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TSE  March 2008

TSE March 2008

Subject:

Re: "Zietgeist" (Was Inventions of the March Hare )

From:

Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Fri, 21 Mar 2008 02:19:11 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (174 lines)

Well yes, I do want to get very accurate about it.

It is not laughable; it is accurate history of language. Scottish
ballads are not a subset of anything. In fact most of the ballads from
the United Kingdom are from the Scottish Borders and most historians of
poetry would see them as one of the major poetic creations of Scotland.
Scotland was until 1707 an independent nation and when the kingdoms
united, it remained in many ways separate: Scottish law and the Church
of Scotland, for example, have always remained separate. "LOL" is
condescending--and, frankly, offensive--apart from implying a false idea
of literary history, and I think you would find any Scottish history of
ballads hardly imagining them a "subset"--whatever that would mean.
Moreover, I think it time everyone was a great deal more accurate about
it. Significantly, there is now (for nearly a decade) a Scottish
discussion session at MLA and a Scottish literature section in the
bibliography. Scotland, moreover, now has a separate parliament again
for internal affairs.

Of the medieval ballads, the Collins Encyclopedia of Scotland says "they
form the bulk of Scotland's folk literature, described by an American
critic as 'unsurpassed by any in the world.'" They were collected and
written down by Child, Burns, Walter Scott, and recently Edinburgh"s
Scottish Studies department, especially Hamish Henderson, but they had a
long prior history as oral poetry in the Scottish Borders.

The language also is not a "subset" of anything. Anglo-Saxon had four
dialects: Northumbrian, Kentish, West Saxon, and Mercian. Middle Scots
came from Northumbrian and developed into modern Scots. Middle English
of Chaucer was from Mercian and that developed into modern English.
Scots was separate from as far back as any text is known in Anglo-Saxon;
it did not develop from English. In fact, the oldest text in
Anglo-Saxon is "Caedmon's Hymn," which was first in Northumbrian. So it
makes just as much sense historically and linguistically to see English
as a subset of Scots as the opposite. But neither would be accurate.
If you want to know something about it, just look at the four huge
volumes of Jamieson's Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language
and see the immense vocabulary that does not exist in English--as well
as the sounds and rhythms and idioms. Try to get a feel for "sonsy" and
"couthy" and "scunner" and "antrin" and "wheesht" and "bool" and
"broukit" and "byspale" and the sounds of "the Sauchs in the Reuch Heuch
Hauch" before laughing out loud at what you have apparently never read.

I find this so wrong and so inaccurately mocking of a great literary
tradition that I am amazed to see it from you. I think you might try
reading some of Scotland's long history of great poetry and look
especially at modern and contemporary poets like Hugh MacDiarmid,
Sorley Maclean, Tom Leonard, Edwin Morgan, Liz Lochhead, Kathleen Jamie,
Carol Ann Duffy, Jackie Kay. I am sorry, but it is disgraceful for
anyone who cares about poetry to laugh at an entire tradition and treat
it as a joke. Since I have spent many years studying it, I find it
astonishing. I realize I am using strong language, but "LOL" and
"subset" are both false and demeaning.
Nancy

>>> Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]> 03/20/08 4:36 PM >>>

Well yeah, if you want to get all accurate about it! LOL. Scottish
Ballads are a subset of English Ballads in most compendia.
 
