polutrope: (moar academia)
Over the last couple of days I read Hamlet's Mill, which Wikipedia says has "tenuous arguments based on incorrect or outdated linguistic information." This is an understatement. The entire thing is an exercise in jumping to conclusions. I'm not even going to go into the argument, which is something along the lines of "myth was primitive science" or the fact that most of the books had nothing to do with the argument, but rather with finding equivalents throughout world mythology. No, I'm just going to reprint my new favorite paragraph in anything ever¹ ²:

...where he meets Siduri, the divine barmaid, "who dwells by the edge of the sea".
Under the eyes of severe philologists, slaves to exact "truth," one dare not make light of this supposedly "geographical" item with its faint surrealistic tang. Here is a perfectly divine barmaid by the edge of the sea, called by many names in many languages. Her bar should be as long as the famed one in Shanghai, for she has along her shelves not only beer and wine but more outlandish and antiquated drinks from many cultures, drinks such as honeymead, soma, sura (a kind of brandy), kawa, pulque, peyote-cocktail, decoctions of ginseng. In short, from everywhere she has the ritual intoxicating beverages which comfort the dreary souls who are denied the drink of immortality. One might call these drinks Lethe, after all.

So the whole book is like that. The whole book. In writing style and in ridiculous arguments. There is something on literally every page to make to make me stop and look at the authors funny.

Although I am kind of worried. There seems to be a disease infecting everyone who knows lots of different folklores - because these people know their stuff, clearly, it's just their conclusions that are lacking - that makes them want to connect everything, or just leap to really odd conclusions. Like, Atlantis was in Finland! All of Indo-European society was divided in three parts! Absolutely everyone really has the same mythology! Hamlet is Väinämöinen! And I mean, I know a lot of folklore. Am I next?

¹ And mention the fact that he manages to associate the death of Pan with the king of the cats
²Admittedly I have a new favorite X all the time.
polutrope: (Default)
I dreamt about a story-telling contest. I told a story about a king whose three daughters died on three consecutive nights. They were sent to a place where a man and woman lived. The woman had a huge lower jaw, and the trick was not to mention it. The first two did, of course, and were thrown into Hell; the third didn’t. This story was applauded.
and it continues )

Guess all the story-type represented and win a prize! Aarne-Thompson numbers must be included.
polutrope: (ET TU PENIS)
Is it bad that what bothers me most about this ridiculousness is the fact that he's singing "La donna è mobile" to a bunch of 18th century aristocrats, when the aria is painfully clearly 19th century?

Oh also it reminds me of the part in Farinelli: Il castrato when he makes an English Lady orgasm with the power of his high notes.
polutrope: (chips challenge)
OMG. And if you would take me to task for using those three letters, which inadequately express my feelings, I say to you that nothing could sum up what I have seen. I have just spent the best five minutes of my life watching this (credit is of course to parterre; I do not find these things on my own.

and while I would indeed watch a fantasy movie with Dmitri as some sort of half-naked villain, this is not exactly how it would go.

My heart reaches out, too, to this man's poor abused special effects program.
polutrope: (Default)
YouTube comments are kind of nutty, eh? someone said "I feel shipwrecked upon the green water of his glance" in the comments to this Jarrousky song (which is nice, though the commenters are right about the quality.
Hereunder is commentary on a novel )
polutrope: (Default)
Wow so I knew I had a certain inclination to obscure operas, but The Chessboard Fugitives is really the farthest I've gone. No google hits, or at least not descriptive of the opera; at most one hit for the composer (George Courouros, b. 1942). But it's really pretty:
and so is Mata Katsuli's voice.

This has a very strange tonality, and again Irini Karaianni's voice is lovely:

So yeah. And it really makes me sad that I'll never find a recording.

ETA, two minutes later: Τιμή means literal "price" now. Achilles is ROLLING IN HIS GRAVE.

