Practical Theory - The Origin
The Scholars in CyberEnglish
ToDaY's MeNu - Ted

Friday, July 14, 2017

While in Maine

I did some carpentry work for my sweetie. I haven't done this kind of work in more than 40 years. I was working with an all metal 2 car garage and gave it a whole new wood face. The original doors were four metal doors that swung out. The two doors on the right were damaged and didn't open. The two on the left required some digging out to open. I had to use a cold chisel to break the bolts on the hinges to remove the doors. I replaced them with two large 8X8 batten doors, the right one was fixed while the left one was on a sliding rail. The triangle above the doors demanded plywood so I could shingle it and then I finished it with an 8" trim.
During breaks, I enjoyed kayaking on the lake, ate lobster and Pemaquid oysters, drank local beer, and enjoyed the cool of Maine with my sweetie pie.




Monday, July 3, 2017

Headlong by Michael Frayn

Headlong by Michael Frayn is about scholarship. “If I have any pretentions to be a scholar, then I have an obligation to put my findings on record, so that my colleagues and successors, now and down the years, can evaluate them.” Frayn has opened with my definition of scholarship: “publish, engage in peer review, and pass it on.” It was my pretention when I set out to create CyberEnglish. Was it the right thing to do or was it wrong? I, too, was in a quandary as I used my scholars’ published work to move CyberEnglish forward. As with our scholar hero in Headlong, only hindsight will give us the answer. For me with the emergence of both Facebook and Twitter, I feel justified in doing what I did with CyberEnglish, as it is a model for scholarship, unlike the rogue apps Facebook and Twitter, which are the opposite of scholarly as defined by both me and Frayn. CyberEnglish moves us away from the ideas espoused in 1984, whereas, Facebook and Twitter move us closer to the tenets of 1984.
This is an Ekphrastic novel. Brueghel or Bruegel, the Elder is the subject of this fanciful novel. Martin and Kate Clay have left London for the country with their newborn child, Tilda. Their neighbors, Tony and Laura Churt have artwork. The Clays are in the art world. The Churt’s invite them to dinner to get their advice on the value of the art. This is the first plot line. The other plot line is a study in Peter Brueghel the Elder. “They’re all iconographers. What this problem needs is an iconologist.” Martin thinks he has discovered a long lost Brueghel from The Twelve Months series. Martin wants the painting. Ekphrastic work is neither new nor unique. Usually it involves poetry and one famous example involves Brueghel’s Fall of Icarus in Auden’s poem, Museé des Beaux Arts.
The confidence game that Martin schemes eventually includes Kate. The foundation is built on scholarship; the knowledge of Brueghel in his time and that requires a great deal of research by Martin, so much research that the novel becomes historical in nature. We become art students studying the times of Brueghel so as to better understand him and to be able to determine if the painting that Tony owns is the missing Brueghel. The history lesson is comprehensive and interesting to the point I sometimes forget this is a novel with a plot and other characters and this part of it is just background to help the plot and the con carry on. As Martin learns more, he knows he wants the painting he only seen once even if it not real, he is obsessed, blinded by his desire, fueled by the history of it all. I do wish they had included prints in the book so I wouldn’t have to depend on the Internet to see the paintings as I read. I love the exhaustive research Martin is doing and it reminds me of my own days of pursuing scholarship. “I should be the man who’d finally solved the mystery of Bruegel. I should have lifted the veil, revealed the hidden figure behind the canvas. I should have found the thunder.” And as in all pursuits of scholarship, the mundane and everyday is lost and this causes problems in the real world. Research is the non-real world, we must remember, but Martin forgets. “I remember that I still haven’t looked up the Giordano. But by this time, the exact figures involved in the stupendous deal I’m about to do seem to me of remarkably little importance.” Is Martin dementing or just way ahead of himself? He went to town to find the price of the Giordano, but instead followed the rabbit down the rabbit hole in pursuit of Bruegel.
The human plot is filled with intrigue and twists and turns expertly executed by Frayn, but it is the study of Brueghel that captures my fancy as I jump from text to the Internet to examine and explore the paintings in question. The history lesson is also fascinating. The art and history plots upstage the human story of the Clays and the Churts.

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Muse in the Museum

As a boy, I had always thought
The medieval knights at the Met,
The most awesome sight
I had seen in any museum.
Then I went to the d’Orsay.
Another corner turned,
Instead of knights on horse,
It was The Origin of the World.
Embarrassed and shocked,
In awe and wonder and delight,
Unable to avert my gaze
Drawn in closer and closer.
I could taste her, smell her,
Feel the softness of her skin.
Pinching her nipple, I long
To bury my face in her nest.
I was tingling all over.
Memories of the women
I’ve had in this position,
Dreams of those I will.

Monday, June 19, 2017

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman is filled with many conundrums.  First how is the man’s name pronounced? Is it Ove as in “love” and “dove”? Or is it Ove as in “stove” and “drove”? Or is it Ove as in the Yiddish “Oy Vey”? The Yiddish is closest for me since the character in this book is the Yiddish definition, “expressing dismay or exasperation.” Ove exasperates everyone with his ways. When others encounter Ove, they become dismayed with him. He dismays and exasperates himself throughout the novel as he fails to commit suicide on many occasions.
Secondly, this is a Swedish novel and follows closely a Swedish tone of dismay and exasperation. Consider the Swedish detective Kurt Wallander and we have Ove. Ruminate over the Swedish director, Ingmar Bergman’s work. Even little brother Norway produced The Scream. This novel fits in well with these three; they are cut from the same cloth.
The final conundrum is the man himself and his actions. “Instead they had parked here and walked all around the block looking for the café. Because Ove, as Parvaneh had soon realized, was the sort of man who, when he was not quite certain where he was going, just carried on walking straight ahead, convinced that the road would eventually fall into line. And now when they find that the café is directly opposite the spot where they parked, Ove looked as if this was his plan all along.” Ove is a man of principles. He will not pay an extra krona when he doesn’t believe he should and will forgo something or make his life harder. He never ever breaks the law or social more. As we watch all of his interactions with others, our only reaction is “Oy Vey.”
The man called Ove is a curmudgeon. The irony of his life is that he has a big heart, both literally and figuratively. His wife, Sonja, shows him this, much to his own dismay. Even his new neighbor, Parvaneh, provides reasons for Ove to display his big heart in the face of his persistence to be the curmudgeon. He is a man who wants to die and can’t take his own life because he has things to do for others.
This is a very satisfying and reflective read.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Our new Reality

A person who tells us a truth and is arrested and jailed. A person who lies is not arrested nor jailed. Our government knows stuff, we the people, need answers to and yet they withhold this information. Government officials lie under oath, are put in charge of key government positions, are outed, and yet no jail. I'm very confused. Our government is not on our side, it is on its side protecting itself, its job and not looking out for us. Liars tell us the truth is fake when we plainly see they are not lies and that the liars are lying, and yet we do nothing but go along with our merry lives accepting this new reality. Willful ignorance is our new reality and that makes us losers, not winners. Reality winners are in jail, the liars are not. It's all upside down. We are not the United States. This is our partisan government's fault and ours for allowing it and creating it. Willful, loser, ignorance. I see an American flag flying upside down and at half staff. People in power are allowed to stumble and make gross mistakes and continue in their jobs and yet the rest of us are not allowed these passes in error. When will this nightmare end? When will reality be restored?
I need to reread the Emperor's New Clothes.