Wednesday, 2 June 2021

man in motion

Venerated on this day on the occasion of martyrdom (†303) after a series of horrendous torture sessions for keeping the faith and recruiting many converts, Erasmus of Formia—also known as Saint Elmo, is presented as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers (previously), whom are to be called upon for intercession and deliverance. Going underground during the persecutions of both Diocletian and Western successor Maximian Hercules, an angel persuaded to return his diocese in Campania. En route, Erasmus was captured by soldiers, and professing his Christianity was imprisoned in Illyricum but the angel helped him escape and establish a church there near modern day Zadar. Having attracted the ire of local magistrates due to the success of his congregation, Erasmus was made to bow before the pagan gods, whose statues crumbled by dint of his faith, which prompted his captors in response to stick him in a barrel with a spiked interior and roll him down a hill. The angel healed him as with his subsequent ordeal of being painted in pitch and set alight and another jail-break. Erasmus finally succumbed, recaptured with his belly slit open and his intestines wound around a winch, a windlass that’s now part of his iconography, the crane for loading and unloading cargo signifying his affiliation with mariners as well as patronage for stomach ailments and cramps. A further connection with sailors was the saint’s steadfast homily aboard a ship despite the plasma phenomena of ball lighting or Saint Elmo’s Fire haloing the mast as precursor to a thunder strike, afterwards taken as an omen of protection though it didn’t always pan out that this aural warning was a good sign.

Sunday, 28 March 2021

marcus didius julianus

Reigning for a scant nine weeks, Didius Julianus was the second to hold imperial office during the Year of the Five Emperors (see previously), submitting the winning bid and acclaimed by the Prรฆtorian Guard on this day in the year 193 as the elite troops auctioned off the throne, having just assassinated the previous incumbent Pertinax. A promising government and military career sidelined by Emperor Commodus—ostensibly afraid that the prรฆtor in charge of Mogontiacum (see link above)—Didius Julianus was recalled from Dalmatia and Germania Inferior and put on tax-collecting and charitable duties and never quite recovered from this impolitic slight but for the bargain of promising each soldier twenty-five thousand sesterii (๐†˜, the silver coin having the purchasing power of a sextarius, roughly half a litre of good wine or a little more than double a year’s pay) he was able to restore his honour. Rivalry amongst generals angry to see high office sold ensured civil war and competing claims and Didus Julianus did not help his popularity by immediately reversing monetary policy which significantly devalued the currency, and was executed in the palace on 1 June by a soldier. His successor Severus disbanded the Prรฆtorian Guard and the Senate passed a damnatio memoriรฆ motion to erase his legacy and strike his rule from history.

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

mmxx

As a long-standing tradition here at PfRC, here is our annual recap of this most extraordinairy year. We‘ve come all this way together and here‘s to us ploughing on. Thanks for visiting and be good to yourselves and one another.

january: Bushfires rage across Australia, taking the lives of an estimated billion animals.  We had to bid farewell to historian and Monty Python member Terry Jones and veteran reporter and newscaster Jim Lehrer.  Tragically basketball star Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna with seven others died during a helicopter accident.  Trump signs a trade deal with Canada and Mรฉxico to replace NAFTA.  The United Kingdom and Gibraltar formally announce their intention to leave the European Union, initiating an eleven-month transition period.

february: Veteran actor Kirk Douglas passed away, aged one hundred and three as well as fellow actors Orson Bean and Robert Conrad.  A detailed study of the most distant planetary body explored by a space probe, now called Arrokoth, is released.  World stock markets respond early to unease surrounding the spread of the novel SARS virus.  Luxembourg makes all public transportation free to the public. 

march: Actor and singer-song writer Kenny Rogers passed away and we said farewell to Max von Sydow. Playwright Terrence McNally (*1938), actor Mark Blum (*1950), architect Michael Sorkin (*1948), influential Indian chef Floyd Cardoz (*1960), Romanian dissident author Paul Goma (*1935) and saxophonist Manu Dibango (*1933) passed away due to complications of COVID-19.  Composer Krzysztof Penderecki (*1933) whose music scored The Exorcist and The Shining also succumbed after a long bout of illness as did musician Bill Withers (*1938, Lean on Me, .Lovely Day, Just the Two of Us) from heart complications. Breonna Taylor (*1993) was murdered in her apartment in Louisville, Kentucky by police conducting a groundless, no-knock search of the premises. 

