#AtoZAprilChallenge: Tradition

Patrick Bailly-Maître-Grand This common word has many meanings: Williams writes that it derived from Latin: tradere – to hand over or deliver. “It is easy to see how a general word for matters handed down from father to son could become specialised, within one form of thought, to the idea of necessary respect and duty… Tradition survives in English as a description of a general process of handing down, but there is a very strong and often predominant sense of this entailing respect and duty.”

How long does it take to make anything traditional? Two generations? But some traditions are age-old, and a matter of ceremony, duty and respect: religious traditions for example. Yet “tradition and especially traditional are now often used dismissively… Indeed traditionalism seems to be becoming specialised to a description of habits and beliefs inconvenient to virtually any innovation.”

Do you consider yourself a traditionalist?

Photo: Patrick Bailly-Maître-Grand

Brandenburg and her capital: #longing

I dream of the city, as it was, long before Frederick, not the capital of  a respected and feared kingdom, with a formidable army, but the main settlement of a peaceful people, in the midst of lakes and thick forests, surrounded by wilderness.

Soldiers plundering a farm during the thirty years' war Then came the long war, the uninterrupted banditry, the destructions, the killing of women and children by drunk and pitiless soldiers, the burning of churches. All the German lands were ransacked by marauding troops of mercenaries, and the land’s own army was no better. Lawlessness ruled, and finally the whole land laid in ruins. But the people fought back, order was recreated out of chaos… It took thirty years.

The city, Faust’s city, later became the capital of the new kingdom, that was proclaimed, far to the East, in Königsberg, on the shores of the Baltic Sea, the Ostsee. When Frederick, der Philosopher König, inherited the crown from his father, der Soldaten König, Prussia was already a power among the other European powers. His city, Berlin, became the centre of the Enlightenment, and it was befitting that Königsberg was also Immanuel Kant’s birth place.

So, I keep dreaming, of the long history, of Blücher’s victory in Waterloo, for it was Prussia, and the Prussian armies that won that war. Before many others. I see the Siegessaüle column, in the middle of the Tiergarten, and the memorial that dominates Viktoria Park. My thoughts are never very far from there, from the streets of Kreuzberg, from the river, from the Landwehr canal where they threw the martyred body of Rosa Luxemburg in 1919. So much to think about, to write about.

Soon, we will walk those streets again, our minds full of those memories, our eyes capturing the beauty and strangeness of the scenery: us, among  so many others, enthralled, astonished, under the spell of Berlin. And so many ghosts, so many familiar faces that cannot be there, but somehow are, out of films, out of books, out of our own demented imagination, out of a deep past.


#AtoZChallenge: April 20, 2013 ~ Reims (and the Smiling Angel)


L'Ange au Sourire The Remi, a tribe of the Gauls, founded you as their capital a century BC.  By 260 AD you were Christian.  In your cathedral, Notre-Dame de Reims, many Kings of France were crowned.  In 496 Clovis was baptised on your altar. There stood Joan of Arc, at the side of Charles VII when he was consecrated in 1429, Joan who was later burnt at the stake in Rouen, and became Saint Joan.   In the first World War – that is the first European civil war of the 20th century, until intervention by North America saved Britain and France from likely defeat – the Reich’s artillery nearly destroyed you.  In my students days there, one could hardly see your church through the scaffoldings.  There on the main portal is the archangel who, one evening, told me that angels were holly women with wings.  L’Ange au Sourire maybe the most seductive symbol of the Christian Medieval age in the whole of Europe…

And, let’s not forget, you are the capital of that beautiful province of Champagne where they make the wine of the same name…

Clovis on French Wikipedia

L’Ange de Reims at http://remue.net/bulletin/TB040815.htm

The last Knight

Richard III, last King of England You were slain on the field of Bosworth, you and your men fighting against the hideous traitors of Lancaster, one against ten. They mutilated your body, but your loyal supporters rescued you and hid your remains in that little chapel in the city of Leicester. The Tudors, usurpers, regicides, liars and serial killers, were so afraid of your name that they, and their ridiculous successors and their lackeys, continued for centuries to vilify you for crimes you did not commit. You were the legitimate heir of Henry, King of England, and Richard the Lion-heart, a true Knight. The traitors, and the ones who followed, were despicable criminals and frauds.

Now you will rest in peace, in the house of the Lord, as fits your Majesty.