Book # 5: Unit # 1, Tyrone Guthrie Centre

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Since Edward Gibbon devoted so much time to describing monastic life in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, self is exceedingly curious about the cloistered life of nuns (which received almost no attention from Gibbon)

Lo and behold, while self continues her exploration of her unit’s bookshelves, she comes across a book about a nun, Dame Laurentia, who became an Abbess.

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.

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.

#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.

What the Writing Desk Looks Like Today, 15 March 2017

Unit # 1, Tyrone Guthrie Centre

Scissors are EXTREMELY important for any writing endeavour.

For the cut and paste.

You may also notice that there is a new book on the table: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon. Yes, self finished Montcalm and Wolfe last night. The Battle of Quebec was a sniffle at the very end, followed by the downfall of perhaps the greatest statesman England has ever known, Pitt. And then self skimmed over the last dozen pages.

And the Oxford English Dictionary word of the day is — drumroll, please — VAMPIRE!

  • A vampire is a corpse supposed, in European folklore, to leave its grave at night to drink the blood of the living by biting their necks with long, pointed, canine teeth.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Book Delivery! Francis Parkman’s THE JESUITS IN NORTH AMERICA IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

Self has been enjoying Francis Parkman’s Montcalm and Wolfe so much that she decided to look up his other books. She ordered one through Amazon UK, and it arrived just today.

Hardbound, but doesn’t look quite like the kind of book you’d pick up from, say, a bookstore.

She opens the inside page:

This book may have occasional imperfections such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. that were either part of the original artifact, or were introduced by the scanning process. We believe this work is culturally important, and despite the imperfections, have elected to bring it back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide.

The book is a scan. And it’s probably the first time anyone’s ordered it in — a century.

She starts to read, and it’s surprisingly — pedestrian. Like reading someone’s PhD dissertation. But, anyhoo, it is here. In Annaghmakerrig. And so is self. Those are two very good things.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

8 February 2017: Self Read at Sixth Engine, Washington DC

Self’s dystopian “First Causes” appears in the latest issue of Quarterly West.

Self very much enjoyed the reading for the launch of the issue because: 1) it was in Washington DC, and she got to see some old friends again; 2) she re-connected with a few people she hasn’t seen in years. Such as Letitia. Who was a student at Old Dominion University in Virginia when self read there for a literary festival (2007?) Now, Letitia is an Editor/Linguist/Poet (see business card below).

Self is tempted to ask Letitia if she’d like to help edit a collection of her speculative fiction she is getting ready to send out:

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The reading was co-hosted by two other literary magazines: 32 Poems and Smartish Pace.

And oh boy it was packed. To the point where the audience was all standing like a can of sardines.

A man threw copies of his poetry collection at the audience. “That is so cool!” a young man remarked. Since self was reading next, she was hard-pressed to think of something attention-getting.

She moved front, started babbling about how fan fiction got her there. And — received enthusiastic applause from somewhere on the right!

Forever grateful to the listeners, and of course to Quarterly West. Here’s a shot she took that night of the (very crowded) venue:

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The bar-restaurant Sixth Engine, downtown Washington DC, night of 8 February 2017

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

P. 443, Montcalm and Wolfe: OMG, Self Can’t Even

So here you have the British and the French armies, hiding in the woods from each other. The British commander (Rogers) forbids lighting fires at night, and orders absolute silence.

Apparently, this “absolute silence” order does not seem to apply to officers because on the morning “of the 8th of August,” Rogers and a lieutenant named Irwin “of the light infantry” decide to settle a wager “by firing at a mark.” The shots reach the ears of four hundred and fifty French and Indians, hiding in the woods.

Having settled the wager “at about seven o’clock” in the morning, Commander Rogers orders his troops forward. They find a narrow path (Indian of course) that requires the soldiers to march “in single file.” The British commander is about “a mile behind” the lead. (Self is trying to imagine a single file of soldiers stretching a mile. That’s quite a line!)

Suddenly “a Caughnawaga chief” appears, seizing the officer in the lead and “dragging him into the forest.” The Indians also seize a lieutenant and three privates.

When Rogers realizes what is happening, he endeavors with all his might to get to the front, but since he is a mile back (how fast can a horse with a man riding on its back travel, self wonders irrelevantly), he does not get there in time.

(Self must have paid extra attention during history class. She remembers learning that this was how Gaul managed to destroy the Roman Empire: by forcing the centurions to engage in forests, forests that were wholly unfamiliar. Or mebbe it wasn’t history class. Mebbe it was the movie Gladiator)

Self is imagining the terrible fate that awaited the men dragged by the Indians into the woods, but apparently one of these survived because he wrote an account of his ordeal:

They “stripped him naked, tied him to a tree, and gathered dried wood to pile about him.” He was saved only by a sudden onset of rain. And afterwards he was ordered freed by another Indian chief.

Phew! This book is such a roller coaster ride!

The Road Taken: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 1 March 2017

Show us something that delighted or surprised you on “the road taken.”

— Krista, The Daily Post

  • Tree-house, Backyard of Doris Duterte Stutely in Driffield, East Riding
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Tree-houses are fabulous. Self would like to live in one.

  • Before the Daly City Council Meeting, Monday 13 February 2017: Nikki S. Victoria, Filipina activist, greets fellow members of the community who volunteered to speak on behalf of making Daly City a Sanctuary City:
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If ever there was a time to speak up, it is now: City Hall, Daly City, February 2017

  • It is always exciting to discover a new museum. The below was one block away from self’s hotel in Washington DC, where she had flown to read for Quarterly West at downtown bar-restaurant Sixth Engine:
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Lobby of the National Building Museum in Washington, DC: Tour Guide, lower left

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Montcalm and Wolfe: p.213

On the eve of battle, an American chaplain from Rhode Island preached a sermon to the American volunteers fighting with the British, on the theme “Love your enemies.” —

lol

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