Monthly Archives: April 2007

Island, Grønland, Norge, Føroyar

The Kingdom of Denmark still includes Greenland and the Faroes. Føroyar were originally settled by Norsemen, but they identify strongly with the Shetlands and the Hebrides. Many of the women have Scottish DNA. The Danes had colonies in the West Indies, India, and Africa as well, but its Arctic zone is the largest.

Iceland won its independence from Denmark on June 17, 1944. Its warmest month is July, when the temperature averages 58 degrees Fahrenheit, and the sun never sets. The National Geographic says that:

Many Icelanders believe that their land is populated by huldufólk—hidden people who inhabit volcanic fields. You could try to look for them, but the Culture House (which now exhibits the sagas and eddas, medieval manuscripts that represent the foundation of the island’s history) makes for a quicker primer. […] Reykjavík is an outdoorsy city. A paved trail hugs the coast and geothermally heated public pools bubble around the urban center.

Axé.

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Things I Would Rather Not Know

One of the reasons I loathe grading in intermediate courses, and my mood is bleak, is that I have to read too many texts like this:

The adoptive mother discovers that her son’s birth parents may still be alive, and may not have given their child up willingly. She makes a great effort to contact them, and to discover the truth. Her concern for the birth parents shows that she does not love the child.

This may be why people give true/false and multiple choice exams. It is not just about ease of grading, it is self-protection.

Axé.

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In Nordic Light

This blog sounds altogether too pedantic lately, when not downright dour. But there is some fun I would like to have, and although I do not know whether I can afford it, I believe I should really try. One of my relatives, a rather well known composer and poet, has died. His urn will be buried on his native Faroe Islands in June, amid great feasting upon dried lamb. Many poets will attend, and we will sing.

If I go, it will probably be by way of Iceland, as it is less expensive to fly there than it is to Europe or further East in Scandinavia. From Iceland one can fly (in an hour and fifteen minutes) or take the ferry (in eighteen hours, overnight) to the Faroes. The ferry is slightly cheaper, but if you sail, you have greater incidental expenses – and greater adventures, of course. There are volcanos and geysers in Iceland, and cliffs and many sheep in the Faroes, and I will hike and buy yarn.

I will probably have to stay in this hostel in Seyðisfjörður, Iceland, the night before catching the ferry. Seyðisfjörður is a fifteen hour bus ride from Reykjavik, the capital, where I would land. In Reykjavik, I would probably stay here, since hotels in Iceland are prohibitively expensive. This one, for example, is very economical by local standards. In the Faroes, fortunately, I will sleep in a house.

Axé.

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On Sophistry

1. I would like to endorse this post by Xicano Power and, although I am too tired to write anything very original about the issue, to add my voice to those supporting Kathy Sierra, the blogger who received the death threats, and criticizing the Daily Kos for being dismissive of her situation.

I am glad Mr. Daily Kos feels so safe in Berkeley, but not everyone is in such a safe place or has reason to feel as safe as he does. Sierra is of course not the only recipient of scary death threats, and she has at least received some support. That, however, does not justify the attitude of the Daily Kos.

2. On Reeducation – whose ugly head always rears itself when I am tired – I dislike it because is sophistry. It involves convincing oneself of the truth of things which are manifestly false, and of the right to authority of beings who have no such right – or authority, or expertise.

I already spend a great deal of time and energy animating myself for activities I find dull, unpleasant, even downright distasteful. There is no good reason to go any further in the direction of convincing oneself of falsehoods than is absolutely necessary. It is a direct route to alienation.

3. Forsooth, I have been disanimated to an extreme degree for some eight days. It has had to do with degrees of drudgery undertaken, and, as noted above, my efforts to tell myself and everyone else, but this is, or should be exciting! If not exciting, then funny! I am not discouraged! I am not bored! These efforts, of course, tend to backfire.

