Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sir Philip Sidney's "An Apology for Poetry" (Abridged)*

If I offended anyone, I'm sorry.  Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa. It was a poem, OK?  Maybe someone who's knighted shouldn't make poems, but people need to recognize poetry when they hear it.  So I'm not going to apologize for poetry.  It's not a waste of time & the mother of lies, but a superior form of communication that serves a host of purposes.  Plato may be right when he says "secure the border" against poetry & that may mean electrifying the Gates of Poetry or deploying troops where it's truly terrible. Poetry should instruct & delight.  I like poetry, so I'm not walking away from it.  I just don't want to offend anyone.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Walter Sobchak's Take on Occupy Wall St.

What can they do? They're a bunch of fucking amateurs, & meanwhile, look at the bottom line: Who's sitting on a million fucking dollars? Those rich fucks! This is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass! I did not watch my buddies die face down in the muck so that this . . . shut the fuck up, Donnie!  This is not a worthy adversary. These men are nihilists. These men are cowards. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, at least it's an ethos. Fucking Nazis. As if we would ever "dream" of taking your bullshit money!  You know, I myself dabbled in pacifism once. Not in 'Nam of course. Have you ever heard of Vietnam? So you have no frame of reference. Pacifism is not something to hide behind. We're talking about unchecked aggression here. You're entering a world of pain. You want a toe? I can get you a toe, believe me. There are ways. You don't wanna know about it, believe me. Hell, I can get you a toe by 3 o’clock this afternoon . . . with nail polish.  Has the whole world gone crazy? Am I the only one around here who gives a shit about the rules?  For your information, the Supreme Court has roundly rejected prior restraint. Also, let's not forget–let's not forget, that keeping wildlife, an amphibious rodent, for uh, domestic, you know, within the city–that ain’t legal either.  Am I wrong?  This is not 'Nam.  There are rules.  Fuck it, Dude, let's go bowling.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Real Steel Or Reel Steal?

I may be flogging the proverbial dead horse, if that's what the kids call it these days, but before you answer the title question, you'll need to read my post "Rock'em Sock'em Robots:  The Movie" from May 18, 2009.  Go ahead--I'll wait.

Back already?  Whoa, what are you, a speed reader?  I barely had time to check my Facebook page & believe me, that doesn't take long.  Sheesh, over 700 friends & I rarely hear from anyone.  Will Rogers-- brother of Roy, I think--once said & he said a lot of things, "A stranger is just a friend you haven't met."  On Facebook, the converse often holds true. 

So anyway.  So I had an idea for a movie & it's possible that someone may have used--without my permission, I may add & indeed, I believe I just did--that idea in a movie, starring Huge Jackass, no less.  So?  So consider the copyright statute:

Copyright protection subsists, in accordance with this title, in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.  17 U.S.C.102(a)

Real Steel?  Or Reel Steal?  You be the judge--I can't afford an actual one.  They're pricey! 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Odi Et Amo

When down, I read.  To give you an inkling of the depths of my depression, I'm currently reading War & Peace.  It's the traditional translation by Constance Garnett, no longer the "preferred" version, but it's free online.  Besides, I doubt if a new translation would deliver a much better rendering of Tolstoy than the following passage:  “Looking into Napoleon's eyes, Prince Andrew thought of the insignificance of greatness, the unimportance of life which no one could understand, & the still greater unimportance of death, the meaning of which no one alive could understand or explain.”  That pretty much sums it up for me.  Halfway through the book, I don't know how it will all turn out, but I feel fairly confident, like most stories about princes & princesses, that it'll have a happy ending.

I'm also reading The Erotic Poems, Peter Green's translations of Ovid's Amores, Art of Love & Cures for Love.  To be honest, I like Horace Gregory's Love Poems of Ovid better, but that may derive, at least in part, from familiarity, given my having it read many times since I found it at a used bookstore decades ago for under a buck--what a bargain!  My main complaint about Green is that he often strikes me as too genteel.  For example, in Amores 3.7, which he dubs an explicit poem, Green renders politely:

She tried every trick--wound her arms (whiter than snow or
     Ivory) around me, pressed
Her thighs snug up under mine, plied me with sexy kisses,
     Tongue exploring like mad,
Whispered endearments, called me her master, tried me
     With nice four-letter words--they often help.
No good.  My member hung slack . . .

Rather than explicit, I'd give it a PG-13 rating, tops; perhaps a Hard-R is too much to ask from a poem about impotence.  Such priggishness reminds me of the reluctance, until late, to translate pedicabo et irrumabo in Catullus' infamous poem. Obviously, the thought was that readers were much too squeamish to hear threats of being forcibly sodomized unless uttered in Latin.  Today's audience would undoubtedly find it amusing were Bruce Willis, with his quirky trademark smirk & steely stare, to deliver a modern translation.

On the upside, not only does Green provide the complete poems, but also a concise biography of Ovid, as well as such bountiful endnotes that they comprise half the volume. If I recall, Green even gives endnotes to his endnotes. (In your face, TSE!) For the most part, these notes are informative, as when he points out lost puns, discusses the components of, say, an epicedion, or explains why Augustus found Ovid's poetry subversive.  At other times, I find the notes a bit befuddling, as when Green speculates--nay, insists--that various vaguely misogynous lines are directed at one of the poet's ex-wives.  Green doth project too much, methinks.  Elsewhere, Green compares Ovid's diction to that of "a bitchy homosexual."  I suppose Green feels it's ok to appeal to stereotypes to make a point--I just wish I knew what that point is.
 
Peccadillos aside, Green provides an informative, enjoyable read.  After I finish this collection, I plan to read his translations of The Poems of Exile: Tristia & the Black Sea Letters.  Also, I now have Horace Gregory's translation of The Metamorphoses.  (I've read both the Rolfe Humphries & Allen Mandelbaum translations.)  So if dead leaves, bare trees, the faint last rays of sunshine, or Tolstoy's epic fairy tale don't lift my flagging spirits, at least I have plenty to peruse.

Happily Ever After