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Taytoman Agonistes
Sunday, February 26, 2006
 
194. God’s Grandeur
By Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–1889)
THE WORLD is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil,
It gathers to a greatness like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck His rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod; 5
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And bears man’s smudge, and shares man’s smell; the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things; 10
And though the last lights from the black west went,
Oh, morning at the brown brink eastwards springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast, and with, ah, bright wings.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006
 
Went to some of the Steve Reich weekend just gone - the Friday and Sunday evening concerts. All were excellent, I have to say the piece that had the most impact on me was the first on Friday, "Three Movements", with its move from anxiety to menace to exultation. "Music for 18 musicians" was predictably awesome.

But one thing always sticks with me considering not just Reich, but also Philip Glass and the other minimalists (I think John Adams is more varied) - it seems best for conveying the three emotions referred to above, harried anxiety, menace and exultation bordering on hysteria.

I love Morton Feldman's "Madame Press Died Last Week at Ninety." Therefore, I was rather looking forward to his "Neither." My God, was I disappointed. "Neither" is like a sort of parody of the popular conception of modern classical music - great swathes of menace from the orchestra every so often, amidst great chunks of sheer boredom; an obviously talented soprano reduced to singing a sort of baby talk, all for 55 minutes or so. It would have been vaguely atmospheric at say 10 minutes, but the guts of an hour really pushed it. I'd say any of the hip young things in the NCH attracted by the celebrity of Reich would have been instantly turned off ever coming near the place again by "Neither." An odd act of almost wilfully perverse programming.

 
"It is good to be reasonable and to love only the true; yet there are hours when common reality no longer satisfies and one yearns to escape from nature. We know well that this is impossible, but we so not desire it the less for that. Are not our most irrealizable desires the most ardent? Doubtless--and this is our great misery--doubtless we cannot escape from ourselves. We are condemned, irrevocably, to see all things reflected in us with a mournful and desolating monotony. For this very reason we thirst after the unknown and aspire to what is beyond us. We must have the unusual. We are asked, 'What do you wish?' And we reply, 'I wish something else.' What we touch, what we see, is nothing: we are drawn toward the intangible and the invisible."

- Anatole France

Friday, February 17, 2006
 
"Liberty and equality, spontaneity and security, happiness and knowledge, mercy and justice - all these are ultimate human values, sought for themselves alone; yet when they are incompatible, they cannot all be attained, choices must be made, sometimes tragic losses accepted in the pursuit of some preferred ultimate end. But if, as I believe, this is not merely empirically but conceptually true - that is, derives from the very conception of these values - then the very idea of the perfect world in which all good things are realised is incomprehensible, is in fact conceptually incoherent. And if this is so, and I cannot see how it could be otherwise, then the very notion of the ideal world , for which no sacrifice can be too great, vanishes from view."

- Isaiah Berlin, "My Intellectual Path"

Thursday, February 16, 2006
 
This is from an Ancient Rome discussion list I hardly ever read, mainly because it often consists of interesting but very detailed discussion of different types of armour and such. However the below should be self-explanatory, apologises for cut'n'pasting wholesale and not adding anything much. I however find it fascinating and weirdly moving. I've been studying too hard of late, methinks.

Am Montag, 6. Februar 2006 07:54 schrieb stumpe22:
> A while ago there was a discussion on this group about the fact that
> the Frankish king Clovis never officially broke away legally from the
> Roman Empire and was in fact Clovis was regarded as a Roman governor.
> In fact, I believe the Frankish Empire never officially legally broke
> away from the Roman Empire. And when Charlemagne was crowned Roman
> Emperor by the Pope in 800, the Western Roman Emperor was basically re-
> instated, the last Roman Emperor in the West having been Nepos who
> died around 480. Eventually the Carolingian Frankish Western Roman
> Empire (later named the Holy Roman Empire) was divided into what would
> later become France and the territories of the Holy Roman Empire that
> would in modern times become the countries of Germany, Switzerland and
> Austria.
>
> My question is, are the countries of France, Germany, Switzerland and
> Austria the remains of Roman Empire and the direct descendant of the
> Roman Empire? Are these countries what are left of the Roman Empire,
> as these areas never officially broke with the Roman Empire?

