Thursday, September 30

one manuscript too many

Am completely bored, and have nothing at all whatsoever to say about the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, not even of any kind. I am slurping tea that was once hot, and eating the tails off of gingerbread cats. And, I am waiting for laundry to get done.

Wednesday, September 29

I seem to be having tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle.

Or at least I seem to be having a war between my hair and hairpins. This is nothing really new, of course. Bobby pins find my hair repulsive, but especially when it has been under the influence of "fortifying" shampoo or somesuch whatsit that makes my hair smooth. I've taken the pins out and set my hair loose upon the world and am wearing a gigantic sweatshirt over my pajamas. That means I look like a great hairy beast from an old science fiction B movie. Rock on, B-movies.

I sat in a little restaurant drinking coffee tonight after walking down there all cold and shivery. Have I said yet that I like to be a bit cold? To feel the autumn! Yes . . . Anyhow, I was thinking how nice it would be to have walked down there all tired and foozly only to be met with warm food and a sweet aunt-like figure who always tells you how skinny you are and how you should eat more and an uncle-like person who always tells jokes and remembers things in a most eccentric fashion. Also, the sherry. I have found that on freezycold winter nights I like a small glass of sherry. It tastes warm and cozy.

Yes, I am weird. I like mead and sherry but not red wine and not beer (bar a little guinness). Weirdo. Why am I blogging about alcohol? I rarely ever drink the stuff, and I certainly didn't tonight unless they put something weird into my coffee that I didn't taste.

Oh, and I've gotten a few remarks saying that I seemed to be out of temper and I also said something about "giving up men" in my last blog entry, which led people to believe that I was lonely. Or something. They usually trail off before the conclusion. I am fine. The quote was from Bridget Jones, for pete's sake. I'm out of temper today because of some gross incompetence on my class boards. The two are very different.

And, the end of Bridget Jones was funny, but I think less of Mark Darcy for having sex with Bridget on their first date, which is rather a frightening concept after the whole point of the book comes out . . . but then Bridget isn't exactly the epitome of anything pure or . . . of average intelligence, even . . .

alas. I will stick to reading Lord Peter Wimsey novels from here on out. At least until I get a hold of the next Bridget Jones book.

Tuesday, September 28


I got a lot of reading done, so I was something close to livable tonight. At least, I think so. I'm pretty sure I bugged one of my sisters with my renditions of a a variety of genres of music, but then it wasn't intentional because I sincerely believed that she had fallen asleep. My apologies, but I kind of made up for it by making something weird with peaches and butter and eggs and flour with a french name. It said "Clafoutis" on the recipe but I've translated it to be "Klafooty".

I've also decided that I don't like making desserts.

Time to go sit in bed and read Bridget Jones' Diary and giggle helplessly into sleep.

"I've decided: I'm giving up men. And carbohydrates."

Monday, September 27

red light (nobody's there?)

Yep, it's me again. I'm feeling a bit dead at the moment. Thank goodness the night only lasts so long. Even through being a complete idiot I cannot figure out why I'm feeling so weary. I feel like there is no energy left in me. It has been an emotional day, believe it or not.

I previewed a movie for our local youth group, on homosexuality. It isn't blatantly, bible-thumpingly Christian, which is a real plus. I hate it when they do that. I almost wish I had been part of a healthy youth group when it was my turn to be in a youth group because then I might be able to figure out how other people think about it. I have a gay friend and I've had a friend who decided she was a lesbian, therefore I want to think hard because I care for these people. But then, to the liberal eye, everything I say here will be taken out of context and twisted into meaning that I am homophobic. Weirdos.

Bweh. I got absolutely nothing done today. Not a bit. Not a sniffle. But! I am wearing a fiendish t-shirt. I am now listening to "Goodnight, My Love (Pleasant Dreams)" by Harry Connick Jr. and humming along. I'm going to be a sap and burn rose oil tonight. I'm out of bergamot, now, which will shortly make me depressed, until I forget about it.

