SiStan ChapLee

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Off Topic: When a proofreader shoots

photo by Elena Colombo

In spite of the Aristotelian teaching according to which friendship arises out of likeness, Elena (see her blog) loves to do a lot of things that 'somebody here' almost never does: travelling, meeting people, taking pictures of the places she sees, and telling about the travel, the people and the pics. And each time she photographs a monster, she does it as a gift for a certain friend. In this case, a wonderful Leviathan in the area of the Old Harbor in Genoa, Italy. Thanks!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Under accusation (1)

[6: 45]

N.B. Starting from this point, the events in Gerusalemme Conquistata will progressively develop otherwise than in the parallel episodes in Gerusalemme Liberata (Jerusalem Delivered).

Tratto al romore il pio Goffredo intanto,
Vede tumulto, horror, lutto improviso,
Steso Gernando, il crin di sangue e 'l manto
Asperso e molle, e pien di morte il viso.
Ode i sospiri e le querele e 'l pianto
Che molti fan sopra il guerriero ucciso.
E chiede: - In questo loco ove men lece,
Ahi, chi osò cotanto e tanto fece? -

Meanwhile, attracted by the noise, the righteous(*) Godfrey comes and witnesses uproar, horror, sudden grief; he sees Gernand lying on the ground, his hair and cloak soaked with blood, his face showing the marks of death. He hears the sighs and mourning and cry of many on the knight who has been killed, and asks, "In this place where it was most forbidden, alas, who dared do this?"

(*) Literally "pious," but in the Virgilian sense of the pius Aeneas.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Rebel With a Cause (9)

[6: 43-44] Berserkr!

With his hand, skilled in wrath too, Richard
Doubles his fierce blows, dividing them
Between Gernand's chest and head; now tries
To injure his right side, now the left one,
And his own hand is so fast and furious
That it deceives the eyes, and his technique
So great that it suddenly, unexpectedly hits
Where it was feared less -- and stings, and wounds.

Nor does he stops until his fierce sword has
Been driven once, twice, into Gernand's chest;
He finally falls after so many wounds, spilling
His soul and spirits out of that wide doors.
The winner sheathes the blade, still dripping
Blood, and does not tarry over him, soon
Putting aside his own disdain and fury,
For a short time suffices to a great wrath.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Dante: The Unauthorized Autobiography

Dante by S. Dalí

Dante's Convivio (i.e. "Food for the Mind," basically) is worth reading because it allows us a more direct insight into his ideas and personality, whereas the Divine Comedy "dazzles" us with its glory. In the Convivio, Dante clearly emerges with his qualities and defects: his genius as well as his pe-Dant-ry, his bold condemnation of social evils, clergy and 'capitalists' included, as well as his snobbishness, . . .  All of Dante's favorite subjects -- philosophy, natural sciences, theology, morals, literature, etc. -- are dealt with in this book, in spite of its having been left interrupted at one fourth of the planned length or so. But the most interesting thing is that the main perspective in the Convivio is what we may term a medical one, in a broad, Medieval sense: biology, anthropology, behavior, education, psychology, health. Not in vain did he join the Corporation of Physicians.

Many themes, doctrines and personages, of course, will surface again in the Divine Comedy, which was probably started in the same period in which he abandoned the Convivio in about the year 1308. With some surprises, e.g. a different "weight" as to their importance, or true revolutions, as in the case of Guido Da Montefeltro, a politician, then a Franciscan friar, who is praised in this prose and damned to hell in the poem.

Another very intriguing feature of the Convivio is that, if it were the only Dantean work left, we could anyway recreate the whole Paradiso in its main structure and even in many details, just without the characters, but we would have no clues as to the structure of Inferno and Purgatorio. That's against the opinion of some funny chaps who think that Dante wrote the Inferno and, since it became a best-seller, he added a couple of (disappointing) sequels.

For the textual reconstruction: Dante Alighieri, Convivio, edited by Giorgio Inglese, Milan: BUR, 1993, 6th ed. 2013, pages 376, euros 9.50

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sunday Trip: the Wood Between the Worlds

From: CS Lewis' The Magician's Nephew (The Chronicles of Narnia)

The quote: "I've just had a really wonderful idea," said Digory. "What are all the other pools?"
"How do you mean?"
"Why, if we can get back to our own world by jumping into this pool, mightn't we get somewhere else by jumping into one of the others? Supposing there was a world at the bottom of every pool."