ETA AGAIN: yeah yeah yeah I am Mata Katsuli's biggest fan, whatever. More importantly, WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE:

ETA son of ETA: well, the people at the bottom are really animals, and not wearing gas masks, as I first thought. That part actually does makes sense, since Alcina, as a descendant of Circe, turns people into animals, although it's not exactly how I would have done it.
polutrope: (rousseau)
So yeah. Obscure opera. Has ridiculous plots sometimes, like people jumping into Vesuvius when it's erupting. But nothing like This (and dammit, [livejournal.com profile] dolique, before you say anything, it was free):
The story is set in sixteenth-century Brazil and deals with the love of Cecilia, daughter of the Portuguese nobleman Don Antonio, and the ‘noble savage’ Pery, chieftain of the Indian tribe of Guarany (who eventually accepts baptism). They are threatened both by the hostility of the cannibal Aimore tribe and by Spanish adventurers led by Gonzales, who has designs on the silver mine owned by Antonio and on Cecilia. The opera ends spectacularly a la Meyerbeer when Antonio, to save his daughter, blows up his castle with himself and his enemies in it.

ETA: Holy cow, this was a common plot device! From the Wikipedia article on Meyerbeer's Le prophète: during the celebrations of his coronation, Jean sets off an explosion which brings the palace down on all who remain of the principal characters.
polutrope: (in ur troy!)
So this is probably not quite fair, but it's also probably not all that far off. In terms of accuracy, getting historical information about the Bronze Age from Homer is about the same as getting 17th century history from Dumas.¹ That is to say, he's quite a bit after the period he's writing about (and if he is actually Dark Age, he has only filtered cultural memory) and his main concern is telling a good story.

This is not to say that you can't get something out of it - cultural attitudes, what kleos is and what it means, usw. But it's not totally historical, and if you get into the mindset "Homer was writing about facts and he was always completely factual about them" you will be led down a very bad path.
¹ I mean, I totally do this. But we also have real history books.²
² OH MAN THAT WOULD TOTALLY WORK - Nestor is clearly Athos, Achilles is D'Artagnan, Diomedes (or maybe Ajax the Greater?) is Porthos, and Odysseus is Aramis. Agamemnon can be Cardinal Richelieu.
polutrope: (work habits)
Gregory Nagy: "We are reminded [by Pindar's version of the Pelops myth, in which Tantalos takes ambrosia and cannot digest it] of the witch who lived in the candy house in the story of Hansel and Gretel: having access to the ultimate food, she lusts to eat the flesh of plump children."

1. Candy is "the ultimate food"? Maybe if you're twelve.
2. I could have written this. If it were 4AM the day before the paper was due and I were being really lazy with the editing or really needed those 34 words.
3. This is the sort of thing you can get away with when you're an authority in your field?

Ugh I am posting way too much but I am halfway done with my Helenpaper and I did my Latin recitation so like whatever.
polutrope: (Default)
I think my psyche is trying to tell me something (probably, fix your goddamn sleep schedule and stop sleeping during the day). In any case, having totally awesome dreams while sleeping from 11AM to 8PM is probably not the way.

First, the main character was some sort of marine animal, perhaps formed of pure blue light (?) It and its friends were set the task of moving everything on the bottom of the ocean to the top, to "remove context" as the main character's mother said. Also most of these things were cereal boxes. Then the scene switched to above the ocean (but the same people, just human now). There was a man, who was also Umberto Eco (?) and he showed the main character an underground pit that was the inspiration for something.

Somehow, the main character got the idea that the Sun god was trying to kill them. He watched a shadow play on the wall of the courtyard that told him how to get to the Sun god without getting killed, and he and his friend followed the directions. At last there was a room full of tests that had to be passed, which looked a lot like a gym. (one of the tests was multiple sets of push-ups; another was a set time on a stationary bike.) Then you had to press a button at exactly the right time (11:11, I think.) (there were a few more of these buttons but I totally forget how they came into it. It was always the same number of minutes as the hour, though [i.e. 12:12])

Finally they reached the Sun god (who was very Egyptian), and he talked about how immortality kind of sucked, and showed them a game that would save them from destruction. There were several colors, which represented wood, water, and sand. The goal was to get to the sun if you were a "warm" color and to the moon if you were a "cool" color. To do this, you had to build a raft by taking the wood piece and sending it down the waterway.

Having done this and saved themselves I guess they wandered around for a while talking about how King Arthur and Sigurd were both sun-heroes, except there wasn't much agreement; one of them thought that maybe Sigurd was weak at the new moon.

And then one of the old ladies who was the Sun god's companion scattered yellow dust over everything and told one of them (a young girl) that it would be her kingdom - Tunisia. Did I mention that this was in a sort of Darkness-before-the-world, in a night full of stars?

