Saturday, 31 July 2010
Yes, that's right, some folks have made The Luttrell Psalter into a movie.
Friday, 30 July 2010
The latest wave in the PFC Bradley Manning case (google Wikileaks for more on that) has crested with his transfer to Quantico; Time Magazine has put a shockingly disfigured Afghani woman on their cover to highlight the dangers of the Taliban's religious extremism; Susannah Breslin's The War Project has just posted another interview with a soldier/survivor of the American Military.
And the Newsworthy isn't limited to war talk. There's the matter of Shirley Sherrod and her firing and re-hiring by Tom Vilsack in the wake of the NAACP calling on the Tea Party to renounce their racist elements (and of course their fully expected racist response, which, to paraphrase was something not far short of “how dare you n*****s call us racists!”). I seem to have read a host of articles on everything from Obama to Mad Men to Freemasonry that deal with this issue of race in the New And Improved Post-Racial America (copyright USA 2008, all rights reserved). Hell, I just watched a video of Commander Adama of Battlestar Galactica decrying the very idea of race as an excuse for waging cultural war (which I am tempted to believe, but which, to my mind, brings up a host of its own issues).
I've been reading about Catholicism and the supposed Natural Law justification for discriminating against homosexual sexual behaviour; I've been reading about Israeli right-wingers considering a one-state solution; I've been reading about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement and its on-again-off-again committment to openness.
Today boingboing posted a link to a collection of (some of) the Best Magazine Articles Ever – articles about the Maine Lobster Fest by David Foster Wallace, about hacker tourism and the laying of transatlantic cables by Neal Stephenson, about the depravity of the Kentucky Derby by Hunter S. Thompson – and I realized something:
I would make an awful, awful journalist.
I can hardly stand to read this stuff all week, let alone immerse myself in it enough to write about it. It's depressing as hell. After just reading this stuff I need a unicorn chaser something fierce – if I needed one in real life, what would I do?
I think I'll go back to reviewing the X-Files on my personal blog. It's only 17 years after the fact.
But at least it's not Newsworthy.
Saturday, 24 July 2010
Saturday, 17 July 2010
Monday, 12 July 2010
This is a table:
Your argument is invalid.
In related news, they've found the remains of Noah's Ark on Mount Ararat, and the Ark of the Covenant is in Axum, Ethiopia.
Happy Monday, all.
Sunday, 11 July 2010
I couldn't help but laugh when I saw this on craigslist:
New Micronation Restoring Byzantine Civilization (Vermont)
I felt as though I had to post about it. It was originally going to be a kind of mocking post, because at first I thought this was just some crazy people. The more I read their website though (which is at byzantiumnovum.org) the more I kind of like these people.
So they are, in fact, trying to start a sovereign nation to live by some idealized version of what they think Byzantium and the Byzantine Empire were like. They have a flag (hold on... um.. here:
pretty swank, yeah?) and they have a peaceful declaration and a set of foundational laws. They let all their new citizens have dual citizenship, and encourage them to (please, please for the love of god) continue to follow the laws of their countries of residence, but they are genuinely hoping to get 100 acres of land somewhere to start a New Byzantium.
They're really just a bunch of Byzantine Empire enthusiasts who've started what looks to be the most in-depth enthusiasts club I've ever seen.
As an Anglo-Saxonist, I'm not really cut out for signing up, but if you're into the Byzantine Empire and like re-enactment and want to start building something, then go have a look. Might be just what you're looking for.
In the meantime -- anyone up for helping me form the new, Federated Micronation of Anglia? Maybe we could just convince The Principality of Sealand to rename themselves.
Wednesday, 7 July 2010
But for YOU, dear readers, for you alone, I will wade into this cesspool. Enjoy.
The Dark Ages
In that part of that book of Manchester's, before which little (but the prologue) can be read, there is a phrase that reads "still widely known as the Dark Ages" -- here perpetuates an old lie.
Here is the full passage, for your perusal:
The densest of the medieval centuries -- the six hundred years between, roughly, A.D. 400 and A.D. 1000 -- are still widely known as the Dark Ages. Modern historians have abandoned that phrase, one of them writes, "because of the unacceptable value judgment it implies." Yet there are no survivors to be offended. Nor is the term necessarily pejorative. Very little is clear about that dim era. Intellectual life had vanished from Europe.
