Judas, mercator pessimus. Tomas Luis da Victoria (c. 1548-1611); Officium Hebdomadae Sanctae (1585).
Iudas mercator pessimus osculo petiit Dominum ille ut agnus innocens non negavit Iudae osculum. Denariorum numero Christum Iudaeis tradidit. Melius illi erat si natus non fuisset.
"Judas, that vilest merchant, sought a kiss from the Lord, and he, as an innocent lamb, did not deny Judas the kiss. For many denarii he handed Jesus over to the Jews; It would have been better for him that he had not been born.”
Today is traditionally called Spy Wednesday, in reference to the idea that today, two days before Good Friday, commemorates the day on which Judas Iscariot went to the Sanhedrin and agreed to betray Jesus.
This piece of music was really written for the morning liturgical service (Office) tomorrow. A reponsory follows the recitation of a psalm, as a short reflection. Traditionally, the morning and evening offices were combined into a single service held after dark, called tenebrae (lit. “darkness”), at which a series of candles was extinguished after each psalm, symbolising the gloom and sorrow of the Crucifixion. At the end of the service, a single candle, still lit, is hidden beneath the altar, symbolising the hope of the Resurrection.
This setting of the text was written by one of the last - and greatest - composers of the Renaissance, Tomas Luis da Victoria, a Spanish Catholic priest. It comes from his setting of the whole office (liturgy of reciting the psalms at set hours of the day) for Holy Week, completed in 1585.
Last night I went for dinner with a friend, M, who is one of those women who can’t walk down a street without being hassled by men: cat-calling, making bizarre animal noises at her, professing undying love or threatening rape. This is a daily reality for many of us, but with M it’s on a whole…
I have felt completely at sea during this recent upwelling of vileness. I don’t recognise my country, my culture, my gender, my online communities, my world. I feel stupid and ignorant for not having understood that it was like this. I can’t believe that it is like this, but evidently it is.
You can argue that it’s not, in the real world; that online deindividuation is at work. You can claim that this insane sequence of rape threats and bomb threats is so much noise, the digital equivalent of the London riots - so famously not the result of poverty or deprivation or injustice, but sheer criminality - arising out of a mind of contagion of the mind and stemming from no deeper cause. Maybe. Maybe that’s the burden of Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment. In that case, we’re going to have to get better at social media, and the journey is much, much longer than I had thought.
I don’t believe that’s all it is. I think the culture war - not just the gender war, although that’s at the forefront of this present wretched spectacle, but similar ones surrounding race, sexuality, and every other flashpoint - is hotting up because the self-perceived right of people to behave monstrously is finally being challenged and eroded. I think the war is between people who want to live in a civilised world and deal with nuance, difference, and things they don’t approve of, and those who simply want everything they don’t like to go away.
I have no idea what to do about it. I’m not a natural combatant. I’m basically a trickster and a storyteller. I loathe confrontation.
But for the record: this is my side. The side of not being a monster. The side of diversity of gender, ethnicity, philosophy, opinion. I don’t know what to call it. It’s more than equality. It’s life the way it should be, and it turns out to be much, much further away than I thought it was.
This is my side.
So: you stand for difference and nuance, and you stand on the side of not being a monster. And do you intend to fight with monsters?
"Share and Enjoy" is, of course, the company motto of the hugely successful Sirius Cybernetics Corporation Complaints division, which now covers the major land masses of three medium sized planets and is the only part of the Corporation to have shown a consistent profit in recent years.
The motto stands - or rather stood - in three mile high illuminated letters near the Complaints Department spaceport on Eadrax - “Share and Enjoy”. Unfortunately its weight was such that shortly after it was erected, the ground beneath the letters caved in and they dropped for nearly half their length through the underground offices of many talented young complaints executives - now deceased. The protruding upper halves of the letters now appear, in the local language, to read “Go stick your head in a pig”, and are no longer illuminated, except at times of special celebration.
At these times of special celebration a choir of over two million robots sing the company song “Share and Enjoy”. Unfortunately - again - another of the computing errors for which the company is justly famous means that the robot’s voices are exactly a flattened fifth out of tune and the result sounds something like this, only slightly worse.
The lyrics to the company song are as follows:
Share and Enjoy Share and Enjoy Journey through life With a plastic boy Or Girl by your side Let your pal be your guide And when it breaks down Or starts to annoy Or grinds when it moves And gives you no joy Cos it’s eaten your hat Or had sex with your cat Bled oil on your floor Or ripped off your door You get to the point You can’t stand any more Bring it to us, we won’t give a fig We’ll tell you, ‘Go stick your head in a pig’.
and let’s take a moment to appreciate the fact that michaelangelo had probably never seen a girl naked and when he want to sculpt or paint them his mentality seems to be “wow, everyone likes women….they must be…