Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Simplicity of God

This post is written in honour of St. Thomas Aquinas, whose memorial we celebrate today.

The most beautiful and fascinating part of classical theology I have always found to be God’s simplicity. ‘Simplicity’ is derived from simplex, the opposite of complex, so it means that God is not in any way a composite being.

Some atheists, well-versed in the natural sciences but not so much in philosophy, say that ‘God created the world’ is a rather arbitrary way to prevent an infinite regress. They say it naturally raises the question ‘Who created God?’, under the assumption that a complex design could only have been made by an even more complex designer.

It is not arbitrary, however. The whole point that e.g. St. Thomas makes in his Summa theologiae, First Part, Question 2, is that something must be at the end of the regress, and this something is what men call God. Now, because everything composite is based on something more fundamental, this something (called God in some languages) must be entirely simple. This is covered in Question 3. Anything less cannot be the something (called God). It should be clarified that ‘God’ here does not specifically refer to the Christian God, but to the X that Feser calls ‘an ultimate self-explanatory principle’.

I don’t know much about the natural sciences, but I find the speculations intriguing that the universe started with a ‘singularity’, a point at which matter had ‘infinite density and zero volume’. I am not suggesting that the singularity is God, but there is a comparison to be made. While the singularity, on this hypothesis, contained all the astounding multiplicity of the universe in potency, a potency that could only be realized by the division or expansion of the singularity (what word to use?) – the whole process by which all beings come, have come, and will come to be arises out of a single unchanging point of infinite wisdom. Not a vast store of collected information, like a digital library, but a divisionless concentration in which the known is even identical with the knower, and the knowledge with the single act of creation.

I believe this to be true and in principle demonstrable – but dazzling nonetheless.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Canon and Communion

What do you read when there are too many books? What do you follow when there are too many media?

One answer is: nothing in particular. You cannot visit cities without mapping them first. So if you are interested in books that have been written, it would be too haphazard a method to simply pick something old off the shelf. No, you take everything you can carry, throw it into a linguistic corpus database, and start your SPSS program to figure out the constants. It’s called ‘distant reading’.

I have nothing against the practice per se. After all, our understanding of ancient texts has been enriched by philological research that has little to do with the texts in themselves, and on occasion has done violence to them (‘We murder to dissect’: see Tolkien’s Allegory of the Tower). But ‘distant reading’ cannot replace, or even half replace, the close reading we all know and love.

Another answer: we read whatever tickles our fancy. This is much more widely practised. It is appealing and has much to offer, even though we risk missing out on important voices that our ear must first grow accustomed to.

The problem with it is a social-cultural one. Reading (and this can be taken in a broad sense to include any absorption of artistic work) not only forms people, but the text itself is assimilated, becomes a reference, a saying that seems to speak for itself (either positively or negatively: cf. ‘Turn the other cheek’ and ‘Wir haben es nicht gewusst’), something to play with, hint at, pun on. One does not simply read without getting drawn into a cultural web that connects not only books but people, lending the potency of play to speech, with all its surprises and calls for alertness, its flexible rules and enabling constraints. Speech is so much more than passing on information on ‘alles, was der Fall ist’.

The social-cultural problem with whimsical reading habits is that fancies are rather divergent, especially through time. This leads to the formation of dozens of subcultures of reading, from the Star Wars cult to the Twilight fanclub, and a drastic reduction of the half-life of cultural radiation. In thirty years, who will understand one percent of our current viral memes?

I am not arguing to prohibit the formation of Star Wars and Twilight groups (well, give me time to think about the latter). I am merely arguing that if we want to remain on speaking terms with each other, some common core of shared absorptions is necessary. No objective observer guarantees that this core represents the best and noblest of what has been thought and said. It is worth asking why certain human works have been enduringly appreciated, but it is more necessary to transmit the appreciation as well as possible.

