Monday, November 23, 2009

Persistent Voices

Our own Philip Clark reads from his new anthology Persistent Voices: Poetry by Writers Lost to AIDS, on Thursday December 10th from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM at the DC Center (we used to meet there: Suite 350, 1111 14th St NW, just below Thomas Circle).

Friday, November 13, 2009

Stephanus and Plato

I'll let the link explain Stephanus numbers. They're little numbers you find running down the page in Plato (or less helpfully at the top or bottom of each page). They're useful for locating passages among different editions. If you buy or use an edition other than the "Penguin Classics" Christopher Gill translation, be sure the translation you use has these Stephanus numbers. It will be very hard to keep everyone on the same page, so to speak, without them. In particular, be aware that Penguin has a "Great Ideas" edition of the Symposium, also using the Gill translation, but without the Stephanus numbers! I encourage people to bring or even use other translations than the Gill (the old Victorian Jowett, for example, has the most beautiful phrase and clause in the English language) but don't be without Stephanus.

Friday, November 6, 2009

linguistic resources

Sorry not to have put this up before, well before, the discussion, but true fans of The First Verse will continue to piece the puzzle, and these links will prove useful to them.
First, for Gaelic expressions, the Hibernian Archive;
for Dublin slang, the O'Byrne Files;
and surprisingly useful, when all else fails, is Urban Dictionary.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

abracadabra …

appears eight times in The First Verse, the first four times associated uniformly with Chris Mooney, Niall's sometime boyfriend: Abracadabra, me granny comes from Cabra. The fifth also is Chris but Niall at first thinks it might be Pablo (nothing too significant in that—Niall is perpetually perceiving Pablo). The sixth is brought on by Niall thinking of his grandmother. The seventh, more worryingly, is what Niall thinks just before he turns on the light to return to Pour Mieux Vivre by delving into Patrick's books (preceded by a flickering sixth appearance of a congratulatory Pablo Virgomare). And then finally the eighth on the last page of the book when the old woman (someone's granny) answers Niall's question "When is the next 46A due?" with
"Abracadabra," she said, pointing to its green shape coming out of town towards us.
"Abracadabra" is commonly used nowadays just as a "poof—there it is!" and so I think it is here. Alternatively, we're supposed to think that the sleek Virgomare is disporting himself now in granny drag!?

It is odd, I'll admit, that the novel ends so emphatically on the word "south"—when just a page before our PMVs were so determined to "Follow the allroads [a startling word itself] away southbound to the next level." but perhaps the irony here is that Niall's next level will be one free of Pour Mieux Vivre (as opposed to the 46A transporting Niall across the Bay of Biscay to the Escorial, some thousand miles west of Rome).

Lastly on the difficulties of the last page(s), Niall begins "to discern the first strain of something old and sad, the last strains of something new." The former must be the Miserere of the PMV. We don't know what the new strains are but it is worrisome that they are the last of them. Or rather it would be worrisome, this last temptation of Niall Lenihan in the Anal Hell Inn, were the bus not to ensconce and remove him to Mum & Da in Sandycove.