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Thursday: August 31, 2006

Is This a Joke?

Filed under: — site admin @ 9:19 AM GMT-0500

Three early Fellini movies (Le Notti di Cabiria, La Strada, and I Vitelloni) list one of the workers as ‘Narciso Vicario’. This must be a pseudonym. According to IMDB, he is also named Vicario Narciso, Narciso Vicari, and Narcisio Vicario, and the variability of the name increases my suspicions. Of course, the most interesting point is to speculate on what exactly a ‘vicarious Narcissus’ would be: someone who falls in love with other people? Would that make it a fancy equivalent of Everyman? Or is some kind of metatheatrical joke involved?

Sunday: August 27, 2006

Planning Ahead

Filed under: — site admin @ 9:59 PM GMT-0500

In honor of the timely conversion to Islam of kidnapped Fox reporter Steve Centanni and cameraman Olaf Wiig, Lt Smash, the Indepundit, is calling himself Abu Samoud al-Americani. If we’re going to pick out our Muslim names in advance, I’d like to claim Abu Porki al-Koholik for myself.

Frederick the Great on Shakespeare

Filed under: — site admin @ 6:51 PM GMT-0500

This is Richard Stoneman’s paraphrase of a German source:

Frederick the Great . . . has strong views as to how these improvements to the German language shall be effected. For a start, something has to be done to prevent the further corruption of German taste by the appalling plays (die abscheulichen Stücke) of Shakespeare, which have already been translated into German. Not only do these plays not observe the unities, but they allow the mixing of classes on stage: kings and gravediggers may appear in conversation! Frederick’s second recommendation is the imposition of a national or core curriculum on all professors and philosophers: ‘In my view, one should prescribe to every professor precisely the rules which he is to follow in his lectures.’ He proceeds to do so; the rules include the detail that the professor must denigrate the philosophy of Epicurus, defend Galileo, and say nothing at all about Locke.

(Richard Stoneman, “‘A Crazy Enterprise’: German Translators of Sophocles, from Opitz to Boeckh”, Chapter 13 (pages 307-29) of Sophocles Revisited, Essays presented to Sir Hugh Lloyd-Jones, edited by Jasper Griffin, Oxford, 1999, at 310. Stoneman’s footnote on the royal quotation refers to page 81 of H. Steinmetz (ed.), Friedrich II, König von Preussen, und die deutsche Literatur des 18. Jahrhunderts: Texte und Dokumente, Stuttgart, 1985.)

Saturday: August 12, 2006

Wrong Finger-Pointing Loudmouth

Filed under: — site admin @ 9:23 PM GMT-0500

According to Little Green Footballs, the Kossacks (no link for them) are all atwitter over a GOP picture of Howard Dean in which a shadow on his upper lip appears to give him a narrow mustache:

They accuse the GOP of photoshopping the picture to make Dean look like Hitler. Of course, even with a (virtual) mustache, Dean doesn’t look much like Hitler. I’m surprised that in over 800 comments on two threads, not one of the LGF faithful notes that the picture actually makes him look like Cliff Clavin:

Friday: August 4, 2006

Etymological Confusion

Filed under: — site admin @ 12:34 PM GMT-0500

Commenter Daniel San on Tim Blair’s blog has a question about the name of leftie blog Larvatus Prodeo:

Could someone who knows a bit of Latin please tell me what that name means. I’m betting it’s quite pompous.

The guesses offered by other commenters are mostly off-target. For instance, guinsPen suggests that “Larvatus = Barking” and “Prodeo = Moonbats”. Though obviously a guess, that is actually half-right.

The About Larvatus Prodeo page credits the name, pompously, to the juvenilia of René Descartes, as quoted by Jacques Maritain, quoted in turn by a William Gaddis fan site, and translates, redundantly, ‘Like an actor wearing a mask, I come forward, masked, on the stage of the world.’

This may be a correct rendering of Descartes’ idiosyncratic Renaissance Latin, but is only half-right for standard classical Latin. The word prodeo does indeed mean ‘I come forward’: eo is ‘I go’, pro is ‘forward, in front’, and the d is inserted for euphonic reasons. But larvatus does not mean ‘masked’ in classical Latin. To quote the Oxford Latin Dictionary, it means ‘possessed by evil spirits, demented’. Having visited the site, I find the name singularly appropriate. Of course, the Cartesian interpretation of the name would be more appropriate to some kind of Straussian secret-teaching blog than the one that proudly wears it. Perhaps the secret teaching is that the bloggers are demented and their blog is therapeutic? Or are they right-wingers pretending to be left-wingers to discredit the left — boring from within, as it used to be called when done the other way around?