Weekend 454.0

A couple of quotes from Gibraltar: The Greatest Siege in British History by Roy Adkins and Lesley Adkins:

“Previously governor of Greenwich Hospital, Hardy† had earlier in the year been put in charge of the Channel Fleet, in what was a political rather than a military appointment.”

“Despite Admiral Hardy’s widely criticized handling of the invasion threat, he was still in command of the Channel Fleet, but instead of involving him in these new operations it was decided to place someone else in charge.”

†Sir Charles Hardy, Vice-Admiral of the Channel Fleet

Weekend 453.0

Dino Diner“To attempt to gain happiness, except in this way, is a labor lost; it is building on the sand; the foundation will soon give way, though the house looks fair for a time.” — Gain after Pain

“Decaying and dilapidated architecture resonates as loss, as evidence of the irreversible passage of time, yet architectural ruins emanate past grandeur. Ware’s comics, then, focus on ruins and the melancholy they elicit in an attempt to render the irreversible passage of time into an aesthetic object.” — On Modernism’s Ruins: The Architecture of “Building Stories” and Lost Buildings by Daniel Worden

(1) Bricks & Dinos

Weekend 452.0

(1) La Moselle // 6 Rue du Pont des Morts, 57000 Metz, France

On my desk…

I have Rusty Brown by Chris Ware and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad by Dennis Hopeless. I also backed (via Kickstarter) Third Editions: The Ultimate Gaming Library – Kingdom Heart which should arrive sometime in December.

(1) A visual tour through Chris Ware’s adventurous, sprawling, dazzling new book ‘Rusty Brown’ (Chicago Tribune)

“The greatest fiction, like memory, thrives in detail, and comics being an art of memory should follow suit. There are no actual people on the cover, and I set my task to draw all four (book) jackets (there are four different jackets, one for every character in the book) to try and make something that gets, however awkwardly, at that overpowering sense of ‘thereness’ that we all look for but only briefly experience when the odor of a freshly cut weed or the sight of a bit of typography or a fast-food sign briefly calls back the tangible sensation of a moment — or, more properly, the feeling of life itself that we are always going out of our ways to tamp down, smother and forget.”

(2) The Bard of Sadtown: The empty, miserable comics of Chris Ware. (Slate)

Weekend 451.0

“Music, of course, is an art that occurs through time.” — Seiji Ozawa

(1) Au Plat d’Etain

(2) Quotes from Absolutely On Music by Haruki Murakami:

“In the Boston version of the Fantastique we heard before, you’re constantly adjusting every little detail: the tempo changes from one part to the next, the color of the sound changes. It’s marvelous, and though I wouldn’t call it ornate, it’s like looking at a moving miniature.”

“By ‘simple’ I mean something like the musicality of a folk song, something that everyone can hum. Lately, I’ve come to feel that as long as you capture that quality with truly superior technique and tone color and get the feeling into it, it’s probably going to go well.”

Weekend 450.0

“Our most important task is to search for an effective passageway through the wall—and two people who share a natural affinity for an art, any art, will be sure to find that passageway.” — Haruki Murakami

(1) It’s a Playmobil World After All! (Animation Magazine)

Weekend 449.0

(1) Thurifer angel (Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, Barcelona)

(2) Mandorla (Wikipedia)

Weekend 448.0

(1) Academics ignore the anniversary of 1984 because they know they’re living it out (Washington Examiner)

(2) How disease, war and a remote Scottish island inspired George Orwell’s ‘1984’ (NY Post)

Orval Abbey

“Light and shadow are the speakers of this architecture of truth, calm and strength. And nothing more adds to it.” — Le Corbusier

Visited the Orval Abbey in Belgium last weekend. I’m still sorting through the photographs but will post something shortly.

Part 1: The Journey
The journey is part of the adventure and this tale will require several parts. I was introduced to the Orval Trappist Ale at the Ginger Man in South Norwalk but my attachment to the Trappists (Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance) started on a retreat to St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, MA. Both monasteries are featured in Trappist Beer Travels by Caroline Wallace, Sarah Wood, and Jessica Deahl. It’s probably worth mentioning that I don’t actually like the beer from Orval or Spencer.

The trip to the Orval Abbey makes it feel like a true pilgrimage. My journey started at Gare de l’Est on a train to Luxembourg and required a car rental for the 67 km drive to Florenville, Belgium. This wasn’t an official retreat so I stayed at this quirky little boutique hotel called Le Florentin. This is one of coolest hotels I’ve ever stayed at. It has a great patio for dining (especially breakfast) and grand piano in the lounge/bar.

I arrived early and decided to drive the 9 km to Orval straight away. I know this will sound awful (at first) but Orval is a BIG commercial enterprise. It’s definitely a tourist destination (as the A l’Ange Gardien will attest). I was a little overwhelmed (certainly exacerbated by sleep deprivation). This isn’t St. Joseph’s Abbey and I was expecting the quiet of the Orval Abbey (in the Ardennes) to be a true respite from the rattle of Paris.