april: We had to say goodbye to award-winning musician Adam Schlesinger (*1967) of Fountains of Wayne fame, Alexander George Thynn, Marquess of Bath (*1932), veteran rhythm guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli (*1926), jazz pianist and educator Ellis Louis Marsalis, Jr (*1934), folk musician and storyteller John Prine (*1946) and polymath John Horton Conway (*1937), inventor of among other things of The Game of Life, and comedian Tim Brooke-Taylor (*1940) succumbing to COVID-19.  We say farewell to veteran actress Honor Blackman (*1925), known for her roles in The Avengers and in Goldfinger as Bond Girl Pussy Galore.  We also say farewell to teacher Harriet Mae Glickman (*1925), whom persuaded Charles M. Schultz to include a black character in his comic strip Peanuts, cartoonist and long-time contributor to Mad magazine Mort Drucker (*1929), veteran actor Brian Dennehy and lesbian and civil rights advocate Phyllis Lyon (*1924).

may: founding member of Kraftwerk and electronic music pioneer Florian Schneider (*1947) passed away after a prolonged struggle with cancer.  Entertainer and illusionist Roy Horn (Uwe Ludwig, *1944) of Siegfried & Roy, and Ken Nightingall (*1928), audio engineer and famously known as the Pink Shorts Boom Operator from Star Wars passed away after succumbing to complications of COVID-19.  Pioneering singer and performer Little Richard (*1932) died after a long struggle with cancer as did techno DJ and producer Pascal FEOS (*1968) and rhythm and blues singer Betty Wright (*1953), known for her ability to sing in the whistle register, above falsetto. Veteran actor and comedian Jerry Stiller (*1927) passed away, aged 92.  Monumental artist Christo (*1935 on the same day as his partner in life and professionally Jeanne-Claude, †2009, previously here and here) passed away of natural causes.  Costa Rica legalises gay marriage, the first Latin American country to do so.

june: Rallies and marches rage across the US in response to the brutal murder of Floyd George while being detained by police. Actor Ian Holm (*1931), known for his roles as Napoleon in Time Bandits, Ash in Alien and Bilbo Baggins in the Tolkien adaptations, died from complications of Parkinson’s disease.  Influential graphic designer Milton Glaser (*1929, previously) passed away on his ninety-first birthday.  Iconic comedian and fixture of Japanese television for decades, Ken Shimura (*1950) died of COVID-19.

july: Veteran civil rights activist and politician John Lewis (*1940) passed away after an extended bout with  cancer.  Founder of Fleetwood Mac Peter Green (*1946) has died. Actress Olivia de Haviland (*1916) died of natural causes in her home in Paris, aged 104. The US gross domestic product plummets by a third, prompting Trump to suggest that the November elections be delayed until such time as people can vote safely in person.  Long time Trump and Tea Party supporter and once-time presidential candidate Herman Cain (*1945) died of complications of COVID-19 after contracting the virus during Trump’s rally in Tulsa.

august:  Veteran actor and musician Wilford Brimley (*1934) passed away, dying in hospital suffering from multiple health issues.  John Hume (*1937),  architect of the peace accords in Northern Ireland and instrumental in passing the Good Friday Agreement, has departed.  A giantic explosion occurred in the port of Beirut when chemicals stored in a warehouse there detonated.  Actor and singer behind such standards as “If I Had a Hammer” and “Lemon Tree” Trinidad “Trini” Lรณpez (*1937) died due to complications from COVID-19.  Media mogul Sumner Redstone who created the production company Viacom, recognising that content was king, passed away, aged 97.  Linguist and long-time contributor to Public Radio Geoffrey Nunberg (*1945) died after coping with a long illness.  The Joe Biden campaign selects Kamala Harris as its running-mate, and both parties hold their conventions virtually.  Kremlin-critic and chief opposition candidate to Vladimir Putin, Alexei Navalny, is presumably poisoned on a flight back to Siberia and is subsequently medically evacuated to Germany.  Black Panther actor and humanitarian Chadwick Boseman (*1976) dies after a four-year battle with colon cancer. Long-time Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe announces his retirement from elected office over health reasons.

