2 July 2022


Mr Christopher Zealley, Archibibliopolos Oxoniensis, has shown me a passage by Santayana ... atheist Spaniard yet 'aesthetic Catholic' and great lover of Oxford ... cited in First Things:

"It is one of the foibles of romanticism to insist on rewriting history and perpetually publishing new views without new matter. Can we know more about the past than its memorials transmit to us? Evidently we cannot know more; in point of truth concering history, any tradition is better than any reconstruction. A tradition may be a ruin, broken unrecognizably, or shabbily built over in a jungle of accretions, yet it always retains some nucleus of antiquity; whereas a reconstruction ... is something fundamentally arbitrary, created by personal fancy, and modern from top to bottom. Such a substitution is no mere mistake; it is a voluntary delusion which romantic egotism positively craves: to rebuild the truth nearer the heart's desire."


Michael Leahy said...

Seems to perfectly describe 'the spirit of Vatican II'.

coradcorloquitur said...

What a profound observation by the great Santayana. It gets to the heart of what has been called "the liberal delusion" which Santayana, not incorrectly, associates with romanticism: reality counts for little; it is all about the individual will and its whims and fancies. Do we notice a connection to Bergoglio's disregard (actually, livid hatred) of Catholic Tradition and a monstrous project of re-building everything according to one's (often destructive, and usually ridiculous and jejune) "fancy"? The Romantic poets---especially Keats and the more revolutionary Shelley---make much of "Fancy," which they usually capitalized; not so much the more conservative Romantics like Southey, Wordsworth, or Coleridge. I still love their poetry, but Santayana's connection between Romanticism, its roots in Enlightenment liberalism, and modernist iconoclasm is real---and very much worth noting.

John Vasc said...

"a reconstruction ... is something fundamentally arbitrary, created by personal fancy..."
Particularly a reconstruction of 'retrofitted' events. Already in the 1970s the clear memories of the the Council and its proceedings and understanding were being so thoroughly airbrushed from memory, and the faithful were gaslit with breezy assertions. Father Ratzinger, one of the guiding lights of the documents of the V2, had to point out (in 1976): "The problem of the new Missal lies in its abandonment of a historical process that was always continual, before and after St. Pius V; and in the creation of a completely new book... I can say with certainty, based on my knowledge of the conciliar debates and my repeated reading of the speeches made by the Council Fathers, that this does not correspond to the intentions of the Second Vatican Council."
Any claim that the 1969 novus ordo proceeded from the 'instructions' of Sacrosanctum Concilium and Lumen Gentium can be easily demolished by reading those two documents.

Banshee said...

Fancy, in the Romantic sense, is imagination, and particularly the visual imagination. It is cognate with "fantasy."

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

You might like my defense of our knowing Alexander's carreere and a few more things better by tradition than by reconstruction : Second Round essays: Henke Can't Read · Henke Can't Argue Philosophy Very Well Either · Henke Still Can't Read - Or Hasn't Done so To Lewis · To Reaffirm "Earliest Known Audience" · The Philosophy of History of Henke : Given without References, Refuted without References · He Applies It · (Excursus on William Tell and Catholic Saints) · Continuing on Section 5 · We're Into Section 6!