Foucault’s Pendulum

Feb 19, 2000

‘Listen, Jacopo, I thought of a good one: Urban Planning for Gypsies.’ ‘Great,’ Belbo said admiringly. ‘I have one, too: Aztec Equitation.’ ‘Excellent. But would that go with Potio-section or the Anynata?’ ‘We’ll have to see.’ Belbo said. He rummaged in his drawer and took out some sheets of paper. ‘Potio-section…’ He looked at me, saw my bewilderment. ‘Potio-section, as everybody knows, is the art of slicing soup. No, no,’ he said to Diotallevi. ‘It’s not a department, it’s a subject, like Mechanical Avunculogratulation or Pylocatabasis. They all fall under the heading of Tetrapyloctomy.’ ‘What’s tetra…?’ ‘The art of splitting a hair four ways. Mechanical Avunculogratulation, for example, is how to build machines for greeting uncles.’ (74) introduction The above quotation seems an apt microcosm of Foucault’s Pendulum: at once amusing, bewildering, ironic, exceedingly intellectual, and eminently dislikable. Umberto Eco’s novel, is a second expedition into the novel form by the Italian scholar and acclaimed author of Name of the Rose. This adventure is an detective story about a search for the center of an ancient, still-living conspiracy of men who seek not merely power over the earth but over the psychic, ‘telluric’ powers of the earth itself, and who in the end draw their pursuers into a circle (a pentagram?) where discovery of the truth is lethal. The story is inordinately difficult to follow — its encyclopedic richness of historical detail breaks any smooth transparency of prose — but it is not meant to be easy. Neither was The Name of the Rose, which became a bestseller, even if one wonders how many actually read all of it. Eco is an active scholar, and forges links between his academic and popular works. In a 1988 essay ‘Dreaming of the Middle Ages,’ the Italian identified ten types of nostalgic neo-medievalism. Number nine he labelled the Middle Ages of Tradition, ‘an eternal and rather eclectic ramshackle structure swarming with Knights Templar, Rosicrucians, alchemists, and Masonic initiates;’ that passage seems a prophetic formula for Foucault’s Pendulum — itself the celebration of the attempt to rediscover that world. If nothing else the work is undeniably ‘eternal’: the only reason the volume doesn’t reach seven hundred pages is because Eco declines to finish it properly. It isn’t even really a novel in the strict sense of the word, more a sort of formidable gathering of information, delivered playfully by a master manipulating his own invention — a long, erudite (if often dry), joke. plot The novel as narration is put into the mouth of Causaubon, a scholar who writes his doctoral dissertation on the Knights Templar, and establishes himself a business in Milan, styling himself a kind of Sam Spade of information (a ‘regular Joe’ Mycroft Holmes? a lean, married, Nero Wolfe?). For a price, he will track down any fact — even though he seems to know everything already (except that he is named for the scholar of George Eliot’s Middlemarch, who also knew everything though it did him no good). He accepts a job as consultant for the Garamond Press, and joins Jacopo Belbo (a commonsensical Piedmontese companion) and Diotallevi (an ex-foundling Piedmontese, who fancies himself Jewish). These three spend most of their time drunk or bored, creating parodic word-games, and ridiculing anyone who takes himself seriously. Belbo’s favorite sentence he saves for pretentiousness, ‘Ma gavte la nata,’ which means something like ‘take the cork out [of his ass] and let the wind out.’ These three — ‘clowns’ is perhaps the best word for them — in their research for a book entitled The History of Metals, advertise for manuscripts about the diabolical histories of secret societies. If the story so far seems to veer a bit, just wait — it gets better. They decide as a game to feed all the hermetic plots that ever were into their computer. The results go beyond even paranoid fantasy: the unexplained phenomena of history, they find, can be fitted into a single, cosmic plan that embraces opposites, provide better interpretations than orthodox history has of certain past events, and reveals the greatest secret of history. What every major society of Europe, from the thirteenth century onward, has wanted — Templars, Rosicrucians, Masons, Jesuits, even Nazis, we discover — is control of the Earth’s ‘telluric currents,’ the psychic forces which control the land, seas, and skies. The pre-Celts built Stonehenge; the Gothics erected immense cathedral spires; Eiffel contrived his tower. Why? ‘What need did Paris have of this useless monument? It’s the celestial probe, the antenna that collects information from every hermetic valve stuck into the planet’s crust!’ This, the ultimate conspiracy, synthesizes all possible conspiracies — though the list is so comprehensive one wonders precisely who they’re plotting against. No matter. A plot is a structure, a semiotic fabrication. Umberto Eco is a professor of semiotics, a grand master of codes, signs, and hidden meanings. The obsessiveness of the three Italians becomes contagious, and soon no single fact seems innocent. What is truly remarkable is how compelling ‘the Plan’ can seem, though the reader knows it to be false. It cannot be true; we watch, as the word processor groups together facts with its random number generator — any resulting coherence must surely be accidental. And reading the novel, it is possible to watch the three become obsessed and irrational, fabricating unlikely ‘ifs’ in order to fit missing pieces. One feels exhausted when the puzzle’s last pieces are fitted into place. ‘Not bad, not bad at all,’ Diotallevi said. ‘To arrive at the truth through the painstaking reconstruction of a false text.’ (459) the pendulum as analog Eco first heard about the pendulum (which swings in the Conservatoire des Arts et Mètiers in Paris) from a professor of civil engineering and architecture at Cornell University. The instrument, a twenty-eight kilo silver ball with a needle point, hanging by wire from a fixed point on the ceiling sixty-seven meters above, was invented by Jean Bernard Lèon Foucault (1819-68) to demonstrate the rotation of the earth; it swings perpetually, given momentum by the instability of the solid floor beneath it. The mechanism itself seems harmless, the confirmation of a comforting permanence, but turns sinister toward the end. Causaubon becomes irritated early in the novel by the indifference of passersby to the pendulum’s miracle: Above her head was the only stable point in the cosmos, the only refuge from the damnation of the panta rei, and she guessed it was the pendulum’s business, not hers. A moment later the couple went off — he, trained on some textbook that had blunted his capacity for wonder, she, inert and insensitive to the thrill of the infinite, both oblivious of the awesomeness of their encounter — with the One, the Ein-Sof, the Ineffable. How could you fail to kneel before this altar of certitude? (6) The poetry of the pendulum is the poetry of Eco’s novel, and of history itself. One writes a novel as Causaubon, Belbo and Diotallevi write their ‘Plan’ — in order to rewrite history — a history in which they then become a part. The pendulum, privileged, looms over the lunacy, scorn, and fear of the world because its point of attachment, alone in the universe, is fixed — wherever you choose to put it. This ‘centeredness’ so desired by the cabalists’ metaphysics, by Italian scholars’ cynicism, of poetry and history are only possible because of the force which maintains the pendulum. It takes over six hundred pages to get from our first view of the Pendulum to the last. These pages are crammed not with action but with information. I happened to be reading about fifteenth-century Venetian printers and was not surprised to find them there. If you want to know about the Gregorian calendar, or the theory that the Holy Grail is really St. Mary Magdalene, you will find it here. The book clearly needs an index. Perhaps Dr. Eco has already got his semiology students to work on it; as there was a little volume of metafiction to supplement The Name of the Rose, so may we expect something hermeneutic about its successor. But in the meantime, all three of Eco’s heroes discover with alarm that neither their parody nor their new-found Plan can protect them from a universe ruled simultaneously by both and neither. Diotallevi first is diagnosed as having cancer, and moralizes on his deathbed: ‘And what are my cells? For months, like devout rabbis, we uttered different combinations of the letters of the Book. GCC, CGC, GCG, CGG. What our lips said, our cells learned. What did my cells do? They invented a different Plan, and now they are proceeding on their own, creating a history, a unique, private history. My cells have learned that you can blaspheme by anagrammizing the Book, and all the books of the world. And they have learned to do this now with my body. They invert, transpose, alternate, transform themselves into cells unheard of, new cells without meaning, or with meaning contrary to the right meaning. There must be a right meaning and a wrong meaning; otherwise you die. My cells joke, without faith, blindly. Similarly Belbo meets an unpleasant fate, trapped by his own creation, the TRÉS conspiracy come to life and curious about his secret knowledge. In the Paris Conservatoire, at midnight, in the pendulum room, he confronts his fiction-turned-real. ‘Now you will speak,’ Aglie said. ‘You will speak, and you will join the great game. If you remain silent, you are lost. If you speak, you will share in the victory….this night you and I and all of us are in Hod, the Sefirah of splendor, majesty, and glory; Hod, which governs ritual and ceremonial magic; Hod, the moment when the curtain of eternity is parted. I have dreamed of this moment for centuries. You will speak, and you will join the only ones who will be entitled, after your revelation, to declare themselves Masters of the World. Humble yourself, and you will be exalted. You will speak because I order you to speak, and my words efficiunt quod figurant!’ And Belbo, now invincible, said, ‘Ma gavte la nata…’ The proximity of the pendulum’s focus, the center of the universe, ennobles and melodramatizes both. Belbo is killed, magnificently, symbolically, hung by the wire of the pendulum. Causaubon’s final monologue reflects the uncertainty with which he awaits his fate. conclusion But somehow, at the end, one is overcome by the nameless feeling of being in the presence of Bob, Pete, and Jupiter Jones rather than Dupin. The notion of equating a novel’s mechanisms with symbolic or metaphoric machinery was throughly explored in the fifties and sixties by Player Piano and Lost in the Funhouse. While this novel is indeed very rich semiotically, the overall atmosphere is somewhat more amateurish than enthralling.