Part 2: The Abbey
The abbey has a visitor center which leads to the bookstore and giftshop. As you exit the visitor center you can pay €6 for access to the medieval ruins, abbey/pharmaceutical museums, and the medicinal herb-garden (currently under renovation). I explored (and photographed) each exhaustively. The abbey ruins are spectacular and one of the highlights. The other highlight is the fountain from the legend!

>> See and hear the fountain

The Basilica and Cloister are off-limits so I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to find high ground to sneak a peek (and photograph). The closest you can get to the Basilica is the choir loft which is accessible from the abbey museum (but entry to the stairs is NOT well marked and required a bit of exploration).

I left Orval a little disappointed that I couldn’t get closer to the Basilica and Cloister BUT had found a few treasures in the bookstore with historical photos, etc. I also found a medallion of the trout (from the legend) but the significance of that is a story still being written.

Part 3 will focus on an extraordinary Sunday (a moment of redemption).

Part 3: Sunday Mass
I was a little discouraged (and hungry) when I left the abbey on Saturday afternoon. I drove back to the hotel though and regrouped. I went shopping in Florenville for some essentials at Carrefour (interestingly enough they sold beer from St. Joseph’s). I also ate some bad food and had some ice cream. I was really exhausted after dinner but decided to take a walk. I eventually found L’église Notre-Dame de l’Assomption and behind this church is a gorgeous view of a valley. I also made the decision to attend Mass at this church the next day.

I was up really early the next morning to take a picture of the valley at sunrise. I also made a decision to drive back to the abbey for some more pictures. The lot was empty and I walked around the perimeter searching for a good vantage of the Basilica and Cloisters. My efforts went unrewarded so I loitered around the visitor center (not sure for what reason) when suddenly the gate before the visitor center unlocked (it was probably on a timer). I sat in the quiet and stillness of this little inner sanctum and watched the doves. The flowers in this area are gorgeous but there wasn’t much else to do since the visitor center remained closed. Before leaving I read the sign next to the gate and visitor center and it said Mass was celebrated at 10:00 (not 11:00 like I originally thought). There weren’t any instructions about HOW to celebrate Mass so I made the decision to return to the hotel for breakfast and then to come back.

I was back in the visitor center around 9:30 something. The man behind the counter didn’t speak English so my questions about HOW to attend Mass were left unanswered. He eventually pushed me to the bookstore and there was someone in there who spoke enough English to send me back to the visitor center.

There was a row of chairs next to the desk in the visitor center and I figured if I just sat there the man (who was a little gruff) would figure out my intent was to celebrate Mass. As the clock neared 10:00 a steady stream of regulars started going through a secret door behind the desk. I think the man saw my look of desperation and hastily pointed toward the door (without speaking a word). I stood up and ran for the door before he changed his mind. Once beyond the door I was behind the wall (the inner sanctum) that funneled guests into the visitor center. I was now joining a procession of parishioners and pilgrims to the abbey church and walking through the arch (bathed in light) I was photographing this morning! The procession was amazing and I snapped photographs as we walked. Once inside the abbey church I took this photo (maybe one of my all time favorites).

The Mass was beautiful and the eucharistic procession and adoration were equally amazing. Is there anything more beautiful than Mass?

“We go to heaven when we go to Mass. This is not merely a symbol, not a metaphor, not a parable, not a figure of speech. It is real. We do go to heaven when we go Mass, and this is true of every Mass we attend, regardless of the music or the fervor of the preaching. The Mass — and I mean every single Mass — is heaven on earth.”

On my way back to the visitor center I took a picture of this lovely elderly couple in front of the abbey church (a nice highlight). I also snapped a couple of other photographs and then thanked the man in the visitor center profusely for allowing me to enter the secret door (a little nod to George MacDonald).

The quote is from The Lamb’s Supper by Scott Hahn.

Orval Abbey

Weekend 447.0

Almost 1 month since my last post. I just finished Gibraltar: The Greatest Siege in British History by Roy Adkins and Lesley Adkins and now have a used copy of Rock Of Contention: A History of Gibraltar by George Hills. This second book I found at The Abbey Bookstore. My plan is to next visit The Defeat of the Floating Batteries at Gibraltar, September 1782 by J.S. Copley at the Guildhall Art Gallery.

Weekend 446.0

What happened to the British? A quote from Gibraltar by Roy Adkins and Lesley Adkins.

“It is not improbable that this is a stratagem of Admiral Barcelo’s, to harass, and fatigue us with repeated firing and alarms from the Bay, and then to give the decisive stoke; but they have Britons to encounter. The more we feel our Enemy, the more ardent are our desires to engage them.”

