I look out of the window. There are flecks of snow in the air. A light layer of it covers the ground. Time draws out.
In other news, the rate of infection is falling (where I am, anyway). I watch the first episode of Bridgerton. And I notice that a professor for the public understanding of science has been saying sarcastic things about believers.
The dog comes to sit next to me. ‘What did you think of Bridgerton?’ I ask. She curls her body in what I take to be a slightly disdainful way. ‘Yes, that was my reaction, too.’
I pause to think. ‘If I were analysing it,’ I continue on my journey towards disquisition, ‘I would say my first reaction was boredom. My second reaction was irritation. That’s how I would put it.’
The dog chomps sleepily on her gums.
‘All the characters were clichés. Which meant that it had no soil for the story to find purchase. Instead, it fell back on a stylised and superficial evocation of Jane Austen, layered with salacious innuendo. It’s that, I think, that annoys me: it’s a hedonistic programme for a hedonistic culture.’
The dog doesn’t look especially convinced by my criticism. But I persevere in my determination to achieve the status of a grumpy and disillusioned middle-aged man.
‘Then, of course, there’s God. A bit unlikely… that was the verdict on miracles and the superessential darkness which is their corollary. When heresies of the middle ages were persecuted, their theologies were invariably caricatured; a bit unlikely feels a bit Sunday school to me.
‘What about Origen? Evagrius? Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite? Maximus Confessor? Augustine? John Eriugena? Aquinas? Bonaventure? Etc etc Have they not heard of analogia entis?’
The dog uses her teeth to attack an itch on her hind leg. Then she looks at me.
‘What do you think of analogia entis?’
She jumps up. Paws me.
‘Yes, I think it’s a rich and rewarding idea, too,’ I say to her.
The dog picks up a sock and settles down to chew it.
‘I should be used to it. I can’t remember the number of times I have told people I studied Theology only to meet a look of undisguised incredulity that anyone in this day and age can be so willfully idiotic.
‘Even so, a bit unlikely is a long way from the heights of humanistic thought established by Petrarch and Erasmus, then nurtured by Voltaire, and channeled by Marx and Comte.’
The snow starts to fall heavily. It makes a light rustling noise as it hits the ground, which, in the absence of any other sound, is peaceful.
‘Like many involuntary turns of phrase, it reveals a lot about a mindset, one that wants to pinion the world into a possession. It’s the same logic which is at work in Bridgerton and which produces our cultural flattening. It starts from a limited field of awareness, and occludes the wrinkled edges of life and its character. Character is exactly the point at which miracles become most likely. Miracles are there, just waiting to be discovered.
‘That’s why there is something magical about snow. In the ordinary run of things, it’s easy to get lost in the definition of a landscape’s particulars (or at least take them for granted), as if the very definition obscures what the particular reveals. But snow draws out the landscape; it calls you to what it truly is.’
One end of my sock is now very damp with saliva. The dog is not really listening.
(I didn’t talk to the dog. I just sat in silence, thinking. But I like to think that we are on the same wavelength.)