tree_and_leaf: Modern icon of Julian of Norwich with grey and white cat. (Julian of Norwich)
Looking back through some notes I made, about theoretical debates in ethnography - actually, the volume it came from was quite helpful, given that I was thinking about how to describe another culture, and the difficulty of explaining it in its terms rather than mine (which is one of the things the thesis is about. However for one article* a section of my notes reads:

OH 80S POSTMODERNISM! Writing is a totalizing will to power – 'to represent means to have a kind of magical power over appearances, to be able to bring into presence what is absent, and that is why writing, the most powerful means of representation, was called grammarye, a magical act' (I am not sure why he thinks magic is necessarily a bad thing; dangerous, maybe, but…) – writing 'increased out capacity to create totalistic illusions with which to have power over things or over others as if they were things' The answer is to be self-consciously fragmented, a la Benjamin and Adorno.
He then dissolves into a sort of mysticism - he rejects both the idea of thought as ascent and thought as descent, and speaks of his wish to evoke 'that stillness at the centre where there is neither higher nor lower, forward nor back, past nor future, when space and time cancel each other out in that familiar fantasy we all know as the everyday, commonplace world, that breach in time, that ever present, never present simultaneity of reality and fantasy that is the return to the commonsense world, floating like the Lord Brahma, motionless in the surfaceless void, all potentiality suspended within us in perfect realization, a return that is not a climax, terminus, stable image or homeostatic equilibrium, but a reduction of tension as the moment of transcendence simultaneously approaches, draws near, and departs without ever having arrived.' Which is… kind of nice, but perhaps he ought to try saying his prayers or reading Eckhart or Dante, rather than looking for God in Ethnography Today?
Though to be fair it is poor theology to think that God can't be in Ethnography Today. Expecting the Beatific Vision is pushing, it, though; for one thing I can't imagine how you could peer-review it.

In not-actually-related news, I really hate older scholarship on women mystics/ religious writers. While I can't blame anyone who thought Elsbeth von Oye (and her maggots) was mentally ill, it becomes clearly both patronising and misleading when dealing with someone like Catherine of Sienna, who may have thought about pain in ways we'd now rightly be cautious about, but was also an obviously brilliant and intelligent thinker. But the prize for total misogynist stupidity, and refusing to see what's in front of you, goes to two 'scholars' working on Julian of Norwich, who speculate that her visions 'were hallucinations showing precarious mental balance' (RH Thouless, 1928) or suggest that she suffered from "acute neurosis induced perhaps by an over-enthusiastic life of penance and solitude." (C Pepler, 1958). Pepler was a Dominican, apparently; I thought better of the OP.

I mean, Julian. She's the sanest and least neurotic theologian I can think of. Oh well: at least things have moved on in some respects. I was getting worked up about this as an example of How To Silence Women, but in this case, there's relatively little need to worry, it being so glaringly obvious that Julian Is More Awesome Than Them. All the same, though, how could they?

... I think I need to do something, eg eating, to bring my blood sugar level up! And also go and take books back to the library (town).

* Tyler, Stephen A. 1986. "Post-modern ethnography: from document of the occult to occult document" in Writing Culture, ed. James Clifford and George E Marcus. Berkeley: University of California Press, 122-140.
tree_and_leaf: Walter von der Vogelweide's birdcage helmet-topper. (mediaevalism)
The Jena university library have digitised and made fully available the Jena Liederhandschrift, and important and rather fine collection of poetry, written in the 1330s. It does not, alas, contain any sensational pictures, but it's a high status manuscript nonetheless and nice to look at. There are also photos of the restoration process, which will interest anyone who's curious about how mediaeval books were put together or looked after, and a little video showing the restorers at work. Unfortunately the site is only in German, but the pictures at least are fairly self-explanatory.
tree_and_leaf: Walter von der Vogelweide's birdcage helmet-topper. (mediaevalism)
On a manuscript of conventual rules from Pfullingen (the Pfullineger Statutenbuch". Württembergischen LB Cod.hist.4º177):

"Als Ursache für die Anfertigung der Handschrift wurde immer wieder das Fortwirken der Reform postuliert. Dies ist sicherlich eine berechtige Annahme. Kaum haltbar erscheint jedoch der Hypothese, das die Herstellung der Handschrift von dem Verfasser der Statuten, Johannes de Lare selbst, ausgegangen sei, da dieser bereits 1481 verstarb und somit kaum für eine etwa 35 Jahre später stattfindende Schreibarbeit verantwortlich gemacht werden kann."

