It IS Easy Being Green! The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 22 March 2017

This week is all about color. For extra challenge, create a gallery.

— Michelle W., The Daily Post

  1. Justin Quinn’s poetry collection was published by Gallery Press (www.gallerypress.com)
  2. The sign was in the front window of Dog-Eared Books, Castro Street, San Francisco.
  3. The box was provided to me by Irish Express Moving Company, San Francisco. I used it to ship books I needed to Annaghmakerrig.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Cato in THE DECLINE AND FALL

Aside from her Real Life, self writes a lot of fan fiction, all in The Hunger Games universe. In her AU, she has come to use the following characters over and over:

  • Seneca
  • Plutarch
  • Cato

Hunger Games Plutarch is manipulative, a consummate politician. Hunger Games Seneca is a tool, pure and simple. Hunger Games Cato is a blonde, physically powerful type who ends up in a battle to the death with Katniss and Peeta. Guess who wins?

Now that she is reading The Decline and Fall, she is reminded that the above names actually belonged to real people.

In The Hunger Games, Cato is very much a bully.

In The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Gibbon on p. 348 writes “we may learn from the example of Cato that a character of pure and inflexible virtue . . . ” In other words, RL Cato is a good guy.

#what

Self will stop here, as she’s having conniptions over some #APBreaking news about Paul Manafort and it is putting her in a very sullen state of mind.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading p. 317 of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: Chapter XI (“Theology and Faction”) tells a story of a “rash and obstinate” orthodox bishop named Nestorius.

“A sentiment of fear or indignation prompted him . . . The past he regretted, he was discontented with the present, and the future he had reason to dread . . . ”

He eventually died, “his tongue, the organ of blasphemy . . .  eaten by worms.”

So  much for Nestorius!

And then it’s a lot of blah blah blah about the Emperor Theodosius, the second synod of Ephesus and this thrilling announcement:

“May those who divide Christ be divided with the sword, may they be hewn in pieces, may they be burned alive!”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

p. 244, THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE

Self will admit she has an enduring fascination with ancient Rome (She’s just imparting that to dear blog readers because aside from the story collection Redeployment, by Phil Klay, the rest of her reading list is ALL ROME, ALL THE TIME: Rubicon, by Tom Holland; SPQR, by Mary Beard; Conspirata, by Robert Harris. And she has a long, long way yet to go in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire)

She read a biography of Cicero years and years ago (which was called, self thinks, Cicero) and she remembers in particular a section describing how triumphant Roman generals led post-victory processions throughout the capital. Standing just behind the general, in the same chariot, was a slave whose sole responsibility was to whisper into the general’s ear, over and over: Remember, thou art dust.

The minute self read that, her mouth dropped open. She was so in awe.

So far, the most interesting chapter in TDAFOTRE has been the chapter on the rise of monasticism. You would not believe what those monks would get up to! Especially when they were determined to abnegate themselves!

Now she’s into a chapter about Constantine building Constantinople. Very interesting descriptions of the Hellespont and the Bosporus. And then (Italics are mine):

  • As Constantine urged the progress of the work with the impatience of a lover, the walls, the porticoes, and the principal edifices were completed in a few years . . .

Oooh! Emperor Constantine had the impatience of a lover!

#Justimagine

Gibbon does not enter into any detail about Constantine as an actual lover, however, which in self’s mind is a serious omission. Unless the Emperor had no lovers, and dedicated himself exclusively to the cause of being a great Emperor. Which would be pretty sad, actually. For him personally. Not for posterity. Posterity is happy. Only eccentrics like self would bother themselves with wondering about the personal happiness of emperors.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

What the Writing Desk Looks Like Today, 20 March 2017

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Niall Leevy Brochure from a 2009 Exhibit Called “Inner Light”; copy of self’s book Mayor of the Roses: Stories, Miami University Press

Niall was here last year. Saw his work at Open Studio at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre.

At the opposite end of the table, self’s book from Miami University Press (There’s another story collection that came after this one: The Lost Language. Self’s Dearest Mum gave copies to all her friends as a Christmas present, but painstakingly tore out all the stories she didn’t like, lol)

You will notice that today the writing table is square. That’s because there are two of them in her unit, and she switches back and forth between them, depending on her need for the scissors, lol

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide”: Sentence of the Day in THE DECLINE AND FALL

Self is still on Chapter VII (The Rise of Monasticism) of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. There are some fantastic stories in this chapter. Alas, self has not the time to share them. Suffice it to say, Gibbon gives short shrift to monastic life in Gaul, Italy, Britain, Syria, etc and focuses almost exclusively on Egyptian monasteries (which makes self want to go to Egypt; but she wonders, anyway, if any of those ancient monasteries still exists)

Gibbon seems to feel great affinity for the Egyptian monk’s life of simple arduousness. Perhaps it reminded him of his own scholar’s life?