A canon emerges out of a communion, holds it together, almost seems to have founded it. This is not only true in religious communities, but also in academic and cultural (e.g. national) communities. Any member can be skeptical about canonical values or even the value of the canon, but as long as he knows and transmits it, the communion holds.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Battle of the Five Armies

Well, I went to see the last Hobbit with a group of twelve Dwarves people. The previous one left me feeling quite disappointed, so my expectations had been reset. I was going to tolerate Tauriel, deviations from the book story, and silly over-the-top action sequences. With that mindset, the movie was rather entertaining (though it does not show any promise of becoming a classic). Still, leaving out pointless gripes, there are a few fundamental criticisms I have about the movie qua Tolkien adaptation:

1) Galadriel. In the book, Galadriel is an Elf-lady of great power, but her power lies in the preservation of Lothl√≥rien, the understanding of souls, and foretelling. In the movie, Galadriel is the White Council’s weapon of offence; she single-handedly drives Sauron away from Dol Guldur, while Saruman and Elrond are battling Ringwraiths (with swords – again, compare the nature of the battle between Finrod and Sauron). While expelling Sauron, she morphs into Galadriel the Green, becoming the horror that she refused to become in The Lord of the Rings. It seems odd that Galadriel should resist temptation in the original movie, but surrender to it in the prequel.

I was reminded of Tolkien’s words that upon the Virgin Mary ‘my own small perception of beauty both in majesty and simplicity is founded’. Galadriel was a type of Mary in The Lord of the Rings; in The Hobbit, she is neither majestic nor simple, and hence not beautiful. She degrades herself because the males around her are not sufficiently equipped to handle Mystic Warfare.

2) At the end of the movie, Gandalf tells Bilbo that surely he doesn’t suppose all his escapes were due to pure luck. This could have been a wonderful oblique reference to Providence, like in the books. Unfortunately, Gandalf doesn’t stop there and tells Bilbo that he knows about the Ring. In this way, the hint at the mysterious harmony of history dissolves into a grudging tribute to cleverness plus gadgets (the sort of thing that produced The Hobbit – sorry, couldn’t resist).

3) Gandalf and Bilbo part ways in great friendship, without sentimentality. Unfortunately, Bilbo doesn’t stop there, but turns around and lies to Gandalf about the Ring. Again, -1 for the Hobbit innocence so beautifully described in the books. How is Bilbo supposed to survive sixty years of handling the Ring with his spiritual resilience intact?

Well, that was all. Not so bad now, was it? Here is a guardedly positive review of a professorial Tolkien devotee (and specialist in 10th-century English). If you want more complaints, get you to the Plaza and read the litany of Aigronding Mordagnir. The text is white and will become visible on being selected.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Night of the UN

This Sunday – All Souls’ Day – the weather was lovely, so I cycled to Amsterdam and back, 70 km or so (including my clueless circling northwest of Central Station). During the ride I thought about a new painting of Christ’s Descent into Hell, more adapted to modern tastes, because I can’t think of any extant example. Instead of the medieval hall in which Christ is a serene presence (as if He owned the place!) in the midst of affrighted devils and astonished souls, Hell is a maze through which Christ is running joyfully and effortlessly, Adam and Eve and many souls behind Him, towards a broken gate beyond which light gleams. I’d love to see someone try this.

Wednesday I was in Amsterdam again. I went by train, which was better capable of finding Central Station. In the train I stood outside of the compartments, next to three teenage boys who were compulsively drinking beer (there was a six-pack on the floor) and talking. One of them was talking about the night he spent with a girl, who had gone to work in the morning and entrusted the room to him. While she was dressing he had taken a picture with his phone, which he promised to send to his friend via Snapchat. (I recall that this app shows pictures only for a few seconds…unless the other user has additional retentive software, of course.)

Later on they started talking about study. One of them was thinking about becoming a physiotherapist. A middle-aged lady spoke up and warned him against it: no jobs there. One of the teens, I believe the picture-snapper himself, remembered that he had talked to her before, and in what circumstances, and what she had said. He acted quite politely towards the woman. I marvelled at my strange compatriots.

In Amsterdam I walked to ‘De Rode Hoed’ (The Red Hat), where the Night of the UN was being held. Politics is not really one of my interests, but elections were being held for Dutch youth representatives at the UN: one general, the other focusing on sustainable development. Two candidates were vying for each position. An RA friend of mine, Soscha, was one of the sustainables. Therefore I went, skipping dinner, because Facebook had told me to be in time.

I arrived around 15 minutes after the beginning to a large queue that wound around the corner of the block. 450 people were allowed inside; after that, people could only get in when others left. The queue was still moving. I moved with it, until it stopped. I was close to the doors. Behind me more people had arrived; I think there were still some around the corner, where I had started.

