Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Catullus 6

Dr. Johnson asked which translation of Catullus I'd recommend.  I've only read the Zukofskys' version.  I also liked Louis Zukofsky's earlier translations of a few of the poems and Pound's few translations.  I've glanced at the Loeb bilingual edition.  (I don't have the bilingual Zukofsky edition.  Zukofsky's Complete Short Poetry [great book] includes just the English version.)  I think Sir Richard Burton did a complete translation of Catullus, but I only glanced at it once.  

I loved these lines about Zukofsky by Guy Davenport: "Zukofsky must seem to be not so much a poet's poet but a poet's poet's poet," and "When enough people become familiar with "A" so that it can be discussed, the first wonder will be how so many subjects got built into such unlikely patterns, and what a harmony they all make." 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Catullus 5

When I asked my Latin teacher about Latin prosody, she quoted a line from this poem.

Two years ago I made another stab at reading Catullus in Latin.  I struggled with this poem a bit, and then I went back to watching the film Cleopatra.  In the film Julius Caesar quoted that line (in Latin) from the poem I had just studied.  I liked that coincidence.

I live in Southern California, and I don't know Spanish.  I yearn to learn French, but I feel I need to focus my linguistic studies on Latin for at least a few years.  Perhaps then I will attempt to learn either Spanish or French.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Not Catullus 5, Not Yet

"I have nothing to say and I am saying it." - John Cage

When I attended the Ezra Pound Centennial at the University of Maine, Orano, in 1985, I brought along my copy of Was That a Real Poem and Other Essays hoping to get Robert Creeley to sign it.  He signed it "Thinking of story John Cage tells - 'If you don't know, why ask?'"  (I grabbed the book off my shelf of autographed books to get the quote right.  I hadn't opened that book for years, although it greatly influenced me back in the 80's.  It helped guide me to Zukofsky.)

Thinking of Proust's birthday tomorrow, I remember Pound's notion that he wanted to make poetry as vital to the culture as the prose of Flaubert and Stendhal.  The challenge today might seem to make poetry as vital to the culture as the prose of Joyce and Proust, but does even their prose seem vital to our post-literate culture?  I've toyed with the idea of writing a book called Remedial Reading for the Post-Literate World.  It wouldn't give the reader a reading list.  Rather, it would recount my attempts at remedial reading for myself.

I hope you all read Mike Johnson's recent blog posts at Overweening Generalist.  My  chronological trek through film history has reached 1947.  I started watching Kiss of Death and then listened to some Charlie Parker and Bud Powell recordings from 1947.  Part of my mind dwells in 1913, the year Proust's Swann's Way came out, and most of my mind dwells in 2014.  Of course, I write this in a month name after Julius Caesar.  Bob Wilson and Phil Dick both wrote about how the past remains with us.  I wonder how to best navigate the years to come.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Humoresque (1945)

I watched Humoresque this week, which deals with a violinist named Paul.  This of course made me think of Paul Zukofsky, especially the parts of the film dealing with the child violinist, which reminded me of Louis Zukofsky's Little, the story of a violin prodigy based on Paul.  As a child a saw a commercial for Humoresque which included the opening to "The Flight of the Bumblebee."  This made me think of The Green Hornet.  (I enjoyed the use of the Al Hirt version of the Flight in Kill Bill, Volume One.)  I enjoyed Humoresque and its classical music content: a reference to Shostakovich, a Hammerklavier joke, etc.  I find it interesting that the commercial for Shine also used the opening to "The Flight of the Bumblebee."  I remember as a kid I had a Captain Action figure and the Batman costume.  I didn't have the Green Hornet costume, but I yearned for it.  I also yearned for a die-cast metal Black Beauty from the show.

I watched The Green Hornet at around five or six, but then I saw it again a few years ago, and that served as my introduction to Bruce Lee.  I don't remember registering him the first time around.