root.

Few things are so good for culture as habits of accurate reasoning and enthusiasm for small things; the two together can build a golden age.

It is the customs of a people that are the first defense against corruption and usurpation; if we are ever to the point of being defended by statutory law alone, we are already on the verge of losing.

Faith in man requires a love of God, otherwise it has no ground.

That by which we come to believe and that by which we continue to believe overlap but are virtually never exactly the same.

We are all thieves on crosses.

exculpation creep: our tendency to treat more and more excuses as wholly exculpating

the impassibility of solidarity

management as the Gorgian rhetoric of the modern age

Plato's Gorgias opens with battle.

Human veracity is discovered almost incidentally in considering causes of testimony -- it is a relation (mode of relation?) between remote and proximate causes.

backforming a theory of reasoning from Hume's moral theory

Eucharist is the sacrament not only of the Body and blood but of both the separation (death) and sacramental unity of the Body and the Blood.

gravity-based fountain as the most basic kind of fluid engineering (after channel and dam, I suppose)
spurt as simple machine
dam: wall. But so is channel, a wrapped wall; and a pipe, of course, is wrapped completely
fluid wheel as simple machine

mereotopology on discrete grids
On a discrete grid, boundaries are well defined parts, not at a limit.

Sincerity is the heart of panache.

transposition as a method of argument analysis

Patience is one of the most basic responsibilities of a citizen in a democratic society.

confirmation and disconfirmation in interpretation of allusion

A society designed so as to need constant vigilance from citizens is a society doomed to fail. But all societies tend in this direction.

liturgy qua end: participation in heavenly union with God
liturgy qua means: that which serves to prepare and raise us to full heavenly union with God

divine omnipresence as a precondition of sacrament

the right of bodily integrity & stewardship of one's body

Jericho as a symbol of worldly desires (Damasus, D 144)

minor orders as diaconate ministries broadly considered

Remission of sins is repair of free will.

rejection of sacred Tradition as broader iconoclasm

(1) Some certainty, of a sort, can be had through natural appearances.
(2) One can sometimes conclude the existence or nonexistence of one thing from another.
(3) Certitude of evidence admits of degree.
(4) We have certitude of some material substance outside our minds.
(5) Certitude may be of things other than faith, first principles, and conclusions from first principles.
(6) We may clearly know natural efficient causes and effects.
(7) We may have demonstrations of the nobility of a thing.

If the principle of noncontradiction can be grasped with certainty, it follows that certain truths about the mind may be grasped with certainty, including the existence of the mind itself to grasp it and have the certainty, even though these do not follow from the principle of noncontradiction per se.

the intrinsic quietistic tendency of many universalist arguments

Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum


Opening Passage: The opening passage deserves to be quoted in full:

That was when I saw the Pendulum.

The sphere, hanging from a long wire set into the ceiling of the choir, swayed back and forth with isochronal majesty.

I knew--but anyone could have sensed it in the magic of that serene breathing--that the period was governed by the square root of the length of the wire and by π, that number which, however irrational to sublunar minds, through a higher rationality binds the circumference and diameter of all possible circles. The time it took the sphere to swing from end to end was determined by an arcane conspiracy between the most timeless of measures: the singularity of the point of suspension, the duality of the plane's dimensions, the triadic beginning of π, the secret quadratic nature of the root, and the unnumbered perfection of the circle itself.

I also knew that a magnetic device centered in the floor beneath issued its command to a cylinder hidden in the heart of the sphere, thus assuring continual motion. This device, far from interfering with the law of the Pendulum, in fact permitted its manifestation, for in a vacuum any object hanging from a weightless and unstretchable wire free of air resistance and friction will oscillate for eternity. (p. 3)

Summary: Foucault's Pendulum, in other words, is a true conspiracy theory, a real manifestation of that which all conspiracy theorists of any kind try to achieve. The suggestion of some ideal, perfect idea ("the singularity of the point of suspension") from which hidden secrets of the world (like the rotation of the world) can be discerned if one just finds the right swing of thought, putting together the underlying secrets of the world's process ("a higher rationality," "however irrational to sublunar minds") in a perfectly logical manner: this is what is promised. But in the real world, there is air resistance and friction, so the theory does not operate on its own, but must be built in such a way as to assure "continual motion", an ever-changing shifting of ideas. The human mind wants to know, and gnosis is one of our greatest temptations, to substitute 'being in the know' for genuine knowing. Hungering for knowledge of good and evil, we will eat the poison promising to provide it, for it seems good to look on, and to taste, and to make us see the world from a God's-eye point of view.

