Saturday, February 28, 2009

Gustave Flaubert's "Salammbo": Book Review

Perhaps if Anthony Burgess wrote a screenplay directed by Werner Herzog that remade a sword-and-sandals Victor Mature epic by Cecil B. DeMille from storyboards abandoned by D.W. Griffith during "Intolerance," this might match this 1862 historical novel. Based on Polybius' accounts of the First Punic War of 241-238 B.C., this elaborates the battles around Carthage against anarchic mercenaries and vengeful barbarians. It's the clash of corrupt civilization with its spiteful negation. Futility dominates both camps. The conflict's rousing but dispiriting.

Alternating battle scenes with municipal intrigue, Flaubert drew upon his journeys to the Levantine and North Africa in the 1850s. Readers of his previous novel, "Madame Bovary," may be disoriented by the sheer mass of archeology, military data, obscure erudition, and formidable description of exotic flora and unfamiliar fauna within these pages that contrast vividly Flaubert's earlier exploration of extra-marital lassitude amidst the petit-bourgeoisie.

A better comparison? Flaubert's aborted "Temptation of St. Antony" with its lavish visions, and his letters edited (also in Penguin Classics, also reviewed by me here and on Amazon) as "Flaubert in Egypt." These prepare you for the voluptuous and violent contrasts revelled in by the author here. Salammbo's temple priestess serves the moon-goddess Tanit amidst overwhelming luxury atop festering decay; inside its walls and outside its gates, the wealth of Carthage constantly arouses the greed and revenge of those dominated by its power. These contending forces undermine its status and provoke its proles and slaves to seek its destruction, even though the capital will fall along with the capitol, so to speak, as the city faces assaults by mobs of mercenaries and barbarians.

Whether or not this short but stuffed narrative is suited for you depends on your ability to stomach lots of blood and guts, mixed with a frippery of allure and a heap of data. Flaubert wishes to tell you all he learned, and this may deter the casual reader. Like a lavish miniseries, the dialogue may not live up to the staging, and the costume drama may bemuse or stupify you as often as it entices. Still, as these samples of his style at its most splendid will reveal, the entry into this overlooked and little-read novel today may prove as rewarding as six hours spent watching a made-for-TV "star-studded event" today.

Carthage's predicament: "Usually the city kept its promises. This time, however, its burning greed had led it into disgrace and danger. The Numidians, Libyans, all Africa were poised to hurl themselves on Carthage. Only the sea was free. There she met the Romans; and like a man set upon by murderers, she felt death all around." (65)

After dark in the temple grounds: "Here and there a stone phallus rose up, and big stags wandered about peacefully, kicking fallen pine cones with their cloven hoofs." (77)

Carthage's relevance to our own political economy? "First of all, power depended on all without any being strong enough to seize it. Private debts were considered as public debts, men of Canaanite race had the monopoly of trade; by multiplying the profits of piracy with those of usury, by crude exploitation of the land, the slaves and the poor, some people achieved wealth. Wealth alone opened up the magistracy; and although power and money were perpetuated in the same families, the oligarchy was tolerated because one could always hope to attain it." (91)

After one battle: "Night fell. The Carthaginians and the Barbarians had disappeared. The elephants, who had run away, were roaring on the horizon with their towers on fire. They burned in the dark, here and there, like beacons half-hidden in the mist; and nothing was to be seen moving on the plain but the rippling of the river, swollen with corpses which it was carrying to the sea." (149)

After another battle: "The Greeks dug pits with their sword points. The Spartans took off their red cloaks and wrapped them round the dead; the Athenians laid them out facing the rising sun; the Cantabrians buried them beneath a heap of stones; the Nasamones bent them in two with oxhide straps, and the Garamantes went to inter them on the beach so that they should be for ever watered by the waves. But the Latins were grieved not to be able to collect the ashes in urns; the Nomads missed the hot sands in which bodies become mummified, and the Celts missed the three rough stones, beneath a rainy sky, deep in a bay full of islands." (197)

(Posted 2/20/09 to Amazon US.)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Voting for Mayor in a One-Horse Town

In Los Angeles, we have one newspaper, reliably liberal and fawningly craven to the pivotal power bloc that dominates this Democratic, gerrymandered, polyglot, and ever-expanding city of over four million. A dozen or so years ago, we stood around 2.7 million. The number never diminishes. L.A. County holds over ten million. It grows by a hundred thousand each year, in a region of twenty-two million now.

These fertile leaps prove how congested, ambitious, alluring, and annoying the City of Angels has become. A study in the 1960s around the time I was born here warned that the maximum population should be no more than four million. I predict the next census will far surpass that number, and that's not counting the many who do not reside here legally or have a fixed domicile.

For example, we have one new neighbor two lots down. He's not in a house, however. His trailer stands on a vacant lot. Another's now parked on the street, and a third was for a short time perched precariously next door in that lot. The conjunction of lots and construction which in length approaches that of the Winchester Mystery House (look it up; I'm too lazy to give the inevitable Wikipedia URL) across our street makes it, and the porta-potty downslope and down wind from us, a convenient and cheap place to live.

Our more irritable of our two neighbors living in houses complained to the police. They were told by our local cops that there was nothing they could do; the owner had given permission and the fellow in the trailer "had fallen on hard times." He's also running a business fixing car parts out of his shanty, complete with a thoughtfully laid strip of astroturf from the curb across the dirt and weeds to his door.

This enables such customers as a very well-dressed Latina in heels who I saw hanging out more than once, along with lots of shaven-headed fellows briefly pulling up and revving away in low-slung muscle cars. Both coiffured and skanky women trundled by, as louche men hung out. This aroused my curiosity. We don't get a lot of action on our street, unless wussy hipsters walking small dogs count. There's a lot of both lately, and I long for a spate of coyote attacks, as the mountain lions live too far away. I wondered if heroin and hookers, not hipsters, might land us on "Cops."

Our neighbors told me, via our own cops, that the well-attired lady was none other than Ed Reyes' daughter. That is, our very own councilman running for re-election, although I imagine unopposed given we live in Eastside L.A. districts that will be Latino good-old-barrio-boyz Democratic now until doomsday. He has been sending out lots of flyers nonetheless with his previously unrevealed ínitial "P." I suppose he fears another "Ed Reyes" from nowhere running against him. I'd love such a contest.

Unfortunately, we also have his boss running for a second term after doing nothing really-- except stock up on fancy wine, wander on trade junkets, mess around with the fairer sex, and groom himself for higher office as he always has-- Antonio Villaraigosa, stuck with former Miss Raigosa's surname dangling from Villar despite his renewed philandering that led to the Wronged Wife and the kids living still in Hancock Park at the Mayoral Mansion. Antonio's a homewrecker, but she kept one fine home. Leo saw one Ivy League-bound daughter-- who attends the city's priciest prep school-- at a party last weekend in that formerly WASP enclave. My son let me know how smugly she vamped herself and how eagerly she was dissed after she swanned away.

Our same neighbors mused last week that given the economy they may go to law school and become environmental advocates for animals. I laughed and guessed-- correctly-- that for this mid-life career U-turn they'd swerve to the Marxist-hippie People's College of Law nearby. I wondered if it was still accredited. Hizzoner graduated from PCL, but after three tries still could not pass the bar. He never did.

You'd probably not know that from the local coverage. The LAT worships Obama and Villaraigosa. It exemplifies our ideological imbalance; our free press rarely criticizes our politicians. The paper recently celebrated Hector Tobar's return to America; his first column chortled over how much more Hispanized L.A. had become in his eight years or so away south of the border. He cheered up when his daughter at a party in my neighborhood asked him why nobody spoke English.

This sort of myopic cheerleading for "sin fronteras" discourages me. Unlike faraway nations from which past waves of immigrants departed, our neighbor looms as a presence whose people, if they wish, need never to be assimilated. They are too close and so many. While many Democrats praise this, I wonder how long our nation can assert itself against an increasingly anarchic Mexico, connected in turn with the drug trade, so large now that Bolivia to Colómbia to Nigeria to Libya to Naples to Ukraine to Ireland may be a not atypical route today. As blogger "Liberal Rapture" in "Mexico falling" remarked yesterday: Phoenix is now #2 in kidnapping as border cartels creep north. Reading most of the press, you'd never know this danger. We lack balance in viewpoints, opinions, and ideas. Am I a xenophobe when I raise this topic? Dr. Bob may differ with me, but a few may agree.

One quixotic candidate was quoted in the Los Angeles Times today, Walter Moore. A sign of the distortion may be this is practically the first coverage given his campaign, a few days before the election. He's about my age, a black lawyer who took on corrupt financial finaglers. Recently on talk radio, he observes of my hometown:

"Ask yourself, how would the city be different if it were expressly run by developers, gangs and the nation of Mexico? You'd be hard pressed to come up with any policy changes." Joe Willon's "L.A. Mayoral Hopeful Poised to Make a Splash" sums up Moore's involvement in a failed attempt to get the LAPD to actually enforce the law and prosecute illegal status in their efforts to clear the barrios and ghettoes of criminal gang members. The attempt to pass "Jamiel's Law" failed as the ACLU raised fears of "racial profiling"-- this grassroots effort in the black community was derailed by politicians and police along safe P.C. lines.

The tellingly named Ace Smith, Villaraigosa's campaign manager, then sniffs:

"voters' greatest concern, however, should be Moore's mantra that Los Angeles has turned into a Third World "dump."

"To call it a dumping ground is insulting. You're essentially calling the people who live in L.A. trash. That's extremist, and that's trouble," Smith said.

Moore's response: The Villaraigosa campaign is trying to marginalize him as a racist because the mayor "cannot defend his record."

"This city is run-down," Moore said. "The gangs control the streets. The streets are busted up. The sidewalks are busted up. You got people butchering goats in their frontyard. You've got barnyard animals running around. . . . You have the city government giving out hundreds of millions of dollars to political cronies. That's what Third World is."

We hear roosters nearby, and although my students have told me of digging pits for birria in South Gate or cockfighting arenas where they live in South Central (recently tagged "Historic South-Central Core" on a map of officially titled municipal neighborhoods, not to be confused with the part next to it now "South LA" after the LAT lobbied its journalists not to call it by the name that made it [in]famous), I have yet to find a fleeing goat down by our new local trailer park. This may change when our neighbors start their urban garden.

