Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bad Soden 3.5.05: Daisy Penises and Ugly Bookstore Man

Sitting at the Schirn fountain that marks the Marktplatz of old Kronberg. A local artist, Fritz Best, cast it in the late 19th century. Pleasant to hear and watch the water emptying ceaselessly from its three spigots.

I think, though, of the fountains in Olomouc and how cramped and uninviting (for outdoor existence) this one is, by comparison. Is it the difference between a more northerly climate and culture and a southerly one (but, then, is Kronberg more northerly than Olomouc: I doubt it)?

Or is it a Catholic-Protestant cultural difference? We’ve just come from the town church, St. John’s, and it has the sadness of all churches of medieval lineage lost to Catholicism in the Reformation, whether in England, Ireland, Germany, or elsewhere.

I hope I say that without chauvinism. After all, do I even call myself Catholic anymore? I shudder at Ratzinger. Can one be Catholic and have active disdain for the pope?

I feel the sadness of this spoilt church running right through my heart. It’s apparent to me they’ve won, those who were intent on making Vatican II null and void. A spate of articles as Ratzinger was enthroned, pointing out that of course the pope must be Catholic and of course he must uphold unchanging doctrine and moral teachings.

And of course, the church hasn’t changed, has it? Thank God a majority of Catholics in the developed nations hold fast to longstanding Catholic denunciation of birth control. And thank God the pope defends meatless Fridays and Latin Masses.

But despite the obvious—the Catholic church has changed and must change—those promoting Vatican II have lost. They have done so because Ratzinger and John Paul II have acted supremely indifferent to mere fact. They have acted as if no voice exists but theirs—the univocal one—and those that faintly echo the refulgent magisterial roar.

Say no long and often enough, and you win—by sheer force of stubborn refusal. And JPII was nothing if not stubborn.

These thoughts ran through my head in those dreadful dark hours last night, interlaced with thoughts of grad school. My wasted life. My wasted career.

I think Cahill (or was it James Carroll?) speaks the truth when he says JPII will one day be credited with destroying the church. But we won’t hear that criticism in our lifetime or see the concession. For now, they’ve won. There is no voice but theirs. The obvious—the devastating—truth people like Cahill/Carroll can speak so openly is not spoken openly at all within the church catholic.

Nice Fachwerk houses here in the Altstadt, all rebuilt (the really old ones) when a fire in 1728 (?) burnt down the 14th-century originals. I like the naïve stenciling some folks have added. There’s an interesting Three Knights’ house across from the city church, with carved knights as a cornice, two with penises showing and designed to be (the glans) the center of daisies.

Why two and not all three? That’s always the question, no?

+ + + + +

Altstadt bookstore in Kronberg: awful man running or owning it. I asked if there were a restroom. No. Books in English? No. I turn around to see a rack of books in English. Why did he bother being so rude? And why were we foolish enough to buy books from him?

Sitting now peacefully at a café again, behind the Schloss hotel. Again Victoria, whose profile’s engraved on a plaque at the city church—a tribute to her providing funds to help rebuild it. And about her relationship to the royals of Saxony . . . .

And now back “home”—a very temporary one, which we leave tomorrow for Marburg. At the Schloss café, I had tagliatelle in a wild garlic cream sauce, garnished with asparagus tips, broccoli, snow peas, and one very meretricious and precious tiny baby carrot with a bit of its green left on. Steve had tomato and mozzarella salad with raw ham.

Channel surfing: Germans have perfected (and picked up) American t.v. tropes, but they ring totally bizarre changes on these, à l’allemand. For instance, not one but two refurbishing shows, loosely modeled on “Queer Eye,” but the one I’m watching features a lissome, irritating blond (“Schooen!”) and three stolid men drilling crews, installing electric outlets, etc. Give German men a chance to use a tool and demonstrate proficiency with it . . . .

Asparagus—yes, phallic: saw a box of these on the streetcorner in Kronberg, thick, fat, white, flabby, and definitely phallic.

The old lady in Kirchweiler, Frau Lamberty: in the middle of my terrible sonnet night, I thought, “It was like that New Yorker cartoon, the people talking to the dog, and the dog hearing, ‘Blahblahblah bath blahblahblah ride blahblahblah treat.’ I heard bbbb soldiers bbbb nuns bbbb feet were so small bbbb snow.”

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