I am now slightly reanimated because: (a) I have realized that for at least one of my classes tomorrow, preparation involves actually reading something, not merely designing engaging activities. I get to do something grown up. (b) One of the books I need for my manuscript in progress has at last arrived. I get to touch one of the necessary tools of my trade. Both of these events are all too unusual. When they do take place, life seems much easier to reach and understand.

Axé.

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On Pseudo-Intelligence

1. Anyone who persists in believing we have achieved a “color blind” society in the United States should read this article by Patricia J. Williams. A fertility clinic used sperm other than the planned father’s to create a child. They used African-descended sperm, to be exact. The family already had such DNA on one side, but not the other, and they wanted to be sure their child would be lighter than its mother, not darker. Now they are suing for “wrongful birth.” It is painful for them to have a darker child, they say, and life will be painful for the child because she is dark. She was wrongfully born.

2. Referring to this post and events surrounding it a bright friend – and a man, por más señas – says, but this man is not entirely bright! He is citing pseudoscientific evidence to allege rationality, but did his wife not leave him precisely because he was controlling and cold? The sociological and therapeutic discourse he cites to defend the rationality of his proposals has been invented to provide non-intelligent people the illusion of intelligence! Of course you are exhausted – speaking with less than intelligent people is exhausting, do you not know this from giving certain courses?

3. I was delighted with these sentences, and my evil mood may soon lift therefore. I was particularly delighted with the sentence I have bolded, because I think it speaks to Reeducation: a way to give non-reflective people a way to simulate reflection, and non-spiritual people a way to simulate meditation, while in fact functioning to further interpellate them as subjects of the dominant culture.

Axé.

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Your Tax Dollars

1. The Friends Committee on National Legislation says:

FCNL’s budget team calculates that 41 cents out of every dollar that you pay in 2006 federal income taxes before April 17 goes to the military – to pay for both current and past military activities. That figure is the clearest reflection of how the federal government spends your tax dollars. Of every dollar you pay in taxes:

* 1 cent goes to diplomacy and development;
* 5 cents goes to education, job training, and social services
* 12 cents goes to respond to poverty in the United States
* 41 cents goes to war

This budget is out of balance. And it will get more out of balance in the next year. Congress will vote next week to pay another $100 billion for the war and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.

If you visit their page, you will find ways to take action.

2. The Baton Rouge Advocate has this to say about the headhunter Bill Funk, of Dallas, who has been hired to find a replacement for outgoing system president William Jenkins. There have been problems with Funk’s methodologies in searches at West Virginia University, Texas Tech, and the University of Delaware – so far.

3. Al Gore has dumped financial backing from controversial Canadian mining company Barrick Gold for his upcoming Santiago event “Global Warming and Climate Change: The Time Has Come to Act.”

4. The Azgoddess has led us to a very interesting article about corporate libertarians and Adam Smith.

5. I am in a terrible mood today, and I am curing it by fantasizing about the Faroe Islands. The weather has been beautiful, though, and the really good news is, Lisa is unharmed.

Axé.

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Norn

This evening as I attempted to track down certain modern Faroese poems, I discovered that the language of the Shetland Islands was called Norn, and that it greatly resembled Faroese. I came upon this English-Norn vocabulary list, gathered from informants in 1774:

Foula,… Fugla or Uttrie
An Island,… Hion.
Bread,… Coust.
Oat Bread,… Corka Coust.
Barley Bread,… Boga Coust.
The Sea,… Sheug.
A Fish,… Fisk.
A Haddock,… Hoissan.
A Cod,… Gronge, Grodningar.
A Ling,… Longo.
A Herring,… Sildin.
A Rock,… Berg, Berrie.
A Boat,… Bodin, Knorin.
A Sail,… Seiglè
A Mast,… Mostin.
A Coat,… Quot.
A Shoe,… Seugin.
A Stocking,… Sokin.
A Cap,… Uga.
Sea Mall or Mew,… Whit fuglin.
The Eagle,… Ednin.
A Trencher or Plate,… Bergesken.
A Spoon,… Sponin.
A Ladle,… Heosa.
A Horse,… Hessin.
A Mare,… Rupa.
A Cow,… Kurin.
A Sheep,… Fie, Sedvite.
A Ewe,… Oron.
A Pott,… Posney.