A colleague of mine, with whom I never exchanged more than helloes before, asked me yesterday about being a native of L.A. He said nobody he had met was one. I told him in a Technology and Culture class I teach of two dozen or so, I ask how many students have a parent born here. Usually one may have one parent, at best. I shared my love-hate relationship with the city, and noted how my own dreams and loves and memories are tied here inextricably. He told me he rarely dreams of here, but of his native Libya, and only after two decades away has he started to even have sporadic dreams not about his homeland. But, as he still thinks only in Arabic, so he dreams.

His conversation reminded me of how so many of my neighbors still attach themselves, deeply rooted beyond conscious control, to faraway lands and foreign tongues. Layne noted how the coupon come-on for McDonalds in the mail had the Spanish larger than the English. Increasingly, my native language regresses visibly from its dominance.

This, of course, delights the Times. Even if it erodes their historical subscriber base, they still own the Spanish-language throwaway "Hoy" for its ads generated. I see "Hoy" much more than the Times read on the train these days. The city's shift to a Third World power base also strengthens the One Party. Probably and literally 99:100 of the folks we know voted straight-Democratic.

While one may be sympathetic towards the trillions of "investments" that we will be taxed for to bail out those less fortunate or more cunning than ourselves, I do fear -- perhaps given my teaching style that always sees multiple perspectives and which shrinks from dogma or diktat -- that we are entering a period akin to that of Joe Stalin and the poster I place today above. "Democratic centralism" when feeble opposition lacks the heft to sway any legislative branch?

Niall early on, in typical fashion, asked me about Communism. I told him when he was perhaps eight that it began with noble ambitions to share wealth, ease poverty, reduce oppression, and attain equality. I also told him in simple terms that, like Christianity, it never had been able to realize its lofty ambitions. The leaders took advantage of their power once they seized it, and they never gave up control.

I feel I live in a city and a country run in dictatorial manner, much as I also despise much that the GOP opposition has perpetrated and which led to their deserved defeat. I long for a government decentralized, locally-based, ecologically sustainable, and demographically planned. I also figure my Ecotopia is about as likely as Ernest Callenbach's to become more than a granola cruncher's dorm-room bong-hit spiel. Navigating a gritty megapolis belying its Westside Lotus Land studio stereotype forces us to face the traffic as we drown out Sirens with music. As Arianna Huffington marvelled to the New Yorker while her chaffeured Prius was stuck in the Angeleno maelstrom: "Imagine having to drive in this city everyday!"

Perhaps, and my wife will shrug and say "Irish Catholic," we are too flawed and too selfish to make our communal dreams realities for long, if ever. My Libyan co-worker and I discussed the cult of personality around Qadafi, and how his sons and family have consolidated power more securely to control the resources sold to the West than any king of that realm ever had. He also reflected how in Arabic, one always acknowledges the unsaid or whispered opposite of whatever one asserts. That is, until recently, even scholars would conclude a paper with "Whatever in this essay has been good, credit to Allah; whatever bad, blame on me." Subservience solidifies.

He noted how the god-like aura once attained by Mohammed and consolidated by his own appointed successors continues to make the Arab peoples subservient to a strong leader, a second-class mentality, and an inbred submission to a moon-god, a tin-pot general, The Green Book, or a tribal chieftain. He also mused how this fear of transgressing a giant's command may have kept the Islamic realm from falling into utter anarchy-- the fear of angering the Nobodaddy permeates the culture, or its lack, and keeps it functioning if at a lower level of civilization than that attained by a cockier imperial West. I wonder if "Ozymandias" could have been even conceived in Arabic.

He mentioned how in Arabic one cannot say two sentences without "inshallah." There's a linguistic fatalism and personal caution ingrained not to put one's own efforts above the Creator's plans. He agreed that English places the first-person much more aggressively; Arabic holds it rude to put too much emphasis on "I" as the agent, preferring passive constructions that diminish our power over the situation. In Irish, I informed him, "tá bron orm" or "tá tart orm" form shares this lack of agency. You can't assert: "I'm sad" or "I'm thirsty" but "there is sadness upon me," as if you're overwhelmed by it. "There's thirst on me"-- how can you resist it?

Out of such inculcated habits we learn how to react to our realpolitik. They remind me of Richard Dawkins' memes, these cultural viruses that infect us. We spread their concepts through our social interactions. We may think, like a Libyan, secretly of revolt against the Wazir. A restive Angeleno may fulminate against Hizzoner. But, like an Irish speaker, we quail against such hubris. Our future rests with those whose inspiring icons grace our election posters, that now even pass as our newest president's official portrait.

We retreat to safe sleep and silent reveries where no overseer can overhear, nor any satrap suppress. I agree as a Westerner when "Harry" cites Paul Valery: the best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up. But, when I do, my vision vanishes.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Jenny Adams' "Power Play": Book Review

"The Immortal Game" by David Shenk (recently reviewed here by me and on Amazon US) summarized Professor Adams' medieval study; she thanks him in her acknowledgements in hopes that a reader of his book may read hers, or vice versa. I found out about Adams' study through Shenk's own. As a new learner of chess and one earlier trained in medieval literature, I anticipated Adams' work would be more academic and analytical than Shenk's popularized account. I was right.

Adams incorporates ambitious questions. She wonders
"about the intersections between the medieval cultural understandings of the game and of political responsibility. How does chess break with earlier models of secular government, in particular the state-as-body model that dominated political discourse? What are the political and cultural implications of a game with pieces designed to match European social roles? Why did allegorists repeatedly promote the similarities between the game and real life, in some cases differentiating the pawns so that each could represent a specific trade?"(5)
As this excerpt shows, Adams moves in a straightforward fashion as her own strategy.

She selects four specialized examples. Jacobus de Cessolis' "Liber de ludo scachorum," "Le Echecs amoureux," Chaucerian (and pseudo-Chaucerian "The Tale of Beryn") texts, and fifteenth-century English works, especially Caxton. Rather than offer a broader survey of medieval evolution of the pieces and their contexts in a variety of works, Adams' narrows her text considerably. She explains her "tight thematic focus as a way to help clarify my overall argument." (9)

I cannot disagree, but given it's been nearly a century since Murray's massive if unwieldy and uneven "A History of Chess" summed up the literature then known to one diligent scholar, I do register my wish that a book with wider range could be produced. I recognize that Adams concentrates on a few texts to argue larger topics. Those coming to this concentrated textual presentation expecting a work with broader perspective into the Middle Ages and one of its most popular pursuits may not expect what the subtitle presents in four case studies as "The Literature and Politics of Chess in the Late Middle Ages." For the texts that Adams recovers, the results are what a scholar will expect. Her prose follows the conventions of current academia; "taxonomies of desire," rigorous interrogations and class anxieties abound within her explanation of the decorous verses and detached discourses explicated.

The need for a scholar such as Adams to return to the sources Murray used and which other chess historians have corrected or castigated remains crucial for contemporary students of medieval studies and of chess itself. The restrictions may, I suspect, have been placed on her by the pressures of her own research deadlines (she mentions a rather tumultuous period of preparation of this book!) or the contingencies of an academic press' generosity in the pages allotted her for her manuscript.

It's a solid work, but a general reader less enthralled than a medievalist may be by works today more known than taught even by many in the field might find one's self rather challenged by these meticulous, carefully reasoned interpretations. This work proved difficult for me to track down; however, the only copy in a public library near me had gone missing, like many books on chess-- the librarian informed me many such titles are stolen and smuggled to people in prison!

Still, within this more academic work, as Adams provocatively reminds us, the slippage between the "real" and the world of "play" surfaces on our reality shows every night beamed on many networks. We too act out roles as powerful commanders and dashing warriors. The appeal of "Homo Ludens" and playful people dramatizing in role play and complicated interactions dictated by producers and directors display their tensions and dreams. The lure of playing a role and entering a game that others flock to watch remains persistent as ever, in newly manifest media six centuries later.

While her work delivers the specificity that supports her generalizations, the introductory pages reveal glimpses of a more panoramic approach. Its closing chapter with its look into the woodcuts illustrating Caxton offers another valuable glimpse into the visual representations of the game. The wider implications of its reception by a wider, literate audience, and the male-female tensions inherent in its reproductions on the page and in image both open up intriguing areas for inquiry.

Perhaps Adams will return to expand upon this subject? I look forward to a future book which will update the wider literary history of medieval chess. For now, Adams' work pushes us back to a few squares down one file. They lead us back only to an still often overlooked row in chess history, a corner awaiting more attention from those who scrutinize the figural arrangements from the past on this checkered board.

(Posted to Amazon US today.)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Máirt Inide, Máirt Ramhar

Imríonn duine ina tíorthaí níos teofholach ag imeacht a cheiliúradh anocht. Tá Máirt Ramhar as Fraincise, ar ndóigh. Tá seans déanach do dhóthain de feoil a chaitheamh sula Caighas.

Ar scor ar bith, tá aimsir difriúl nuair ag teacht níos faide o thuaidh. Insíonn mo fhoclóir orm triú shamplaí. Athraim siad: "Téitear faoistin a dhéanamh le duine na hÉireann." "Déanann siad faoistin ar a pheacaí." "Cuireann muid a pheacaí i bhfaoistin." Tá sé ciall go tabhartach go follasach as Gaeilge!

Cén fáth? Tá Máirt Inide as Gaeilge inniu. Mar sin, tá lá a déanamh aithri i briseadh dlí. Is docha go raibh duine níos lu ag dul ar an bosca faoistine anois ina Éirinn. Mar sin féin, tá sé lena chur i gcuimhne go uirísle orainn.

Dearmadaim mise féin go minic go raibh gá air seo ormsa féin. Mar shampla, scríobh mé ar an Domhnaigh seo caite anseo faoi creideamh agus polaitíocht. Bhí ábhar is goilliúnach. Chaill mé trí giollaí ar Bhlogtrotter níos tapaidh.

Go híorónta, bhí mé beagnach ag tosú a scríobh in áit faoi ag cur cuairt agam ar dhá séipéal dhá uair ar feadh an seachtaine seo caite. Cheap mé faoí láthair ag plé an fadbh nuair ní raibh creideamh a bheith agam i nDia Críostaí, ach táthar dúil air Dia a ghuí in ainm duine eile go grách.

Shiúl mé cúpla coiscéim ar leabharlann in aice leis scoil Nhiall an seachtaine is an lá inniu. Ní raibh mé ag siúlta le deanaí ann. Chuaigh mé thar an doras shéipéal. Stad mé noimead isteach Naomh Domhnaigh ina Chloch na hIolaire. Mheas mé faoi na tuismeitheoiraí agam.

