Sep. 3rd, 2005
12:26 pm - But still...
...Malone's mom called the inspector again without us knowing it (there were cracks in one of the doors or some horribly inane little imperfection like that) and he came around on Thursday without us knowing it. We're not evicted (at least, not yet) but I get to schlepp my shit downstairs again on Tuesday morning. This is becoming increasingly irritating and I'm beginning to think that I won't live here next year. And that I need a cudgel.
I've found an NT translation that's better than the Scholars' Version. That's not to belittle the Jesus Seminar's work (absit!), especially since it was Dr. Dewey who showed it to me. Imagine hearing the Sermon on the Mount, the letter to the Galatians, Revelation, and, in a word, the entirety of the New Testament without the admixture of frozen religious language and the pallid cast of piety that saps the text of meaning (the letter kills, right?), instead hearing the text in a way that at least partially captures the meaning it would have had for its first audience. The Seminar did a good deal of work in this direction, replacing "blessed are..." in the Beatitudes with "congratulations," "gospel" with "good news" (which has recently been standard practice anyway), and replacing fixed theological terms such as "grace" and "sin" with "favor" and "error." The Wycliffe Bible Translators have taken another and arguably more effective approach with their translation of the New Testament into Hawaiian Pidgin.
This is entirely serious. The language of the New Testament was not that of theologians and scholars but rather of the common people; the systematic abstraction later introduced by the Church Fathers and later scholars in the tradition (Catholic and Protestant alike) is certainly not to be dismissed, for there is often great beauty in it, but when thrown back upon, and read into, the New Testament, it does much to befog and stiffen the immediacy and reality of the original. Think of a passage from the Beatitudes:
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God."
Under the influence of some 1500 years of tradition the word "blessed" has lost a great deal of force; it seems to speak about being favored by God in some way, perhaps chosen for life in Heaven (as part of the visible elect, maybe?) but the general sense it carries is ethereal, recondite, and, to speak quite frankly, wooden and boring. Compare this with the equivalent in "Da Jesus Book" (the translation's title):
"Da peopo who help da odda peopo be friends again, dey can stay good inside, cause God goin say dey his kids."
This cleanses the text of so much crusty ethereality, and is also incredibly accurate if one considers the Greek: "makarios" means, prosaically, "happy," but is most often used about a perfect state of such happiness: in this sense Epicurus calls his gods "makarioi," taking part in inward tranquility and freedom from care, anxiety, and cognitive dissonance. "Dey can stay good inside," just as sure as da peope who help da odda peopo be friends again. Magnificent!
This is one example of many. In addition to removing the impediments of theological languages, the prim, "clean" nature of many translations, based on the assumption that any language falling short of our standards of propriety (at least, those of the translators...these standards may justly be referred to as "pale religious prudery") would be undignified and unworthy of the NT authors (or God speaking through them, or some such thing as that) is purged away just as well. Consider the verse in Galatians:
"You foolish Galatians!"
Now in Pidgin:
"You people from Galatia, yoa head jam up o what?"
Yes! This brings back the feel of the original and also reproduces the sense of "anoetos," "mind-blocked."
There's plenty more along those lines, including "da good stuff" being used in the place of "the gospel," and "Da stuff Jesus show John" in place of "The Revelation of John." I can't stress how much more direct and vital this makes the material. I've found a new favorite translation.
Da Boss rest yoa heart good!
Sep. 1st, 2005
Fans of They Might Be Giants and Animutation...this is for you:
The Fingertips Project
It's interesting how Colin manages to cut his entire body off.
I'm done with classes at 10:20 tomorrow and don't know what to do with myself.
Aug. 30th, 2005
And what the fuck is "a whole much" supposed to mean?
Jesus Christ, I can't even write English.
How to create a false impression of ability:
1. Discover that you have a few accidental knacks that don't really mean a whole much but make you look good...say, passive command of a couple of languages, perhaps dead ones.
2. Choose a major that centers around those same languages, so by virtue of these accidental knacks you can skate through it without doing much work, hence not learning much of merit but somehow looking good and maintaining a respectable GPA.
