ricardienne: (heiro)
I hate inputting Greek. Even though I am getting good at getting the accents in before their vowels, and figuring out that final-sigma is actually "w" and upsilon is actually "y" (I *know* that this makes sense from a transliteration perspective, but I keep sticking in thetas instead, and then started putting upsilons in where I wanted thetas...)

But it is all okay, because as a result of my painful, letter-by-letter analysis of Epictetus, I have not only realized how amazing the Helvidius-as-praetextum metaphor is, making his behavior all about what senators should do and traditionally do, and his exemplarity into a specifically senatorial and Roman thing which other senators and Romans should look to, but that it also problematizes all of this by making him into a passive exemplar, and only useful when historicized, which is more or less EXACTLY what Tacitus complains about re: martyrs. So yay, even though I'm not sure I'm going to be able to write it all up by Tuesday.

Also, I kind of what to start watching Battlestar Galactica, now that I have learnt that it is The Aeneid in Space. But I don't have time -- maybe this summer.

Also 2: my translation of Antigone suggests that I imagine Constable Elbow when reading the speeches of the Sentry. Except that then the Measure for Measure parallels become a little too much. And since this is the House of Oedipus we're talking about, the idea that Creon might proposition Antigone or Ismene suddenly isn't as unbelievable as it should be.
ricardienne: (Default)
Why doesn't anyone ever talk about Tennyson's "Isabel"?* It's on the facing page to "Mariana" in all the editions (I assume since the first collection); it's all about "the clear-pointed flame of chastity" and "the intuitive decision of a bright/ and thorough-edged intellect to art/ Error from crime," with the rather telling analogy of absorbing "the vexed eddies of its wayward brother;" the whole thing generally screams "reader, she married him" re: the end of Measure for Measure. But the only comment I find says nothing except that it probably is an homage to the poet's mother (and, in context, that's a little disturbing, I think.)

*Because it's less compelling than "Mariana", either version, I know.
ricardienne: (chord)
So, D. told me that I need to completely relearn my left-hand technique. That isn't quite correct: I need to change the way I put my fingers down, which sort of amounts to the same thing. This is what she told me last fall, I think, and it didn't happen then. It needs to happen now. I have been practicing very slowly and thinking about each note, which is better, anyway.

I wonder if anyone has ever started teaching cello by teaching thumb position first. According to D. most people have to make this correction at some point. But it's only in the lower positions. In thumb position, I have fine hand angle. Is this just because I learned it later, and so learned it better? I don't think so. You have to tilt your hand that way in thumb position. You can't play otherwise. And so if you taught beginners thumb position first, when they moved down into "normal" playing range, they would already have the right shape hand. Maybe I will try this method when I have students.

I have been reading Measure for Measure again for my essay. The which isn't turning out too much longer than normal, which is a good thing. Part of me wants to see if I can easily stretch it to 10 pages, just to see if I *can* (and because 10 pages is standard for a Moderation paper, I think) but another part of me suspects that it is already too long and contains too much textual support, and is worried that I am trying to bite off more than I can chew, so to speak.

I like this play so much. I found myself really noticing Claudio this time around, although I am not, sadly, including much of him in my essay. He's quite a schizophrenic character, in a way. In that first scene, he first more or less agrees that it's right for him to be arrested, and then whines about it. (Although, this is really quite understandable, under the circumstances.) Whoever last checked out this copy (and by the handwriting, I think it was a girl) wrote very inane notes/paraphrases in the margins. This is what you buy your own copy for! And, if you're going to write in the margins of a library book, they should be witty/interesting notes, not things like "disguise?" at "I will, as 'twere a brother of your order,/ Visit both prince and people" and "do people change?" at "I do beseech you, let it be his fault,/ And not my brother." She seems to have stopped after Act II.

This is such a pointless entry. I should go to bed now.
ricardienne: (angelo)
This eating thing needs to stop. Now. Either I am hungry or I am not. But it isn't okay to have a headache because I haven't eaten and feel nauseous at the idea of food.

