ATD Question #27 - It's in the Blood

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ATD Question #27 - It's in the Blood

Unread postby Liz » Wed Dec 12, 2007 11:24 am

In an early unpublished story Fante states (the link to this quote no longer exists):

"It's in the blood. It's in the blood of all you Latins. 'Anima naturaliter Catholica,' and once you guys forswear your birthright, it's wandering you will be through the arid wasteplaces of the spirit, sick with the unappeasable longing of a nostalgia of the soul."

What do you think Fante means by this observation?
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Unread postby Betty Sue » Wed Dec 12, 2007 1:04 pm

I don't know, but I think it applies to this Irish woman, too. I rant and question the Catholic faith. I am embarrassed at how some Catholics (in authority!) interpret the faith. There are tenets I cannot in good faith follow, but I'm assuaged by the fact that Catholics must follow their consciences. Yet I think that without my faith I would be wandering "through the arid wasteplaces of the spirit, sick with the unappeasable longing of a nostalgia of the soul." It's in the blood!
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Unread postby Parlez » Wed Dec 12, 2007 3:02 pm

I'm not sure what he means by the term Latin here ~ Italians or all Latinos? Either way, one word came to my mind in response to this question: Inquisition. Sorry, but there's nothing quite like the memory of annihilation to implant fear all the way down to the cellular level. I do believe such memories get passed along 'in the blood' and become a racial or cultural template. I don't think anyone would argue with the fact that the Catholic Church was founded on its ablility to be bloodier than the bloodiest of the bloody religions it replaced. (think Maya, Aztec, etc.) So, yes, when it comes to things being 'in the blood' nobody does it better. Whether one is able to escape said ingrained template is actually part of the whole paradigm (think screaming villagers wondering if it's possible to escape armored knights with slashing swords) so it's kind of a moot point, innit?

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Unread postby Liz » Wed Dec 12, 2007 6:25 pm

I think he is talking about the blood in his veins, not bloodshed. And I think he is speaking of Catholicism as ingrained in the Latin culture. But I think he is coming from a time where one’s heritage was quite important and hard to escape. I think it would be the same with any person who has been brought up in a strong religious household or with a strong cultural background.
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Unread postby nebraska » Wed Dec 12, 2007 9:05 pm

It is a little hard to know what Fante is talking about here, since we have the quote out of context.......Latins, as in Latinos? Or Latins as in followers of the Latin-speaking Church. In that period of time, Mass would have been celebrated in Latin, as would other important ceremonies. Perhaps he was referring to the followers of the Church rather than an ethnic group. Once a Catholic, always a Catholic? That sort of reflects Arturo.......no matter how many times he tried to break away, the basic conscience and beliefs of his upbringing remained in his core.

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed Dec 12, 2007 10:20 pm

I've been doing a little research on the phrase in this quote: "Anima naturaliter Catholica" and it seems to be a reference to a well known doctrine "Anima naturaliter Christiana" (soul by nature Christian) from a noted ecclesiastical writer in the second and third centuries named Tertullian. Fante seems to have used this phrase substituting the word "Catholica" for "Christiana". I think by Latins he means those of Catholic heritage where the language spoken was based in Latin as are the romance languages of Western Europe where the Catholic Church was most prevalent and Latin was the common language of the Church as nebraska pointed out.
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Unread postby Liz » Wed Dec 12, 2007 10:38 pm

Wow, DITHOT! I'm impressed. It hadn't occurred to me to look that up.....which means, I guess, that I'm slipping. :blush:
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed Dec 12, 2007 10:50 pm

No way! It was just my turn to hit the research! :reader:
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Unread postby gemini » Thu Dec 13, 2007 12:03 am

Well being as ignorant as I am of these things I put the phrase "Anima naturaliter Catholica" in google and most of the links came up "anima naturaliter Christiana" which means" soul by nature Christian.
Is it possible Fante borrowed this phrase and inserted Catholic? If so this phrase would include more than just Italians and Latins. This goes with what Liz said that this would include anyone brought up in a strong religious household .
Ooops I see Dithot has looked up the same thing as I found.
Looking it up doesn't really help me with what Fante meant unless he means that all religion is in the blood.

There is some logic in what Parlez mentioned, in that those religions in those countries were the only religion for so long. It is almost like fear of being different keep those countries all the same religion where other areas branched into multi religions.
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Unread postby Liz » Thu Dec 13, 2007 12:47 pm

gemini wrote:There is some logic in what Parlez mentioned, in that those religions in those countries were the only religion for so long. It is almost like fear of being different keep those countries all the same religion where other areas branched into multi religions.