3. After two years of this, your professors will have a rather outlandish notion that you know what you're doing. And they will be right in a sense--you can navigate Latin and Greek, either prose or poetry, from all periods, but that will be more or less it. However, in putting these to use in philosophy or theology you will be quite lost except perhaps in text criticism.
Now, I could look at this in a more optimistic light and say that, when the time comes (i.e. grad school), I will be prepared to trace the development of Judaism, and from it Christianity, by virtue of having learned the languages of these religions' scriptures and the historical documentation of the worlds in which they developed. However, most of what I've done until now has felt just half relevant and insubstantial. No, sir. I don't like it.
Aug. 28th, 2005
Aug. 27th, 2005
10:29 pm - Addendum
Oh, and apparently Drs. Byrne, Cueva, and Dewey are looking to lead the trip to Rome and several sites in Greece this summer.
...I smell a beautiful excuse/opportunity to learn Italian. Tee hee hee...
Well, this whole affair of sharing a house with 6 other guys has turned out to work quite smoothly thus far: not a single episode of bloodshed, and there was only one instance of empty beer bottles being left in the yews (yes, we're a classy bunch here at 2012 Wayland...certified!). Also, everybody gets up at vastly different times so there's no rush to the shower in which we all get trampled. That is a great joy to me. The 2nd floor bathroom is being remodeled because it was replete with scuzz and now part of the shower is in the hallway which makes for a nice game of shuffling it back and forth every time you want to get up to the 3rd floor, which is where my corner is.
For one day, though, Kyle Murphy and I were cohabitating and, despite state law, married (which, btw, rendered me Charlie Murphy). This bears explanation. Brian Malone was moving a bunch of his stuff in July and when his mom saw the state of the house (namely that it is a typical student house and so has its...imperfections) she threw a shitfit and called up the building inspector. He came along, told us to change a few things, and moreover told us a very stupid and inexplicable point of law. This is that there can be no more than four unrelated people living in a single unit, and our house is divided into two of these said units: the first floor is one, as are the second and third. Now, we have five people living on the second and third floors. When the inspector came back on Tuesday to see whether we'd made the necessary changes (whatever they may have been) we had to conceal this or be evicted.
What this means is that on Tuesday morning I woke up at 5 and schlepped my mattress, box-springs, and bed frame down to the first floor along with everything that made the place recognizable as a bedroom (the clothes, storage, and so on) and arranged them all in Kyle's room (a tight fit, narrowly done, but it looked convincing). The story was that we were sharing a bedroom but because I had too many books to keep there (which is certainly true) I moved them up to the third floor, where there's a nice bookshelf built into the wall. After that it seemed best to move my computer and TV up there and so it became the third floor study and lounge. I wasn't there to tell the story, but apparently the inspector found it consistent enough, and we passed and weren't tossed out to live under sheets on the academic mall. Having successfully stuck it to the man, Kyle and I called off our cohabitation, annulled our already illegal marriage, and moved my stuff back upstairs where it will hopefully remain unless our friend from the city calls again, which would incur the full fury of an angry Bowman...and all that really means is that I would mutter "Aw, criminy" and start moving my bed again. Come visit my garret! It's beginning to look almost respectable.
Classes have been less eventful. Theology is what I expected (a lot of what I've covered before, particularly in Hebrew scriptures, but a good opportunity to consolidate it before I have to know it cold in grad school), Nietzsche is a perfect start to the day, Greek sees the long-awaited chance to have another class with Dr. Byrne (who has been sorely missed since Virgil in fall '03), Latin is with Dr. Cueva, which means I have to give a presentation about Thales (markedly not a Latin...but he's a Presocratic and we're reading Lucretius, who was a better Epicurean than Epicurus because he can write, so we need to know the background) on Monday, and psychology is ridiculously large. As for my catechumenate, I'm looking for a place to start with the Church Fathers and Cyril Whitaker will hopefully give me some guidance in that (I'm borrowing his Handbook to Patrology). Dr. Melcher said that Dan at HUC can help me out with the Torah and a rabbi she knows (I've forgotten his name) can guide me in studying the prophets and learning cantillation.