CUrrnet TORG Char

Jan 31, 2000

ibis (ben siddig) gadget hero cosm/m/s/sp/t: nile empire magic12 social 20 spiritual 17 tech 21 desc.: 35, 6″, 225 lb. shock damaqe: possibilities: 10 wound level: 1-OK stats: dex-10 maneuver str-8 tough-9 per-12 trick mind-9 test charisma-8 taunt spirit-11 intimidate move: skill: reality+2 spi 13 acrobatics+ dex 10 dodge+2 dex 12 fire combat+ dex 10 flight+ dex 10 lock pick+1 dex 11 long jump+ dex 10 melee wep+1 dex 11 running+ dex 10 stealth+ dex 10 unarm cbt+1 dex 11 climb+1 str 9 lift+ str 8 air veh+ per 12 evidence+1 per 13 find+1 per 13 scholar+3 per 15 trick+1 per 13 science+1 min 10 faith+1 spi 12 intimidation+1 spi 12 equipment: .38 revolver val 14 axiom lvl 20 rng s3-10, m25, l50 costume gadget belt (Flight 17) ammo tool kit oscilloscope parts 400 nile royals drama card: 0 0 0

Proposed Law Would Imprison Aroused Men

Jan 25, 2000

JACKSON, Miss. (Reuters) – If you are a man who has difficulty controlling your sexual responses in public, beware. The eyes of Mississippi are upon you. The Southern state, long considered one of the most conservative in the United States, is considering a public-sex-and-nudity law with a provision that would make it illegal for sexually aroused men to appear in public. The bill, introduced by Republican state Sen. Tom King at the request of a constituent concerned about the behavior of patrons at strip clubs, defines nudity to include “the showing of covered male genitals in a discernibly turgid state.” Men who run afoul of the law could face up to a year in prison and a $2,000 fine. “It will set some boundaries on what they (strip club patrons) can or cannot do in a community,” said Forrest County Supervisor Johnny DuPree, who asked for a discussion of the question in the legislature. DuPree, who has opposed the opening of a strip club at a National Guard base at Camp Shelby, outside Hattiesburg, said the law also would help local governments combat indecent acts. Hattiesburg is located about 100 miles south of the state capital, Jackson. The bill, modeled on a similar statute in Indiana, has been sent to Mississippi’s Senate Judiciary Committee for further review.

Crack pipes

Jan 13, 2000

I don’t know why people insist crack is bad. Listen to this: “A Florida man who swallowed 55 small glass pipes used to smoke cocaine was recovering after surgeons removed the paraphernalia from his stomach.” The guy had gone into the hospital complaining of “severe abdominal cramps, heartburn, and indigestion. He apparently swallowed the pipes while high on crack and DID NOT REALIZE what he was doing. The glass tubes ranged up to 4 1/2 inches long.” OH MAN. I admit I’ve swallowed my share of glass pipes, maybe 12 or 13 at the MOST at any one time. But 55! It’s like Dimaggio’s 56 game hitting streak, or Cy Young’s 511 games won… it’s a record that simply can’t be broken. For lunch today… NO GLASS PIPES. I insist.

