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Archives for May 2014

“Death comes to the feast.”

beowulf-02I’ve given JOB long enough to post this; for some reason, he refuses, though his duty is clear. Oh, well. Ye Olde New Yorker has a fun piece on some guy named Tolkien who went and translated Beowulf and then never published it…

“…Spoilers proliferate. When Beowulf goes to meet the dragon, the poet tells us fully four times that the hero is going to die. As in Greek tragedy, the audience for the poem knew the ending. It knew the middle, too, which is a good thing, since the events of Beowulf’s fifty-year reign are barely mentioned until the dragon appears. This bothered many early commentators. It did not bother Tolkien. The three fights were enough. Beowulf, Tolkien writes in his essay, was just a man:

And that for him and many is sufficient tragedy. It is not an irritating accident that the tone of the poem is so high and its theme so low. It is the theme in its deadly seriousness that begets the dignity of tone: lif is læne: eal scæceð leoht and lif somod (life is transitory: light and life together hasten away). So deadly and ineluctable is the underlying thought, that those who in the circle of light, within the besieged hall, are absorbed in work or talk and do not look to the battlements, either do not regard it or recoil. Death comes to the feast.

According to Tolkien, ‘Beowulf’ was not an epic or a heroic lay, which might need narrative thrust. It was just a poem—an elegy. Light and life hasten away.”

Be sure to follow the link for a throwdown between J.R.R. and some clown named Seamus!

From the YouTube Music Video Archives: ‘Ave Maria’ by Giulio Caccini Vladimir Vavilov

You’ve heard this lovely aria before, haven’t you? I’d probably heard it first in the movie Donnie Darko. Haunting, though it hadn’t really haunted me as much as it might have. (That could be said of the movie as well as the music.)

But one morning this week, during my commute, the DJ for the local classical station gave this piece a memorable introduction: This ‘Ave Maria’, though commonly attributed to the 16th-/17th-century Italian composer Giulio Caccini, is almost certainly a hoax. In fact (said the DJ), this piece was most likely composed around 1970 by a Russian who rejoiced in the name of Vladimir Vavilov… and who had a habit of publishing his original compositions as ‘Anonymous’, or under false attributions. Vavilov — a lutenist as well as a composer — evidently recorded his ‘Ave Maria’ for a Soviet state-owned record label, presenting it as some anonymous Baroque composition he had uncovered. After his death, it somehow picked up the Caccini attribution, and has been widely recorded since. (The fact that the aria’s only text consists of the two words ‘ave Maria’, rather than the full text of the prayer, seems to be a sign that it was written somewhere outside the spatio-temporal bounds of Latin Christendom — bogus as a three-rouble note.)

But the DJ, before he spun the record, gave this particular screw still another turn: He suggested that Vavilov might have borrowed the melody for his ‘anonymous’ aria from Jerome Kern’s 1939 standard ‘All the Things You Are’ — making this ‘Ave Maria’ not just a hoax, but a joke.

Credible? Judge for yourself:


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

  • Text by Archangel Gabriel
    • addressing mother of God Incarnate
  • Latin
    • translation from divinely-inspired Greek text of Saint Luke
      • presumably translated from Gabriel’s Aramaic (Hebrew?) original
  • Composed and recorded by Russian lutenist circa 1970
  • Published as anonymous work
  • Distributed by Soviet state-owned record company
    • Communist
      • godless
  • Wrongly attributed to Baroque-era Italian composer
  • Likely adapted from 1939 Broadway show-tune

Today in Porn: Ground-floor offices edition

IMG_20140502_120820Walking through Little Italy, passed this lil’ artist-type place. I like papier mache as much as the next man, but not, perhaps, if this fellow is the next man.

 

A profile on the face of quirkily hyper-sexualized, unconnectedly earlobed (and, of course, Catholicish) American poetry, or How I learned to stop projecting and love Sharon Olds

lockwood

Lockwood was born in Fort Wayne, Ind., and was raised, as her author blurb states, in “all the worst cities of the Midwest.” What it does not say is that her father is a married Catholic priest, currently in a diocese of Kansas City, Mo. This requires a bit of explanation….

As a child Lockwood was intensely pious. “Catholicism is very beautiful,” she told me. “When your father is a priest, it’s invested with extra authority, and your father is invested with extra authority.” As a teenager, she had a strict dress code and a very limited range of after-school activities, which included a youth group called God’s Gang. “There was a lot of talk about gangs at the time,” she recalled, “and the idea was, what if there was a gang but it was a cool gang — for the Lord?” In God’s Gang they spoke in tongues, and the leaders would outline “all the sex you can’t do.”

Gas chambers in the Althouse

gas house

In which the esteemed law prof and perspicacious culture critic ponders an interesting O’Connor-Percy connection.

New Dante Canto found! von Balthasar (partially) vindicated! Unitarian Universalists enter Catholic Church in droves! Poor (in spirit) hardest hit!

Sort of.

‘A Darwin and a Catholic?’

“That I freely chose to be a Catholic after much thought and analysis, and wasn’t brainwashed into it, baffle my friends and family alike,” she writes. “I overheard one comment: ‘But she seemed like such an intelligent girl.’ So when people ask ‘A Darwin and a Catholic?’ what they’re saying is that I confound expectations.”

And more of her own words here.

h/t CTIL

Angel Three Oh

potter air pic1

-For Potter, somewhere six miles above Wisconsin

You traded angels for the altitude
That ventures guesses at horizon’s curve;
Exchanged the earth for nimbostratus cloud
Imbued with sherbet hues that ripple, carve
And veil existence. Dancing on the wing,
The sunlight spreads its own, a swan in song
Reminding you that destinations bring
Their own departures. Time and space belong
To speed, a fleeting moment’s vista, caught
On film, by minds afloat in fluted planes
And amber waves of whiskey. Not for naught
Do clocks and maps contract for cars and trains;
But flight elaborates with immanence
As man transcends his grounded transience.

Anecdote of the Painting

image

Blogging live from the Art Institute of Chicago.

Title for my eventual volumne of collected poetry

Caterwauls & Doggerels

Which reminds me, I need to finish the poem I started for the Lansing Priest’s ordination:

A priest makes men uneasy – how dare he what he does?/Standing in the breach ‘tween God and man…

And also the poem I started for the Confirmation of my two sons and godson last Thursday:

When the Spirit first descended/ When the reign of death was ended/ He came/ As flame/ That burned and rested all at once/ Consuming all but what Christ sought to save/ The wheat within the chaffy shell/ Since chaff is all that’s bound for hell/ And only wheat may live beyond the grave…

You know, because only jazz criticism sells better than poetry.