I hope all is well with you.
Aug. 18th, 2005
Gratus diluculi adventus mollisque me secum domum feret. Donec autem veniat sidendum hic est vigilans. Ut conducantur omnes aretai (quod aiunt Graeci, potius aiebant; quod nobis sive Anglice sive Latine loquentibus ob linguarum ipsarum imbecillitatem capi omnino nequit: Merton scit, Heidegger scit, Quinn scit, Dewey scit!) meae, ut unum fiant, utque haec conductio fiat quasi vita aeterna in praesenti saeculo: ad haec mox laborandum erit. Nec onus hoc: aestas enim acumen quoddam dedisse omniaque--toto corde spero!--vetera insipidaque mea expurgasse acri igne videtur. Vocem, religionem, vitam inveni. Nunc audiantur.
...Eh, sorry about that. Ken's asleep, I'm typing this on the couch, and the only sound is Mozart's Requiem on the computer ("Recordare" just finished...it's on to "Confutatis"--yep, there it is)and the fan. We're heading up to Cincinnati tomorrow and I'm not going to sleep. It's going to be a good few months.
Aug. 12th, 2005
Days of work left: none.
Leaving Toledo: Sunday.
Days of mirth, roving and carousal in store: more or less every day until the first week of May.
*prances about idiotically*
Yes, hot damn. So ends the lamest-ass season of the year, and so three months of work yield to nine months of vacation. Though Summer may be the lamest-ass season of the year, it's not without its charms and this last week had its share. We were mowing and weeding in the gorilla meadow on Tuesday and I was using a weed whacker (they're almost universally referred to as "weed whips" at the zoo; also, wild Morning Glory is known as "vine weed," a name that's perhaps a bit more apt) on the four-foot thistles between the hotwire and the giant fence. It's the unfortunate custom of the weed whacker to toss bits and pieces of whatever you're extirpating into the air at ridiculous speeds--the string spins so fast you can't see the damn thing--and since the thistles were a good half-inch thick what got shot through the air were bulbous, juicy thistle-chunks. It was just my luck--and this confirms what I have thought for quite some time about whatever Providence there may be, namely that it delights in screwing with me--that one of these same bulbous, juicy thistle-junks would find its way into my left nostril, where it remained firmly entrenched until I could dislodge it by the deft employment of the maneuver that Beavis called the "gym teacher's handkerchief." Or was it Butthead? Aw, well.
Yesterday I caught a five-lined skink, Northwest Ohio's only native lizard. They live in a flower bed that sits on top of a wall by the greenhouse's garage. It was skittering into the garage and I thought I should put it where it would be less likely to be smashed by the tractor, the Gator, or the Moribund Mits (what I affectionately call the "Mighty Mits," our puttering little Mitsubishi truck that lets out an awful death rattle every time you try to start it) or julienned by the riding mower. I chashed after it (they're quick and frenetic) to one of the gasoline cabinets, had a hand cupped on either side of it (you don't want to pick them up by the tail; they'll just drop it and run away) with my fingertips on the gas cabinet and closed in. After after a minute or so of shuffling my hands back and forth it jumped into them, so I went and put it back in the flower bed.
Today I got to bid the wolves farewell while spreading the oddest mulch I've ever seen along the service drive that runs behind their exhibit. The stuff was composed mostly of rotting leaves and smelled like tomato soup when freshly spread. This took the bulk of the day and provided the opportunity to ride around on the back of the truck that the North side's crew uses. The only unpleasant things about it were the sun coming out at noon and raising the temperature to somewhere in the 90s (again!) and the fly traps, emitting the reek of wet ass (as Sparks put it; eau de cul if you want me to be more genteel) as they always do.
I suppose that Summer is the only the lamest season in climate. These few months have been quite beneficial, against my expectations, and I feel a good deal more focused, peaceful, and alive than I have since...really, since the end of freshman year.
Talia saecla currite!