An Domhnach seo caite, níl ábalta ag fáil ionad pháirceála carranna saor ag timpeall síopa na bhearbóir. Fuair mé áiteannaí go leor ag straid is gaire dhó. Stop mé ag trasna Naomh Proinsias ina Loch na hAirgead.

Chríochnaigh bearradh gruaige agam. Fhill mé ar ais mo ghluastain. D'imigh mé istigh ar ball beag. Smaoinigh mé faoi mo theaglach aríst. D'fhán beagán. Ansin, d'éirigh mé.

D'fhág mé ar ais mo bhaile. Léigh mé an alt conspóideach go raibh ag tugtha ar mo chara ann. Bhí iontach liomsa air. Ní raibh go cinnte a scríobh faoi an alt. Ar thit mé i bpeaca?

Níl fhíos agam. Ach, bheartaigh mé a bheith ar aon bharúil le daoine eile leis agaibh féin. Caithim ag déanamh a bheith go hionraic liomsa agus leatsa faoi mo thuairimí. Níl freagairt go furasta ar chor ar bith agam. Eistim ar duine eile agus measaim mise féin.

Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday

People go out in lands warmer-blooded to celebrate tonight. It's Fat Tuesday in French, naturally. There's a last chance to get lots of meat before Lent.

However, there's a different season when coming farther to the north. My dictionary tells me a trio of examples. I alter them: "One goes to make confession as one of the people of Ireland." "They confess for their sins." "They put their sins into confession." It's an important meaning obviously in Irish!

What's the reason? It's Shrove Tuesday in Irish today. That is, it's a day to make penance for wrongdoing [="breaking a law"]. It's likely that there may be fewer going to the confessional box now in Ireland. All the same, it's a reminder for humility for us.

I forget myself often that there may be a need for this myself. For example, I wrote this past Sunday on my blog here about belief and politics. It was a sensitive subject. I lost three followers of Blogtrotter very quickly.

Ironically, I was almost starting to write instead about my paying two visits to two churches. [N.B. in Irish, "séipéal" for "chapel" denotes a Catholic place of worship as "church" came to mean a Protestant edifice.] I was thinking about discussing the problem when one lacks faith in the Christian God, but one has a desire to pray to God in the name of other loved ones.

I walked a short way to the library near Niall's school a week ago today. I had not walked lately there. I went past the chapel door. I stayed a moment inside St. Dominic's in Eagle Rock. I thought about my parents.

This last Sunday, I was not able to get a free location for parking a car around the barber's shop. I found plenty of places on the street next over from there. I stopped across St. Francis in Silver Lake.

I finished my hair cut. I returned back to my car. I went off inside for a short while. I thought about my family again. I stayed awhile. Then, I got up.

I left back for my home. I read there an controversial article that was sent from my friend. I wondered about it. I was not sure to write about the essay. Did I fall into sin?

I don't know. I strive to share the opinions of other people with yourselves. I must make an honest effort for myself and for you concerning my opinions. I do not have any easy answers at all. I listen to other people and I judge for myself.

Íomhá/ Illustration: Eric Gill. Naomh Antoine/ "St. Anthony"(1926)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Courage to Blaspheme: Marx, Muslim immigrants & Euro-socialists.

This conservative secular (yes, such thinkers exist although you'd never know it in most media) perspective on Danish leftists' alliance with Muslims to consolidate their shrinking power base I found intriguing. I read today that 20% of my L.A. County's ten million neighbors now get government assistance, and about that amount have been recently denied; our state taxes will soar to stave off California's bankruptcy. As our nation moves further in its desperate efforts to print trillions more to stave off economic collapse, we lurch towards corporate socialism and capitalist oligarchy. Obama revives FDR's New Deal while he revamps a retro-European post-war welfare state. Not so much populist as plutocrat, for to me we've rewarded so far those in power and those who profited from bankers with Ponzi schemes.

Denmark-- according to the journalist below-- exemplifies a counter-strategy for Euro-socialist reversals. Here, Marxists or fellow travellers sidle towards promotion of extremism. They follow their fascist rivals last century who elevated the tribal totem. Democratic socialists scrabble to save the European welfare state at the expense of free speech as they capitulate to demands for sharia.

I was sent this from my American friend living in Ireland, who shares my eclectic interest in such permutations within what Oriana Fallaci popularized and Bat Yeor coined as "Eurabia." The combination of leftist intolerance towards Western secularism and coddling of reactionary ideology shows how post-modern we've become once we let multicultural priorities off of the short "dead white males"' leash. By such tanglings the West enters a labyrinth, the only trace back not a thread but a Gordian knot. I wonder how the identity politics of ethnic and religious blocs will create similar, or disparate, twists on social constructions (to borrow a P.C. term) in our own U.S.?

I excerpt most of this below. The February 2009 article in full: "Once Again It's the Economy, Stupid". Dutch MP Geert Wilders, like Pim Fortuyn, may have earned most of his attention from his unconventional coiffure, but whatever one may think of his platform, his ideas deserve a hearing. The fate of Theo van Gogh also reminds us of the dangers that free speech carries in Holland today. Sad that such a sentence has to be written. The site: The International Free Press Society, based in Copenhagen. Censoring cartoons against those who'd kill infidels for a Prophet of Peace lures us down a slippery slope-- if we capitulate here, what's next? You may disagree with some IFPS perspectives, but as that Voltaire remark we've all heard reminds us: that's the whole point, right?

Once Again It’s the Economy, Stupid
The Left is only too happy to suppress free speech. It doesn’t know what it’s getting itself into
By Lars Hedegaard

One thing in particular struck me last week when I was in London for the showing of Geert Wilders’ Fitna in the House of Lords. Well, apart from the fact that Mr. Wilders was banned from entering the country.

It was the press’ uniform designation of the Dutch politician as “right-wing” or even “extreme right-wing”.

What precisely has Geert Wilders done or said that makes him deserving of this epithet? For make no mistake: whereas “left-wing” is considered an accolade and smacks of loving kindness towards green forests, stray dogs in need of a warm place to sleep and undernourished children in Africa, “right-wing” denotes a misanthrope who hates all good people and will eat innocent babies for breakfast.

If one has committed the ultimate sin of criticizing religion, particularly if it is murderous and retrograde, there is no way to wash off the brand of Cain. Politically you may be a socialist, a liberal or a conservative. You may be a staunch supporter of the welfare state, socialized medicine, gay marriage, preferential treatment of women and 75 percent taxation of all private income. It won’t help you if you have distanced yourself from the teachings of the prophet.

This is curious. Irreverent criticism of religion used to be a specialty of the Left. Today such criticism proves that one is a semi-fascist to be shunned in polite company.

The forgotten prophet

There are still a few grizzled post-socialists around that will remember what their old prophet, Karl Marx, had to say about religion in the very first sentence of his Contribution to a Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right from 1843: ". . .criticism of religion is the premise of all criticism”.

Criticism of religion is not only the starting point of all criticism. It is the prerequisite of any kind of criticism. In a society where religion cannot be criticized, everything becomes religion --- from the length of your beard to what hand to use when wiping your backside.

Where there is no criticism of religion, life and society in their entirety become religious and the littleest squeak against the existing order is eo ipso an act of blasphemy to be rooted out by cutting off the offender’s head.

The courage to blaspheme is consequently the sine qua non of civilization and of social, intellectual and scientific progress. It is also the premise of the separation between church and state, as Jesus Christ was well aware of.

But what passes for the Left these days has long since given up on socialism’s founding fathers -- particularly when they were right -- and is groveling at the feet of a bloodthirsty moon-god from far Araby.

We know what has happened. But how and why did it come about?

A new worldview

We know that the broad Left -- which in Europe would include various shades of the hard, Communist or Marxist Left, the New Left, which has now transformed itself into tree huggers, and the traditional Social Democratic parties -- has vacated its traditional ideological positions in order to preach ideologies that used to be hallmarks of the far right. Positions such as the need for censorship, kissing up to demands that “religions” (i.e. Islam) must not be criticized or ridiculed, the institution of ethnic or tribal special privileges and inequality before the law -- depending on what ethnic, tribal or clan chief or holy man can ingratiate himself to the top of the totem pole as most aggrieved victim.

This new weltanschauung takes us back to a legal order -- or rather lack of order -- the like of which we haven’t seen in the civilized world since -- when? The democratic revolutions of the 19th century, the French Revolution, the American Revolution, England’s Glorious Revolution, John Milton’s Areopagitica, Magna Carta?

Take your pick. Any one of the above is true.

The road chosen by the parties on the Left permits no return. Having alienated -- not to say discarded -- large chunks of their traditional working class voters, they are now increasingly dependent on the Muslim vote, which they hope will guarantee them a perpetual foothold at least in the major populations centers.[. . . .]

The new proletariat

With the fundamental shift from industrial to knowledge society it also became clear that socialism in the shape of the nationalization of the means of production was no longer achievable. The traditional working class was disappearing and the downtrodden masses, which the Marxists had identified as the “revolutionary subject”, became too bourgeois for comfort. They left the socialist parties in droves and began voting for center-right parties that promised them a share of the wealth created by private enterprise. A house, a car, a color tv and such. In other words the kind of amenities that the leftist intelligentsia had come to consider as indispensable for its own lifestyle.

This presented the socialist ideologues with a major problem. From their reading of Lenin, Trotsky and Gramsci they knew that they were destined to remain the vanguard of the masses. The proletariat was unable to reach the required level of political consciousness without the constant goading of their far-sighted betters.

Socialism was no longer in the cards. Still the socialist intelligentsia was unwilling to let go of its claim to power. So it had to find a new revolutionary subject -- a class of people that would never allow itself to be bought off by the allure of a bourgeois life but was guaranteed to remain at the edge of society.

And they found the Muslim immigrants. This socialist-Muslim nexus turned out to be a marriage made in heaven. The swelling ranks of the Muslim immigrants could deliver the votes to fill the void left by the disappearing native working classes, and the socialist parties could reciprocate by delivering welfare benefits, cultural concessions and free immigration to their to non-working Muslim charges.

The tiger’s tail

This well-functioning political arrangement, however, is on the verge of making the welfare state unsustainable. It is crumbling all over Europe, but there is no way back for the Left. There is no option but to cling ever tighter to the tiger’s tail. Otherwise the beast will turn around and bite them. We have already seen intifadas in England, France, Denmark and Norway. If the “youths” don’t have their way, they will burn the town down, smash up the cars and brutalize the indigenous population.