Weekend 445.1

(1) Leopold Stokowski Collection (Penn Libraries)

(2) “He could feel the music. In Fantasia, there’s a lot of his soul in that picture.” —Joe Grant in Remembering Disney

(3) A scan from Ave Maria

Southampton, P2

(1) The fabulous flying boats of the Solent Sky museum (c|net)

(2) Wonderful prose from Southampton Sketches by Elsie M. Sandell:

“How deep was the delight in former days to be able to sail on the Test, dropping slowly downstream with the evening tide, seeing the full beauty of the old western walls suffused in the mellow glow of sunset, with the dusky purple shadows of the arcading and the towers.”

(3) My scan of Bargate from The Story of Old Southampton by Elise M. Sandell. Illustrated by Victor W.B. Hiscock.

“The Bargate was the central point of the Walls which were commenced in early Norman times and were gradually extended until they encircled the town, being about a mile and a quarter in circumference. There is a wide view of the town from the top of the Bargate and, in olden times, there was May-day singing up there, a custom which was continued until fairly recently. One of the Town Bells, used as an alarm bell, swings aloft. It is called the “New Bell” and was put up in 1605, replacing an earlier one. It is inscribed “In God is my hope. R.B. 1605.”

Weekend 445.0 (Terminus)

(1) A quote from Absolutely On Music by Haruki Murakami:

“In that sense, Seiji Ozawa is simultaneously an unschooled ‘child of nature’ and a fountain of deep, practical wisdom; a man who must have what he wants immediately and who can be infinitely patient; a man with bright confidence in the people around him who lives in a deep fog of solitude.”

(1a) A quote from Score: A Film Music Documentary:

“One of the responsibilities we have as film composers, is we’re the last people on earth who on a daily basis commission orchestral music. Without us, the orchestras might just disappear, and I think that will create a rift in, you know, human culture. I think it will be such a loss to humanity.” —Hans Zimmer

(2) I was in Southampton last weekend (for Saints versus Wolves) and need to keep plussing my original post on The Gateway to the World.

(2a) Crossing the Bar by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

(3) A quote from Remembering Walt:

“On the Park’s opening day, I was walking down Main Street with a cup of coffee in each hand, when I ran into Walt Disney. He stopped me and I thought I was going to be fired, but he just wanted to know where he could get a cup of coffee.” —Scotty Cribbes

(3a) A quote from Designing Disney:

“When we design any area of a Disney park, we transform a space into a story place. Every element must work together to create an identity that supports the story of the place—structures, entrances and exits, walkways, landscaping, water elements, and modes of transportation. Every element must in its form and color engage the guests’ imagination and appeal to their imagination.”

(4) “Like church, the organ will invite the tears…”

(5) Another quote from Designing Disney:

“Like music, color is one of the great joys of life, mysterious and wonderful.

(6) A quote from the Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton:

“To immerse ourselves in Japanese aesthetics and to nurture a sympathy for its atmosphere may help to prepare us for the day when, in a museum of ceramics, we encounter traditional tea bowls, for example, by the artist Hon’ami Koetsu. We won’t believe, as we might have done without the legacy of 600 years of reflection on the appeals of wabi, that such pieces are puzzling blobs of unformed matter. We will have learnt to appreciate a beauty that we were not born seeing. And, in the process, we will puncture the simplistic notion, heavily promoted by purveyors of plastic mansions, that what a person currently finds beautiful should be taken as the limit of all that he or she can ever love.”

La Marche de Saint Joseph

Paris / Our Lady of MercyI promised a ton in the hopper! Today marks my first week as an expatriate.

Yesterday I went to mass at Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. I met up with 14 pilgrims from Our Lady of Assumption and we walked 12 miles and visited 7 churches! It was amazing (even though all the lectures were in French). Pilgrims from every parish participated and all 2,000 of us converged on Notre Dame for mass celebrated by Bishop Matthieu Rougé. We ended the twelve-hour day at St. Eustache (built between 1530 and 1637) for adoration.

Churches Visited

Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption de Passy
Saint-Honoré d’Eylau
Saint-Ferdinand des Ternes
Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris

The fire at the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris on Monday, April 15 sadly gives my participation in La Marche de Saint Joseph extra significance. I am so saddened by the tragedy (especially during Holy Week) but buoyed by the responses from Catholics (and non-Catholics) all around the world.

A related quote from The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton:

“The facile din of the outer world had given way to awe and silence. Children stood close to their parents and looked around with an air of puzzled reverence. Visitors instinctively whispered, as if deep in some collective dream from which they did not wish to emerge. The anonymity of the street had been subsumed by a peculiar kind of intimacy. Everything serious in human nature seemed to be called to the surface: thoughts about limits and infinity, about powerlessness and sublimity. The stonework threw into relief all that was compromised and dull and kindled a yearning for one to live up to its perfections.