Retrieving a small sci-fi paperback from my backpack, I resigned myself to waiting. The minutes went by; Soscha held her speech at the beginning of the evening. My eyes were reading and my ears were listening to a young man with an open, honest face and a beard. He was talking about Zwarte Piet (Black Pete), the servant of Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas, aka the real Santa Claus) who comes to bring presents and candy on 5 December. To the puzzlement of our Belgian philosophy professor, many of the Dutch are now arguing that Zwarte Piet is racist, and the case has been brought to international venues (I think the UN). In retaliation, aggrieved traditional orangenecks have been wishing death and exile on the anti-Piet brigade. I marvel at my strange compatriots.

The open-faced young man was exhibiting empathy for the orangenecks. He was saying that no matter how much they should be disagreed with, their convictions were founded on experience and deeply held. Behind them were stories of grief, disappointment and hurt. Listening to those was more interesting than judging and countering their faulty arguments.

I marvelled with reverence.

Sometime after eight, Soscha came outside to smoke. She started talking to a few friends, including (I should have known) the honest young man, she saw me, showed surprise, gave me a hug. She told us she did not expect to win and had felt thoroughly uncomfortable campaigning. Her rival had assembled a team and canvassed, whereas she had only addressed her own networks. She had felt uncomfortable because, in telling people to vote for her, she had given her network only her side of the story and not her rival’s. This did not seem democratic to her. ‘Isn’t that how it usually works in democracy?’ I said. ‘Yeah,’ said the young man, ‘I’m anti-democratic in that sense.’ (Marvel on marvel.)

Soscha said she was allowed to take two people inside. Some of her connections, including the young man, were still waiting for others. That left me, and an unknown young lady who had said, ‘Hey, if you take me inside I’ll vote for you.’ And so I was led through the doors, feeling VIP.

On the ballot I saw that Soscha’s rival was an 18-year-old boy. I heard both of them made a good chance. The other position was contested by two people my age, a Mr. Abdullah and a boy with an ‘eij’ in his name; I figured he did not stand a chance. I considered voting for Abdullah on grounds of political correctness, then voting against him for the same reason. Conquering these temptations, I asked Soscha what to do. She said ‘eij’ was really behind; if I wanted to give him a better chance… So I voted for ‘eij’ on grounds of fairness.

I slipped into a hall where a debate on the Ukrainian situation was being held. The main editor of a major newspaper was there and some other experts, like a professor who denied that there was much support for the Russian separatist movement. One of them said that Putin was a disagreeable man; he had visited the Netherlands once, his plane had circled above Schiphol for a while because of mist, and his microphone had not worked in the conference room. At which he had asked (marvelling, I bet, at my strange compatriots), ‘Does nothing work in this country?’

A lady talked about people living in the neutral zone, who had left the Russian part of the Ukraine but had not been accepted into the Ukrainian part and could not go back, or vice versa. It was a growing problem, facilities had been built for them.

There were questions. A retired military officer asked one. Two people with the same surname. A man of non-Dutch origin who asked why they were only talking about the Ukraine and not about other problematic areas like Kurdistan. Someone else asked if they were not giving a rather one-sided anti-Russian presentation, to which the newspaper editor replied that the Russians were worse; to their state television, we were first and foremost ‘gay Europe’, a decadent and godless territory.

After the break I had wanted to go to a panel on IS, to be enlightened even further, but I ran into another familiar RA person, Gideon. We updated each other on ourselves. He was about done with his Master thesis on normative decision-making. He said people’s decisions were not usually based on reason, but it was interesting to see what they were based on.

At some point we were joined by Soscha and Lorenzo, an Italian who was very interested in sustainable development, not to protect the earth (as if we were separate from it) but to return to a more original sense of unity with nature. Friendship, delight and contemplation should take the place of consumerism; but sustainable development was often more focused on preserving consumerist possibilities through time. He and Gideon talked about socialist Latin American countries like Uruguay, who were doing the right things, thinking of setting up a South American Federation on the EU model, showing ‘counter-hegemonic’ tendencies (Gideon’s word). I was out of my depth here, so I just listened, wondering how other people managed to accumulate such a broad knowledge of international politics.

Soscha talked about her active life campaigning against fossil fuels. I asked, from curious ignorance, what was wrong with those. Much in every way. There seemed to be a threat that Shell would start drilling in Antarctica next year and do irreparable damage. (Maybe Socrates was right in Republic II and we should all go back to salt, acorns and figs. Our desires outstrip our needs.) There was mention of climate change deniers. ‘I think we should crucify those people,’ Gideon said. ‘Publicly,’ he added. Soscha agreed. I marvelled.