I want to wake up tomorrow and be able to see what I am. This is a problem right now. At least, for somebody like me, who wants to know myself, it is a big problem when I do things and can't figure out why I do them. Not a comfortable mystery, like those of the universe. Entirely practical and affecting my everyday activities, this mystery is unpleasant and distasteful.

And I probably shouldn't be blogging it because one day when I am rich and famous and entirely self-absorbed, somebody will remind me of it and I will fall, like Citizen Kane's second wife, and I will end up drunk, talking to reporters. At a night club. Oh, the adventurous life of a blogger. Thrilling. Really.

Sunday, September 26

free until tomorrow

My paper is done, now, and I am free to rest until tomorrow morning. Hopefully I will be able to get a good night's sleep. I keep having nightmares, which are really no fun. My mouth has been off of its hinges today, not being able to say very much in a straight sentence. I'm sure people wonder if I'm dyslexic or just plain off my rocker . . . I certainly do.

Thank goodness the paper is in. The first one of the term, too! I'm surprised it took this much out of me, but I suppose I should have known the way I have been reading and humming along this summer. We'll see how it goes.

The wind is threshing dust and leaves outside my window, and my cat thinks I am an idiot for being up at midnight. She is right, as usual. Listening to Jars of Clay's "Worlds Apart", thinking about odd things people have said to me this past week, wishing for stupid, useless things, and remembering--oddly enough--an old Sunday school lesson taught to me by a hero of mine who doesn't know he's a hero.

And now, time to braid the hair and crawl into bed. If you ever get the chance and want to see a bit of how I wish my mind would work, please read Gaudy Night. It sounds weird but it really is very good, and very revealing of humanity, even if I don't really like Harriet all that much. Oh dash it all.

Saturday, September 25

my research companion

Through my searches, I've found plenty of articles and histories, lots of pictures and images of Beowulf, but I've found one I'm taking with me through this journey of scribbling. To tell the truth, I've grown rather fond of the little chap.

right-ho, peeves.

Here I am at a little past noon drinking my latte and trying to get rid of some spearmint oil by burning it, and it smells nice, but seriously I am ready for that little bottle to be empty. I rarely ever burn the stuff and I've had it for much longer than the recommended 6 months.

Today is the "continuing writing the paper" day and I really can't figure out why it isn't just flying off my fingers and finished last night. Honestly, I expected it to be. I guess I haven't written an academic paper in a couple of months and so now it feels weird to be doing so. This paper isn't exactly intellectually stimulating, either. Stuffed full of generalizations and vague references. The few specific references are to bits of incoherent manuscript full of symbolism we hardly recognize.

Ok, enough griping, dear. Time to get to work seriously this time instead of writing a blog entry which won't really inspire you any more than the spearmint oil or the coffee, which, by the way, are tasting and smelling oddly because of each other.

Two bottles of water, a Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser, my trusty mechanical pencil, and Take Five. There are plenty of bits of paper lying around and I can also use my white board. Right-ho, Jeeves.

Friday, September 24

would YOU read five pages of this stuff?

Old English poetry is difficult to describe as we have only the skeletal remains of what used to be a breathing compendium of combat histories, laments for the lost, and stories full of inexplicable but tangible symbolism. In fact, much of our knowledge consists of having a good idea of what it changed to, and then hazarding a guess as to what it had changed from. The principle characteristics of Old English poetry are therefore derived from a very few manuscripts that, despite revision and biased elaboration, remain powerless to deny their birthright.

This is the introductory paragraph to a paper I am writing on the principle characteristics of Old English Poetry--one of those papers that the professor requires so he doesn't freak out the first time he gets a real paper from you.

Thursday, September 23

hey, not bad.

Well, I didn't get a whole lot of stuff done, so drat. However, I do feel better and my schedule is not a little more organized. The other productive things I did today included but were not limited to writing the author of an article that somebody sent to me, talking to a friend via AIM, and washing the dishes.

Also, one of my classmates made a hilarious bunch of "Freudian" slips (Freudian because we were talking about gender symbolism) and I couldn't stop laughing for Quite Some Time. I hope she meant it to be a play on words because if she didn't I am SO in trouble. Even now, I can't help from giggling.

