Thursday, January 31, 2008

Codex Zouche-Nuttall

Codex Zouche-Nuttall (British Museum ADD.MSS 39671)

The whole thing is here; some basic information about what it is, is here.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Amanita muscaria, a magic mushroom.

Amanita phalloides, a deadly mushroom.

As soon as Angel
Said to herself: I am the Angel of Death
She became at once very practical and went out into the woods and fields
And gathered some A. Phalloides, commonly called the 'white' or deadly
Amanita, a mushroom of high toxicity. These poisonous fungi
She put into a soup, and this soup she gave
To Hark, and her mother, Malady, for supper, so that they died.

Stevie Smith, 'Angel Boley' pp. 530-534 in The Collected Poems of Stevie Smith (London, Penguin 1985) p. 533

He began to hunt around for some twigs with which to make a little fire, and almost at once his eye fell upon another fungus, of singularly interesting shape, and of a pearly pallor that spoke volumes to the student of Nature. He recognized it at once as the Death Angel, that liberal scientists give a grosser name, calling it Amanita phalloides, if the ladies will pardon the Latin. It combines the liveliest of forms with the deadliest of material, and the smallest morsel will fell a man like a thunderbolt. Henry gazed respectfully at this formidable fungus, and was unable to repress a shudder.

John Collier, 'Three Bears Cottage' pp. 64-69 in Fancies and Goodnights (New York, New York Review Books 2003) p. 67

George Herbert (1593-1633)

Sinnes Round

Sorrie I am, my God, sorrie I am,
That my offences course it in a ring.
My thoughts are working like a busie flame,
Untill their cockatrice they hatch and bring:
And when they once have perfected their draughts,
My words take fire from my inflamed thoughts.

My words take fire from my inflamed thoughts,
Which spit it forth like the Sicilian Hill.
They vent their wares; and pass them with their faults,
And by their breathing ventilate the ill.
But words suffice not, where are lewd intentions:
My hands do joyn to finish the inventions.

My hands do joyn to finish the inventions:
And so my sinnes ascend three stories high,
As Babel grew, before there were dissensions.
Yet ill deeds loyter not: for they supplie
New thoughts of sinning: wherefore, to my shame,
Sorrie I am, my God, sorrie I am.

Current Favourite Sentences

Always the first fervours evaporate; prophecy dies out, and the charismatic is merged in the institutional.

They say that miracles are past; and we have our philosophical persons, to make modern and familiar, things supernatural and causeless. Hence it is that we make trifles of terrors, ensconcing ourselves into seeming knowledge, when we should submit ourselves to an unknown fear.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


106 years old. Native American, the oldest member of her tribe.

More photographs of (mostly) centenarians (by Mark Story), with commentary (in Russian) here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sarah Raphael (1960-2001)

Strip Page 3 (1996)

Time Travel for Beginners (2001)

For more info and more pictures, see here.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Bobby Fischer (1943-2008)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


All this time I had been watching the bidders with immense interest. Human nature is so nonsensical that it entangles even the simplest act in ridiculous complications. Thus, at an auction, the main idea is to bid without seeming to do so, on the grounds that if one is not actually seen bidding, no one will notice that any interest is being taken in the lot, whose evident steady increase in value is then attributed to supernatural causes. At the best auctions everyone sits in their best clothes and never shows the least interest; as if they were in church: only a change from red to amber in one eye indicates that another thousand pounds is going down the drain. But at vulgar, provincial auctions the disguise is more crude. All the dealers, for instance, pretend they are tramps and imbeciles. They lean against bits of furniture with their mouths wide open, their stubbled chins dropped in innocent vacancy. Each cultivates an identity which has no bearing whatever on the matter in hand: like most of the furniture in the auction, it is simply a professional fabrication whose whole aim is to pretend to be what it is not. Thus, one dealer bids by seeming to burst into tears; another one uses his left shoulder, which works up and down like a pump; a third allows a brief convulsion to electrify his frame; a fourth uses nothing but his winged nostrils; a fifth, who learnt to wiggle his ears in boyhood, now finds that each ear is capable of elevating a pound sterling. All these ludicrous tricks, which deceive nobody, are imitated by the general public, much as laymen who have read newspapers and listened to politicians become accustomed to expressing themselves in meaningless terms. My aunts' bidding methods, for example, were totally ridiculous: they twitched and shrugged, made secret, obscene motions with their dirty thumbs, and managed in the twinkling of an eye to run their faces through all the manifold expressions of four men shaving in a hurry.

Current Favourite Sentences

"Approche! Approche! Tu sens mon talon aiguille? Je n'ai qu'un petit coup à donner... ça t'fait d'l'effet, hein! Lèche maintenant! ...Lèche, c'est un ordre!! Non! Fais attention"

Yeah, it's like buses.

Current Favourite Sentences

He takes readily to poetry, sir. Anything with a beat and no exact meaning excites him.

All The Fundamentalism of The Fair

Just when you think you've seen it all, then this comes along.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Damn Right, I Am Somebody

"I may doze, but I never close!” laughs James Womack as he presides over his world-famous saddle shop.

Pastor James Womack received Christ at an early age but quickly walked away from his salvation while growing up in Fayetteville, N.C. He was raised only by his mother and did not trust anyone for years. He has served 20 years in the U.S. Army. Pastor Womack is married to the lovely Ida M. Womack, and together they share 5 beautiful children.