After much effort and travail, I have finally got my copy of The King's Two Bodies via interlibrary loan. Of course, now that I have a paper to write this week that isn't even on Percival (making the book kind of unnecessary, or at least unjustified) I really don't need anything else to distract me. Which means that I have started it, of course.

It's nice to be back in the early Middle Ages again, particularly as I'm now able to recognize many of the heresies floating around. My brain is now pleasantly tied into knots over all of this duality, though (and its infectious: I started applying it to Tamora Pierce novels on Sheroes this afternoon), particularly the "Tiberius in his capacity as Ruler is greater than Christ in his capacity as Man" bit. It does make sense in theory, but… Tiberius? Although I suppose that the 'Anonymous Norman' was not up on his Tacitus.

I like having background knowledge. I completely understood the prof's reference to medieval theologians' conceptions of purely rational sexuality before the fall today, thanks to Augustine.

This morning I read a (disappointingly short) review of a Measure for Measure playing in New York. The list of Things Lydia Would do If She Only had the Time, Money, and Means to go Down to the City gets longer and longer. In that vein, I remember an introduction to Twelfth Night that I read once that made comparisons between Malvolio and Shylock. They're both outsiders -- a Puritan and a Jew -- who have to be humiliated before the romantic plot can be closed. I shall now proceed to make some very tenuous connections. Angelo is certainly neither Jewish nor an outsider at all (although perhaps self-proclaimed, a bit), and he isn't explicitly a Puritan. But he does have Puritanical characteristics, and he does, like M. and S. fall by his own choice/presumption into a trap that has been set up for him. And then, there is this money thing running all around Angelo (this is the tangental, very iffy, and probably coincidental Shylock connection). His name, and all that coinage metaphor, and that great line of Isabella's about bribing him "not with fine shekkels of tested gold." This is particularly cool because it looks back (and forward, I suppose) to the idea of good vs. bad vs. unknown-quality coin and underscores (as I see it) Isabella's Pagan judge-Christian virgin slant on the whole incident(s), and (taking 'shekkels' another way), almost gets at an Old Testament-y, even Jewish feel, although I am not sure whether this train of speculation is at all useful (cf. Susanna and the Elders, perhaps?).

So where is this going? I really am not sure. Nowhere, I think.

I really need to write that stupid paper on The Knight of the Cart. Dear Self, So shame cultures and Chrètien de Troyes may not be two of the most thrilling things in the world, but they aren't bad, and in any case that essay still needs to be written. Preferably sooner rather than later, so you can have something intelligent to ask about at the Dreaded Meeting over the Last Essay tomorrow.
ricardienne: (angelo)
I started reading Kant today, Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals. I was expecting to hate it, but, actually, it isn't too bad (she says, having only read the first part and a bit of the second). He sets it all out very clearly: intent and effect. Something is moral because it is moral, not because it will cause a good thing to happen. He completely privileges intent. If the intent is good, the outcome is irrelevant. This I can buy. (And no, you can't make the Hitler argument here: moral is an empirical standard -- not whatever one happens to decide is good as far as oneself is concerned). But I have an issue with the inverse of that. Actually, it's the same issue I've had for a while.

What about an immoral (evil) intent? I have a hard time saying that a person who has an evil intent is himself (herself) evil simply by fact of having that intent. That is, I don't mean to say that such a person isn't evil, but if their evil intent produces no effect, how do we even know it existed? Kant himself says that we can never know whether any intent is truly moral, because there may always be some other reason for the intent and the effect other than pure duty, whether we can perceive it or not. I am not, obviously, talking about someone who has an evil intent but then decides not to act on it. In that case, the person is clearly superimposing a good intent over the evil will, for a net result of a moral intent. And it does seem sensible to say that the intent is enough to count as evil… you can get charged for conspiracy to commit a murder, after all. It's built into the law that intent matters in its own right. I guess the question is, of course, how do you know that the intent is there without the effect it produces? It's all very well in the abstract, but I have no idea whether my roomate has a good or an evil intent towards me until she does something. (Or rather, we should reverse this situation…)