Right, so I'm sleepy. Or maybe just tired. In any case, I'm going to put on comfy pjs and sleep, and try not to kick the cat off the end of my bed. Stupid thing thinks it OWNS the spot. Maybe it does.


a real doozy.

What a fabulous way to start a day. I think I'm getting sick. I'm not feeling good, that's certain. I wonder, though, is it my mood that is just affecting my body? 'Cause sometimes it does that. I consider it very impractical to overreact by making my body recognize and adopt the topographical features of my mood. Most upsetting.

Anyway, it was a bad day yesterday, and a bad morning this morning, and I have some things to think through before letting my mind wander while my mouth is open. Write that down.

I did book-cross something yesterday evening at the library with a post-it note on it that proclaimed its interest in social reform and liberation. However, I did not get that outline written. Drat it all. It is due next week. Or the end of this week. That means I have only a bit of time left. At the time, though, it seemed much more important for me to be running errands with a sister.

Glumly gloomy obfuscations. Anyway. I have a bit of Anglo-Norman literature to hum about and a poem to vivisect before lighting votive candles to the patron saint of outlines.

I did find an interesting article that might be interesting to Certain Persons who may or may not be reading this blog.

Tuesday, September 21

definitely a full day. afternoon. whatever.

I seem to wake up last night and realize that I have been postponing some things that certainly Ought Not to be Postponed, like a midterm and two papers and the reading of a good 500 pages. Not that it will be absolutely difficult; they are all for the same professor and I am well into the rhythm of these classes. I still look a little bit like this, though.

I am finishing up Peredur today, rereading a lot of Old English poetry in a hideous modern translation (excepting Pound, of course), and parading Sherlock Holmes' deductive reasoning around shamelessly with a lot of obvious conclusions about origin, feeling, theme, and other poetic devices. Also to do on the list is an outline for that paper--tomorrow I will sit at the library and type it up (I can also be sneaky and take something to book-cross).

I have a cafe latte on one side of my desk, a bottle of water on the other, and a packet of peanut M&Ms. I've shoved everything from my desk (well almost everything) into someplace where it won't bother me, and now I should be ready to yell a battle cry and plunge into the studying binge I've been hoping to accomplish since the last time it happened . . . Somehow, I feel strangely reluctant. Oh, well. Tally-ho.

Monday, September 20

yummy banana bread. with chocolate.

I made banana bread today. Yay, me! It tastes yummy:) Maybe that is because I put chocolate in it. Behold, the magic spell, for beginners:

--1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
--1/2 cup milk
--1 cup butter, softened but not melted
--2 and 1/2 cups sugar
--2 teaspoons vanilla extract
--4 eggs
--3 and 1/2 cups flour
--2 teaspoons baking soda
--1/4 teaspoon salt
--2 and 1/2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (brown and spotty and a little soft)
--2 cups chopped walnuts (not too small, but not half-walnuts)
--2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 and butter two loaf pans. If you don't do this, there are dire circumstances, like bread that won't come out of the pans.

Pour the lemon juice into the milk and stir until the milk is curdled. This smells bad, gets thicker, and clumps just a little. Set it aside, but not in an inaccessible place.

Beat together the butter, sugar, and vanilla until it is creamy. Add the eggs and make sure it is all mixed thoroughly. I use a Kitchen Aide thingy of my mum's instead of the traditional pewter cauldron, so it isn't much of a chore to mix stuff. The more you mix the eggs, the tougher they get, so go easy on them.

Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt, and then add the butter-sugar-vanilla to it as well as the curdled milk. Then stir in the bananas and the walnuts. And the chocolate.

Pour the batter into the buttered pans and then bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until you can stick a toothpick or a knife in and it comes out clean.

Let it sit until it cools or you will get a crumbly mess of falling-apart-banana-mush. Put the loaves on a rack to cool them, and then when they are relatively cool, slice and snaffle.

Recipe helped along by a Green Thumb cookbook but certainly adapted from it.

Ha. I have vanquished the kitchen. Mwahahahaha.