The words that Vaulting is mumbling as I read this passage aloud mirror not only my own, but probably yours as well, dear readers. But just to be sure, my thoughts rhyme with "ducking bass pole".
For those of you who may not understand why the phrase "Dark Ages" is no longer used, it is not for fear of offending the dead, nor even for fear of offending those living who study them. Instead the term is no longer used because it implies the (at best grossly simplistic and at worst off-base and categorically untrue) statement that intellectual life had vanished from Europe -- the statement that 19th-century Classicists liked to make to justify their absurd opinions about the Romans and (even moreso) about themselves.
What it is, is about literacy, and about using our own society to judge others. Like social darwinism, this line of thought suggests that today's western society is the pinnacle of human achievement, and because this is the pinnacle, everything which came before must be somehow lesser. It wasn't that our society was better because it was more like that of the Romans -- despite what those who touted the nationalistic rise of the so-called British Empire would have had you believe a century or two ago; rather, Classical society was better because it was more like ours. We teach today using the Socratic method, literacy rates are high (though the more scholarship that is done on medieval societies the more literate they seem -- see the third article down by Dr. David Howlett for an older example), and education is a sign of membership in the upper classes.
Just take the phrase "the uneducated masses" -- something which Manchester can't claim to be a member of, and so can't use as an excuse.
Calling them the "Dark Ages" is, as some useful scholar has pointed out, an "unacceptable value judgment"* -- one that judges literate society as superior to illiterate. If you want something great to read, go pick up a copy of Michael T. Clanchy's book "From Memory to Written Record 1066-1307" and flip to the section entitled "Being Prejudiced In Favour Of Literacy". In it he writes that "Literacy has become the shibboleth of modern societies", a phrase which I mention primarily because it is one I very much enjoy.
Contrary to what Mr. Manchester thinks, the reason a value judgement is unacceptable is not because it will offend. No-one is sitting around saying "well, I'm a medievalist, and I take offense at your statement that everyone in the Middle Ages was illiterate." What we are saying is twofold:
First, it's not true -- there were dozens of cultures whose histories weave all throughout that 600 year period, who produced beautiful works of poetry and literature and prose -- Hell's bells, they were translating Genesis into Old English hundreds of years before Luther was a twinkle in his mother's eye -- and into Old Saxon before that!
Second, even if it were true, to suggest that all went "dark" -- and to carry with it all the concomitant metaphors it implies -- for six hundred years because of a societal change is to trumpet our own achievements without ever looking at someone else's. If our society is the pinnacle, then we've nothing left to learn from the past and we as historians should close up shop and move on to other, more "useful," professions.
The problem with calling the Middle Ages the "Dark Ages" is that it marginalizes and minimizes the impact of hundreds of years of thought, of art, and of society. The problem with calling the Middle Ages the "Dark Ages" is that it perpetuates inaccurate stereotypes that encourage people to dismiss cultural differences as inferiorities -- something western society has been doing for centuries, and not just to the dead. The problem with calling the Middle Ages the "Dark Ages" is that it's bad practice, it's poor scholarship, and it's unbecoming of any historian who would dare to call him- or herself such in public.
And so calling them the "Dark Ages" perpetuates the old lie: that We are the best, and that They will always be less than We are.
*And just in case you were wondering, no, I have no idea who said it, because Manchester didn't even bother to cite it. Not a single footnote in the whole book!