Croatoan or Bust: Finding The Lost Colony

Jan 10, 2000

“My lost delights, now clean from sight of land, Have left me all alone in unknown ways; My mind to woe, my life to fortune’s hand? Of all which passed the sorrow only stays.” — Sir Walter Raleigh

Twenty years before Jamestown, and 33 years before the Pilgrims, a magical group planted the first English colony in North America — and promptly let it disappear into thin air. Ever since 1590, when Captain Cocke fired an unanswered signal gun off the shore of Roanoke Island, the fate of that Lost Colony has been an insoluble enigma. Is it any wonder that America is the way it is? The Old World can keep its maternally-inclined wolves and its giant-killing Trojan refugees — occult conspirators built the United States on a foundation of High Weirdness indeed. The windup is easily told; in 1584, Sir Walter Raleigh received a charter from Queen Elizabeth I allowing him to claim any territories in the New World that he explored which were currently outside the rule of “any Christian Prince.” Raleigh, his mind on the Spanish colonies in Florida, sent expeditions to find a convenient anchorage to use as a piratical base — and if they could find gold, so much the better. Raleigh’s second expedition, in 1585, planted a colony of 110 men on Roanoke Island (on the coast of North Carolina) which the 1584 expedition had mapped. By the next year, they’d managed to irritate the local Indians enough that they were in some danger of starvation. The colonists took advantage of a fortuitous visit from Sir Francis Drake and boarded his ship en masse to return to England — two weeks before Raleigh’s resupply expedition arrived to find the first colony gone. Raleigh’s third expedition, in 1587, included women and farmers, and only wound up on the by-now unpalatable Roanoke Island because the ship captain Raleigh hired was too eager to go pirating to carry the colony up the Chesapeake to its planned site. The Spanish Armada interfered with the next supply ships, and by the time Raleigh could send a relief expedition, the colony (including Virginia Dare, the first English baby born in America) had vanished. Some of the colony’s supplies had been looted by the Indians and others had been carefully buried (like the cannon and some chests of books). On a tree at the colony’s gate, the word “CROATOAN” was carved into the bark; the letters “CRO” were cut into another tree near the moorage. Croatoan was the name of a nearby island, with a different (and friendlier) tribe of Indians, but Cocke’s ship was caught in a storm and never got around to looking on Croatoan Island. No convincing trace of the Lost Colony ever turned up, although the Jamestown colonists put a great deal of effort into looking, spurred on by rumors of “gray-eyed Indians” in the area. It’s equally likely that Roanoke was wiped out by Powhatans, that the colony uprooted itself and died trying to march north to the Chesapeake (their original destination), or that the colonists got sick of copper mining for Raleigh and “went native,” interbreeding with the Indians. North Carolina’s government recognizes a local tribe of Lumbee Cherokees as the “Croatan” Indians — they have last names like “Dare,” “England,” and other surnames of the Lost Colonists. “We are half persuaded to enter into the journey of Sir Humphrey Gilbert, very eagerly whereunto your Master Hakluyt hath served for a very good trumpet.” — letter of Sir Philip Sidney, dated 21 July 1584, a year after Gilbert’s disappearance But that’s less fun — although many of the Croatans joined the runaway slaves in the Great Dismal Swamp as part of the Seven-Finger-High Glister” hoodoo society therein. Mass faerie or alien abduction sounds much cooler, as does (in a darker mode) the appearance of some shambling Cthulhoid entity (named Croatoan?) out of the aforementioned Great Dismal Swamp. Simple time-space distortions along the lines of the pretty much directly-east-of-Roanoke Bermuda Triangle can also be invoked, and they’ll also explain the “ghost ships” seen on Albermarle Sound west of Roanoke, and why Verazzano thought that Albermarle Sound was an arm of the Pacific that led straight to California (itself a fairyland of legend — no, really). The Bermuda Triangle scenario might also involve or explain or at least spice up the disappearance of the explorer Sir Humphrey Gilbert in mid-Atlantic in 1583. But it’s to Gilbert’s younger stepbrother, Sir Walter Raleigh, that we turn now. “O paradox? Black is the badge of hell, The hue of dungeons and the school of night.” — William Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost, IV:iii:253-4 Raleigh makes a dandy figure in any tale of Elizabethan intrigue, conspiracy, magick, action, or wonder. In History, he was a pirate, an alchemist, a grandstanding gigolo turned conspirator, and one of the leading lights of a group of occult and “atheistic” students known as the School of Night. Other Schoolmen included Henry Percy the “Wizard Earl of Northumberland,” Christopher Marlowe (born in 1564, the same year as Percy — and Shakespeare and Galileo), John Dee, Arcadian poet Sir Philip Sidney, and other poets, mathematicians, alchemists, and explorers. Before Percy joined the group in the early 1590s (and moved its headquarters from Raleigh’s house at Sherbourne in Dorset to Percy’s euphoniously named Sion House in London), its leading aristocratic figure (besides Sidney) was the too-wonderfully-named-for-words Lord Fernando Strange, the Earl of Derby. Lord Strange holds yet another qualification — he may have been the first patron to employ William Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost, which tells the story of a band of aristocrats (led by a “King Ferdinand”) who withdraw from the world to study arithmetic, astronomy and geometry (cabala, astrology and magia), may have been a coded reference to the School of Night — or it may have been written as a private performance for them, and encoded certain arcana within its discursive allusions. The School spins plenty of threads to follow for occult fun and games. Frances Yates postulated that the magus Giordano Bruno may have founded the School during his 1583-1584 sojourn in England. Percy’s Sion House headquarters recalls the Prieure of Sion, as does Sidney’s poem Arcadia. For this and other reasons, people who find proto-Masons find them riddling the School. In this connection it’s interesting to note that the first confirmed record (1575) of Raleigh’s whereabouts in adulthood places him at the Middle Temple, former Templar headquarters in London — and that the Roanoke colony was supposed to carve a Templar cross in a tree (rather than a cryptic island-name) as a warning of danger. Marlowe’s Faustus can be seen as a reaction to what he learned from Dee and others in the School, as can Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist — or they can be seen as plays encoding occult truths for the elite, disguised as horror or satire. “There, whether yet divine Tobacco were, Or Panachea, or Polygony, She fownd, and brought it to her patient deare Who al this while lay bleding out his hart-blood scare.” — Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, III:vi, 32 One thing the School liked was tobacco, Raleigh introduced it in court, and Marlowe and his crowd made it popular in lower society. Tobacco, of course, is the primary crop of North Carolina and Virginia. The Indians saw it as a magical plant, and Spenser identifies it as a healing herb in The Faerie Queene (where he also identifies “fruitfulle Virginia” as Faerie — more evidence for our Roanoke abduction scenario, although it’s beginning to look like Raleigh set them up). Most tribes used tobacco as a means of shamanic communication with the gods (alien ultraterrestrials? fae nature spirits?). The magick of tobacco is somewhat outside the pale of this discussion (although I’ve always found it interesting that Jean Nicot, discoverer of nicotine, shares a name with the Basque vegetation god Jannicot — and that the Basques have legends of transatlantic travel to magical islands), but it’s worth noting that some tribes scattered tobacco on the water before taking a journey by sea — an apt magick for an occult School including Raleigh, Drake, and Hakluyt to learn. Other vegetation themes work in the interstices of the Roanoke legend. The name itself echoes two trees — Rowan-Oak — of central importance in Celtic lore. (The name “Roanoke” actually comes from an Algonquin word meaning “place of white shells,” but bad linguistics makes good occultism.) According to Robert Graves’ delightfully daft The White Goddess, druidic lore attaches great meaning to trees, using them as coded letters. Rowan-Oak is Luis-Duir, the quickening fire and the gateway of kingship. Birth (in fire) and gateways (in empire) — a more than adequate “baptismal name” for America. “The opening of the ‘new’ world was conceived from the start as an occultist operation. The magus John Dee, spiritual advisor to Elizabeth I, seems to have invented the concept of ‘magical imperialism’ and infected an entire generation with it . . . The Tempest was a propaganda-piece for the new ideology, and the Roanoke Colony was its first showcase experiment.” — “Hakim Bey,” T.A.Z. So what exactly is the Grand Conspiracy of Roanoke? The first expedition, made up of occultist-scientists like the “English Galileo” (and Mason — or builder) Thomas Hariot (who, speaking of linguistics, assembled a dictionary of Algonquin which has unaccountably been “lost”) on orders set down by the Welshman John Dee (master of Druidic lore who identified America with Atlantis), established the occult soundings and ley lines of the island. The second expedition had to establish Arcadia, a gateway colony to create the New World in an alchemical marriage between the Red King (Powhatan, or the Indian sachem who stole a “silver cup” from Hariot’s ship) and the White Queen (Elizabeth, whose name became the land’s, as Virginia, while Spenser tied her to Faerie as Gloriana in his poems) to bring about the Golden City. In Love’s Labour’s Lost, the four nobles wed four ladies from over the sea — in black, red, white, and gold — in alchemical sequence, in other words. In 1587, the stars were right as Neptune (the planet governing the “tides of history”) was on the cusp between Cancer — the moon, the Virgin white goddess, patroness of the School of Night — and Leo — the fiery king. And the colony arrived at the island of the Rowan-Oak (the fiery birth gateway) on July 22 — the cusp day when the sun itself is between Cancer and Leo, and the day before the Day of the Dog Star, when the Egyptian calendar celebrated the New Year. In other words, a powerful magickal date for beginnings. The colonists dug mines (as Warden of the Stannaries, Raleigh supervised the ancient tin mines of Cornwall — did he cut a deal with the tommyknockers therein?), and after the birth of Virginia Dare (a new gateway — Virgin Duir) — the Lost Colony completed the gateway. Did it succeed? Well, a new and golden empire was born in fire (and in the sign of Cancer, on July 4). Did the gate (and the Colony) go where the Scholars of Night thought it would? To Faerie? To Calyferne/California, as one of Dee’s maps showed? Or to somewhere else? Go through it, and just hope it doesn’t lead to the voodoo altar where the sacred Basque tobacco smolders before mighty Croatoan.

