Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Translation



From a choral ode in Euripides' Bacchae (my trans.)

When, when
will I drum the earth

with one white foot,
whirl nightlong

drunk on delight,
throat thrown back,

bare to the dew-wet
dark, like a fawn

gleeful as meadowgrass is green
slips from the nets

when the beaters close in
huntsmen and hounds

straining and snarling
but who springs of a sudden

like a swift rush of wind
and this way and that

to the river goes frisking---
one with the green life of water,

and one with the dim woods'
shadowy hair.

News

'Oooh now', to use the all-purpose greeting my group of friends presses into service at any opportunity. As I'm all stressed with work, I shall give you some snapshots of recent activities, murie myrthe for to prouoke.

Weird dream last night. I have a head full of language at the moment, which mingled improbably with Brian Aldiss's novel The Malacia Tapestry (a crock o'shyte, btw) to place me in an alternative Alexandria, being instructed in the arts of Christian gematria by some white-mitred, black-bearded old Copt. Words could be divided, as Abbot Theomenes explained, into demon words, deacon words, priest words, and episcopal words, the latter also called hyperontes. The principle seems to be that consonants are good and vowels bad, but if you must have vowels you should have the greatest possible variety of them, with a low ratio of vowels to consonants.

So, a demon word is 'ata, 'crown', because it has only one consonant fettered by two selfishly identical vowels. An episcopal word, on the other hand, might be kalsphizdonthamu, 'we [inclusive] consecrate', because it has all five vowels but they are kept under firm control by the flanking consonant clusters. The other types are somewhere in between, but the system was a complicated one.

I must remember not to eat cheese before bed, and I think I might have read more of Auraicept na n-Éces, the early medieval Irish 'Scholars' Primer', than is good for me.

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I've been ill for a worryingly long time: since January 15th, when I got 'flu. I then had sinusitis and bronchitis, both viral apparently. I am just, just starting to feel back to normal: the only thing that helped was rinsing my nose out with warm saline. Madonna, eat your heart out.

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She probably is, in fact, if she's seen Lady Gaga's dire new vid. The song's an el-cheapo rehash of Madonna's 'Express Yourself' with a pounding beat, served up lukewarm as a noblesse oblige sop to t'gheys. It was always going to be hard to top the maniacal, colour-saturated, hyperkinetic 'Telephone', memorably featuring as it did the luscious Beyonce dressed as Wonder Woman and rocking a Betty Page fringe, but come now, Gaga. The clotted, wordy opening purports to give what I can only describe as a manichean Magna Matrimyth, a fable of the origin of evil, simplistically recast here as intolerance and lack of freedom. Taking the form of a 70s sci-fi B-movie, it's both hard to follow and dull dull dull ('As the womb slumbered, and the mitosis of the future began, it was perceived that this infamous moment in life was not temporal...'). The imagery uses reflections cleverly, but it's all a bit like gooey, biomechanical H. R. Giger dusted in pink glitter. The visual language isn't as coherent as in other videos of Gaga's: at one point she dances around with hideous model Rick Genest, her make-up matching his facial tattoos, both dressed in tuxes---is this alluding to the ghede-family of Haitian vodou (and if so, why?), or did it just seem like a good idea at the time?!



When Gaga brightens into the glory of the everlasting, I can't imagine this mess will be thought of as one of her better efforts, frankly.

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More anon!
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