Monday, August 14, 2017

Just for fun

(it's very good to have fun, now and then)

You see, I'd been a bit concerned that the previous version seemed to be set under King Edward's Crown or something similar... which had been, ... I don't know... a bit of a pastiche? (I don't think I've ever really used that word before!) Anyways,it seems to me that if there's any crown the sentiment should be set under, it's the crown of King Eärnur. Here, therefore, we have it!

A high helm, as those of the Guards of the Tower, set with wings of a sea-bird, and at the top was a single diamond (and which I have imagined engraved with the emblem of the Tree)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

More About Parsing

parsing Scripture, that is...

I was reading, somewhere, I can't remember precisely, but recently, how Matthew's Gospel includes an extra clause in Our Lord's exegesis on the 7th Commandment,
and if a man put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and marry another, he commits adultery...
... the writer I have forgotten was defending the Catholic Tradition against insinuations that the italics above might actually give some sort of loop-hole into serial polygamy, if you should happen to know that all your wives are at some point unfaithful.

As you may guess, given my choice to phrase the insinuation that distastefully, I've an alternative parsing of the "except ...", one that should ring in the heart of any Canonist (... IANAC...), but it starts with the gramatical ambiguity: "whose fornication might excuse?" That is, that word there is a noun with root a verb, which verb involves a subject and an object, and neither subject nor object are clear in the text I have been given. The principles of charity (Oh! what horror to find oneself exerting to be charitable with Charity Himself!) and of Divine Consistency (videlicet, the Holy Spirit speaking in Tradition cannot contradict the Holy Spirit speaking through the Evangelists) impell us to resolve this ambiguity as straight-forwardly as possible.

To be specific, it can happen that Percival, who is free to marry, falls in love with Rowena, who is not; but she conceals this and they proceed through a wedding ceremony. And it then is possible that in one shared act Rowena becomes guilty of fornication while Percival remains innocent; that is, untill he learn the truth. We could switch the names and respective pronouns without changing the content of the narrative.

Such happenings are not unknown; there were at least two Sherlock Holmes Adventures that involved a twist like this. So, the "Except": Percival and Rowena had a wedding, and while he was reasonably ignorant Percival could call Rowena "wife", but once the truth is out he must "put her away", which is to undo the semblance of a wedding as formally as required by law and neighborliness... The point: is he not then free to marry? For he was in fact never married before.

I think, O Reader, that that is what Our Lord is telling us in the "except". For it would be quite feasible, in a spirit of Scruple or of Fencing-Out the Law, to imagine that Percival "ought not" to try marrying again, especially given the bright clarity with which He is in these passages pointing out the Law; but that

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Come and talk recent literary/film history with me!

I specifically have one or two questions that Someone Else might be better-equipped to answer:

The Hitchcock film Lifeboat... it has issues, of course, but... well, in a rather peculiar circumstance, it includes a Villain, which villain is
  1. according to the Logic of the Film's Setting
  2. according to opinion spoken by other characters, and
  3. (most importantly) according to his own actions
a Nazi. Whereas plenty of films include "Straw" Nazis (their only dramatic action is to oppose our hero) or "reluctant/in-name-only" Nazis (think of the submarine Captains in both Enemy Below and Das Boot); whereas "Nazi" is often tossed around as an epithet; and whereas "Nazism" and "anti-semitism" are frequently used interchangeably (which is an error)1 in public chatter: Therefore I suspect that the confluence of those three Nazisms in one character (as in Lifeboat) is Comparatively Rare, especially in English-language Fiction.

I have some impression that also there are acting-believing Nazis shown in other English-language films, both as hero (Million-Dollar Baby) and villain (perhaps the Potter saga?), but actually calling it out seems also to be Comparatively Rare.