Tuesday, 6 July 2010
Art and Reality in the Ninth Century: East and West
1200 N. Herndon St. Apt. 445, Arlington, VA 22201
Phone: 510-469-5297 Email: thalia.anag AT gmail.com
Benedictine Tradition in the Art of Southern Italy and Longobard Politics
501 Crescent St., New Haven, CT 06515
Phone: 203-392-6753 Fax: 203-392-6136 Email: Palmag1 AT southernct.edu
The Illustrious Vernacular in Literature and Art
Margaret E. Hadley
Lawrence Technological Univ., Dept. of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Communication, 21000 W. Ten Mile Rd., Southfield, MI 48075
Email: margaretehadley AT gmail.com
Phone: 646-342-1962 Fax: 973-720-3273 Email: williamsm11 AT wpunj.edu
AVISTA: The Association Villard de Honnecourt for the Interdisciplinary Study of Medieval Technology, Science, and Art
I: The Sacred and the Secular in Medieval Healing I: Sites and Images [co-sponsored with Medica: The Society for the Study of Healing in the Middle Ages]
II: Rediscovering the Portfolio of Villard de Honnecourt
III: Two Decades of Glory: Major Findings from Minor Sculpture in the Ile-de-France, 1125–1145
Steven A. Walton
Pennsylvania State Univ., 130A Willard Building, 201 Old Main, University Park, PA 16802
Phone: 814-863-9526 Fax: 814-865-3047 Email: saw23 AT psu.edu
Dept. of Medieval Studies, Central European University
Motion in Medieval Text and Image
Central European Univ., Dept of Medieval Studies, Nádor utca 9, Budapest 1051, Hungary
Phone: +43-1-470-9871 Fax: +43-2732-84793-1 Email: jaritzg AT ceu.hu
Episcopus: Society for the Study of Episcopal Power and Culture in the Middle Ages
Image and Episcopacy: The Art of the Bishop
John S. Ott
Portland State Univ., Dept. of History, PO Box 751, Portland, OR 97207-0751
Phone: 503-725-3013 Fax: 503-725-3953 Email: ott AT pdx.edu
International Association of Word and Image Studies (IAWIS)
“Ceste memoire si”: Words, Images, and Medieval Memory
Colby College, Dept. of Art, 5634 Mayflower Hill, Waterville, ME 04901
Phone: 207-453-9130 Fax: 207-859-5635 Email: vbplesch AT colby.edu
International Center of Medieval Art (ICMA)
Glazing and Stained Glass: Collaborations, Analogies, and Investigations Involving Stained Glass and Other Disciplines I–II
Univ. of Colorado, Dept. of Art and Art History, 318 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309
Phone: 303-735-0813 Fax: 303-492-4886 Email: kirk.ambrose AT colorado.edu
International Center of Medieval Art (ICMA) Student Committee
The Market for Medieval Art Historians: How to Stand Out in the Interview Process
413 Chelsea Circle NE, Atlanta, GA 30307
Phone: 404-314-9235 Fax: 404-727-2358 Email: jllyons AT emory.edu
International Society for the Study of Pilgrimage Art
I: In, Out, Up, Down, and Through: Innovative and Participatory Physical Architecture in the High and Late Middle Ages (1200–1600)
II: Innovative and Participatory Fictive Architecture in the High and Late Middle Ages (1200–1600)
P.O. Box 619, Gambier, OH 43022
Phone: 740-392-2507 Fax: 740-427-5673 Email: blicks AT kenyon.edu
Italian Art Society
The Study of the Art and Architecture of Italy: A Reassessment of the Discipline I–IV:
I. Seminal Figures; II. Geographic Limits; III. The Temporal Element; IV. Urbanism
Marlboro College, PO Box A, Marlboro, VT 05344
Phone: 802-258-9234 Fax: 802-257-4154 Email: rattef AT gmail.com
Medieval Feminist Art History Project
New Approaches to Medieval Medical and Scientific Imagery
Oklahoma State Univ., Dept. of Art, 108 Barlett Center, Stillwater, OK 74078
Phone: 405-744-3999 Fax: 405-744-5767 Email: jennifer.borland AT okstate.edu
Medieval Studies Workshop, Univ. of Chicago
Images of Medieval Kingship
Univ. of Chicago, Dept. of History c/o Jonathan Lyon, 1126 E. 59th St., Chicago, IL 60637
Phone: 773-834-0584 Fax: 773-702-7550 Email: tedstam AT uchicago.edu
Society for the Study of Homosexuality in the Middle Ages (SSHMA)
Queer Medieval Images
Graham N. Drake
SUNY–Geneseo, Dept. of English, 1 College Cir., Geneseo, NY 14454
Phone: 585-245-5273 Fax: 585-245-5181 Email: drake AT geneseo.edu
Texas Medieval Association (TEMA)
Landscape, Natural and Man-Made, in Medieval Spanish Literature and Art
Donald J. Kagay
2812-A Westgate, Albany, GA 31721
Phone: 229-434-4623 Fax: 229-430-7895 Email: dkagay1 AT netzero.com
Univ. of Leicester and the Univ. of Aberyswyth
When New Won’t Do: Recontextualizing Images and Architecture in the Middle Ages
Flat 6, Dover Court, Greenwich, London SE10 8DF, United Kingdom
Phone: +44-7890-244-489 Email: elliepridgeon AT yahoo.co.uk
Drop me a message if I've missed any.
Here's looking forward to May 2011.