Wednesday, January 14, 2009

On walking

"Then the walks for miles around us were excellent, and we all became great walkers, for walking we found to be good.  Not merely stepping from shop to shop, or from neighbor to neighbor, but stretching away out into the country, to the freshest fields, the shadiest woods, the highest ridges, and the greenest lawns.  We found that however sullen the imagination may have been among its griefs at home, here it cheered up and smiled.  However listless the limbs may have been by steady toil, here they were braced up, and the lagging gait became buoyant again.  However stubborn the memory may be in presenting that only which was agonizing, and insisting on that which cannot be retrieved, on walking among the glowing fields it ceases to regard the former, and forgets the latter.  Indeed, we all came to esteem the mere breathing of the fresh wind upon the commonest highway to be rest and comfort, which must be felt to be believed."
- Edmund Morris, Ten Acres Enough (1864)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Kelley on objectivity in methodology

I like that Kelley cites Barfield, a lost giant of the twentieth century:

“Owen Barfield has made an important point about natural science which seems even more pertinent to the study of human culture.  ‘Physical science has for a long time stressed the enormous difference between what it investigates as the actual structure of the universe, including the earth, and the phenomena or appearances which are presented to normal human consciousness.  In tune with this, most philosophy – at all events since Kant – has heavily emphasized the participation of man’s own mind in the creation, or evocation, of these phenomena.’  Too many historians, it seems to me, are still operating in a pre-Kantian world in search of an ‘actual structure’ discernible apart from human consciousness, their own as well as that of their subjects; to avoid such methodological hubris I have tried to eliminate surreptitious (and pseudo-) objectivity.  My explorations into past consciousness and society are indeed the reconstructions of a late-twentieth-century North American interested in social and cultural sciences as well as history.  Obviously I cannot see the hearts, minds and behavior of sixteenth-century humanity without distortion, cannot ask significant questions without disturbing the field of inquiry and reorganizing the data.”

- Donald R. Kelley, The Beginning of Ideology: Consciousness and Society in the French Reformation

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Florida folklife podcasts

Check out this great series of podcasts from the Florida Memory Project.  Podcasts cover Florida blues artists, Sacred Harp singers, alligator wrestlers, folk festival recordings, and old radio programs.  

[Photograph from Florida Memory collection: musicians playing at the Twilight Club on Barrancas Avenue, Pensacola, 1942.]

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Habana Coffee

Has Habana Coffee in downtown Pensacola closed business?  If so, this is truly a loss for Pensacola.  Habana Coffee at once reinforced Pensacola's regional identity while challenging the homogenizing force of Starbucks.  Pensacolians need to assert their local identity to recapture a more abundant and cohesive sense of community, but the same can be said for nearly every city in this nation.  We are truly suffering, in James Howard Kunstler's words, the "geography of nowhere."

The American Chesterton Society

By the way, for regular infusions of the wit and wisdom of G. K. Chesterton, check out the American Chesterton Society blog.  A wellspring of choice quotes and interesting information on all things Chesterton, you will surely slake your thirst here.  The occasional hagiographical boosterism by the bloggers can be unsettling, but nevermind.  Chesterton was a large man--the man himself was larger than his own legend.

Chesterton on the New Year

"The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective. Unless a man starts on the strange assumption that he has never existed before, it is quite certain that he will never exist afterwards. Unless a man be born again, he shall by no means enter into the Kingdom of Heaven."
- G. K. Chesterton

I usually try to lift quotes from their original sources, but this one was so fitting, I had to use it.  Besides, it gives me another opportunity to talk about the Christian Classics Ethereal Library.  I found this sparkling Chesterton gem in the latest CCEL newsletter, in which director Harry Plantinga discusses the wealth of Chesterton's writings to be found online at the CCEL.  Having just read a terribly tragic novel, The Book of Sorrows (beautiful and truthful, but bitterly sad), I think I may take up a work by Chesterton.  No, he did not write fluff.  He wrote with tragedy in his head, but comedy in his heart.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Hello 2009

Happy New Year!  Wendy and I stayed at home, ate pizza, drank spumante, and watched Mars Attacks.  I always feel so apocalyptic at the new year, especially this year, when Pensacola's official holiday soundtrack seems to be the sound of emergency vehicles.