Against the Vulgar Tongues

3 04 2008


From here one can suppose that by overcoming the functionalist controls of Marxism, poetry will recover the the humanist depths of language and will open up by its semantics a means of recovery, restoration and creation as many lyric poets dreamed them in the foundational centuries of the semantics of objective realities and the founding logos.

Against the functionalist controls of dialectical materialism, this lyric restoration will strive to re-open the sacred fountains (sanctos recludere fontes) of Greek and Latin semantics, of Germanic and Romance semantics, to then recuperate the sleeping roots of their origins, which in some way inhabit those robust and unamendable signifying totalities. It will produce a re-reading of Renaissance and ancient texts, for example, and it will re-initiate wonder in the face of Homer or Petrarch. This one can see as well even in the venerable science of classic philology, weighed down from being an industrial resource that crushes the old gods, the powerful live-giving spirits.

Carlos A. Disandro

(More on this figure here.)

Recently, I have been hanging out in a certain Internet forum, and one character in this forum had below his moniker the following quote from John XXIII:

 The language of the Church must be not only universal but immutable. If in fact the Truths of the Catholic Church were entrusted to certain or several human languages, subject, as they are, to change, and none of them having greater authority than any other, then such a variety would ensue that the sense of these truths would be neither sufficiently clear nor sufficiently precise for all. -Veterum Sapientiæ, 1962.  

It is a common argument nowadays that a sacred language would never fly with modern man, that if the Catholic Church went back to having all Latin services tomorrow, people would leave in droves. People want to understand what is being said in services, people benefit from learning the “Word of God” etc. This may be true, but it is a rather curious assumption, since the now largest religion in the world, Islam, uses Koranic Arabic in its instruction and prayer from Morrocco to the southern Philipines, from mosques in sub-Saharan Africa to store front meeting places in the ghettos of Oakland. Venacularization may not be the best growth strategy if we look at the example of our main competitor.

Perhaps we are being scourged for thinking that we understand too much. Maybe we are being scourged because we remake the Word of God in our own modern linguistic and hermeneutical image and likeness. Perhaps we are guilty of modern semantic idolatry.

So pace Serge, it is about Latin, at least in the West.