In the 1970s, the narrator, Casaubon (whose name evokes the character in Middlemarch who seeks the Key of All Mythologies), is doing a graduate thesis in history on the Knights Templar, when he happens to meet up with Belbo, an editor in a publishing house that often receives manuscripts from kooky conspiracy theorists talking about the Templars. He asks Casaubon to consult on one of these manuscripts, by a certain Colonel Ardenti, and he meets Diotallevi, another of the employees of the publishing house. Ardenti claims to have found a secret manuscript in code that lays out a plan by the Templars after their suppression to discover a great treasure. The book deal is never completed, however, because Colonel Ardenti disappears suddenly, apparently killed, except that the corpse seen by the (unreliable) witness has also disappeared. Nothing seems to come of it, and Casaubon continues his separate way. He spends some time in Brazil, then returns to Milan and starts a freelance research firm; while there, he meets a woman, Lia, in the library, and they fall in love and eventually have a child.

By happenstance he meets up with Belbo again, and is hired by the publishing house. It's actually a sort of scam -- there is a respectable publishing house front, Garamond, but but it is linked secretly with another publishing brand, Manutius (or Manuzio in the original Italian), that is a vanity press. People come in through Garamond, and if they are among the crazy kooky conspiracy theorists, they get nudged over to Manutius where, if they want to get published -- and they are usually desperate for the respectability of being published -- they pay to have their work published. Manutius then goes through a bit of song and dance of distributing and advertising their authors, but it is all to the very profitable end of squeezing more money out of the authors, because Manutius makes its profits from authors, not readers.

Faced with endless manuscripts from kooky conspiracy theorists, Casaubon, Belbo, and Diotallevi start a game of making a better conspiracy theory than any of them, starting with Ardenti's manuscript, taking anything useful from the manuscripts received, and adding to this from their own knowledge, since they are better educated than most of the authors. They call it the Plan. But as the Plan gets more intricate and coherent, it gets out of control. They become habituated to thinking in conspiracy-theory terms, and when members of the occult community discover hints of the Plan, they become intent on capturing it at any cost. But after this point it becomes increasingly difficult to tell what is real and what is imagined, because Casaubon himself is losing his ability to tell the difference. The glibness with truth that was at the heart of the intellectual game they were playing has begun to spread like cancer.

What generally saves us from the temptation of gnosis is the hylic mud of mundane life, and for most of the book Casaubon is kept grounded by his relationship with Lia and their child. But there is only so far you can train your mind to spin out connections before it begins to do it whether you want it to do so or not.

One of the things Eco does throughout is draw parallels between conspiracy-theory thinking and other things in life that we take as perfectly normal. There is not a vast difference between what conspiracy theorists do and the sort of nonsense people in which people involve themselves in politics; it is precisely the similarities that trap Belbo. Nor are conspiracy theories so very different from how we approach economic matters, and it is not an accident that the publishing house at which the three main characters work is itself a conspiracy. Politics and economics are precisely points in our lives at which we tend to blur, sometimes deliberately, the line between true and imaginary, and are also points at which we tend to run to overarching, all-explaining, yet ever-changing theories based on simple ideas. The Pendulum swings through all the variations, but it always suggests higher knowledge, the ability to be one of those 'in the know', if you only capture the right key to everything.

Favorite Passage: I actually had two this time around and couldn't decide between them, so I'll put them both up.

Perhaps because I was in daily contact with Lia, and with the baby, I was, of the three, the least affected by the game. I was convinced I was its master; I felt as if I were again playing the agogô during the rite in Brazil: you stay on the side of those who control the emotions and not with those who are controlled by them. About Diotallevi, I didn't know then; I know now. He was training himself viscerally to think like a Diabolical. As for Belbo, he was identifying at a more conscious level. I was becoming addicted, Diotallevi was becoming corrupted, Belbo was becoming converted. But all of us were slowly losing that intellectual light that allows you always to tell the similar from the identical, the metaphorical from the real. (pp. 386-387)

Hadn't Agliè spoken of the yearning of mystery that stirred the age of the Antonines? Yet someone had just arrived and declared himself the Son of God, the Son of God made flesh, to redeem the sins of the world. Was that a run-of-the-mill mystery? And he promised salvation to all: you only had to love your neighbor. Was that a trivial secret? And he bequeathed the idea that whoever uttered the right words at the right time could turn a chunk of bread and a half-glass of wine into the body and blood of the Son of God, and be nourished by it. Was that a paltry riddle? And then he led the Church fathers to ponder and proclaim that God was One and Triune and that the Spirit proceed from the Father and the Son, but that the Son did not proceed from the Father and the Spirit. Was that some easy formula for hylics? And yet they, who now had salvation within their grasp -- do-it-yourself salvation -- turned deaf ears. Is that all there is to it? How trite. And they kept on scouring the Mediterranean in their boats, looking for a lost knowledge of which those thirty-denarii dogmas were but the superficial veil, the parable for the poor in spirit, the allusive hieroglyph, the wink of the eye at the pneumatics. The mystery of the Trinity? Too simple: there had to be more to it. (p. 514)

Recommendation: It takes a particular mood, but Highly Recommended.