Sunday, September 19

more on symbolism

When St. Paul went to Greece (Acts 17), he stood up in the Areopagus of Athens next to the altar they had placed there, which said “To an Unknown God,” and he tried to explain Christianity to a crowd of Greeks by saying that he knew their “Unknown God.” Even though this was only technically true, like Iseult’s half-truth about having been in the arms of no man but her husband’s and the beggar’s (ahem-cough-Tristan-cough), it got Paul far enough into the trust of the crowd that some of them wanted to hear him again on the subject (not that they blindly believed, which says nothing for their intelligence).

I have a sneaky suspicion that the people who “cleverly” inserted the Christian traditions and symbolism into the story of the Grail were taking a leaf out of Paul’s book (pun intended). By using the symbolism that was already established, the missionaries would be able to explain Christianity in terms that the people understood. After all, the symbols that were in use already did have some connection to Christianity.

update: I deleted the rest of the post. It is just too long. If you want to know more, I can send it to you, but . . . right. That was a lot of stuff to read through, and not the best written, either. Tada.

Saturday, September 18

drawing religion

I was tired tonight, and so I flumped onto my ugly red armchair and pulled out a tasty book. Somehow it seems I like to save authors like Chesterton and Robert Browning for special occasions, whereas I can read things like . . . well other things every day. So I picked out a nonfiction volume of Chesterton and opened the page. This is what I read first.

"Another distinguished writer, again, in commenting on the cave drawings attributed to the neolithic men of the reindeer period, said that none of their pictures appeared to have any religious purpose; and he seemed almost to infer that they had no religion. I can hardly imagine a thinner thread of argument than this which reconstructs the very inmost moods of the pre-historic mind from the fact that somebody who has scrawled a few sketches on a rock, from what motive we do not know, for what purpose we do not know, acting under what customs or conventions we do not know, may possibly have found it easier to draw reindeer than to draw religion."

--G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man

Thursday, September 16

an actual POST from my CLASS by ME

Ok, I got fed-up saying that I was confused by Pagan symbolism.

"No one who is conversant with the way in which men's minds operated in the Middle Ages ought to find any difficulty in thinking of the Grail as a Christianization of a heathen vessel of plenty." (Brown)

This fits in with the place where the grail first appeared (in Chretien's version, p. 420) because it was in a feast hall, carried by a young woman who was accompanied by two young men. Youth and plentiful food might suggest abundance and fertility. Also interesting is that Pagan religions, such as Wicca, often think of their deity, or the Earth, as a Goddess. Maybe it is and maybe it is not a coincidence that it was a girl who carried the grail?

Also, according to the websites listed below which are about modern Pagan religions, water is also a symbol of fertility. Perceval's path changed when he came to the river and met the Fisher King (418). A symbols of the element of water (also according to the aforementioned websites) are chalices, goblets, cauldrons, cups, pitchers, and very likely these include something that could be a grail.

Brown also makes a case that the mentioning of fish in relation to the grail (Chretien 460, also thematically) might actually suggest an accident in the translation due to the fact that the Irish/Gaelic word for "fish" is spelled very like the word for "host" in French. He says that instead of the Fisher King living off of a single host served from the grail perhaps he lives off of some kind of fish (footnote 1, p. 402).

works cited:

Brown, Arthur C. L. "From Cauldron of Plenty to Grail" Modern Philology, Vol. 14, No. 7. (Nov., 1916), pp. from JSTOR if you are at an on-site location.

This is a JSTOR article that I'm having trouble getting a link from. If I take the link they ask me to then when I click on it they tell me I have to be on campus! The other one should work, but I'm not sure if you have to be logged in or not. Use the keywords of the title and author to find it if you can't get to it from a link. Brown is a bit opinionated and the article does assume that you have a working knowledge of French and Latin, which I don't. It is neat to see how Chretien rhymes, though.

Spring Wolf. "The Alchemy of Life" Spring Wolf's Spiritual Education Network: The Pagan's Path" 1997-2004. last visited: 09-16-04. link

"Element Water" Pagan at Osn. last visited: 09-16-04. link

"Correspondences: Element of Water" last visited: 09-16.04. link

Devorah. "Magickal Symbolism: Elements and Directions" Music for the Goddess last visited: 09-16-04. link

n.b. regarding the websites: These were not hard to find through but I should have taken a lengthier search on one of our college's databases to come up with possibly more reliable information.

