November 15, 2006
History, memory and archives cannot be used interchangeably. Musique 400, an Annapolis valley group proud of their local history presented an uncontextualized, direct reading of a play by Champlain’s settlers in honour of Nouvelle France’s governor complete with 17th century attitudes. Unfortunately the group did not mention Matthieu da Costa either.
Production of the original version mentined above was cancelled. This blog traces the journey of navigating on the fringe: “Sinking Neptune.” Thanks to Stan Kristiansen for providing me with the correct url for Optative Theatrical Laboratories. I’ve just updated the link and now I’m heading to the media page you suggested.
Here are some resources I developed over the last fifteen years on inclusive communal memory work particularly in terms of weaving strands of divergent views of the same time and space.
November 3, 2006
In it Freud examined the psychological process of forgetting the name of the artist who painted the Orvieto ceiling when his conscious thinking process was abruptly interrupted by memories of the recent suicide of one of his patients who had an incurable sexual disorder. He forget Signorelli’s proper name during this conversation with a stranger while traveling in Herzegovina. They had been discussing the Turks in Bosnia and Herzegovina when Freud’s thoughts turned to contemporary [racist] beliefs surrounding the sexual moeurs of Turks who allegedly valued sexual pleasure over life itself. From there Freud thought of Death and Sexuality. As one theme interrupted and replaced the other, he associated the series Signorelli. Botticelli, Boltraffio, Trafoi and could not recollect the proper name.
This is significant to me as it reveals unchallenged western prejudices about the East at the turn of the century.
Layers include a .jpg of Renaissance artist Luca Signorelli’s (1445 – 1523) masterpiece, the massive frescoes of the Last Judgment (1499-1503) in Orvieto Cathedral. The copyright on his work has expired since he passed away more than 70 years ago.
There is a topographical map of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a small iinsert of Freud’s museum which is itself th subject of controversy as rrevealed in Derrida’s book Archives Fever (1996). The uppermost layer is the diagram from the Freud’s article explaining how he made a Freudian slip.
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November 2, 2006
I began making my first web pages when Dave and I lived here on Lac Gauvreau, Chemin de la Baie Ste. Anne, Ste Cécile de Masham, Québec. I had already taken my first contemporary social theory courses with Rob Shields. From that time onwards he has been a valued mentor for my grad studies. I was working on the year long PhD seminar course with Professor Wallot at the University of Ottawa. This Canadian Studies PhD was a life-transforming experience. It was education as its best. The institution provided everything a grad student could need including access to a super coach and computer lab. As always Dave and I were squeezing as much as we could with bare bones technology. I was using our first digital camera and this flat bed scanner. My son Dan, who was studying at the Cite collegiale in Ottawa, taught me just enough .html coding so I wouldn’t make too much of a mess for him to clean up. He was a bit of a purist.
This acrylic painting was painted over the Christmas holidays in 1998-1999. I had already painted the tree outside our cabin by Lake Gauvreau. The next day the branches were so burdened with snow I had to repaint them entirely. I decided to let them invade the inner space of the cottage since their presence was so insistent.
The painting is 30″ x 22.5″ on Arches paper.
It was shown in March 1999 at an exhibition on Bank Street in Ottawa, ON and again in a gallery on Great George Street , Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island in the summer of 1999.
Space invasion with fireplace and PC was one of the first images on my Carleton University home page and on the collaborative, innovative virtual space called artengine. It is one of my favourite images and after our chaotic move out west I really don’t know where the actual physical painting is or the great high resolution digital images the professional photographer took of my work in May-June? of 1999.
One of the challenges for me is to find the kinds of sites that provide me with ideas I can build upon. For example, currently I am unable to simply use a search engine to find useful information on the concept of memory work. I have kept track of this concept over the years using my EndNote bibliographic database. My sister Sharon introduced me to EndNote c. 1992?, an authoring software for creating digital databases with a powerful cross-referencing ability. Thousands of useful entries later and numerous upgrades later I continue to thank you Sharon.
October 29, 2006
October 24, 2006
This astounding high resolution image of this painting, Habib Allah (c.1600) “The Concourse of the Birds” is available courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This is an illustration of the Persian mystic, Faridu’ud-Din Attar’s allegory (c.1100?) “The Conference of the Birds” which I believe is also called Mantiqu’t-Tayr Language of the Birds. This work may have inspired Herman Hesse’s “Journey to the East.” It describes the seeker’s parallel journey to self-discovery, self-actualization, self-realization through the elusive search for God.
Tag clouds, Head in the Clouds, Love and Cyberdelirium
Attar is said to have met Jalálu’d-Dín Rúmí (1207-1273 A.D.) when the latter was still a child enkindling (sp.) him with the insatiable longing for the illusive and unknowable divine essence of all things. (I believe both these Persian mystics, who of course had great impact on Persian literature, also influenced European writers such as the German Romantic poets? Their work is important to me in terms of its philosophical, political and ethical implications during the period of colonization. But that’s another tag cloud.)
