Probably the stars have been there all along, but time has lapsed since we visited. At sunset I waited impatiently in the porch, out of the wind, until they began to pop in the deepening blue. I watched the Summer Triangle down into the west as if for the last time. Orion was rising in the east, holding open the sky to let the cold air in.
on the way through the pale trees, although I am naturally gratified to use a recently-acquired word.
The mind of this strange man is worth a visit, however, and demonstrates the truism that images and narratives are diminished by their exegesis; even Jung could only make his stories smaller when he enlarged upon them.
lxx : Have an argument
No, not the kind taking place in Room 12A. In the darkness before today’s sodden dawn the pen scrawled reluctantly across sheet after sheet of file paper (can’t produce a good argument using a word processor, however ten-fingered I may be).
Looking at the result is like looking at holiday packing: gloom at the shabby aspect of one’s possessions, grave doubts that the right things have been selected, wondering what is the essential item you have certainly forgotten, and a growing conviction that this monstrous heap will never all go in.
The storm has not stripped out the sand, though I think the landslides have been on the move again. Today was benign but perhaps not quite paddleable – at least, we did not paddle.
Later, what is possibly the cutest instrument in the western world made a reappearance:
the curved soprano sax. This one has been having a little rest in its case for most of the last eighteen years, but there was its voice again, parping occasionally from lack of practice, contending with the piano and giggles. While listening, I compounded apple cake in the kitchen, and (enjoying the ironies) thought, Thank God we are a musical nation.
I’ve been looking through some photos from last week. There was little time to go anywhere except the College itself, or a quick doddle round the Close for fresh air. Luckily, there was a fascinating exhibition in the library, and the cathedral always rewards. (Click a thumbnail for the gallery. If you want to see texts properly, click on link from gallery to full size.)
Today I went looking for a quiet place on the stairs in which to find a teasing line. Instead I found an image, obscure at first but clarifying into black comedy.
I don’t think he or she made it.
So goodbye to the lectures and a brief hello to some nearestsanddearests; full of apple crumble we admired the Close and the cathedral lit by what looked like about seven million lux, killing the stars.
I have swapped my austere hall-of-residence style bed for something even more austere, having no bedstead at all; but the ambience is friendly, and I am cooched up on the sofa with the Middle English Metrical Paraphrase of the Old Testament:
In this boke that cald is Genesis
ther may men see the soth unsoght
How God, that beldes in endlese blyse,
all only with Hys Word hath wroght
Hevyn on heght for Hym and Hys,
this erth and all that ever is oght.
This erth was wyde and wast
and no gud on yt grovyd;
On the heght the Holi Gast
abown the waters movyd.
Milton, eat your heart out.
The best thing about this book (as far as I am concerned) it that it has informed me of the existence of Hrotsvit, apparently a tenth-century canoness who referred to herself as the Forceful Testimony of Gandersheim, and wrote sacred dramas in the form of Terentian comedy, redeeming the form (she said) from his pagan smuttiness. How lovely to imagine her beavering away, and thinking “Ha! Take that, Terence!” every time she finished a good bit.
In spite of some interesting ideas, the rest has been a struggle. I don’t mind the content, or the slightly experimental form. It’s mostly because of the English. The constantly repeated use of favourite words is like squeaking chalk – “profound” and “deep”, sometimes even “deeply profound” and “profoundly deep”, multiple times on what feels like every page. Other words and phrases were almost equally intrusive. If only the author had gone through and removed every adjective, the book would be ten pages shorter, and if he had eliminated at least 50% of the repetitions, it would be twenty pages more readable.
So I’ve let myself off the concluding chapters. I’ll deal with the actual ideas elsewhere, and they’ll probably be useful. But genuine thanks for Hrotsvit.
It’s a classic failure to organise: fling everything in on top of itself, incomprehensible page following puzzling extract on top of contentious essay, accompanied by alternating layers of tosh, bits of Mesopotamia, defunct television criticism, and (of course) recent investigations into specific gravity. It may be necessary to jump up and down on the heap. Insofar as there is a plan, this should continue for a few more weeks (barring accidents), at which point everything should receive a good stir-up and be left for a week or two to fractionate.
I wonder if it will work?
In a book about apocalypses and endings in fiction, it seemed appropriate to begin with the most recently written segment, which is the epilogue, before returning to chapter/lecture 1, mischievously entitled “The End”.
It was perhaps an error to cook a ginger cake between chapters 2 and 3. The tin is almost empty.
Lots of technical vocabulary in this one. Some of the authors translate or define the Greek terms they use; some just transliterate; and some don’t bother at all. Which leaves me, with my primitive half-familiarity with the Greek alphabet, painfully sounding out words, and hoping they will come out as something vaguely familiar and guessable.
A few are fairly easy given a context – I could cope with θεολογια; and γνωσις was doable. But προσαρμοσας? Urg.
As for the English language parts: some of these sentences and paragraphs will remain mysterious to me for ever. But that’s another story.