First something else became public: the voting results. We filed into the hall. Soscha was sure she had lost, but she did not mind; she could join an NGO and earn more money for less work. She just thought it was a pity that her rival probably wouldn’t put in the effort required.

When we were all seated, there was a careful orchestration of suspense, as the retiring representatives (one on Skype, one present) were asked a few questions before they could name their successors. Then the new representative for sustainable development was announced. It was Soscha. And she was stunned.

Gideon and I clapped, laughed and grinned broadly. ‘Now she has to work hard for less money,’ I said, and he laughed even more. Mr. Abdullah gained the position of Dutch youth representative; its prior occupant wore a headscarf.

We made our way up to the stage. Soscha was holding flowers, being congratulated, in tears. Gideon and I were happy. Then we both drank wine (I forgot my change, but Gideon brought it) and talked about Dutch priests-in-formation, the (de)merits of Christian mission in the past, and the Catholic vision of sexuality. We parted ways, agreeing to meet again soon.

Though I had missed dinner, I was not hungry, being full of the wine of pride and joy. I took the train from Amsterdam to Haarlem, praying the Office of Readings. There I had to wait for 27 minutes. Faced with the prospect of spending half an hour in a chilly station on a November night, I went to Burger King and ordered an X-tra Long Chili Cheese, proving to my own (dis?)satisfaction that I also was unable to distinguish needs from desires. On the plus side, the yellow stuff on the hamburgers may have been cheese.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Zephonite Reunion

In January I mentioned that I had found my old Plaza sister again on Facebook. Having found her, I saw that she would come to England for the Fall semester. Which is, relatively speaking, close. So I booked Eurolines tickets: my third coach adventure to meet up with Americans in Europe.

On Saturday I was in The Hague with my father to have a car assessed. That done, I drove to a free parking space somewhere between The Hague and seminary, then went back and waited a while for my coach, finishing King John on my e-reader. My Plaza sister, Becca, is an actress with a fondness for Shakespearean drama, and had inspired me to start reading the historical plays.

At 20.15 the coach arrived. I had expected the ride to be like the other ones: quiet, filled with reading and sleeping. But this was not the case. For when I entered, I heard a voice saying, ‘Wow, I haven’t seen you in a long time.’

The statement was true. The speaker had not seen me since we both graduated from Roosevelt Academy in 2010. So Wouter and I took a few hours to catch up on each others’ lives and remaining RA contacts, as the bus moved down to Rotterdam, Breda, stopping at Hazeldonk for 45 minutes, then going down through Belgium and eventually to Calais in France. There we had to leave the coach for Customs, a double check, France and the UK. At the French post, two people were forced to discontinue their journey.

Before that, at Rotterdam, my youngest sister called. She had been told by my father about my outing and wanted a postcard from London. She knows how to get things done.

Wouter and I moved on. He lived and worked in London now, he told me; rather eventful work it was too. He was very kind, asking me about my studies and about what the priestly life would be like, and offering me coffee and/or food during breaks.

We took the Chunnel. The coach drove onto the train, and after a while, the train started moving. It was the most uneventful mode of transport imaginable: sitting in a container within a container while outside only lights flashed by. I fell asleep and did not wake up until we were driving in London. Wouter did not seem to need any sleep yet; he would sleep at home, he said.

But he was not hurry. We arrived at Victoria Coach Station around 4.30am local time, two hours earlier than my watch indicated, because of the time difference plus the ending of Daylight Savings Time (I’d missed my annual extra hour of sleep). Hearing that I had nothing specific to do until 8am, Wouter decided to keep me company. We walked into the train station and had coffee, sitting opposite the entrance to the toilets. A visit to the toilet cost 30p, but most people just climbed over the turnstiles, including a man with a crutch.

At some point Wouter asked a young man in a grey sweater if he was doing alright: his hand looked rather bloody. He said that he was OK, that the bloodstains on his sweater belonged to someone else. Apparently he had been fighting in a bar somewhere, but he was very civil to us.

Wouter suggested we look for a more pleasant place than the station. As Pret √† Manger was not open yet, we ended up at McDonald’s, which opened at 5am. There was a big guard there who made sure people didn’t sleep on the tables.

