SiStan ChapLee

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

[GBM] The spark of love

Venus and Adonis by A. Canova

Adonis falls asleep in the small valley ("it" below, in line 1, refers to a hill). And Venus bumps into him. The episode reverses the scene, frequent in art, in which a satyr, etc., admires Venus or another beautiful woman asleep. As it has been told much time ago, the whole love affair between Venus and Adonis is caused by Love/Cupid's thirst for revenge after having been spanked by his mother. The last line has a general, symbolical meaning insofar as the arrow will actually wound Venus no sooner than in stanza 43.


At the foot of it, Chloris has her gardens;     a nymph
here the goddess of Love often returns
to gather the wet and dewy herbs to     odori (herbs) like in some dialects
give lukewarm baths to her white feet.
And lo! on a bridal bed of flowers
she—arriving by chance—sees the boy.
But, as she turns her eyes toward Adonis,
cruel Love turns his arrow toward her.

(to be continued after the Christmas holidays)

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The 7 Days of CryAction 6: 1804-1874

by ilTM + Selkis

He, again: “I gave you
angiospermous plants
self-sown by seeds
which will nourish you
solidly with sparrows
hens hummingbirds and
[1810] the heavier hulks
manned by their animae.”
In our prelapsarian planet
food also was felicitous
not gurgling with gore
nor the juice of injustice,
provided to anthropoi and
their fellow animals alike
that gladly obeyed them.
Nobody was murdered by
[1820] poisonous plants or snakes
every item made on Earth
was healthy and sweet.
No bloody teeth and claws
of wolves lions bears
no vulture ate corpses
for no dude was dead
no rotten carcass made
the atmosphere stink.
Throughout green fields—
[1830] as swans nowadays
do or dogs sometimes
led by Nature’s cues
to find fitting drugs—
spring grass was enough
for wolverines as well.
No assassin hunters
no hidden snares
against gorgeous game;
Mowgli-friendly felines
[1840] with satisfied faces
followed Eve’s footsteps
waiting for her will.
Not just a jungle king
over pythons ’n’ parrots
and over flying fish
was Man, but the master
of his innermost instincts
and Freudian thoughts,
yep, a reliable leader.
[1850] When however they
rebelled against the Rule
beasts boycotted them
and their frail frames
(the dowry of Death)
needed underdone steaks
mortal food for mortals
in a less happy hotel,
that is, after the Flood
had erased everything.
[1860] But Man maintained
his divine iconography,
did not lose leadership
over animals: he legally
or rather self-serving
provides prey and clothing
to his hyperactive limbs.
This is not abuse at all
but a norm of Nature
of Dios indeed who destined
[1870] to Man beasts birds
above and fish below.
Consummatum est. He saw
that his works were OK
and napped in nirvana.

(Christmas holidays: to be continued on Jan. 7)

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Notes on "Romeo and Juliet" (12)

Scene v

Lines 97-9  . . . a poison, I would temper it,
That Romeo should, upon receipt thereof,
Soon sleep in quiet.  . . .
again, Juliet describes what in a short while will be her own condition by referring (here, ironically) to Romeo

Lines 111-12  [Juliet] Madam, in happy time, what day is that?
[Lady Capulet] Marry, my child . . .
a pun based on the ambivalence of "marry"

Line 114  . . . at Saint Peter's Church
Saint Peter the 13th century Dominican martyr, not the apostle; a church in Verona that is currently deconsecrated, and also known as San Giorgetto, "Little Saint George"

Line 156 . . . Out, you baggage!
like bagascia still nowadays in Italian parlance, especially in Rome

Lines 201-2  Or . . . make the bridal bed
In that dim monument where Tybalt lies
it will actually happen so

Lines 210-11  Alack, alack, that heaven should practise stratagems
Upon so soft a subject as myself!
possibly one of the most powerful expressions, in literature, of Man's cry against God

Line 234  Ancient damnation! O most wicked fiend!
Juliet insults the Nurse identifying her with the Serpent of original sin: see the speech formulas culpa vetus, damnatio originalis, pessimus hostis, etc., in theological Latin 

(to be continued after the Christmas holidays)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

[GBM] Freudian landscape

artwork by Nguyen Thi Hoai Tho (woman)

In the island of Cyprus, after saying goodbye to the friendly shepherd, Clizio, Adonis looks for a fresh place where to spend the hottest hours of the day. He finds a small valley and a spring whose features can easily be termed as Freudian. The landscape reveals the events in advance. In fact, Venus, who is 'older' than Adonis, will behave as both a lover and a mother with him, that's quite different from her relationship with the phallocratic Mars, not to speak of her despised husband, Vulcan. -- Adonis' biological mother is Myrrha; she appears seldom in the poem, but in some key episodes. See here for Marino's rehabilitation of this usually infamous character.


