Sunday, 28 August 2016

Destitute of all power

And as his glance returned yet once more to the window of the Vatican, and he fancied he could see a pale hand uplifted behind the glass panes, he thought of that papal benediction which Leo XIII gave from that height, over Rome, and over the plain and the hills, to the faithful of all Christendom. And that papal benediction suddenly seemed to him a mockery, destitute of all power, since throughout such a multitude of centuries it had not once been able to stay a single one of the sufferings of mankind, and could not even bring a little justice for those poor wretches who were agonising yonder beneath the very window.
Emile Zola - Rome (1896)

This is something Zola does so well. Priest Pierre Froment is losing his faith after a visit to Lourdes followed by a sojourn in Rome trying to gain papal support for a religiously radical book he has published.

In his lowly naiveté, Father Froment thought his ideas could be a route back to the ancient values of his Christian faith, a means to extricate the Catholic Church from the moral quicksand of political intrigue.

Pierre glances up at that high window, having already seen the squalid side of Rome, the filth and poverty in close proximity to Vatican wealth, grandeur and endlessly subtle political machinations. He now knows that without its political resources the Vatican would be doomed, as his faith is doomed by exposure to the realities and exigencies of political power.

An interesting question arises if we ask ourselves if power is on the move again. It may be that traditional political power is on the wane - look at the people it attracts. Their benedictions are also a mockery, destitute of all power.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

The Roman way

We’re back in the land of usable WiFi after walking for over forty miles along the route of Hadrian’s Wall. First impressions did not change much along the way - this is an amazing structure which doesn't become any less amazing as yet another ruined turret is identified. 

More than any number of books, the Wall itself with its forts, turrets and milecastles is a forceful reminder of just how powerful the reach of ancient Rome must have been. One is left wondering how on earth they did it. And why. 

Lovely varied walking country too. No TV, no newspapers and very little internet because it was so slow and unreliable. We realised just how relaxing the walk had been as we encountered the outskirts of Newcastle on the way home. It was a common enough sight, merely a hillside covered in houses.

There may be something over the top about Hadrian’s Wall and not for a millisecond would I wish to go back to those savage days, but one day perhaps our building mania will be seen in a similar light. A machine-like mania where the process is the real emperor.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Hadrian's WiFi

WiFi is slow up here by Hadrian's Wall. So much for Roman technical abilities. We'll take a look at their wall tomorrow.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Maybach 6 Concept Car

The Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 is a 2+2 coupe, and the concept’s most defining feature is probably its enormous size. The concept measures 18.5 feet long (a bit short of the 20 feet that was promised earlier), nearly 7 feet wide, and is designed as an electric car.

Maybe I'm not in tune with these things, but to my way of thinking this car is silly, even as a concept. Perhaps in our technical age it is no surprise if luxury car makers lose the battle to keep mystique on the road. 

The jabbering female doesn't help.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Inside Outside

While lazing on the beach with the grandkids, we were mildly surprised when a couple parked themselves nearby and turned on a transistor radio. Do people still do that? Although fairly loud, their music did not create much of a disturbance. From where we were it was barely audible over the roar of the surf.

To me it was an oddity in this digital age, but some people seem to be uncomfortable if they venture outside without indoor props. I was reminded of a comment made by my late aunt about fifty years ago. We were using a projector to show some slides of our family holiday in Ardnamurchan. The remote beauty of it came out well on the screen, but my aunt remarked that she found it scary. All that empty landscape with not a person in sight. I’ve never forgotten how spooked she was by our photos of all that lovely emptiness. 

Sunday, 14 August 2016


We're on holiday yet again so blogging may be light for a while.