Thursday, April 14, 2005

Book II, Chapters 4-10

“I became to myself a wasteland.”

Augustine describes the famous incident when he was sixteen, when he and his friends decided to have some fun by stealing the pears from a neighboring farmer’s pear tree. The incentive and enjoyment of the crime was simply that it was forbidden, as well as pride and narcissism.

Augustine again uses the fornication metaphor: “So the soul commits fornication when she turns away from you and tries to find outside you things which, unless she returns to you, cannot be found in their true and pure state.” He continues, “So all men who put themselves far from you and set themselves up against you, are in fact attempting awkwardly to be like you."

The late Fr. Luigi Giussani opined that there are two kinds of people that capture the grandeur of being a human being-- the anarchist and the authentically religious person. In the case of Augustine and his friends, they were behaving as anarchists. It is also similar to something in Dante that is quoted by Giussani: The giant Capaneus is chained by God to hell. He cries out to God, “I cannot free myself from these chains because you bind me here. You cannot, however, prevent me from blaspheming you, and so I blaspheme you. This is the true grandeur of man.” To me this is an anarchist's attitude as well. (And by the way, Giussani’s response to this is to say, “But isn’t it even greater to love the infinite?”) Augustine and friends were trying to act-out their human freedom, but as anarchists, which I think is common in adolescence. "Come on, let's do it," and we become ashamed at not being shameless."

Fun is an exercise in freedom. It is reveling in acting out freely. It is a usage of the freedom that we are entitled to as human beings. The difference between fun and a crime is that fun doesn’t shouldn’t hurt anyone.

The last line of Book II is, “I became to myself a wasteland.” The famous poem by T.S. Eliot jumps immediately to mind. I did a Google search and also found references to Carthage and other things from The Confessions.
To read "The Waste Land" go to:
The click on T.S. Eliot, then click on "The Waste Land"


Anonymous elle said...

he stole pears, not peaches ;)

10:59 PM  
Blogger kabloona said...

Thanks you Elle. I've corrected it.

5:03 AM  

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