The score

The happiness of my New Year will come — always assuming that I live to the end of the day — on the gust of a XXth anniversary. This is how many years it has been since I was received into the Catholic Church, on the 31st of December, 2003, by Jonathan Robinson, late Father as well as Founder of the Toronto Oratory. As a good friend, received elsewhere about the same time, comments to me this morning, “those years feel like a single day.”

It is a day on which, externally, much seems to have happened, through the reign of three popes, and in a world where we now seem to communicate almost exclusively through cellphones. These devices were introduced a half-century ago by the Motorola Corporation, in a version considerably more clunky than an earlier version, another half-century before. The first inventor was charged with fraud for suggesting what his invention might do. But like many inventors, he was guilty of the opposite.

Both the Catholicism and the cellphone have been moving me out of this world. I still don’t own one of those little hand-held machines, and my subscription to the Internet is mostly for the purposes of these Essays in Idleness. It is my industrious exploration of the phenomenon of idleness. Like other advanced technology, it leaves an unsettling impression that one has participated in busy-ness, however; whereas handwriting does not have this effect.

It is also about half-a-century since industrially manufactured books became physically irritating, which they hadn’t been throughout my childhood. This is chiefly because new issues in “hardcover” are now printed as immense puffy objects, wrapped in vile repulsive covers, and crudely glued so that the spines crinkle and the pages fall out. (“Paperbacks” were always contemptible.)

But it is in books, latterly printed but originally hand-drawn by illuminators, that the message of Catholicism travelled around the globe; and by the medium of speech, directly between sentients. This message has not benefited from improvements in technology.