I can see your point.
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Unread postby suec » Thu Dec 13, 2007 9:10 pm

I agree with Liz about it being ingrained. I guess I am arguing for nurture rather than nature here. But from what I have seen, that is how it is. With my own family who are Catholics, it is very much part of their way of life, so much so that I can't ever have a conversation with them without it being mentioned. But that is natural enough; they go to Mass regularly; they talk to the priest; their children go to Catholic schools; my father was taught by Jesuit priests.

I think it is quite hard to reject a belief, knowledge, habits that have been cultivated in a person over many years since as far back as they can remember.

What leaps out at me mainly in this quote, though, is the "arid wasteplaces of the spirit, sick with the unappeasable longing of a nostalgia of the soul". This seems to be back to the (spiritual)wasteland again that is mentioned several times in the book and referred to in other ways too with words such as wilderness and desolation, that appear in the ending. If you reject the Catholic system of beliefs, this seems to be one possible alternative that is really very bleak and unpalatable. It's a kind of alternative universe without truth or meaning.

I think this is suggested by the landlady when she flatly contradicts him when he says which state he is from and he ends up humouring her. What he knows to be true is denied in this environment.
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Unread postby Parlez » Thu Dec 13, 2007 10:33 pm

I think anyone who attempts to give up the religious beliefs they were raised with experiences a period of time in which they would say they're wandering in a 'wasteland', where nothing makes sense, spiritually, and they feel nostaligic for the old familiar rituals and things, even though those things don't make sense to them anymore either. There's a period of time when a person hangs suspended between wanting the old ways and needing something else/new. I think that's what Fante is expressing here. It sounds like he hasn't been able to find a belief system that works for him. Yet.
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Unread postby Liz » Thu Dec 13, 2007 10:38 pm

Parlez wrote:I think anyone who attempts to give up the religious beliefs they were raised with experiences a period of time in which they would say they're wandering in a 'wasteland', where nothing makes sense, spiritually, and they feel nostaligic for the old familiar rituals and things, even though those things don't make sense to them anymore either. There's a period of time when a person hangs suspended between wanting the old ways and needing something else/new. I think that's what Fante is expressing here. It sounds like he hasn't been able to find a belief system that works for him. Yet.


You make a good point here, Parlez. I know....because I've been there, just at an earlier age than Arturo.
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Unread postby Liz » Thu Dec 13, 2007 10:44 pm

suec wrote: What leaps out at me mainly in this quote, though, is the "arid wasteplaces of the spirit, sick with the unappeasable longing of a nostalgia of the soul". This seems to be back to the (spiritual)wasteland again that is mentioned several times in the book and referred to in other ways too with words such as wilderness and desolation, that appear in the ending. If you reject the Catholic system of beliefs, this seems to be one possible alternative that is really very bleak and unpalatable. It's a kind of alternative universe without truth or meaning.


I think that this would apply to any religion (or rejecting said religion within which one has been raised).
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Unread postby suec » Sat Dec 15, 2007 11:51 am

Liz wrote:
suec wrote: What leaps out at me mainly in this quote, though, is the "arid wasteplaces of the spirit, sick with the unappeasable longing of a nostalgia of the soul". This seems to be back to the (spiritual)wasteland again that is mentioned several times in the book and referred to in other ways too with words such as wilderness and desolation, that appear in the ending. If you reject the Catholic system of beliefs, this seems to be one possible alternative that is really very bleak and unpalatable. It's a kind of alternative universe without truth or meaning.


I think that this would apply to any religion (or rejecting said religion within which one has been raised).


Oh, for sure. I referred to Catholicism because of the emphasis that Fante puts on it. But it does beg a question about why he did so, why he substituted Christiana with Catholica. I don't know the answer to that one. But the idea seems familiar - of the strength of the Catholic church, I mean. It reminds me vaguely of a quote lurking in the back of my mind, about the tug of Catholicism, that will pull back the lapsed Catholic in the end. Evelyn Waugh? Graham Greene possibly? But thinking of them it leaps out at me they were his contemporaries. I don't feel qualified to comment on why the Catholic church might be seen as so strong. But I do feel that at that particular time in history, there would have been an even greater need than usual for a strong church: between two world wars, the rise of totalitarianism, shocking wanton barbarism and death, the collapse of empires and the Great Depression, staggerisng social change, including that in the home. I think some of that lies behind the writing.
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