Friday, September 10, 2004

Brideshead, Newmanalia and Parenthood...

I was flicking through my copy of Brideshead Revisited looking for the following quotation:
I remember her [Lady Marchmain] saying: ‘When I was a girl we were comparatively poor, but still much richer than most of the world, and when I married I became very rich. It used to worry me, and I thought it wrong to have so many beautiful things when others had nothing. Now I realise that it is possible for the rich to sin by coveting the privileges of the poor. The poor have always been the favourites of God and his saints, but I believe that it is one of the special achievements of Grace to sanctify the whole of life, riches included.’
- Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
when my eye lighted on the following conversation between Ryder and his wife:
'I don't believe you've changed at all Charles.'
'No, I'm afraid not.'
'D'you want to change?'
'It's the only evidence of life'
which I take to be an allusion to Newman's famous maxim from his Essay on Development:
In a higher world it is otherwise, but here below to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.

On a wholly unrelated note, I see that Zorak is running a poll to decide (sorry, I mean predict) the gender of her firstborn. As with any upcoming arrival, arbitrary strangers have the right (nay, duty) to share our unsolicited theories regarding parenthood. Like the Lucy Honeychurch's engagement, once announced pregnancies have the unfortunate habit of becoming public property.
Anywa, one idea that’s always tickled my fancy is the approach taken by Montaigne’s father to his son’s education – rather than be exposed to the ‘slave talk’ of the vernacular, Montaigne was educated in a French chateau where he was only allowed speak Latin. To my mind, this sounds like a really fun project and worthy of repetition, but I’m not sure that the Old Oligarch would want to run the risk of being father to a French-speaking sceptic.
Therefore, I hope that my second proposal will be more amenable. Rather than pollute the child with the perfidious influence of television, radio, books, newspapers or parental chitrchat, why not simply raise him in isolation from all verbal communication? According to all the best medieval natural philosophers, he should of his own accord acquire fluency in pre-Babel, aboriginal Edenic ancient Hebrew, as spoken by all our favourite antediluvian Biblical heroes.

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