LONDON, ONTARIO – At this squalid juncture in our cultural decline when it’s way too dangerous to let anyone host the Oscars because they might actually say something, and when a venomously narcissistic twit named Jussie Smollett has clearly won every acting award of any contemporary significance anyway (“an arresting performance,” declared the Chicago Police Department), let me acknowledge an acting milestone of considerably more value to the world and infinitely more interest to me. This week Hermaneutics pays tribute to the outstanding career of the great British stage and film actor, Albert Finney (1936–2019) whose death earlier this month at the age of 82 provoked way too little commemoration and reflection.
LONDON, ONTARIO – When the disruptive shock of the 2016 election was followed a couple of months later by the installation of Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States of America, one scarcely knew what to expect or to hope for. It was the final culminating impossibility in a whole series of most improbable longshots. Quite simply, this wasn’t supposed to happen.
LONDON, ONTARIO – An apparent paradox that I have grown to appreciate through extensive research in the intimate fields of friendship and marriage, is that a richly developed inner life can go hand in hand with a markedly shy nature. Of course, without some sort of discipline and vision in place, the chronically shy risk becoming un-relatable weirdos floating adrift in their own isolated orbits. But there are numerous examples in the world of arts and letters – such as William Blake, the Bronte sisters, Emily Dickinson, Flannery O’Connor – where an instinct to boycott situations where one might be scrutinized in their own right or, even worse, evaluated as one constituent of a group, can pay handsome dividends in the development of startling independence and originality. If there are more females than males who exemplify this phenomenon, we can probably chalk that up to the more innate male appetite for open competition; for measuring oneself against others and, whenever possible, utterly vanquishing them and taking their heads as trophies.
LONDON, ONTARIO – I first became aware of G.K. Chesterton (1874–1936) in my late 20s on a literary tip from my friend Jeff Cencich. “I think you’ll like this guy,” he said, plucking a copy of his Selected Essays from a shelf at City Lights Book Shop where I was working as a clerk and dropping it onto the counter. Oh, gross and magnificent understatement.
Over the course of my reading life I’ve known dozens of instances when I’ve first knocked back a certain writer’s book that goes down with such avid delight that I hate myself for not being able to slow down to make it last. And as the final page of that first book hoves into view, I nervously start to ponder whether this writer has written much else and what are the odds that anything else in their canon will be a fraction so good as this? It’s an addictive sort of predicament, for sure, but if you’re going to get hooked on any writer, I would recommend Mr. Gilbert Keith Chesterton as the perfect gateway stimulant. He is such a prodigiously generous supplier of words that there will be no need to face the dreadful prospect of going cold turkey for many years to come.
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THE AQUINAS LECTURE
G.K. CHESTERTON AND THE GIFT OF GRATITUDE
ALL LIFE IS A GIFT :
THE IMPORTANCE OF TRADITION :