Quotations from Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum, William Weaver, tr. (Ballantine: 1989).

Friday, September 09, 2016

Bandit Council and Hun Invasion

Today in the Maronite calendar is the memorial of the Holy Fathers of the Council of Chalcedon. To understand the Council of Chalcedon, one must know something about Eutychianism.

Eutyches was a priest of Constantinople, an archimandrite in charge of an important monastery, who had attended the ecumenical Council of Ephesus (431). He was a firm opponent of Nestorianism and advocate of the conciliar definitions, and at some point argued things that were taken as suggesting that Christ was not consubstantial with us, that his humanity was not the same as ours. (We don't actually know for sure what his precise position was.) He was condemned at a synod held by St. Flavian, the Patriarch of Constantinople, and Domnus II, the Patriarch of Antioch, in 448. However, he had been recognized by others as an opponent of Nestorianism, and there were a few who thought that perhaps this condemnation was an attempt to sneak Nestorianism in through the back door. Among these was Dioscorus, Patriarch of Alexandria, who had also attended the Council of Ephesus and had been the secretary of none other than St. Cyril of Alexandria himself. Eutyches, Dioscorus, and others appealed to the Emperor, and the Emperor decided to call another ecumenical council at Ephesus.

The Second Council of Ephesus, which took place in 449, was a bit thrown-together; Pope St. Leo I only had time to put together a brief embassy to represent the West. The Emperor had actually invited him to come and preside over the council himself, but St. Leo declined because he had other things to do, since Italy was being invaded by Attila the Hun. Instead, he sent a bishop, a priest, and a deacon. The bishop, Julius, is otherwise unknown, and seems to have been banished from the council for some reason. The priest, Renatus, died on the way, so only St. Hilarius, the deacon (who would one day become Pope), seems to have represented the West. The honorary ranks were entirely jumbled up. As noted, there seems to have been no episcopal representative of Rome, and St. Hilarius seems to have repeatedly tried in vain to get the council to read St. Leo's letter to it. Dioscorus of Alexandria presided, Juvenal of Jerusalem, an ally of Dioscorus, was treated as next in authority, and Domnus of Antioch and St. Flavian of Constantinople were treated as if their sees were the least important.

Eutyches was brought before the council and affirmed the Nicene Creed, and said that he had been condemned for what was in fact simply an error of phrasing. The council concluded that Eutyches had been wrongly condemned -- quite firmly, for even Domnus of Antioch recanted his condemnation (not that it did him any good, since the council eventually condemned him) -- and voted to depose St. Flavian. It's unclear exactly what went down from this point -- the council itself seems to have tried to convey the impression that it was nearly unanimous, but later claims at Chalcedon were that a great many bishops had begged mercy for St. Flavian and that St. Hilarius, having proclaimed that Rome would reject the decision, only barely escaped with his life. Both are so dramatic in character that it is difficult to say which is the less plausible.

In any case, St. Flavian was sent into exile, and died shortly thereafter. It was actually a pretty thorough victory for Dioscorus and Juvenal -- the Patriarch of Constantinople deposed, the Patriarch of Antioch deposed. According to later claims at Chalcedon, Juvenal decided to add one more and threw together a small synod of bishops at Nicaea to excommunicate the Pope of Rome. Maybe that happened, but it could well just have been a rumor.

St. Flavian had immediately written a letter to St. Leo, although, of course, he died before any answer returned. St. Leo wrote the Emperor and told him he was nullifying all decisions of the council. Famously, he called it a latrocinium, a bandit council, and ever since the Second Council of Ephesus has usually been called the Latrocinium, the Robbers' Synod of Ephesus. In the meantime the Emperor had also died, and a new Emperor took the throne who called a new council to resolve the confusion over the council that had been called to resolve the confusion arising from the synod that had been called to clarify what the Council of Ephesus really meant. It met in late 451 in Chalcedon, near Constantinople. That wasn't the intent. St. Leo had insisted that it should meet in Italy; the Emperor actually summoned the bishops to Nicaea. But the Huns got involved again, since they were invading the East as well as the West, and the council was moved at the last moment to Chalcedon. St. Leo was again asked to preside, but he declined again because it wasn't as if the Huns were on vacation -- that's why he had wanted the council in Italy in the first place. He sent another legation instead.