Tuesday, September 14

romancing the grail

We are beginning to study the Grail stories, now, and I imagine a good number of Monty Python references should come in handy. The problem is finding a very tactful way of inserting them into links without making it perfectly obvious what you are trying to do (make faces behind the professor's back).

The down side of this study is that I have over two hundred pages to read and I'm supposed to have finished them already this week. In that light, I am rather disappointed with myself, but reading it all last week would not have made it any easier for the information to sink in. Last week wasn't the best time to be doing serious stuff like that, anyway.

Thank heavens we are nearly done with Tristan. A new conference has been posted and suddenly a light beamed down from heaven and somewhere a harp struck a fabulous chord of C. Now we are going back to the Cretin, who is surprisingly better than Gottfried von Whatsisname, not for obvious reasons (unless you've read my last post). I had been about to go to desperate measures with the Cretin but with an air of counter-irritant-cy in waltzes von Whozawhat and then suddenly the Cretin became a nice guy.

Looking through the information that the internet has to offer at first pair of keywords, there are plenty of interesting things to see. One site has a complete libretto and a horrible midi file that plays Wagner's Parsifal, and another one has Grail earrings. Who would've known? The Pagan and Christian symbolism should be fun to nitpick out of this study. Through the Camelot Project, I found some easy-read pieces about the Cretin as well, which I'll definitely look over after I finish reading the assigned stuff.

Of all the stuff we've plowed through or happened upon this semester, only the story with Owein and the gwyddbwyll game compares with this in humor potential.

Saturday, September 11

the moronic religion of eros

My title refers to the alternate name of the story of Tristan and Iseult. I made it up because I find them stupid. Iseult's mother was the stupidest woman on earth. She made a potion that would render the two that partook of it endlessly subjected to a bond of human love between them. It would be their idol, their god of everlasting importance that overmasters them effortlessly. (Don't you just love alliteration?) Well, what happens when the wrong people drink of it? What then?

Even by accident, it causes the downfall of two people who do not deserve to fall by such witchcraft. They must be absolved of their guilt, of course, because the potion must dissolve the bonds of free will and therefore make them inhuman, demons. Can you imagine being the figure behind the mask in your own nightmare?

Their worship of Truth and Beauty and every good thing becomes a twisted freakish obeisance to every whim of lust.

The potion they drink tastes like wine, and it is something like the fruit of the vine used for holy communion with the Holy Spirit. Instead of bringing them closer to reality in truth and purity, which in their drugged stupor they mistake, it brings them closer to each other in physical embrace.

They made a pilgrimage to The Cave of Lovers after they were banished from her husband's kingdom. That cave is their temple, a Mecca for their love. The great marble bed stands like an altar in the center of the cave, where nothing is sacrificed to any higher cause than a couple's sex drive.

The real problem I have with this is not that they were actually given over to it, but that the author goes through the motion of writing about them as if they were in the right! It is enough to bring tears to the eyes that there was somebody with such stupidity given the gift of literacy.

"My liking for you deepens with time, dear Beowulf . . ."

Especially in comparison with that git, Tristan. We are keeping on Tristan, beating his dead carcass as one would a dead HORSE. Insufferable man.

I have decided to keep this blog for school purposes if nothing else. I am tending towards posting notes here, even if Mindsay is back and running . . . I've got to keep studying now and will probably update soon. Got a LOAD of work to do . . . *sigh*

Life is so awesome.

Friday, September 10

excellent fight scenes, no special effects

One mark of a good story that would probably make or break a storyteller in the telling are fight scenes. You can't very well act it out, but it must be real enough and suspenseful enough that your listeners want to hear what happened and not just who won. Well, I typically don't like that kind of thing but there are a few places I don't mind reading fight scenes. One of them, predictably, is Lord of the Rings. The other one is Beowulf. Weird? yeah, no kidding.