september: Economist and anarchist David Graeber (*1961) passed away at a hospital in Venice, dying from undisclosed causes.  After a short struggle with cancer and last months spent with family and contented reflection, accomplished actor Dame Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg (*1938) has died.   Interviewed for a new expose by Bob Woodward, Trump admitted on tape months ago that he downplayed the danger of COVID-19, though this revelation seemed to barely rise above the general din of the news cycle and receded quickly in voters’ conscience.  The Polish-government allows twelve municipalities to declare themselves LGBT-ideology free-zones.  Protests continue in Belarus over the disputed reelection of long-serving, Russian-aligned leader Alexander Lukashenko.  Jurist and US Supreme Court associate justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (*1933) died after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, leaving a court vacancy just before the presidential election.  A grand jury in Kentucky declined to file homicide charges against the police officers who murdered Breonna Taylor.  Australian singer and actor Helen Reddy (*1941) passed away after succumbing to complications from dementia.  During the first US presidential debate, devolving into a messy, nasty political food-fight, Trump refused to denounce white supremacist groups. 

october: After White House aid Hick Hopes tested positive for coronavirus, Donald and Melania Trump were also screened and found to both be carriers.   The nomination ceremony for the US Supreme Court justice to replace the vacancy left by Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the White House rose garden turned into a superspreader event.  Iconic fashion designer Kenzล Takada (้ซ˜็”ฐ ่ณขไธ‰, *1939) died from complications of COVID-19.  Singer Eddie Van Halen (*1955) passed away after a long battle with cancer.  The FBI in conjunction with other domestic law enforcement authorities foil a plot by a white supremacists to kidnap the governor of Michigan.  Jacinda Arden remains Prime Minister of New Zealand after her party wins the election in a land-slide victory.  Space probe OSIRIS-REx (previously) arrives at asteroid Bennu and collects mineral samples to bring back to Earth.  Magician and scientific sceptic James Randi (*1928) passes away, aged 92. Despite the US presidential election only being a little more than a week away, the Republican-controlled Senate rush through the confirmation of a young, conservative justice with questionable qualification and adjourn until after the ballots close, leaving those negatively impacted by the continuing pandemic no fiscal relief package.  Actor Sean Connery passed away, aged ninety.  

november: Terror incidents occur in Paris and Vienna.  With most of Europe entering a second quarantine as a firebreak to slow the spread of COVID-19, Germany goes into lockdown-light for the month.  Election Day comes for the United States with nearly one hundred million voters casting their ballots early.  The election is called in favour of Biden and Harris.  Team Trump refuses to concede.  Long time television game show host Alex Trebek (*1940) dies after a long struggle with pancreatic cancer.  Veteran Middle East negotiator Saeb Erekat dies, aged sixty-five, from complications of COVID-19.  The purge of the Trump administration continues with the dismissal of the Defence Secretary for not authorising the mobilisation of the army against protesters and the chief of cyber-security for countering Trump’s false narrative and rightly proclaiming the election the best safeguarded vote in modern US history, and halving troop levels in Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan by executive decree.  A historic Hurricane Iota ravages Central America, having barely recovered from the last, Hurricane Epsilon.  Not conceding defeat Trump allows the Biden transition team to begin its work.  Argentine footballer, one of the greatest of all time Diego Maradona (*1960) dies of a heart attack.  

december: Courts, including the US Supreme Court, rebuff Trump’s efforts to overturn election results in a nacent coup attempt.  Massive protests in reaction to legislation that liberalises farming practises leave India paralysed.  The first vaccinations against the SARS-CoV-2 virus are administered.  With last-ditch Brexit negotiations poised for failure and the UK to crash out of the EU with no deal, Britain moves to deploy naval warships to protect fishing stocks in its national waters.  Pioneering Country and Western singer Charlie Pride (*1934) passes away due to complications from COVID-19.  Intelligence officer and master of the spy novel, John le Carrรฉ (*1931) has died.  French president Emmanuel Macron contracts COVID-19 and goes into quarantine.  The archbishop of Canterbury tells parishioners, especially the vulnerable, that it is not necessary to attend church services on Christmas day, echoed by the Pope and other religious leaders.  Compounding Brexit uncertainty, the final week of the year sees the UK cut off from much of the rest of the world over concerns about a new coronavirus strain that is significantly more transmissable.  A final deal was arranged for the UK leaving the EU at the last minute which spares Britain the worse fate of crashing-out with no deal but is significantly not as good of a trade pact had the UK remained in.  A powerful earthquake shakes Croatia.  French fashion designer Pierre Cardin passes away, aged ninety-eight.

