Sunday, September 26, 2010

Et In Arcadia Ego

I went to see the latest Resident Evil movie: Afterlife. It might seem like a strange thing to discuss here but, since most screenwriters have been to school, I have a point. The name Arcadia did not register with me when it was used in the last movie as a sanctuary, a place where there were people unaffected by the T-virus and society was rebuilding itself. The name Arcadia gets used for many things. In this case, it really did refer to paradise.
Arcadia is a sort of Eden in pastoral elegy. The Romans and the Greeks used it as the name for an idyllic place where shepherds lounge around composing beautiful verse in the verdant fields while the sheep gambol around them. Arcadia is a real place in Greece on the Pelopponesian peninsula. When the Renaissance rolled around and people rediscovered the Classics, Vergil became popular once more and so did pastoral elegy. It was a natural fit with the Christian world since the word pastor is Latin for 'shepherd' and the ministers of the Church were after all 'shepherds of men'. The rustic, natural world of innocence in Arcadia is a sort of Eden.
That being said, when Arcadia becomes the last decent place on earth in Resident Evil, you expect it to be a rustic sort of paradise. If one can ignore the evidence of all those airplanes and lack of signs of life, when Alice arrives in Alaska to rejoin her friends, her picking up her notebook and turning to a page on which the words "Et in Arcadia ego" are written should leave you with no doubt. Arcadia is not meant to be a paradise.
For those who do not know, this phrase is famous for being written on a tomb in a Nicholas Poussin painting called 'The Shepherds of Arcadia'. (For a glance at the painting, click here.) It is an ambiguous phrase. It could mean that the person buried in the tomb had also been to Arcadia but, since the tomb seems to have been placed in Arcadia, the general view has been that it is Death that inscribed that line - I exist even in Arcadia.
The word 'et' can mean 'and, even, also'. The verb in this phrase is understood. which is a perfectly acceptable Roman practice. The lack of a verb has lead to an amusing misunderstanding in the Da Vinci Code from the book Holy Blood, Holy Grail that it was based on. Latinists are a dying breed, it is true, but a call to any university ought to scare up at least one to check your facts. Nicholas Poussin is added to the list of mysterious members of the Priory of Sion and 'Et In Arcadia Ego' became a complete sentence that was also an anagram with a hidden message, ignoring the unstated but understood verb.
To return to the movie, since this is Resident Evil after all, you know that she will find Arcadia and the generally accepted interpretation of the phrase, that death exists even here, will ring very and savagely true. I do not want to spoil the movie for anyone but I give it both thumbs up. It might not be Shakespeare but not everything need be great art.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Anglo Saxon

I have started new studies - learning Anglo Saxon and am continuing my quest to follow in the footsteps of the master. For those who are unfamiliar with the term "genitive", the Oxford Concise defines it as "case of nouns etc. in inflected languages, corresponding to of, from and other prepositions with noun representing source, possessor, etc." In other words it is "that man's book" "that woman's car" or "leaves from that tree". If you have ever wondered why there is an apostrophe indicating possession (except when it is 'its' because of the confusion with the contraction 'it is'), the genitive of Anglo Saxon (otherwise known as Old English) is manes, wifmanes, treowes. Apostrophes replace a missing letter and, in the case of Modern English, it is an 'e' that is missing from the possessive. So now you know.
Also on my list of words to commit to memory is flet, meaning floor. If that word sounds familiar to you, it is because it is what the elves of Lorien called their homes which were nothing more than a floor up in the trees. Flet can also mean a 'hall, mansion'.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Agnes Grey

