Formerly Ad Orientem

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Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children.

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He is a very shallow critic who cannot see an eternal rebel in the heart of a conservative.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

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Irish Elk
Thursday, June 17, 2004  


On the Zeppelin front, Zadok the Roman turns up a useful volume from 1958:

Being answers to a large variety of questions on points of moral, canonical, liturgical and rubrical interest
by the late
Selected and edited by

Amongst the gems in this book is the question: Would a priest enjoying a portable altar indult, which included celebration in a ship, violate any grave law by celebrating Mass in an aeroplane? In the course of the answer we discover: There is no express prohibition against celebrating in aeroplanes. On the contrary, it was expressly permitted by papal indult as long ago as 1936, on the voyage of the dirigible Hindenburg from Friedrichschafen to New York, and the celebrant Fr. Schulte O.M.I., is said to have been the first priest to celebrate in the air.

One presumes that last clause excludes St. Joseph of Cupertino.

* * *

Only in Massachusetts? Perhaps only in Cambridge would the Republican candidate for state rep headline his campaign website: "Pro-Choice. Supports Same-Sex Marriage…A choice – not an echo – for Cambridge and Somerville."

* * *

Truth be told, I haven't read Ulysses and don't plan to in the near future. For those like me, the BBC offered on the occasion of yesterday's Bloomsday centenary a Cheat's Guide to what has been called the greatest novel of the 20th century, noting: [F]or all its renown and notoriety, it is a book that few have read and even fewer comprehend. Writes one commenter: "This book is the greasy pole of literature. You simply cannot get past page 10 without sliding back to the beginning and trying again to understand what on earth is going on."

Evelyn Waugh had no use for Joyce or Ulysses, notes Enoch Soames, who excerpts a Waugh interview with Elizabeth Jane Howard.

Elizabeth Jane Howard: When you were a young writer, were writers trying to shock their public?

Evelyn Waugh: The matter shocked them awfully, really, whatever you wrote. When I began writing it was a great period of shock and - it was the time of Joynson-Hicks, you know - and things that would now seem quite innocent were thought to be obscene. I don’t mean shocking in that sense, but there was a much more sinister influence which was to try and reduce prose style to gibberish. And it didn’t work with prose. What Mr Cyril Connolly has called The Breakthrough was in fact the break-up. In painting, architecture and poetry, in which the common man has a certain feeling of awe so he’s prepared to be bamboozled - they accepted what was offered. But when it came to prose the English common man knows what prose is, he talks it all the time himself and he wasn’t going to be taken in. And there were a lot of Americans, headed by one called Gertrude Stein, who wrote absolute gibberish. Then they hired a poor dotty Irishman called James Joyce, if you’ve heard about him - he was thought to be a great influence in my youth –

EJH: Was he, yes.

EW: - and he wrote absolute rot, you know. He began writing quite well and you can see him going mad as he wrote, and his last books - only fit to be set for examinations at Cambridge.

EJH: He didn’t always write gibberish, did he?

EW: No, you could watch him going mad sentence by sentence. If you read Ulysses, it’s perfectly sane for a little bit, and then it goes madder and madder - but that was before the Americans hired him. And then they hired him to write Finnegan’s Wake, which is gibberish.

EJH: Mm.

EW: Gertrude Stein happened to be a clever and amusing old gal. She was no booby to meet, and - I wasn’t one for going to salons very much, in fact I never went to her house in Paris; one heard about her house in Paris, and certainly all the most intelligent people did meet there - and then when she started putting pen to paper - gibberish.

EJH: Mm.

Meantime, at the Holy Whapping, Matthew writes:

Give me the real Homeric Odysseus (alias Ulysses) any day over some one-eyed fancy-pants literarily incomprehensible gobbledygook. (Unless it's T.S. Eliot, in which case, it's not gobbledygook because I like it, and it's good incomprehensibility, por eso.) Or give me Ulysses S. Grant, that genial alcoholic strategist: at least he knew how to party. Or even Cuchulain (a.k.a. the Irish Achilles), if you have to have a Hibernian. And when Cuchulain's incomprehensible, at least it means he'll totally flip out and hack your head off beforehand so you don't have to listen to any modernist blank verse while alive.

* * *

A transcript of Queen Victoria's condolences to Mary Lincoln is provided by Banshee at Aliens in this World, who also offers a personal Guide to American Catholic Church Architecture.

* * *

Nessie's exorcism by St. Columba is among the cryptozoological arcana at the Holy Whapping.

* * *

Hugh Hewitt asks: Could blogs be used for political dirty tricks?

* * *

A reporter "from away" goes to a Maine lobster pound and takes in the Sea Dogs.


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