It was a big council -- the largest of all the first seven ecumenical councils, with over five hundred bishops in attendance from all over the Empire. Dioscorus, however, was refused admittance, and the council deposed him. St. Leo's letter was finally read, and, after some discussion of a few passages that worried some of the Council Fathers as suggesting Nestorianism, was accepted as an accurate statement of orthodoxy, in full conformity with St. Cyril of Alexandria and the Council of Ephesus. In the conciliar definition, they produced the famous Christological formula, "one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation". They then voted on a series of canonical regulations, although the papal legates were not present for the vote on all of them, leading to the dispute over Canon 28, which gave the see of Constantinople the same honor as the see of Rome.

The Egyptian bishops refused to accept the council, of course, and the schism has never been healed, which is why the Coptic Orthodox are not in communion with either the Catholic or the Eastern Orthodox sees.

In 452, Attila invaded Italy again and conquered the north; he reached the gates of Rome, met St. Leo and two imperial envoys, and after negotiations suddenly went away rather than sack the city. Nobody knows why he left; historians love to speculate, of course, but nobody knows. St. Leo in the meantime, when he wasn't stopping invading armies, was writing letters protesting Canon 28, but in early 453, he affirmed the council on matters of faith (but still not on matters of canonical discipline).

Despite the schism afterward, the Council of Chalcedon was actually in many ways the most orderly ecumenical council in both its proceedings and its aftermath. Given the circumstances, it was doubtful that Alexandria would have ever gone along with any reversal of the Latrocinium, anyway, and for most of the empire it was an easy result to accept.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

A Higher, a Pure Moral World

The ideas of right and wrong, merit and demerit, happiness and misery, are respectively linked each to each in the necessary convictions of the human mind. That virtue and well-being, guilt and ill-being, ought to go together, are absolute truths, as absolute as the difference between truth and falsehood, as absolute as the truth that two and two make four; it is as impossible to conceive the contrary in the one case as in the others. And though in the moral world the fact may contradict the judgment, we do not on that account abandon the judgment; we still believe that virtue deserves to be happy, that crime deserves punishment . That state where virtue and well-being are perfectly united, we call a state of perfect moral order; where this is not the case, it is a state of disorder or imperfection. The present world is plainly not such a state as the judgments of reason and conscience demand; and yet we cannot cease thus to judge; conscience still imposes its unconditional command, still passes its acquitting or condemning sentence. How to solve the contradiction? Shall we pronounce our moral dictations a delusion? To do this is far from relieving the difficulty. The only idea which can solve the enigma is the idea of a higher, a pure moral world, and of a moral ruler who shall there establish that just connection between virtue and happiness, which, for reasons that are now to us simply inscrutable, does not perfectly prevail

William Whewell, "The Moral Argument for the Existence of God", On the Foundations of Morals, (pp. 144-145). The argument, of course, is an adaptation of Kant.

Maronite Year LXXI

Non-Sunday feasts in the Maronite calendar tend to be either very old or fairly new. This is a fairly minor feast on the Maronite calendar, all things considered, so one might think it new. On the other hand, the Latin calendar gets the feast from Byzantine calendars, and Byzantine calendars get the feast from Syrian calendars, so, as a Syrian liturgy, its place in the Maronite year could go back very far. I simply don't have the extensive resources for liturgical history that would be required to say.

Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
2 Corinthians 4:1-6; Luke 8:16-21

O Mother of Light, your birth proclaims joy,
for from you rose the true Sun of justice;
He freed the world from its age-old darkness,
bringing light to those who seek to love God.

From you, O Virgin, the light of Christ dawns;
from your flesh the Image of God is born;
through your purity God brought purity,
and from the light of your faith, His glory.

Even in death, the souls are rejoicing;
with the angels, we exalt her fair name.
All who sing in reverence for her Son
exalt her name to all generations.

O Christ, from Mary, the true East, You came,
scattering the darkness of the ages!
O Light of our exile, shine in our hearts;
may the Mother of the Light pray for us.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Spontaneous Impulse of Gratitude

It may be observed in the second place, that the natural sentiment of Gratitude conducts us to God. To be grateful for benefits is the instinctive prompting of our nature. To receive kindness, favors, benefits from our fellow-beings, and yet to feel no emotion of gratitude, is by common consent to be a monster.