The arrangement: In the one-volume version of the Chronicles, The Magician's Nephew is set at the beginning because it describes the creation of Narnia. But, from a more 'philosophical' point of view, this reading order is misguiding since Lewis wrote this book in the sixth place (out of seven), with an increasing depth in contents and style. For example, it is quite disappointing to read the almost 'Disneyan' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe after the gorgeous, Miltonian The Magician's Nephew. So, it will prove more meaningful to follow the chronological order in which Lewis actually conceived the books. The Magician's Nephew, specifically, may be considered his swan song, The Last Battle being very interesting in many respects, but less successful as a narrative, imho.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Dante versus Translators

In his Convivio (that provides some very interesting keys for the interpretation of the Divine Comedy: we will deal with this on some future occasion), Dante seems to enjoy to attack translators. In Part I, ch. 7, he dares despise the Vulgate, the then official Catholic version of the Bible: "The verses of the Psalms are without any sweetness of music and harmony because they have been translated from Hebrew to Greek, then from Greek to Latin, and in that first translation all of their sweetness got lost." That is all the more strange as the Latin version of the Psalms has always been considered a literary masterpiece.

Later, in ch. 10, among the reasons why he decided to write the Convivio in Italian, not in Latin, he lists the following: "So, guessing that the wish to understand these songs [his own poems collected in the Vita Nova] by the unlearned [i.e. the people not knowing Latin] may cause the Latin commentary to be translated into Italian, and fearing that the translation may be made by someone who would completely spoil the text, as it happened with the Latin version of Aristotle's Ethics by Doctor Taddeo [Alderotti, a famous 13th century physician], I saw to it to do it myself, trusting myself more than anybody else."

While hoping Dante's quotes have not been completely spoiled here as a contrapasso, it is worth recalling that Tasso loved to translate passages from the Bible as well as from literature and essays, to the extent that a great part of the descriptions in Il Mondo Creato and of the new sections in Gerusalemme Conquistata are, as a matter of fact, translations and reworkings based on sources like Homer, Aristotle, Virgil, St. Basil, etc. And he also rephrases Dantean verses making them take on a radically different meaning ^__^

Friday, May 23, 2014

Rebel With a Cause (8)

[6: 43-44] Berserkr!

E con la man ne l'ira anco maestra
Raddoppia i feri colpi, e gli comparte
Hora al petto, hor al capo; hor a la destra
Tenta ferirlo, hora a la manca parte;
E 'mpetüosa e rapida la destra
È 'n guisa tal che gli occhi inganna, e l'arte
Tal ch'improvisa e inaspettata giunge (*)
Dove manco si teme, e fere e punge.

Né cessa mai sinché nel seno immersa
Non gli ha una volta e due la fera spada:
Cade colui(**) su le ferite, e versa
L'alma e gli spirti fuor per l'ampia strada;
E lei ripon, anchor di sangue aspersa,
Il vincitor, né sovra lui più bada,
Ma gli sdegni e 'l furor depone a tempo,
Perché basta a grand'ira un picciol tempo.

(*) "comes unexpected," according to the spelling in the printed version; the manuscript had a less correct "inespettata aggiunge"
(**) "he," according to the printed version; the manuscript had "il meschin[o]," the poor devil, like in Gerusalemme Liberata

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Rebel With a Cause (7)

[6: 42] Berserkr!

Ma per le voci altrui già non s'allenta
Ne l'offeso guerrier l'impeto e l'ira;
Sprezza i gridi e gli schermi e ciò che tenta
Chiuderli il varco, et a vendetta aspira;
E fra gli huomini e l'arme oltre s'aventa,
E la fulminea spada intorno gira,
Sì che le vie si sgombra e rompe il cerchio
E, solo, al suo nemico ei par soverchio.

But so many voices together will not calm
The impetus and wrath of the offended warrior(*).
He ignores cries and defences and anything
Trying to stop him, he just seeks revenge;
He now breaks through men and weapons
And whirls his sword as fast as lightning,
Until he clears the way and breaks the 'siege' --
Though one, he seems to be too much to his enemy.

(*) Richard, against Gernand

Monday, May 19, 2014

Off Topic: Prehistory of a Team

Tiziana aka Selkis goes on retrieving 'old' collaborations and posting them to FB. This was one of the very first ones, a tribute to Dante Gabriel Rossetti and dinosaurs (Beatabeatryx rhymes with Archaeopteryx, ha ha). Four-handed works with Eva/Nivalis started later.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sunday Guest: Thomas Aquinas

The pseudo-Aristotelian but actually neo-Platonic and Muslimized Book on Causes is especially interesting because it teaches that 99% of causes -- souls, angels, God -- are invisible. What we would simply term "causes" i.e. physical ones (causa corporea temporalis) are mostly ignored. Man's loneliness in an inscrutable cosmos? Not at all. It is about the awareness of belonging to a Whole in which everything is linked to everything, and all is cybernetically under God's control so that nothing, nobody are left on their own. Cf. in Sanskrit, ṛta, triloka.