After that we ended up on the second floor of the train station, where a tea and breakfast place was open (we stuck with tea). Wouter said that if I wanted to pray morning prayer, I could; this was surprisingly attentive. He talked about the series Breaking Bad and some things that had not gone well at RA. I was glad and surprised that he would keep me company so long.

At last we parted ways, and I walked to Westminster Cathedral to pray morning prayer and attend the earliest Mass at 8am. The priest read a letter from Archbishop Nichols about the synod in place of the homily. There was no singing and we finished in some 45 minutes, in time for the 9am Mass.

But I could not hear two or three Masses, as people did in the past, because I had an appointment with Becca at 9am. Finally I got to see the Plaza sister with whom I had been out of touch for so many years!

On the hour of our meeting we decided to walk through London, rather than take public transport. Becca turned out to be an avid walker who could cover at least 20 miles in one day without ill aftereffects. She was also a weightlifter who was now advanced enough to have as a serious long-term goal the ability to lift twice her body weight.

We went to a pancake place which, as we discovered, opened later on Sundays. Becca’s second choice was attended by a sizable queue of people patiently waiting to be seated. We ended up somewhere else, where she ordered something with lots of oats, and I had a scone.

She talked about Alaska, her state of origin, about European history, and how difficult it was to get a visa in the present. Apparently there is a place in Alaska where you can see Russia (an uninhabited island far off the coast), the state contains lots of Norwegians, it’s more than twice as big as Texas, and there are Americans who think it’s a rather small island off the coast of California, thanks to topographical conventions.

This was not her first European experience; she had been in Ireland for a year, at a Catholic school, and she had recently studied Celtic and Welsh at Oxford for a few months. But apparently, the only way for her to enter Britain more permanently is either to marry an Englishman or to become world-famous in America. I had no idea it was so difficult simply to move to another country (with the same language, even).

Around noon, we went to Market Borough, where ‘apple day’ was being celebrated. One of the products on offer was apple cheese with black pepper; I bought some out of sheer astonishment. (It was rather soft and had a rough journey home.) We looked at a church, which had stained-glass windows of Shakespearean characters, and went off to a nearby square to eat sausage baps (apparently ‘bap’ is a word for bun).

We walked down Bankside, where the rebuilt Globe Theater stood, with the only thatched roof in London. Becca explained that this used to be the less respectable part of town; a gentleman would not want to be seen ‘beyond the river’. Down on a small beach next to the river, musicians were playing, a practice not allowed on the walkway.

We then walked to the British Museum, which had an exposition on Anglo-Saxon materials. We crossed a big book stall with lots of classic works, and Becca said some harsh words about Christopher from Into the wild, who was not a romantic hero but an idiot who had made all the wrong choices. The Anglo-Saxon exposition (including the helmet of Sutton Hoo) was impressive, but I found myself growing very tired whenever I tried to focus.

I must be brief, since time is pressing. We went for coffee and took a picture of the two of us, to show our Plaza mother of days long gone, Teleria. Then Becca helped me to find Victoria Coach Station, which was no easy thing. We said goodbye rather rushedly, surrounded by many people in the coach terminal. It had been a good visit.

The bus back to The Hague was delayed by over an hour. It was also rather full when I came in, so I walked back and forth and a girl offered me the seat next to her. We had some pleasant conversations on the ride home (which included the ferry this time). She pretended to be outraged that I had only been once to the amusement park in her hometown.

I arrived in The Hague, bought a coffee (the man said, ‘Need something to wake up?’) and took the train to where I parked my car. I arrived back at seminary at 7.11, so in time for Monday morning prayer, which starts at 7.15. And there my life adventure resumed its customary course.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Shoring Fragments, Offshore

First, the present. My final year at seminary has started off quietly. Our community has been reduced to a fifth of its former size: most of the people are continuing their studies at the new seminary in Utrecht, a few others have completed their studies, and then there are the stragglers who have gone abroad, one on a long detour to Rome, the other to England to embark on a new path of life as a Jesuit.

The three of us who remain are currently enjoying a leisurely sort of life, with long afternoons and (so far) a rather irregular class schedule. I have gratefully seized the opportunity to work on my thesis about Isaiah 7.

Yes, the thesis. I knew it would require some brain-stretching, and so far I have not been disappointed. Modern exegesis is very different from traditional; the wide christological vistas, ingenious historical harmonizations and safeguardings of the moral purity of the Biblical heroes have succumbed to the spirit of T.S. Eliot’s wasteland: ‘These fragments I have shored against my ruins.’