Now we are surrounded with blessings which we cannot refer to our fellow-beings. Existence, with innumerable capacities and sources of good, is and must be felt by us to be a gift. While enjoying the bounties of nature, the sentiment of gratitude spontaneously rises up in the unperverted heart. "In moments when the sensibility of our moral feelings is most acute and active; when we are surrounded by nature arrayed in all her beauties, and feel the calm, serene enjoyment of existence; we feel within us the conviction that we ought to be grateful to some being for these blessings."

William Whewell, "The Moral Argument for the Existence of God", On the Foundations of Morals, (pp. 140-141). The quotation is from Kant's Critique of Judgment sect. 86; the particular translation and quotation is actually from Schmucker's translation of Storr and Flatt, An Elementary Course of Biblical Theology.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Satyrical Pronunciation

I've had two different students in two different classes correct my pronunciation of 'satyr' this term, which is interesting. I pronounce it SATTER (usually -- since I have some difficulty articulating words, I will often shift around in pronunciation even of ordinary words, and don't always know myself how it ended up being pronounced). They insisted it was SAYTER. According to the dictionaries, something like SATTER is the 'chiefly British' pronunciation, while SAYTER is the American pronunciation, which I find interesting. SAYTER is not especially close to the original Greek at all, and I can literally count on one hand the Americans I have ever heard pronounce the word with a long A, despite having talked with people about Greek mythology and culture a lot over the years. The natural way Americans tend to pronounce it when they come across the word without having ever heard it before (and it is definitely a word people are more likely to come across in reading than in conversation) is, as far as I can tell, SATIRE, which is an entirely reasonable guess and pronunciation, closer to the actual Greek than SAYTER, closer to the pronunciation of the adjectival form 'satyric' and 'satyrical' (which are homophonous with 'satiric' and 'satirical', the adjectival forms of 'satire'), and overwhelmingly the most common pronunciation I've actually come across.

Likewise, satyrid, the name for a family of butterflies and derived directly from the same origin, has three different pronunciations in most dictionaries -- SAYTERID, SATTERID, and SA-TIRE-ID. But the homophonic-with-satire pronunciation for 'satyr' doesn't seem to have been picked up on by dictionaries. One wonders, first, how SAYTER ever got purchase in the first place, and second, how it was determined that Americans pronounce 'satyr' this way.

Of course, whenever anyone corrects my pronunciation in any context, I always say, "People pronounce that word in many different ways," which is always undeniably true.

Sentiment of Dependence

As a first consideration, let us reflect on the natural sentiment of Dependence on a higher power which seems inherent in human consciousness. The consciousness of existence, when reflected upon, is calculated to fill the mind with a sense of mysterious awe. Once we were not: at some unremembered point of time we began to be. Can we look into ourselves and find the ground of our being? Can we say: we are, simply because we are? It is not possible. We dare as little claim to ourselves an original and independent existence, as to think of claiming "ownership in the breathing air, or making enclosure in the cope of heaven." To what, then, can this sentiment of dependence attach itself? Can it rest satisfied upon any thing around us, upon any thing we see, or upon any thing we can imagine in mere Nature? We are conscious of feeling, of thought, of will; can we for a moment rest in the notion that such a being can come from any combination of the powers and forces of Nature? Impossible: we must pass beyond it to the idea of a Being out of Nature and above it, before we can find any resting place for this sentiment of dependence.

William Whewell, "The Moral Argument for the Being of God" (p. 139-140). The quotation is from Coleridge's The Friend.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Music on My Mind

Rebecca Naomi Jones, with Karen Olivo, John Ellison Conlee, and Will Swenson, "Murder Ballad".

Ironically not itself a murder ballad; it's a song about murder ballads introducing a 2013 musical with a murder-ballad theme. It mentions at least three songs -- "Mack the Knife" in both Ella's immemorial version and Bobby Darin's version; "Maxwell's Silver Hammer", a Beatles song whose most classic version, however, is Steve Martin's take-it-to-the-limit goofy version from Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band; and Hendrix's Hey Joe. It's also possible that the "Someone's gonna die" is a reference to Blitz's Someone's Gonna Die, although that's arguably not a ballad since it deliberately refuses to tell much of a story, and it could very well just be a generic claim about the content of murder ballads. I would say that 'There, but for the grace of God, go I' is not a common murder ballad theme, but obviously is a lesson that can also be drawn -- and arguably a good portion of the genre's appeal, particularly given that both punishment of and sympathy with the worst of humanity are common murder ballad themes.