It may be remarked that, as it even happens with the entire Parts I and II of Thomas' Summa Theologiae, Jesus and the mystery of the Cross, the very core of Christianity, is "the great absent." The general impression, here and with other works by the Aquinas, is that he tries to write, in philosophical terms, a poetry book like Tasso's Il Mondo Creato (The Seven Days of Creation) or the other way round, Dante's Paradiso, depicting the world as it was in the beginning, as it should be, as it will be after Salvation has been fully accomplished. Cf EA Poe's Eureka, in many respects.

The quote: "Somehow, the human soul exists because of the influence of angels, i.e. insofar as the human body is prepared to receive this type of soul by virtue of the celestial bodies acting on the 'seed,' that is why Aristotle said that man and the sun beget man." (§ 143)

Thomas Aquinas, In Librum de Causis expositio, edited by Fr. Ceslao Pera OP, Turin, IT: Marietti, 1955, pages LVIII + 174. The title is more extensively developed (in Latin) on page 1 as follows: "Book of the Pseudo-Aristotle dealing with Pure Goodness, or Book on Causes. Thirty-two propositions from the Elements of Theology written by the great philosopher Proclus, translated into Arabic and commented supposedly by the sublime Muslim philosopher al-Farabi, translated into Latin by Gerard from Cremona, and explained by Thomas Aquinas."
The book provides:
- A general introduction about the Book on Causes;
- An essay on "the Muslim Soul looking for spiritual harmony," both by Fr. Pietro Caramello;
- A "doctrinal" foreword by Prof. Carlo Mazzantini, where "doctrinal" however refers to the general structure of Proclus' Elements of Theology and the way in which it has been reused in the Book on Causes;
- A long list of passages in Thomas' work needing to be edited, on the basis of the different existing variations;
- The 32 propositions, each including the Book's text, Thomas' explanations, and three kinds of notes: as to the text, as to its meaning, as to the hints in the other works by the Aquinas, etc., sometimes adding quotations from Dante and other authors;
- A table showing the occurrences of quotations from the Book on Causes in Thomas' main works;
- A list of the philosophers and theologians being quoted in the book, and a list of mentioned names;
- An index of the main subjects being dealt with.

Supplier: Nuova Atlantide (go).

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Off Topic: When a psychologist shoots

photo by Laura Spizzichino

photo by Laura Spizzichino

During the email exchange while working on this post, the following dialogue took place:
dhr   Sono fissato io, o tu, o entrambi, o le due immagini hanno un che di "vaginale"?
Laura   Lo sai che non ci ho mai pensato? Il che è strano per me, no? Riflettendoci, sicuramente sì quella del treno. Di primo acchito avrei detto no per quell'altra. Invece hai ragione tu, anche dell'altra si può dare una lettura sessuale: cespuglio e colonne! Sei diventato peggio di me, diaccaé, eh? Bravo comunque. Ale [her sister] direbbe che siamo due porcelli  ;)

Friday, May 16, 2014

Rebel With a Cause (6)

[6: 41] Berserkr!

Quasi in quel punto mille spade ardenti
Fiammeggiâr, mille gridi udîrsi insieme,
Ché varia turba di pietose genti
D'ogni 'ntorno v'accorre, e s'urta e preme;
D'incerte voci e di confusi accenti,
Un suon per l'aria si raggira e freme,
Qual s'ode in riva al mar, ove confonda
Il vento i suoi co 'l mormorar de l'onda.

Presently, nearly a thousand shiny swords
Flamed, a thousand shouts resounded together,
As a motley crew of pitying people
Rush, knocking and pressing one another;
The sound of uncertain voices and mixed
Cries circulates and vibrates in the air,
Like on the sea coasts, when the wind
Mixes its sounds with the waves' whispers.

As it is often the case, Tasso suddenly shifts from the past tense to the present, to increase the dramatic effect.
The first two verses recall Milton, Paradise Lost 1: 663-668. Had he this episode in mind? From the parallel section in Gerusalemme Liberata (5: 28) at least, where these verses already appeared in a basically identical form. The only -- and interesting -- difference is in verse 3, in which the rushing people were termed mal caute, "unwise," instead of "pitying."
As to the second half of this stanza, it is clearly a paraphrase of Dante, Inferno 3: 25-30.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Rebel With a Cause (5)

[6: 40] Berserkr!