(The enduring consequences of the Reform [i.e. the Observance Movement] has been repeatedly postulated as the grounds for the production of the manuscript. This is undoubtedly a justifiable assumption. However, the hypothesis that the production of the manuscript was initiated by the author of the statutes, Johannes de Lare, himself is barely supportable, as he died in 1481, and thus can scarcely be held responsible for work carried out thirty-five years later.)

Bacher, Rahel. 2009. Klarissenkonvent Pfullingen. Fromme Frauen zwischen Ideal und Wirklichkeit. Ostfildern: Jan Thorbecke, p 105.
tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)
This is unbelievably awful: Cologne city archives collapse into a hole in the ground. It is, in fact, a bigger disaster than the fire at Anna Amelia library. Four people are unaccounted for (at least), and it looks as if the archives themselves are a total loss (they poured concrete into the hole, in an attempt to shore things up. This includes a large number of mediaeval religious manuscripts relating to the Rhineland mystics, as well as stuff relating to Heinrich Böll.

... I know. It's rather monstrous to be concerned about that when people are probably dead, but all the same: the manuscripts are a very great loss, too.
tree_and_leaf: David Tennant in Edwardian suit, Oxford MA gown and mortar board. (academic doctor)
So, as is my wont on the way back from Cubs, I treated myself to a carry-out from the Indo-Chinese takeaway on the corner of Stockmore St, which, while it looks grubby and unimpressive from the outside, is actually brilliant. As is also my habit, I had a book to read while waiting, in this case Caroline Walker Bynum's Wonderful Blood, on blood devotions in late mediaeval Europe.

As I was waiting for my chilli-and-basil pork (not bad, but not as good as the pork, chilli and peanut fried noodles, for the record), a voice behind me said "So, did you see her when she was over here last year?" And I found myself falling into conversation with an art historian who's giving the paper on the Rothschild Canticles tomorrow at the mediaeval church and culture seminar.

This does not often happen to me in takeaways, even round here, but it's rather fun when it does.
tree_and_leaf: Photo of opening of Beowulf manuscript (Hwaet Beowulf) has just played me a really spectacularly silly filk of the German Pippi Longstocking song by a band called Rabenschrey called "Hej, wir sind Heiden" (Hey, we're heathen, and do what we like, and our god has two ravens, widdewiddewitt)

This is unfortunate, given that slumping on your desk and howling with laughter is not generally approved of in libraries, but at least it's lightened my mood while trying to decipher the abominably complex abbreviations in the Glossa Ordinaria, and cursing my anything but leet Latin skills...
tree_and_leaf: David Tennant in Edwardian suit, Oxford MA gown and mortar board. (academic doctor)
Alternatively, have this not tremendously well-scanned, but heart felt, poem by the unfortunate editorial reader of a book of essays on ethnographical theory, which I am currently struggling with:

The Hermeneut's Dilemma, or, a Jargon Poem

Twas prelapsarian, and the hermeneut
Sat huddled with his faithful trope,
Sunk in thaumasmus, idly strumming his lute,
Lost in subversion with nary a hope.

Then with heartfelt apoplanesis he crier,
O come, interlocutor, give me your ear!
In my pathopoeia I've slandered and lied;
Now of my grim project this discourse you'll hear.

I've dabbled in foul phenomenological rites,
And joined in a secret synechdoche,
Squandered my recieved knowledge in bibulous nights,
And embraced epistomological heresy,

O but now my metonymy is too great to bear!
This ecphonesis has become too deictic to hide!
I've lost all the poesis I once held so dear...
And, with typical hypotoposis, he died.

Jane Kepp, in Writing Culture, ed. James Clifford and George E Marcus. Berkeley: University of California Press, ix.
tree_and_leaf: David Tennant in Edwardian suit, Oxford MA gown and mortar board. (academic doctor)
Why on earth doesn't our library stack request system have a facility to automatically request a new password? It seem silly to have to go and do it in person....
tree_and_leaf: Text icon: sarcastic interpretations of commonly used phrases in scholarship. (terms commonly used in academia)
Powerpoint is annoying me; I can't work out why it won't let me add a JPEG slide (it may be that the file's too large, I suppose; even if I dump the jpeg in Firefoz and try to cut and paste from that, all that it pastes is the directory path to the file).