Sunday, 18 October 2020

international necktie day

Honoured worldwide on this day, the fashion tracing its origins back to the traditional uniforms worn by Croatian mercenaries stationed in France during the Thirty Years War (1618 – 1648) with knotted neckerchiefs (see previously), which garnered the interest of the courtiers in Paris—especially when the boy king Louis XIV donned this accessory. Worn by both men and women, this article of clothing came to be called the cravat, a compromise between the endonym Hrvati and the exonym Croates, with the lacier variety distinguished as a jabot. Traditionally the observance includes historical and art installations as well as presentations on etiquette and knotting a tie.

Friday, 9 October 2020

6x6

like a version: a brilliant cover of the 1998 Massive Attack hit Teardrop 

the goldilocks paradox: a preliminary survey of superhabitable exoplanets understood to be far more stable and conduscive to life as we know it  

smudge, sharpen, blur: an exhibit that encourages visitors to adjust levels for masterpieces 

 travis touchdown: paparazzi in Croatia snapped a few pictures of Nicolas Cage in costume filming his upcoming The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent  

all mimsy were yแต‰ borogoves: an animated reading of Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky—illustrating how the reader makes meaning for nonsense words  

sign o’ the times: a review of the Super Deluxe release of Prince’s (previously) 1987 masterpiece

Friday, 8 May 2020

smrt in pogreb josipa broza tita

Four days after his death in Ljubljana due to complications during surgery to correct circulation problems in his legs, the government of Yugoslavia held the largest state funeral in history for president Josip Broz Tito (*1892), drawing guests—kings, princes, presidents and ministers—from nearly every polity in the world on this day in the streets of Belgrade in 1980.
Tens of thousands filed past his casket and paid their solemn, earnest respect for two and a half days prior to arrival of the foreign dignitaries to the only leader the citizens of the independent communist county had known. Leaders and delegates in attendance were from both aligned and non-aligned countries and both sides geographically and ideologically of the Iron Curtain. Amid the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and facing re-election, the US president opted not to attend, instead sending his mother Lilian Carter with vice-president Walter Mondale. A ceremony of pomp and fanfare to celebrate the progress the Tito’s leadership had brought for the worker, the occasion was also an opportunity for building networks, Chancellor Helmut Schmidt of West Germany met with his East German counterpart and Secretary Leonid Brezhnev and Margaret Thatcher met with the leadership of Zambia, Italy and Romania, trying to rally international condemnation over said invasion. The leader was interned in a mausoleum in Belgrade that became known as the House of Flowers (Hiลกa cvetja, Kuฤ‡a cvijeฤ‡a, ะšัƒั›ะฐ ั†ะฒะตั›ะฐ, ะšัƒัœะฐ ะฝะฐ ั†ะฒะตัœะตั‚ะพ)—the space that was a covered garden outside of Tito’s auxiliary office internally referred to as the “flower shop.”

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

hydrological regime

While meandering for just over a kilometre, the shortest river in France that we visited several years back dwarfs these watercourses, it is nonetheless interesting to hop about the map and consider these shortest of rivers around the globe and wonder how we define our topography. For instance, the pictured Ombla, stout though only thirty metres in length, satisfies all the essential criteria plus supplying neighbouring Dubrovnik with drinking water.  More to explore with Amusing Planet at the link above.