Axé.

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Oddness of Men, or, Is This Entitlement?

This friend of mine runs and does pull-ups while I race walk and lift weights. We did this the other evening and then drank wine on the porch, having the odd conversation we have each year: his fantasy is to have a Friend With Benefits, and of course we know that friend would be quien esto escribe.

I am only interested in Affairs and Relationships, not Half Measures. Catholic, this Friend finds my attitude odd. An Affair is far more immoral than a Half Measure with a Friend, says he. If a Half Measure with a Friend would not Feel Right, how could an Affair? If an Affair is better than a Half Measure with a Friend, does that not mean Nice Men Lose?

My view of the matter is that this Friend is not as virtuous as he believes: he wants availability on demand, and strictly on his terms, which is not really all that Nice. As far as I am concerned, Affairs win over Half Measures with Friends because there is more in them, for one thing. There can also be far more mutuality in them – even in Affairs with Rakes – than in a Half Measure with an officially Nice but Reticent Person.

I have told this Friend that I know him too well to conduct a fantasy-like affair, that it would take energy I do not have to keep switching from Affair to Friendship and back again, and that I am simply not interested in Half Measures With Friends. Being Nice, he accepts these dicta, but being from – his planet of entitlement, I suppose – he does not understand them.

So far I am too polite to say to this Friend that what he wants is something he would have to buy, although this is what I think. He does not understand how it is that I had an Affair and a Relationship, each with someone less balanced and friendly than himself, but (as I keep pointing out) also far less stingy romantically. I am half tempted to say I will trade sex for something like electrical work: he rewires my house, I emit 3,000 volts.

But I am told my point of view is odd. Do you, then, know of anyone who would be interested in sharing what this Friend offers – or as I see it, in donating what he asks for? I am perplexed because I have been told I do not make sense and I am turning down someone Nice.

I think I make as much sense as is necessary, but that yet more sense could be made of this. That is to say, I think there are object lessons in this story on several political topics, and that these may be worth drawing out.

Axé.

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Alice Fulton

Here is Alice Fulton’s essay Fractal Amplifications: Writing in Three Dimensions (Thumbscrew 12 [Winter 1998-99]: 53-66).

In the preamble to her Feeling as a Foreign Language: The Good Strangeness of Poetry (St. Paul: Graywolf, 1999), Fulton suggests that poetic speech is uheimlich in the sense of the undomesticated and ex-centric. It takes place in an untamed zone, away from “the familiar and well-received.” (3)

The eccentric or “good strange,” says Fulton, is bound up with mediation, “in the form of resistance or interference.” “[E]ccentric deviance is different […] from the originality of romanticism or the ‘make it new’ credo of modernism.” Deviance and eccentricity are commonly associated with deficiency, but Fulton sees them as “positive value[s], capable of injecting the foreign into the dully familiar.” (4)

Poetic knowledge is uheimlich and “inconvenient,” and the tongue is “a muscle capable of revising the world’s alignments.” (7)

Here, then, are some fragments from the essay “Screens: An Alchemical Scrapbook” (11-39):

When I’m lost in the Thou-art-That of composition, the membranes dividing each from each dissolve; the separate self vanishes into an undifferentiated state[.] (12)

I wanted to write this in monument, but I just had ink. (27)

I wanted to write this in diamond, but I just had blood. […] I used paper sacrificed from the gold fingerprints inside trees: high acid foolscap with no watermark. I see, holding to the light a scrap of flimsy, its edge grunged with dust. (39)

Axé.

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John Keats

It is windy here, so we will read an autumnal poem. Animistic, I like personified seasons, and I have bolded the lines which brought this poem to mind.

To Autumn (1819)

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run,
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core,
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel, to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind,
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook,
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Axé.

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