And I still have a difficult time with this. I can easily accept some absolute Good that exists outside of anyway effect it might have. But I can't so easily accept a parallel idea of absolute Evil. Evil things, I would say intuitively, have to actually happen for them to be evil. Perhaps it's the idea of evil as a perversion of good. The one can exist on its own, but the other has to actively effect what is already there. Is this what Moral Relativism is? I think it might be. I would like to write my essay on this, but, a) I haven't even finished reading Kant, b) this doesn't really pertain to Kant as much as it pertains to my ideas about right and wrong vis-a-vis Kant, and c) I don't know how to go about writing such a not-primarily-text-based essay even if I could get away with it.

Of course, the other thing that this bring to mind is… Measure for Measure. Now, obviously, one can't look at Kant as being really applicable to something written 200+ years before he published. But I think that this idea of intent vs. effect is older than that. The Catholic Church, for instance, has counted thinking upon sinful thoughts as bad as committing the sins themselves. And I also found this interesting tidbit from The Catholic Encyclopedia: Thi sin would be formal if he took the property in the belief that it belonged to another, whether his belief were correct or not. Definitely, intent counts here. Which is interesting (and okay, so Shakespeare wasn't a Catholic, but I don't think that the English Reformation got rid of this particularly bit of morality.), because that isn't the conclusion the play seems to come to at all. Granted, it is not clear at all that Isabella actually believes what she is saying, perhaps she's just trying to make any argument at all to help out Mariana. But she does argue that intentions don't matter: "thoughts are no subjects;/ Intents but merely thoughts." (Or doesn't she? Just before that, she claimed "A due sincerity govern'd his deeds,/ Till he did look on me: since it is so,/Let him not die." I.e. because the original intent was not evil, the evil action doesn't count. That seems really weak, however, because clearly even if the original intent was not bad, it was replaced by a bad one. But it does seem as though she is trying to make her case on both sides of the issue.) And, in the end, it plays out that way. Angelo gets off because none of his evil intentions produced their effect, although he is clearly guilty by the intent is what matters idea that is so common. But I think what Isabella is really talking about is not, of course, the actual good or evil, but the extent to which the law has power. To that extent, intent can't matter without effect, because it can't be known. "Thoughts are no subjects," she says. An individual's moral status is not in the law's purview. Not making windows in men's souls, and all that. This is all very relevant as far as the Theme of Government-Instituted Morality, I'm sure. At least, it had better be. And, as usual, it made a lot more sense before I tried to type it up.


And on a completely different note (I promise), my lesson was not as dreadful as I thought it was going to be. I was passable at the Schumann, and D. told me that I was definitely conservatory-level, and that a)the new conservatory here had a ridiculously high bar for acceptance and b)acceptance at Oberlin depends a lot on whether you have a connection to one of the teachers or not, all of which makes me feel much better. But best of all, when I started playing the Bach, doing a horrible job at it, she took my cello and couldn't get a good sound either, at first. It was determined that my fingerboard is about an inch too long. So, all this time that I have been putting a ridiculous amount of effort into not playing over the fingerboard I really shouldn't have been. So even though I have much much much work to do before it will sound good, playing farther up already made a huge difference. Plus it is easier and less frustrating.
ricardienne: (snail)
Natalie and I saw Casanova yesterday.

honestly, there wasn't anything worth spoiling, really )

I still can't quite believe that they've made a movie of Tristan and Isolde. In the review in the local paper this morning, they called it "the story that inspired Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet." Now that isn't true at all. Tristan and Isolde fall in love, but she's supposed to marry King Mark, Tristan's overlord. The conflict is between his love and his duty. Romeo and Juliet isn't quite the same; it might ultimately come from that, but the paradigm has altered, I think. The love is still illicit, but what is absent is the betrayal. Romeo isn't hurting anyone by loving Juliet; he doesn't have to choose.