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

yellow jack

While all of Italy is under lockdown conditions forming a cordon sanitaire to medically isolate potential carriers and stop the spread of sickness, it’s worth noting that the term quarantine itself is owing to the Venetian thalassocracy and the best-practises that the city modeled.
From the local dialectical form of quaranta giorni, it refers to the forty day period that ships, cargo and compliment were held in abeyance in order to not transmit the plague, which in a decade’s time in the mid-fourteenth century had claimed thirty percent of the Eurasian population. The safeguard was first developed in Ragusa (Dubrovnik) and confined visitors to an outlying island for a period of thirty days (a trentine) before granting them admission. After avoid the Black Death’s first iteration, the government of Venice moved to extend the restriction by ten more days, which happened to match the course of illness from the bubonic plague from exposure to incubation through to the contagious phase and recovery. In the language of maritime signal flags, the solid yellow banner, Q for Quebec, historically indicated quarantine but now certifies that the vessel is free from communicable disease and requests free pratique—that is, to enter a port. Whereas the above semaphore whilst in harbour, L for Lima, means the ship is under quarantine.

Friday, 27 December 2019

7x7

rebirth of a salesman: revisiting a 1969 documentary that revealed how evangelism and door-to-door sales converged

ะฝะพะฒะพะณะพะดะฝะตะต ะดะตั€ะตะฒะพ: the evolution of the Yolka New Year’s Tree—from its pagan roots to Soviet anti-religious symbolic staple (see also)

mamurluk: also home to the Museum of Break-Ups, a new gallery space dedicated to hangovers opens in Zagreb

now that’s a name i’ve not heard in a long time: a fan-made Obi-Wan Kenobi Star Wars story

intern’yet: reportedly, Russia successfully unplugs from the world wide web and replaced global portals with domestic ones

bergkristall: Adalbert Stifter’s timeless, beloved 1845 novella

open conference bridge: a team of volunteers are retrofitting and reviving a network of payless, pay phone booths to bring community cohesion

Friday, 7 June 2019

7x7

horton plaza: a study of the postmodern ghost mall built to revitalise downtown San Diego

for hire: riotously brilliant hand-painted signs from South Bengal

big top: Germany’s touring Circus Roncalli replaces animal acts with holograms

cat walk: balloon apparel deflates on the runway and transforms into practical garments

normay: a projection map skewed by the mentions various places get from Donald Trump—via Maps Mania

team breakfast: a fun montage of musicians eating their morning meals, via Everlasting Blรถrt 

toward a concrete utopia: a revival in interest for Yugoslavia’s monumental architecture—previously

Friday, 9 November 2018

turizam

Rummaging through the archives—which is an always advisable activity—Things Magazine directs our attention to the Haludovo Palace hotel, an abandoned resort on the island of Krk. This swank, swinging Penthouse Adriatic Club casino was built in 1971 with the investment of the adult magazine founder Bob Guccione and maintained by a Yugoslav holding-company due to restrictions on foreign-ownership in the country. The magnate saw an opportunity to create a new, untrammelled playground for the jet-set but attendance was precipitously lower than expected and the venture went bankrupt the next year.
During the ethnic conflicts and wars for independence with the dissolution of the state, the hotel became a refugee camp and subsequently went through many owners until being fully left to wrack and ruin in 2001. Just last month, there was an announcement that a private investor would restore and revitalise the resort (samo na hrvatskom jeziku) which has a whole fresh set of comparison pictures from then and now.

Monday, 3 September 2018

7x7

spomenik database: ten year’s worth of documenting Eastern European monuments from Darmon Richter, via Present /&/ Correct

clip-art: an appreciation of the medium, discontinued from the Microsoft Office suite of programmes in 2014

clean-up operation: Boyan Slat’s system of floats (previously) designed to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is to deploy soon

86ed: a look, in increasing weirdness, that led to the security clearance questionnaire of a politician running for office being leaked to her opposition

globus gรถmb: a vintage Hungary Rubik’s globe puzzle

balustrade: a series of the spiral staircases of Budapest by Balint Alovits 

may day: a visual lesson on why and how work is celebrated differently in the US (previously)