Also: do any of you more presentation minded people out there know if there are any projectors/ beamers on the market that can't be hooked up to Macs to run PP presentations- or what cable do you need to do so? (My contact at Freiburg claims that I won't be able to use my own mac to run the presentation; I find this hard to believe, and would rather not have to deal with the inevitable problems with special characters if I ported it to a PC, but I am not entirely sure of my ground on PCs)

Arguably my real problem, though, is that I have just been bitten by the plot bunny for a (depressing) Narnia AU, in which the Pevensies are German, in more or less the same time frame, or possibly either slightly earlier, or more towards the end of the war†. Edmund would be angry with his older siblings because they had begun to question the stuff they have had shoved down their throats in the HJ, and with Lucy because she is too young to really understand what is going on, but inclined to take the side of the others; the parents, who are of course off-stage, would be uncomfortable with the regime, though not in any particularly active way. (This bit is inspired by the Scholl family, where the parents - good Catholics - were passively anti-Nazi, but the older children were initially enthusiastic members of the HJ, before slowly spotting the massive moral problems).... and I certainly shouldn't be thinking about this when I should either be getting on with the paper or making dinner.

† No, I don't know what my obsession with Really Depressing AUs is, either. Morbid streak a mile wide, apparently.
tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)
Having noticed a mistake in two of the wordle pictures... Am still having trouble getting them onto my laptop, as the stupid computers in the lab don't have an image editor, but I'm hoping Word will do.



Adjective and adverb:

tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)
Here are some word clouds germane to my thesis, based on use of helig (holy, adj), heleklich (holy, adv), and selig (blessed) in the Mechthild von Magdeburg.

Cut to save bandwidth )
tree_and_leaf: Text icon: sarcastic interpretations of commonly used phrases in scholarship. (terms commonly used in academia)
Have come across the sentence: Hoc est michi ineffabile gaudium quod sancti calumpnia valeo loqui tecum

Most of this is quite clear, but what the hell does 'calumpnia' mean? (The text is a Latin translation of a Middle High German text, in diplomatic transcription, but this does not help much, as ineffabile is used to translate endelosú, which does not mean quite the same thing. The sancti calumpnia appears to correspond to a MHG phrase meaning 'without guile', but this doesn't help me much.)
tree_and_leaf: Walter von der Vogelweide's birdcage helmet-topper. (mediaevalism)
Really must write up a post about our seminar trip to St Gallen and the wonderful things we saw there, but am still slightly giddy from actually getting my hands on the 'St Gallener Niblungenhanschrift' - which really ought to be called the St Gallener Epenhandschrift, as as well as the textually very important Niblungenlied B, it also contains good texts of Parsifal and my beloved Willehalm. Was unable to resist reading the prologue aloud. I know when you go and look and manuscripts, you're generally supposed to be looking at the binding, mis-en-page, the codex as a whole... but I'm afraid that the text, when it's of a great (or even merely good) work that excites me more - or rather, the text in an original context. Am probably too romantic to be a modern mediaevalist - but never mind. (Actually, it was all I could do not to break out into squeeing!)

St Gallen have digitized some of their manuscripts, btw, and the site is open to all: Unfortunately, though, they haven't put up the Niblungenlied B ms; I suspect this may be connected to the fact that they sell DVDs of it. Couldn't quite justify the expense, which was round about sixty pounds, if I've worked out the conversion corectly, as I'm not a Wolfram scholar (or a Nibelungenite, for that matter), and am now being predictably gnawed by regret. However, there are some interesting things on the site.
tree_and_leaf: JRR Tolkien at desk, smoking pipe, caption Master of Middle Earth (tolkien)
Must go and read this, perhaps tomorrow: Fabula 48 (2007), vol 3/4, Jeroen de Kloet, Giselinde Kuipers: Spirituality and Fan Culture around the Lord of the Rings Film Trilogy. it has nothing to do with work, but since when did that matter?
tree_and_leaf: David Tennant in Edwardian suit, Oxford MA gown and mortar board. (academic doctor)
A couple of links:

In The Tablet, Mary Seller (an Anglican priest and an embryologist) considers the implications of cybrid research, and asks if playing God isn't what humans do all the time anyway. Likely to generate a lot of controversy on the letters page, I would think. [ profile] itihasa, I'd be interested to hear what you make of this.

