Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Short Story Alert

And so another episode of the hikers of Lions Bay, with, as I said earlier, its new title, "Innocents Aloft". Following Mark Twain, of course, and his "Innocents Abroad", which I looked into briefly as a youngster and looked out of again. Twain was unquestionably talented, and some of his books will always be read, but as with so many who write a great children's book, his metaphysics were not quite mature enough to hold the charm elsewhere. I've been realizing this vehemently in my recent reading of "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court". Attacking injustice is a good thing, and there is a lot of highly enjoyable humour in the book, but his hatred for the Church blights the last half of the work so badly that the best thing that can be said about it is that it would be a good working model for someone to use to deal with the current American programme for jailing a greater proportion of its citizens than anyone else does. Especially if they're black and even if they've been involved in such a negligible nusiance as a sniff or two of funny tobacco. Not that I've ever had the habit myself, but it's hard to equate the use of smelly leaves with serial killing, or even armed robbery. And nowhere in the text did I find him pointing out the joys of working long hours in a New England factory in the nineteenth century, when the workers had to get up in the dark to get to a very early morning mass on Christmas day, so great was the charity and faith of the mill owners.
Ah, yes, living in glass houses, yet refusing to put away the sling shot.

But why be negative on a day like this?
On a day like this when instead of having ten thousand devils waiting for me when I awoke from my afternoon nap - early this morning I was not only practising on the rubber keyboard but before that making bread - I had MT handing me what just arrived in the mail, my eagerly awaited 'free introductory copy' of the Parish Book of Chant, kindness of Jeffrey Tucker of the Church Music Association of America. A couple of weeks ago we set out to order that volume, following her researches on the Net, and as we prefer using mastercard over the phone to mastercard on line, I get to talk to people. Invariably more interesting, and in this case profitable, as Jeffrey was so pleased by our interest that he insisted we were his guests.
They say one bad book can destroy a monastery. Can one very good book restore the American Church? (I include Canada, of course, as it has pretty well been the tail on the US Mongrel over these decades of dumb dumb.)
Outside of my theologians and the breviary, this may just be the most propelling text I've seen since Father Smith Instructs Jackson, which I think I have recently referred to. The Adoremus Hymnal is very useful, but there is simply more Latin in the PBOC and I like the uncompromising use of the old four line staff. This lets the modes move about as they were intended to, and will play right along with my own personal affection for tanks because it forces study. Study is always painful for the Mongrel, I know, especially where it involves clergy, but as Aristotle says, a little pain now can produce much pleasure later.
Yes, it was somewhat painful to straighten out my confusions over chant, and to get the math right once I had enough common sense and English text in my hands, but it's going to be immensely pleasurable to start learning every line on chant on every page of the PBOC.
And guess what? I finally get to have a reason to have mercy on poor Miss Glover of Norwich, who brought movable doh to the English school system. Her source was not really her own personal misunderstanding of the needs of singers and a critical absence of mathematical sensitivity - well, not entirely - but she was indeed seduced by the Scarlet Woman. It was Guido done it, latching on to movable Doh instead of movable One as well, in order to keep pitch relative.
Maybe Guido flunked his grade six math. Or maybe someone after him - was it actually Francis of Assisi, whose boys did a lot of other stuff for chant that was excellent - who forgot the first rule of metaphysics? Tutt Tutt. All those Franciscan apologists who try to make their founder out as superior to the man who started up the Dominicans.
Anyway, all of this was before Mr. Fender, with whose ghost I will probably make everybody annoyed for a while. Anytime the mystics take a guitar - or guitars - to chant, you know there's going to be trouble. It's an old custom. The ploughman always goes out before the sowers.

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