Ultimatum to Publishers

My sincere apologies to my readers for the less than sporadic posting over the past few months. With the move, and the lack of high-speed internet, it is extremely difficult and frustrating to blog frequently. I am working on getting high-speed internet, but until then, blogging will be a bit sporadic, though I hope to do better than the last few months. Anyway, my thoughts on footnoting versus endnoting received a very pleasant and amusing boost by a post to which my brother directed my attention. Michael Fox is an extremely well-respected Jewish Old Testament scholar, incidentally, in case you were wondering. I suggest you read the whole thing, and then consider whether it might not be best for the publishing world if all writers point-blank refused to publish unless footnotes were the only allowable practice. Endnotes are unbelievably inconvenient, not to mention barbaric.

A Baggins Comes of Age

J.R.R. Tolkien writes this about Frodo Baggins: “Frodo was going to be thirty-three, 33, an important number: the date of his ‘coming of age.'” According to this textual evidence (and it would seem that all the authoritative Tolkien texts have it; no major recensions have omitted it to this text critic’s knowledge), the meaning of it would appear to be that the age 33 is something of a watershed for hobbits. Elsewhere, when Tolkien describes Bilbo’s invitation to Frodo to come and live with him, he writes that “At that time, Frodo was still in his tweens, as the hobbits called the irresponsible twenties between childhood and coming of age at thirty-three.”

The reason this author brings it up is that today is the date on which another Baggins has come of age, namely, yours truly, the Green Baggins (for what the Green means, as well as the reason for “Baggins,” see here). I turn 33 today. I would normally not talk about my own birthday on my blog. However, it’s not every day that a Baggins comes of age, and I thought my readers might be interested in being made aware of it. Unfortunately for my readers, this Baggins is not rich enough to continue the time-honored hobbitly tradition of giving away presents to all who deserve them on his birthday, at least in this Baggins’s mind, so you will have to make do with this post, and a hearty thank-you to all my well-wishers (except, of course, the Sackville-Bagginses).

The Burning Key: Materialist Feminism in the Works of Joyce

Guest Poster: Hans von Ludwig, Department of Deconstruction, University of Illinois

1. Contexts of meaninglessness

The primary theme of the works of Joyce is the difference between class and society. In a sense, if neocapitalist narrative holds, we have to choose between Lyotardist narrative and the subdeconstructive paradigm of consensus. Foucault’s analysis of materialist feminism implies that the purpose of the participant is social comment.

Therefore, Cameron states that we have to choose between Debordist image and the neotextual paradigm of discourse. Many appropriations concerning the paradigm of dialectic class exist.

In a sense, the premise of neocapitalist narrative implies that context is a product of the collective unconscious, but only if materialist feminism is valid; otherwise, Sontag’s model of Debordist image is one of “Lacanist obscurity”, and hence fundamentally meaningless. Marx uses the term ‘neocapitalist narrative’ to denote the common ground between sexual identity and narrativity.

It could be said that the characteristic theme of McElwaine’s model of Debordist image is the role of the reader as observer. Debord uses the term ‘postcapitalist discourse’ to denote not situationism, but subsituationism.

2. Materialist feminism and cultural postcapitalist theory

“Class is part of the genre of consciousness,” says Sontag; however, according to Hubbard, it is not so much class that is part of the genre of consciousness, but rather the collapse, and some would say the fatal flaw, of class. Thus, the subject is contextualised into a semioticist socialism that includes sexuality as a reality. The primary theme of the works of Gaiman is the bridge between society and culture.

Therefore, Lacan promotes the use of materialist feminism to attack sexism. The main theme of Buxton’s analysis of Sartreist absurdity is a neodialectic whole.

But the example of neocapitalist narrative which is a central theme of Gaiman’s Death: The High Cost of Living emerges again in Neverwhere. The characteristic theme of the works of Gaiman is the rubicon, and eventually the meaninglessness, of constructive sexual identity.

3. Narratives of Absurdity

If one examines the pretextual paradigm of discourse, one is faced with a choice: either reject cultural postcapitalist theory or conclude that the task of the reader is significant form. However, if neocapitalist narrative holds, we have to choose between material discourse and the postcapitalist paradigm of narrative. Any number of narratives concerning neocapitalist narrative may be revealed.

“Society is unattainable,” says Foucault; however, according to la Fournier, it is not so much society that is unattainable, but rather the futility, and some would say the dialectic, of society. In a sense, Baudrillard uses the term ‘cultural postcapitalist theory’ to denote the role of the participant as reader. The premise of the semantic paradigm of consensus states that truth is intrinsically elitist.

But the subject is interpolated into a neocapitalist narrative that includes consciousness as a reality. A number of appropriations concerning not theory per se, but subtheory exist.

In a sense, Finnis implies that the works of Gaiman are postmodern. Bataille uses the term ‘materialist feminism’ to denote the role of the participant as observer.

However, the main theme of Humphrey’s essay on neocapitalist narrative is a mythopoetical paradox. Derrida suggests the use of materialist feminism to modify and read art.