We (my dad and I) were trying to trace this a little. There are a lot of stories like Tristan and Isolde:
Lancelot and Guinevere
Pelleas and Melisande
Naoise and Deirdre
Paolo and Francesca
Antony and Cleopatra
Paris and Helen (not quite the same, but there is still that basic idea of love for a woman who is already bound elsewhere causing a big mess)

And then there's the slightly different story, where a young man elopes with the princess/daughter of an enemy, and is pursued and killed by them:

Earl Brand
The Braies of Carrow
Lochnivar (though that one ends happily, if I remember)

And then there's Romeo and Juliet, to which we couldn't find a direct folkloric parallel, though it does seem to be related to these other things.

When we were first talking about Tristan and Isolde, my dad challenged me to come with a Shakespeare play whose plot fit that model. Eventually, I came up with Antony and Cleopatra. But first I thought of Measure for Measure. Because that basic idea is there: a woman (and her sexuality) screw up a man's previously upright existence.
Someone, give me a new obsession, please -- I'm getting a little tired of this one )
ricardienne: (Default)
Leave it to the Victorians to produce Measure for Measure without once mentioning sex.


It's… hilarious. The Pompey and Overdone subplot has been completely cut, of course, but so has the Juliet one. Yes, Claudio is now condemned "for an act of rash selfishness which nowadays would only be punished by severe reproof."

Read on: Marriage as a dishonorable act )

In other news: OMG! My dad is rated on ratemyprofessor.com! They seem to like him, though they say his classes are hard. And should I be relieved or disappointed that he has no "hotness" rating?

EDIT: I am even more amused: he is listed twice; once with last name spelled correctly, and once with the infamous ie-ei switch. The one really negative rating comes under the mispelled name.

In still other news, The Harry Potter Love Match Meme )
ricardienne: (Default)
Today was all right. The Heroic Age final went fine (I think), and I spent the afternoon baking shortbread. Four batches, to be precise. It was fun. We watched The Last Unicorn at the Latin party. It was… infinitely stupid but moderately amusing.

So what have I been doing? Well, I found a way to view the NPR clip of Measure for Measure, which included about four seconds of one of Angelo's anguished soliloquies. (Anguished being the highbrow version of angst, of course.) So I've been making icons. Because it isn't as though I don't have anything else to do with my time.

ICONS )
ricardienne: (augustine)
Insert usual disclaimer involving Measure for Measure here )

Today was a good day for laughing in class. In Heroic Age, the professor told us that we could all go and practice our Skarphedin moves on the iced-over path from the Campus Center. He promised extra credit to anyone who could, after stopping to tie his (her) shoe, slide along the ice and knock someone's molars out.

Come to think of it, today was a good day for random extra-credit offers, as well. In Latin, he told us that it would be an automatic "A" for anyone who turned in a paper carved into stone. (This was during of a 20 minute digression on Wikipedia, copyright law, and the preservability of various forms of media, which ended in his warning us that sooner or later the world would descend anew into a period where learning was the provenance of only a very select few (!!!) and that he hoped for our sakes that it was either after our times, or that we were among that elite.) I still haven't decided whether or not to sign up for his FYSEM section next semester. It would probably be really interesting, but he made it sound like it will be really rigorous and unorthodox…
ricardienne: (augustine)
This livejournal is a place for me to think out loud. Or rather, not out loud. Because things get spinning around in my head and I absolutely cannot concentrate on anything else. That last entry was bouncing around me head for a good two and half days (ever since I saw the play, that is). That being said, the same disclaimer applies as did to the last entry:

If you find amateur analysis/commentary/rambling about an obscure Shakespeare play to be of interest )
ricardienne: (augustine)
So, Thanksgiving was very nice.

On Saturday, we went to see Measure for Measure. The Globe all-male "original practices" touring production. It was, in a word, wonderful, amazing, absolutely fantastic. Now I remember why Measure is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays.

**IF YOU DON'T KNOW THE PLAY YOU MAY AS WELL SKIP ALL THIS** )

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