Also, there's a nice short piece in the Torygraph on Vaughan Williams's use of Tallis and his work for the New English Hymnal.
tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)
Aside from trying to find a birthday present for Gran: she has requested a pack of 'pretty' patience cards, as she believes that German ones are nicer. As the only deck of patience cards I've found so far was a dead boring set from Ravensburg, this might be tricky.

ETA: the pale yellow option was chosen because I've sometimes heard the theory advanced that black-on-pale-yellow is easier on the eyes than black on white. Anyone have any thoughts as to whether this is true?

[Poll #1150845]
tree_and_leaf: David Tennant in Edwardian suit, Oxford MA gown and mortar board. (academic doctor)
Sigh. Sometimes I hate my memory.

I can remember the quote I'm looking for, word for word. Can I find it? No. To make things worse, the text I'm looking in has no index and the chapter headings were put in by a mediaeval redactor who was only using a quarter of his or her brain, with the result that they are only vaguely correct (and sometimes dead wrong).

Bah. I can see it on the page! But unfortunately the mental picture isn't clear enough to read the page number, and 'half way down the left hand side at the end of a chapter is only of limited help...
tree_and_leaf: Text icon: "It doesn't take a degree in applied bollocks!" (applied bollocks)
I was looking for information on Lukardis of Oberweimar - thirteenth century nun, visionary, and (partially self-inflicted) stigmatic, and discovered that she's discussed in Aviad Kleinberg's Prophets in Their Own Country, which is sadly only available in Freiburg in libraries without power sockets and no loans, but that's by the way. It's a solid academic text, very heavily in the 'sainthood is a social construct negotiated between an individual and the wider community' camp, but against the heavily typological method of classifying saints (' lives), because it's the eccentric little differences between them that is often the most informative.†

My eye was then caught by Amazon US' new tagging system, which is an interesting idea, but I suspect will not, in practice, prove all that useful:

Tags Customers Associate with Similar Products:
cult (394)
fraud (367)
junk science (311)
avoid at all costs (293)
evil (293)
insane (287)
crazy (276)
religion (268)

† In which he's right, although from a theological standpoint I should point out that there are two senses in which someone may be a saint. The first - and theologically the more relevant - is in salvation, regeneration, closeness to God, in which sense Paul could write letters to the saints at Ephesus and else where, or, narrowing the category a little, you can use it of all blessed souls in heaven. That doesn't fit Kleinberg's sense. But when one uses it of the everyday sense of 'the saints', that is those individuals who the church celebrates liturgically, then he's right, although one should of course add that cults or commemorations can and do develop around people who would, in life, have raised their eyebrows at the idea, or, indeed, people who never actually existed or have been confused with someone else.
tree_and_leaf: Text icon: sarcastic interpretations of commonly used phrases in scholarship. (terms commonly used in academia)
It's odd, going back over notes you've made a while ago, especially when they were evidently made in a snarky mood. The context is Peter Dinzelbacher, who is a bit... inclined to get touchy about people casting aspersions on the authenticity of visionary texts, though he's a good textual scholar, discussing Agnes Blannbekin and the visions about Christ's foreskin (which, as regular readers of this journal may remember, she held was in heaven rather than in a church somewhere being venerated, as was confirmed by a vision in which she repeatedly felt it in her mouth and swallowed it, experiencing great 'sweetness', and that for this reason the first edition of her revelations, published in the early eighteenth century, were condemned by the Jesuits).

"Begins by discussing the circumstances of the first publication of the revelations by Pez in 1731 The foreskin controversy:
Mary told Brigitta of Sweden [no ref to location in text] that she gave S John the foreskin of Christ to look after [an interesting conversation that must have been!] and that he then buried it [sensible man] only for it to be dug up by certain persons after an angel led them to it [and I can’t imagine what the angel thought of that particular errand, other than ‘humans are weird and God’s ways are pretty damn mysterious’]. Brigitta's vision confirm validity of cult, whereas AB's visions attack it - this is the source of the problem for SJ subsequently, not the reasons moderns think it's icky.
232 in a footnote PD (4) says it can’t be erotic because the same description is given to her feelings on communicating – and the foreskin is part of the body of Christ, therefore not sexual but rather Eucharistic. [I’m not a friend of Freudian interpretations, but I’m still not sure that logic holds up] [Sometimes a foreskin is just a cigar?]"

I hasten to add that the notes get more sensible subsequently


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