Reading: 16-22 June 2013 (ZiR)


Patrick Rea, Zeteo Contributor

[One in an ongoing series of posts. For the full series see Zeteo is Reading.]

16 June 2013

Laertes’ advice from his father Polonius (Shakepeare, “Hamlet”) as it appears in The Art of Manliness:

Yet here, Laertes! aboard, aboard, for shame!
The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail,
And you are stay’d for. There; my blessing with thee!
And these few precepts in thy memory
See thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportioned thought his act.
Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.
Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatch’d, unfledged comrade. Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel, but being in,
Bear’t that the opposed may beware of thee.
Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice;
Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not express’d in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
For the apparel oft proclaims the man,
And they in France of the best rank and station
Are of a most select and generous chief in that.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine ownself be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell: my blessing season this in thee!

17 June 2013

Since we’re talking about the English, let’s talk about Ale!

In medieval England, ale was an alcoholic drink made from grain, water, and fermented with yeast. The difference between medieval ale and beer was that beer also used hops as an ingredient. Virtually everyone drank ale. It provided significant nutrition as well as hydration (and inebriation). The aristocracy could afford to drink wine some of the time as well, and some times the poor could not even afford ale, but in general ale was the drink of choice in England throughout the medieval period.

18 June 2013

The CUNY Graduate Center recently had a great display on Fredrico Garcia Lorca. It described through photos and the poet’s notes a visit he made to the Catskills while living and studying here in NYC in the later 1920’s. For those that are not yet familiar with his literary work…its a bit ‘out there’, but very beautiful (at least in Spanish) and very mystical. This is from the New York Public Library’s exhibition Back Tomorrow: Federico García Lorca / Poet in New York:

In June 1929, at a time when young writers and painters dreamed of living in Paris, Federico García Lorca (1898–1936), Spain’s greatest modern poet and playwright, broke boldly with tradition and sailed for New York. His nine months here, followed by three months in Havana, changed his vision of poetry, the theater, and the social role of the artist.

Lorca came to New York to study English but devoted himself instead to writing Poet in New York, a howl of protest against racial bigotry, mindless consumption, and the adoration of technology. ‘What we call civilization, he called slime and wire,’ the critic V. S. Pritchett once wrote. But Lorca’s book reaches beyond New York—’this maddening, boisterous Babel’—into the depths of the psyche, in a search for wholeness and redemption.

Lorca was a multi-faced and gifted person who earned a law degree, played the piano excellently, and wrote famous poetry and plays. He was killed by nationalist supporters in the early years of the Spanish Civil War.

20 June 2013

The attempt by the European Union to unify Europe is proving to be difficult when one views the cultural split between East and West. The New York Times article A More Secular Europe, Divided by the Cross demonstrates well some of the same fundamental conflicts in Europe between conservatives and progressives, that we see in America:

In nearly all of Europe, assertive secularists and beleaguered believers battle to make their voices heard. All of which leaves the European Commission, in charge of shaping Europe’s common aspirations, under attack from all sides, denounced by atheists for even its timid engagement with religion and by nationalist Christian fundamentalists as an agent of Satan.

21 June 2013Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl is a classic memoire of the psychologist-author’s concentration camp experience at Auschwitz, and a psychological examination of human endurance and spirituality under the most brutal circumstances. Frankl describes the common prisoner experiences in three stages: initial shock, raw or instinctive survival, and spiritual liberation. Once the inmate has given up physical hopes of freedom, and normal desires for pleasure or comfort, an inner spiritual light is illuminated, as Frankl describes:

[While marching, freezing, starving and emotionally damaged] ‘a thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth -that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love.

Image “Laertes’ Vineyard” on Ithaka.

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