The fight scenes are riveting. Very cool. People try and make it sound boring by saying it is old, saying it is poetry, saying only dusty professors read it, but seriously this stuff is pretty cool:) I found a really neat site to go along with this too that I think I shall have to post on my class. Not only is it annoyingly formatted by it has good information.

The bit I especially like is the full translation with sound bites mixed in between. The sound clips are important because of meter and translation, which is difficult. The cool thing about the sound clips is that they are in a woman's voice! Ha!

Anyway, I can't find a good clip of my favorite part, talking about the sword that Beowulf used to kill Grendel's mother. It had been woven and carved with drawings of giants and how God drove them out with the flood. What it references is the Nephilim, who were supposedly Sons of God. This is a much-disputed bit of the Bible that is really fascinating. I intend to ask God about it one day when we are face to face. Or maybe there will be a book of Frequently Asked Questions.

The sword melts like an "icicle of gore" or something, and only the hilt is left because her blood boiled so hot that it melted his weapon . . . very cool stuff. I can't do justice to it here.

Right, time to sleep. Maybe Grendel's Mum was just PMS-y?

the wanderer

This is from a very beautiful old manuscript that probably smells like dust and antiquity. It is a tale of homelessness and friendlessness. You guys need to read it; it is very evocative of loneliness . . . Here is a link to a full text of the writing; it is halfway down the page.

"So the wise man spoke in his heart, sat apart in private meditation. He is good who keeps his word; a man must never utter too quickly his breast's passion, unless he knows first how to achieve remedy, as a leader with his courage. It will be well with him who seeks favor, comfort from the Father in heaven, where for us all stability resides."

--unnamed poet

postmodern Gawain and his ability to reply to comments

My paper topic, tentatively, is where on the continuum Gawain lies on being an elect or a representative hero and how that affects the meaning of the story. A lot of the riddles and forms in the poem seem to point at irony, so we'll see where this one goes. For a little while I entertained a day dream brought on by toasted almonds that figured individualist societies always seeing elect heroes and collectivist societies always choosing representative heroes. It would probably make a good short story but for the fact that I'm terrible at writing them.

I also cannot figure out how to reply to comments here like I used to on Mindsay. So boo on Blogger. If you see your name in bold somewhere down the line it will be me responding to your comment.

Mindsay is coming along a little bit at a time, but I am having troubles with layout. I may decide simply update my blog once a week over there and keep this one. I don't know. I kind of like the change. *sigh* We shall see how things go.

Thursday, September 9

portents of autumn

I have tickets for my autumn trip now, and I received a letter from my host welcoming me to join the party. I have been excited before, but the fact that I am really going is accented by the small details that I must remember. Prosaic things like having to remember to buy travel-size toiletries and to bring walking shoes become sparkling hints and clues like a legend on a map. Some things only do I know: there will be unfamiliar names on the maps, and maybe there will be cobblestones on the streets.

Tonight, at this house, there have been very strong winds that do not whip around or buffet stones but instead whistle through the cracks in the windows and doors. It sometimes feels as if there was an ocean lapping at the doorstep, making our haven treacherous to find and dangerous to navigate to. The winds come in September, a shadow of what they will be at full height and frenzy in November. Right now they are just crazymaking.

I'm sitting at the kitchen table this late at night with a cup of Earl Grey tea and knowing beyond doubt that the soles of my feet are clean and pink. This thought is comforting.

Wind whines and whines the shingle,
The crazy pierstakes groan;
A senile sea numbers each single
Slimesilvered stone.

james joyce, On the Beach at Fontana

Wednesday, September 8

just about to go to sleepy

It is the end of the day, most everyone is upstairs sleeping, and I am left to shut things down, including my computer, before heading up that direction myself.

I did finally get a tentative topic for my paper. I'm still unsure about it, though, so I emailed my professor and in his nearly infinite wisdom concerning these matters, I should expect a good response. I already expected one tonight, but I suppose he didn't check his email . . . drat!

Having decided that I would hide on my chat program to see who else was on while I listened to my newest favorite song (Other Hours by Harry Connick Jr.), a friend from thousands of miles away popped up and said hi. So five more minutes, I think, and then I shall act Endymion for at least seven hours.

