Sunday, August 29, 2010

A dutiful sabbath observance

I had posted in this space, as some may have seen, a nifty little musicale on foes in general and Yalies especially, but I took it down until this year's game, lest it be thought RMBL is only about cutting and pasting pictures to decorate other people's lyrics or prose. On the contrary, here a pretty lyric is proposed in the way people listen to recordings during cocktails, as balsam evoking an underlying jolt of lubricity. You, too, may actually think you like Cole Porter, but have you ever entertained his genius without a supplemental sheet or two to the wind? He's bright, but transparently a Yalie in the light of day.

At the same time, there one was again, back in Leo's dread of fainting dead away in Sabbath observances, when it occurred to me that his terror of more than 50 verses to recite in a Psalm resembled a young artist's reasonable unease with sabbath visitations to a museum. "Oh, hey, darling, you paint. Let's go look at Great Art."

I had a young friend (didn't we all?) who was hauled along to the Getty one dutiful Sunday on a summer's holiday in Malibu, in an exercise of this very reasoning. How very like one duty is another, when its point is to imbibe the good? But remember what Leo does, summering with his friends:

Again I was lucky with the Psalms; the Sunday before there had been 44 verses; this Sunday there were 43, seven below the danger line. Truly providence was on my side. Also I knew we should not have the Litany, as we had had it last Sunday; this also was a great gain. Less than ever was I in a mood to repent of my sins or to feel that other people should repent of theirs. I could not find a flaw in the universe and was impatient with Christianity for bringing imperfection to my notice...

Quite properly, Leo exploits the occasion of worship to allow his mind "to wander" in speculation on the family whose crest clutters the windows of the transept, and discovers a question whose pursuit will direct the narrative and implicitly change his life. Who can say, then, what marvels of obeisance were given short shrift, for my painter friend's contemplation of Richard Meier's fountain in the sunshine, instead? How quite vastly above any canonical question of perfection, is the proliferation of refracting eddies flouting a current in a streambed Heraclitus could have laid, to stir a soul on Sunday? 

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  1. I could not find a flaw in the universe

  2. I should report you to your Archbishop! But he would only hang his head and say, "Ah, yes. We know the lady. She carries the remedies of faith already with her."

  3. I want to know more about this Leo, I must read this. (and I love colm toibin)

  4. Oh, you have my attention in all things, but as regards Tóibín without limitation. It is so great to hear this. Conscious of the dustjacket's mild affinity for the fountain image (the photo is a turn-of-the-C self-portrait), I was secretly v gleeful to project CT into the "case."

    Leo is a hoot, and he knows it.