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Korrektiv announces new Latin literary find

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Long thought to be a fabulous hoax played by Hugh Kenner on Ezra Pound for his 75th birthday, the “Mucorix Manscript,” as it has come to be known, has been baffling scholars for years. But now a Latinist from Finland Boj Neirbo says he has unraveled the mystery of the, until now, untranslatable document, claiming that the late Latin Classical text, a weird hybrid of Latin and Aramaic, can be sourced to a time immediately following the nadir of Roman poetry.

Looking at the subtexts, pretexts, ur-texts and contexts in the manuscript, Professor Selywn Mauberly of Puerto Rico State University and his colleague Johnathan Boy were “immediately struck by the authenticity” of the phrasing, syntax and diction.

“I think the late Mr. Kenner would be pleased to know that his little joke turned out to be something rather spectacular,” Mauberly writes in the official journal of Roman verse, Latin Poetry Yesterday – and, Yes, Today. “He must have known the world would eventually discover what he passed off as his own was in fact a long-lost manuscript from a poet who calls himself Ferrugus Mucorix – an obvious pseudonym.”

Also given the title “Carmina Mucronis” by the 9th century English monastic scholar St. Hubbins of Butterbreadbury, the enigmatic manuscript, which is dated to sometime in late winter A.D. 1-3., is filled with simple yet startling images, erotic themes and quite a bit of immature humor, Mauberly states. The centerpiece of the collection, a long didactic poem which blends epic, satire and scatological humor, is of particular note for the clues it leaves regarding other manuscript mysteries still raging in the heady world of contemporary classical scholarship.

“I’d be telling tales out of school if I said any more,” Neirbo said, speaking without even a whiff of a Swedish accent at a press conference held in the third booth on the left from the rest rooms at a Denny’s in Hoboken, NJ. “You just have to buy the book.”

According to Mauberly, at the same press conference, the work also includes a number of fragments of what appear to be a larger work.

“There are a swarm of theories swirling around the Maypole, much like those pieces of well-chewed meat that swirl around a sink drain but never seem to get to take the final plunge,” Mauberly said as he gave a sideways sneering glance to Neirbo. “But the most popular, and by far the most credible, I might add, is the belief that these fragments were actually part of a larger work attempting to celebrate the glories of the Roman sewer system such as it was at that time.”

While not at the press conference, Mauberly’s assistant, Boy, noted that it sought to do for plumbing what the renowned Roman epic poet Vergil’s Georgics did for farming.

“You might call it ‘The Cloacics’,” he said by phone from what sounded like someplace deep in a well with the constant rumble of large machinery in the background.

Also intriguing Mucorix scholars for years was the identity of Flavia, to whom many of the poems were addressed. From the text, scholars have gleaned that she was an Arabian slave with whom Mucorix has several trysts and who is owned by an individual identified as Calvus.

“As an objet de mon affection Flavia really out-Lesbias Lesbia, truly eclipses Cynthia and, in fact, indeed, decidedly, even, serves as a sort of uber-Kerouac,” Mauberly said at the same press conference between bites of warmed over bacon and cold fried eggs, alluding to Mucorix’s predecessors, the 1st century Roman poets Catullus and Sextus Propertius, and 20th century Beatnik poet Allen Ginsberg.

“But there’s a lack of originality there to Flavia which pretends to something else,” Neirbo said not quite under his breath, fixing Mauberly with a cold stare as he reacted to Mauberly’s tart reminder that Denny’s no longer has a “smoking section” by stabbing his cigarette out in the yolk of Mauberly’s third egg, which Mauberly said he “wasn’t going to eat anyway.”

Mauberly then proceeded to order a strawberry ice cream soda.

Running to a little more than 20 pages, the manuscript has been traced by Mauberly to actor Rudolph Valentino, who it is believed purchased the manuscript back in the early 1920s in Syria as the actor, an early proponent of method acting techniques, was sifting through palimpsests at a book stall in a Damascus market. It then vanished, Mauberly says, before resurfacing at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Washington, D.C., in time for the poet Pound’s 75th birthday. It is now housed in the New Jersey State University Lou Costello Library, Exit 32.

“Can I get some more coffee?” Neirbo said, lifting his cup as he attempted to gain the attention of the waitress, who said she didn’t “have time for his shit.”

“That was the best ice cream soda I ever tasted,” added Mauberly looking up from the bits of strawberry seed collecting at the bottom of his glass.
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Editor’s Note: Add another first to Korrektiv’s long list of accomplishments! After consulting with Boj Neirbo and pushing enough alcohol and tobacco in his direction, Korrektiv has acquired the first North American rights to his translation of the Mucorix Manuscript. Beginning with the introductory poem (which appears below), Korrektiv will be periodically publishing the collected works of Mucorix over the next month. I’m sure you will all be excited as the Korrektiv Kollektiv in seeing this important literary figure virtually resurrected before your eyes here at Korrektiv, where yesterday’s poets are and always remain yesterday’s poets today.

