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Lists

Jul. 1st, 2010 05:10 pm
myblackeyedfire: (Gent in thought)
I opened Francine Prose's The Lives of the Muses and discovered a list made when I first read it, probably five or six years ago. The contents of this one:

putative, sublimation, Camille Claudel, Bonnard -wife Marthe,
mendacious, groat(s), scrofula, remit, avuncular, coadjutor,
nasturtium, locus poenitentiae, peritonitis, John Ruskin

I don't remember much of the book but these lists are interesting to find years later. Some words remain forgotten while others I employ often. Well, as often as I can stuff 'mendacious' and 'avuncular' into daily conversation.

A Latin professor I had in college would often begin class by encouraging us to parse this sentence! Even now, 'parse' is one of my favorite words. It's secretive, evocative of susurrations and other words, parcel, parseltongue, parsnip, parsley, parlay!...okay, got carried away at the end there, but I do like it a lot.
myblackeyedfire: (In the woods)
With the exception of two power point presentations next week, that's it. I finished my first year of grad school. There's one year left to go.

My housemates - nay, friends - are making pumpkin cookies and chili in the kitchen. Drinking music is merrily stomping its way toward my room. And, oh, this is a lovely room. Once I put up the appropriate wall decor and hem the curtains to fit properly I'll be happy to post some visuals. For now it suffices to say that as lovely as my previous space was, this beats it by miles.

Cap and Whisper and I will be making a vegetable garden in the backyard. I set up a compost bin this week.

This article in the Times reminds me somewhat of the arrangement. This is more of a geek and less of an activist household but I need both things in my life and I had enough of the latter this semester from my classes and internship. At home I just want to relax and have a friend I can turn to in the next room.

The pleasure of communal meals was also a surprise. For someone who grew up with such anti-communist parents this slide into a shared life feels natural. What was it Batille said? Every animal is in the world like water in water? This feels not dissimilar, and just as cool and lovely.
myblackeyedfire: (Snape: b&w sweet aching freedom nude)
At this year's Wicked I dressed as the white rabbit and saw the Gypsy Nomads' performance. The main room where they played was filled over capacity and I was surrounded by vendors and attendees and staff and a tide of lovely people. I danced while the Gypsy Nomads played and did not look to see who was watching, did not censor or overthink my moves. I listened to the music and moved as seemed right at every second. I thought vaguely about it being three years since I first met Jeff. I thought about how Wicked was the first time since deciding to transition that I didn't worry about policing my actions or pronoun mishaps and related junk. The energy in the room was sweeter and more encouraging than I thought possible. I thought of how much more outgoing, more capable, more solid I was at this year's Faire than the previous one.

A steampunky fellow in a belly-dance hip scarf happened to be doing very similar footwork maneuvers to mine at one point and we kept looking at each other across the floor to encourage the other to get up and dance to the following songs, linking up at various points to dance in relative sync. I accidentally nudged a lithe man in dreadlocks and a corset and we grinned and proceeded to dance in mutual acknowledgement of each other's existence. By that point my arms hurt from picking up so many people while hugging them, the rabbit ears were precariously on the brink of slipping off, and I'd been on my feet for most of the day. None of it mattered. I poured everything I had into moving with the music, with savoring being alive. I succeeded. I think I also killed off many residual unwanted pieces of my old self this weekend. It was time.

During the whole of Wicked Faire, but most obviously just then, I felt exhilarated and happy to be here. No, not happy. Fucking elated. Determined. Ravenous. Thrilled.

Sonnets to Orpheus: II, 12 (stanza 1)
-- Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Br. David Steindl-Rast

Desire change. Be enthusiastic for that flame
in which a thing escapes your grasp
while it makes a glorious display of transformation.
That designing Spirit, the master mind of all things on earth
loves nothing so much in the sweeping movement of the dance
as the turning point.
myblackeyedfire: (Freddy Mercury faun)
It is my eventual goal to go in costume, whether to a masquerade ball or an appropriate soiree, dressed as Freddie Mercury from the Queen video "I Want to Break Free" costumed as the Faun from Nijinsky's ballet. Oh, yes.
myblackeyedfire: (Gent in thought)
Dear scholarly journal article writers,

Really? Really? Perhaps you inserted it for the amusement of your readers. Perhaps you did not catch the mistake as, I concede, they do sound somewhat similar. Whatever the reason, an epitaph is not the same as an epithet, and our language is not, as you insist, 'tilled' with them. Were you a bit soused when you wrote this?