There are some legal problems with that, but I have always maiontained that I
am entitled to the toga :-).

The Roman empire did not officially 'end' at any point. The Visigoths,
Ostrogoths, Franks and Vandals all asked for, and received, recognition by
the Emperor as subordinate rulers of part of the Empire, so they were legally
part of it (the only real source of legitimacy as far as their worldview
went). When Charles was crowned Emperor, that was really little more than the
usual usurpation/revolt of a fringe province against a central power
considered illegitimate. That makes the Holy Roman Empire a direct successor
statew as much as it does the Byzantine (Roman) Empire. More interestingly,
Alfred of Wessex was also invested with consular and/or triumphal insignia by
the pope, and this, too, could be understood as bringing England into the
Empire again.

Things get somewhat more murky with the coming of modernity, though.
Switzerland is quite definitely out - they opted out of the Holy Roman Empire
with the Westphalian Treaty. Turkey, on the other hand, may still be in the
running, as the Turkish sultans adopted the title 'padishah' - emperor -
after taking Constantinople, in direct succession. It has also been argued
that the papacy and the Kingdom of Naples both retained their allegiance to
the Empire, though I would consider both arguments questionable.

In 1806, the Holy Roman Empire was officially dissolved and two new Empires
created - the Austrian and the French. The Austrian Empire deliberately
continued the traditions of the HRE while the French cast itself as a
successor state to Republican and Augustan Rome. Both could under the right
circumstances, be read to be continuators. The same could be said odf the
German Empire created in 1871, which deliberately cultivated the Holy Roman
Empire as its source of tradition and legitimacy. From the Empire of 1871,
modern Germany derives in an unbroken succession of state forms, but the
legal ties between the HRE and either Germany or Austria are questionable.
Austria, of course, was required to abjure all legal ties or claims to Empire
in the peace of 1919, so legally it is out of consideration. Turkey, too,
drew a clear line between its past as a Muslim Empire and its present as a
secular ethnic Republic in the 1920s, so legal successorship can be
questioned (although in all these cases, the states in question were required
to honour the obligations of their predecessors, so you could make the claim
that the cutoff was not complete).

Of course, there is also Moscow which, after the fall of Constantinople,
adopted the 'vacant' title of the Roman Empire by virtue of marriage ties of
Ivan III to the imperial family. The Padishah may have had a problem with
that. However, the end of that tradition was made very clear in 1917-1919,
and though modern Russia refers back to that tradition, the claim is more
than dodgy. They certainly made a clean break with the debts and obligations
of the Czars.

So in the end we have a wide range of contenders:

Germany - good claim to legal successorship, but problems with the 1806-1871
period

Austria - unbroken succession, except for two occasions in 1806 and 1919, but
in both cases under duress.

Turkey - good claim, but clearly ended in the 1920s

Russia - questionable claim, and in any case ended in 1919

France - very dubious claim, but unbroken legal succession since 1806

Rome/Central Italy - good claim until 1872, after that unclear legal
succession

Vatican City - unbroken legal succession of imperial episcopacy, but the
legitimacy of being 'part of the Empire' could be called into question after
they repeatedly made war against various emperors.

England - claim based on unclear antecedents, but unbroken legal succession
since the 800s

Take your pick. I think Greece and Hungary also have some kind of claim.

 
A sad little article on the decline of Keats' and Shelly's burial ground

Wednesday, February 15, 2006
 
La Figlia che Piange



O quam te memorem virgo…


STAND on the highest pavement of the stair—
Lean on a garden urn—
Weave, weave the sunlight in your hair—
Clasp your flowers to you with a pained surprise—
Fling them to the ground and turn 5
With a fugitive resentment in your eyes:
But weave, weave the sunlight in your hair.

