More specifically concerning: language
06.03.02 – Wednesday
6 March 2002, around 21.16.
For once Vergil moved.
31.03.02 – Sunday
31 March 2002, around 21.10.
Still reading Waley’s translation of Genji, with which we ‘are not best pleased,’ to borrow Waley’s idiom. (There are also several printers’ errors sprinkled liberally throughout the text, tho’ in our generous spirit we pretend not to mind them — but I hear there’s a new translation on the market…) However: A simple Chinese verse […]
2.05.02 – Thursday
1 May 2002, around 19.56.
The workmen spoke in iambic pentameter, a swift and toneless sequence of stressed and unstressed, not languid or melodic, but with a choppy sharpness, unconscious precision and imprecise annoyance. Curiously, the word ‘f—k’ could take any metrical position, as the sentiment or the phrase required.
4.05.02 – Saturday
4 May 2002, around 19.57.
‘What’s all this about sin, eh?’ ‘That,’ I said, very sick. ‘Using Ludwig van like that. He did no harm to anyone. Beethoven just wrote music.’ And then I was really sick and they had to bring a bowl that was in the shape of like a kidney. ‘Music,’ said Dr Brodsky, like musing. ‘So […]
8.05.02 – Wednesday
8 May 2002, around 20.01.
A man’s power to connect his thought with its proper symbol, and so to utter it, depends on the simplicity of his character, that is, upon his love of truth, and his desire to communicate it without loss. The corruption of man is followed by the corruption of language. When simplicity of character and the […]
19 October 2002, around 16.50.
25 October 2002, around 17.03.
[Bloom] claims to be of the school of aesthetic critics, remarking that, in an ideological age, ‘I feel quite alone these days in defending the autonomy of the aesthetic.’ Yet he himself doesn’t seem to have a clue about how to produce anything approaching the aesthetically pleasing in his own writing. In an interview in […]
In the Garden
26 October 2002, around 17.05.
Books take up space, and libraries, being confined by walls, must occasionally weed the shelves of injudicious pamphlets and books unborrowed through the centuries. That this should astonish or dismay comes as something of a surprise. That, however, is not my theme. I would like to return to the metaphor of libraries as gardens. It […]
12 November 2002, around 16.20.
England, 12 November, 7:24 a.m. When I remember something I would rather forget, or when some unpleasant action or unwitting stupidity of mine forces its way forward into the present from the past, I think I don’t feel well. Oh happy past, which can so disorder the present. A people that grows accustomed to sloppy […]
Note to Self (2)
17 November 2002, around 13.33.
17 November 2002.
30 November 2002, around 19.13.
For words have a weight beyond their meaning, the sound of the stithy drawing measure from the iron of Elizabethan poetry, skirting the Joycean quicksilver to forge a something other than consciousness—a feeling, then, a fear. The chthonic sibilance and uneven lisp hammering out associations and leaving nothing but the need to hear.
Part the Sixth
9 July 2003, around 8.46.
Heroically, Elspeth persevered, as her Aunt Maude had always encouraged her to do. (This was the same Aunt Maude who had fallen in love with a dead Russian novelist and, whenever the radio happened to play Rachmaninov, would shake her head sadly, saying with a gentle smile, ‘oh… the Russians,’ before wandering to the kitchen […]
of doubtful origin
10 August 2003, around 8.21.
27 December 2003, around 16.07.
Now although this elegant ordination of vegetables, hath found coincidence or imitation in sundry works of Art, yet is it not also destitute of naturall examples, and, though overlooked by all, was elegantly observable, in severall works of nature. —from the Garden of Cyrus I dreamt I was made to sit an examination on the […]
12 February 2004, around 16.46.
8. Philaletheia, the disinterested love of scholarly truth, can lead one into some strange places. The connection of the two marginalia is the urge to recover the sense of an ancient text in full and accurately; to probe past the obscurity of poet and translator alike, to what Lycophron’s persona thought was to happen in […]
4 March 2004, around 15.05.
8 March 2004, around 8.12.
adventurous students always read classics.
7 April 2004, around 13.25.
On quires and choirs.
30 June 2004, around 8.00.
Postcard (from the editor of the text to his godmother) found in a copy of ‘Urne Buriall’ and ‘The Garden of Cyrus’ … according to the notion I have of reason, neither the written treatises of the learned nor the set discourses of the eloquent are able of themselves to teach the use of it. […]
15 September 2004, around 9.51.
3 November 2004, around 16.11.
Started reading The Museum of Unconditional Surrender by Dubravka Ugrešić. The novel proper begins as follows: 1. ‘Ich bin müde,’ I say to Fred. His sorrowful, pale face stretches into a grin. Ich bin müde is the only German sentence I know at the moment (3).1 I note this only because ‘Ich bin müde’ was […]
17 January 2005, around 10.16.
language strata at high table.
30 March 2008, around 5.30.
Robert Musil gets twisted up.
a cross bearing
7 July 2008, around 23.03.
We had mock language proficiency interviews the other day, just so our instructors could get a better sense of where we were in our language interview and whether they need to panic about our chances of passing the actual language proficiency interview at the end of training.1 The format was simple, the first part being […]
21 August 2008, around 22.39.
27 August 2008, around 0.01.
the ugly byzantine
2 October 2008, around 1.43.
Byzantine diplomacy was very expensive. Dowries, gifts, subsidies to whole nations, all involved the treasury in enormous sums. Even economic blockades, sometimes effectively employed towards the Saracens, were costly for the Empire also. The Government was moreover perfectly willing to pay its enemies direct not to invade its territory. Lawless princes across the frontier thus […]
31 October 2008, around 0.15.
education and the perception of living utterances…
to have done
24 January 2009, around 1.30.
Infixes and conjugations.