To keep this bizarre road show running, it has become necessary for the leftist rulers to crush free speech. However much they may privately deplore it, there is nothing else to do if they want to retain the Muslim vote that keeps them in power.

A poll conducted by the official Statistics Denmark and published on February 10, 2009, shows that 50 percent of the Muslim immigrants and their descendants want to make attacks on religion a criminal offense. 36 percent of the immigrants and 40 percent of their descendants disagree.

The corresponding figures for ethnic Danes are 79 percent against and only 15 percent in favor[. . . .]

The economy strikes back

There is, however, one fact of life that our power holders have left out of their political equation. That is -- as Bill Clinton has so aptly expressed it -- the economy, stupid.

In the near future the economy will strike back. Censorship and persecution of the unruly will not save the welfare state. How will the native populations react when they find out that their kids are not being educated, that they are not receiving adequate treatment in the hospitals, that their pensions and other welfare benefits are dwindling and that they cannot rely on the police to protect them? In a situation where they cannot themselves pay for such services because the state continues to suck up most of their income?[. . . .]
Image: Everybody used to read "1984" in school. There's multiple symbolism here.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Yiddish Curses, Irish Blessings

213 hits for "Yiddish curses," to date at The Forward. The Feb. 20 issue (we get it typically one Shabbat late out here three thousand miles away as if by Pony Express), has its customarily engaging mix of intellectual and social commentary on Members of the Tribe. Yesterday I wrote about Irish being placed in the "definitely endangered" category of languages by UNESCO; last evening I read in the Forward half a dozen articles about the revival of Yiddish. One of its leading advocates in New York theatre, moreover, is one Caraid O'Brien, an immigrant from The Old Sod.

Teddy Wayne reviews, in that rather smarmy trying to be witty tone that more than one journalist adopts for the paper-- perhaps they have a new editorial slant to match their jazzier website, which still gave me a dead link to last week's issue, thus my archive search-- a book of Yiddish insults. Not the first. Sounds strange to credit the author as "one of the first six female rabbis in the United States." After a point, this self-congratulatory "I got there in first, I meant sixth place" gets tedious. Anyway, I'm sure she shares her nachas and both her zaydes kvelled and fressed until they shvitzed reducing themselves utterly ferklempft.

That's practically half the Yiddish I know. I wish my late bubbe-in-law had taught me and my boys some more filthy phrases than these. My dear wife may well correct me; I did buy her "Born to Kvetch" as a present a couple of years back. I guess she knows about as much Gaeilge as I do her attenuated mamaloshen. Fits us, assimilated but still curious about our romanticized forebears in their ghettoes and bogs, grumbling as they must have about the weather, the neighbors, and their God. In my apparently if understandably nearly lone efforts to record whatever Internet Irish-Yiddish connections which I can excavate, I now glean from Wayne's musings.

If the classic Yiddish imprecation has an inverse, it is the Irish blessing. While the Gaelic bards gaily start benedictions with “May…” before politely wishing their recipient good fortune (“May the wind be always at your back; May the sun shine warm upon your face”), the Yiddish curse is a spell of invective, typically cast with the conditional “You should…” prior to the litany of ill tidings (“You should get windburn and a melanoma”).

As a compendium of these and other such Yiddishisms, “Talk Dirty Yiddish” by Ilene Schneider (Adams Media, 2008), who is one of the first six female rabbis in the United States, has a somewhat misleading title that may disappoint a gutter-minded Hebrew-school vonts (a bedbug; figuratively, a mischievous child). The series — there are “Talk Dirty” books for French and Spanish — is actually a primer on general slang. And except for one chapter in the Yiddish installment, there is very little schmutz (physical or metaphorical dirt).

Instead, the book surveys subjects integral to the Jewish experience: food, the body, public life, celebrations and tragedy (the last of which, not surprisingly, fills up one more page than celebrations). Additional chapters cover proverbs, names, ethnicity, insults, profanities and, perhaps most interestingly, words that have bled into English.
The glossary of Yinglish words and other hybrid phrases is similarly enlightening. For example, “gunsel” in common usage is “an armed gangster,” but the original definition is “a young homosexual hobo who was partners with an old tramp.” I’ll be sure to bring up the latter connotation at the 2009 conference for Etymologists of Cross-Generational Gay Vagrant Lifestyles.
A complete index for quick alphabetical access might also be helpful to take us from ayngefedemt (literally, to thread a needle; a euphemism for sexual intercourse) to zaftig (see: Knightley, Keira, opposite of). Then again, I’m sounding like a kvetching knaker (know-it-all). Such a breezy, engaging book, I should be so lucky to write. Ilene Schneider, mazel tov.

The photo I chose from this issue carries no Yiddishkeit. However, my past image searches have exhausted the few Irish-Yiddish comparisons (all one?) in previous posts. So, printed from the same issue, this 1931 photo by Martin Munkasci of dancers “Tibor von Halmay and Vera Mahlke” graces the page. But, I found it complete over here. The Forward's own shot of this cropped (I suspect) pre- or post-coital Vera, leaving only half her head. Maybe they had to cut out My Girl Lollipop chomping in her chemise on an illegal, immoral, or unhealthy if unidentifiable stash-- hashish? qat? chaw of tobacco? fudge? Alice B. Toklas brownie?-- but it did leave the composition, well, hanging. And what's that shadow of Tibor's portend? Is that his tongue or a cigar protruding? I wonder if Fred Astaire found inspiration from this Magyar's murally challenged feat?

Friday, February 20, 2009

De ghlór an bháis?

Scríobh Caitríona Ní Dhonghaile ina nuachtan "Eireannach Neamhspléach" 20 Feabhra faoi tuarascáil nua le UNESCO. Duirt siad go bhfuil Gaeilge "ag cur i gcontúirt go cinnte" é. Mar sin, ní fhoghlaimíonn sé mar príomhteanga ina bhaile leis duine ar bith.

Ar scor ar bith, insíonn UNESCO go raibh ag cur "i mbaol" mar Baisceis, Gaeilge na hAlban, agus Breatnais. Níl é seo chomh olc. Faigheann an triú na teangachaí bás atá ag druidim leis anois. Chuala mé go imeacht leathan na teangachaí ar fud an domhan sa céad againn féin.

Ar ndóigh, tá bron ormsa féin go leor faoi an tuarisc seo. Ar feadh an seachtain seo caite, léigh mé freagra ó Nigel Ó Ceallacháin orm. Is foghlaimeoir fásta é na Gaeilge (Oideas Gael chomh mise!) agus Breatnais níos formhór. Chonaic mé alt go scríofa leis Nigel ina leabhar go léamh mé anois, "Breatnais sa Bhliain" leis Jen Llewelyn.

D'fhoglaim sé Breatnais go foirfe. Tá sé i gcónaí ina An Bhreatain Beag anois. Oibríonn sé leis ducháis Breatnaise gach lá. Is é leathanach baile anseo. Tá Nigel go bhfuil duine dea-shamplach go raibh muineadh dúil ar aghaidh againnsa eigin.

Bhí seanathair Breatnais airsean féin ina bhaile. Bhí seantuismeitheoraí Gaeilge acu mise féin. Ní déanfaidh duine níos mo i bhfad ó láthair nó de chóir baile fiú amháin an dushlan mór a foghlaim teangachaí Ceilteach amárach. Níl deireadh dúile bainte de agam fós. Tagann muid briathra deireanacha.

In a dying voice?

Katharine Donnelly wrote in the newspaper "Irish Independent" 20 February about a new report by UNESCO. They say that the Irish language's "definitely endangered" [="put into danger surely"]. That is, it is not learned at home as a primary language by anybody.

However, UNESCO tells that Basque, Scots Gaelic, and Welsh are put in the "unsafe" category. This is not as bad. A third of languages find death approaching now. I heard half of languages all over the world will go away in our own century.

Of course, I myself was very sad about this report. During the past week, I read a reply to me from Nigel Callaghan. He's an adult learner of Irish (Oideas Gael like me!) and moreover Welsh. I saw an essay that was written by Nigel in a book I am reading now, "Welsh in a Year," by Jen Llewelyn.

He learned Welsh perfectly. He lives in Wales now. He works in the Welsh-language homeland every day. Here is his homepage. Nigel is a fine example of a person who may inspire an expectation to progress within some of us.

He had a grandfather with Welsh himself in the home. I myself had grandparents with Irish. Fewer people from afar or even close at home will make the great struggle to learn Celtic tongues tomorrow. I have not yet given up hope of it. We revive dying words.

Photo/ Griangraf: "Stair, Láthair, agus Todhchaí Athbheochan na Gaeilge i mBéal Feirste" le/ "Past, Present, and Future Revival of Irish in Belfast" by Harry Holland, Glór na Móna, (="Voice of the Turf"= lost in translation?) 2007. Tá muid ag plé faoi Gaeilge as Béarla. Tosaíonn muid go mall. Caitheann muid cloí leis an bhfírinne. We discuss Irish in English. We start slowly. We must stick to reality.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Facebook: I joined. Happy now?

My wife cajoled me to do so, and when I logged on to AOL this afternoon, weary in body and mind after work and commute, they had a list of what I take's a standard 25 do's & don'ts regarding Facebook. I had never seen it, but I read about it and then joined a few minutes later. It reminds me of being shoved into a dinner party or, as my wife wrote well on her blog about last weekend, her college commemoration (not quite a reunion).

As for my college, I checked it out and found over 130 grads my year, about an eighth of the class, were signed up. I scanned the photos, noting first of all atop the list a dance major from San Bernardino who hung around with my freshman year roommate-- same major. He was a classmate with Barry O. at Punahou, who then dropped out of LMU after his first year. I never knew she graduated, but I wasn't exactly part of the drama queen crowd. I did find one old friend who I felt bad about when I lost his wedding invitation-- he's now in Montgomery, Alabama. A few other faces I dimly recalled, likely fewer now who'd recognize me. I sent no requests thither; I'd be surprised if I get any from those I started with thirty years ago this autumn. Unless they're the types desperate to add "friends" who aren't or weren't. As I suspect some may be, extroverts whom I never befriended.

