Saturday, May 13, 2006

"The Proper Pleasure of Ritual"

"The Solempne [a Middle English word that means something different, but not quite different from modern English solemn] is the festal which is also the stately and the ceremonial, the proper occasion for pomp--and the very fact that pompous is now used only in a bad sense measures the degree to which we have lost the old idea of 'solemnity.' To recover it you must thing of a court ball, or a coronation, or a victory march, as these things appear to people who enjoy them; in an age when every one puts on his oldest clothes to be happy in, you must re-awake the simpler state of mind in which people put on gold and scarlet to be happy in. Above all, you must be rid of the hideous idea, fruit of a widespread inferiority complex, that pomp, on the proper occasions, has any connection with vanity or self-conceit. A celebrant approaching the altar, a princess led out by a king to dance a minuet, a general officer on a ceremonial parade, a major-domo preceding the boar's head at a Christmas feast--all these wear unusual clothes and move with calculated dignity. This does not mean that they are vain, but that they are obedient; they are obeying the hoc age which presides over every solemnity. The modern habit of doing ceremonial things unceremoniously is no proof of humility; rather it proves the offender's inability to forget himself in the rite, and his readiness to spoil for every one else the proper pleasure of ritual."

~ probably my most favorite Lewis quote ever and a philosophy that I wish we could all recover more fully
(from A Preface to Paradise Lost, 1942)


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