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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

No More Rock-Hard Marshmallows

It’s good to be back at the helm of High Concepts, after my little, unannounced, two-week hiatus, in which I had a chance to re-charge my blogging batteries.

I apologize for any just frustration you may have felt in the last two weeks, when every time you checked the blog you found the same, rock-hard, “On Marshmallows and Melodrama” piece. Don’t worry. It’s not that I thought that piece demanded two weeks of deep meditation…

But a special apology is due to those participating in the Virtual Summer Circle of Thomistic Studies. You must feel pretty irked at the unexpected lull in the conversation, thinking perhaps that this wasn’t the Thomistic cruise you signed up for. “Where is my Maritain?” you have been rightly asking yourself. Well, don’t write the Circle off just yet. It’s only August 30, we have more than three weeks of summer still to go, and I plan on making the most of it. I have one or two things more to say about Maritain’s discussion of beauty in Chapter V, not to mention topics covering the rest of Art and Scholasticism, so go find your book where you tossed it into the hedges in sheer disgust, and get ready.

A great cultural event occurred today, which will no doubt curb the slide of Western Civilization for a day or two. At Prospero’s Books in Manassas, Virginia, I found a copy of the February 1915 number of The Century, a successor to Scribner’s Monthly Magazine, which began publication in 1881 and pooped out in 1930. The reason this number of The Century attracted me so is that it contains a short story by that peerless comic genius, P.G. Wodehouse, as well as—a fact I didn’t even realize until I raced furtively from the bookstore and flipped through the contents in a shadowy corner—an article by the Catholic writer, Hilaire Belloc. The Wodehouse story is called “Bill, the Bloodhound,” and how better to enjoy this pleasant latish summer eve than by reading it.

Cruel, I know, not to transcribe the entire thing for you here. But if I send you madly scrambling to your local bookstore from some Wodehouse, then my work will be complete.

Apart from the Virtual Summer Circle of Thomistic Studies, other Coming Attractions on High Concepts include…

A post tomorrow on Graham Greene. One of the books I read this summer is Graham Greene’s marvelous thriller, Brighton Rock. (I see, by the way, that a new film has been made of it, which I haven’t yet seen.) But tomorrow I want to say something about how Greene’s short essay, “On Subjects and Stories,” can help understand what Greene is up to in Brighton Rock and his other fiction.

And for those readers in and around Spokane, Washington who have no more satisfying social life, I will be speaking at Gonzaga University late next month as part of their annual Faith, Film and Philosophy extravaganza. The topic of this year’s meeting is the mystery genre in film. On Thursday evening, September 28, I will be giving a talk entitled “On Mysteries and the Higher Mystery,” in which I will offer some Chestertonian reflections on the reasons why we love tales of mystery and suspense, with special reference to how the genre has been transformed in recent film and television. The conference is sponsored by Gonzaga’s Faith and Reason Institute and Whitworth University’s Weyerhaeuser Center for Faith and Learning. Perhaps I will see you there.  

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