As for the two grad schools, there's little to no chance due to their size, breadth, and anonymity for joyous jaunts down any memory road there. Potentially thronged with what my UCLA prof deemed in we English doctoral candidates as "neurotic egotists," I doubt if either campus path I trod for over a lonely decade towards my "advanced degrees" will entice me back. It was a difficult time and if I had not met my wife halfway through, lost in a dark wood even earlier than Dante's midway point, I'd have been devoured by the prowling panthers and thorny thickets forsooth.

If I want to leave the "selva oscura" for brighter slopes on my own journey down life's middle age, the problem is that my e-mail's linked to my lesser-used address that I reserve for blogging and net contacts; there's hardly any names in that file for contacts. I figure more exist. Yet, as Facebook's keyed only to your own log-in e-mail rather than multiple accounts to investigate contacts, this seems either a wise limit or a puzzling drawback to searching your potential minglers in cyberspace.

Already, the third person on my very short list, who kindly commented on my blog a month or two ago and whom I contacted, has a tremendous number of updates. He contacted me minutes after I sent my request, and now I am the second person he knows with my all-too-common first and last names. On the other hand, this anonymity of mine is countered by the middle name I despise, and that initial suffices, as it had to in college to distinguish me from the other two men with my same first and last names there. At least they have not popped up in my class, yet, on Facebook!

I'm not sure I want every person I vaguely know to be added as a friend, as this updating and Twittering will soon overwhelm us all. However, my dear spouse urges me to network, so for a wallflower like me this is less painful than small talk face-to-face, much as I might like you in theory or practice. No offense. Read Jonathan Rauch's "Caring for Your Introvert" for more on my predilection (not a lifestyle choice!). Still, if you thrive in Facebook's realm and wonder why I have not chosen you, here's my profile: "Facebook me!"

P.S. Hosting ads frosts me; I refuse them on this blog, but Facebook's did aim well by targeting me accurately. An hour after I listed Fairport Convention as a musical pick, there's an image hawking "Swarb" t-shirts on the right of my homepage. I'd never wear one let alone buy one (I look scrawny in t's) but a market research bot's earning its keep for some diligent hippie-turned-techie from Cropredy adjacent.

P.P.S. I wanted a picture for this blog entry, but not a boring Facebook badge with my boring first and last names. Luckily, Chris sent his shot to grace my Wall as a reminder of the fine time on a blustery day we had-- Bob next to me, sensibly capped. Bad hair day for me, as I'm still wearing my fancy purple dress shirt from the literary conference at NUI Galway earlier that afternoon five years ago this summer-- on the gusty western shore of Lough Corrib, Uachtar Ard/ Oughterard, Co Galway/ Gaillimh, next door staying facing the hotel where Layne and I had fifteen summers before nearly to the day dormed near Leo the dog (cue heavy Teutonic accent of old duffer) "get him avay, he smells, he stinks"... pre-boy Leo.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Galaxie 500's "Today": Music Review

I bought "This Is Our Music," the band's third, after reading an article about its release in the indie magazine "Option." The clerk at the hip music store cautioned me, saying "Today" was much better. I told him about the review of "TIOM," and said I'd start with that and go backwards if I liked Galaxie 500 enough.

The Rykodisc boxed set convinced me that the clerk was correct. "On Fire" is stronger than "TIOM," and "Today" beats album number two. Unlike Dean Wareham's work with Luna, which with the Feelies' drummer and the Chills' bassist, edged towards more indie-pop, the earlier band tended to me more to the Velvet Underground, in mood more than sound. The song "Tugboat" may tip their hand: I read it as alluding to Stew Morrison's decision to work on that craft rather than continue with music after the VU.

You have to be in the right frame of mind for this record to work. Wareham's warbly voice can be as trebly as his guitar. Naomi Yang's bass (who needed more vocal appearances; look to her work with partner-drummer Damon Krukowski after Wareham ditched the pair for his solo career, as the liner notes in the Rykodisc box set sadly document by Damon & Naomi) backs up the guitar and percussion nimbly. Sort of like Kim Deal in the Pixies, she got upstaged instrumentally and vocally by the lead singer.

This album-- just before the CD took over-- fits into a now distant period, even if only two decades ago, when one could learn by a magazine, hear by word of mouth, or tune into a college station to find out about an intriguing band from across the country. There's a warmth to the production by Kramer to match the chilly emotions. The trio's love of simple structures that build up and then unravel in three minutes sinks in, after many playings. It fits a winter's morning or a summer's night.

(Posted to Amazon US today.)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Lexicelt: Gaeilge<>Breatnais Foclóir & Cleachtannaí

Fuair mé an suíomh seo. Go raibh maith ag Dr Adrian Price go Ollscóil Swansea ó Bhreatain Bheag. D'inis mé faoi an nasc seo. Is "Lexicelt" é. Is foclóir é ach go bhfuil níos mo freisin ann. Inseoidh tú beagán faoi inniu.

Tá foclóir Gaeilge<>Breatnais saor in aisce ar line. Breis is 3,000 focal le ranna cainte agus uaimreacha iolra. Tá tú ábalta a cliceáil go furasta idir canúint ó Uladh, Connacht, agus Mumhan as Gaeilge, agus idir An Thuaiscaint agus An Deisceart as Breatnaise ann.

D'fhoghlaim mé faoi an roinnt na frasaí seo ann. Rachaidh tú ionad cé beidh íomhanná agus ábharannaí éagsulái isteach. Mar sin é: Comhrá, Saoire, Caithimh Aimsire, Bia agus Síopadóireacht, An Aimsire agus Am, Teicneolaíocht, Mé féin, An Corp agus tSláinte, An Bhreatain Bheag, Ainmneacha, Amhráin, agus Gramadach ansuid. "Seo é leabhar frásaí Lexicelt áit ar féidir an Bhreatnais a fheiceáil, a chluinstin agus a chleachtadh, agus áit ar féidir ullmhú do thuras chun na Breataine Bige."

Faighim go déanta dearmad bídeach nuair go scríobh as Gaeilge faoi An Bhreatain Bheag. Mar shampla, léigh me go bhfuil an cás ghiníuneachta "Bheag" ina fóclóir mór agam go mbeidh "Bige" ag Lexicelt ann. Agus, rinne mé dearmad leis "Breatnais" go cosúlacht anseo. Measaim go raibh "Bhreatnais" ach chonaic mé "Breatnaise" freisin faoi an teárma sin. B'fhéidir, is docha ormsa féin...

Ar ndóigh, is acmhainn dhátheangach í go iomlán ann. Ní fheicfear abairt as Béarla ansin, ar chor ar bith. Rinne scólairí rogha úsáideach a tairg againn. Bainfaidh sult é asainn go coitianta ar fud an domhan Ceilteach-- agus ar an ghréasán fós!

Lexicelt: Irish-Welsh Dictionary & Lessons.

I found this site. Thanks to Dr. Adrian Price at Swansea University in Wales. He told me about this link. It's a dictionary there but there's also more. I will tell you a little bit about it today.

There's an Irish-Welsh dictionary free of charge on-line. There's more than 3,000 words from the spoken verse and plural numbers. You're able to click easily between dialects from Ulster, Connacht, and Munster in Irish, and between the North and the South from Welsh there.

I learned about this phrase section there. You'll find a location where there will be illustrations and various topics. That is: Conversation, Holidays, Hobbies, Food and Shopping, The Weather and Time, Technology, Myself, The Body and Health, Wales, Names, Songs, and Grammar over there. "This Lexicelt book of phrases is a place where it's possible to see the Welsh, and to hear and to practice, and a place where it's possible (to) prepare for a journey to Wales."

I see that I made a tiny mistake when writing in Irish about Wales. For instance, I have read that the genitive case in dictionaries of mine of "Beag" (=little as in "Little Britain"!) should be "Bige" on Lexicelt. And, I made a mistake with "Welsh" (as in the language) likewise here. I think that "Bhreatnais" may be but I have seen "Breatnaise" also about that term. Perhaps, probably from me myself...

Of course, it's a totally bilingual resource. One will not find any word in English there at all. Scholars made a useful alternative to offer to us. It will be enjoyed by us regularly all over the Celtic realm-- and on the web too!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Pangur Bán, Breatnais & naisc focail leis Gaeilge

Chuir mé dhá nóta ar ais go Barra Tóibín ó Caerdydd ina Bhreatain Bheag faoi naisc focail idir Gaeilge agus Breatnais. Scríobh mé ortsa féin ar ais mar sin go raibh ag feicthe mise leathanach baile leis iris "Dragún Glas" ina trí teangachaí, Béarla, Gaeilge agus Breatnais aige! Is cosúil é go cruinnithe ar an leithead ormsa.

Bheul, fhragairt sé litírín agam. Cóipím seo leis buíochas ort. Gabh mo leithscéal mar sin leagan bocht agam. Ni raibh mé a leagan an liosta séadsan féin. Tá sé anseo:

Tá sé tábhachtach a thuiscint, mar a dúirt mé cheana, nach ionann brí an fhocail sa Ghaeilge agus brí an fhocail sa Bhreatnais gach uile uair. Ach bíonn ionannas nó cosúlacht éigin i gceist i ngach aon phéire acu.

Marr bharr ar sin, tá cuid de na focail sa Bhreatnais seanda as dáta fileata, ach is fearr iad sin a chur san áireamh chomh maith maraon leis na cinn atá beo sa lá atá inniu ann...

Máthair = modryb ('aintín' sa Bhreatnais, 'mam' an focal Breatnaise do 'máthair'); athair = ewythyr ('uncail' sa Bhreatnais, 'dad' an focal Breatnaise do 'athair'); carraig = carreg; mór = mawr; beag = bach; glaoch = galw: garbh = garw; tarbh = tarw; marbh = marw; capall = ceffyl; marc = march; dreoilín = dryw; fear = gŵr ('g' in áit 'f'); bean = benyw; fíon = gwin; fíor = gwir; fiú = gwiw; faoileann = gwylan; feamainn = gwymon; trá = traeth; muir = môr; feo = gwyw; doras = drws; críon = crin; uisce = dŵr ( cf: 'dobhareach'); roth = rhod (focal fileata); eaglais = eglwys (Laidin); Aifreann = Offeren (Laidin); scadán = sgadan; abhainn = afon; much = mochyn; lao = llo; cumar = cymer; inis = ynys; úr = ir; glas = glas; glan = glan; drom = drum; tulach = tyla; leitir = llethr; cnoc = cnwc; féar = gwair; cailc = calc; diseart = dyserth; cibeal = cybalfa; manach = mynach; pobal = pobl; deich = deg; dó = dau, trí = tri; minic = mynych; ór = aur; coróin = coron; airgead = arian; cos = coes; láimh = llaw; craiceann = croen; bó = buwch; néal = niwl, coinín = cwningen; scamall = cwmwl (Laidin); tír = tir; cú = ci; coileán = colwyn; buachaill = bugail ('aoire' cf: 'buachaill bó'); mín = mwyn; caoin = cu; mí = mis, bliain = blwyddyn; Luan = Llun; Máirt = Mawrth; Satharn = Sadwrn; bord = bord; long = llong; claíomh = cleddyf; bráthair = brawd; neamh = nef; caol = cul; leathan = llydan; Ruairí = Rhodri; Siobhan = Siwan; Seán = Sion; Máire = Mair.

