Have a good civil new year over the weekend!
At times, I delight in human beings. I just discovered the Ozark Medieval Fortress project in Arkansas, and I have another reason to visit the Natural State. The story starts with Frenchman Michel Guyot’s decision to purchase and renovate Saint-Fargeau Castle in Burgundy. He financed the rebuilding by turning the castle into a tourist destination. Guyot has assisted in helping others save derilict castles, as well. His experience in restoring castles gave him the idea of building a new castle with the technology and materials available to the castle builders of past ages. Such a project would help students of medieval architecture better understand the objects of their discipline. It is the history department’s meeting the faculties of natural philosophy, where one reproduces an experiment in the laboratory. Guyot’s lab is Guédelon, also in Burgundy. The new castle’s construction began in A.D. 1997, and Guyot’s team expects the building to take twenty-five years.
A French couple who moved to Arkansas two decades ago, Jean-Marc and Solange Mirat, decided that they wanted Guyot to establish an architectural-historical-touristy fiefdom in the Ozarks. The project started two years ago, and now one may visit, volunteer at, or become an intern for the Ozark Medieval Fortress in Lead Hill, Arkansas.
Less historically careful but still fascinating is Loveland Castle, not far from Cincinnati. I have visited “Chateau Laroche” since I was a child, and I still marvel at its wonderful weirdness. I often lament civilizational decline and the ruin of the West, and I think that my pessimism is well founded. However, remnants will always remain. A segment of mankind will always be too beautifully odd and indifferent to the masses to go along with whatever dominant development in social evolution. Whether it is a monastery in Wyoming during a new dark age or Christian settlements in Appalachia that thrive while former American cities decay in a Mad Max style apocalyptic wasteland, civilization will survive. Like seeds of mighty trees destroyed by a holocaust, pockets of the West will experience rebirth after the ruin. I still lament the impending fall, but I suppose that there is always room for justified hope. On such a note, I wish you well on every good endeavor in the new year.
Here is “O Holy Night” sung by the choir at Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King:
I was aghast when I saw the cathedral’s interior. Then, I discovered that it is the Roman cathedral in Liverpool, which was built in the lamentable years of the Sixties. Its design reminds me of something that one would find on Coruscant. Did the post-conciliar architects consult Ralph McQuarrie before building their temples? At least, Liverpool’s cathedral looks better than Los Angeles’ monstrosity.
Nonetheless, it heartens me that Albion’s Roman communities are keeping alive its choral traditions.
Given my recent trip to ארץ ישראל, I thought that I would offer the Israeli anthem, which means “the hope.” The song reminded me of one of my favorite pieces, “Vltava,” from Smetana’s Má Vlast. I discovered that both works owe some of their beauty to an Italian Renaissance tune, “La Mantovana.”
Hatikva is not as sublime as the Czech masterpiece, but it makes for a worthy anthem. You may read the poem’s words on Wikipedia.
On the long flight to Tel Aviv, I repeatedly transitioned between states of sleep and consciousness while catching glimpses of other people on the plane, hearing random conversations, and watching film sequences on personal entertainment monitors. I was particularly intrigued and confused by scenes from the neighboring monitor’s display of The Tree of Life. Then, I caught the faint sound of Smetana’s “Moldau,” and I quickly grabbed an earphone set to listen to the movie’s soundtrack. Imagine the joy of a man in a desert who happens upon a spring, and you have some idea of my psychic state at that moment.