CSI full text

What a frustrating research log. Most of it involves blank spaces and the other of it is where I have slammed my pen into the paper, abusing it horribly and wrinkling my nose in a most unhappy fashion. The nose-wrinkling does not show on the paper. *sigh* I have posted the farewell message on my antipodal blog. I hope I don't lose all my friends from there:( I really liked the people I've met! Well, most of them:)

Anyway . . . back to research . . . and doodling . . .

post-breakfast sortie

The kitchen is clean and now I am not, but I haven't the time to get my paper started after everybody leaves the house and before the particularly distracting people get back, so you see the full extent of my plight. Well almost the full extent. I haven't a clue of what I want to write about for my paper yet, and it is supposed to be something like 10-15 pages long! Not that that is abnormal, I've done many of them before, but each one seems to come as a shock to me:

"You actually want to see THAT MUCH of MY writing??" and then the instructor nods woodenly and looks down in horrified realization at their Term Papers of Doom.

Whoop! Espresso is ready and I must away.

Tuesday, September 7

irresponsible plums

You might think it would be utterly picturesque and delightfully romantic to be picking plums in an orchard across from our house in the twilight of an Italian countryside, laughing with my mother. You might, but you wouldn't have taken into account the slipperiness of ripe and overripe plums underneath the soles of birkenstocks or the fact that Italian orchards are inevitably dusty, not to mention the nostalgic smell of pesticide.

Oddly enough it occurred to me that all of the plums scattered across the orchard under the plum trees, a squashy path of them marking our footsteps thither, were irresponsibly creating a myriad of diarrhea cases merely by default.

Plum jam shall haunt me, plum pies, plum cakes, plum everything! Woe! Woe is me!


I have just registered four more books at and ordered a set of those plastic bag thingies. They should be fun to leave around the area here. I like supporting things like this:) Besides, it gets me a neat little pair of wings on my name in my profile.

Ahem. I have done no "preliminary research" that I was going to do for my term paper. Drat.


Originally uploaded by anstruther.

I just posted huge entries into my Medieval and Renaissance Lit. class and I'm feeling very good about myself. Yay, me! I also posted a highly intelligent remark about Tristan and the little psychedelic lapdog that ran around the story. He was psychedelic, trust me. I'm not quoting it here, though, so you can forget about it. My penchant for research does not extend as far as Tristan's dog.

I am going to try posting a picture of my glorious self so that you can ogle at my gorgeous beauty. If all goes well it should be a picture of me in black and white at a German coffee shop with my arm hiding my face . . . not the best picture, but it is a good one. Thanks to my older sister for taking it:)

I still must do some preliminary research for my term paper. That shouldn't be too hard, though, with University subscriptions and beautiful things like that . . .

breakfast table

I was up until about 3 a.m. this morning trying to complete my last post, and therefore groggily at 9 I am up after breakfast rather disappointed that nobody has posted back. Isn't that always the way it goes, though? Bweh on them.

That post was for my Medieval and Renaissance Lit. class; we are studying the first hundred pages of the Norton Anthology of English Lit. (vol. 1) and most of it is Beowulf. Seamus Heaney does a very nice modern translation, a little akin to Fagle's translation of The Odyssey that I studied a bit last term. The modernity bothers me a little, though. I still need to post a substantial main topic on this class.

My other class, on Arthurian Legend, is due for a post on Tristan, which I find truly abhorrent. One cannot say this easily in class because of the ban on subjectivity which is enforced by a well-written, grumpy, concise comment by our Professor who in all other respects is an excellent instructor; possibly one of my favorites. (I can say that here because I posted the address to my Mindsay blog in our introductory discussion of "who's who" in the online classroom, where several other people posted theirs.) In any case, Tristan needs some attention. If all goes well I can lambast him and Gottfried von Strassburg properly if my wit is in top form. ha ha. ha.

