Monday, February 23, 2009

Another Choo-ism

In honor of the Bard:

"Be Choo,

be Choo,

be Choo!

To thine own self be Choo!"


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Inheritance Cycle...

After devoting most of my weekend to reading through Brsingr, I think I will recommend it. Paolini's writing is much better. The action is quite well done, it's fun, it's entertaining. I was engrossed. The plot's pretty predictable but still works well. (Blah, incoherence). It's not high literature, but we don't want to be snobs now do we? ;) To be honest, it's been a long time since I've really enjoyed myself as I read through a book. Don't get me wrong, Great Books are by no means without their entertainment value. But the fantasy of this particular book requires very little active thinking and so is consequently much easier to get addicted to.

Yes, it's quite true, I was addicted. ;) Perhaps though, it's not something to joke about...It's a story and I love a good story.

Perhaps it would be best to tell you what effect my reading of it has on my sister. As I write, she is lugging the book (all 700 something pages of it) to her own room. Sigh, I'm guessing I can forget about communicating for at least 2 weeks. ;)

Here's what she said when she walked into the room this evening while I was near the end.

"DANG! Gabriel, you ate the book!"

I got a good chuckle out of that. =] it good? Probably not, and with all these Dante sources to read through I'm an idiot for devoting so much time to it, but as I said, I can't resist a good story.

Sigh. We'll have to work on that.

In other news, I shall not be getting a facebook.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Facebook 3

Here are the votes so far:








Mr. Leigh



MKR Mouse

Sir Claviger



Last chance to get your votes in!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What Music Means to Me

The following is a something I wrote for a recital in the program notes. Questions, comments, critiques are very welcome:

I have been asked to write down some thoughts about what music means to me. I shall begin then, with a short account of my own experience with music. My love of music began (I am almost ashamed to say) from selfish reasons. When I was 10, I read an article about how classical music makes ones IQ go up. Being a snobbish little boy I threw myself into my parent’s Mozart collection which amounted to about 10CDs. All the while, I constantly chanted this mantra to myself: “this will make me smarter, this will make me smarter” add infinitum. Like a musical moron I would vigorously nod my head up and down with the rhythm of the symphony or when the music became grand and exciting I’d wave my hands around frantically as if I were conducting an invisible symphony. Can you imagine what I must’ve looked like? In fact, I would look into the mirror sometimes and practice my I-am-deeply-in-musical-thought look and try to seem very profound, I mostly ended up looking constipated. Thank God something good came of this egoism! As I became more and more familiar with the pieces, I found that I actually enjoyed listening to them for their own sake. I didn’t really even know why yet, I just liked listening. My initial enjoyment began to spill over into a liking for other composers. In addition to Mozart’s music, I began listening to Elgar, Dvorak, Beethoven, Puccini, and then it hit me: I had discovered the Second Piano Concerto of Rachmaninoff. Diane Ackerman, a poet, describes this piano concerto as one that is:

full of tenderness and yearning,
beguiling melodies, raging passion,
and long sensuous preludes
to explosive climaxes,
frenzy followed by strains
of mysticism and trance.

Loaded with starry melodies,
it was a map of his sensibility,
and a wilderness rarely known
-the intense life of an artist
seen in miniature, with rapture expressed
as all-embracing sound.

But words do not come close, I think, to describing what it is like to listen to that music. How can I describe that aural experience which ravishes my entire being and makes me weep to hear such beauty? The answer is, I think, that we wouldn’t have music if we could fully describe it in words. Descriptions of Rachmaninoff can only go so far, you will have to listen to it yourself.

If I thought that discovering Rachmaninoff was something, imagine how it must have shaken my world to find Bach! Oh Bach! What a colossal syllable! I shall not even try to tell you the love, humility, and goodwill that his music inspires in me. This is what Leonard Bernstein says, “…once you do get to know Bach well enough to love him, you will love him more than any other composer. I know this because I went through the same process myself.” Further on he states,

And what is it that holds all these pages together, that makes it all inevitably the product of one man? The religious spirit. For Bach, all music was religion; writing it was an act of faith; and performing it was an act of worship. Every note was dedicated to God and to nothing else…Every last cello suite or violin sonata, every prelude and fugue from The Well-Tempered Clavier praises God…Bach…was a man of God, and his godliness informs his music from first to last (The Joy of Music, 237-277).

And with that, I come to my point. The fundamental value of music is in its ability to make us better people. Rather than just a hobby or something we teach children because it will make them “smart” (which it will). Classical music is an education of the heart. It is a vital part of forming a person’s character for the better. Now realize that I am not saying that you need music to be a good person, after all, the Nazis also listened to Schubert, but music makes it that much easier to love God and to love your fellow man. While the music lasts, I am in wonder and awe before its beauty. It’s almost as heady as being in love with someone, and perhaps it is just that – love – I mean. I do love music. And though my fingers stutter and mumble across the keys trying desperately to incarnate that love, I still do it; rather, I play because I love. In the last act of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, we are given a very good model of what all our praises to God are like when the King of Athens comments on the bumbling and ridiculous play of the builders is put on in the King’s honor,

Our sport shall be to take what they mistake,
And what poor duty cannot do, noble respect
Takes it in might, not merit.
Where I have come, great clerks have purposed
To greet me with premeditated welcomes;
Where I have seen them shiver and look pale,
Make periods in the midst of sentences,
Throttle their practiced accent in their fears,
And, in conclusion, dumbly have broke off,
Not paying me a welcome. Trust me, sweet,
Out of this silence yet I picked a welcome,
And in the modesty of fearful duty
I read as much as from the rattling tongue
Of saucy and audacious eloquence.
Love, therefore, and tongue-tied simplicity
In least speak most, to my capacity
(Act V.90-105).