Dán (tallann) = dawn; bard = bardd; marcaíocht = marchogaeth; dealbh = delw; dílis = dilys; Lúgh (an dia Ceilteach) = Llew; loingeas = llynges; slad = lladd; Máire (Muire) = Mair; coll = collen; eiscir = esgair; dair = derwen; doire = deri; práis = pres; airgead = arian; iarann = haearn; oidhear = eira; cathair = caer; príomh = prif; scoil = ysgol; eascair = esgor; lios = llys; cruit = crwth; lann = llafn; -lann (cf: 'leabharlann')= llan; cill = cil; aer = awyr; moladh = moliant; bán = pan ('Pangur Bán'); túr = tŵr; trasna = traws; canadh = canu; im = ymenyn; cailc = calch; cam = cam; léim = llam; lár (cf: 'urlár') = llawr; lán= llawn; do = dy; mac = mab; bradach, bradaí = brad; aimsir = amser; bolg = bol; coileach = ceiliog; éan = edn ('dofednod' = éanlaith chlós na feirme); teine = tân; cluain = llwyn, sean = hen; síon = hin;
Nóta: 'Pangur Bán'.

Is dócha gur 'pan-gŵr' ('bán-fear') atá i gceist anseo. Sin é an míniú is fearr liomsa air mar scéal.

D'imigh an manach ainaithnid a scríobh an dán álainn sin as Eirinn go dtí Caergybi ('Holyhead') chun dul ar aghaidh go dti an Eoraip.

Ar a shlí ó dheas dó is cosúil gur chuir sé aithne ar an gcat bán seo sa Bhreatain Bheag. Bhí an t-ainm 'Pan-gŵr' ar an ainmhí ionúin cheana. Ghlac an manach leis mar chompánach bóthair agus ghlac sé leis an t-ainm Breatnaise chomh maith.

Éireannach dílis ab ea é, áfach, agus do bhain sé feidhm as an aidiacht 'bán' chun cruth na Gaeilge a chur ar 'Pan-gŵr' mar ainm!

Pangur Bán, Welsh & Word Links with Irish.

I got two notes back from Barry Tobin of Cardiff in Wales about word links between Irish and Welsh. I had written to him myself as I had seen his "Green Dragon" site in three languages, English, Irish and Welsh! It seems designed for the likes of me.

Well, he answered my little letter. I copy this with thanks to him. Excuse my poor rendering. I did not translate the list itself. Here it is: (see above)

It's important to understand, as I said already, not to liken a meaning of a word in Irish and a meaning of a word in Welsh every time the same. But there can (usually) be some likeness or similarity in question in every pair of them.

It's foremost considering that there's a share of the words in Old Welsh from poetic material, but they are regarded as good examples of including the best of whatever's surviving daily there today...

Note: Pangur Bán.

Probably it's "'pan-gŵr' ('bán-fear')" [="white-man"] that's in question here. That's the best meaning for me according to its story.

An unknown monk went out to write that beautiful poetry from Ireland towards Caergybi/ Holyhead from where he set out towards Europe.

On the way to the south it seems that he got knowledge of this white cat in Wales. The name "'pan-gŵr'" was from the dear animal already known. The monk called for companion for the road and he called it by the Welsh name as well.

He was a loyal Irishman, nonetheless, and he found no problem from the adjective "bán" ("white") to fit the Irish that's "Pan-gŵr" for a name!

image/íomhá (?!). Feic dán anseo/ See poem here: "Pangur Bán" poem/dán

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Hafiz: "A Cushion for Your Head"

Just sit there right now
Don't do a thing
Just rest.

For you separation from God,
From love,

Is the hardest work
In this

Let me bring you trays of food
And something
That you like to

You can use my soft words
As a cushion
For your

Hafiz:(1320-1389). "The Gift: Poems by Hafez the Great Sufi Master." Version from Persian by Daniel Ladinsky, 1999. Cf. critique by Murat Nemet-Najat.

Green Tara: the buddha-emanation from one of the two tears shed by Avalokiteshvara-- now the "karmic deity of Tibet," once a man who volunteered to postpone his final enlightenment until all sentient beings were also freed-- when he wept at all those still trapped in "samsara." Tara, "she who liberates" (no Indo-European Gaelic connection alas that I can pinpoint, but a welcome if accidental cognate!), appears in a white maternal and a green active form of compassion. This bodhisattva can be both playful and merciful. Her multiple eyes signify the Buddhist union of feminine wisdom and male "skillful means" that marks true compassion. For me, she represents love in its purest, most generous, distillation and distribution.

It's difficult if understandable to find an icon of her not a Tibetan "thangka." I looked at 600 Google pictures and found but two! This one appeared suitably mind-altering for "visualization" by those of us mired in the flesh. "Mystic Chaishop" "c/p 2004-2007 by A. Leib, all –whatsoever- rights reserved."

P.S. Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Ag baint torthaí go leor

Bhain mé tainséiriní inné. Bhí mé ag bainte mórán. Líon mé bosca leathlíonta leis torthaí milise.

Dhreap mé suas dréimire infhillte. Bhí mé i mbarr do réime. Ar scor ar bith, ní raibh mé ábalta ag baint torthaí níos aird ann.

Tá mé fear ard. Sroichim in airde. Téann in croabhachaí crainn. Tá gléasanna go fada agam.

Mar sin féin, níor fuair mé tainséiriní os cionn agamsa ann. Chonaic mé liathróidí oráiste in aice liom. Níor chruinnigh mé siadsan. Nílim in airde crainne!

Ach, d'éirigh mé ag cruinniú ar laghad tri scor torthaí. Bhí feadbh agam. Chaill mé tainséiriní go minic nuair ag tite thíos an crann agus mé. Briseadh is docha cúig déag ar an bheag. B'fhéidir, bhí níos mo ar an talamh crua.

D'ith mé siad. Bhí díth agam a caith mo lhón. Thug mé buiochas go nádúr mar bronntóir. Fásainn siad gach geimreadh amháin ar feadh dhá no trí míonna.

D'fhoglaim mé a taitníonn siad níos mo le linn i shéasúr níos garg seo anois. Roinnim siad agus luisne níos geall leis teaglach, comharsaí, agus cairde. Agus leatsa féin anseo!

Picking lots of fruit.

I picked tangerines yesterday. I was picking many. I filled a box half-full with sweet fruits.

I climbed up a folding ladder. I was at the top of the steps. However, I was not able to collect the fruits higher up there.

I am a tall man. I stretch taller. I go into the branches of the tree. I have a long gardening-tool with me.

All the same, I did not get tangerines above me there. I saw orange globes near to me. I did not gather them. I am not as tall as a tree!

But, I went up gathering at least three-score fruits. I had a problem. I lost tangerines often when they fell below the tree and me. Fifteen were broken, it's likely, at the minimum. Perhaps, there were more on the hard ground.

I ate them. I had a need to take my lunch. I gave thanks to nature as a bestower. They grow each winter only during two or three months.

I have learned to like them more in this harsher season now. I share them and their brighter glow with family, neighbors, and friends. And with you yourself here.

Íomhá/ Illustration: Ladder/Dréimire. Níl pictiúr na gCalifoirnea ann, ach tá bhFlorida amháin! No California picture there, only one from Florida!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

John Dos Passos' "Adventures of a Young Man": Book Review

This Lion Books pulp 1955 cover aside, this is not exactly a novel of "corrupt and bitter passions" of the libido, but rather of the liberal-- a boy from a middle-class background who wants to be one of the glorified proletariat, so as to further awareness in himself and the noble masses of the imperative to overthrow "the contradictions of capitalism." I was halfway through this story when the Depression rumbled in, reading about its coming the same day that our contemporary "stimulus bill" was passed to avert what nobody now wants to call another crash. Later, a Communist ideologue warns of fascism: "The state became in actual fact the executive committee of the ruling class," and I admit I wonder despite the party in power now if this has not happened after all, seventy years after the class wars of the 1930s. This made the novel's arc more relevant than I'd expected.

Since I liked Dos Passos' famed trilogy "U.S.A." and "Manhattan Transfer" (the latter reviewed by me on Amazon and here as well as "Three Soldiers" about WWI), and since I read last year both Virginia Spencer Carr and Townsend Ludington's massive biographies (I reviewed them too), I wanted to find out more about this fictional tale. Dos Passos retreats from his newsreel style into a conventional narrative. It moves rapidly, through "The Parental Bent" largely showing Glenn Spotswood's childhood and his try at agitprop while a counselor at a summer camp, to "Schooling and Youthful Errors," to "The Moment of Truth."

Trouble is there's nearly no mention of his schooling to get a sense of his formal education; Dos Passos wants instead to show Glenn learning life's lessons as a laborer in the Midwest and hanging out with Wobblies, then mixing with the Marxists of Greenwich Village, and finally organizing Mexican pecan shellers in East Texas. Dos Passos often captures the vernacular well, and continues his knack for the natural detail: "Outside the dim barn the sunlight fell dazzling like a blow on the back of the neck." (77)

Still, there's a detachment permeating Glenn's bildungsroman. He's an idealist, but when he takes up with the I.W.W. or the Reds it's with barely a ripple of explanation why. Dos Passos may hint that our allegiances come along with our chance conversations and our unpredictable acquaintances. You get more quick sketches of people than nuanced portraits. A few women come and go, Wheatly the Appalachian firebrand and Marice the flighty limousine liberal managing to stand out somewhat; the ladies here tend to be as predatory as the men. Episodic if epic, the chapters tend to rush into events and then settle into long debates before Glenn has to dash away again. Perhaps this reflects Glenn's own lack of insight, but there's a gap between the consciousness- raising and lack of character development that leaves this story of his adventures floating rather than racing.

