It’s About Being About Stuff

U.S. congressman’s Christmas tweet.

It’s about God and Country. It’s about We the People. It’s about How the West Was Won. It’s about Living Off the Land. It’s about the Constitution. It’s about Good Policing. It’s about Secure Schools. It’s about Mental Health. It’s about…?

(c) 2023 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

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Arabic and Me

Millennium Images/Gallery Stock. [New York Times]

Pursuit of a resistant task, if persevered in stubbornly and passionately at any age, even if only for a short time, generates a kind of cognitive opiate that has no equivalent… The beautiful paradox is that pursuing things we may do poorly can produce the sense of absorption, which is all that happiness is, while persisting in those we already do well does not.

(Adam Gopnik)

(Adam Gopnik, “What We Lose When We Push Our Kids to ‘Achieve,’” New York Times, 5-15-23)

(c) 2023 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

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Portmanteau Play

I love classic portmanteau words such as “spurious” — a blend of “specious” and “curious.” It’s fun to invent new ones and fantasize that one day they, too, may “go viral” as the expression puts it.

A triumph of mine in generative, artificial portmanteau-ing hybridizes “prattle” and “twaddle” into “praddle” and “twattle.”

Try your hand at this game. It’s not as hard as it looks.

(c) 2023 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

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The Poem of as-Samau’al (Mid-6th Century AD): Verses 17-22 (End)

17 wa-mā ‘uẖmidat nār(un) la-nā dūna ṭāriq(in) | wa-lā ḏamm(a)-nā fī-n-nāzil(īna) nazīl(u)
18 wa-ayyām(u)-nā mašhūraẗ(un) fī ^aduww(i)-nā | la-hā ḡurar(un) ma^lūmaẗ(un) wa-ḥujūl(u)
19 wa-‘asyāf(u)-nā fī kull(i) ḡarb(in) wa-mašriq(in) | bi-hā min qirā^(i)-d-dāri^(īna) fulūl(u)
20 mu^awwadaẗ(an) ‘an lā tusalla niṣāl(u)-hā | fa-tuḡmada ḥattaY yustabāḥa qabīl(u)
21 salīY ‘in jahil(ti)-n-nās(a) ^an-nā wa-^an-hum | wa-laisa sawā’(an) ^ālim(un) wa-jahūl(u)
22 fa-‘inna banīy(a)-d-dayyān(i) quṭb(un) li-qaum(i)-him | tadūr(u) raḥā-hum ḥaula-hum wa-tajūl(u)

This post is continued from here.

17 “Our fire was never snuffed out to a sojourner, and no traveller stopping over has found us wanting.
18 “Our days are well known to our enemy. They have marked blazes and pasterns.
19 “Our swords in all the west and east are notched from bashing armored men.
20 “Their blades aren’t customarily drawn, then sheathed, until a tribe has been exterminated.
21 “If you are in the dark, make inquiry regarding us and them; the clueless and the well informed are not a match.
22 “Truly the Banu Dayyān are an axis to their people round which their mill-stone turns and spins.”

(Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from Arberry.)
17 “The poet refers to the Bedouin practice of lighting a fire on the top of the nearest hill to guide night-travellers to the encampment and as a sign that hospitality was to be found there.”
18 “Our ‘days’: i.e. the famous battles in which the tribe has engaged. The white parts of the noble horse describe the ‘outstanding’ achievements.”
22 “This verse is assigned by al-Tibrīzī not to al-Samau’al, who was not of the Banu ‘l-Daiyān, but to a certain ‘Abd al-Malik b. ‘Abd al-Raḥīm al-Hārithī…”

(c) 2023 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

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French and Script Plus Line! Christopher Marc Ford Dazzles

“figures of dissent” 10/05/23 « Je veux que ce trait serve à [te] dessiner … » – Notre-Dame-des-Fleurs Instagram figures of dissent — Christopher Marc Ford

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From Darkness Into the Light

A disgraced politician once promised his followers he’d win so much they’d get tired of all the winning.

“Always remember any idiot can win,” Hugh Laurie’s father, an Olympic rowing medalist, told his son. “What he meant,” said Laurie, “was that winning doesn’t really teach you anything. If you’re a constant winner, you go through life without really being touched…, without ever learning anything or reconfiguring yourself.”

Tish Harrison Warren describes a “Ted Lasso” episode in which Lasso is publicly attacked by erstwhile friend Nathan. Lasso takes it good-naturedly, regaling the press with a stand-up bit making himself the butt of the joke. Warren writes: “He turns a moment of conflict into a moment of levity, even joy. This…exposes Nathan’s pettiness. In Ted’s weakness is his strength, while Nate’s grasping at strength reveals debilitating weakness.”

“Hugh Laurie,” interviewed on James O’Brien’s podcast “Full Disclosure,” 4-5-23.
Tish Harrison Warren, “Ted Lasso, Holy Fool,” New York Times, 4-30-23).

(c) 2023 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

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Addled Addiction Ditty

You get locked so hard into a wicked beat
it’s hard to get locked out.
You’re like rocked in you are so into it,
so all you do is you rock out.
Rock your socks off, get your rocks off,
all fucked up is what it’s all about.

The best name for a fighter jet is Mirage. C’est français, tu sais? The best name for a battle tank is Leopard. Est-ce allemand, crois tu? Je m’appelle Jacques, pour ainsi dire. J’avais besoin d’écrire deux mots. Je suis le ténébreux, le veuf, l’inconsolé… Les sanglots longs des violons de l’automne blessent mon coeur… Ou sont les neiges d’antan?

