27 January 2009

On Stat Counter & a Fellow Vogüé Appreciator


I was exploring Stat Counter a bit the other day, and was fascinated and a little creeped out to see that I can reproduce searches that have led readers to my blog. One reader, whose location and ISP I know but who remains nameless, googled (should that be capitalised?) the words ‘Adalbert de Vogüé OSB’, and surprisingly my post where I first made known his infallibility to the world was the first result!

But I was equally pleased, if not more so, to see that the third result was a wonderful editorial from The American Benedictine Review (Volume 52:1 [March 2001]) by, I believe, Terrence Kardong, which further elucidates the amazing infallible abilities of Adalbert de Vogüé. Kardong points out that the issue of ABR in question contains an article by de Vogüé called ‘A Contemporary Looks at Monks: The Witness of Procopius’, wherein the author exhaustively combs Procopius for references to monasticism. Procopius, a pagan Byzantine courtier, is most famous as the author of the Secret History, a terrible attack on St Justinian and the Empress Theodora available in a cheap Penguin edition (not to be confused with the spellbinding novel of the same name about a group of Classics students who commit murder). Most importantly, while he produced quite a corpus of work, none of it is directly concerned with monasticism, nor are there many or extensive references to it in any of his books. Nevertheless, the infallible Adalbert de Vogüé, in his endless quest for knowledge, poured over Procopius just to bring us a few scraps of information about 6th-c. Italian monasticism. Apparently sharing my own fascination with him, Kardong writes:

The casual reader may not understand what it took to produce this article: it appears that the great French scholar read the entire corpus of Procopius to find every reference to monks. What is more, he read it in the original Greek! Although Procopius has been translated into the main European languages, there is no sign that Vogüé used any of these versions. And there are multiple indications that he is following the original.

To a monolingual American, even one like myself who reads a few other languages, there is something stunning about this kind of competence.

This leads Kardong to a melancholy reflection on the declining future of such scholarship. While earlier generations, like de Vogüé’s, were taught Greek and Latin as a matter of course in their teens, today such languages are typically not studied until college or graduate school, if at all. One has to take time and money in one’s twenties to learn things that should be part of all real liberal arts education. Even then, we are left simply standing in awe of such scholars as de Vogüé, or before him, Lewis, Tolkien, Fr Florovsky, or Pelikan (to name a few that I am familiar with). Fortunately, though, Kardong concludes:

One must not, however, end on a pessimistic note. We should give thanks that such competence still exists in our world. We should also be grateful that this monk of the Abbey of Pierre-qui-Vire in (Burgundy, France) was allowed enough time at monastic studies to produce an article like this. Ultimately, one must thank Fr Adalbert himself for spending his life in such hidden, but prodigious labor that benefits the whole monastic world.

2 comments:

Justin said...

speaking of search terms, here are some that landed people at my blog (copied and pasted from Statcounter). It seems there are actually people searching for klingon-rite parishes...

Num Search Term
4- flow of consciousness
3- baptist trail of blood
2- buffalo fitz
1- klingon christian church
1- punks to monks
1- treatment of black confederate pows
1- ehud galili
1- amish birthday party
1- christopher hitchens and torrent and blog
1- skeptic magazine torrent
1- are palestinian christians been abandoned by american evangelicals
1- klingon liturgy
1- wayne coyne bathtub front yard

aaronandbrighid said...

The problem with Klingon parishes is that they treat the Church like their own personal ethnic club. Clinging to one's alien language and warrior customs is no way to win the culture around you over for Orthodoxy.

And I challenge you to find a single Klingon passion-bearer!