This vacuum may be intentionally constructed. Dos Passos does write this straight after his disillusionment with Marxist dogmatism and its manipulation by Moscow as he had witnessed in Spain. The struggle between the Stalinists and the socialists and anarchists draws Glenn in as it had Dos Passos, and this concludes the book powerfully, recalling moments such as Sartre's later anti-fascist story "The Wall." The third section and the novel's second half, when Glenn organizes coal miners in Appalachia, and then fights against Communist doctrinaires here and in Spain, moves more energetically and ends dramatically.

Glenn encounters one leader: "Our function is to educate the American workingclass in revolutionary Marxism. We are not interested in the fates of individuals." (241) Glenn finds that the Party manipulates those it allows to be framed and jailed, if they happen to be in a union or to represent a cause that contradicts whatever "democratic centralism" the Soviet-loving servants dictate. Contrast this with Glenn: "parties and politics are built on hate." (267-68)

Glenn's pacifist dad (who lost his job at Columbia during WWI for his views) tells him, "there's a certain self-indulgence to extremism, which I am coming more and more to distrust." (130) A bit later, a local leftist lawyer reflects about a Mexican labor organizer: "called himself an anarchist, but he talked like an oldfashioned Jeffersonian democrat; funny how your attitude towards a man's political opinions depended on whether they had a nicesounding name or not." (150-1) It's not a novel of ideas, but neither does it immerse you into enough "passion."

Glenn comes of age but you do not identify totally with his inner turmoil; you watch it pass. This may in retrospect fit the disillusioned tone of the entire book; Glenn cares too much for people in all his awkward moral righteousness. You never get a firm grip on where he stands; he speaks to the masses but the speeches are never conveyed by the narrator. Before he volunteers to serve in Spain, he confides: "If you say the same words too often, you get so you don't believe them." (291)

This excerpt below shows the novel's style at its best. "Adventures" mixes a few tangy observations of Dos Passos' earlier mode with a calmer perspective that would characterize his later prose. You witness the characters as they come and go, but you sense the author's manipulation of them, as if he moves the camera eye past them. The system grinds folks down: this is doomed populism. This feature dominates Dos Passos' manner, and whether you find it illustrative or enervating depends on your predilection.

"He felt full of life. Noting with amused distant interest, as if out of somebody else's eyes, the streets, the dark storewindows, the faces of men slumped outside of flophouses, the drunk flopped like a dropped bananapeel on the sidewalk, the lively glare of uptown streets where young men and women were coming out of movies, buying papers at streetcorners, crowding into jazznoisy supperplaces past doormen in fancy uniforms opening the taxicab doors, looking carefully into drugstores and the big plateglass windows where the latest models of cars were on show, lit by trick lighting that glinted richly on chromium fittings, he walked on uptown with a richly swinging stride." (127; 1938 Harcourt first ed.)

This novel would be followed by "Number One" (1943) and "The Grand Design" (1949) to comprise what in 1952 was published as the "District of Columbia" trilogy, with Glenn's brother Tyler and the Spotswood family as major characters.

(Posted to Amazon today.)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"Darker My Love": Music Review

My posts number 666, so I figured I'd better dash off another one quick to avert the d[a]emons. I reviewed yesterday "Darker My Love 2"-- kind of an appropriately named anti-Christ platter?-- so it's back to bloviating about their debut today. This came out two years earlier in 2006, before some of the members had the dubious privilege of being summoned as (ex-)members of the Fall club. For those not in the know, that band-- which is Mark E. Smith, his paramour (it's wife #3 now on keyboards, an attractive Greek lass perhaps a fan of Sparta F.C.), and whomever he can boss about and browbeat garage-rockabilly-house-punk-thrash-wonkiness out of-- broke down on their last American tour just when they were to hit my hometown. I had never seen them, and hoped vaguely I might. But, his opening act, this local Silverlake band from hipster L.A., stepped bravely in. Anyhow, they did the "Reformation Post-TLC" record, neither great nor awful, before their inevitable departure and "2."

Many previous listeners rated this highly. In retrospect compared to the initial reviews before the release of the follow-up: it's a good CD, but compared to "2," clearly a début on an indie label. It's full of passion and ideas if a bit awkward and raw in the actual product. It's often heavier than their second one, logically titled "2." (I reviewed that the day before I did this on Amazon.) As no previous Amazon reviewer has commented on the actual songs, here goes. "Opening" and "Post Mortem" resemble The Black Angels (both albums also reviewed by me) tribal droning or the Warlocks' gloomier delivery, as well as Jesus & Mary Chain at their most sluggish. There's also a hint of the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter" backbeat.

"What's a Man's Paris" has a catchier assault to match its strange title; "Helium Heels" moves along mid-tempo, more like the songs on "2" will. "Fall" may not predict their interim period touring with and then becoming The Fall, but it does lurch about more between fast and slow, and I think the drums into the guitar interlude halfway through do capture that band's longer tracks. There's also notably a growling voice mixed deep midstream into its vocal!

"Hello Traveler" blends a Swervedriver guitar-drums-bass propulsion with distortion pedals to good effect; the vocal harmonies needed to be not so muddy, however, and the percussion reels and stumbles near the end of the song too clunkily. "Claws & Paws" stalks like a feline through a dark tunnel before picking up the pace into a livelier, if no less thickly textured, sound. "Catch" continues the sludgier mood.

"People" follows patterns from post-punks like The Chameleons or Echo & the Bunnymen, but it does not improve much on this template. "I Feel Fine" is not a Beatles homage, but it shares a woozy psychedelic ambiance. These later songs on the record all are placed correctly-- a feature that helps "2" immensely-- but they tend to drag. Fine if you're in a downbeat mood, but they weigh the album down. This is not bad in itself, but after four songs, the closer "Summer Is Here" does pound more insistently, maybe as if The Stone Roses met "Little Games"-era Yardbirds? Yet, even it ends rather oddly.

The band improves on "2," but if like me you wanted more of DML after hearing that CD, this one's strong enough to warrant purchase. You can also find some songs on the Live at Spaceland releases from summer '06 when they were the house band at that Silverlake trendy nitespot. The production's murkier, the songs show more promise than finesse, and the writing's not as tight. Still, a promising first record from a band that has since proven its progress and its potential.

(Paragraph two onwards posted to Amazon today.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Darker My Love's "2": Music Review

.Psychedelic in texture, shoegazing in attitude, and accessible in scope, this L.A. indie band delivers a solid album. It reminded me strongly of The Verve, but without Richard Ashcroft's tortured artist syndrome. The vocals tend to support the song, rather than overwhelm the melody or separate themselves from the ensemble. Four stars only since I think they'll continue to progress and deepen into this delightful direction of sophisticated, swaggering and silky sonic seduction.

No John Leckie epic production, as this is on a small label and probably recorded on a tight budget, yet it sounds hefty when it should and delicate when it would. Harmonies, as on "Two Ways Out" & "Pale Sun," soften the punch of the punkish segue that later hammers home "All the Hurry and Wait" rising into "Waves." Midway through the album, "White Composition," although not to my tastes, allows the momentum of the thunderous opening to ease into an Arthur Lee & Love evocation for a few feathery minutes before the album again begins to crest and roar into guitars, bass, drums, and keyboard embellishment.

The Beatles, risky as it may be, around the White Album may also echo. My son's good ears also picked up the intelligent, studious yet not imitative craft of another band of sonic re-creators, The Soundtrack of Our Lives. Like TSOOL, Darker My Love overcome a perhaps awkward name with a love of a period when an ambitious pop song could rule the airwaves at least for a few months. DML's intricate, yet streamlined rather than fussy, arrangements of their songs allow them to build up and amble down according to mood. Their attention to a polished production and an effort where all the band integrates into a larger whole speaks well for inheritors of a classic rock sound that does not alienate a pop-oriented listener while appealing to an adventurous lover of obscurer influences.

DML filters the neo-psychedelic era too. As mentioned with The Verve, the late 80s-early 90s also are captured in a more dominant, post-punk schooled delivery. The probably harrowing and enjoyable (in equal amounts?) stint of part of the band when they were suddenly recruited from opening act to backing musicians for yet-another line-up of The Fall during their last American tour does not appear to have resulted in any Mark E. Smith homage, however. The density, on the other hand, of a scrappy, smart garage band who loves Can may be one area of overlap between L.A.'s club favorites and Manchester's indie stalwarts. (You can hear the DML's contribution to the Fall Sound on their album "Reformation Post-TLC.")

DML's not a shoegazing revival group, but they share that genre's devotion to a larger sound that manages to be big without being heavy. Although not as austere or droning as Black Mountain's debut or "Into the Future" or two records by The Black Angels (all four also reviewed by me), Darker My Love may represent yet another promising contender for this generation's psychedelic vanguard. Enter their swirling, layered construction and you will welcome their direct desire to stack up sounds that you can sink into.

(Posted to Amazon today.)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Léitheoirí gan aird ar an traein

Tá mé ag dul ar an traein go minic. Bím ag léamh go hionduil. Ní fheicim duine mór léitheoireacht leabhair ann. Níl ródhúil sa léitheoireacht níos drom acu ach amháin nuachtán níos éadrom anseo agus ansin.

Ar scor ar bith, faighim léitheoirí go stuama ar an traein anois agus ansin. Mar sin, tá mé go bhfaighe mé radharc orm duine atá tugtha don léitheoireacht. Inseoidh mé agat fúthu ag beirthe go feicthe ormsa ar feadh coicis é seo caite.

Chonaic mé mac leinn ag timpeall an fiche bliain d'aois. Choiméad sé "Wuthering Heights" agus léigh sé go haireach. Measaim go raibh ag freastail an colaiste na cheardscoil ar lár ina gCathair na hÁingeal.

Shuigh bean go cotúil ar an traein leis an leabhar. D'ainmnígh "Crone." Chaith sí dathannaí leis corcra. Bhí scairf agus muiflá cluaise go déanta leis ábhar dubh go granna aici freisin! D'imigh sí ar Cearnóg Phershing in aice leis ar an Leabharlann Ceannais.

D'oscail bean níos óg an Chóire an Biobla Naofa níos moch ar maidin. Níor lhéigh sí dhá oiread. Thit sí ag codladh go gairid. Níor dhúisigh sí aríst.