Off to compile a bibliography, thanks for the chuckle.
myblackeyedfire: (Icarus)
Mr. Nuccio passed away last week after a three-year struggle with scleroderma. At the start of his Western Civ. class he told us he meant to change the way we learned, the way we thought, the way we lived our lives. He succeeded. One of the only times I woke up in tears was the night I dreamt I had gotten an A and not an A+ in his course. The grade itself didn't matter since he never awarded anyone less than a C (Nuccio reasoned that to be average is to fail, and graded us this way to encourage a focus on learning and not grade point averages). It was the dread thought that I failed his class by not being wholly excellent and, by extension, failed at living the same way. Virtually nothing could have been worse.

I often think of what I learned from him, not only through classroom readings of Dante's Inferno, the Nichomachean Ethics and various texts, but in the very real ways being a student of his has changed my life. What we called Civisms, You are all in the process of becoming; Never pursue the lesser when you can have the greater; You have to change in order to accomplish an escape to freedom, are how I measure if I am living in a way I can approve.

He taught me to not seek out entertainment over knowledge, to try to better not just myself but those near me, to live in the 'now'. He gave me an opportunity in his class to prove my mettle as well as creating an environment where I felt I could share anything and not be judged. It was the first time I felt someone believed I was capable and gave me a chance to prove it. I learned to lead a team and construct an onager and research Roman culinary texts and watch The Wall as an existentialist criticism of Pink. I learned to recognize and try to steer away from folly instead of praising it, to cultivate a desire to keep going. I learned why Machiavelli was right and why I should still not pursue his methods to rule, to question traditions and habits, and to want to not be a prisoner in the Cave. I learned about what it meant to value strength and honor from watching 'Gladiator'. I learned the significance of everything being connected to everything else as an imperative for humanist action.

He encouraged students to write to him after they graduated. I sent him a few letters but felt ashamed at how little I had to share with him that would have lived up to the standard of arete we both set. Now, with the life-place I'm in, taking classes I love about social justice and with all that I have learned since his class, I think I can truly write him a letter he'd be proud of. I hope to have more to write about over the years and to never cease asking questions. Strength and honor, good sir. Strength and honor.
myblackeyedfire: (Gent in thought)
How do you keep organized?

Classes start for me in ten days and I am determined to be as productive and efficient with time as possible this semster. What tricks or personal tools work for you?
myblackeyedfire: (Default)
I admit, Cabaret has been one of the formative films of my youth. I saw it for the first time when around eight or nine and was transfixed by the film itself, initially; my interest then broadened to Weimar culture, pre-WWII Europe, and Dada. Given my fondness for the classic it is surprising that I found this tribute-allusion charming. Perhaps it is the way the singer's body language is reminiscent of Liza's:


For reference, the original:
myblackeyedfire: (Default)
1. Mark Bittman posted a listing of 101 summer salad suggestions.

44. Make a crisp grilled cheese sandwich, with good bread and not too much good cheese. Let it cool, then cut into croutons. Put them on anything, but especially tomato and basil salad. This you will do forever.

2. Wilde and Wodehouse's London is a set of photos on Flickr with lovely images of the sights these masters of words might have passed during their days.

3. While I'm on a food & photography theme, Jon Huck has a collection of photos of people and their breakfasts. It's an interesting project; I have difficulty seeing much depth in it, but it is fun to browse.

4. A former professor of mine has an essay on healing as metaphor online.

5. I finished reading Neil Postman's Entertaining Ourselves to Death recently. Having done that, I stumbled around online to see what others were saying about his arguments and shortly found a link to an essay by David Foster Wallace, E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction in a .pdf file.

6. The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.
myblackeyedfire: (We wear the mask that grins and lies)
The A.V. Club recently had a Gateways to Geekery post about P.G. Wodehouse.

The poster, Vadim Rizov, notes:
But the whole environment—linguistically and socially—is far from any modern analogues: a sexless, genteel place where the greatest danger the mostly moneyed characters face is getting married to the wrong person. (Or, in the case of the Jeeves-Wooster series, getting married at all.) Wodehouse’s characters were anachronisms from the moment he began writing them. “His picture of English society had been formed before 1914,” George Orwell noted. “Bertie Wooster, if he ever existed, was killed round about 1915.”

That Orwell quote is from his In Defence of P.G. Wodehouse.

Stephen Fry wrote about playing Jeeves and the Wodehouse universe.

As for visuals, [livejournal.com profile] indeedsir has some screencaps of various episodes.