And then I woke up.
polutrope: (Default)
I have possibly found the worst way to be waken up in the history of mankind. (Ok, being asleep and then waking up to someone standing over you with a dagger might be worse. But not by much.)

I was in my thirteenth hour of sleep, peaceful and happy, when I hear something moving around in my room. I dismiss it for a while, since I always hear things, especially when I'm most of the way asleep. However, the sound becomes more insistent.

I get out of bed and look at the place the sound is coming from.

It is a squirrel. One of the big gray squirrels that inhabit our campus - you know, in the trees. Not my dorm.

It scurries around for a little, clearly very confused. I immediately reach for my cell phone to call my dad and see if he had any ideas for getting it out. By the time he picks up, it has climbed out the window and run away to squirrely freedom.
polutrope: (Default)
OH MY GOD my mother wants me to use placenta shampoo like from people omg what is she talking about? :(
polutrope: (moar academia)
The traces of the ancient doctrine of Homer's infallibility linger on in contemporary criticism. If something in Homer is not absolutely correct, it must be justified, and cannot by any means be ascribed to poetic license or a slip of the poet's tongue. Felice Vinci takes this idea to its farthest ends in The Baltic Origins of Homer's Epic Tales.

A Long Review )
polutrope: (sleep is for pussies)
So evidently I had a dream last night in which Joan Sutherland sang Pirelli from Sweeney Todd. Yeah, I have no idea either.

(It was also somehow mixed up with L'elisir d'amore, which kind of makes sense because Pirelli is like Dulcamara in a way.)

((I say "evidently" because I have this thing where I remember dreams fine, it just takes me a while to realize that a. they were dreams and b. they make no goddamned sense.))
polutrope: (sleep is for pussies)
I feel that everyone should be acquainted with this; the description on youtube starts off by saying that it is "a Theatre/Opera mise-en-scene that undertakes an unprecedented artistic, social and cultural phenomenon: the history of the castrated..." And then, like the clip itself, gets a lot weirder. I think - and I say I think because I really have no idea what happens - Napoleon shows up. And there's a two headed guy in 18th century dress. So go watch it!
polutrope: (academia)
So, I might have mentioned Annius of Viterbo to [livejournal.com profile] dolique in an IM. But Annius of Viterbo's crazy cannot be fully divulged in a single line. In fact, in Giants in Those Days, Walter Stephens takes about a hundred pages to do it.

Anyway, as the most-knowing Wiki tells us, Annius of Viterbo forged a lot of things. That's mainly boring - lots of people forge things. Perhaps not on the level of forging multiple texts from multiple cultures, but it's still boring. In any case, Annius had reasons for forging things.

Those reasons involved Giants. Lots of Giants. There were also valid historical reasons - to disassociate Italy from the Greeks, who had just fallen under Turkish rule, and were classified as heretics because of the Great Schism anyway, and to diss the French. But those reasons are much less interesting than Giants.

Noah, for example, was a Giant. After the Flood, he landed in Italy and founded an empire whose capital city was... Viterbo, of course. His successors included Osiris and Hercules of Libya. Isis is also in there somewhere. Also the Etruscans, who had an empire before the Romans, that was purely Italian and didn't fall under the sway of Greek culture.

He also includes some... interesting etymologies of "Gallus" from Hebrew and Latin. Sadly, the only one I remember is the Latin "Hen's Husband." And one other, that will be mentioned later.

However, Stephens doesn't mention whether or not people believed him. I don't imagine he was a popular figure around the monastery.

The scene is in a Dominican monastery in Viterbo in the late 15th century. Brother Sextus is walking peacefully in the garden. Suddenly he sees Brother Annius, and, knowing his theories and his fondness for recounting them, tries to hide. He is unsuccessful.
Annius: Brother Sextus! Good morning.
Sextus: Good morning, Annius. Oh, no, he's going to tell me about the giants, isn't he?
Annius: Have I told you about my theories?
Sextus: Has he forgotten? I should humor him. What if he turns violent? No, you haven't.
Annius, earnestly: Well, you see...
Sextus, during this: Should I tell Father Abbot? Has he told Father Abbot? What if he wants him here to keep him away from the general population? What if he hasn't told Father Abbot, and he thinks I'm crazy? OH GOD GET ME OUT OF HERE.