Parve un tuono la voce, e 'l ferro un lampo
Che di folgor accesa annuntio apporte;
Tremò colui, né vide fuga o scampo
Da la vicina e minacciosa morte.
Pur fa sembiante d'huom ch'in duro campo
Habbia intrepido schermo, animo forte:
E 'l gran nemico attese, e 'l ferro tratto,
Si dimostrò gran difensore in atto.

His(*) voice was like thunder; his sword,
Lightning heralding the burning flash.
Gernand shivered, seeing no way of escape
From nearing and threatening Death,
But tried to look like one who in battlefield
Has firm defense and a brave heart:
He waited for the great enemy(**) and drew
His sword, ready to strongly defend himself.

(*) Richard's
(**) From Dante, Inferno 6: 115, referring to the demon Pluto who is likened to a wolf in his turn; that strengthens the effect of Richard going berserk.

More notes
Tasso keeps using the refined term ferro (lit.: iron) instead of the plain spada (sword).
In the parallel stanza in Gerusalemme Liberata 5: 27, Gernand "tries his best to look strong and brave, since the whole Camp is witnessing." Here in GC, only the two warriors are left, like zooming in to make the episode more dramatic.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Sunday Guest: Sergio Toppi

Illustrations for CS Lewis' Narnian novels The Magician's Nephew and The Last Battle are ready, but before that, it is time to welcome some other Sunday guests. Here above, a couple of pictures by the Italian comic art master and fantasy art master Sergio Toppi (from his Arabian-Nights book Sharaz-De: Volume 2, Castiglione del Lago, IT: Edizioni Di, 2005), in a personally recolored version, or rather hand-colored. Toppi died in 2012. A selection of his works is currently on exhibition in Perugia, Italy. I happened to meet him in Milan in about 2000 in the offices of the comic magazine Il Giornalino. The dialogue started like this: "Master Toppi, it is a great honor to meet you." And he replied: "Ehhh?" He was a little deaf, you know.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Think Thanks

Raimon Panikkar (1918 - 2010) is the Indo-Catalan, Christian-Hindu-Buddhist philosopher and theologian 'with whom' I spent these last three years, working on the multilingual edition of his Complete Works together with a wonderful editorial team, mostly women, starting from the boss Milena Carrara Pavan of Vivarium Foundation, the Italian-to-English translator Geraldine Clarkson, etc., to whom the most heartfelt thanks are due. The link with this project, three years ago, was provided by the Soto Zen Buddhist Argentinian-Italian "witness" and writer Mauricio Yushin Marassi. On some occasions, when German texts were involved, a collaboration popped up with another dear friend, Prof. Horace Jeffery Hodges, an Ozarks Professor in Seoul. And this list alone teaches many things about Panikkar's thought.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Rebel With a Cause (4)

[6: 38.7 - 39.8] The tragedy looms

. . . 
- Chiedi a te stesso pur (disse il Norvegio)
Il primo grado in guerra e 'l primo pregio -.

- A me non già, che per usanza e stile
Cedo (rispose) a cavaliero antiquo;
Ma tu, ch'esser dovresti a' buon simìle,
Hor giudice di me sei troppo iniquo -.
- Menti - gridava - temerario e vile! -
L'altro, che troppo havea l'animo obliquo.
E Riccardo gridò: - Vedrai ben s'erro -
E nudo strinse con la destra il ferro.

"So," the Norwegian said, "ask for the primacy
And the first honor for yourself in war."
"Not for me," he replied. "I have the custom
Of ceding before such an ancient knight.
But you, who should be among the good,
Now prove an unrighteous judge with me."
"You lie, you reckless and base!" shouted
Gernand, whose mood was crooked in depth.
And Richard shouted, "I lie? You'll see!"
And he drew and clenched his sword.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Dragons still exist in Italy

Off Topic: If the Doorstep of Perception . . .

The dear friend and colleague Selkis is uploading a lot of our 'four-handed things' to her Facebook profile (while no FB profile of Il Tassista is available, and won't be). This is a good occasion to retrieve some enjoyable works dating back to the past years, e.g. here above, an illustration for HP Lovecraft's story The Thing on the Doorstep.

The picture starts from a consideration that Lovecraft did not explicitly make, but it is clearly implied: If the protagonist's -- Edward Pickman Derby's -- wife Asenath is haunted by the evil spirit of her father, the wizard Ephraim Waite, that is, if her soul in her body has been replaced by her father's, as a consequence, when Edward legitimately makes love with his wife, he is making it with his own father-in-law, in a word, with another man. And this is the true shock in the whole story. A subject that the writer wouldn't dare deal with directly, but by transferring it to witchery and Cthulhu myths, where everything is possible, well . . .