"All true histories contain instruction; although, in some, the treasure may be hard to find, and when found, so trivial in quantity, that the dry, shrivelled kernel scarcely compensates for the trouble of cracking the nut. Whether this be the case with my history or not, I am hardly competent to judge. I sometimes think it might prove useful to some, and entertaining to others; but the world may judge for itself. Shielded by my own obscurity, and by the lapse of years, and a few fictitious names, I do not fear to venture; and will candidly lay before the public what I would not disclose to the most intimate friend."
This is the opening paragraph to Anne Bronte's Agnes Grey. It is a story about a girl, from a good family that has fallen into hard times, who takes jobs as a governess to earn her keep and help her parents. With an opening like that, and knowing that Anne herself worked as a governess, one expects some tales of shameful abuse that governesses were sometimes subjected to. It was not the complete expose of the harsh life of a governess that I expected. After the initial horrid family, Agnes is taken on by a new family that is far gentler. She meets the local curate and falls in love with him and has the fairy tale ending of marrying him that eluded Anne herself .(and probably most governesses)
In these days of reality tv and famous people going bottomless for photographers, perhaps her novel does not seem as shocking to me in its revelations about the inner workings of wealthy families and how governesses are treated as it should. Her manner of writing reminded me very much of Jane Austen and I am curious enough to read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Ending of Godot

I got tired of writing 'taciturnitas' in this piece.

Vlad: Nuntium de Godoto habes?

puer: Ita vero, domine.

Vlad: Non veniet illa nocte.

puer: Minime, domine.

Vlad: Sed veniet cras.

puer: Ita vero, domine

Vlad: Sine dubio.

puer: Ita vero, domine.


Vlad: Conveniesne quis?

puer: Minime, domine.

Vlad: Duum alium (dubitans) virum?

puer: Non vidi aliquis, domine.

Vlad: Quod facit, ille Godotus? (taciturnitas) Me audis?

puer: Ita vero, domine.

Vlad: Et?

puer: Nihil facit, domine.


Vlad: Quid tuum fratrem agit?

puer: Incidit morbum, domine.

Vlad: Fortasse quia hoc venit heri.

puer: Non scio, domine.


Vlad: (molliter) Barbam habet, Godotus?

puer: Ita vero, domine.

Vlad: Candidam aut (dubitat) atram?

puer: Credo est canam, domine.

Vlad: Christus nos misereat!


puer: Quod dico Godotum, domine?

Vlad: Eum dices (dubitat) eum dices, me vidisti et quod (dubitat) me vidisti (pausam, Vlad appropinquat, puer resilit, Vlad - cessat, puer cessat. Cum violentia subita) Certus es me vidisti? Non venies et cras me dices quem me nunquam vidisti?

taciturnitas. Vlad facit subitum saltum prorsus. Puer refugit et currens abit. Taciturnitas. Sol occidit, luna oritur. Sicut in Primo Actu. Vlad stat sine motu et flexus. Estragonus excitat, caligam detrahit, surgit cum una in utraque manu et venit eas in medio frontis ponit, tum ad Vladimir venit.

Estragonus: Quid es tecum?

Vlad: Nihil.

Estragonus: Discedo.

Vlad: Etiam

Estragonus: Somno longe?

Vlad: Non scio. (taciturnitas)

Estragonus: Quo vadamus?

Vlad: Non procul.

Estragonus: Ita vero. Veniamus hoc procul.

Vlad: Non possimus.

Estragonus: Cur non?

Vlad: Redeundi erimus cras.

Estragonus: Cur?

Vlad: Manere Godoto.

Estragonus: Video (taciturnitas) Non venit.

Vlad: Non

Estragonus: Et nunc nimis tardum est.

Vlad: nunc nox est.

Estragonus: Et si demittamus (pausa) Si eum demittamus?

Vlad: Nos puniat. (taciturnitas. Aspicit arborem) Omnis mortuus est praeter arborem.

Estragonus: (Aspicit arborem) Quod est?

Vlad: Est illa arbor.

Estragonus: Ita vero sed quotum genus?

Vlad: Non scio. Salix.

Estragonus trahit Vlad ad arborem. Stant adversi arborem. Taciturnitas.

Estragonus: Cur non nosmet suspendeamus?

Vlad: Cum quod?

Estragonus: Non habes funum?