Sunday, 13 May 2018

eisheilige oder in like a lion, out like a lamb

This day marks the last in the triplet of saints’ days, commemorating early martyrs and bishops of the fourth and fifth centuries, traditionally part of weather lore throughout much of central and northern Europe known collectively as the time of the ice saints, when Spring had begun in earnest but there was yet the danger of a cold snap.
Though there’s some variance according to one’s whereabouts, the consensus seems to give the title to Boniface (Saint Mamertus in Nordic countries), Pancras and Servatius whose feast days fall on the 11th, 12th and 13th. Respectively patrons of bachelors and converts, service-sector jobs and health, rheumatism and foot problems, this cadre seem to have little to do weather prognostication, like groundhogs (Candlemas) or the Seven Sleepers (used to forecast summer weather) and their dates were all shifted a bit to the left when the Gregorian calendar replaced the Julian way of reckoning dates and we all lost ten days but there is certainly the chance for strange, destructive weather this late in the season—especially for the micro-climates that cleave to the valleys and foothills, which asserted itself just the day before yesterday by dumping a frightening large amount of hail on a village just a few kilometres away and causing storm surges in Hamburg.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

serpentine

Croatian abstract artist and founding member of the avant garde collective known as the Gorgona Group of 1960s Yugoslavia, Julije Knifer (*1924 - †2004) had a signature topic of exploration throughout his work: the meander, a geometric motif based on the repetition and regularly turning of a continuous line—which as a decorative border is sometimes called a Greek fret or a Greek key. With the country not enforcing the official narrative of Socialist Realism and the romancing of life and conditions under Communism, Knifer was free to create and mediate on hundreds of variations of the abstract concept, a quiet refutation against utopian plans that rarely pan out and just tend to lead one along.

Friday, 8 December 2017

spomenik

From the Serbo-Croatian word for monument, we discover via Calvert Journal, there’s a well-curated, well- researched catalogue of the thousands of memorials to World War II erected under the direction of Josip Broz Tito’s regime in Yugoslavia from the 1960s to 1990. We only encountered a few during our trip to Croatia but then again we were not equipped with a map to seek them out, nor did we appreciate their historical context and intent to unify an amalgam of people through large scale community art project. Uniquely, the abstract geometric objects (previously) were proposed as a means to decontextualize conflict and remembrance and a departure from the usual monuments of Soviet heroes—which more than a quarter of a century after the fall of the Iron Curtain, still elicit discussion and debate in all forms.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

animatic

The Calvert Journal has an interesting profile of the lesser scrutinised art form, relegated to children’s entertainment, of animation and the role that allegory communicated through this medium played in protest movements in Eastern Europe and Soviet satellite states, particularly in Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. The study with a gallery of examples (not the ersatz Itchy and Scratchy pictured) from the 1950s onward demonstrates the parabolic reach of the message (the animatic being the synchronised storyboard) considering that in most cases the state was the lone patron of cartoons, looking into the past when puppet theatre and other antecedents could be as covertly subversive, plus how contemporary artists are rediscovering animation as powerful form of commentary.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

cross-roads

Though I can’t say for certain that many hikers will cross our path, we discovered that our new home, remote and rather secluded as it is, lies just behind the intersection of two of the European Long Distance Routes (the nearest point of reference shared by both trails is the City of Coburg), marked and maintained hiking paths that follows ancient trade and pilgrimage routes. From north to south, one stretches from Lapland through Finland and Sweden through Germany and Austria to the Adriatic coast, and from west to east, the other spans from Spain following el Camino de Santiago (der Jakobsweg) through France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Germany, the Czech Republic onto the shores of the Black Sea in Bulgaria. What an amazing journey to embark on and to think we are at if not the centre-point at least a nexus of sorts.

Friday, 7 October 2016

canting arms

Mental Floss presents an interesting assortment of emblems and symbols on national and territorial flags that tells the lore behind the scampering marten of Croatia, the Phrygian cap (hat on a stick) motif that represented manumission from slavery, and made me think of the aurochs, an extinct wild bull of Europe that’s on many coats-of-arms. I did not know, however, why Bermuda has, seemingly inauspiciously, a shipwreck on their flag and how that near-disaster inspired Shakespeare to pen to The Tempest—and nor did I realise that for its side bar of five intricately woven carpets representing the five chief tribes, the flag of Turkmenistan is considered the most vexillogically complex banner in the world.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

