This: Sou’wester, Spring 2007

The story of the Americans, the Filipinos, the Spanish, a martyr, and a very famous oil lamp:

Manila, 1898:

As Jose Rizal was lined up before the Spanish firing squad, labeled a renegade and underground solidarity worker, American Commodore George Dewey sailed into Manila Bay.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

“Our Gracious Dorotea”: from Self’s Novel-in-Progress

To help self write a love scene set in 18th century Spain, she turns to poetry.

The title of the chapter she is working on today is Our Gracious Dorotea. The poem is this:

Perhaps because within myself
I had already chosen your portrait
here they are in fields of thought
one thousand and a thousand more red poppies.

— Domenico Adriano, excerpt from Da Papaveri Perversi, transl. from the Italian by Barbara Carle

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More From the Novel-in-Progress: A Conversation

Matias, the fighting priest in my novel, bids farewell to a woman cousin before heading off on The Great Voyage to the Philippines, where he will fight demons. Conversation is occurring in the 18th century, not sure if I’m getting something wrong, but what-the-hey:

“And that is where you will live out your days — in some far-away country. How like a book it must seem to you. Now I see it all clearly: it was never your intention to grow old.”

“You deem it fanciful,” Matias said. “You doubt my sincerity.” Now there was anger in his voice. “I do God’s work. To dedicate my life for the salvation of many.”

“And by so doing, you forget your own life.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amwriting: Novel-in-Progress

The priest, Matias, is being sent to the Philippines to fight demons. Before he leaves Spain, he has a conversation with the Archbishop in Madrid:

“You are no dissembler, Matias. I know. It is all there in your eyes. You have suffered, but — the past is past. I have got you now!”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amwriting: Two Brand New Sentences

Self’s an fiction is suffering but on the other hand, she is crushing all her other writing.

Today she wrote:

Philip II glances at his ministers. They nod solemnly in return.

Hallelujah! Hell’s bells!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More from the Novel-in-Progress

Excerpt from a letter Matias writes to his Superior in Madrid, dated the 29th of October, 1757:

Your Reverence,

The ship lumbered forward, like a mighty beast. Finally, we sailed into a beautiful natural harbor. I was eager to be down the gangplank and standing on the pier. The Archbishop of Manila sent his carriage to fetch me to his residence, which sits directly behind the magnificent Augustinian church. The Archbishop has informed me that there are representatives of many religious orders within the walls of the Old City: There are Franciscans, Dominicans, Recollects, Capuchins, Discalced Carmelites, as well as the Society of Jesus. In other words, within this very small city, there are enough priests and nuns to tend to the souls of the natives in the most meticulous fashion.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading, #amwriting

The book self is reading is The Ship, by Bjorn Landstrom (Doubleday).

On p. 102, there are a series of diagrams about the Santa Maria (“With the exception of Noah’s Ark, Columbus’s flagship is surely the most well-known ship in the world, and there are many, many thousands of models to be found today which are supposed to represent the Santa Maria.”)

DSCN0235

And now, an excerpt from self’s novel-in-progress, which is about a fighting priest, an Augustinian, sent by Spain to establish a mission on an island in the central Philippines.

The priest, whose name is Matias, arrives in Manila and is granted an audience with the Archbishop. And they somehow get off on the wrong foot:

“They only send the worst sort,” Archbishop Hontiveros grumbled. “Mutant mores. Have you heard the expression? Men change according to circumstances. One could be taken for a saint there but a devil here . . . ”

The Archbishop paused and abruptly changed his tone. “How long have you been in the priesthood? You are very young.”

“I am not young,” Matias said, struggling to keep a note of deference in his voice. “I am twenty-six.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Battle in Robert Harris: p. 248 of Conspirata (Or, If You’re in the UK, Lustrum)

Cicero’s great enemy is Catilina. Catilina is dispatched, as self knew he would be (She’s read about Catilina’s dispatching in both SPQR and Tom Holland’s Rubicon). But, as Harris writes a few pages earlier, No victories in politics are permanent (This is a paraphrase; self has little time to be hunting up the exact page, as the day is almost done and she hasn’t met her day’s writing quota).

Still, Harris manages to make Catilina’s defeat exciting:

  • It was a terrible carnage and Catilina was in the thick of it all day. Not one of his lieutenants surrendered. They fought with the ferocious abandon of men with nothing to lose. Only when Petreius sent in a crack praetorian cohort did the rebel army finally collapse. Every one of Catilina’s followers, including Manlius, died where he stood; afterwards their wounds were found to be entirely in the front and none in the back.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Greek Philosophy in Robert Harris

The Stoics vs. Aristotle & Plato

pp. 199 – 200 of Conspirata (Lustrum in the UK; self has to make that distinction every time, it’s a bear)

Cicero delivers a speech to the Roman Senate, making fun of his colleague Cato:

For there was a man of genius called Zeno, and the disciples of his teaching are called stoics. Here are some of his precepts: the wise man is never moved by favour and never forgives anyone’s mistakes; only a fool feels pity; all misdeeds are equal, the casual killing of a cock no less a crime than strangling one’s father; the wise man never assumes anything, never regrets anything, is never wrong, never changes his mind.

Now I must admit when I was younger I also took some interest in philosophy. My masters, though, were Plato and Aristotle. They don’t hold violent or extreme views. They say that favour can sometimes influence the wise man; that a good man can feel pity; that there are different degrees of wrongdoing and different punishments; that the wise man often makes assumptions when he doesn’t know the facts, and is sometimes angry, and sometimes forgives, and sometimes changes his mind; that all virtue is saved from excess by a so-called mean. If you had studied these masters, Cato, you might not be a better man or braver — that would be impossible — but you might be a little more kind.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

CATO in Robert Harris (Conspirata, p. 92)

#amreading all Imperial Rome narratives

Until next week, when self begins Rinker Buck’s The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey

Robert Harris’s Conspirata (In the United Kingdom it’s got a different title: Lustrum) covers exactly the same ground as the books self just finished reading: SPQR by Mary Beard, and Rubicon by Tom Holland. So she knows how everything is going to end. But Harris is such a good writer (She read Fatherland, years ago: highly recommend) that self is giving Conspirata a go.

Here’s a speech by Cato which self thinks is fascinating for what it reveals of the character (Also, it is interesting that millions of youths around the world see the name Cato and think immediately of that blonde bully in The Hunger Games):

Never be moved by favour. Never appease. Never forgive a wrong. Never differentiate between things that are wrong — what is wrong is wrong, whatever the size of the misdemeanour, and that is the end of the matter. And finally, never compromise on any of these principles. “The man who has the strength to follow them — is always handsome however misshapen, always rich however needy, always a king however much a slave.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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