30 April 2009, around 0.17.
25 September 2009, around 0.28.
From Imagined Communities: It is always a mistake to treat languages in the way that certain nationalist ideologues treat them – as emblems of nation-ness, like flags, costumes, folk-dances, and the rest. Much the most important thing about languages is their capacity for generating imagined communities, building in effect particular solidarities. (133) But also: If […]
8 June 2010, around 9.45.
Regarding Cornus mas.
fruits & spoils
7 August 2010, around 14.51.
The nourishing fruit of the historically understood contains time as a precious but tasteless seed.1 While content and language form a certain unity in the original, like a fruit and its skin, the language of the translation envelops its content like a royal robe with ample folds.2 —Walter Benjamin (Illuminations) ‘Theses on the Philosophy of […]
layers upon layers
11 January 2011, around 16.57.
The cut direct.
aydqan mard es
22 March 2011, around 21.10.
The more languages you know, the more of a (hu)man you are.
24 March 2011, around 7.36.
the importance of reading long books.
2 April 2011, around 10.14.
derring-do among the philologists…
no fuss no muss
12 February 2012, around 12.40.
Repetition and cross-cultural echoes.
28 March 2012, around 9.49.
Antonio Tabucchi. Requiem: A Hallucination trans. Margaret Jull Costa. London: Harvill, 1994. Please, he said, don’t abandon me to all these people who are so certain about everything, they’re dreadful. You don’t need me, I said, don’t talk nonsense, the whole world admires you, I was the one who needed you, but now it’s time […]
29 June 2012, around 15.16.
on the Greek language.
a mere habit
24 December 2014, around 11.56.
It is snowing outside and there is nothing to do save sit in front of the fire and read. Indeed, there is nothing one would rather be doing. Did she distrust all figurative language because she was sharply aware of the aptitude of the most languid figurative expressions for persisting as a mere habit of […]
25 January 2016, around 15.43.
the ship of fools…
19 August 2016, around 12.45.
One might be tempted to think this is merely the result of a false sort of conjugation, something along the lines of: ‘I have taste; you have preferences; s/he has an unfortunate partiality’; except I would be the first to admit that I have no real taste – it has been rarefied out of me […]
5 April 2017, around 18.44.
The walk to work takes an hour to cover approximately three miles. This is a bit slow, perhaps, but given the uncertain state of draw bridges, traffic signals, and my own ambling pace, it feels about right. It gives me plenty of time to think – about the day ahead, about anything at all. The […]
25 February 2020, around 17.12.
from the lumber room.
4 January 2021, around 13.01.
‘The language of birds is very ancient, and, like other ancient modes of speech, very elliptical; little is said, but much is meant and understood.’ —Gilbert White, The Natural History of Selborne, letter xliii to the hon. Daines Barrington, 9 September 1778
10 February 2021, around 5.08.
There is a passage in the third chapter of Toril Moi’s Revolution of the Ordinary: Literary Studies after Wittgeinstein, Austin, and Cavell that drew my eye: In many cases, then it is useless to spend time and energy trying to produce a sharp concept. To avoid meaningless work, we need to understand the situation we […]
8 March 2021, around 5.21.
It was the mention of baklava that made me dubious. It was mentioned as quintessentially Armenian, yet baklava is a pastry I don’t recall encountering once in three years – except in Yerevan (admittedly, I don’t recall many weddings). I read the book quickly, enjoying the familiar but disoriented by details – famines and December […]
2 January 2023, around 5.37.
archaism and fish bones…
27 January 2023, around 4.22.
…it is necessary for us to name the things that share our own silence with us, not in order to disturb their privacy or to disturb our own solitude with thoughts of them, but in order that the silence they dwell in and that dwells in them, may be concretized and identified for what it […]
a conceptual primer
5 April 2023, around 4.56.
One can say that the concept of a game is a concept with blurred edges.—‘But is a blurred concept a concept at all?’—Is a photograph that is not sharp a picture of a person at all? Is it even always an advantage to replace a picture that is not sharp with one that is? Isn’t […]
15 May 2023, around 4.45.
A poet who writes in Romansch arrives for a day; we all listen to him read with his Dutch translator. The two of them sound like strange birds, chippering and swooping. I don’t need to understand a word to know I like the poems a lot. —Martha Cooley (Guesswork, ch. 11) I was reading along […]
2 July 2023, around 4.56.
I felt a downright fear of mathematics class. The teacher pretended that algebra was a perfectly natural affair, to be taken for granted, whereas I didn’t know what numbers really were. They were not flowers, not animals, not fossils; they were nothing that could be imagined, mere quantities that resulted from counting. To my confusion […]
14 August 2023, around 4.17.
I have always observed that the most learned people, that is, those who have read the most Latin, write the worst; and that distinguishes the Latin of gentleman scholar from that of a pedant. A gentleman has, probably, read no other Latin than that of the Augustan age; and therefore can write no other, whereas […]
cut to the chase
23 September 2023, around 6.34.
‘A doctryne of doctoris’ or ‘a example of maisteris’ Normally when I get an idea, I charge ahead and scribble about it, tangling words together in the hopes that I will net my quarry – that is, some sort of sense (even if it is nonsense). Usually it works (more or less), but sometimes it doesn’t. […]