Sheas cailín is mishnaiche ar aghaidh orm. Bhí cosúlacht go laidir uirthi féin le Poly Styrene ó X-Ray Spex! B'fhéidir, chuala sí a íomra an amhranaí punc. Bhí sí ag léite an saol le Isadora Duncan.

Scríobh déagóir fionn ina leabhar Shudoku faoi deireanach. D'fhan sé ar aghaidh orm fós. Bhí gné-eolaíocht aige Ceilteach, is docha Éireannach orm. Smaoinigh mé faoi aghaidh aige. D'fhoglaim mé ina dhiaidh sin ag feicthe go caite fainne cladaigh aicesan féin. Caithim mise liomsa!

Random Readers on the Train.

I am going by train often. I usually am reading. I do not find many people great on reading books there. They do not have a great desire for heavier reading except a lighter newspaper here and there.

However, I see serious readers on the train now and then. That is, I may find a view for me of people who take to reading. I will tell you about some caught as seen by me during the past two weeks.

I saw a student around twenty years old. He held "Wuthering Heights" and he was reading it seriously. I reckon that he may be attending the trade-school college in the center of the city of Los Angeles.

A timid woman sat on the train with a book. It was named "Crone." She wore colors of purple. She had a scarf and ear-muffs made of an ugly black material also! She got off at Pershing Square near the Central Library.

A younger woman from Korea opened the Holy Bible very early in the morning. She did not read but a couple moments. She fell into sleep quickly. She did not wake up again.

A most homely girl stood across from me. She resembled strongly Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex! Perhaps, she had heard of the punk singer. She was reading the life of Isadora Duncan.

A fair teenager wrote in a Sudoku book recently. He stayed across from me too. He had Celtic features, likely Irish to me. I thought about his face. I learned later in looking that he wore a Claddagh ring himself. I wear the same myself!

(Adrian Tomine, "Ceangaltas Caillte"/ "Missed Connections." 11-8-04. Tá siadsan ag léamh an teideal céann! They're reading the same book!)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Dánlann Nua Anseo, dhá chuid de

Fillim ar ais gailearaí ealaíne go raibh go deanta faoi deireanach anseo. Chuir mé suas cúig íomháí déag ar an taobh deas ar mo bhlog. D'inis tú faoi an céadleath ag an alt roimhe. Foghlaimeoidh tú faoi an leath dara anseo síos.

Gheobhaidh tú taispéantas pictiúr le Jack B. Yeats go hálainn ina Dárlann Naisuinta i mBaile átha Cliath. Feic siad tusa féin! Is maith liom "Lá Margaidh, Contae Mhaigh Eo" mar sin is cuimhne liom faoi an lár i mBaile na Daighin in aice leis sraidbhaile bídeach na Scardaun cé bhfuil mo sheanmhathair go bhfuil beirthe í ag imeall an uair na pictiúir agus an ceantar.

Nílim ábalta a tuigeadh go leor nuair ag léamh danta le David Jones, ach is maith liom é chomh ealaíontóir aige. Níl "An Gearran Crioslamtha" an scoth aige. Ní chuireann mé suas a íomháí níos geal aige mar sin cuid mhór aigesan féin go raibh ag deanta leis dathannaí is fíneálta. Bhí siad le feiceáil ina scannán ach ar éigean go minic.

Phéint Margaret Clarke "Máire agus Bríd" nuair ag imithe sí ar na hOileáin Árann i 1917. Rugadh ín h-An tIur i 1888 agus fuair sí bás i 1961. Tá an fear céile Harry Clarke ann ina pictúir suas an halt seo agam. Bhí ealaíontóir clúiteach éireannach freisin é!

D'fhan mé scaitheamh maith ar an hIarsmalann Uladh fadó. D'fhoghlaim mé faoi John Luke agus "An Bóthar Siar" nuair chuir mé cuairt ar an áit go cuanna i mBéal Feirste. Rinne mé mórán staidéir "Na Freascónnaí Bhéal Feirste" le John Kindness fad a bhí mé ansin fós.

Tiomainím ar an bóthar mór ina mo bhaile dhúchais cá feictar an múrdhathadóireacht an ceann céanna chomh ar an bóthar na bhFal! Mar shampla, feicim "Bean na hÁingeal" go cruinnithe le George Yepes go hionduil. Measaim go raibh an múrach seo is fearr go áitúil.

Críochnaím leis íomhá comhlántach. Tugann Augustus John le Bhreatain Bheag amharc eile na claddaigh Ceilteach. B'fhéidir, "An cailín ar an aille" nó "Nirvana" go raibh íomhá an-álainn den saol ag dúnadh mo turas ghailearaí ealaíne seo leatsa go caoin.

New Art Gallery, part two.

I return back to the art gallery that I made recently here. I put up fifteen illustrations on the right side for my blog. I told you about the first half in the previous entry. You'll learn about the second half here below.

You will find an exhibition of lovely pictures by Jack B. Yeats in the National Gallery in Dublin. See them for yourself! I like "Market Day, Co Mayo" because it reminds me about the center of Ballindine near the tiny village of Scardaun where my grandmother was born close to the time and region of this painting.

I am not able to understand a lot when reading poems by David Jones, but I like him as an artist. "The Enclosed Garden" is not his best. I do not put his brighter images up because a great share of his may be made with colors too delicate. They are on screen but faintly visible often.

Margaret Clarke painted "Mary and Brigid" when she went off to the Aran Islands in 1917. She was born in Newry in 1888 and death took her in 1961. There is husband Harry Clarke there in the picture above this piece of mine. He was a well-known Irish artist too!

I stayed a good while at the Ulster Museum once. I learned about John Luke and "The Road to the West" when I paid a visit to the elegant site there. I took a lot of time to study "The Belfast Frescoes" by John Kindness also.

I drive on the freeway in my hometown where one may look at a mural the same as on the Falls Road! For instance, I see "Mujer de Los Angeles" designed by George Yepes customarily. I think that this mural may be the best locally.

I finish with a complementary image. From Wales, Augustus John brings another vista of a Celtic shore. Perhaps, "The Girl on the Cliff" or "Nirvana" may be a strikingly beautiful illustration for closing my tour of this art gallery to you gently.

Pictiúr/ Picture: Margaret Clarke RHA (neé Crilley) ca. 1920: "Taobh istigh sheomra"/"Interior of Room."

Dánlann Nua Anseo, cuid a h-aon

Chuir mé suas gailearaí ealáine ar taobh deas síos anseo an lá eile. Bhí gá agamsa a cur íomhánnaí go raibh go líonta leis chaill agam. Fuair mé cúig léaráidí déag ar an ghréasán go mbeadh go pearsanta orm.

Rinne mé teorannú ann, ar scor ar bith. Chaith mé ag faighte gach íomhá amuigh ar an idirlíon ó bhunús. Mar sin, chonaic mé é an oibre ealáine nó ealaíontóra ar laghad roimh ré, ina leabhar nó leis mo shúile cinn! Agus, ar ndóigh, bhí maith liom é nó í go díreach, níos láidre.

Inseoidh mé agat abairt faoi gach pictiúr. Ar dtús, feicfidh tú griangraf le Ian Middleton de Ghleann Cholm Cille i gContae Dún na nGall; tá áit is fiú a choinneáil in gcuimhne agamsa féin. Tá íomhá is gaire ag tosú sraith péintéireachta siadsan.

Ceangail Léna-- tá sé an lá a rugadh í-- agus mé leis go bhfuil cion acusan ar Stanley Spencer agus Millard Sheets. Phéint Spencer "An Droichead" ar feadh geallta bád na h-áit dhúchais aice na Cookham ina Sasana. Phéint Sheets ag imeall na h-áit dhúchais againnsa féin na gCathair na h-Áingeal.

Go nádúrtha, is maith linn a léamh go leor. Tagann Eric Gill leis leabhairshuaitheantas is cathaitheach na "Éabha." Cuireann mé "Annie McGinley" le Rockwell Kent níos islé. Bhí ealaíontóir Meiriceánach é. Tá sé igcónaí ar an tuaiscairt na Ghleann Cholm Cille ag timpeall 1950. Leannan scribhneoir agus ealaíontóir Alasdair Gray leis an íomhá na file Albanach "Liz Lochhead" ann.

Bhí cuimhne liomsa faoi Peter Blake agus "Ophelia" nuair ag freastail Oideas Gael ina Ghleann. Bhain mé alt suas irise ina Baile Mór ann. Léigh mé faoi an íomhá cumhachtacht seo.

Scríobh mé faoi ar an gcéad leath an thogadh pictiúr os cionn. Beidh mé tuilleadh san uimhir seo chugam. Críochnóidh mé ag insint agat faoi seacht h-ealaíontóir muirneacha níos mo agamsa féin.

New Art Gallery Here, Part One.

I put up a gallery of artists along the right side down here the other day. I had a need myself to place images that may be filled with meaning for me. I got fifteen illustrations on the web that would be personal for me.

I made a restriction there, however. I had to have found each image outside of the internet originally. That is, I saw the work of art or of the artist at least beforehand, in a book or with my own eyes. And, of course, I liked him or her [or it!] right away, strongly.

I'll tell you a sentence about each picture. To begin, you will see a photograph by Ian Middleton of Glencolmcille in Co Donegal; the place "has worth to keep in my mind myself" [="memorable"]. The image next is starting a series of pictures themselves.

Layne-- it's her birthday today-- and I join with a liking ourselves for Stanley Spencer and Millard Sheets. Spencer painted "The Bridge" during a regatta in his native place of Cookham in England. Sheets painted around our own native place in the City of Los Angeles.

Naturally, we like to read a lot. Eric Gill comes with a most tempting bookplate of "Eve." I place "Annie McGinley" by Rockwell Kent lower down. He lived near Glencolmcille around 1950. The writer and artist Alasdair Gray with an image of the poet from Scotland "Liz Lochhead" follows there.

Memory came back to me about Peter Blake and "Ophelia" when attending Oideas Gael in the Glen. I got out an article from a magazine in the Big House there. I read about this powerful image.

I wrote about the first half of the selection of pictures above. I shall continue with the next entry. I will finish telling you about seven more favorite artists of mine.

Illustration/ íomhá: Pencil drawing/ Líníocht pionsail le Stanley Spencer. Dánlann/Museum, Cookham, Berkshire. "Ag Tarraingím Mise Elsie" "Me Drawing Elsie". 1943-44. Tá uilinn go suntasach é ansin!/ It's a wonderful angle there!