Monday, November 19, 2007

More Thoughts on France

I hope you don't mind some rough comments drawn from my journal, commenting on my recent visit to France for Provincial Chapter.

On a visit to St. Denis, burial place of most of France's monarchs: the old crooked cobblestone streets witness to the antiquity of the place, and yet the Bauhaus-style apartments create a rather desolate feel. When the Revolutionaries desecrated St. Denis, digging up the bones of the kings and dumping them in a common grave, they committed this barbarity in the name of civilization. I couldn't help but think that a fitting Purgatory for them would be to live in the glass boxes that filled in the desacralized void.

On the Metro: the recorded announcements are so much more pleasing than those on Chicago's El trains. It's a woman's voice, for starters.

On the Louvre: Some royal personage had commissioned a tapestry of Susannah. I found this a bit bizarre.

There was something unnerving to me about "Liberty Leading the People" with guns blazing!

How in the world did Delacroix paint the tops of his enormous canvases? With a ladder? If they were lying flat, how did he attain perspective on what he was doing?

The effects of light and shade on tapestries are in some ways more impressive than in oil painting.

A sarcophagus removed from St. Denis becomes a thing, officially an objet d'art. This witnesses to the fact that the very existence of a 'museum' proclaims the ascendancy of the secular; the paintings of Delacroix and Gericault fit in here; the secular of yesteryear was laden with sacral potentiality--the 'hand of justice' used by the king when issuing judgments bespoke of a sacred duty. God used to be our eschatological judge; today 'history' has usurped this role. This is why Presidents Clinton and Bush worry about their 'legacies', possibly more than they worry about being right and just.

Marxism has come out on top! For now...I will have more to say on another day when time is short...

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If I, who seem to be your right hand and am called Presbyter and seem to
preach the Word of God, If I do something against the discipline of the Church
and the Rule of the Gospel so that I become a scandal to you, The Church, then
may the whole Church, in unanimous resolve, cut me, its right hand, off, and
throw me away.

Origen of Alexandria
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