If you skipped over that long quote, don’t worry about it, I mostly put it there to sound smart. The point is that the king took the stuttering praises of his servants and accounted those jumbled and messy attempts as eloquent speeches because of their love for him. In the same way, God will take our intention and count it as the act. If we will commit the time we spend in practicing and playing this music (like Bach) as a form of worship towards God, then it will mean something; otherwise, recitals are simply mutual admiration societies. We have mechanical piano players to do that. We come here not just to listen to those we know and admire the talent and hard work that has been put into these pieces, we come here also to participate in and experience beauty, beauty that at its root is from God. Life itself becomes more wonderful because such beauty exist. That’s what music means to me, it is one of the ways in which we are led to God. Where would I be without music?

In Gratitude

"Through all this ordeal his root horror had been isolation, and there are no words to express the abyss between isolation and having one ally. It may be conceded to the mathematicians that four is twice two. But two is not twice one; two is two thousand times one. That is why in spite of a hundred disadvantages, the world will always return to monogamy."

-G. K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday

Wentworth is the diabolical counterpart of Dante. I shall have to read Descent into Hell again in light of this fact. Charles Williams makes so much more sense now.

After all of it, I do think that Dante got it right. "poi si torno a l'etterna fontana" She turned again to the eternal Spring.

"'Have I your permission?' said the Angel to the Ghost.
'I know it will kill me.'
'It won't. But supposing it did?'
'You're right. It would be better to be dead than to live with this creature.'
'Then I may?'
'Damn and blast you! Go on, can't you? Get it over. Do what you like,' bellowed the Ghost: but ended, whimpering, 'God help me. God help me.'"
(The Great Divorce 110).

God is full of severe mercies.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Facebook 2

I don't know dad has mom has aunts all have one. What am I supposed to do? Wait till Grandma gets one?!

Also...hehe...I started a facebook group using my sister's fb called "I hacked my little sibiling's facebook so I could stalk my friends".


Also, I really love me chums. ;)

So, I shall put it to a vote. As I have already done before. Do you, dear readers, think that I should get one? =]

Monday, February 9, 2009

Where did it all go?

Why is it that something begins and then when it ends it's so hard to re-apprehend the experience? For example, when I experience a beautiful piece of music it only stays with me for so long. The rightness, the goodness, that desire and ardor that is the stuff of rash vows --can it last? Perhaps this is what corresponds to "the death of Beatrice". In the Vita Nuova, Dante describes his experience and vision of Beatrice when he saw her for the first time. Fifteen years later, she died. And Dante goes on to write, "what has never been written in honor of a lady before". Romantic Theology...

Lewis is characteristically lucid:

"A romantic theologian does not mean one who is romantic about theology but one who is theological about romance, one who considers the theological implications of those experiences which are called romantic. The belief that the most serious and ecstatic experiences either of human love or of imaginative literature have such theological implications ,and that they can be healthy and fruitful only if the implications are diligently thought out and severly lived, is the root principle of all his [Charles William's] work"
(Introduction to "Essays Presented to Charles Williams").

How do we stay true to the image of the beloved?

Whatever that image may be, nature (think Wordsworth), the city (Virgil), or a girl (Beatrice), or music (Bach? Rachmaninoff?) how do we affirm and love it in such a way that it is neither blasphemous nor destructive?

In short, how do we love rightly?

This is sort of the question I'm starting with for my paper. I'm pretty sure Dante can help me. =D But what he has to say isn't at all easy. At least for me, I don't think of this as just a paper, for me, what Dante is saying and how I interpret him has real and significant implications. Perhaps Dante is wrong and crazy, if not wickedly lustful...

I sure hope not.

"He who has ears let him hear, he who has eyes let him see."

"This is thou, this also is not thou."

"...lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil..."

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

On Happiness (Part I)

Recently, I've come across some works regarding Happiness.

First: Consolation of Philosophy, by Boethius

Second: Treatise on Happiness, by St. Thomas Aquinas

Now, I've also been following a blog called "The Happiness Project". It's on the side bar so you can go there to find out what it's all about.

It's late at night and I just wanted to get this thread going so I don't forget in the morning. Here's what I propose to do:

In this post, the author is pretty much allowing happiness to be vague. I think that such relativism at the beginning of a project like this fundamentally misses the point. ...Or something like that. I'm going to sleep on it, but these are the texts I shall be interacting with...

However, it will be an on-and-off thing as presentations are coming up!

In pursuit of Happiness,

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


An hour wasted
(Curse you Ebay search engine)
Car part wasn't there.

My dad found the car part in three minutes. =P


Crashed the car -- Ouch
Accidents are not fun
Now I have to pay.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Online Dante Resources

Below are some online resources I have found thus far.

Here's Dr. Esolen's lecture on freedom and autonomy in the Divine Comedy.

It made me cry. Listen.

Here's the Comedy read aloud in Italian.

Here's a huge library of commentaries.

Here are some lesser known works of Dante online.

Also, I highly recommend the essay in the post before this one.

Please add any other resources you find in the comment section =]