Sunday, May 26, 2013

Bede's Heresy

I am beginning to really believe the problem of structure in most everything a person looks at, or tries to do, is more about addressing purpose than it is about anything else.  Which is primarily why I find myself at odds with the 8th Century theorists whose commitment to 'The Six Ages of the World' led them to accuse Bede of heresy.  Bede's 3,952 years has a sort of precision to it that asks questions of me, sets my mind toward narrative and the adventure of wondering why,  to the definition of comedy, and a host of realms that spiral into a happy no-where-ness, what others might call chaos.  But Isidore's and Augustine's borrowing an idea from some of the more eccentric Jewish sects, of neat divisions of one thousand year periods, when put beside Bede's inspired calculation, contain for me at least, the same  "you can't be that dull"  inadequacy, that I feel when subjected to television advertizing. Which is something  Bede's calculation does not produce in me.

 The accusation of heresy is central to the disciplining of minds around a particular structure. In Isidore's day, he would certainly have banned the 'fast forward button.'  Otherwise Spain would never have become Catholic, The Visigoth King might now be an exile in London, Isidore might never have attained Sainthood and the internet would have no Patron Saint.  And how much easier, on the day of Bede's death to arrange conviction around the year 1000, which would be the start of the Seventh Age, when the world would end.  And for Peter at least, the Seventh Age would be something like this: "But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." 2 Peter: 3:8.  So Bede, while there is no way of knowing whether he'd have agreed with Peter's wonderful definition of infinite, certainly he had doubts about the structure of his world.  And here, in my own little universe, which is mostly all about  a structure, or a narrative, for the Rabbit of Usk, I'd prefer to celebrate Bede's Heresy.  Certainly an F-minus from Isidore's crowd,  nonetheless I'll title the genre a confident "incomprehensible yet strangely entertaining."

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