Saturday, January 02, 2016

St James' bones; Cathedral art; Architecture; Sirting; Words; & Religion v Rationalism.

An (unintended) religious theme this morning . . .

SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA & St. JAMES: Most readers will (surely) know that Catholics (all Christians?) believe the risible tale of the bones of this saint putting themselves in an un-crewed stone boat in which then sailed its way from Jaffa to the coast of Galicia, before being lost and miraculously found a couple of times, and then installed under the city's first cathedral. Painful as it is to note, hundreds of thousand have been coming to Santiago for a thousand years to honour “St James' remains”. The Muslims among them are gratified to see that the statue of him has large lilies in front of it, so they won't be upset at the sight of his lance piercing a Moor and his horse trampling several more (Geddit?) under foot. But I digress. If one were to challenge the Vatican on this, I suspect they'd admit to a slight reservation that the bones really are of the saint. But one thing they certainly won't(can't) deny is that the Church has made a killing from this utterly irrational - not to say daft - belief. And still does. If only because the Pope regularly announces a Holy Year, during which pilgrims can get even more of their sins forgiven. Where is our modern day Luther when we need him? Or her.

CATHEDRAL ART: Liverpool's Anglican cathedral is a stunning work of architecture, in the region's wonderful red sandstone. You can see several fotos here. One, you'll notice, is of a pink neon sign above one of the doors. This is the work of the (in)famous (con)artist, Tracey Emin and it reflects an obsession of the Anglican authorities to stay(get?) in touch with the common people. Extraordinarily common in the case of Emin of course. God help us. Assuming (s)he exists.

ARTCHITECTURE: By coincidence, yesterdayI read this (Ruskin) definition of this in, of all things, the latest edition of Private Eye: Architecture is the art which so disposes and adorns the edifices raised by men, for whatever uses, that the sight of them may contribute to his mental health, power and pleasure. Against this, the creation of modern architects, writes Piloti, don't offer “the deeper pleasures of architecture: the disciplined organisation of mass and material in response to gravity; the expression of interior organisation within a coherent aesthetic system; and delight in the texture and colour of building materials. All that can be usefully said of them is about the sophistication of their glazing details and gaskets and how well or, usually, badly they meet the ground." Tracey Emin is not an architect, of course. And, for some of us, she's not much of an artist either. But she's been a good investment, I suspect. And the art world – with all its forgeries – has always been about little other than money.

SIRTING: No, not yet another English gerund taken over by Spanish but a new approach to dieting. It involves eating a lot of (dark) chocolate and drinking quite a lot of red wine. Not to mention concentrating of sirt foods. So, superficially enticing.

WORDS: Talking of the Salem witch trials and the documents they threw up, here's a couple of words we no longer seem to use:-
  • Disrelish: To have a distaste for; dislike.
  • Flatigious: 1. shamefully wicked, as with persons, actions, or times. 2. heinous or flagrant, as with a crime; infamous.

It's also noteworthy that the word 'backward' in the late 17th. century seemed to mean something like 'reluctant'. Logically, the opposite of being 'forward'. Shame we've lost that sense. Except, I guess, as in “He was backward in coming forward”.

FINALLY . . . . The Presidenta of the Galician Xunta is upset because some non-believing local mayors won't 'respect tradition' and recognise the validity of the St James farrago in the imminent investiture procedures. Possibly kissing the casket containing “his bones”. In return, the mayors have said they'd be quite happy if there were equal respect for rationality and if religious beliefs were not privileged over others. Seems eminently reasonable to me. But others will, differ, of course. Believers tend to assume they have the moral high-ground. Not to mention exclusive access to the truth. But 'What is truth?' said Pilot, and departed.

Piloti and Pilot in the same post. Quite an accidental achievement . . .

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