Saturday, November 28, 2009


I think a spirit has been provoking me. Either God or the Devil. Either way I think I'm coming out of it now, with some reinforced knowledge.

The issue has been the authenticity--or inauthenticity--of the New Testament. I've ruled out the solitary Ingenious Deceiver hypothesis on the Chestertonian observation that, given the actual content and variety of the anthology of writing that makes up the New Testament, no one could have come up with it. As Pascal pointed out, no one would even ever think to make up something like the Resurrection. As a purely human notion it is either insane or absurd. The only way it makes sense is if the action is Divine.

The originating concern, however, has been how we know whether or not--even granting the historical viability of the gospel narratives--there mightn't be documents that were suppressed by the Apostles; e.g., a document written by Jesus's own hand. But the only reason to suppress a document is that it makes claims contrary to the document(s) you're pushing; in this case, the "contrary" claims would be that Jesus is not, in fact, God, and that the Apostles were not His representatives. The latter is exactly the kind of thing we would expect from a man-made religion, whereas the idea that an orthodox Jew of the first century could casually commit blasphemy is untenable. But besides all that, there is the fact that the Church precedes the gospel writings. "The Gospel" is simply the witness of the Resurrection, not this or that particular book about the Riser. The Gospel was taught for years before "the gospels" were ever written. So I finally realized I've been working with a backwards axiom. It is not scripture that authorizes the Church: it is the Church that authorizes scripture. The fact is, even if the New Testament had never been "authorized," the Catholic Church would still be today exactly what it is. The Church is the Body of Christ and a Living Tradition.

But the real problem has been the vicious circle I've been going through, pondering and repondering, checking and rechecking. The question of the reliability of the Apostles has really been a bugger. But it seems unlikely that some small group of Galilean tradesmen would be capable of a vast KGB-esque conspiracy. And the claims of St. Paul to have received a direct post-Resurrection revelation of Christ, and the subsequent lack of disagreement of the original Apostles with his teaching, sure is curious. A zealot like Saul of Tarsus would never have given up his Jewish heritage--with full knowledge of the condemnation he would receive as a Christian--without damning evidence of its incompleteness.

And one more point: I read last night a great apologetic for the authenticity of the four Catholic gospels, as against the counterfeit apocrypha: To say that the unreliability of the apocrypha demonstrates the potential unreliability of the canonical gospels is like saying that the fact that there are counterfeit coins proves that all coins are counterfeit. Rather the very existence of fakes demonstrates the necessity of the originals. In any case, as above, the way any given writing was determined as worthy to be included in the canon was the degree to which it reflected or bore witness to the already-existing Church.

Christianity is not an "of-the-book" religion.

(Not that Protestants would have you believe that.)