Note the line in Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667) comparing the advance of the army of celestial angels to the flight of all species of earthly birds flying over Eden to receive their names from the Creator. (This is from “The Argument,” “Sixth Book,” Paradise Lost in Paradise Lost and Regained, by John Milton, [1667 and 1671], at sacred-texts.com
“Ethereal trumpet from on high gan blow.
At which command the Powers Militant
That stood for Heaven, in mighty quadrate joined
Of union irresistible, moved on
In silence their bright legions to the sound
Of instrumental harmony, that breathed
Heroic ardour to adventurous deeds
Under their godlike leaders, in the cause
Of God and his Messiah. On they move,
Indissolubly firm; nor obvious hill,
Nor straitening vale, nor wood, nor stream, divides
Their perfect ranks; for high above the ground
Their march was, and the passive air upbore
Their nimble tread. As when the total kind
Of birds, in orderly array on wing,
Came summoned over Eden to receive
Their names of thee; so over many a tract
Of Heaven they marched, and many a province wide,
Tenfold the length of this terrene.”
I actually began my search this morning looking for 100 ways to say “love” in Arabic. This Sunday we will be enlarging our Irish-English-French family to include a beautiful, beloved West Coast daughter through marriage. So along with nurturing the largest sink load of unwashed dishes we’ve had in a while, I’m collecting words that refer to ways of loving. The physical painting I began for them is not going well. I thought I could use some inspiration. Although her family is Persian, I believe that until the last century (?) Persian poets used classical? or pure? Arabic as well as classical? or pure? Farsi. And I know she and I share a deep love for the Seven Valleys Haft-Vádí (1860). The Seven Valleys includes references and/or citations from Attar, Rúmí and Layla and Majnun.
According to Wikipedia, Kurdish poet Nezami (1100s?)’s famous adaptation of the story of Layla and Majnun (Leyli and Madjnun) from Arab folklore reads astonishingly like Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. I believe that Layla and Majnin are to the East what Romeo and Juliet are to the West? There is even a suggestion that Eric Clapton’s song Layla was inspired by this Arab-Persian-Turkish-Kurd classic.
In my search for 100 words in Arabic for love, I found this site (dairy products? – this I hope is wholesomely apolitical) and I selected these names:
Feminine names in Arabic referring to love
- ‘Arub, Aroob – Loving to her husband
- Dalal – Treated or touched in a kind and loving way
- Dhakirah – One who remembers God frequently
- Gharam – Love
- Ghazal – Flirt, words of love
- Ghaliyah, Ghaaliya – Dear, beloved, fragrant, expensive
- Habibah, Habeeba – Beloved, sweetheart, darling; a wife of the Prophet
- Hanan – Mercy; affectionate, loving, tender
- Hayam, Hayaam – Deliriously in love
- Hiyam – Love
- Jawa – Passion, love
- Kalila – Sweetheart, beloved
- Mahabbah – Love, affection
- Mahbubah – Beloved
- Mawaddah – Affection, love, friendliness
- Muhibbah – Loving
- Wid – Loving, affectionate
- Wisal, Wisaal – Reunion, being together, communion in love
- Widad, Widaad – Love, friendship
Masculine Names in Arabic referring to love
- Da’ud, Dawud – Beloved; a Prophet’s name (David)
- Habbab – Affable, lovable
- Hamim – Intimate, close friend
- Kadeen, Kadin – Friend, companion, confidant
- Kahil – Friend, lover
- Kamil, Kameel – Perfect; one of the ninety-nine qualities of God
- Khalil, Khaleel, Kalil – Beautiful, good friend
- Mahbub – Beloved, dear
- Muhibb – Loving
- Khalil al Allah – Friend of God; title given to Prophet Ibrahim
- Habib – Beloved
- Safiy – Best friend
- Wajdi – Of strong emotion, passion and love
My Favourite citations-within-citations from Seven Valleys – Haft-Vádí (1860)
In the ocean he findeth a drop, in a drop he beholdeth the secrets of the sea.
Split the atom’s heart, and lo! Within it thou wilt find a sun.
From the Wikipedia entry on Seven Valleys – Haft-Vádí (1860)
the path of the soul on a spiritual journey passing through different stages, from this world to other realms which are closer to God, as first described by the 12th Century Sufi poet Attar in his Conference of the Birds. Bahá’u’lláh in the work explains the meanings and the significance of the seven stages. In the introduction, Bahá’u’lláh says “Some have called these Seven Valleys, and others, Seven Cities.” The stages are accomplished in order, and the goal of the journey is to follow “the Right Path”, “abandon the drop of life and come to the sea of the Life-Bestower”, and “gaze on the Beloved”.