Diana> Date: Thu, 20 Mar 2008 13:11:39 -0400> From: [log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: "Zietgeist" (Was Inventions of the March Hare )> To:
[log in to unmask]> > Dear Diana,> > My point is that "Sir Patrick
Spence" is not in Middle English; it is in> Middle Scots.> Nancy > > >>>
Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]> 03/20/08 12:49 PM >>>> > > Sorry,
I don't know why I wrote "spoken English" in my previous message.> My
bad. Diana> > > > > Nancy, I should have written "more pronounced German
elements in> English." That's an unintended pun! Middle English shows
its German> origins more than modern English.> Date: Thu, 20 Mar 2008
11:21:10> -0400> From: [log in to unmask]> Subject: Re: "Zietgeist"
(Was> Inventions of the March Hare )> To: [log in to unmask]> > I'm not
sure> what you mean by "the elements of German in daily speech,"> but
that is> misleading here. The ballad is in Scots, which developed> from>
Northumbrian. Modern English developed from Mercian. Both have>
elements> of German, and in Scots the sound changes developed later and>
less> completely than in modern English. But words like "milk,"
"house,">> "glass," "wine" remain cognates in English and German. My
point is that>> this is not English with some "elements of German": it
is Scots with>> some sounds and words that are Germanic--since all
Anglo-Saxon was a>> Germanic language. Modern Scots retains, for
example, three sounds that>> do not exist in modern English: the sounds
of "licht," "loch" and>> "muir."> Nancy> >>> Diana Manister
<[log in to unmask]> 03/20/08> 10:44 AM >>>> > > Carrol,> > Language
enacts the history of its time;> it's a time capsule. It> provides more
information than was recognized> by the writer. Just as> when a snapshot
is taken, neither the subjects> nor the photographer> could know how
strange hairstyles and clothing and> the 1938 Ford will> look to those
looking at the picture in the future.>> > "THE king sits in Dumferling
toune,> Drinking the blude-reid wine:> ‘O> whar will I get guid sailor,>
To sail this schip of mine?’> > Up and> spak an eldern knicht,> Sat at
the kings richt kne:> ‘Sir Patrick Spence> is the best sailor> That
sails upon the se.’"> > Sailing ships, knights,> the king, the smallness
of a world in which the> best sailors were> well-known, and many other
factors of the culture of> that time, not the> least of which are the
elements of German in daily> speech, are> communicated in just first
stanzas from "Sir Patrick Spens."> > Another> ballad, having the same
deep structure of describing a hero, is> the> following:> > "Born on a
mountain top in Tennessee,> Greenest state in> the land of the free.>
Raised in the woods so's he knew every tree,>> Killed him a b'ar when he
was only three.> Davy, Davy Crockett> King of> the Wild Frontier."> >
"West Side Story" and Shakespeare's "Romeo and> Juliet" tell the same>
story of lovers facing the same obstacles, in> other words they have
the> same deep structure. Everything else is> zeitgeist.> > The I Ching
is based on the metaphysical belief that> "everything that> occurs in a
moment partakes of that moment." Whether> you share that> belief or not,
you cannot deny that language> incorporates its historical> period. Or,
to put it another way, history> is inseparable from language.> > I
regret using the word "zeitgeist;" it> invites ridicule. No one uses it>
anymore, but it does say what I mean:>> > American Heritage New
Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition:>> Zeitgeist "The general
moral, intellectual, and cultural climate of an>> era; Zeitgeist is
German for "time-spirit." For example, the Zeitgeist>> of England in the
Victorian period included a belief in industrial>> progress, and the
Zeitgeist of the 1980s in the United States was a>> belief in the power
of money and the many ways in which to spend it."> >> Analyzing a work
of art for a manifest point-to-point correspondence>> with events such
as the storming of the winter palace, or the general>> strike or
lynchings in the south ignores the condensation found in the>> language
of art. Even the most linear thinker has dreams in which>> logical
connections are replaced by simultaneity in time. > > Julia> Kristeva
writes in Language The Unknown that dreapainter who, in a picture of the
school of Athens or of Parnassus,>> represents in one group all the
philosphers or all the poets. It is> true> that they were never in fact
assembled in a single hall or on a> single> mountaintop; but they
certainly form a group...."> > Whether> Eliot placed any credence in
Freudian theory or not, if Freud> was> art language and dream language,>> Eliot's poetry would exhibit Freudian
insights (birds are not>> ornithologists.)> > Freud wrote: "Dreams are
brief, meagre and laconic> in comparison with> the range and wealth of
the dream-thoughts." The> extreme dream-symbols parallels that of
literary symbols, which likewise> are> over-determined and represent in
a single symbol contents that> "are> often widely divergent in their
nature."> > So that lynchings in> the south may be expressed in a
multi-valent symbol> or image whose> ostensible referent is not slavery
but which is partly> determined by> the existence of lyncings in the
south. > > Van Gogh's dreams, like his> paintings, would necessarily
include horses,> carriages, gas lamps and> absinthe, while a painter in
our time would> dream and paint out of an> experience of orbiting spy
satellites, video> games, cell phones and> computers. Both dreams might
have the same deep> content, i.e., tell the> same story, but the
zeitgeist in both cases> finds ways to have its> say.> > Diana> > >
Diana Manister wrote:> > > > At least in TWL the> zeitgeist speaks.> >
Carrol wrote:> > 1. I would challenge the existence> of any such entity>
as the> "Zeitgeist." Any age I know of exhibits too> large a variety of>
fractured> spirits to speak of _A_ spirit of the> age. Put otherwise, I>
don't even> know what "spirit of the age" could> conceivably mean. It>
seems utterly> empty of content.> > 2. Eliot did> explicitly deny that>
TWL expressed some spirit of> disillusinment of> the age or something>
like that. Nancy or Marcia could> probably be more> explicit on this,>
citing the text and correcting my> sloppiness here.>> > 3. What does
The> Zeitgeist say? Storming of the Winter Palace? The>> General
Strike?> Lynchings in the South? (TWL follows by only a couple>> decades
Twain's> masterpieces, "The United States of Lyncherdom" and> "To> The
Person> Sitting in Darkness." The resignation, protesting> Wilson's> War
Policy,> of William Jennings Bryan: that is his true> heritage, not> the
stupid> trial? My great uncle, who organized> sheepherders in Montana>
for the> IWW. Beginning of the (hopeless?)> struggle to end English 1
(its>> inventor called it the greatest mistake> of his life)? The murder
of> Rosa> Luxemberg? The Easter Rebellion? The> failure to hang the
various> war> criminals (all responsible politicians> of Germany,
France, England,> &> U.S.) Imprisonment of Gene Debs?> Freeing of Gene
Debs by the only> honest> u.s. president in the 205h c.> -- Warren G.
Harding?> > 4. When> did this Zeitgeist leap into> existence, and when
did it sink> into the> grave? Would we recognize it> were we to meet it
walking down a> dark> alley?> > And so forth.> >> Carrol>>
_________________________________________________________________> How>
well do you know your celebrity gossip?>>
http://originals.msn.com/thebigdebate?ocid=T002MSN03N0707A> > > >
Windows Live Hotmail is giving away Zunes. Enter for your chance to
win.> >
_________________________________________________________________> In a
rush? Get real-time answers with Windows Live Messenger.>
http://www.windowslive.com/messenger/overview.html?ocid=TXT_TAGLM_WL_Refresh_realtime_042008
_________________________________________________________________
Windows Live Hotmail is giving away Zunes.
http://www.windowslive-hotmail.com/ZuneADay/?locale=en-US&ocid=TXT_TAGLM_Mobile_Zune_V3

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