My favorite line: "There's always a killer, / so logically someone has to die." Somehow that ends up being quite catchy.

Rough Timeline of the Templar Order

Some dates approximate.

1023 Bl. Gerard Thom founds the Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, also known as the Knights Hospitallers, to care for sick pilgrims

1070 Approximate date for birth of Hugues de Payens

1095 Alexios I Komnenos sends an appeal for military help to Urban II at the Council of Piacenza; First Crusade begins with the Council of Clermont

1097 Nicaea, under the control of Kilij Arslan I, is recaptured by the Crusaders and Byzantines

1098 County of Edessa, the first Crusader state, is created, followed soon by the Principality of Antioch

1099 Crusaders recapture Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Jerusalem is created

1100 Battle of Melitene: Bohemond I of Antioch is defeated, captured, and held for ransom by Malik Ghazi Gumushtekin

1101 Crusade of 1101 (also known as Crusade of the Faint-Hearted, because it involves people who were not willing to risk the First Crusade) attempts to reinforce the Crusader kingdoms

1104 County of Tripoli, a Crusader state, is created

1107 Norwegian Crusade begins under Sigurd I (first Crusade led by a king; Sigurd wins every battle, mostly in Muslim Spain on the way to the Holy Land)

1110 Siege of Sidon: Baldwin I of Jerusalem and Sigurd I of Norway combine forces to take Sidon

1113 Milites Sancti Sepulcri, later known as the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, are officially recognized by Paschal II

1119 Hugues de Payens proposes a military order for the protection of pilgrims; the new order is given a headquarters on the Temple Mount by King Baldwin II of Jerusalem, from which it will get both its official name (Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon) and its colloquial name (Knights Templar)

1122 Concordat of Worms

1123 First Lateran Council

1129 St. Bernard of Clairvaux advocates for the Templars at the Council of Troyes; Honorius II gives papal recognition to the Templars

1135 St. Bernard praises the Templars in De laude novae militiae

1136 Robert de Craon becomes second Grand Master of the Templars

1139 Second Lateran Council; Innocent II gives papal support to the Templars in the bull Omne datum optimum

1144 Celestine II gives papal support to the Templars in the bull Milites Templi

1145 Eugene III gives papal support to the Templars in the bull Militia Dei

1147 Second Crusade begins (it will be a fairly consistent failure); Everard des Barres becomes third Grand Master of the Templars

1148 Council of Acre among Crusader nobility determines to lay siege to Damascus; Siege of Damascus is a disaster for both sides, but especially for the Crusaders as it leads to distrust among the major Crusading powers

1149 Templars help defend Jerusalem against Turkish raids

1500 Templars begin to involve themselves in banking by issuing letters of credit for pilgrims

1151 Bernard de Tremelay becomes fourth Grand Master of the Templars

1153 Andre de Montbard becomes fifth Grand Master of the Templars; Baldwin III seizes Ascalon with the help of the Templars

1154 Crusaders begin Campaign against Egypt

1156 Bertrand de Blanchefort becomes sixth Grand Master of the Templars and begins to reform the order

1169 Philip of Nablus becomes seventh Grand Master of the Templars; Saladin appointed vizier of Egypt

1171 Eudes de St. Amand becomes eighth Grand Master of the Templars after the resignation of Philip of Nablus

1177 Battle of Montgisard: King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem with the help of Templars crushes a massively larger army under Saladin by taking Saladin by surprise

1179 Third Lateran Council; Battle of Jacob's Ford: the Templar Castle of Chastellet is seized and destroyed by Saladin, marking the beginning of Saladin's string of military successes

1181 Arnold of Torroja becomes ninth Grand Master of the Templars (he will take steps to reduce strain and rivalry between the Templars and the Hospitallers)

1185 Gerard de Ridefort becomes tenth Grand Master of the Templars

1187 Battle of Hattin: Saladin defeats Guy of Lusignan, King of Jerusalem, and recaptures Acre and Jerusalem

1189 Third Crusade begins (it will recapture Acre and Jaffa but does not try to retake Jerusalem)

1191 Knights of St. Thomas founded at Acre to tend to sick and wounded; at about the same time, the Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem, later known as the Teutonic Knights, are formed for the same reason; Robert de Sablé becomes the eleventh Grand Master of the Templars after the capture and beheading of Gerard de Ridefort; Battle of Arsuf marks a decisive victory for the Crusaders