ulysses or hocus-porcus

By its nature, mythology does not admit to definitive versions, although the fables and folklore of the Greeks, once committed to paper by Homer and Hesiod and countless others took on an air authority that was not a uniting theme in the tradition of story-telling. Although different accounts circulated long afterwards and inheritor traditions continue to build on that unstaid corpus still, lore, variation and invention is sourced to the Heroic Age—those who fought in the Trojan War, and abruptly ended with that diasporic, lost generation afterwards.
Maybe it was because those stories were written down and the winningest narratives became the prevailing ones—competition continued among poets, championing their own character-analyses, morals and retribution and it’s now hard to imagine as the readership that there were opposing legends presented to audiences, amok-time scenarios where Electra and ล’dipus had normal families and lost their place in the popular imagination to the racier, received versions. One of the very last myths constructed, a lost epic that seems groundless morose but somewhat reconstituted, by the Greeks is called the Telegony and dealt again with re-deploying veterans and the homecoming of Odysseus, but told from the perspective of the seductress and enchantress Circe. During Odysseus’ captivity on the exile-island of Aeaea—Loลกinj, Croatia—(Circe was banished to this remote location to keep her out of trouble), Circe became pregnant and bore Odysseus a son after his departure, the eponymous Telegonus, whose name meant born far away due to his father’s distant home. Athena urges Circe to reveal to her young adult son—juxtaposed with the massacre and funeral service for opportunist suitors of his wife, Penelope, whose advances she solemnly rebuffed for the two decades’ absence of her husband that open the story—who his father is. Telegonus resolves journey to Ithaca to find Odyssey.
Why Athena, as Odysseus’ constant champion and protector, encouraged this reunion seems impenetrable and without the entire story—that’s just been teased out of a few lines and other myths referencing the Telegony—the goddess’ motivation will remain a mystery, I suppose. Before going on this long and dangerous voyage, Circe asks the blacksmith of the gods to craft her son a supernatural spear with the poison tip of a string-ray to defend himself. Just as Telegonus arrives in the Ionian Sea, he is visited by a terrible storm and disoriented, does not realise that he has already arrived at his destination. Though the trope seems rather predictable to us thanks to the tragedies of Sophocles, Telegonus poached one of his father’s cows and was ambushed by Odysseus and his men. As he deftly defends himself, Telegonus strikes down Odysseus, fulfilling a prophesy that the wily hero who satisfied his charge with burying an oar in a land where they never had heard of the ocean that stated he would meet his demise from the sea, and recognizes, too late, that he is his father. Beside himself with remorse, Telegonus takes Odysseus’ body, widow and half-brother, Telemachus (meaning “far from the battle-field” also unborn when Odysseus went off to war) back to Aeaea in the Adriatic. Circe’s magic was unable to restore Odysseus to life but is able to make the landing party immortal. Telegonus marries his step-mother, Penelope, and Circe, Odysseus’ lover, marries Telemachus. I wish we had the whole story in order to make this outcome seem plausible—the classic myths were hinged together in such a way where one could always suspend ones disbelief and accept that a character was fated to be transformed into a tree or flower or would be forced to experiment with the lesser-evils and impossible choices. I wonder if this outline could be expanded.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

hella throughput

One other state assess to undergo privatisation, despite protests and public sentiment is the historic and busy port Pirรฆus in Attica, one of the largest in the world and fount of Greece’s thalassocracy—a sea-going empire and later shipping tycoons and trade magnates and island-hopping around the archipelago. Pirรฆus also happens to be the name of our second favourite Greek restaurant—having been recently unseated by a new favourite called Athen, being the German form of the great city ฮ‘ฮธฮทฮฝฮฑ and it strikes me as curious how different name cases come across in different languages with different conjugations and declinations, Athens sounding something akin to, “Let’s go to Walmart’s.”
Having the public relinquish a controlling stake in this venture is really torturous and I wonder how the past and the future will judge this decision.  Pirรฆus is also known as the Lion’s Port—referencing a monumental fountain that stood at the harbour’s entrance from the third century BC to the late seventeenth century, when it was looted along with other spoils by invading Venetians during the War of the Holy League, the belligerents being Western Europe and Balkan rebels against the Ottoman Empire of the east. This ancient lion, somewhat defaced by the graffiti Nordic mercenaries excited over their war trophies, was delivered to the Arsenal (shipyard) of Venice—where it still stands along with other captive lions. The sobriquet is also still in place, despite the lion’s three centuries of absence, and I wonder if Greece has asked for it to be returned.