Anyway, people did take him seriously, and some French scholars didn't approve of his anti-French slant. So they - and by they I mean Jean Lemaire - retconned everything. Stephens says that "The great Hercules of Libya, twelfth king of Gaul" is his stock phrase. Hercules of Libya, by the way, was also a Giant. The Greek Hercules took glory from his predecessor. The French were also, of course, descended from the Trojans. His etymology of "Gallus" is from the Greek meaning "milk-white." Which is also very logical and not made up on the spot at all.

In conclusion, if Annius weren't a monk and we had invented time travel, I'd go back to the 15th century and propose to him right now.
polutrope: (work habits)
I will be spending all of next year in New York. Seriously, classes are not important when confronted with next season.

My count is eleven that I want to see, at least four that I will die if I do not see.

(The eleven, if anyone wants to know, are Trovatore, Sonnambula, Damnation de Faust, Rondine [for some reason], Rusalka, Orfeo [if Stephanie Blythe actually sings Orfeo - otherwise, it has Danielle de Niese in it and who cares], Don Giovanni, Queen of Spades[Pikovaya Dama, if you know Russian], Cenerentola, Elisir d'amore, and Manon. Maybe Adriana Lecouvreur, but I don't like it all that much.)

Zimmerman describes her “play within a play” construct for La Sonnambula: “Nowhere in the world is reality rendered so tenuous, so provisional—so much like a dream—as in a rehearsal room where a company of singers, like dreamers in their sleep, move through an invisible world as though it were real. Our production will be staged in a rehearsal hall, during a rehearsal for a traditional production of La Sonnambula, where the opera gradually asserts its authority over all the players, the room, and time itself.”

This seems like the worst idea ever and I can see why Dessay has said that she will never work with Zimmerman ever again.

PS this is from our official confirmation.
polutrope: (work habits)
I am writing a paper. Not, of course, at this moment, but if someone asked me the question "what did you do last night," I would answer, "I wrote a paper." I hope that by five I will be entitled to use the perfective in Russian.

This paper is about the relationship of power and punishment in the theory of Michel Foucault. I do not like Michel Foucault very much, for various reasons.

This paper is also a giant pain. I would much rather not be writing it, for now I must reread the record of the trial of Tempel Anneke for witchcraft, which is very very long, and not all that interesting.

I am on my fourth cup of tea for the day. I will probably make it to ten by the end of the night.

ETA: What the hell is this?

"On Thursdays during the Ember days, periods of fasting for the Catholic Church, the Benandanti claimed their spirits would leave their bodies at night in the form of small animals (wolves, butterflies and rats in the Friuli). The spirits of the men would go to the fields to fight evil witches (malandanti). The Benandanti men fought with fennel stalks, while the dark witches were armed with sorghum stalks (sorghum was used for witches' brooms, and the "brooms' sorghum" was one of the most current type of sorghum [2]). If the men prevailed, the harvest would be plentiful."

Actually, Guy Gavriel Kay uses this in Tigana.
polutrope: (work habits)
It seems that the common verses of Clementine are not the original, but a parody. Which makes total sense, of course, though the original words are funny enough on their own.

Also, House of the Rising Sun - in Czech!

32 languages of Frère Jaques, if I count correctly.

Latin FTW:
Quare dormis, o Iacobe,
Etiam nunc, etiam nunc?
|: Resonant campanae, :|
Din din dan, din din dan.

Ô Iacôbe, frâter piger,
dormîsne? dormîsne?
|: Tinnî Mâtûtînum! :|
Tin tin tan, tin, tin, tan.
polutrope: (Default)
One of the exercises in my Russian book was to finish translating this "quite strange" letter that Tanya (one of the main characters. The plot of this book is hilarious.) received:


I am a Russian writer, a French poet, and a German composer. In the morning I walk in the zoo and think in French. In the afternoon I read in Russian. In the evening I rest on the couch and speak German. Excellent! My old red pants are in the garage. My beautiful black dog is in America. And, you know, my books are delicious. Really! I live in house number nineteen. What is your favorite restaurant?

your new friend, Apollon.

...All I can say is: Run, Tanya, run! He's obviously going to be a stalker.


polutrope: (Default)

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