Thursday, December 15, 2005

"He's gay!" OR Give us back our words!

Dear readers!

I am sorry that this is turning into a test for your patience. I hope you will not lose interest in this side (if you ever had any, that is), just because studying takes a lot of my time and energy right now and posting has been somewhat light in recent weeks.

Something strange happened the other day at the Ange. I talked to one of the guys about a NACer we both know. This NAC-man is quite a jolly fellow. He is always smiling and the smile doesn't look fake or learned. It is the kind of smile that makes at least me want to smile along all the time. Next to that he likes to laugh, too and is generally vivid, funny and kind.

So I said: "Yeah, he's gay!"

"Oh, man!" came the answer. "I had a strange feeling about him. I just didn't know it was THAT!"


"That he's gay!"

"Yes, gay," I replied. "Not homosexual."

"But it's the same! Wait a second... Oh my gosh! You meant gay as in the original meaning of the word?"

And exactly at that moment lightning struck.

Imagine, if you will, the following: There is a wealthy, fat, opulent French aristocrat, riding in his magnificent carriage across the lands that have been in the posession of his family for centuries. He passes a field on which some of his subjects are working. They recognize him and bow to him, he waves back at them and smiles. He is their lord, but he is a friendly one. And he is a little careless, because everything is as it has always been, and - of course - everything will forever be, as it is. But then the carriage is stopped, the nobleman is dragged out, stripped to the undergarments of all his finery and wealth and thrown into the dirt of the road. He picks himself up and, still in shock, stumbles back to his chateau, only to find it plundered and devastated. He walks into town to look for help and there he is laughed at and mistreated and it is only with the help of some well-meaning soldiers, that he is able to escape the mob and flee from his country. Years later people in London pass a beggar standing at a street corner. "Poor wretched fellow," some of them murmur. "Not so," thinks the former aristocrat. "I used to be much more than what you see now. You should have seen me a decade ago. You should have known me as I was."

I am sorry for the dramatization, but isn't that what has happened to some words of our language?

There is a word, a conventual sign, a small harmless three-letter-word that for a very long time (officially recorded first in the 12th century) meant "full of joy or mirth". Then this word fell into the hands of revolutionaries, was stripped of almost everything it owned and was then released into a world that suddenly wasn't the world it had known for so long. Now people look at "gay" and think "Oh well, yeah, homosexual." But "gay" thinks: "Not so. I used to be much more than what you see now. You should have seen me decades or centuries ago. You should have known me as I was."

I want my words back. How about you?

Friday, December 02, 2005

Pictures are nice..

...but how would you like some historical footage showing the cappa magna?

The first place to go would be the British Pathe section of the ITN archive. Just type "cardinal" or "cardinals" into the search box and hit "go". You'll get a list of historical movies that you can watch online. And if you click the tab that says "stills" you can do the same searches and get a still from every second of every movie!

The page of the Italian Insituto Luce also offers a variety of very nice historical films.

And for those of you who always wanted to see a cappa magna in motion and color, I found this particular gem: A page of the Clare Library/Ireland that offers some footage. Check out the "Obsequies of Archbishop Fogarty" or the "Cardinals Visit 2".

Have fun!