Did you know there’s a wasteland in Isaiah 7? Yeah, I didn’t. It’s there, a few verses after the Emmanuel prophecy (the what?). Sweeney says the wasteland came in with the first major redaction under King Josiah – M.A. Sweeney, a master of the schools, not Eliot’s Sweeney who ‘shifts from ham to ham / Stirring the water in his bath.’

It’s a dangerous business, approaching Scripture with wedges for the cracks and pincers for the protrusions. But it’s been done for centuries now; our exegetical libraries are stuffed with lots of tiny bits of Bible, meticulously designated by mathematical codes (Isa 7:1 = 2 Kgs 16:5). And the new criticism does identify heaps and heaps of minor oddities that don’t quite square with the older view of Scripture as written by a rather selective selection of individuals united by the messianic faith of Abraham (the what?), and containing accurate predictions of things to come (including the names of monarchs who will not appear on the world stage for some 150 years: cf. Isaiah 45:1).

Of course the older view has its defenders, and its arguments too. The same applies to the evolution controversy: just yesterday I received an invitation from a new traditional Catholic movement in the Netherlands to a conference where knowledgeable speakers will take turns not only to poke holes in the evolution theory, but also to explain why it is important for Catholics to do so. Apparently there is enough material (though not very recent, I’d guess) from the Magisterium to mount a case against evolutionism from religious authority as well as scientific findings. The same would apply to Biblical criticism, which has been severely limited by the Pontifical Biblical Commission in the first half of the 20th century.

The attraction of being on the conservative side is that you can claim to fight for the integrity of the faith; you defend bastions of thought at key strategic locations in the battle for souls. (It might seem a rearguard action to most people, but a few decades ago defending the Creed seemed like a rearguard action.) Whereas you could not explain at a birthday party why you would spend time finding out if the first part of Isaiah ends after chapter 39 or 33.

Existential thesis crisis? No, not really. I merely find that I am not at home in bastions, and am content to be an agnostic about many things, though not about all. I want to weigh thoughts, conscious of their multitude and the smallness of my scales, as well as my inability to oversee the entire ecology of ideas. But even small-scaled creatures can thrive in beautiful environments, such as the sea, or the zodiac.

Yours sincerely,
Turgonian, Tracker of Ithilien

Monday, 4 August 2014

Gratitude

Before this blog, there was another one at the same address, Epigone’s Eloquence. My first post after the introductory one was titled Gratitude. Envy was one of my better-defined character traits already, but I did see how gratitude made myself and other people (like Chesterton) happier.

Gratitude can work wonders and this is one of them. Back in the day, I spent much time on the Lord of the Rings Fanatics Plaza, a good deal of it in the poetry section. There was someone there, an old Hobbit of mild temper and tremendous erudition, who would write constructive comments on my poems. He inspired me to pay more attention, to hone my writing skills, and to learn as much as I could about culture. In the Poetic Ponderings threads, the two of us and a few others discussed excitedly about Eliot, Marvell, Hopkins, and other bright stars in the firmament of euphony.

When I wrote my conversion story in my first year of college, I mentioned the old Hobbit as one who helped show me that ‘everything cohered with everything else: who could not grasp relations and complement knowledge of one thing with knowledge of another, lacked full knowledge of that one thing.’ And (what went unsaid) that it was possible to share that knowledge without scorn or condescension.

By then he had probably already disappeared, and I could not get in touch with him. I wanted to let him know that I owed him something, but he had gone missing. When the Plaza celebrated its tenth anniversary and we were asked to write about our memories, I reminisced about the old Hobbit who had left us.

More recently, I posted a poem on the Plaza and received some good comments about it. Speaking about the poetic form which the reviewer had named, I said that the old Hobbit had probably introduced me to it. At which, in a beautiful moment of anagnorisis, the unknown reviewer sent me a message to say that he was the old Hobbit!

Since then we have been chatting again and have caught up on each other’s lives. This is what gratitude and remembrance can do.

What happened to the old blog, you say? Oh, when I announced its upcoming deletion nine days in advance, my old ‘Plaza mother’ Teleria sent me a Facebook message to say that she had won the National Novel Writing Month contest and was allowed to have one copy of a book printed. As her novel was not finished yet, would I like to have my blog sent to me in book form?

Thank you, Teleria.