What can you expect from the “Quartet for the End of Blogs”? Pretty bad jokes, as you have already surmised; non-stop farrago, no doubt; a reason to question the judgment of Ad Fontes‘s editor-in-chief Onsi Kamel, almost certainly. What follows—a brief description of myself—will only make things worse. I am a PhD candidate (by which you’ll deduce I run high on jargon and low on humility) at Princeton University (you might politely refrain from comment, and I’d better as well) studying musicology (worse and worse!). The relevance of all this to the Davenant Institute’s project to advocate for the forgotten wisdom of historic Protestantism may be lost on you; once again, I refer you to the soon-to-be besmirched reputation of aforementioned Mr. Kamel who, after the donors read this blog, will almost certainly be tarred and feathered. Not that I am not a fan of the forgotten wisdom of historic Protestantism—I am one of its most amateurish fans—but why on earth should someone so inexpert in these areas be given a platform alongside the real deals and the big wigs? You may never find the answer to that question, least of all at a place called “Quartet for the End of Blogs.” Aforementioned EIC moves in mysterious ways, my inadequacies to perform.
But here are one or two things that may offer a ray of hope, one or two things that you can expect from this blog. First, I am a student of the late Middle Ages (an era I insist includes the Reformation, rather than ending before it) and very much think that Reformed thought had continuities with certain Medieval thought as important as its discontinuities. I read about this sort of subject, especially insofar as it intersects with aesthetics generally and music particularly. And you can safely bet that if I am reading about it, I will make my few, hapless, likely short-lived followers read about it too.
Second, I am, as you may have guessed, a big fan of music and particularly church music. I think many of the issues surrounding church music today, particularly in America, are downstream of tectonic shifts that occurred in the later Middle Ages; some good, some bad. Of course, everything can be made to be “downstream” of everything else, through historicist magic, but equally illustrative are the things that are decidedly not downstream or upstream of our moment but are in entirely different streams. After all, another stream can give you a lot of perspective on your own stream and maybe even provoke you to hop out of your stream and hop into that other stream, especially if your original stream was headed for a deadly waterfall. (And it is.) Hopefully this blog can be a map, a very crude map, of the places where I have found other, forgotten streams.
So what can you expect from this blog? A lot of short posts with a section or two from what I am reading and perhaps some of my own commentary (judicious and brief, I promise), as well as occasional micro-essays of my own, testing out some hypotheses to see if they have sturdy legs. Some of the books I have been reading recently are Homo Ludens by Johan Huizinga, Why Can the Dead Do Such Great Things? by Robert Bartlett, Troilus and Criseyde by Chaucer, and David Fallows’s Josquin.
And, as this is also going to be a blog devoted to music, I will post periodic music recommendations that will be so impossibly obscure that I would wager cold, hard cash that you have never heard of two consecutive recommendations. This is one of my few—well, one of my only—well, my only—party trick.
I’ll leave you with one now. Although it’s not obscure, it is appropriate.