Are these impressions of probability, do you think or know, correct? Or have you other examples to suggest? (one other film that has been rattling in my mind since I started puzzling this question is La Vita E Bella, whose believing Nazi is a well-dressed woman complaining of arithmetic word-problems in public schools)

1) The existential opposition between any non-Jewish Nazi state and the Jewish Diaspora follows of necessity from the tradition of Jews calling and keeping themselves a People Set Apart while at the same time insisting on staying here amongst these other Gentes. It is, however, not logically impossible that a particular local Jewish Polity should also become National-Socialist — such would be opposed to the Torah Commands to Love thy Neighbour, and to Protect the Stranger and Orphan... but since the Jews are a people and not simply a religion thus they are capable of violating Torah while remaining Jewish. Meanwhile, (recalling that Nazi Germany was also pleased to export its Jews in exchange for gold) Nazi-Jewry-in-Jewish-State would be entirely compatible with Nazi-Germany-in-German-Empire and Nazi-Japan-in-Japanese-Empire and Nazi-Afghan-State-in-Afghanistan... and the latter three together were a genuine live idea during WWII.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A Thought Experiment

Her Majesty is supposed, these days, not to be "Political", as it is called. I remain uncertain as to what this really means, except that "Her Majesty's a pretty nice girl, though she doesn't have a lot to say..."

Who-Was-Saturday recently affirmed "Je suis la mère de Charlie Gard", to which a commentator has replied "Je suis son grand-père". I should like to ask, therefore, of Her Majesty,
What if rather than wee Charlie, it had been wee Prince George?
Would the Decision be so finally left in the hands of the National Health Service? And would they be so keen to suspend extraordinary support? It's not an idle question, either, as the late King Edward's last physician boasted for decades of having hastened that royal succession1 (over loud royal cursing, I might add), and even now I can't recommend Her Majesty anymore visit this particular Crown Realm whence I write, lest in some emergency the local medical establishment show her less care than we once showed to the then-expectant Queen of Holland (in memory of which myriads of tulips are sent hither each year...)

Dearest, Your Majesty, who sit as mother over all your kingdoms, and indeed a great-grandmother, the question is not a political question. It's a question of family.

1) one may note with some interest that Mrs "Simpson" Spencer never did have any children, so with or without King George VI, we'd probably have welcomed Queen Elizabeth II anyways. But that would have been a very Different World.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

"Consent" is, generally speaking, an unhelpful predicate

There's a ... noisy, I think, is the word I want... collection of... er... "social"... activities...

And, there I've gone off the rails before I even start. Wooster, out of my head!

Dear Libertarian,


Sometimes it's needed, sometimes it isn't, sometimes it's impossible, and sometimes it's wrong and, sometimes, irrelevant. Sometimes it Changes the World For Good.

Consent is needed, for example, when a physician advises a patient that surgery may be required for the aleviation of some suffering (or prevention of some untimely catastrophe). In contrast, consent is impossible when a paramedic is confronted with a person in the state called "unconscious victim" — and it may well be wrong to wait for consent to be available, before getting them to a surgeon. (Incidentally, Erich "Houdini" Weiss died as he did because he withheld consent until he was an "unconscious victim".)

Apparently, consent is not needed either when someone wishes to build a Bypass through your House of a Thursday Morning. (You've got to build Bypasses!)

Consent of a particular sort, freely given between a peculiarly-free man and a peculiarly-free woman, Makes a Thing which will persist as long as they two shall live. And hurrah! for that; but we do not dwell on that joy, here.

But sometimes consent is wrong. Sometimes (it is a fallen world) one proposes to another a thing which should not be done. Sometimes the proposal is an outrage against Life; sometimes against Matrimony; sometimes against Just Authority; sometimes against Reason; in any of these cases, consent is wrong.

And yet! There is ever so much noise these days seeking to excuse this-that-or-t'other under the nylon veil of "consent".

So, let me point out one Helpful Case, where consent may be given to some proposition in such wise that the person giving consent becomes thereby the victim of a crime in civil law: these are broadly described as frauds. There are many kinds of fraud and "confidence" tricks, but the common feature of them all is that real consent is given to Some Thing, and thereby a person, of their own consenting, loses some property1. Now, what further circumstance compacts this consensual acquisition into a crime... you will have to review in the Statutes and Ammendments and Judgments et.c.; nonetheless, that part of the crime which, in the law of the Land whence I write, is called "actus reus" is indeed actus when that consent is first sought. And yet one more difficulty, is that consent can be extracted. Consent can be cajoled, tempted, teased, berated and blackmailed into presenting itself. Frauds do sometimes, in that narrow sense of acheiving their object, "succeed".