Carmina Mucronis: I

Stride on, my strident little book,
and tell the days of love and war;
stride on from noisy city avenues
to farms that lie in peaceful sunlight,
up the fields flush with wine
awaiting harvest vats and jars –
and tell Mars of your conquests,
all the while dedicated to Venus
who alone holds your shaft and shield,
mixing love and war in her bowl.
Stride on, my strident little book,
and tell the days of love and war
to the fortunate Gaius Laternium;
o, for he shall have you at last
when in his cups, clattering full
with mirthy bubbled blood
of love, that heady mixture of wine
and mellowing honey. For you,
famous scribbler of time and place,
here are some accounts of battle
given in softer measures than yours.
May Venus grant me a good vintage
in polished jars of posterity!

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

Ars longa, caenum facile…

 

RIP Mike McGrady – aka one-part Penelope Ashe.

“It came after a night of reading ‘Valley of the Dolls,’ ” he later told Newsweek, “which I couldn’t put down because I was asleep.”

JOB

Sold!

Well, now, this bodes well indeed…

But Angelico, you left out the best part:

“Probably the press were the only people to be taken in by Bruno Hat. Certainly, everyone at the private view knew what was happening; Bryan Guinness remembers: ‘it seemed to me a charade rather than a hoax since everyone appeared to be in the secret. Nobody betrayed it: to some extent the hoaxers were perhaps hoaxed in thinking anyone deceived.”

The Korrektiv: Bright Youn… um, Bright Somethings?

Via the BBC: ‘In a sense… the history of every medium is also, at least in part, the history of using that medium for fakery, for hoaxes and all kinds of practical jokes.’

When pranksters create internet hoaxes for fun – or for profit – it becomes difficult to trust what we read or see online.

Jokers and for-profit marketing companies are now devising elaborate online hoaxes, taking advantage of the in-built desire among consumers and media outlets to believe what they really know is unbelievable.

Hacking giant video monitors in New York’s Times Square? Kanye West launching a web startup? Fakes like these are just about believable enough.

Fakes that are just believable enough? Sounds familiar….

In the accompanying video, one of the kids behind the ‘Kanye West web startup’ hoax explains why he dragged Kanye West’s name into his little personal prank: ‘We realized this would probably only be funny to us and our friends, and so we need a name bigger attached to it’ — which sounds very familiar… very VERY familiar. Am I right, friends?

But the Korrektiv Konnektions don’t stop there. About halfway through the video, a professor type mentions that Evelyn Waugh and friends staged a fake art exhibit in London in 1929! Did everyone else know that already? I didn’t know that.

But, sure enough:

This celebrated hoax involved all the leading social figures of the time, and was the brainchild of Brian Howard, the effete socialite dilettante, upon whom Evelyn Waugh modelled the languid Anthony Blanche of Brideshead Revisited. Flushed with the success of his twenty-fourth birthday party, a ‘Great Urban Dionysia’ with Greek mythology as its theme, Howard then dreamed up a project that would not only be a good prank, but might also serve the dual purpose of launching him as an artist.

With his great friend Bryan Guinness, who was at that time married to Diana Mitford later to become the wife of Oswald Mosely, he carefully planned an exhibition of paintings by an imaginary artist. The show opened on July 23 1929 at Bryan Guinness’ house at 10 Buckingham Street, London SW1, advance information having been leaked to the press. Lady Eleanor Smith was suitably duped when she reported in the Sunday Despatch: ‘BRUNO HAT. What will be almost a cocktail party, is the private view of the exhibition of paintings by Bruno Hat to be held in London next week. Bruno Hat is a painter of German extraction, and his work is mainly of the abstract type, seemingly derivative from Picasso and De Chirico….’

snip

This natural, intuitive modern artist was in fact Tom Mitford, Bryan Guinness’ brother-in-law in heavy disguise and with a very affected German accent, who sat in a wheelchair and answered questions during the packed private view.

And Waugh himself even wrote an introduction to the exhibition catalogue, called ‘Approach to Hat’:

Now everyone is aware that what has come to be termed “abstract” painting has only just begun to be “taken seriously” in England. Some years ago Mr. Roberts and Mr. Wyndham Lewis achieved a certain success in that direction, but the acknowledged masters, such as Picasso, Gris and, perhaps, Marcoussis, have only recently found a market in this country. Artistically, we are incurably unpunctual.

snip

The painting of Bruno Hat presents a problem of very real importance. He is no Cezanne agonisedly tussling to reconcile the visual appearance of form with his own intuitional perception of it. Like Picasso, he creates it. Though the experienced eye can see at a glance that his work is entirely free of Picasso’s influence, it is to that artist that we go so far as to compare him. Picasso is the greatest painter of our time for one reason: this reason is that he is the most inspired of all the creators of abstract pictures. Those experts who have seen Bruno Hat’s work definitely accredit him with a similar power, developed, because of his youth only, to a less degree. The significance of this cannot be sufficiently stressed. It means, among other things, that Bruno Hat may lead the way in this century’s European painting from Discovery to Tradition. Uninfluenced, virtually untaught, he is the first natural, lonely, spontaneous flower of the one considerable movement in painting to-day.

Hitherto, good abstract painting has been the close preserve of its Hispano-Parisian discoverers. Bruno Hat is the first signal of the coming world movement towards the creation of Pure Form.

And that got me thinking… and thinking… and thinking…

GET THEE BEHIND ME, SATAN!