Vlad: Non habeo funum.

Estragonus: Tum non possumus (taciturnitas)

Vlad: Veniamus.

Estragonus: Mane. Meum cingulum est

vlad: Nimis breve est.

Estragonus: Detrahas mihi crures.

Vlad: Et quis detrahat mihi crures?

Estragonus: Verum

Vlad: Utique monstra. (estragonus solvit funiculum quam atollit bracas quas nimis magnus pro eum, cadit ad talis. Spectant funiculum.) Efficiat in re dubia. Sed satis durus est?

Estragonus: Videbimus mox. Hoc (utrique tenent funum funiculi et trahunt. Frangitur. Paene cadent)

Vlad: Non aestimatur pretium maledicti. (taciturnitas)

Estragonus: Dicis cras rursus veniendi sumus?

Vlad: Ita vero.

Estragonus: Tum poterimus apportare partem bonam funis.

Vlad: Ita vero. (taciturnitas)

Estragonus: Dide?

Vlad: Sic?

Estragonus: Agere sicut hoc non possum.

Vlad: Hoc est quod cogitas.

Estragonus: Si separamus nos. Fortasse melior pro nos erit.

Vlad: Cras nos suspendemus. (pausam) Nisi Godotus venit.

Estragonus: Etsi venit.

Vlad: Servabimur. (Vlad amovet petum. (Felicis) intuetur, tentat intus. id quassat, pulsat petum, imponit suo capiti iterum)

Estragonus: Et? Agemusne?

Vlad: Indue bracas.

Estragonus: Quod?

Vlad: Indue bracas.

Estragonus: Vis mihi exungere bracas?

Vlad: Indue bracas.

Estragonus: (sentiens bracas caditur) Verum (Induit bracas)

Vlad: Et? Agemus?

Estragonus: Agemus.

Non movunt.


Friday, September 3, 2010

More Godot

from pages 38-39. I am really working the subjunctive and passive periphrastic in this piece.

Vladimir: Tum cur te verberavere?

Estragonus: Non scio.

Vladimir: Non, Gogone, veritas est ut sunt quae quod me non fugit et te fugit. Tibi sentiendum es.

Estragonus: Te dico me nihil egerim.

Vladimir: Fortasse nihil agebas, sed est in modum agentis quod valet, in modum agentis, si vis continuare viventem.

Estragonus: Nihil agebam.

Vladimir: Etiam laetandus es, ad profundum, si modo id scies.

Estrasonus: Laetor de quod?

Vladimir: Rursus es mecum iterum.

Estragonus: Sic dicas?

Vladimir: Dic, es, etsi non verum est.

Estragonus: Quid mihi dicendum est?

Vladimir: Dic, sum laetus.

Estragonus: Laetus sum.

Vladimir: Quoque.

Estragonus: Quoque.

Vladimir: Laetamur.

Estragonus: Laetamur. (taciturnitas) Quod nunc facimus? Nunc laetamur.

Vladimir: Manemus Godoto.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

About the Trojan War

story #51 De Bello Troiano from Gesta Romanorum

Ovid tells about the Trojan War, how Helen was captured by Paris and how after this there was a prophecy that the city of Troy would not be subdued until Achilles was dead. The mother of Achilles, hearing this, hid him in a certain room among the court ladies of a certain king, dressed as a woman. (i.e. she hid him in a harem) Hearing this, Ulysses boarded a ship with merchandise as well as womanly ornaments and splendid arms and thus loaded arrived at the castle where Achilles was remaining shut in with the court ladies. Achilles immediately, when he saw the ship with ornaments and arms, went with the ladies onto the ship to buy merchandise. But as Ulysses carefully pulled out weapons and made a move to seize Achilles, he grabbed a spear and brandished it and thus the matter was made clear. Ulysses took him and brought him with him to Troy. While living, the Trojans were prevailing, indeed when he was dead, Troy fell. And the besieging parties were freed from the conflict.