Saturday, April 05, 2003

Cry havoc and unleash the Springer Spanial of war.

Friday, April 04, 2003

I almost cried when I read this

Thursday, April 03, 2003

I wish I had any desire to work on evil MA thesis. I did a bit today, but not nearly enough... anyone who knows anything about the motivations of Margaret Fitzpernel countess of Winchester, d. 1238, is invited to email Not that anyone does (know anything about the countess)... I thought my research topic was obscure last year when it was only Geoffrey of Monmouth and the Historia Regum Britannie [History of the Kings of Britain], but at least that had King Arthur in it so once in a while people read it.

Meanwhile, one might turn up one's nose at Iris for spelling Renaissance Faire without the final "e", but since spelling wasn't standardized until the seventeenth century it really matters not a bit. And, as Iris points out, there is nothing authentic about renfaire ale. They're lots of fun, though. Last time, I went with my family in full garb; quite amusing, especially trying to explain to my mom the difference between "thee" and "thou". ["Thou" is nominative case, while "thee" is objective. It's like the difference between "I" and "me". Now, both "thee" and "thou" are familiar forms; speaking to strangers, one should properly use "you".]

Ok, I'm sounding really pedantic, aren't I? Somebody shut me up. Sorry, the ivory tower academic is loose...

Ooh that was Snarky..

Speaking of bores, I've noticed that some blog writers like to threaten dogs when their readership doesn't show the proper appreciation for their work. I would just like to say here that no dogs are harmed in the making of this blog.. only Pundits.

As for class choices, Sister Webmistress *grovels accordingly*, modern fantasy literature is about as close as normal people get to the middle ages without resorting to, *gasp,* Ren Fairs. Renaissance Fairs, for the uninitiated, involve more pseudonyms for cheap, high calorie beer and laced up bustiers than a frat party, except the guys attending are way more in touch with their feminine side. Oops, I meant machismo of course, since dressing up in flowing outfits and growing your hair long is negated by the whole armor and long sword-business.

I wish I had something more pertinant to say, but but all my brilliant thoughts flew the coop two days ago. For that, I blame the blog template corruption.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Slate, Slate, Slate. What would we do without it?

Politicians and generals have been poets since the Roman period, but this one came as a surprise to me... ;-)

Dear readers, do you think Modern Fantasy Literature should count as a medieval studies course?

Not even if I write my paper on Tolkien's use of aspects of Old English rhetoric from poems like The Wanderer and The Ruin?

You see, somehow, this summer, I must take two classes and finish my MA thesis. The three courses technically being offered in Medieval Studies are Women in Medieval Religious Life [and, note, by religious, they mean Christian], Advanced Latin Palaeography [how to read medieval manuscripts - this class has nothing to do with dinosaur bones] and Latin Reading. The first two courses are offered in the first summer session, while the third is offered in the second summer session.

I really don't feel like taking another plain and ordinary Latin course. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. [Actually, I haven't bought the t-shirt, but I will one of these days.] Now, the head of the department (who shall remain nameless for Googling purposes) really doesn't like people to take two classes during the same summer session, because it's too much work and people don't put enough effort into either of the classes.

If, instead of taking Women in Medieval Religious Life, which would be a scary difficult course, or taking Latin Reading, which is just unnecessary, I take the English department's grad student course on Modern Fantasy Literature and write that paper on Tolkien and Old English rhetoric... you see, it won't be too much work at all, because I've already done three-quarters of the reading for the fantasy course and I know my paper topic!

Oh, thank you, blogger deities!

Tuesday, April 01, 2003


Monday, March 31, 2003

I think I solved our little time problem.. it was on Pacific coast for some reason.

Okay, I just realized Heloise named her son Astrolabe.. kinda like Madonna named her kid Brooklyn, only weirder.. Can you think of any other weird names celebs give their children?

New Fun Time Wasting Website
Strongbad where have you been all my wasted college years?

Kudos, Sister Andrea

You never cease to amaze me, keep it up!
I am so pleased with this website for allowing us to share this information amongst our friends. Indeed that poem is both beautiful and a tad pretentious. I really love the first sentence, its very evocative of a winged creature that's either being torn apart or molting into the face of the observer/poet. In a little story I've been writing, a magically drunk witch accidentally grows a beautiful pair of wings, which fail on her mid-flight, leaving her to spiral down.. but that's another story.

All this discussion of Icarus and the Middle Ages reminds me of a painting entitled Landscape With The Fall of Icarus
, described here by William Carlos Williams:

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus
Pieter Bruegel

According to Brueghel
when Icarus fell
it was spring

a farmer was ploughing
his field
the whole pageantry

of the year was
awake tingling

the edge of the sea
with itself

sweating in the sun
that melted
the wings' wax

off the coast
there was

a splash quite unnoticed
this was
Icarus drowning

From Collected Poems: 1939-1962, Volume II by William Carlos Williams, published by New Directions Publishing Corp. © 1962 by William Carlos Williams.