Still, so long as Law and even (I have some hope!) public sentiment does recognize that this one class of consent does not absolve a crime, perhaps we may hope in time to retreat from the cliff of All-Consenting-to-Consent? I want to hope.

1) Generally, the sense of fraud implies that something is done to which the consenting victim does not consent, but that other thing is, I should argue, distinct, and does not mean that the victim "didn't really consent at all". One who buys snake-oil does not consent to poisoning but does consent to pay.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

So I watched this movie...

... always a risk, that. As is stepping into a Strange church building... I feel the need to pause here, for there is something immensely merciful, at times, in being not able to hear the homily. What a joy the Ancient Usage, the Divine Liturgy of Pope St. Leo, the Forma Extraordinaria... a sermon carefully written and full of orthodoxy is a Good Thing, but such a small thing next to being formed by the tumbled rocks of the old Missal... now, there is vere participatio, where you know just what to pray when and how because they've tried and worked it out carefully for centuries with the aim of helping souls to Heaven; ... when in contrast, some sects calling themselves christian have so much to make it up new every week that they have (I was reminded, in person, today) invented a new god for themselves, with a new name, and after their own image... this particular community calls itself "United", which is a funny tale in itself, for not only is it united separate from the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic, it really only shuffled an outer division when established all those decades back... but I digress. It is risky being present for strange prayers or strange sermons or movies, for one knows not what subtle nonsense the insidious might try boring into a too-patient audience.

But this particular movie (nothing to do with Today's weird adventure) was at worst "too sweet". (Stilwell, I don't expect you'd care for it, but what do I know?) You might not want to watch it twice, but one viewing... should do no harm. It has laughs, and a bad poem, (not an evil poem, just bad), but is basically a sound and decent and cheerfully impossible story. "No Stranger Than Love" is it when a mysterious hole appears in a young lady's living-room floor; and things are lost down the hole, and she tries to hide it, but when enough has been noted as lost down the hole it is found out (of course!), and everyone asks what is this hole? Some answers are proffered, and revelations transpire (of course!)... curiously, I don't think what finally becomes of the hole is ever told, but we do have some happy endings.

So, if you need a bit of a laugh, maybe give it a try.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

A Linguist's bad joke or Accidental Prophecy?

Dear Gene,

I was browsing through Touchstone Magazine and happened upon a meditation occasioned by the DesiLu-era Star Trek episode The Mark of Gideon— you know, the one1 that seeks to contradict my Sci-Fi-Coolness Test, and fails on account of starships can move people and space is huge...

Raedy's Touchstone piece circumstantially connects Mark of Gideon with that dear encyclical Humanae Vitae, to which it seems to allude by popular caricature. And musing on this notion ­— that popular discourse takes place not on the level but by indirection, by repetition of stories misremembered... I was suddenly reminded of the Paramount-era Star Trek:The Next Generation episode, Darmok.

Darmok is a story that Linguists and Psychologists love to tear apart, on the grounds that If a "Universal Translator" is supposed to parse the Underlying Semantics via the Universality of Grammar, and If These Particular Aliens are actually communicating something other than the folktales when they quote their folktales, Then the Quotations are the actual Words that will be Translated, so they should come out sounding like ordinary conversation.

The preceding dismissal misses some important technical technological questions: for instance, if we know that "Darmok" is the name of a hero of legends through several solar systems, then we also know that What These Aliens are speaking sounds very like a language we already know (can you distinguish Romulan from Vulcan?). The "Universal" Translator decides that it is one of these understood languages, and then gives us the translation as if from that language. If the Translator didn't do that, if it were (like Douglas Adams' Babelfish) a mind-reading device, then spies would be immediately found out: no-one could ever talk in word-code... no-one could ever lie.

But more: what Gideon makes clear by being itself a bad example is that when we ponder and argue, often enough it is not in words-as-such and logic, but in long narrative and brief allusion, in innuendo and heartstring play. We already suffer Darmok Syndrome.

Scott King, in Neutralia

1) there are others that ignore the sci-fi coolness principle altogether... what can one do?