5 August 2019

Urban Myths and the Amazon Synod

Any English reader will be able to name a village ... some village, somewhere ... in which property prices are well above the incomes of that same rural peasantry which occupied the properties in yesteryear. Because these properties have been bought up as retirement homes, or holiday homes, by the upper middle classes. When a man has spent his working life in a city office, commuting daily from a dormitory suburb by means of a transport system bursting at the seams, his retirement fantasy is a (carefully renovated) country cottage, with hollyhocks crowding suggestively around the door.

An idealised and imagined rural idyll is a direct product of, and reaction to, Urbanisation.

It was ever thus. Theocritus initiated a tradition of European 'Pastoral Poetry' as he read in the great Library at Alexandria, one of the megalopoleis of the ancient world. While he sought the lucrative favour of Ptolemy II, he imagined a world of rural simplicity in which shepherds or cowherds held poetic competitions while their complaisant flocks or herds nibbled beautifully but unobtrusively. In this genre, the main problem was that shepherdesses often had tangled hair; but that mattered little as long as the shepherd could imagine himself exquisitely caught within her tangles. Vergil may have been libidinis in pueros pronioris, but, in the world of his Eclogues, a shepherdess or two running provocatively to hide behind the willow trees never came amiss. And that same Vergil, city educated, was among the court propagandists jockying for position and rewards in the cut-throat culture of newly 'imperial' Rome. Wall-paintings recovered at Pompei remind us that such mythical landscapes came right into the living quarters of the urban elite.

Already Horace (Epode II) had seen through this Urban Myth; but I doubt whether Marie Antoinette and her ladies read the Epodes as they tended their lambs at the Petit Trianon.

Trianon-time is back with a vengeance. The Pastoralist Community had never been quite sure where their 'True Countryside' was to be found; they just knew it had to be far distant from the tower-blocks and the filthy crowded streets of the metropolis. Might it be in Arcadia? Sicily? Shropshire? Versailles? ... but now the secret is out! Amazonia!! Amaryllis of the tangled hair, clutching her milking-stool, has decamped to the Amazon! At long last, Jorge I'm-the-Magisterium Bergoglio and his 'Spirit'-filled entourage have pinned it down! Amazonia is where the most mega-Trianon of all time is waiting to be built! Amazonia is where Rousseau's Savage really is still authentically Noble, happily unencumbered with either the felix culpa or the talis et tantus Redemptor!

Go there (by rowing boat, of course; little Swedish Greta Wozname will crew for you). Take your camera and get shots of Kasper herding his heiffers and of Marx playing with his syrinx. Your own face could even appear in a selfie together with Hans Kueng being pelted with apples by lascivious (but guaranteed indigenous) nymphs!

As Gerhard Cardinal Mueller has observed, "It is certainly beautiful to be beside by the Rhine and to dream of the Amazon"! How often that irritating man does get things exactly right!! No wonder he had to be sacked!!! What a good job PF has done in shutting him up!!!!


Rodrigo said...

Behind le Petit Trianon, in fact. In the lovely Hameau de la Reine.

Todd said...

One is reminded of Hemingway's comments (via Jake) in The Sun Also Rises regarding the romantic novel of Hudson centered on South America (Uruguay):

"Then there was another thing. He had been reading W.H. Hudson. That sounds like an innocent occupation, but Cohn had read and reread The Purple Land. The Purple Land is a very sinister book if read too late in life. It recounts splendid imaginary amorous adventures of a perfect English gentleman in an intensely romantic land, the scenery of which is very well described. For a man to take it at thirty-four as a guide-book to what life holds is about as safe as it would be for a man of the same age to enter Wall Street direct from a French convent, equipped with a complete set of the more practical Alger books."

Dan Hayes said...

It has struck me of the similarities between the Amazon synod and the Amazon internet purveyor of goods, each in its own way fulfilling their constituent's fantasies!

Banshee said...

One of the Great Courses by an eminent archeologist, Lost Civilizations of South America, is not good bedtime listening. Because every time you start to drift off, you are suddenly hearing about the violent jaguar god, psychoactive drugs, certain tribes with very bad habits, or shrinking heads so as to enslave the deceased enemy's soul. You do get to hear about the advanced jungle archeology ruins, but the rest of the stuff overshadows it.

It doesn't get much better when you go up to the Andes, because then you run into as much about the Moche's skeleton dioramas and the child sacrifices as you do about sacred geography and good stonework. The only people who seem to be pretty nice were the folks who lived way out in the desert.