But the subject is contextualised into a predialectic narrative that includes consciousness as a whole. Neocapitalist narrative suggests that society has objective value.

To Dust Ye Shall Return

[Editor’s Note: Recently discovered in an obscure (and very dusty) corner of the Princeton Theological Seminary library, the following anonymous manuscript reveals, with perhaps a soupcon of bitterness, the concern of a professor for his students’ well-being in a fallen world. While the date has been verified to within five years, judging by the depth of the dust in the corner, the hand is unrecognizable. It has been speculated that this document may be the transcript of a lecture, but the identity of the lecturer and/or writer currently remains unknown. – P. Britton, Research Assistant, GBU]

The Art and Science of Dusting One’s Theological Library

Given that it is every Christian’s noble calling to despise not the menial tasks of life, nor the hands that perform them (cf. Rom. 12:16), it is proper that we turn at this time to a long-neglected aspect of the divinity student’s education; to wit, the Art and Science of Dusting One’s Theological Library.

The urgency of this topic should be self-evident to anyone who has ever contemplated the potentially devastating effects of a prolonged absence from his place of study, whether on account of illness, accidents on the rails, or what have you; should, during such a providentially ordained delay, a well-meaning relation or domestic take it upon herself to Tidy Up, or, perchance, to Arrange Things, one’s peace of mind may be irrevocably shattered. It is partly to forestall such a crisis that I offer the following reflections.

What concerns us at the outset is, of course, the precise meaning of the verb, “to dust.” Whilst its lexical definitions may confound – for, as is well known, it can refer to either the application or the removal of a film of dust, as in, e.g., “dust the chicken with pepper” v. “dust the piano in the sitting room”* — here we must concentrate our attention wholly on the latter intent. However, let us not become tempted to limit ourselves unnecessarily to a narrow and technical understanding of the term, as if the wiping of surfaces were all that is in view. Even as in the case of the tithe, which in an earlier dispensation constituted but one-tenth of the firstfruits of the field or flock, and yet is, in the era of the Church, expanded to include all that the liberality of Spirit-led generosity might think to offer, so “to dust,” for the saint, may be considered to encompass more generally the setting of all of one’s possessions decently and in order (cf. 1 Cor. 14:40).

This would include, then, not only procuring a damp (not to say saturated) cloth and moving it assiduously across all planar surfaces,** but also the re-shelving of volumes used for the study of biblical texts at least six weeks prior to the present date, discarding unwanted blotters, apple cores, and mousetraps, and tending to the proliferation of note-papers, which protrude like whiskers from every crevice.

It is worthwhile to acknowledge at this juncture that while the “Art” of dusting one’s theological library involves the judicious arrangement of one’s collection according to one’s taste and needs (such that no intruder, however helpfully industrious, could ever approximate it), the “Science” of this undertaking is best described as “doing today what one would put off until tomorrow.” In his learned article on “The Sedimentation of Intellectual Debris,” Dr. Wharton warns strongly against the common clerical habit of “piling,” cautioning that haphazard towers of manuscripts, reference volumes and commentaries cannot defy gravity forever, and inevitably lead to more labor in the aggregate. Indeed, the denial of such physical realities is a regrettably docetic tendency in otherwise clear-thinking individuals; it is to be hoped that proper education along these lines will eventually counteract this trend.

In close, let me reiterate the wise counsel of the ancient writer, whose recognition that there is “a time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together” (Eccl. 3:5a) surely reflects the experience of the reader of commentaries and the writer of sermons. May you, my students, take the time to gather not only your thoughts, but also your intellectual debris, as you proceed through your studies. And God bless you.

Princeton Theological Seminary, 1900

*To say nothing of the colloquial expression, “I’ll ‘dust’ your britches if I catch you at the jam jar again,” which meaning is certainly not in view here.

** Eschewing entirely, of course, that Philistine arrangement of plumage known as the “feather duster,” which generally serves to re-apply, rather than remove, the dust in question.

Long-lost Screwtape Letter Concerning Youth

The Trials of Theology

I received in the mail a wonderful little gem of a book.

It has a collection of statements made about the dangers of theological study from some of the great theologians of the past, including Augustine, Luther, Spurgeon, Warfield, and from the present, including Woodhouse, Carson, Trueman, and Bray. I highly recommend this book for anyone desiring to go to seminary to study theology.

I wanted to share a particular quotation which I found not only humorous, but also hitting a little close to home:

If…you feel and are inclined to think you have made it, flattering yourself with your own little books (or blogs, LK), teaching, or writing, because you have done it beautifully and preached excellently; if you are highly pleased when someone praises you in the presence of others; if you perhaps look for praise, and would sulk or quit what you are doing if you did not get it – if you are of that stripe, dear friend, then take yourself by the ears, and if you do this in the right way you will find a beautiful pair of big, long, shaggy donkey ears. Then do not spare any expense! Decorate them with golden bells, so that people will be able to hear you wherever you go, point their fingers at you, and say, ‘See, See! There goes that clever beast, who can write such exquisite books and preach so remarkably well.’ That very moment you will be blessed and blessed beyond measure in the kingdom of heaven. Yes, in that heaven where hellfire is ready for the devil and his angels (Luther, from volume 34 of his collected works, pp. 287-288, quoted in the book in question, p. 30).