Monday, November 23, 2009


This is one of those posts--or is it a note? briefing? memorandum?--where I just go on and on and on. Or, rather, it is one of my On-and-on-and-on's which is executed by the act of writing. Correct: the written word is secondary, the concept is primary. So "Take that!" you spineless deconstructionist chumps. You could say this is my coffee hour, though it is not my coffee hour, because "coffee hour" suggests--like "tea time"--that this is the time of day I ordinarily have coffee. Not so, in this case (indeed, it is not so lately in general, as it once was in yonder dayes, when my coffeehouse was my sanctuary). In this particular case, "coffee hour" refers to the time I make a Real Coffee around midnight ("when the moment is not right") and muse upon the possibilities of a more thrilling life. Thrilling, not the way a Jack Bauer's life is thrilling, but more as, say, the narrator of "The Waste Land"'s life is thrilling. What happened to those days when I wandered and wandered not knowing what to do, not knowing what to be, or who to be, or is it whom? In those moments of utmost despair I found more meaning than the humdrum of my daily being nowadays. Boredom. That is my great devil. I have a good mind to chop boredom into little pieces, break early into a sushi bar, and switchout the pieces with some fine raw seafaring meats. O! To sabotage some chink bastards with the deadly dish of raw boredom! Or, what is even better, to poison unsuspecting whites or blacks who, attending frequent sushi bars, merely think themselves fine multicultural bastards with my vanquished and spliced and diced foe, boredom. The pufferfish was never so deadly as this. So, getting back to the point, I used to always wonder, "Oh what do I do? what shall I ever do?" and I hated it. Plans were cleverly devised and deduced and revised and destroyed and begun all over again. It was a truly hellish state of mind. Indeed I gave it up. I said to myself, I shall make no more "plans"; "goals" are for suckers. My only goal is the fly by the seat of my pants, as it were. My only plan was to make sure I never sit down to the dreadful task of actually drawing out a plan. But what fortune is there now? Now that I have abandoned my plans, I have indeed got a few things that needed to get done finished; e.g., my bachelor's degree. If I had kept making and revising plans academically, I would still be saying that I don't know what I'm going to major in, English or Philosophy. But all of that is finished now. But besides that. The point is this: that maybe I'm not obsessive enough anymore. Maybe life was more interesting when I was obsessive, even though I never got anything done. Because as it stands now, I am neither obsessive nor am I getting anything done. In other words, I'm doing nothing. If I start obsessing again, at least then I'll be doing something, even if only obsessing. On the other hand, when you really break it down, I don't want to do anything. I really have no ambition. If I work, I work for the sake of leisure and only have the itch for money. I don't care about cars, computers, selling goods or services, helping people, writing books, doing math, travelling, building models, or taking photographs. Give me my premium coffee, my premium books, premium cigars, a premium atmosophere, and, on occasion, some premium narcotics, and I have all I want. Entrepreneurs say you should make a job out of doing what you like to do best. I'm afraid that could never work in my case, because what I like to do best cannot be sold to anyone but me.

So run and hide, ladies, run and hide, sweet ladies,
For from me ye never finde securitye,
And ye dreams of all that husbands be
Shatter, when me blank stare be employed.

Friday, November 20, 2009

all there is

Let's see, you have Lewis, Eliot, and Hammett; you got The Godfather and Inglourious Basterds; and you have the Catholic Church.

And that's pretty much everything there is.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

cut down to nothing

I find it somewhat disconcerting that every "philosophical insight," once you boil it down to its essentials, is merely one more boring instance of the phenomenological reduction in action. Every "original" idea ends up being a juxtaposition between two apparent contraries, a paradox, which ultimately is so because of the nature of the relationship between the intended and the intendor, i.e., between the world and one's consciousness of it. One can either accept the mystery and move on, and in time become wise. Or, one can endeavor to explain it--or, what more often happens, to explain it away--and in time become a mere philosopher. In most cases you must pick either one or the other. I haven't noticed many "wise philosophers"; they don't usually come in that pattern.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

multiply variety

I just noticed an interesting connection. While reading Eliot's poem "Gerontion" I noticed how nearly identical the overall mood is to Chandler's The Big Sleep; not the content, the mood. But perhaps General Sternwood, in the latter, is modelled on Gerontion? Furthermore, Sternwood's greenhouse houses many orchids, and Sternwood refers to himself--in his near-death condition--as living on heat like a spider. The latter reminds me specifically of the spider in the poem. But even more interesting is the orchid connection, by accident. The original chief of counterintelligence for the CIA was James Angleton, who was friends with Eliot, was very fond of orchids, and saw their entire existence as a metaphor for deception, viz., in his profession of espionage, which Angleton, quoting Eliot, called a "wilderness of mirrors." Passages from "Gerontion" were read at Angleton's funeral. So we have this web of interrelations between Eliot, Chandler, Angleton, Orchids. Eliot doesn't mention orchids, but Chandler and Angleton do. And Chandler and Angleton seem to lean on Eliot for inspiration, and both see orchids as a key metaphor. So we've found this curious link, via Chandler and Angleton, between Eliot and Orchids. More than anything, however, all of these persons and objects point to an indescribable mood. And perhaps the Orchid is the symbol for that particular mood.