Thursday, January 29, 2009

close-up, saints, comfort

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Our snowdrops have been in flower for at least a fortnight.

Barrett Bonden comments on yesterday's post with some reflections on the unlikelihood of eternal life. He refers in the process (how good it is to be able to join in a conversation that spans so wide a range of subject matter and personalities) to Lucy Kempton's post, little saints, in which she describes the "earthy, heartfelt little chapels" in Brittany where she lives. That posting, which she has just "reissued" as it were, was one of the first I read in her blog, box-elder a couple of years ago. I found it thought-provoking and touching then, and again on rereading it today. Though I find myself in no way drawn to religion, which seems to bestow more damage than good on the human race, there is, as Lucy beautifully illustrates, a quality, which transcends the ugly and mundane, and provokes profound contemplation in some of the places and buildings associated with it. I think of stone polished by hands or feet or (I once saw, but did not kiss the Blarney stone) lips, over hundreds of years; of frescoes, which age and damp have added mystery to; and carvings re-carved by the wisdom and kindness of the wind and rain. In an abstract sense too, Lucy reminds us, of the saints, who are attached to villages, woods and streams, like their pagan forbears, with special responsibilities for different aspects of human welfare, in the eyes and hearts of human beings through the ages.

In Hall's book shop this afternoon we discuss the importance of comfort in the size and shape of books. They should, if possible be easy to hold if reading in bed, or in the bath, but not so compact as to demand print too small to read with out strain.


Zhoen said...

Comfortable books.

herhimnbryn said...

Hall's. A student haunt of mine in the 80's. I miss it, muchly.

Unknown said...

Hall's is a haven for comfortable and comforting books. I think you will find, herhimbryn, that it has changed little since the 80s.

Roderick Robinson said...

I appreciate the symbolism of the kissed Blarney Stone but, like you, I wouldn't have kissed it myself, fearing an attack of logorrhoea. (You'll be delighted to know I had to check the spelling - and, alas, the meaning - of that word). However had there been no British Museum display case between me and Ezra Pound's editing of The Four Quartets I would have been sorely tempted to bestow my tribute on that moving occasion. In honour of editors, everywhere.

Lucy said...

Thanks for such a lovely, thoughtful response, Joe. Tom was just saying, after something he was just reading, how corrosively negative and punitive so much French post-reformation theology in particular seemed to be, and I think the more homespun pantheistic kind of faith must have been all the more comforting.

I'm not a big fan of hardback books, for the reason you say, except perhaps not too precious little old clothbound ones.