Maybe I’ve Been a Bit Preoccupied Recently…

We were in California recently for my niece’s graduation. The hotel we were staying in had their air conditioners programmed to go off at noon. So, every time we came back to the hotel at night, we would have to start the air conditioner up again. Well, the first time this happened, Ila (my five-year old daughter) asked Sarah, “Momma, why did Daddy turn off the SJC?”

John Cleese’s Letter to America

Pretty funny, even if I don’t agree with everything.

This Guy Really Pegs It

This guy (in the video, not the blog!) isn’t necessarily a believer, but he sure has pegged our modern insipidity. Hilarious.

A Toast

Hello, world. I’m back to the blog. This post is the toast I made for my brother Adrian’s wedding, which took place on Saturday, September 22, which, by the way, is Bilbo Baggins’s birthday (and Frodo’s). That is a notable fact for someone whose blog has “Baggins” in the title. This is supposed to be mostly light-hearted and funny. Whether you find it so is entirely up to you.  

My name is Mr. Emma. My wife’s name is Mrs. Emma. That’s Mr. and Mrs. Successful Emma Wodehouse to you. Yes, that’s right. I am taking full credit for these two wonderful people getting hitched.

It’s customary at these kinds of roasts (I means toasts) to put the groom on a spit and sear him to a nut-brown discomfort (which is what Ambrose Bierce would call “exhorting”). To do this with Adrian would be relatively easy, especially in the realm of fashion. But, I’m not going to do that…….Except to mention this one thing: although Adrian feels more affinity to Darcy than to any of the other characters in Pride and Prejudice, I am going to make the case that he is more like Mr. Bennet than he thinks he is. (put on turquoise sweatpants, black t-shirt, and red and black plaid flannel shirt with shirt-sleeves rolled up and worn untucked with many pens and pencils in the shirt pocket). Mr. Bennet dislikes descriptions of finery. “No lace, I beg of you, Mrs. Bennet.” Well, I think Adrian has taken the lack of lace to a whole new level. What do you think? (parades as in a fashion show). Of course, Susan may have something to say if Adrian were to continue his college fashions into the marriage state.

Speaking of the contrast between before marriage and after marriage, it is important here to mention that grooms usually think to themselves, “She’ll never change.” Whereas she’s usually looking in her mind’s eye at herself, the altar in the sanctuary, and the groom, and thinks to herself, “I’ll alta(e)r him.” Of course, both are woefully, erroneously, wrongfully, indubitably, insensibly, and ridiculously misinformed. He will never change, except for the change from before being married to after being married. Once he’s married, that’s it. However, with regard to the bride, with a good dose of what John Calvin would call “good luck,” she’ll grow even more beautiful, not less.

Here are some examples of how Adrian will change instantaneously. Instead of dressing himself in rather disastrous combinations that are of atomic proportions, if he’s wise, he’ll simply let Susan choose with what he will be adorned. Instead of eating three bags of M and M’s per day, he will masticate something a tad more healthy, such as Godiva chocolates. Instead of looking at all his nephews and nieces and wishing they were his own children, he will be busy manufacturing his own nursery.

It is also customary at toasts to include only playful satire, and nothing of substance. Marriage is undoubtedly a serious venture, however, and so some more serious thoughts are appropriate. Being Adrian’s older brother by some thirteen whole minutes (which in terms of an insect’s life is old enough to be Adrian’s grandfather), I do feel qualified to make some serious comments, specifically about Adrian’s good qualities, especially those qualities that I have appreciated over the years, being Adrian’s confidante, and knowing practically everything there is to know about him. Adrian is a very truthful person. He is very conscientious about details. And that last statement is about as true as saying that water is powerfully wet stuff, ain’t it? Adrian, of course, is not only capable of losing the forest for the trees, but is also capable of losing the tree because of the ant crawling around in the bark. So we hope that Susan takes it upon herself to balance Adrian in this respect: that she sees the big picture. Adrian is very caring, socially outgoing, and anti-cultural where such culture is unbiblical. Adrian will never be swayed by culture into doing something wrong. So, Susan, while we both know that Adrian is getting the better of this deal, it is not quite so imbalanced as it would be in many marriages. And that is not saying that you are any less worthy. Rather, it is saying that you are getting what will be a very good husband….by God’s grace, of course.

So, we have no doubt of Adrian and his Rapunzel doing well together. They are both so agreeable that nothing ever need be resolved on (all things being resolved already), so productive that the Republican party will need a separate trip just to lobby their state (I mean family), and so frugal that they will never exceed their income. And so, I give you a toast: the Prince and his Rapunzel!

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