The Death of Libraries

Jan 3, 2000

I heard something disturbing over the holiday weekend. While riding back from a night out with my friends, one mentioned that she needed to go to Barnes & Nobles, and she wondered if they had a copy machine. When I asked her why she would need a copy machine at a book store, she explained that they had a medical reference book there that she needed some information from (my mom’s a nurse). The book is very expensive, so she can’t afford to buy it, and she only needs the one article anyway. I took this opportunity to point out that there are these big buildings called libraries, and that they’re full of books that people can read and sometimes even take home without paying a dime. “They don’t have it,” she said. “I can only find this book at the bookstore.” I was floored, to say the least. When I was growing up, the library was like a second home to me. I pedaled my little one-speed bike down to the local branch library every week, it seemed, and in high school I actually worked in the city library. But the more I thought about it, I realized I hadn’t really browsed the stacks of a library in years, not since, oh, about 1994. Which, by the way, was the year I discovered the web. I know why I don’t go to libraries any more. Between MemoWare and Peanut Press and downloading everything else via iSiloWeb, I don’t have a shortage of things to read. I have an overabundance, actually, with the equivalent of tens of thousands of pages to read on my computer right now. We’re talking about nearly three times as much as War and Peace (which I can and will once I read enough to free up the room on my shelf it takes up). But what really surprised me is that my mom doesn’t go to libraries either, and why. Big superstore book chains like Borders and Barnes & Noble are replacing the library in America. In virtually all of these places, you have comfortable couches spread throughout, and most of them sell gourmet coffee as well. They practically scream, “Come in, browse, make yourself comfortable.” Rare is it that bookstore patrons are hassled into making a purchase or leaving, and I’ve seen more than few read entire magazines over their coffee, put the magazine back on the rack and leave. How’s a library going to compete with that? What’s more disturbing though, is the title availability. While I’m sure my pal could find the information she’s looking for on the web, she’s not that net savvy, so that leaves print. The library doesn’t carry the book she needs, but several bookstores here do. The decision has been made for her. The library is obsolete, following the buggy whip into cultural obscurity.

Ave Maria… neat memory

Dec 20, 1999

Quoted From friend Mojo – The best version I have ever heard was live in a church in finland. The church is about a thousand years old ( probably less ) and is gigantic. There are Swedish/ Finnish Kings and Queens buried under the floors and in special areas and tombs in the Church. When you walk in the church you can’t even see the Altar. My sister, her family,Steve and I were in the church doing the tourist thing and all of a sudden someone started singing Ave Maria unaccompanied. It was so powerful. He was singing without a mic and it sounded perfect. Finally we found him, the altar it self was almost a separate chapel. And there we saw a little tiny christening ceremony in progress. there were 5 people, the baby, the pastor and the man singing . The power of the moment was so overwhelming. Here in this gigantic historical church where Important historically significant people are buried in the floor and the walls . The sheer size and age of the church is moving much less when the voice of one man singing Ave Maria carries through out . The only people in the church were us and the 7 people and the baby. Yet we were privliged to experience the welcoming of a newborn soul to the kingdom of god. So beautiful And yet so humbling. The moment was so pure and so moving. There were no fancy robes, no fancy gold and jeweled religious paraphenalia, no 50 person chorus, no charismatic preacher, no one asked us for a cent. Just a man singing Ave Maria acapella and a small family celebrating the christening of their new arrival. And we were fortunate to be there to witness the moment. If there has ever been a moment that I would consider to be a religious experience , for me personally, that would have to be it.

Welcome to my wall scrawls.