Sunday, September 30, 2007

sarah! new blog!

My good friend Sarah is blogging away, quite interestingly as always. Go and read her first post to danaidean :

Looks great, S.!

Friday, September 28, 2007

So you want to be a poet...

So I am taking what in the context of my program amounts to a certain kind of “risk”—and that is working my translations of poems—translations of poems that are already well and often translated—from OE and OF and pasting them into my book of mostly poems (but some ‘essays’) which I am working hard on making a piece identified first as a “Book.” The book is largely about reading, and desiring texts. Old texts. And the book aims too, to think about its own poetics as a kind of historiography--as well as what it means to do this—, at what risk or gain or cost: I know not what just yet, but remain compelled to do so nonetheless. I think what is driving the writing is a sense of being marked not just by affect (à la a project like Dinshaw’s), but a Wonder (which I hope does justice and homage to Dinshaw’s conceptualization). It feels, to be honest, a bit ambitious, and I hope I’m not just lost in the clouds.

Anyways, I wanted to take another risk and expose some bits of these sequences and see what some of you all think. I have enough poets and comments of poets to stuff my ears with on the subject—but other types of practitioners have not had a chance to weigh in (my Ms. reading committee consists of 2 poets, a fantastic Americanist that can read and a Theorists/Historian of Intellectual practice--but they don't get the whole book until next semester).

So: I am going to periodically post a couple of these translations (as they now stand—very much on the side of the ‘literary’ translations) along with the poems surrounding them. So: 3-5 poems per sequence. Any comments are welcome—from qualms with liberties taken in grammar of OF/OE to modern English to very general comments. The first set is below as jpg's because the formatting is not always easy to html-out in any efficient manner.

Oh yeah: I guess this post #2 came quickly. I should say that I should not think the posts will always come this quickly. But I was feeling pretty about doing the blog thing: Thank you so much to all for the warm welcome.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

a long introduction

Well, here goes an attempt at something. I've been watching bloggers like those at Old English In New York and In the Middle with great affection (In the Middle in only the past few months has really provided me with a crucial site for thinking and conecting to interesting thinkers) , and have thought it finally time to pull the strings of an author-function for my own posts.

I figure, this blog here, is about a certain kind of desire for texts themselves, and for texts in languages very few people read--and to be honest, I am still very much learning to read.

Its from the laptop of a Grad Student who is technically an MFA in a final 3rd year of 3 year program, but who is actually a medievalist, and in love with theory. (What does this mean, "in love with theory"? A recent cannidate for a job as an Americanist in my department suggested that the history of theory and its movement is always a history of dissapointment--because theory will never "save us." And, of course it won't. But what will? If we wait with a truly religious messianism within our little anchoritic offices, what would we possibly wait for? I am reminded of a little credo of John D. Caputo--whose commitment to doing theology is not one that, in the end, I can stand behind: he speaks of a desire to move "up from presence to provocation." And, this is exactly what I might hope to happen when Egil Skalligrimson might take notes on Old and Middle English, all stirred up with leftist radical hermeneutics and poetics).

So--by way of introduction, I am trying to figure out what it means to desire a medieval text in a medieval language.

Also by way of introduction: I recently gave a lecture on Beowulf . I am TA-ing for a History of Western Civ 2 (elightenment to cold war) class in my neighboring Hist. department, for a Prof. who is also teaching CIv 1 and wanted someone who had formerly studied the poem in question to lecture on it for her class. As she usually has her TA-s give a lecture, she just swaped me into the Civ one arena for my turn.

This is the first time I was supposed to stand in front of 160 students and "teach"--if thats what we are calling that activity. I hope, really and desperately, that in the end I did "teach." But the upshot of the whole thing was having to somehow work with the mandate of historicizing a text I would much rather treat like a lover (and I think this is a theoretical statement, which is to say a poetic one): being faithful and betraying, singing about and cursing, getting bored with it, and simply drifting off in wonder about it--then of course there is still the activity (of reading) itself. The best moment of the whole lecture--I think--occured when stopped and simply read about 30 lines of the poem. Following Tolkien's old mandate, I read the damn thing as a poem and these students looked up suddenly and were stunned. This, this boring thing they read disparate translations of and would be forced into using as "evidence" for some kind of ill-fated essay written under timed duress on the "Making of the West" (which is the title of their dept.-chosen text)--this was a POEM. And I do not mean that in a historically frozen sense. I mean that they percieved that this was a poem to some other reader too. Perhaps they remained unwares of that final bit, but I think I could see it in their hairs standing on end.

Beowulf turns into a Bomb about to go off in a classroom. A threat from the edge of the development of "Western Civilization" that, when turned loose in a lecture can disturb the bussiness as usual of our dominant pedagogies, the economy of time/episteme, and even the economy of "getting and keeping attention." And when I read a couple words in Anglo-Saxon...

So, perhaps the title of the blog points an interest in a provocation which is is really a hospitality. What would happen if Egil Skallagrimson got ahold of Derrida?

Anyways, welcome to wraetlic.