Galilee and Parnassus

3 05 2008

This was just too good not to post.

While reading an excellent essay by the Catholic writer, monarchist, and fellow Platonist Charles Coulombe on the Golden Dawn and its influence on modern literature, I encountered this quote by William Butler Yeats:


We are Catholics, but of the school of Pope Julius the Second and of the Medician Popes, who ordered Michael-angelo and Raphael to paint upon the walls of the Vatican, and upon the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, the doctrine of the Platonic Academy of Florence, the reconciliation of Galilee and Parnassus. We proclaim Michaelangelo the most orthodox of men, because he set upon the tomb of the Medici “Dawn” and “Night,” vast forms shadowing the strength of antediluvian Patriarchs and the lust of the goat, the whole handiwork of God, even the abounding horn. We proclaim that we can forgive the sinner, but abhor the atheist, and that we count among atheists bad writers and Bishops of all denominations. “The Holy Spirit is an intellectual fountain,” and did the Bishops believe that, the Holy Spirit would show itself in decoration and architecture, in daily manners and written style. What devout man can read the Pastorals of our Hierarchy without horror at a style rancid, coarse and vague, like that of the daily papers? We condemn the art and literature of modern Europe. No man can create, as did Shakespeare, Homer, Sophocles, who does not believe, with all his blood and nerve, that man’s soul is immortal, for the evidence lies plain to all men that where that belief has declined, men have turned from creation to photography. We condemn, though not without sympathy, those who would escape from banal mechanism through technical investigation and experiment. We proclaim that these bring no escape, for new form comes from new subject matter, and new subject matter must flow from the human soul restored to all its courage, to all its audacity. We dismiss all demagogues and call back the soul to its ancient sovereignty, and declare that it can do whatever it please, being made, as antiquity affirmed, from the imperishable substance of the stars.

 The only qualification that I make is that I like bishops in general, and think that they are doing the best they can given what they know. But that does appeal to my latent anti-clericalism that all Latin men have. Otherwise, it has my seal of approval.