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The Joyce/Tolkien comparison is interesting, Mac. I wonder if anyone else has ever made it? Of course you would need to write an entire thesis in support in order to satisfy my curiosity now!

One of the nice things about blogging is that you can just throw out ideas like that without feeling obliged to dig a lot deeper. I don't have any idea whether anyone else has made the comparison or not.

That picture is very like what the view from the west side of my house would be if there weren't bedrooms there to keep you from getting far enough away from it to see the wide view.


So you see the sun set through those trees. That's nice, I'm sure.

This was taken not far from here. It's a farm owned by a family who apparently have some sense of beauty, because they've lined the roadside next to their property with these trees. This is just a bit of a line that goes a quarter mile or so at least.

The Ents were a part of the movies that I found very cool. Was wondering if you loved or hated Peter Jackson's Ents?

I don't remember very specifically, but I think I liked them. At minimum I don't remember thinking that they were one of the things that Jackson really messed up.

Just to be clear, in case I haven't been: I didn't *hate* the movies. But I thought they got enough things wrong, and yet were so powerful in impressing their images on me, that I decided I didn't ever want to see them again.

My thought is that both sides have some points about the decline and fall of America.

Candlemas here is about the last glimmers of Christmas and beginning to turn towards Lent, which I suppose does the same sort of thing. But it's also pancake day here, which anchors it in daily life.

The Ents in the film were rather good visually, but Jackson messed up the Entmoot completely. Rather than deliberate long and hard and decide it was necessary to take action, they decided not to do anything, then went against the long-deliberated decision by attacking impulsively when they happened across a burnt-out bit of forest.

I love the idea of Septuagesima and have tried to take it seriously the last several years. I think I wrote about it twice on my blog.

This year during Lent, I plan to read Richard John Neuhaus's Death on a Friday Afternoon: Meditations on the Last Words of Jesus from the Cross. I read part of it for book club last month, and it really is very good and provides much food for thought.


Thanks for the reminder about the Fr. Neuhaus book, Janet. I've been meaning for years to read it during Lent, ever since I read an excerpt from it that he published in First Things when the book first came out. Definitely "provides much food for thought".

Not the first recommendation I've heard for it. Must be good.

Candlemas is noted here by some, but that's about all. Our priest included it in his picture of the liturgical year, but otherwise I don't know of any actual observances. I did wonder if there was supposed to be a connection with pancakes. I think something on Facebook gave me that impression.

Interesting about the Entmoot in the films. I didn't remember that, but from your description it's exactly the kind of misguided change that left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.

I agree with that, Stu--that both sides have a point about decline (and fall).

They are supposed to bless all the candles for the year on Candlemass. I was in a parish once where they used to give them away.


As something of a declinist myself, I've had run-ins on line with both progressives and "conservatives" who reject ideas of decline. But their views of what constitutes progress are quite different from each other.

Do their visions have in common more personal freedom? But maybe for different groups of people?

Generally it's increased personal (i.e., sexual) freedom on the "left" and increased economic freedom on the "right." Both sides tend to see technological development as progress. Ditto globalization, although both sides have qualms about them (but different qualms!).

That version of economic freedom can often be a variety of personal freedom (obviously). I was utterly appalled when I learned that some younger "conservatives" have a motto of "think right, live left."

The Evelyn Waugh book (Decline and Fall)?

What about it?

"I agree with that, Stu--that both sides have a point about decline (and fall)."

You posted this and I didn't know what it meant, so I made a funny.

But speaking of Evelyn Waugh I have only read Brideshead Revisted, what else should I look at by him? Or perhaps nothing, and only BR is worthwhile.

Oh, sorry. The two words just sort of go together in my mind. I guess it goes back to Gibbon and his Decline And Fall of the Roman Empire (which I haven't read).

But as for Waugh: actually that book (D&F) is one I'd recommend right after Brideshead. It's a *totally* different kind of book--black humor all the way. To me it's the funniest of his satires.

I would recommend Decline and Fall and Scoop.

Nothing is like Brideshead, but I like the Sword of Honour trilogy.


I found it disappointing. Didn't dislike it, but large stretches of it seemed pretty dull to me.

I like Scoop, but was just a little disappointed in it, too--I had expected it to be funnier than it was. Vile Bodies and Black Mischief are also good. Handful of Dust is strange.

Now I am overwhelmed, perhaps I will simply re-read Brideshead. :)

No, read Decline and Fall. :-)

Handful of dust leaves you with the taste and feel of very dry dust in your mouth. My daughter and I disagree about it. I very much dislike it and she loves it.

It is very pessimistic, even despairing. There is no hope.

It's been a long time since I read it, but my reaction was similar to yours. Decline and Fall was the first Waugh I read, and I expected Handful of Dust to be similarly funny. It wasn't.

I'll second the recommendation of "Decline and Fall". It is really excellent and, as Mac said, totally different from "Brideshead".

If you like it, you could try "Scoop" and "The Loved One", which are kindred to it.



Helena is my favourite. And the Sword of Honour trilogy are the best war novels I've read. But I think Black Mischief and Vile Bodies are the funniest. The last is actually near-future science fiction, but critics don't seem to have picked up on the fact.

I haven't read Helena. And it's been so long since I read Black Mischief and Vile Bodies that I don't remember much except that I liked them.

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