Joining me now to discuss what's at stake in these negotiations for the auto companies, the auto workers, and the rest of us [is] James Womack, founder and chairman of the Lean Enterprise Institute, a non-profit research organization. He has written extensively about the auto industry and management issues.

James E. Womack is a Board Certified, Master Hypnotist with over thirty years of experience.

Professor James Womack's research interests include comparative mapping and sequencing of the bovine genome.

James Womack says "Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! I am thrilled that you have visited the website of Paradigm Ministries."

In case you were worried, "Dallas Theological Seminary and Practical Ministry Experience have equipped James to minister to diverse audiences without compromising Biblical truth."

I particularly like the doppelganger who shares five beautiful children with his wife.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Political Graffiti

What was Bush's secret plan? To kill Arab children. Who invented, gave birth to and fed Al Qaida? The C.I.A.

Our dreams don't fit in their ballot boxes.

This latter stencil is all over town. On a wall by the university, someone has drawn an arrow pointing to it and written 'That's because you're supposed to fold them'.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Museum of the Cádiz Courts

Have you ever noticed how the Virgin Mary follows you around the room?


The Cádiz Association of Nativity-Scene Makers. They have a show on Onda Cádiz called Cribs.

Portrait of Some Other People in a Convex Mirror

The time of day or the density of the light
Adhering to the face keeps it
Lively and intact in a recurring wave
Of arrival. The soul establishes itself.

Well, if you say so.


We went out for a walk on Christmas Day. The above is what Cádiz looks like on Christmas Day. There were lots of extremely aggressive seagulls all congregating near the Hotel Playa Victoria. We think this is because someone had broken a bottle of whiskey on the beach. They certainly behaved drunk.

But there were also more reputable birds in the city.


I have had a good Christmas in Spain. We ate a lot of ham. I took lots of photographs which have disappeared between the camera and the computer and are unrecoverable. So I am a little annoyed not to be able to gloat with photographic evidence. The picture I am saddest at losing was taken when the coast was battered with 90kph winds and all the seabirds came and were cold and miserable on the city walls. I got this close to a sad and bedraggled Correlimpos commún, and filmed it in all its shivering glory. But you won't get to see that. Sorry.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Another Theory

'Translation is a subject that everyone always makes exactly the same points about. You can't translate anything exactly. Approximate and inaccurate translations are often closer to the original than literal ones. There is an irreducible core of the original work. Yet translation has a vitality of its own.

And then they always, always, quote the absurd French translation of Finnegans Wake.'

Well, that's my doctorate judged, weighed, filleted and abandoned, then. I didn't even get to mention French translations of Joyce. The whole review I take these sentences from is here.

In other news:

'I was wildly in love with the Countess of ***; I was twenty years old and I was naive; she betrayed me; I lost my temper; she dropped me. I was naive, I missed her; I was twenty years old, she forgave me, and because I was twenty years old, because I was naive, still betrayed, but no longer dropped, I thought myself the most beloved of lovers, the happiest of men.'

Problems (a non-exhaustive list):
1. translating 'ingénu' as 'naive' is really swapping one French word for another different French word.
2. 'j'avais vingt ans' is OK the first time as 'I was twenty years old', but the more natural English is to say 'I was twenty' in subsequent repetitions. Which means they are no longer repetitions.
3. 'elle me quitta': more natural to say 'she left me'. But then, how do you deal with 'plus quitté' later on? 'No longer left' doesn't work.
4. I kept on wanting to use inappropriate idioms - she cheated on me, she dumped me. But I think this is just because they fit more easily in with the repetitions: she dumped me, no longer dumped.

Oh it's difficult. You can't translate anything exactly. Maybe an approximate and inaccurate translation would be closer to the original than a literal one. Of course, there is an irreducible core of the original work. Yet translation has a vitality of its own...

Toute choses sont dites déjà, mais comme personne n’écoute, il faut toujours recommencer. As André Gide said.

George MacDonald Fraser (1925-2008)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


More worrying clockwork cyborgs here.

Jaan Kross (1920-2007)

Current Favourite Sentences

'J'aimais éperdument la comtesse de *** ; j'avais vingt ans, et j'étais ingénu ; elle me trompa ; je me fâchai ; elle me quitta. J'étais ingénu, je la regrettai ; j'avais vingt ans, elle me pardonna ; et comme j'avais vingt ans, que j'étais ingénu, toujours trompé, mais plus quitté, je me croyais l'amant le mieux aimé, partant le plus heureux des hommes.'

It's also one of Milan Kundera's favourite sentences, but that shouldn't put you off. The whole conte it kicks off, Dominique Vivant Denon's Point de Lendemain (1777) is pretty good too. What with yesterday's post from Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1782), I seem to be starting 2008 stuck in an earlier Age of Scandal.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Current Favourite Sentences

'Monsieur sait sûrement mieux que moi, me dit-il, que coucher avec une fille, ce n’est que lui faire faire ce qui lui plaît : de là à lui faire faire ce que nous voulons, il y a souvent bien loin.'

'Mais moi, qu'ai-je de commun avec ces femmes inconsidérées? Quand m'avez-vous vue m'écarter des règles que je me suis prescrites et manquer à mes principes? je dis mes principes, et je le dis à dessein: car ils ne sont pas, comme ceux des autres femmes, donnés au hasard, reçus sans examen et suivis par habitude; ils sont le fruit de mes profondes réflexions; je les ai créés, et je puis dire que je suis mon ouvrage.'