Introduction: If you find these reviews bizarre yet orthodox, I have accomplished my goal. If you find them entertaining yet profound, I am humbled. If they brings you a little closer to classic works of the twentieth century, I am gratified. If you forward the review to friends with a kind word, I’m flattered. If you catch a whiff (but only a whiff) of Sound-and-the-Fury stream of consciousness, you’re smart. If you have troubles squaring the choice quotes at the beginning with the subsequent rambler, you’re trying to square a circle. If some of the ramblings seem disjointed, they are. Are these reviews more artistic than substantive? Most certainly. Might you find them frustrating at times? Sure. If you don’t, I didn’t meet my goal.
The Silence of St. Thomas by Josef Pieper (1953).
Choice quote: “What is self-evident is not discussed.”
Few things slap a person in the face like St. Thomas’s silence. It’s a stunning rebuke to everyone, everywhere. Do you, writer, hope to create something as great as The Summa? Do you, reader, think you’ll gain any insight that Thomas didn’t glean? Do you, newspaper reader, think that stuff isn’t straw? Do you, modern man, think all this ephemeral stuff is real, much less important? Do you, dude typing right now, think this has any relevance anywhere? Bring on Fahrenheit 451’s firemen!?!? They say John Fisher kept a picture of a dead man in front of him while he ate. I hear Theophan the Recluse kept a picture of a man in a coffin in his room. Both reminded them of death. Good practice. But I’d like to keep a picture of Thomas’s silence in front of me. But there were no Polaroids back then, and even if there were, you can’t capture silence in pictures. For that reason alone, his silence doesn’t speak to us in today’s world. But it ought to. Ours is a noisy world because everyone thinks he has something to say, to contribute. And, of course, they do: in their little world of the family and household and, if they’re really great, in their community. But in the grand scheme of things, they have nothing to contribute. All is straw.