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Rebel With a Cause (3)

[6: 32] The tragedy looms

- I' son figlio di re (dicea Gernando),
E li avi miei regnâr là sotto il Polo,
Là donde i tuoi fuggîr cacciati in bando,
E cercâr altri lidi e stranio suolo -.
- Prima i miei vi regnâr, e poscia errando
L'ali spiegâr di cento legni a volo,
Come Francone e 'l pio figlioul d'Anchise -
Replicò il bel Riccardo, e qui sorrise.

"I am a king's son," said Gernand, "and my
Ancestors reigned there, below the North Pole,
Whence yours fled after being outlawed,
Looking for another seat in foreign lands."
"My ancestors did reign there, then wandering,
Spread the wings of a hundred ships and flew,
Like Franconians and the just son of Anchises,"
Replied the handsome Richard, and smiled.

The whole historical debate between Gernand and Richard coudn't be found in Gerusalemme Liberata, it has been added in Gerusalemme Conquistata.

This octave is full of quotations from, or hints at, Dante. Gernand's describing himself as "I am . . .  and my ancestors were . . ." echoes Virgil's words in Inferno 1: 67-68. The episode is even more clearly cited below, when Aeneas is called "the just son of Anchises" like in Inferno 1: 73-74 (Tasso uses the adjective pio, pious, tracing the Latin word in the Aeneid, instead of Dante's giusto, just, righteous, that better expresses its meaning). The metaphor of the ships flying like birds comes from Inferno 26: 125, that in the Renaissance was interpreted as a prophecy of the Discovery of America. The significant pun between "fleeing" and "flying" is a bonus given by the English language, it is not in the original text.

"Franconians" is an old term, in order to avoid an obviously anachronistic reference to Renaissance Dutch merchants and explorers. But, here as elsewhere, Tasso has his own world in his mind, rather than the society of the 11th century.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Go Jira Go Go!

Godzilla is coming back! --- to movie theaters, at least. Here above, our tribute to the myth (the elephant is there only for size comparison). As to Tasso, in Gerusalemme Conquistata he adds a new episode to the plot, that was completely missing in the Liberata; a whole new battlefront, indeed: Jaffa, in Cantos 17-19. And during the Battle of Jaffa, a huge monster rises out of the waters to fight against the Christian army, leaving impressive footprints as he moves, like Godzilla. He is based on the god Poseidon and, quite interestingly, his name is Fortune.

the Selkised version

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Sunday Guest: Golg

From: CS Lewis' The Silver Chair (The Chronicles of Narnia)

The quote: "Great Scott," exclaimed Eustace, "are there other lands still lower down?"
"Oh yes, Your Honour," said Golg. "Lovely places; what we call the Land of Bism. The country where we are now, the Witch's country, is what we call the Shallow Lands. It's a good deal too near the surface to suit us. Ugh!"

The riddle: Lewis loved to imagine new kinds of beings with their respective otherwise-structured civilizations. See his novel Out of the Silent Planet, set in Mars, where three different sentient species rule the planet, or rather, they are harmoniously ruled by it. The funny problem with the Land of Bism in the Chronicles of Narnia, though, is that it 'pops up out of nowhere' since it hadn't been mentioned before, much less so in The Magician's Nephew when Aslan creates the Narniaverse. So, their sudden appearance probably surprised the writer himself ^__^

Friday, May 2, 2014

Rebel With a Cause (2)

[6: 31] The tragedy looms

- Quel che concedi tu da te non voglio,
Ché non essendo tuo, non puoi tu darlo -
Rispose l'altro con maggiore orgoglio,
Pur com'ei fosse il successor di Carlo.
- Ma s'io son quel ch'io era, e qual io soglio,
Perché teco e di ciò contendo e parlo? -
- E chi sei tu? - soggiunge il gran Guiscardo,
Volgendo in lui turbato e fero sguardo.

"What you 'grant' I do not ask you for,
For, not being yours, you can hardly give it,"
Gernand replied with increasing pride,
As if he were the son of Charlemagne.
"But, if I am who I was and who I still am, (*)
Why do I talk and dispute about it with you?"
 "And who are you?" says the Great Guiscard,
Now looking at him with dark, fierce eyes.

(*) The wording in Italian recalls Dante, Paradiso 12: 123. Unlike most poets and writers, Tasso -- especially in his long poem Il Mondo Creato -- quotes Dante's Purgatorio and Paradiso much more often than the Inferno.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

May it be The First reverse hippogriff?

by dhr + Selkis

Labor Day: May this new Zodiacal Sign be of good omen for the millions of Italians and Europeans and other people worldwide, both young and not, who are sweating blood because of the obtuseness and cowardice of so-called rulers and the greed of the actually ruling powers.