Looking at the poem you feel that the age of reason was on the horizon, and that awe for the mythical had been lost. In my personal opinion, the composition is reminiscent of works by Bosch.

But I digress.. getting back to the time zone thing, I have no idea. Is it GMT?

Please note I added a link to the Cinderella project in my earlier post.

Links For People Who Want to Know More About Zen

Here is a review of Zen Flesh, Zen Bones

Just to let you knowRyokan lived. A really long time ago.

And if you liked that poem by Honshin, you will like this site.

Hey Iris, what's up with the time zone thing? I know I didn't post that last message before 10 AM.

I'm thinking about that poem again. (See below.) I like the feathered Heloise image. She might almost be an Icarus figure, having flown too high and fallen. Heloise of Chartres is certainly a saint of our order. She fell in love with Peter Abelard, the most brilliant man of the twelfth century. They had passionate and enthusiastic sex and he wrote her love songs that all Paris sung in the streets. She said, in a letter to him, "God is my witness that if Augustus, Emperor of the whole world, thought fit to honour me with marriage and conferred all the earth on me to possess for ever, it would be dearer and more honourable to me to be called not his Empress but your whore." At some point the lovers got married and Heloise had a son, Astrolabe... and then Heloise's furious uncle had Abelard castrated. The two retreated to separate abbeys. Heloise's letters, besides being written in scintillating Latin, are some of the most personal and intimate writings to emerge from the Middle Ages. She uses every rhetorical trick at her disposal to try to get Abelard to write to her. She complains that she doesn't have a true vocation to the abbey of which she is abbess (the Paraclete, founded by Abelard) and that she misses sex. She enters deep philosophical debates about the role of women. Definitely an Interfaith Nunnery foremother...

Yay Iris!

Reading some poems by Pattie McCarthy, whose bk of (h)rs models itself on the structure of the ornate medieval prayerbooks after which McCarthy named the volume. I'm not sure whether I adore the poems or think they're overly pretentious and difficult. Some of both, I think. The best lines show the reader a melange of fragments from a lost century, reassembled like stained glass in a window or like Roman marble in an Italian church. One thinks of Eliot ("these fragments we have shored against our ruins") with a less bitter eye and a tendency to stream out of consciousness.

Heloise, your feathers choke me. crowded skyline stories. a desire to be renowned for stillness yet she is manifested perpetually in grievous motion. while absent-minded singing is the most comforting sound - if nothing brightens soon I'll take my libretto and go home. its skin romantic-sized : melancholy anatomized. an elaborate penance for having been that girl. literally for what not why - her jetty amulet fallen weep a garland for a brook. torn in tatters, apropos. black, pink, oil-lily blue alternate in wakes and shake fog from your hair. something secret between, inappropriate but not terribly so. that's the way, always. astrolabe: a pen and spindle. -Pattie McCarthy, from "None"

I think I am beginning to get the hang of this html thing, thanks to Andy . Check out his weblog, he's very philosphical, and sometimes even correct. ;)

Sunday, March 30, 2003

Sleepy and I didn't get enough done today. I do have one interesting story, from Maria Rosa Menocal's Ornament of the World, a book about religious coexistence in medieval Spain. (Highly recommended, by the way. Readable, lucid, and gorgeously written.) The story goes as follows: In fourteenth-century Spain, someone crafted a very beautiful Haggadah (book of the Passover service). This Haggadah was influenced by Muslim and Christian art and embodied religious coexistence in every hand-painted page. In any case, when Isabella and Ferdinand expelled the Jews in 1492, a Sephardi Jewish family took it with them as they escaped. Somehow, in time, the Haggadah ended up in a museum in Sarajevo.

When WWII came, the Nazis wanted to burn this Haggadah among the other Jewish treasures they destroyed. A Muslim museum curator managed to rescue it, and it survived through the war in Bosnia despite Serbian attacks on the museum. It is now displayed with honor in a special room in Sarajevo... which might have been the end of the story, but it isn't.

One day in 1999, an Albanian Muslim woman and her family fled to a refugee camp in Macedonia, bringing only a few personal treasures. One of these treasures was a paper that the woman's father had cherished. The woman could not read it, because it was written in Hebrew. When she reached Macedonia, she showed it to some Macedonian Jewish volunteers for Kosovar relief. The paper was actually a commendation from the Israeli government to the woman's father, for saving from the Nazis both the precious Haggadah and several Jews whom he had hidden in his apartment. The real end of the story? Well, this Muslim woman, and her family, were immediately offered a home in the land of Israel. At the Tel Aviv airport, they were welcomed warmly by the son of a woman whose life the Muslim museum curator had saved.

In these times of religious strife, it's a story worth recalling, I think.