But, Gibbon being Gibbon, he cannot escape a chance to probe their state of mind. And this is how he describes it:

The repose which they had sought in the cloister was disturbed by tardy repentance, profane doubts, and guilty desires; and while they considered each natural impulse as an unpardonable sin, they perpetually trembled on the age of a flaming and bottomless abyss.

In the “sixth century, a hospital was founded at Jerusalem for a small portion of the austere penitents who were deprived of their senses.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

What the Writing Desk Looks Like Today, 19 March 2017

It is Sunday.

A very peaceful, beautiful Sunday.

Birds are singing, the sun is shining. Self has taken to sleeping in her studio on the second floor of her unit. Because it’s so sunny there, with the skylight.

This is what she happened to be reading today, in addition to writing (and starting a new Everlark):

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Self is keeping up with her “Word of the Day” from the Oxford English Dictionary. Today’s word is dislocate. She actually used it in a story she’s working on. YAY!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Pleasure and Guilt: p. 221, THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE

Pleasure and guilt are synonymous terms in the language of the monks . . .  they had discovered, by experience, that rigid fasts and abstemious diet are the most effectual preservatives against the impure desire of the flesh. The rules of abstinence . . .  were not uniform or perpetual: the cheerful festival of the Pentecost was balanced by the extraordinary mortification of Lent; the fervour of new monasteries was . . .  relaxed, and the voracious appetite of the Gauls could not imitate the patient and temperate virtue of the Egyptians . . . with their daily pittance of twelve ounces of bread . . .  divided into two frugal repasts, of the afternoon and of the evening.

— p. 221, Chapter VII (“The Rise of Monasticism”)

#amreading about Monastic Ireland in THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE

The reading matter became more absorbing last night, when Gibbon stated that it only took eighty years for Christianity to move from being a persecuted religion to becoming the main religion of the Roman Empire. This latter development happened when Constantine, a Christian, became Emperor and swore to rule according to the dictates of his Christian faith.

Gibbon (whose faith is obviously important to him) then starts enumerating early monasteries around the Roman Empire, and these include not only monasteries in Syria, Egypt, etc but also monasteries in Ireland. Which leads self to look up names on the internet, and she stumbles on:

  • Glendalough: Monks built the Church of the Rock.
  • Iona, in the Inner Hebrides: Work on the Book of Kells was begun here, but when Viking raids became frequent, the work was transported to a monastery in Kells, hence the name Book of Kells.
  • Kildare: There is Cill Dara, the Cell of the Oak, which was founded by Saint Brigid and became a convent.

Self would love to visit some of these places, if she has time.

She remembers that one of the most exciting things about visiting Venice, a few years ago, wasn’t Venice itself, but her exploration of outlying islands, especially Torcello.

Torcello has a very old stone church, with a very high tower. When you ascend to the very top, you can see all over the Venetian lagoon. This was a watchtower. As Torcello is farther out from the mainland, small bands of Christians took shelter here, away from the barbarian hordes. Gradually, as Italy became more stable, settlement moved inwards, closer and closer to Venice. The culmination of the growing power of the Venetian state was the building of Saint Mark’s.

Self has always loved history.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

#amreading THE DECLINE AND FALL, Help!

Stayed up till the wee hours reading. Not that anything really captured her attention.

The section she arrived at last night (Chapter V: The Progress of Christianity) was nothing but page after page after page after page about religion. Specifically, about Christianity. About moral precepts. About the sacred institution of marriage. About the elements of a spiritual life.

Where are those Roman emperors: Caligula, Nero, Commodus et. al.? Where are those vein-slitting Praetors? Where are those gladiatorial combats? Where are those extravagant Roman processions? Where are those ambitious Roman generals? Is this book really about the Decline and Fall?

Declines are usually pretty interesting. Bad things happen during declines: riots, conspiracies, murders, wars, dissolution, desperation, unfettered evil. Shall self continue?

Stay tuned.

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