On Catholic authors

16 05 2019

A perhaps unpopular take that I had recently is that, in the English-speaking world, erudite Catholics used literature to replace an actual Catholic culture. Or perhaps a better way to put it is that they use literature to make up for the fact that English does not have a Catholic culture in which to speak. While certain convert authors seem to be popular elsewhere (for example, I know Tolkien and Chesterton have a following in the Catholic right in Latin America, mainly for their fiction), in general the concerns of the Catholic mind elsewhere have little to do with authors who originally wrote in English. I don’t really think that people in Catholic countries consider certain authors to be “Catholic authors,” but mainly just authors, or the role of literature is somewhat muted viz. their Faith. Read the rest of this entry »


The Benedict Option

6 02 2019

I have mulled over doing a review of this book that I recently read, and I am still not sure I can do it justice. The difficulty that I am finding is addressing the complexity and nuance of Dreher’s description of the problem of the contemporary conservative Christian malaise. The book draws inspiration from the last line of Catholic philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre’s book, After Virtue, wherein he contrasts the violent revolutionary Trotsky to the humble quiet movement of the monastic founder, St. Benedict. Dreher visits monastic communities as well as quasi-monastic lay communities that are trying to live a devout traditional life in the midst of the maelstrom of change that is 21st century society. Dreher, both in this book and on his widely-read blog, continues to document the perceived persecution of conservative Christians (Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox) who refuse to go along with the liberal sexual politics of the modern era, among other changes. Read the rest of this entry »


4 01 2019

This could be a contrarian post about how I once hated pop music but now I sort of like it (in moderation), but that would be expected. Recently I got around to reading John Seabrook’s book, The Song Machine, that is inside look at how most Top 40 songs have been made in the last two decades. Briefly, many of these songs are the work of a group of Swedish producers who work in a highly formulaic and methodical manner. Many of them are the product of a superior musical education program in that country, and some like Max Martin didn’t even start out in pop music. Seabrook even confesses at the beginning of the book being more of a rock critic, but saw an opportunity to investigate a phenomenon that he found obnoxious.

If pop music sounds like it’s in a bit of a time warp, as in songs haven’t changed much in the past 20 years, it’s because it’s probably because of the same people producing them. Compare music from 40 years ago on the radio to songs from 20 years ago and you might start getting the gist of this. From groups like Ace of Base and the Backstreet Boys forward, we are talking about the same cadre of producers, with some additions here and there. We also see that music has been revolutionized due to digital downloads, the Internet, and YouTube.

These are commonly known problems. The question I am left with is: Is the music any good? Is it a profound affront to actual music, as many people adamantly protest? I think a more interesting question concerns its universality. We all know the secrets if we forced ourselves to think about it: familiar beats, an infectious hook, and near-obnoxious mass marketing. It turns out that people like hearing what is familiar, even if they hate a particular song at first. How does one measure a song that has been viewed, listened to, or downloaded millions of times against a work by Bach or Couperin that may have been performed in a church a couple of times during their lifetimes, and perhaps only occasionally in concert halls now? Does scale ever factor into the consideration? Can one at least admire a little the global apparatus that is the “Song Machine”? Is that not a tremendous work of art in itself?



22 11 2018

I remember being quite moved at a YouTube video of Dudamel conducting Mahler’s Eighth. A very laudable endeavor.

Pandit Pran Nath

20 04 2018

Finally, people are posting stuff on youtube regarding the master of Indian vocal music.

Some Golijov

13 04 2018

From The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind

Who knows?

13 01 2017

Who knows what is going on on the other side of each hour?

How many times the sunrise was
there, behind a mountain!

How many times the brilliant cloud piling up far off
was already a golden body full of thunder!

This rose was poison.

That sword gave life.

I was thinking of a flowery meadow
at the end of a road,
and found myself in the slough.

I was thinking of the greatness of what was human,
and found myself in the divine.

-Juan Ramón Jiménez, as translated by Robert Bly

found on this site

image found on this site


28 06 2011

Qué vanidad imaginar
que puedo darte todo, el amor y la dicha,
itinerarios, música, juguetes.
Es cierto que es así:
todo lo mío te lo doy, es cierto,
pero todo lo mío no te basta
como a mí no me basta que me des
todo lo tuyo.

Por eso no seremos nunca
la pareja perfecta, la tarjeta postal,
si no somos capaces de aceptar
que sólo en la aritmética
el dos nace del uno más el uno.

Por ahí un papelito
que solamente dice:

Siempre fuiste mi espejo,
quiero decir que para verme tenía que mirarte.

-Julio Cortázar

What vanity it is to imagine
that I can give you all, love and hapiness
trips, music, toys.
That certainly is the case:
I give all that I have to you, it’s true,
but all that I have is not enough for you
as it is the case that you giving me everything
is not enough for me.

That’s the reason why we will never be
the perfect couple, the post card,
if we are not capable of accepting
that only in arithmetic
is two born from one plus one.

Over there somewhere is
a paper that says only:

You were always my mirror,
I want to say that in order to see myself
I had to look at you.

Espero curarme de ti – Jaime Sabines

22 06 2011

I hope to cure myself of you in a few days. I should stop smoking you, drinking you, thinking you. It’s possible. By following now the prescriptions of morality. I prescribe for myself time, abstinence, solitude.


Does it seem okay that I only love you for a week? It is not a lot, nor a little, it is enough. In a week you can get together all of the love words that have been uttered on the earth and set fire to them. I am going to warm you by that furnace of burnt love. And also silence. Because the best love words are exchanged by two peoples who say nothing to each other.


You have to burn as well  that other subversive side language of the lover. (You know how I tell you that I love you when I say: “It’s hot today”, “Could I get some water?”,  “Do you know how to drive?”, “It’s getting dark”… Between peoples, on one side your people and on the other mine, I told you, “It’s getting late”, and you knew that I was really saying, “I love you”).


It would take another week to gather all the love of all time. To give it to you. So that you can do with it as you please: save it, caress it, toss it in the garbage. It’s broken, that’s for sure. I only want a week to understand it all. For this is a lot like leaving the mad house only to go to the grave.

On church music

1 06 2011

They transform into entertainment that which has been created for no other purpose than to produce in the Christian soul a holy and salutary sadness.

-a French cleric quoted in the liner notes to the CD: Charpentier: Leçons de Ténèbres du Jeudy Sainct

I am just repeating some thoughts that I have been repeating over and over again for years, but I haven’t brought up this quote in a while, so might as well dust it off and post it.

Personally, I think a Mozart Mass is way more traditional than anything I can sing out of a Liber Usualis. Perhaps, by extension, the St. Louis Jesuits are way more traditional than some choir with a newly found hobbyist obsession with Gregorian chant.

I think “On Eagles Wings” makes the baby Jesus laugh with glee. There, I said it. Break out the tambourines and guitars, and let’s praise Jeeeezus!