1192 Kingdom of Cyprus, a Crusader state, is created

1193 Death of Saladin; Gilbert Horal becomes the twelfth Grand Master of the Templars (in his tenure tensions between Templars and Hospitallers will begin to boil over)

1197 Crusade of 1197, also known as the German Crusade shores up the County of Tripoli but fails in its goal to take Jerusalem because of the death from illness of Emperor Henry

1201 Philippe de Plessis becomes the thirteenth Grand Master of the Templars

1202 Fourth Crusade begins; Venice makes the capture of Zadar from Hungary a condition of its transportation, and Zadar is captured

1203 Fourth Crusade, co-opted by the Venetians, lays siege to Constantinople, ending in an unstable truce

1204 Sack of Constantinople; the Latin Kingdom of Constantinople begins and the Byzantine Emperor flees to Nicaea, where the last fragments of the Byzantine Empire will begin to consolidate

1210 Guillaume de Chartres becomes the fourteenth Grand Master of the Templars (during his tenure the order will have major successes in Spain)

1213 Fifth Crusade begins

1218 Peire de Montagut becomes the fifteenth Grand Master of the Templars (during his tenure the relationship between the Templars and the Hospitallers will improve greatly; the Grand Master of the Hospitallers was Guerin de Montaigu, who might have been related)

1228 Sixth Crusade begins under Frederick II (it will eventually restore limited control of Jerusalem to the Crusaders under a ten-year truce)

1230 The Teutonic Order begins to conquer pagan Prussia and founds the State of the Teutonic Order (from this point both the Hospitallers and the Templars begin to take an interest in the idea of founding their own military-monastic states)

1232 Armand de Périgord becomes the sixteenth Grand Master of the Templars

1236 Knights of St. Thomas given papal approval as a military order

1239 Crusade of 1239, also known as the Barons' Crusade, massively expands the territory under the control of the Kingdom of Jerusalem

1244 Siege of Jerusalem: Khawarazmian army captures Jerusalem and razes most of it; Battle of La Forbie: major Crusading powers, including the military orders, join forces with the Sultanate of Damascus against the Sultanate of Egypt and, after severe losses on both sides, the Crusaders lose, marking the beginning of the complete collapse of Crusader power throughout the Holy Land

1245 First Council of Lyon; Innocent IV calls for a new Crusade; after the capture of Armand de Périgord, Richard de Bures administers the Templar Order, but it is unknown whether he actually became the seventeenth Grand Master

1247 Guillaume de Sonnac becomes eighteenth Grand Master of the Templars (if Richard de Bures is counted)

1248 Seventh Crusade begins under St. Louis IX, in a direct attack against the Egyptian Sultanate

1249 Siege of Damietta: French forces with the help of the Templars seize Damietta

1250 Battle of Mansurah: Crusaders are defeated but the Templars under Guillaume de Sonnac perform extraordinary feats of valor; de Sonnac, heavily wounded, barely escapes with his life; Battle of Fariskur: de Sonnac is killed and St. Louis is aptured and held for ransom; Renaud de Vichiers becomes nineteenth Grand Master of the Templars (if Richard de Bures is counted)

1256 Thomas Bérard becomes twentieth Grand Master of the Templars (if Richard de Bures is counted)

1260 Constantinople is recaptured by the Byzantine Empire

1270 Eighth Crusade under St. Louis IX begins but is hampered by illness and the death of St. Louis

1271 Ninth Crusade under Edward of England begins (it is mildly successful but is cut short when Edward needs to return home); the capture of Krak des Chevaliers, one of the most important Hospitaller castles, results in a ten-year truce between Crusaders and the Sultanate

1273 Guillaume de Beaujeu becomes twenty-first Grand Master of the Templars (if Richard de Bures is counted)

1285 Philip IV the Fair inherits the crown of France, which is heavily in debt, especially to the Templars

1289 County of Tripoli is conquered

1291 Kingdom of Jerusalem falls, and the Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller retreat the Kingdom of Cyprus; Thibaud Gaudin becomes twenty-second Grand Master of the Templars (if Richard de Bures is counted)

1292 Jacques de Molay becomes the last Grand Master of the Templars

1293 Jacques de Molay tours the major Western kingdoms trying to stir up support for the Templars and the remnants of the Kingdom of Jerusalem in Cyprus (he is able to get promises of supplies, but no interest in another Crusade; in addition, he has to fight off suggestions from the Papacy and elsewhere that the Knights Templar and the Knights Hospitaller should merge)

