LONDON, ONTARIO – Our eldest grandchild who turns fifteen next week sent me on an unexpected tumble down a time tunnel this summer by landing his first real job as a dishwasher at a Salt Spring Island cidery which also operates a rather swish dining room. Yes, indeed; been there and done that; and at just about the same age. It can sometimes be challenging to look at young kids growing up in this digitally atomized culture of ours – where everybody spends at least half their waking hours staring into glowing screens – and find contact points that make you sigh with remembrance of a bygone, pre-pixilated age. But making one’s introduction to the working life by lugging around tubs of dirty plates and feeding them into the steam-belching maw of a Hobart dishwashing machine . . . that seems to be a touchstone that abides from one generation to another and another.
LONDON, ONTARIO – In his sublime but too-little known study from 1983, A Portrait of Charles Lamb (1775–1834), British biographer, professor and literary critic, Lord David Cecil, paid homage to the magically congenial essayist who wrote under the pen name of 'Elia'. Cecil was an old man by the time he rendered his tribute to a beloved writer who'd given him a lifetime of pleasure. And though his book is quite short, Cecil knows just which tales to tell, which passages to quote, so as to make Lamb's appeal comprehensible, and even contagious, nearly two centuries after his death. Charles Lamb’s outwardly uneventful life of fifty-nine years straddled the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Though they only co-existed for nine years, the figure Lamb is most commonly bracketed with in the imagination of the reading public is the great Samuel Johnson.
LONDON, ONTARIO – Not that she was around to blow out all those candles (having slipped off this mortal coil six and a half years ago) but earlier this month Phyllis Dorothy James (1920-2014) turned one hundred. I was alerted to this anniversary – which I too would like to salute – when the great Mark Steyn paid tribute to her last week in a wittily entitled essay, A Baroness on Barrenness, which primarily discussed P.D. James’ least typical (which is to say her only non-detective) novel, 1993’s The Children of Men.
LONDON, ONTARIO – This week we bring you a new work of short fiction . . . OFF THE HOOK.
SCOTT CAME HOME from the tobacco fields on an almost empty Greyhound. An older bus, thank God, which allowed him the inestimable pleasure of opening up his window and letting the churned-up early autumn air buffet his face. Sixty miles an hour he was moving in this rattling tin rocket but what pleased him most was not a sense of movement or progress so much as blessed calm and respite. He was glad to be moving away from the place he’d been and relieved – maybe even a little proud – that he’d seen a self-imposed term of demanding physical labour through to an honourable end.
LONDON, ONTARIO – Hermaneutics has officially gone fishing this week and instead of the usual up-to-the-minute commentary which so distinguishes this blog, we present your host’s interview with Canada’s bravest academic, Janice Fiamengo. Though originally published in the September 24, 2015 edition of The London Yodeller, there is very little in this conversation that has lost its relevance over the last five years.
If you would like to contribute to the ongoing operations of Hermaneutics, there are now a few options available.
THE AQUINAS LECTURE
G.K. CHESTERTON AND THE GIFT OF GRATITUDE
ALL LIFE IS A GIFT :
THE IMPORTANCE OF TRADITION :