(c) 2023 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

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‘Drawing Is a Way of Thinking’

Bernice Rose in 2007 working on the exhibit “Picasso, Braque and Early Film in Cubism” with the gallerist Arne Glimcher at Pace Gallery. Credit… Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times.

As a drawing curator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Ms. Rose organized exhibitions that showed how drawings were far more than preliminary works executed mainly on paper.

“Bernice showed generations of curators and collectors that drawing is a discipline, a way of thinking and an activity or practice unlimited by convention or materials,” Rebecca Rabinow, director of the Menil Collection, said in an email. “Her redefinition of what a drawing is continues to shape intellectual thought around the world.”

(Carol Vogel, “Bernice Rose, Curator Who Elevated the Art of Drawing, Dies at 87,” New York Times, 4-17-23)

(c) 2023 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

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Lie, Lay, Etc.: Humdrum Conundrum

I always lay my keys on the table when I get home. I laid them there an hour ago. They lay there undisturbed last night, and they’ll lie there tomorrow until I need the car.

Using lie-lay-lain and lay-laid-laid according to Hoyle demands ninja-grade dexterity at written English. Wrong usage in speech, casual writing and even in journalism is so common now it will soon be right usage. Who’s the worse off at the end of the day? It’s only words, right?

Patti Smith slam dunks one “lay” in “jeanne d’arc”:

get the guard to
beg the guard to
need a guard to
lay me
get all the guards to lay me
if all the guards would lay me
if one guard would lay me
if one guard would lay me
if one god would lay me
if one

Arthur Zse ostensibly bobbles another “lay” in “Pe’ahi Light”:

On another continent, a man lays strapped
to a hospital bed and can’t rampage

across a room he no longer recognizes…

Both texts are in Poetry, April 2023.

I’m wired to hold writers who identify as poets as inerrant language-meisters. True, verse can echo the vernacular in a defined context; otherwise “A man lays strapped” stands out like a sore thumb. Zse is a writer who, in the same poem, describes calligraphed “heart” with crackling precision: brushed in three strokes, where the black // ends of each stroke flare into the void.

What’s up Arthur Zse’s sleeve with this rogue “lay” of his?

(c) 2023 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

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The Poem of as-Samau’al (Mid-6th Century AD): Verses 12-16

12 ṣafaunā fa-lam nakdar wa-‘aḥlaṣa sirr(a)-nā | ‘ināṯ(un) ‘aṭābat ḥaml(a)-nā wa-fuḥūl(u)
13 ^alau-nā ‘ilaY ẖair(i)-ḍ-ḍuhūr(i) wa-ḥaṭṭa-nā | li-waqt(in) ‘ilaY ẖair(i)-l-buṭūn(i) nuzūl(u)
14 fa-naḥnu ka-mā’(i)-l-muzn(i) mā fī niṣāb(i)-nā | kahām(un) wa-lā fī-nā yu^addu baẖīl(u)
15 nunkiru ‘in ši’nā ^alaY-n-nās(i) qaul(a)-hum | wa-lā yunkirūna-l-qaul(a) ḥīna naqūlu
16 ‘iḏā sayyid(un) min-nā ẖalā qāma sayyid(un) | qa’ūl(u) li-mā qāla-l-kirām(u) fa^ūl(u)

This post is continued from here.

Several themes lace the segment. Equine imagery around insemination and baby-bearing evokes the “purity” of the tribal blood lines. The virtue of generosity is touched upon, along with an ability to exert dominance through eloquence. Finally, the speaker boasts of what would today be called a deep bench of articulate, dynamic worthies (sayyids) able to step up and assume command when a leader falls.

12 “We have remained unmixed, so are not darkened, our stock kept pure by females that carry us well, and by stallions.
13 “We have mounted the best of backs, and a going down in due time has lowered us to the best of bellies.
14 “We are like the water of rain clouds; there is no bluntness in our sword hilt, and no miser is counted among us.
15 “We dispute what people say if we want, but when we speak no one contests our words.
16 “When a sayyid of ours is gone, another one rises, ready to speak as the honorable man speaks, and keen to act.

(Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from Arberry.)
12 So are not darkened: Per Lane, the verb kadira states that the complexion of a man or the color of a horse “was, or became, of the colour termed kudraẗ(un) [i.e. dusky, dingy, or inclining to black and dust-colour].” (Notice that the bracketed expansion is Lane’s.) That carry us well: The verbal noun ḥaml(un) associated with “carry” can mean “fetus.”
13 “A reference to the loins and wombs of the ancestors of the tribe.” This curious verse seems to mingle horseback riding with coitus. (?)
14 The water of rain clouds: “A rain-cloud is a common simile for generosity.” There is no bluntness in our sword hilt: This mid-part of the verse troubles me. Arberry translates it: “in our metal is no bluntness,” acknowledging in a note the literal meaning of niṣāb as “stock” (sword hilt) or “handle” (knife handle). The hilt of a sword isn’t sharp or dull; that trait belongs to the blade. Sandwiched between the rain cloud simile and a reference to miserliness, the phrase lends no obvious support to the theme of generosity.
16 Sayyid: a man of rank and distinction; “master,” “chieftain.”

(c) 2023 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

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