1296 Pope Boniface VIII issues the bull Clericis laicos, sharply criticizing Philip IV and beginning a full-scale power struggle between the French monarchy and the Papacy

1297 Louis IX is canonized by Boniface VIII

1299 Jacques de Molay begins working toward a Frank-Mongol alliance against the Mamelukes (it will never quite come together due to timing); La Roche-Guillaume, the last Templar stronghold near Antioch, falls to the Mamelukes

1302 Boniface VIII issues the bull Unam sanctam, escalating the power struggle between the Papacy and the French Crown; Philip IV tries, but fails to seize the pope

1305 Raymond Bertrand de Got, a strongly pro-French partisan, becomes Pope Clement V, which effectively marks the victory of the French Crown over the Papacy in the ongoing power struggle between the two

1306 Henry II of Cyprus (formerly also of Jerusalem) and his brother Amalric become locked in a power struggle; the Templars back Amalric and Henry is deposed and exiled to Armenia; Philip IV expels the Jews from France in order to seize their assets

1307 Philip IV arrests Knights Templar throughout France, seizing their assets, and torturing them in order to get confessions of heresy and wrongdoing (most will later recant their confessions)

1308 Under pressure from the French king, Clement V sets up papal commissions to investigate the Templars with the bull Faciens misericordiam; the 'Chinon Parchment': Templar leaders are confessed and absolved by representatives of the Pope

1309 Clement V moves the Papal Curia to Avignon and the 'Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy' (1309-1377)begins; after an extensive series of political clashes with Venice, Clement V tries to encourage a Crusade against the Venetians

1310 Amalric of Cyprus is assassinated and Henry II returns to the throne with the backing of the Hospitallers; Philip IV has 54 Templars burned at stake

1311 Council of Vienne; Clement V orders the arrest of the Templars throughout Europe with the bull Pastoralis praeeminentiae

1312 Clement V formally dissolves the Templars with the bull Vox in excelso and hands over Templar assets to the Hospitallers in the bull Ad providam and a series of further bulls

1313 Henry II pushes through the dissolution of the Templars in Cyprus

1314 Philip IV has Jacques de Molay burned at stake; Clement V dies shortly after, and Philip IV shortly after that

1317 James II of Aragon, who had opposed the Templar dissolution, gets permission from Pope John XXII to form a new military order to take over former Templar property

1319 Military Order of Christ is founded in Portugal for former Templars

Note: Of the religious military orders of the time, two are still in existence and under protection of the Holy See: the Hospitallers (as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta) and the Order of the Holy Sepulcher.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Two Perversions

A couple of weeks back, Agellius had a nice quotation from Dietrich Hildebrand, so I thought I'd put it here so I can find it again:

As in the intellectual field there exists a perversion according to which an interesting, complicated, intelligent error is preferred to a simple, evident truth, so there exists also a moral perversion that leads us to prefer the dramatic, interesting tension of a tragic sin to simple innocence.

Dietrich von Hildebrand, True Morality and Its Counterfeits, New York:David McKay Company (1955), pp. 44-45.

Maronite Year LXX

And with this Sunday we reach the last Sunday of Pentecost, the longest season of the Maronite liturgical year; next week will see the beginning of the closing season, Holy Cross.

Seventeenth Sunday of Pentecost
Romans 13:8-14; Luke 10:25-37


O Lord, You do not seek the death of sinners,
but repentance and returning to life;
though we are waylaid by sins and transgressions,
You care for us and cure despair with hope.
We are fortified by Your love and kindness;
burdened by sin, we cry out for mercy,
for we darkened our minds on how to call You,
and only by Your grace can we find words:
'O God, have mercy on Your sinful servants.'


  A man was robbed going to Jericho,
  stripped and beaten and left for dead.
  Priest and Levite passed on the other side,
  but a Samaritan pitied,
  with mercy bound his wounds with oil and wine,
  mounting him upon his own horse,
  taking him to an inn to tend to him,
  promising to pay for his care.


  Who is a neighbor to the beaten man?
  He who showed mercy to his need.
  Thus says our Lord: Go now and do likewise.
  This alone is eternal life:
  to love God with all heart, soul, strength, and mind,
  and, too, your neighbor as yourself.
  Only love can prove your spirit blameless.
  To act with love fulfills the law.


Praise and glory to You, O merciful Lord,
for through pity You were made flesh for us,
voluntarily enduring death for us.
You descended into death's dark abyss,
but gave eternal joy by resurrection,
enlightening the nations of the world
with a light of salvation that will not die.
By Your love we are healed, by oil and wine,
and in Your Church cared for until You return.