I'm having trouble writing here. Usually I can come up with something creative for my blog entries, but this just seems to be all administration information that sounds like it should have "--MGMT" at the end of it. I've put on a good CD of Beethoven's sonatas and there is fresh espresso in front of me. Perhaps what is daunting me is the term paper due for the Arthurian class; 10-15 pages which have no business being difficult as I enjoy most of the subject very much.

*sigh* Maybe later I can get in a bit of reading for my field studies class--presently for that class I've got a good bit of James Joyce to mull over.

Monday, September 6

modern poets, and old english poetry

This post began as a warm-up exercise for studying, a reflection log of thoughts as I went over for a second read, but then as I got more interested in it I went ahead and added the format to it. The finished product is rather interesting, if you like modern epics or have read Tolkien.

Synecdoche and metonymy are common figures of speech as when keel is used for "ship" or iron, for "sword." A particularly striking effect is achieved by the kenning, a compound of two words in place of another as when sea becomes "whale-road" or body is called "life-house."

In the second sentence of Caedmon's Hymn, for example, God is referred to five times appositively as "he," "holy Creator," "mankind's guardian," "eternal Lord," and "Master Almighty." This use of parallel and appositive expressions, known as
variation, gives the verse a highly structured and musical quality. (Norton)

There is a contemporary writer, Calvin Miller, whose poetry reflects these literary figures in extreme. In his epic poem "The Singer", he retells Christian history with allegory. Snippet alert:

The River Singer finished and
they walked into the trees.

"Are you the Troubador, who
knows the Ancient Star-Song?"
the tradesman softly asked.

In the Bible, this passage is originally the beginning of the book of Mark. The River Singer is John the Baptist, the Troubador is the Christ, and the Ancient Star-Song is the Truth.

The overall effect of the language is to formalize and elevate speech. Instead of being straightforward, it moves at a slow and stately pace with steady indirection. A favorite mode of this indirection is irony. A grim irony pervades heroic poetry even at the level of diction where fighting is called "battle-play." A favorite device, known by the rhetorical term litotes, is ironic understatement. (Norton)

I'm having a bit more trouble discerning ironic understatement from the technique of foreshadowing; I'm supposing it comes from looking through too many books whose plot-twists I am familiar with . . . Actually quite funny:)

More than a figure of speech, irony is also a mode of perception in Old English poetry. In a famous passage, the Wanderer articulates the theme of Ubi sunt (where are they now): "Where had the horse gone? Where the young warrior? Where the giver of treasure? . . . " (Norton)

This one is interesting in relation to modern poets because nearly everybody has recently seen an example of this in a movie, which based on a book that was written by a man who also translated Beowulf. Allow me to present Tolkien with his absurd triad of initials and his remarkable story about a Ring. In one scene in the movie--more people will remember this than the book, I think--King Theoden of Rohan is being armed for battle and he recites an old poem exactly in this style and very similar to the one quoted:

"Where now the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?
Where is the helm and hauberk, and the bright hair flowing?
Where is the hand on the harpstring, and the red fire glowing?
[full text located at the end of this page]

So alike, in fact, that somebody else noticed it too, which happily validates the point a little more.

?. "Old English Poetry." Norton Anthology of English Literature. Eds. M.H. Abrams et al. 4th ed. vol. 1. New York: Norton, 1999. p 5-6.

Miller, Calvin. "The Singer". Inter Varsity Press: 1975. p 17.

Tolkien, J.R.R. "The Two Towers". Lord of the Rings. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1992. p 530. Published online by at an unknown date; last visited 09.07.04.

very muchly quite, I should think

I have chosen to blog here as a transition between the service of MindSay going from their version two to version three. Version three and I hold each other in contempt. If it continues to hate me I shall move here completely instead of just couch-surfing on Blogger, which I am aware isn't very kind of me.

There is no time to post more at the present because the floor outside my room is now dry, leaving a path for me to skip across the landing and go clean the bathrooms. Oh joy.

Until a later date when time is not of such vital importance,


testing program for blogger update

This entry is updated via a program called MacJournal, which I've been using to try and archive all my blog entries. Unfortunately I haven't got all of them yet, but hopefully I will have access to my old blog soon.

So "testing. one. two. three." Up, up, and away!