There spurts a spring, all around which
a she-poplar spreads protective shades;     dead Phaethon's sisters
where Nature, the lavish nurturer, fills
a marble cup with a lively liquid.
Fresh, sweet milk are those pure waves,
the breast a cave, a canal the nipple.
On the edge, to drink the distilled fluid
the grass and flowers open thirsty lips.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Renaissance artists played (with) by Dario Fo

Correggio's Venus
reworked by Dario Fo

The 1997 Italian Nobel Prize in Literature, Dario Fo (1926-2016), mostly known as an irreverent playwright and performer, attended a prestigious school of art when he was young, the Brera Academy in Milan. In his late years he then lectured and published books on many Renaissance artists: Andrea Mantegna, Correggio, Raffaello, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, illustrating them with his own witty, fascinating drawings, paintings, and collages.

His book Correggio che dipingeva appeso in cielo [Correggio, who painted hanging in the sky] pays due honor to an original artist with a great culture and many skills, who was idolized during his life, then forgotten to the extent that many of his works were ascribed to other painters: Dosso Dossi, Giorgione, Lorenzo Lotto, Raffaello, Tiziano. . .  Dario Fo guides the reader in a well-documented tour among Correggio's masterpieces, highlighting their most innovative features while providing interesting insights into the painter's biography and his epoch. The books ends with a basically unknown, explosive text by Galileo Galilei: a dialog between an old-minded professor and a bold peasant, who talks in dialect, about the new pattern of the universe.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The 7 Days of CryAction 6: 1756-1803

He himself then blessed
his miniature model,
Be encircled by children
colonize the whole planet
[1760] and exert ecology.
Feel responsible for fish
underwater, fowls in the air,
all Talking Animals too
are your suitable subjects.”
Adam hardly existed and
already was a sovereign
nor was this authority
written on dry wood
or in a paper protocol
[1770] easy to be bypassed
but Nature herself had
God’s acts in attachment:
Emperors Adam and Eve
rule over lands and sea
they will explore space.”
We were born Basiles
so why serve our passions
and despise our dignity
and be subjects of Sin?
[1780] We prefer the prison
of Satan in spite of our
having been appointed
the chiefs of creation.
Why do we throw away
that which in our ousía
is most remarkable?
To our empire, in theory,
no limits were left:
Look at your backbone
[1790] you will see wings!
Nothing can brake brains.
We can fly beyond not only
the Earth’s atmosphere
but the stars themselves,
far less deep indeed is
the ocean than our genius
capable of setting cables
across undersea sands and
studying abyssal biology
[1800] before resurfacing
like Captain Nemo.
This is how human minds
look after God’s garden.

(to be continued on Dec. 17)

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Notes on "Romeo and Juliet" (11)

Scene iv

Lines 20-21  A Thursday let it be; a Thursday, tell her,
She shall be married to this noble earl
Thursday, actually, is when Juliet awakes in the grave

Line 23  We'll keep no great ado ‒ a friend or two
Capulet lies

Line 32  Prepare her, wife, against this wedding-day
The hidden wisdom of language! Juliet surely prepares to be "against" this wedding day.

Scene v

Lines 12-13  Yond light is not daylight; I know it, I:
It is some meteor . . .
usually a sign of ill omen in the Renaissance

Line 40  The day is broke; be wary, look about
possibly twisting Romans 13.11

Lines 55-6  . . . now thou art below,
As one dead in the bottom of a tomb
by a simile referring to Romeo, Juliet describes her own condition in a short while

Line 74  Yet let me weep for such a feeling [pause] loss
Juliet covers her true "feeling" with a witty last-second addition

Line 89  Where that same banish'd runagate . . .
an English word misspelling the Italian rinnegato, i.e. "renegade" or more generally "bad guy," so that it is interpreted as someone who runs toward the city gates in order to flee -- Primo Levi once made this remark, commenting on a passage from Robinson Crusoe

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

[GC] Argantes throws the first stone

The Battle of Jaffa. The Muslim commander, Argantes, performs a battle technique that was typical of Homeric warriors. Very interesting is Tasso's indecision about the concept of Fortune, a subject much debated in the Renaissance. Interesting are also the changes made in the process. In the final printed version, in fact, Fortune's light will no longer be described as ruthless but wonderful; its impetus, not "sentient" (sagace) but deceiving (fallace). And later on in the plot, Tasso will have a giant demon called Fortune take part in the battle against the Crusaders. The penultimate line is made up of two quotations from Dante, respectively Inferno 8.79 (not literally) and 7.130. The last line (starting from "steady" in the previous line, in this version) recalls Inferno 25.89.

