I'm learning (of my own desire) about Umberto Eco.
He's an interesting fellow. I have trouble wrapping my brain around some of his ideas, and I think I out and out disagree with his view on the universe. But still... there's something interesting there. Here's an interesting quote he has about the celebration of Christmas:
Ooh. I just found this too. REALLY interesting (published in an article):
I was raised as a Catholic, and although I have abandoned the Church, this December, as usual, I will be putting together a Christmas crib for my grandson. We'll construct it together - as my father did with me when I was a boy. I have profound respect for the Christian traditions - which, as rituals for coping with death, still make more sense than their purely commercial alternatives.
I think I agree with Joyce's lapsed Catholic hero in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: "What kind of liberation would that be to forsake an absurdity which is logical and coherent and to embrace one which is illogical and incoherent?" The religious celebration of Christmas is at least a clear and coherent absurdity. The commercial celebration is not even that.
But you did know - didn't you? - that Eco was the guy behind that unforgettable Mac versus DOS metaphor. That in one of his weekly columns he first mused upon the "software schism" dividing users of Macintosh and DOS operating systems. Mac, he posited, is Catholic, with "sumptuous icons" and the promise of offering everybody the chance to reach the Kingdom of Heaven ("or at least the moment when your document is printed") by following a series of easy steps. DOS, on the other hand, is Protestant: "it allows free interpretation of scripture, demands difficult personal decisions ... and takes for granted that not all can reach salvation." Following this logic, Windows becomes "an Anglican-style schism - big ceremonies in the cathedral, but with the possibility of going back secretly to DOS in order to modify just about anything you like." (Asked to embellish the metaphor, Eco calls Windows 95 "pure unadulterated Catholicism. Already Windows 3.1 was more than Anglican - it was Anglo-Catholic, keeping a foot in both camps. But Windows 95 goes all the way: six Hail Marys and how about a little something for the Mother Church in Seattle.")I wonder what he'd think of Vista. The emergent church?