The following paragraph from a translation of “The Conference of the Birds: Farid ud-din Attar” translated by Afham Darbandi and Dick Davis. London: Penguin, 1984 (~1177), also mentions the seven valleys.
“The allegorical framework of the poem is as follows: the birds of the world gather together to seek a king. They are told by the hoopoe that they have a king — the Simorgh — but that he lives far away and the journey to him is hazardous. The birds are at first enthusiastic to begin their search, but when they realize how difficult the journey will be they start to make excuses. The nightingale, for example, cannot leave his beloved; the hawk is satisfied with his position at court waiting on earthly kings; the finch is too afraid even to set out, and so on. The hoopoe counters each of their excuses with anecdotes which show how their desires and fears are mistaken. The group flies a little way, formally adopts the hoopoe as its leader, and then decides to ask a series of questions about the Way before proceeding. These questions are also answered by illustrative anecdotes. The last question is about the length of the journey, and in answer the hoopoe describes the seven valleys of the Way. The journey itself is quickly dealt with and the birds arrive at the court of the Simorgh. At first they are turned back; but they are finally admitted and find that the Simorgh they have sought is none other than themselves. The moment depends on a pun — only thirty (si) birds (morgh) are left at the end of the Way, and the si morgh meet the Simorgh, the goal of their quest. Though Attar treats his material in an entirely different way from Sana’i, it is possible that a shorter poem of Sana’i suggested the device of the birds to him. In Sana’i’s Divan there is a poem in which the different cries of the birds are interpreted as the birds’ ways of calling on or praising God. A second source may have been Kalila and Dimna. This extraordinary popular work, also called The Fables of Bidpai, originated in India and was translated into many languages. The Persian texts of Kalila and Dimna which survie are relatively late prose versions, but Rudaki, who lived early in the tenth century and was one of the first poets to write in Persian, made a verse translation of the work, which Attar could have known. Significantly enough, Rudaki used the same couplet form as Attar was later to use for The Conference of the Birds; but a direct influence is impossible to prove, because all but a few fragments of Rudaki’s poem have been lost. In Kalila and Dimna animals talk and act as humans; the fables usually have a moral point to them, and their narratives are allegories of human characteristics and failings. This is precisely the method of Attar’s Conference of the Birds, and the two works also show a similar kind of folksy humour. Another work which probably influenced Attar when he came to write his poem is the short Arabic treatise The Bird by Avicenna. This is the first-person narrative of a bird (clearly representing the human soul) who is freed from a cage by other birds, and then flies off with his new companions on a journey to the “Great King”. The group flies over eight high mountain peaks before reaching the king’s court; there are a few moments when Attar seems to echo Avicenna’s imagery (For an in-depth paper on The Conference of the Birds see this 1984 publication entitled “The Conference of the Birds: Farid ud-din Attar” translated by Afham Darbandi and Dick Davis. London: Penguin, 1984 (~1177). ).
For an in-depth paper on The Conference of the Birds see “The Conference of the Birds: Farid ud-din Attar” translated by Afham Darbandi and Dick Davis. London: Penguin, 1984 (~1177).
October 23, 2006
Creative Commons from my online Flickr album is composed of multiple layers. They include a .jpg of the Google Earth generated globe which is inverted, stretched and manipulated in 3 other layers, ripples from an M. C. Escher print and a stunning photo by a Professor Andrew Davidhazy from Rochester, NY. described on a few of the 80, 000+ references to him on Google as modest, talented, a great teacher and a ghost expert for photography. I have just licensed my work on line with the Creative Commons. Their icon lets people know that they can use your work for non-commercial reasons if they attribute it to you; they can make derivatives but they have to share-alike. Of course the challenge with Goggle Images is some of the most stellar images available are difficult to track down in terms of authorship because there are already so many derivatives. This was the case with this drop of water by this well-known professor who continues to do astounding work. I left a comment on his web blog but I re-entered it three times before I realized he had wisely included an administrator’s block for unedited entries. It may take him ages to even check his comments. When he does he will find to his annoyance in his busy life, that I’ve inadvertently left three. More than that I just emailed him instead of Flckr’s team re: emailing our Flickr photos to WordPress. He is going to put me on his ‘block permanently list.’
An Inuit friend reminded me that many Inuit of Canada view the world from a circumpolar point of view. In honour of my Inuit friends and students from time to time I view the earth through their lens. I positioned then froze the globe from a circumpolar point of view using a Google save screen option. So I have geotagged this to the north east of Baffin Island, perhaps somewhere near Pond Inlet. Hello to the family of Julia and Ernie! Their family photo in their traditional clothing taken when they visited you in Pond Inlet in 2005, is framed and hanging in our home on Vancouver Island.