So I would have had him leave,
So I would have had her stand and grieve,
So he would have left 10
As the soul leaves the body torn and bruised,
As the mind deserts the body it has used.
I should find
Some way incomparably light and deft,
Some way we both should understand, 15
Simple and faithless as a smile and shake of the hand.

She turned away, but with the autumn weather
Compelled my imagination many days,
Many days and many hours:
Her hair over her arms and her arms full of flowers. 20
And I wonder how they should have been together!
I should have lost a gesture and a pose.
Sometimes these cogitations still amaze
The troubled midnight and the noon’s repose.

 
Christopher Hitches on Robert Conquest

Tuesday, February 14, 2006
 
A poem for Valentine's Day, festival of pink hearts and sentimentality:

Take hence this tuneful Trifler's lays!
I'll hear no more the unmeaning strain
Of Venus' doves, and Cupid's darts,
And killing eyes, and wounded hearts;
All Flattery's round of fulsome praise,
All Falsehood's cant of fabled pain.

Bring me the Muse whose tongue has told
Love's genuine plaintive tender tale;
Bring me the Muse whose sounds of woe
'Midst Death's dread scenes so sweetly flow,
When Friendship's faithful breast lies cold,
When Beauty's blooming cheek is pale:
Bring thefe—I like their grief sincere;
It sooths my sympathetic gloom:
For, oh! Love's genuine pains I've borne,
And Death's dread rage has made me mourn;
I've wept o'er Friendship's early bier,
And dropt the tear on Beauty's tomb.


- John Scott

 
Random links to interesting articles:

Denis Dutton on Theodor Adorno and astrology

E.S. Turner on the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations

Denis Dutton on Cold Reading

Me on, well, lots of things

Monday, February 13, 2006
 
This was, predictably, mighty. What made it all the more mighty was, at risk of stating the obvious, seeing the piece live. Really the iPod and its ilk do not capture the sheer force and majesty of the piece. I had always, to be honest, loved the wildly bombastic invasion sequence of movement one and ignored the rest. Live, the rest is actually more effective - the constant edge of menace throughout even the more "pastoral" seeming bits, the sheer triumphantness/triumphalism of the final movement.....

 
Recently picked up a remaindered copy of this which is fabulous. Not only great verses by Pope, Swift, Dr Johnson et al but some utter gems from unknowns. Some are moving, some are profound, some are utterly hilarious. The Seventeenth Century saw a pleasing number of poems on astronomy, animal husbandry, mill design and other topics not necessarily regarded as "poetic" since.

My favourite must be the extract from "Callipaedia, or the Art of Getting Beautiful Children" ("from the Latin of Claudius Quillet") by one George Sewell ("Sad to say Sewell's education at Eton, Cambridge, Leyden and Edinburgh (M.D. in 1725) did not prevent his miserable existence as a bookseller's hack") which deserves a wider audience than its complete non-existence on the net (based on Googleing, judiciously given the title!):

Beneath those parts, where stretching to its bound,
The low abdomen girths the belly round,
The shop of Nature lies; a vacant space
Of small circumference divides the place,
Pear-like the shape; within a membrane spreads
Her various texture of meandrous threads;
These draw the vessel to a pursy state,
And to contract their substance, or dilate.
Here veins, nerves, arteries in a pairs declare,
How nobler parts deserve a double care;
They from the mass the blood and spirits drain,
That irrigate profuse the thirsty plain;
The bottom of the womb 'tis called; the sides are cleft,
By cells distinguished into right and left.
'Tis thought that females in the left prevail,
And that the right contains the sprighly male.
A passage here in form oblong extends,
Where fast compressed the stiffened nerve ascends,
And the warm fluid with concurring fluids blends.
The sages thus the womb's neck justly name;
Within the hollow of its inward frame,
Joined to the parts a small protuberence grows,
Whose rising lips the deep recesses close.
For while the tiller all his strength collects,
While Hope anticipates the fair effects,
The lubricated parts their station leave,
And closely to the working engine cleave;
Each vessel stretches, and distending wide,
The greedy womb attracts the glowing tide,
And either sex commixed, the streams united glide.
But now the womb relaxed, with pleasing pain
Gently subsides into itself again;
The seed moves with it, and thus closed within,
The tender drops of entity begin.
What joy the fibres of the stomach feel,
Long pinched with hunger, at a grateful meal,
Such tickling pleasure through the womb is sent,
When the first particles of life ferment.
This easy picture of the parts explains
How frequent motion no effect obtains;
The seed and pleasure lost in eager strife;
A useful lesson to the forward wife.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006
 
