Sunday, December 23, 2012

Materialism and Magnificat. The Strange Case of the Visage-Livre. Part 3

[Read Part One. Part Two.]

[From the notebooks of Sub-Inspector Max H.]

We departed from Walter Benjamin’s library here in Paris, more unhappy than before.  This seemed to cheer Weisengrund up.

Then it started to snow.  We passed by a small church, the kind that you see rarely now days:  peopled, all aglow with candlelight despite the ready availability of steam-electricity.

We heard them sing:

    Magnificat anima mea Dominum,
    et exsultavit spiritus meus in Deo salvatore meo,
    quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae.

Immediately Inspector T. A. Weisengrund stopped our journey toward the Paris offices of the Kulturindustrie.

He said:  “Wait.  We must listen.”  This shocked me.  “But Inspector, we can hardly care for this superstition.  After all, listen to this song.  “My Spirit”?  “My soul”?  “God”?  These things are archaic survivalists, things yet to be liquidated by the modern, steam and materialist touch.   We need to move on.  I can hardly listen to this primitive music.”

“No, Sub-Inspector.  This is one of the rare moments in this old stuff that touches on the truth of our matters.  I hardly agree with the Magus of the North in his James Watt lecture, that steam is really Geist, but he is on to something here.  The material, the steam, the physical is not just the kind of raw material that some propose.  No atomists, we.  Listen to this song.  It shows the way forward.  Yes, my soul, yes my spirit, yes, perhaps even to God because of the rest of this song.”

I was in shock.  This is hardly the kind of morality I signed on for.  Was the Inspector going in for some of this “return to theology” that was in the water?  Did he read the leaflets of the Alpinist in the Americas about the undead? 

“This song declares a god whose love of justice favors the lowly and casts down the mighty.  There is no better song.  It remembers the ancient man, the one long ago who left his homeland for the sake of a promise, perhaps the original materialist.  You perhaps remember the phrase, Sub-Inspector?  ‘My father is a wandering materialist’?  This song is a fully materialist vision.  It may be ideology in part.  But every hope promises the basic tenant of a material hope:  things could be different then they are.”

So we just listened.

    Ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generationes,
    quia fecit mihi magna,
    qui potens est,
    et sanctum nomen eius,
    et misericordia eius in progenies et progenies
    timentibus eum.
    Fecit potentiam in brachio suo,
    dispersit superbos mente cordis sui;
    deposuit potentes de sede
    et exaltavit humiles;
    esurientes implevit bonis
    et divites dimisit inanes.
    Suscepit Israel puerum suum,
    recordatus misericordiae,
    sicut locutus est ad patres nostros,
    Abraham et semini eius in saecula.

[Continue to Part Four.]

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