Dog names

Jun. 16th, 2009 06:10 pm
myblackeyedfire: (Wolf of mirth)
My parents are getting a Belgian Tervuren dog on Thursday. They are thinking of calling him Remus. I have logged enough hours in Harry Potter fandom to find the name full of odd connotations. There is also the matter of his mythological brother Romulus. I proposed some other name alternatives:
  • Farley, as in Farley Mowat
  • Felix, meaning happy or lucky
  • Sasha, more Russian but I like how our cat's name sounds with it: Vasya and Sasha
  • Alex, the Greek version, Alexandros, means 'defender or helper of men'
  • Tomi or Tomas
  • Nico
  • Remy or Raimi if my parents really like how 'Remus' sounds and don't mind the Army of Darkness reference. 
He's a seven month-old boy with a sweet and even temperament and a golden coat that will darken with maturity. His owner has been calling him Golden Boy for the time being. Like other dogs of his breed, he's very intelligent and calls to mind a somewhat fluffier, perkier German Shepherd.

If you've other names to suggest, I'd be open to them.
myblackeyedfire: (Snape: b&w sweet aching freedom nude)
While cleaning my room I discovered some brief notes made as I read Prospero's Cell.

p.55 - "The port is dark and alive with the lick and slap of dank water."
p. 37 - Socrates
Systole, diastole, lucent, disquisition, carbide, semiquaver, grampus, futurity, fucus, davits, optative, promontory, mendacity, scarp, scape, lea, glade.
myblackeyedfire: (Wolf in transcendent isolation)
German and Spanish speakers were asked to describe toasters and bridges in three adjectives. Depending on how their language gendered them, the subjects called the bridge either something like delicate and graceful, or strong and sturdy. Russian has masculine, feminine and neuter words, while English makes no distinctions. When I began learning French it did not seem to jar me though, for instance, 'table' is masculine in Russian and feminine in French. It made sense to me that other languages would not use the same genders for objects. This podcast from the NPR post talks more about this and some of its implications.

myblackeyedfire: (Wolf in transcendent isolation)
Paige's boyfriend is a charming gentleman, naturally taking control and enjoying the part of the caring leader. We're of the same coinage, one the obverse of the other. I sense a mutuality there that isn't threatening or stupidly patronizing, nothing of just sit right ohn down, ma'am, and we'll have it ready for you in no time in his demeanor. He simply wants to take care of it himself, whatever 'it' is. I know it, and I feel that impulse too, so I let him.

He is one of five men who I would permit to lead me to a chair while he sets up the guest bed and brings me a glass of water. I approve of his execution, that he takes the pitcher of water and refills it for me wordlessly. Before I have a chance to thank him he's already brought out a towel and a spare set of pyjama pants. He does things in his way, but I see so much of my own style in his way of thinking, of anticipating needs that I smile in approval and tell him he is a gracious host. He replies almost word for word as I might, waving it off, saying he could not do otherwise.

In the morning I fight my own impulse to wake up early and have the bed folded back, the linens folded, and the kitchen counters wiped, for good measure. Knowing he would take offense, I instead read a book he's recommended me, a collection of short stories by Hubert Selby, Jr. I hope he understands how difficult it is for me to leave the guest bed unmade.

Walking from his place to Paige's apartment, I wear a sweater he gave me, since 9 a.m. is no time for the fancy dress of last night. We talk about it, about wanting to take care of others in our company, and she says Shumon and I are nice. I disagree emphatically and say we are gallant. It is a word I find delightful, something to emulate, to strive to become. When I get the chance, I show her the dictionary.com entries for nice and gallant and she agrees, it is the more fitting descriptor. When he visits here, I will enjoy my turn to have him sit while I refill his glass. I don't desire a battle of wills. I want him to see how similar we are in this regard, that we are well-matched in our desire to give satisfaction.
myblackeyedfire: (Default)
According to rogueclassicism.com, the emperor Antoninus Pius commemorated Rome's nine-hundredth anniversary on this date.

I researched Antoninus Pius in high school for a Western Civ. project on finding and campaigning for a Roman historical figure to save it from collapsing. The groups who chose Julius Caesar and Cicero did not win. Our group, in fact, reigned triumphant out of eleven or so teams in total. Our choice of candidate appears by many accounts a sedate and even boring man, compared to the more lavish or ambitious rulers. What marks Anoninus Pius as someone to be further researched is the peace and prosperity during his reign. Originally a safe choice for my group, I began to like this unlikely leader, who maintained Rome for twenty-three years. In contrast, another emperor I fancy was assassinated after four years at the throne, the tide led by his own grandmother.