Random fact from study for part II MRCPscyh part 2 (in a hopefully regular series):

The sociological variable least correlated with depression is car ownership.

(source: the chapter on sociology in Core Psychiatry)

 
Two days away

 
What kind of music do you like? What an irritating question. However, the advent of the iPod allows an objective judgement: the top 25 tracks feature.

My iPod top 25 most played tracks as of current posting are:

"At the River" sung by Dawn Upshaw, from Charles Ives' "American Songs" sequence, on the John Adams conducted CD "American Elegies"
"Madame Press Died Last Week at Ninety" composed by Morton Feldman, from the same CD
"Bogorditse Dyewo" from Rachmaninov's Vespers, sung by the Bavarian Radio Choir
Extract from the closing section of Mahler's Resurrection Symphony (begining "O Schmerz! Du Alldurchdringer!") from Leonard Bernstein's conduction (sic) of the symphony
"The End of the Affair" from the soundtrack of the same name (indirectly - got this on a "best of") composed by Michael Nyman
"An Ending (Ascent)" by Brian Eno (From Apollo: Atmospheres)
"Serenity" from the same CD as "At the River"
"Tomorrow Belongs to Me" from "Cabaret" (movie soundtrack), rather alarmingly credited to "Nazi Youth" by iTunes
Prelude the Unaccompanied Cello Suite Number 1 composed by JS Bach, performed by Yo Yo Ma (From the "Master and Commander" soundtrack)
"You ain't going nowhere" from "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" by the Byrds
The Radetsky March by J. Strauss - from one of those "Uplifting Classics" type compilations
"Girls" by Death in Vegas - from the "Lost in Translation" soundtrack
"The State I am In" by Belle & Sebastian - from "Tigermilk"
"7/29/04 The Day of" From the Ocean's 12 OST, by David Holmes
"Crepulsco Sul Mare" by Piero Umiliani, from the same soundtrack
"They All Laughed" sung by Fred Astaire, from "Someone to Watch Over Me", a selection of jazz versions of Gershwin songs
"True to Life" by Roxy Music, from "Avalon"
"NYC" by Interpol, from "Turn on the Bright Lights
"On Top" by the Killers, from "Hot Fuss"
"Sarah Dies", again from the End of the Affair OST, composed by MIchael Nyman
"Twisted Nerve" composed by Bernard Hermann, taken from the Kill Bill vol 1 OST
"The Chairman Dances (1985) (Foxtrot for Orchestra)" composed by John Adams, taken from the compilation CD Maximum Minimalists
Another extract from the Resurrection Symphony, this time the very final part of the final movement (immediately following the extract mentioned above)
"Simple Gifts" from Aaron Copland's "Old American Songs" sequence - sung by Thomas Hampson
Finally, the first movement of the Sixth Brandenberg Concerto by JS Bach

So then, having written them out, a final score in terms of composers
Charles Ives 2
JS Bach 2
Michael Nyman 2
Gustav Mahler 2
However one could argue that as John Adams was involved with the American Elegies CD as well as composing "The Chairman Dances"
For a film I haven't seen, "The End of the Affair" features quite highly.

As for those bubbling under, ABC and PJ Harvey (with "Valentine's Day" and "You Said Something" respectively) are just bubbling under.

 
Shameless self-promotion again.

Two out of three of these are me.

http://browse.guardian.co.uk/search?search=%22seamus+sweeney%22

(accurate of today's posting)

As for which isn't, well I'm not gay and not married.

