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Random Ideas: Ecphrasis and Blogging

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Random Ideas: Ecphrasis and Blogging

Postby annis » Thu Jun 09, 2005 10:03 pm

Some thoughts on how to improve at composition.


Ecphrasis. While most of us probably do want to make verses of at least a little artistic merit, purely technical work is good practice. It occured to me a few days ago that ecphrasis - a verse description of some random thing, often a work of visual art originally - kills two birds with one stone. First, you'll learn a lot of vocabulary related to the subject and, second, metrical practice never hurts. If you can make it funny or interesting, all the better, but if the Muses don't always smile on the work, well, you don't applaud the soprano for clearing her throat or singing scales.

In the Renaissance, when classical Latin once again became the model for good Latin, people produced ecphrastic poems on scientific instruments, not usually thought a fit subject for poetic effusion. Mesomedes' poems on sundials aren't very interesting to me, but his ecphrasis on a sponge managed to be obliquely erotic. So the genre isn't without hope. :)

Defending the honor of a cartoon plastic pig has used up my nous for today, so I'm not about to suggest a subject right now. If we decide to do a few of these we should vary the meter so we don't find ourselves capable of producing words that scan only as dactyls or only as iambs.

Blogging. Everyone's doing it. Why not dedicate yourself to producing at least one blog post a week, however, dull, but only in Greek or Latin? Heap abuse on commenters who don't reply in the same language. For Hellenes, I know that both LiveJournal and Blogger.com accept Unicode. LJ is known to accept SPIonic.

If anyone else is interested in this, post here. Perhaps we can cobble together a LJ community (does Blogger have those?) for Textkit members.

(I realize this last idea is a little hare-brained, and most likely of the two to flop horribly. I thought I'd share it anyway, if only for amusement.)
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;
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Postby Kasper » Thu Jun 09, 2005 11:13 pm

I display my ignorance: what's a "blog"?
“Cum ego verbo utar,” Humpty Dumpty dixit voce contempta, “indicat illud quod optem – nec plus nec minus.”
“Est tamen rogatio” dixit Alice, “an efficere verba tot res indicare possis.”
“Rogatio est, “Humpty Dumpty responsit, “quae fiat magister – id cunctum est.”
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Postby annis » Fri Jun 10, 2005 11:08 pm

Kasper wrote:I display my ignorance: what's a "blog"?


"Blog" is short for "web log." (It is traditional at this point to abhor the ugliness of the word "blog." I will pass on that display of delicacy.) Basically it is a web diary, with all that implies. One person's blog may consist of badly spelled poetry (so-called; it rarely scans), incomprehensible cannibis-inspired philosophy and a preoccupation with sex. At the other end are some quite intelligent blogs about science, politics and even a few on the classics. They are often open to commenting by others.

Several companies provide space for blogs, with a base packages which is free, and special frills for pay. Or you can install the software on your own web server if you're technically inclined.
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;
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on poetry and blogs

Postby bellum paxque » Sat Jun 11, 2005 5:14 am

Having just completed a post on my own blog which includes several examples of poems, I feel that my honor is at issue. My poems, indeed, are so-called: by me, and, though they do not scan according to the traditional meters as defined and perfected by English poets of the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, they do follow the pattern of most poets contemporary with and subsequent to Modernism. To wit, poems must be "imaginary gardens with real toads in them"* -- "a poem must not mean but be"** -- hm, that's not it either -- my point is, a poem is prose compact, in which every element of sound and sense is refined and deliberated over until it emerges a thing of beauty and, if not a joy forever, at least a siren of sorts.

Now, I certainly do not claim that my poems meet such criteria, but I am obliged to defend the notion that regular meter is not the only way to write in verse. In truth, writing free verse, as Frost says, is like playing tennis without a net, but open form, as the preferred term puts it, admits the possibility of metrical innovation, of formal experimentation, and, concisely, of a plastic structure that matches form to content.

I highly doubt that you or anyone else reading this is interested in reading my own poems, but it would seem somewhat cowardly to mention them and not to provide a way to access them. Also, for those curious about the nature of a blog, http://www.xanga.com/nounplusverb is one admittedly flawed example.

I hope that you take these thoughts as the somewhat fierce but good-humored rejoinder of one who realizes that 12:15 is a bit too late and, like strong wine, intoxicates the mind and leads the fingers into quixotic crusades on good forums.

Good night!

David

Who fully intends to engage in metrical exercises in Latin when he is so qualified and sufficiently able, and not one moment sooner.


*Marianne Moore, "Poetry"
**Archibald MacLeish, "Ars Poetica"
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Postby adz000 » Sat Jun 11, 2005 12:30 pm

Chrysoloras when he came to Italy is said to have used ecphrasis frequently as an exercise in his boot-camp for Greek, which is a topic taken up by Michael Baxandall in an interesting book named Giotto and the Orators about the reciprocal influence of painted and rhetorical composition during the Renaissance. Baxandall sees Renaissance painting as developing its own "periodic style" on analogy with periodic (hypotactic) prose.

Greek & Latin blogs! Wonderful idea! I'd love to see that happen and to take part.
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Re: on poetry and blogs

Postby annis » Sun Jun 12, 2005 10:41 pm

bellum paxque wrote:Having just completed a post on my own blog which includes several examples of poems, I feel that my honor is at issue.


Well, I was aiming at the view of poetry that sees any string of words as poetic so long as the sentiment is authentic and the emotion fever-pitch. You clearly care about poetic workmanship, and were not my intended target. :)

A longer airing of my views on poetic form belong on a different forum section, but no one is dimished by not hearing my thoughts on the subject.
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;
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Postby annis » Sun Jun 12, 2005 10:51 pm

adz000 wrote:Chrysoloras when he came to Italy is said to have used ecphrasis frequently as an exercise in his boot-camp for Greek,


Boot-camp for Greek! What an idea.

Greek & Latin blogs! Wonderful idea! I'd love to see that happen and to take part.


Well, let's see how many other people are interested. I don't know many of the blog sites. I'll need to think for a bit to make sure that it will be easy to see everyone's G and L posts.
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;
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Postby adz000 » Thu Jun 16, 2005 10:43 pm

Update:

It seems Latin may already be served:
http://scipioscripsit.blogspot.com/
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Postby annis » Thu Jun 16, 2005 10:51 pm

By one person! There must be more.

What I'm not entirely sure about is how to make it possible to easily syndicate all the Textkitten's posts in one place, so we don't have to produce a rambling web page of our own someplace.
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;
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Postby Bardo de Saldo » Wed Jul 27, 2005 8:32 pm

I liked your Dancing Toward the Next Embrace, David. The only two lines that I wouldn't call iambic pentameters are:

For there an embered dress and curls frame

and

Away her grasping pale laugh, for though


Good thing I'm here to put some order:

For there an embered dress and curls a-frame
Away her grasping pale a-laugh, for though

:D
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Postby Episcopus » Thu Jul 28, 2005 4:02 pm

Users could post blogs on textkit and insult as many users as intensely and profanely as they wish, provided that it be all greek/latin! This sounds fair!
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Postby annis » Fri Jul 29, 2005 12:37 am

Episcopus wrote:Users could post blogs on textkit and insult as many users as intensely and profanely as they wish, provided that it be all greek/latin!


Livejournal.com accounts are free. I will certainly add your blog to my RSS reader. Just let us know the name (alas, Episcopus is taken already). ;)
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;
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Postby annis » Fri Jul 29, 2005 12:41 am

I have started [face=spionic]la/lhma[/face] on my private server. I will happily move to LJ if others want to band together in a LJ Latin-n-Greek jabberin' community.
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;
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