[17: 131, lines 1-8 and 132, 5-8]

But Fortune—be it the ruthless light
of a fierce star that reigns in the sky
or the power of darkness, rebellious,     Satan
or a blind force, sentient impetus—
to the honor of the high enterprise does
bold Argantes call in endless perils:
A great rock, that lay before the gates,
he takes in his hands like light wool.
. . .
And Argantes, whose strength redoubles,
lifts it in his hand, and turns, and shakes,
and after much turning, finally, steady     E dopo molto raggirar, da sezzo
on his feet, hurls it into the middle.     Sovra i duo piè fermato . . .

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The 7 Days of CryAction 6: 1709-1755

God the Father forged
[1710] the inner humanity
after the pattern of Love
packaged in Adam and
concealed from senses.
And since He is wise just
and merciful bear(s)
He stands transgressors
and softens soon. So
Man was manufactured
according to Agape
[1720] and various virtues
marked his demeanor.
As Renaissance artists
in their stupendous styles
superimpose color layers
and spread the shading
till the painting is perfect
so the Painter of psyche
highlights our souls
and with Venetian nuances
[1730] makes them magnific.
Or, Michelangelo chisels
fragments away from marble
till out of the big boulder
dancing Dionysus emerges;
the Redeemer removing
from matter its most
hard earthily features
created Adam in clay
as a convincing image
[1740] of Elohim’s essence.
Alas, such colors and light
are stained and smeared
by descendants developing
into something different
no more a divine image
but a Dantean serpent in
the smoky slums of Dis,
our horrific humanity.
Know yourself consequently
[1750] as degenerate gods
and try to enlarge souls
to hold bodies at bay
so as to regain the Origin
and Man may once again
inherit Elohim’s home.

(to be continued on Dec. 10)

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Notes on "Romeo and Juliet" (10)

Scene iii

Lines 100-1  And now falls on her bed, and then starts up,
And Tybalt calls . . .
this last detail looks like having entirely invented by the Nurse

Lines 110-3  . . . thy wild acts denote
The unreasonable fury of a beast.
Unseemly woman in a seeming man!
And ill-beseeming beast in seeming both!
It would be weak to interpret this simply as moral imagery. The Renaissance/Baroque love for metamorphoses is operating. Again, see John Milton's Paradise Lost; Satan's words when he enters and merges, both physically and psychologically, with the serpent. See also Dante, Inferno 25.72, 77.

Lines 119-21  Why rail'st thou on thy birth, the heaven, and earth?
Since birth, and heaven, and earth, all three do meet
In thee at once; which thou at once wouldst lose
A more or less direct quotation from Dante, Inferno 3.103-5? Shakespeare anyway, as a late Renaissance author, stresses the subject of Man as a microcosm -- not meaning an elating philosophical concept (that would be the 15th century), but rather an existential paradox. And again, see Paradise Lost, Adam's reflections about his future after committing the original sin.

Lines 159-60  O Lord, I could have stay'd here all the night
To hear good counsel . . .
the Nurse's shallow, fleeting interest in wisdom is the same as a modern TV-addict may express

Line 169  Sojourn in Mantua; I'll find your man
basically the same line of action followed by Fr. Cristoforo in Alessandro Manzoni's classic Italian novel I Promessi Sposi (set in the 17th century) in order to solve the problems of the betrothed couple, Renzo and Lucia; and in both cases, the plan will fail

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Christmas present for YOU

G. B. Marino's Dicerie Sacre, "Sacred Orations," are a sort of lay sermons in which varied religious subjects, but especially with reference to Jesus Christ, are dealt with. While waiting for the opportunity to read it (it will be the Christmas present from my sister, of course on the recipient's advice), the first data gathered online sound definitely encouraging ;-) As a true Baroque author, and a free-minded one at the same time, Marino starts from the elements of tradition, then reworks them leading them as far as he can. If we have learned something about a decent way to interpret him, we can predict that these "sacred talks" are much more than a display of erudition -- though they also are, after the rediscovery of the Church Fathers in the Renaissance; see Torquato Tasso's long poem Il Mondo Creato.

As an appetizer, the first part of the Dicerie Sacre is 'devoted' to the Sindone, the Holy Shroud that popped up in Lirey, France, in 1353, then belonged to the noble Savoy family, the future Kings of Italy, from the mid-15th century, and is kept in Turin from the late 16th century. It is believed to be the very linen cloth that enveloped the body of the dead Christ. Its origin and earlier vicissitudes, as well as some of the later ones, are a matter of controversy. Marino wrote the Dicerie during the years 1608-14, precisely when he was in the service of Duke Carlo Emanuele I di Savoia. His strong point is that the unusual optical, physical, etc., features of the Holy Shroud can be seen as the bedrocks of a whole theory on Art; an idea that is often considered as dating back to Pope John Paul II in the late 20th century.

We will examine the book more in depth as soon as possible. So, Santa Claus, hurry!