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Dealing with Derrida: Concerning (without citing) certain citations

February 9, 2014

What I want to know is: why is it that the texts of a certain family of Hellenists, specifically scholars of Archaic Greece, theoretically robust but decidedly non-deconstructionist and post-post-structuralist, persist in citing Derrida, every once in a while, as an aside, neither approving nor disapproving? What do they hope to accomplish by this? Or rather, in order to remove, for the time being, the entire question of intention — because it occurs to me all of a sudden that I know enough members of the family in question that, if I had the courage, I might simply ask them, and I am not sure whether their answers would satisfy me (and it is at any rate the heights of condescension to impute intentions to the living) — what is it that is accomplished when they do this? Read more…

Palaeonymics and Teichoscopics: Of meter, that it perhaps does not exist

February 7, 2014

Οἰ μὲν ἰππήων στρότον, οἰ δὲ πέσδων
οἰ δὲ νάων φαῖσ’ ἐπὶ γᾶν μέλαιναν
ἔμμεναι κάλλιστον, ἔγω δὲ κῆν’ ὄτ-
τω τις ἔραται·

πάγχυ δ’ εὔμαρες σύνετον πόησαι
πάντι τοῦτ’, ἀ γἀρ πόλυ περσκέθοισα
κάλλος ἀνθρώπων Ἐλένα τὸν ἄνδρα
τὸν [   αρ]ιστον

καλλίποισ’ ἔβα Τροίαν πλέοισα . . .

Some men say an army of horse and some men say an army on foot
and some men say an army of ships is the most beautiful thing
on the black earth.  But I say it is
what you love.

Easy to make this understood by all.
For she who overcame everyone
in beauty (Helen)
left her fine husband

behind and went sailing for Troy. (Sappho 16.1-9)(1)

It is, I admit, by recourse to a certain palaeonymics that I have for so long preferred to proffer meter, rather than rhythm, as my interest: Read more…

October 1, 2013

Thesis:

The Zeus of the Homeric epics is omnipotent, but his omnipotence is subject to a rather peculiar limit: he can, in fact, create an object so heavy he can’t lift it, and frequently does.

September 17, 2013

Thesis:

An ancillary cause of the decline of meter — or perhaps more accurately another symptom of the same set of transitions — is the increasing association of poetry with the plastic rather than the performance arts, and with the visual rather than the acoustical.  This, too, begins with Plato.

Unless, of course, we can see it already in Pindar, inter alia:

χρυσέας ὑποστάσαντες εὐτειχεῖ προθύρῳ θαλάμου
κίονας ὡς ὅτε θαητὸν μέγαρον
πάξομεν ἀρχομένου δ᾽ ἔργου πρόσωπον
χρὴ θέμεν τηλαυγές.

Golden pillars we shall set up on the well-built porch
of the inner chamber and build, as it were, an admirable
hall, and from its inception we must make the face of the work
far-gleaming. (Olympian 6, 1-4)

For continuity’s sake

April 26, 2013

This blog seems to be dead, or at least hibernating, so for continuity’s sake I should probably say that the kind of stuff I (Rob) used to write here now typically ends up on my Goodreads account instead.

A juxtaposition (2)

October 13, 2012

I wonder if there is really so much doom and ‘frustration’ in my fiction? Humbert is frustrated, that’s obvious; some of my other villains are frustrated; police states are horribly frustrated in my novels and stories; but my favorite creatures, my resplendent characters– in The Gift, in Invitation to a Beheading, in Ada, in Glory, et cetera– are victors in the long run.

Nabokov, interviewed for Bayerischer Rundfunk, 1971

I loathe Van Veen.

Nabokov, interviewed in Time, 1969

A droll yet touching scene

September 19, 2012

(From Giles Goat-Boy. I was reading over some favorite bits and felt like sharing this one.)

Read more…