Boring as Antoninus Pius might be compared to other emperors, one does not remain in power for so long while doing nothing. His choice of building projects and public assistance characterized him as a moderate ruler, someone mild and a homebody, though that term seems ridiculous to apply to a Roman emperor. It takes work and as much active planning for things to run smoothly as it does to orchestrate elaborate ceremonies and building projects.

In his Meditations, Marcus Aurelius has this to say about his adoptive father:
"Take care that thou art not made into a Caesar, that thou art not dyed with this dye; for such things happen. Keep thyself then simple, good, pure, serious, free from affectation, a friend of justice, a worshipper of the gods, kind, affectionate, strenuous in all proper acts. Strive to continue to be such as philosophy wished to make thee. Reverence the gods, and help men. Short is life. There is only one fruit of this terrene life,--a pious disposition and social acts. Do everything as a disciple of Antoninus. Remember his constancy in every act which was conformable to reason, and his evenness in all things, and his piety, and the serenity of his countenance, and his sweetness, and his disregard of empty fame, and his efforts to understand things; and how he would never let anything pass without having first most carefully examined it and clearly understood it; and how he bore with those who blamed him unjustly without blaming them in return; how he did nothing in a hurry; and how he listened not to calumnies, and how exact an examiner of manners and actions he was; and not given to reproach people, nor timid, nor suspicious, nor a sophist; and with how little he was satisfied, such as lodging, bed, dress, food, servants; and how laborious and patient; and how he was able on account of his sparing diet to hold out to the evening; and his firmness and uniformity in his friendships; and how he tolerated freedom of speech in those who opposed his opinions; and the pleasure that he had when any man showed him anything better; and how religious he was without superstition. Imitate all this, that thou mayest have as good a conscience, when thy last hour comes, as he had."
myblackeyedfire: (Default)
This was a treasure trove of a weekend. Friday was spent in pursuit of a book for class, and having started immersing myself in the first half, I wholeheartedly recommend Mark Doty's Heaven's Coast. The memoir is lyrical, suffused with entwined love and awareness of being and well-worn sorrow. I've been slow in reading it, returning to each page newly turned to be certain I've taken in my fill without missing a stray thought or description. He states his observations as questions, as if to ask us to wonder ourselves if it could be true, instead of pressing the thought upon his readers. A brief excerpt, then:

"Bill is beautiful to me in the way that Wally was, not in any ornamental sense of the word, but in the way that all things which are absolutely authentic are beautiful. Is there a luminous threshold where the self becomes irreducible, stripped to the point where all that's left to see is pure soul, the essence of character? Here, in unfailing self-ness, is no room or energy for anything inessential, for anything less than what counts."

That day I was also graced with a painless dinner with my mother, the result of my finding the book sold at the nearest location, ten minutes from her office. We lapsed into silence more often than not, but seeing her did not involve commentary on vesture. Perhaps some day we may yet become friends instead of two rival critics evaluating the same subject - myself, one finding a lack in what essence the other deems a grace of the piece.

It would be difficult to describe Saturday in full. For now I will lift my head and give thanks for a day comprised of dirt and refinement, in turn. I began by donning work gloves and participating in a river cleanup with friends, finding a handsome squirrel skull by the riverbank, and arrived towards evening in coattails at a gala (Paige and I likely the youngest of the attendees), the prize to take home from there a painted portrait of myself. It was a perfect semblance of how I wanted to exist that night and perhaps into the future as well.

Sunday came and I surprised Paige at work with shumai from a street faire vendor, then paid my grandfather a visit. Having made sure I've been sufficiently pressed to have Russian food and tea, he told me more details of living in an orphanage and his childhood. He walked me to the subway and I left for home carrying a scanned copy of a newspaper article from Minsk in 1987, my birth year, where he discussed his life as an avid bibliophile. It is aptly titled, "Not simply reading, but taking books into account". Dirt, friends, dancing, family, death described, beauty, delight, and love, all in the span of three days!
myblackeyedfire: (Default)
It is annoying enough to write a lab proposal for an experiment I have little desire to conduct in a one credit lab class.

It is more annoying still to find the near-finished draft of the proposal saved to Sakai last Monday no longer there, meaning that I must rewrite this from the beginning for said one credit lab class.

I'll have three essays and an exam to finish by Wednesday as well. This is made almost okay by the surreal knowledge that I am in my last semester here with less than a month left to go. I'm still not entirely cognizant of this, and it will likely take actually graduating to acknowledge that four years have already passed. Still, in light of this, it's almost worth it.

Back to researching prism adaptation.
myblackeyedfire: (Default)
"Dance, my puppet, dance!"

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