What the Writing Desk Looks Like Today, 19 March 2017

It is Sunday.

A very peaceful, beautiful Sunday.

Birds are singing, the sun is shining. Self has taken to sleeping in her studio on the second floor of her unit. Because it’s so sunny there, with the skylight.

This is what she happened to be reading today, in addition to writing (and starting a new Everlark):

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Self is keeping up with her “Word of the Day” from the Oxford English Dictionary. Today’s word is dislocate. She actually used it in a story she’s working on. YAY!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Pleasure and Guilt: p. 221, THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE

Pleasure and guilt are synonymous terms in the language of the monks . . .  they had discovered, by experience, that rigid fasts and abstemious diet are the most effectual preservatives against the impure desire of the flesh. The rules of abstinence . . .  were not uniform or perpetual: the cheerful festival of the Pentecost was balanced by the extraordinary mortification of Lent; the fervour of new monasteries was . . .  relaxed, and the voracious appetite of the Gauls could not imitate the patient and temperate virtue of the Egyptians . . . with their daily pittance of twelve ounces of bread . . .  divided into two frugal repasts, of the afternoon and of the evening.

— p. 221, Chapter VII (“The Rise of Monasticism”)

#amreading about Monastic Ireland in THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE

The reading matter became more absorbing last night, when Gibbon stated that it only took eighty years for Christianity to move from being a persecuted religion to becoming the main religion of the Roman Empire. This latter development happened when Constantine, a Christian, became Emperor and swore to rule according to the dictates of his Christian faith.

Gibbon (whose faith is obviously important to him) then starts enumerating early monasteries around the Roman Empire, and these include not only monasteries in Syria, Egypt, etc but also monasteries in Ireland. Which leads self to look up names on the internet, and she stumbles on:

  • Glendalough: Monks built the Church of the Rock.
  • Iona, in the Inner Hebrides: Work on the Book of Kells was begun here, but when Viking raids became frequent, the work was transported to a monastery in Kells, hence the name Book of Kells.
  • Kildare: There is Cill Dara, the Cell of the Oak, which was founded by Saint Brigid and became a convent.

Self would love to visit some of these places, if she has time.

She remembers that one of the most exciting things about visiting Venice, a few years ago, wasn’t Venice itself, but her exploration of outlying islands, especially Torcello.

Torcello has a very old stone church, with a very high tower. When you ascend to the very top, you can see all over the Venetian lagoon. This was a watchtower. As Torcello is farther out from the mainland, small bands of Christians took shelter here, away from the barbarian hordes. Gradually, as Italy became more stable, settlement moved inwards, closer and closer to Venice. The culmination of the growing power of the Venetian state was the building of Saint Mark’s.

Self has always loved history.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.