17 January, 2006

A long way from London now, Conrad

A view from our balcony, at about five in the afternoon yesterday. Notice the mountains, and the odd factory-stacks on the horizon to the far right. I feel the cables lend the composition a rather pleasing 'banded' pattern.

Yesterday I read Clanchy's seminal but dull From Memory to Written Record, which got me thinking about the Domesday Book census commissioned by William I (completed 1086). I wonder how the officials and subjects involved in the great count conceived it in relation to David's 'numbering of the people', narrated in 2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21:
And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel. (1 Chr 21.1)

And David's heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the Lord, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O Lord, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly. (2 Sam 24.10)
I can't help imagining that this precedent cast census-taking in a bad light, but nobody seems to mention it. Incidentally, it's not terribly clear why David's census is sinful; I've read a number of modern explanations, but they all seem a little tenuous. I suppose hubris is the most likely reason, but as so often in the Tanakh narrative, the causae rerum are not readily available. Moses' life is a patchwork of such inexplicable occurrences: see his circumcision (Ex 4:24-26), the 'hardening of Pharaoh's heart' against him (Ex 7:13), and his own transgression at Meribah (Num 20:7-12). I mentioned earlier the irreducibly irrational character of the Book of Job, but in truth the entire Tanakh is full of such singularities.


Brett said...

We live in Tempe. What you see to the right is not a factory as such but a power plant.
What brings you to town?

Conrad H. Roth said...

I have since realised this, hence 'plant stacks' in my latest post. We've been living here for 2 years, Mrs. Roth's doing her PhD at the university.

Brett said...

I didn't note the date of the post--for some reason it appeared in my feed reader.
Your blog is so anchored in place, I always assumed you were in the UK.

Conrad H. Roth said...

Mea culpa: I have updated some old posts with a 'photography' tag.

Small world, as they say.