Friday, December 26, 2008

Promise Kept

This will not be a post reflecting on the beauty of Christmas (although you may read into the title of the post however you wish). My intent for this post is more of a housekeeping issue:

I made a promise a year ago (almost to the day!) to upload a crazy wipeout I had on my snowboard on Christmas Day. =]

Today I fulfill my promise.
If you can't do it right, then fail spectacularly!

And my awesome, cool, and amazingly tech-savvy sister made our 2008Choo Family Christmas Video.

The link directly above is High-Def. Here's the normal quality.

Merry (post) Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Nevermind then...

Man is a giddy thing.

Turns out I'm not going into Philosophy.


Delightful Irony eh?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Dorothy Sayers and Bach

Keep in mind that in her youth, Dorothy Sayers was quite a talented Violinist/Pianist:

"Masters, undergraduates, visitors; they sat huddled closely together on the backless oak benches, their elbows on the long tables, their eyes shaded with their fingers, or turned intelligently towards the platform where two famous violinists twisted together the fine, strong strands of the Concerto in D Minor. The Hall was very full; Harriet's gowned shoulder touched her companion's and the crescent of his long sleeve lay over her knee. He was wrapt in the motionless austerity with which all genuine musicians listen to genuine music. Harriet was musician enough to respect this aloofness; she knew well enough that the ecstatic rapture on the face of the man opposite meant only that he was hoping to be thought musical, and that the elderly lady over the way, waving her fingers to the beat, was a musical moron. She knew enough, herself, to read the sounds a little with her brains, laboriously unwinding the twined chains of melody link by link. Peter, she felt sure, could hear the whole intricate pattern, every part separately and simultaneously, each independent and equal, seperate but inseparable, moving over and under and through, ravishing heart and mind together.
She waited till the last movement had ended and the packed hall was relaxing its attention in applause.
'Peter - what did you mean when you said that anybody could have the harmony if they would leave us the counterpoint?'
'Why,' said he, shaking his head, 'that I like my music polyphonic. If you think I meant anything else, you know what I meant.' "

-Gaudy Night pg. 499

Then it goes on and they construct this beautiful model of marriage which you should definitely, definitely go read. (But read Strong Poison first at least!)

Anyway, that was an awesome description of Bach. More than that, I read that paragraph with a sinking feeling...I've been that musical pretender...I've been that musical moron waving my hands to the beat...gaaaahhh.....

=[ Sigh. Maybe I should just stick to eating and sleeping...?

Either way, Sayers is right, it's the music that's important, not your reaction. Just like everything else.

"The best thing to do is to forget yourself altogether..."

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Paradox

“To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.”

-William Blake

Go read those lines again.


Now think them through a bit.

I've been seeing this idea pop up in alot of places. George Steiner first brought it to my attention in his book Errata by pointing out the paradox of language and the written word. There are limits to language in the sense that we use predetermined symbols which correspond to certain concepts or things or ideas, but within those limits, there is a Infinite Universe. Now I'd like to add a quick note here: there are several kinds or types of infinity. If you've ever read the Phantom Tollbooth, you'll remember this one passage where the main character is in either a tunnel or on a staircase(both maybe, I can't remember) and it's a monotonous infinity. Chesterton also mentions this when he talks about lunatics in Orthodoxy, the logic of the lunatic makes perfect sense, but it is a mad sense, a never ending circle, like a dog chasing its tail. Boethius also brings this theme up when he talks about the difference between eternity and mere immortality. The eternal is Presence itself, time only imitates the ever-presence of eternity in the Present. While immortality is merely a sucession of future turning into present which becomes past, eternity is a transcendent Present of all time. (There's ALOT more to be said on that subject, but that's for a term paper) Eliot's line about the "still point" the "intersection" (I'm getting sidetracked here, so I won't go and find the exact quote). What I hope all these examples have done is to give an idea of what I am not trying to describe. The sense of infinity I describe is not the monotonous infinity of a never ending corridor, but rather the infinity of possibility, an infinity rife and pulsing with creative potential. That is the sense in which language (confined as it is by representative symbols used to denote concepts) is infinite.

Another example of this paradox of infinite freedom within tangible confines can be seen in the production of a play (This is a variation on the theme of language). Ms. Card, in the context lecture I attended this evening, spoke of a certain set of restraints that a director is subject to (Which can be grouped into two main categories of Restraints of the text and Restraints of the community which produces the play), yet within these constraints, there is an infinity of variety which makes it possible to see something different every time the play is incarnated.

Once I got started, everything around me started to explode with this theme. Take Western Concert Music, twelve notes...A-B-C-D-E-F-G with their respective sharps and you can get anything! Palestrina, Bach, Rachmaninoff, Sibelius, John Williams, Coldplay, name any genre! And that's just the beginning, you have different forms: the symphony, the sonata, theme and varaiation, the prelude, the etude, etc. There's a form, and there's endless possibility.

And what about Chemistry? There are only 92 naturally occuring elements on Earth and they form literally everything around us.

Architecture, Sculpting, Biology, Painting, Art, Humans (!) And this last one got me. Each created in the image of God, each an individual. Yet the more we become Christ-like, the more we truly become ourselves. Tolstoy may have been right in saying all happy families are alike, but I think it would be more accurate to say that all happy families are alike in the potentiality for Joy.

Which brings me to The Great Divorce by Lewis. The grey town of the opening stretches to infinity in all directions, but it is so numbingly same. The real shocker is when you find out that all of hell cannot even affect a butterfly of heaven. (Note: As Lewis himself says, the illustrations of The Great Divorce are not meant to be literal ideas about the respective places, just as Dante's Comedy aren't meant to be factual descriptions of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven).

If you take anything away from this ramble, take this:

Heaven can never be exhausted. Whatever else it is, it can and could never be merely infinite. All these examples I've listed so far are but the muddy trickles from the Fountain. How great our joy and wonder when we come to the Source?

It is the Good which is really interesting and evil which bores the hell out of a person (or rather, into him).

The sculpture which took an artist a month of 8-hour-a-day carving to complete can be destroyed in 2 minutes.

So there you have it, my long long and still incomplete ramble on the paradox of limits and freedom.

It is through law that we become truly free.

Let's discuss!