Sunday, February 05, 2006
 
Apparently in Lithuania, "whiplash" doesn't exist. By what is pure coincidence, neither does compensation post accidents.

Thursday, February 02, 2006
 
I promised original content, did I? Well, it seems that it will be more like the following, shamelessly ripped off a more original blogger.

seamus sweeney wrote:
Dear Barrister Balogun,
OH thank you ! Thank you. This is the opportunity I have been waiting for.
I am very sorry to hear of the death of Martins Max. He sounds like a nice man. I hope you are not too sad or distressed at his departure from this life. In my country, we have saying, "good man in this life, good man live in the afterlife." It is true.
I would be so so honoured to be a participant in the only scheme suitable for his memory - taking the money from his account. As his next of kin, my mourning for Martins Max is beyond measure, and this money is the only thing that will assauge it.
One flaw only - I have had a bad experience. this was with a man called Robin Teacher Smith-Pallady. He is a banker, with Bank of Africa. In Lagos. He approached me after the tragic death of Mr Alan Michaels, of England, in a plane crash, with his entire family. Tragically his enormous bank account lay there for some years, just like as with Martins Max. I volunteered to rectify this when Robin Teacher Smith-Pallady approached me. Then however, when I had given bank details and a sum of money, he disappeared from my life.
My trusting nature means I will definitely undertake some kind of venture of this kind again. But first I need proof. I need proof of trust. Mr Bar_Ola1@yahoo.com, I need to have about United States Dollars $5000 in cash, before I can provide the necessary. I would be very grateful for same. Reply now, and in utter confidence, for I will not trust you otherwise.
I am again sorry for the death of Max Martins.
Dr medss@yahoo.com

BALOGUN OLANIRAN wrote:
Barrister Balogun Olaniran,
Balogun Chambers ,
Plot 225 Queens Avenue,
Victoria Island,
Lagos.
Dear Friend,
I am Barrister Balogun Olaniran of Balogun Chambers and Associate. I am the
financial lawyer to the late Mr Martins Max from Stuttgart, Germany. Martins
Max was ana oil merchant with estment in the leading oil in Africa. He
invested in lifting oil from Niger delta in Nigeria to other countries where
he sales it. He was the highest shareholder in Shell petroleum Bp in 1994.
Martins Max met his untimely death via plane crash in the 2002. I was
contacted as his lawyer by the board of director, GLOBAL LINKS SECURITIES
LTD to look for the relative of late Mr. Martins Max to enable them transfer
the accumulated share dividend of his investment with the GLOBAL LINKS
SECURITIES LTD. It is about two years now. I made some research about the
relatives of Mr Martins Max and discorvered through some DNA reports that
some other two passengers in the same plane happend to be his wife and only
daughter Cynthia Martins Max who also died along with him in the crash.
I am contacting you so that both of us can reach an agreement to enable you
act as his next of kin and claim the fund of course they will believe me
because I am his financial lawyer untill his death and I have all his
business documents with me.I would have use someone from here for the
purpose but the fact that late Martins Max is a white man made it impossible
for me to present a black man as his next of kin which of course, the GLOBAL
LINKS SECURITIES LTD will not honour.
All the document will be validated in your name and shall be drafted by me
to include your name in an application which be forwarded to the GLOBAL
LINKS SECURITIES LTD for the claims. The money is just USD18.Million
dollars. I will personally monitor the progress of the transaction as your
lawyer. After we succeed in transfering the money into your account, we will
give some
portion of the money to charity home in your country and then share the
remaining in the ratio 70% to 30% between you and I. If you are willing to
work with me in this regard, please, forward to me through this email
address:
1. Your full name and contact address
2. Your phone and fax number (cell phone)
Thanks and God bless you.
Best Regards,
Barr. raymond lawrence
(SAN) (L.B Hons) B.L PhD

 
Well, I really should be studying for MRCPsych Part II, a mere 5 weeks and 5 days away. However I'm not. It seems like the logical time to revitalise my blog. And this time I won't be simply cutting and pasting old reviews and articles (and not even particularly good ones at that)...


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