SilverPen’s First Podcast

I’ve mentioned before (through MySpace and Twitter) that I have some interest in podcasting, but it was the somewhat indecipherable interest of a young boy staring at shiny things. “Why do you need that?” an older me might ask, and younger me would simply point and exclaim, “Shiny!”

There was no need to be met by podcasting, no call for me to do it or demand that I record my voice. But it seemed kind of cool, and I wanted to join the cool crowd who recorded things that were subsequently listened to on the Internet.

Of course, I never did it, because I had no content. What would I speak on? Who would care? What’s the point? All valid questions, and all made completely moot last Tuesday.

I was speaking on the subject of Romance at FnC (the college ministry I helped found a few years ago) and decided not to print my notes out. Now that I have a laptop capable of super-mega-cool things like staying-on-for-more-than-thirty-minutes, I thought I’d just use that instead of wasting paper.

And since I’d have my MacBook there, and Macs are known for their sexy audio capture and editing capabilities, I thought, “Huh, why not hit a record button before I start?”

And that is what I did. I cut out the very beginning when I was moving chairs and the very end, which were just weekly announcements. Other than that, it’s unedited, for which I partially apologize. Since FnC is somewhat discussion-focused, you can’t hear everyone on the track, and there are a number of clicks and claps at the beginning that hail from unknown sources.

In general, I was very impressed with the MacBook’s built-in microphone, and it was a pretty easy process. Publishing a podcast was less straightforward, but thanks to the Podcasting plugin, even that is relatively easy.

The talk was around 34 minutes, so if you’re interested in hearing me ramble about romance, movies, Arthurian legends, chastity, and purity, I invite you to give it a listen.

Available on iTunes and for local download [mp3 format] (though I really encourage iTunes as they have way more bandwidth than me!).

As with everything published by me, this podcast is licensed under a CC BY-ND-NC license.

PS There was also a request for the notes I used during this talk. I’d recommend holding off on reading them until after you listen to the podcast as it totally ruins the surprise 😉 But if you like, you can get a PDF copy of them for your perusal.

This subject will be the focus of a chapter in my upcoming book, Common Thoughts.

What is Love?

This question was posed on and I thought I’d share my words on the subject.

Happy is he who still loves something he loved in the nursery: He has not been broken in two by time; he is not two men, but one, and he has saved not only his soul but his life.
— G.K. Chesterton

In The Once and Future King, Arthur learns of the bestiality of men by studying with Merlin. We are wicked, cruel creatures, akin to ants and not geese, whose joy is derived from battle and dominance. What is more astonishing to Arthur is that those who want to fight are not the ones who get hurt. The knights in their fine armour and atop their mighty warsteeds rarely receive more than a bruising and are ransomed back to their family. Meanwhile, the peasants and militias are rounded up to fill out the army, to create a jolly good show, and are slaughtered en masse.

This all seemed horribly unfair to Arthur, as I’m sure it does to you, and so Arthur devised a cunningly romantic plan. First, he decided that the key to stopping the senseless violence inherent in the feudal system that surrounded and embodied his kingdom was to give some sense to those aggressive emotions. To that end, King Arthur formed the Knights of the Round Table. The august individuals who sat at this table represented the most honourable and chivalrous of knights, not because they were truly all that honourable or chivalrous, but because Arthur essentially tricked them into channeling their might into right.

The job of the knights was to patrol the kingdom and discern where might was being used to bully and harm innocent people. In this manner, the knights could go about bashing heads, but would be constrained to bashing the heads of people who deserved it. Unfortunately, this plan was not suitably romantic enough, and the knights found themselves bored as peace began to take hold in the kingdom. Before long, they were returning to fighting one another.

So Arthur dreamed up another plan and set his knights to the quest for the Holy Grail. By command of God, they were to traverse the land, fighting all manner of monsters and demons to discover the grail from which Jesus drank at the Last Supper. This should have been perfect, because of course the grail didn’t really exist, or at least it did not in England.

You see, T.H. White was working with an older definition of romance, one steeped in the genre of romance literature and one which I find infinitely more appealing than “enjoying someone’s company” or, “respect, time, and space.” In romance literature, the focus is on the unattainable. Romance is about a quest, and its goal is one that cannot be fully realized.

There is something beautiful and poetic about this to me. Love cannot be grasped, only given. We cannot truly love until we have been truly loved. And above all, the quest never ends. The heights of love are uncharted and always over the horizon, always beyond the compass point, and so we venture on to see what we can see.

Moreover, romance and love inspires us to be greater than we might otherwise be, to become better men and women for the attainment of a higher goal, whether that is the love of an individual or becoming worthy of finding the grail.

Unfortunately, we are often too shortsighted to recognize the need for it. Love is not, when it comes right down to it, horribly complex, and so it took a simple man like Arthur to say, “No, this should be no more!” Arthur observed that there must be a better way, and set forth his knights upon that path.

Maturity leads us to the path, romance spurs us upon the quest, and love is the ultimate reward that is always just out of reach. It is a heart bursting with yearning, a gift that never exhales or ends, and a promise eternal.

School reading

What is it about a text being assigned for a class that makes it so undesirable to read? A book I might normally enjoy is poisoned by the prospect of having due dates and tests on the content, and I have great difficulty finding the motivation to even pick it up.

Right now, I’m in a class titled Hero & Quest in which we are studying Arthurian legend. We began with The Once and Future King, and I got through the first quarter of the book (because it’s actually four books bound together) without a problem. But by the third, I was dragging. We read Eric and Enide next, and I didn’t finish it. I haven’t even begun Tristram beyond reading some of the translator’s introduction, and I’m skeptical whether I’ll read any more before the final.

And I like Arthurian legend (though Chrétien de Troyes can be difficult to read, sometimes), but knowing there is a test coming just makes it unpalatable.

I haven’t read anything just for pleasure this entire semester, but I’ve got a number of books in my Amazon shopping cart that will hopefully be ordered and shipped within a week (once I get some more money in the checking account). Until then, my reading list is rather stagnant.

They’re a little something I like to call “Liberal Arts”

I was asked last night how I know so much. I guess four and a half years of a liberal arts education (you know, lots of history and foreign language and literature and such) has paid off. I replied that I’ve been in college… the sad part is that I’m still not really close to done.

Tonight, I’ll be watching lectures for the Hero & Quest class I am in, studying Arthurian Legend. Thankfully, it is something about which I am well-informed. I’m also going to start working on my new wiki, in which I will store notes for the book I’m (still) working on. I’m going to start researching the Middle Ages and those notes will go in there, as will notes about the land, the characters, religion and politics, geography, etc. It stores my work in a place where it can’t be destroyed by a fire, and it also lets me get to my notes from just about anywhere. Plus, it’s a new program/toy I can play with.

Hour and a half of overtime so far this week. Maybe I’ll get to come home early tomorrow.