Tuesday, September 21, 2004

A little explanation

Well.... this is just the version of the fragment #2 translated by Isobel last week, this is also included in the "box". One of these days (shall the opportunity to mention it at all come) I'll make a little note about it and you should know by now exactly what I mean by a little note, that's just like when I say let's talk for 5 minutes or in the aftermath of the wife, when I put my head on the pillow for one second. This fragment shall serve as an explanation for the brackets in my last note called "Thy name Israel, thy name Isobel". I'm not the kind of "pragmatos" who wastes any time in explanations, for a good poet shall never be totally understood. This time however, it was a must-be. Before the end of the road we tend to find more than a few "must-be" signals, don't we all?

1 "That man seems to me the equal of a god
2 The man who sits opposite you
3 And at close he listens
4 To your sweet voice

5 And your enticing laughter
6 That indeed has stirred up the heart in my brest
7 For whenever I stare at you even briefly
8 I can no longer muse words

9 For my tongue in silence frozen is
10 Instantly a delicate flame calcinates beneath my skin
11 With my eyes nothing I see
12 My eyes stumble at the whirring noise

13 A cold sweet embraces me
14 Tremblors seize my body
15 And greener than grass I am
16 Surrounding death by close I seem

17 But all one's got to endure, even....

After the supper break I can continue with the note....well as I said previously the translation of this poem should be the explanation for the brackets in the first paragraph of my last note. I still don't really understand why I always ramble like this, I mean... I give explanations about simplistic and meaningless objects such as brackets and little talks, about quotations, yet I never take the time to introduce Isobel for example. None of the readers of this blog have ever got to meet Isobel except for Ari, Elliot and the journalist. However the three of them also turn out to be characters of this Isobelian iambic plot so it doesn't really make justice to the reader, but I'm a selfish and egoistic writer, I'm not really in the obligation to explain those things. Apparently Isobel is the closest to a real persona you'll ever find in this blog for most people around her are simply stoppovers in her way, passengers and subway coffee companion. Yet I feel it's needless to "explain" Isobel who by all means constitutes the very main purpose of these pages, and if not Isobel herself, her silence and agony. The transformation of Isobel the creature into Isobel the philologist and paradoxically in Ari the man. It doesn't make lots of sense I think.

None of the characters here have been introduced or explained but they don't pretend to turn up in the public light for they are trying to escape the storm of events that lead to this story and through this story and even when without much success, they still struggle. Unfortunately I started to write a bit late in my teenage years hence you have missed the genesis of the story and I've missed myself as well. I've stranged myself on the way, and somehow stranged Isobel, who temporarily doesn't have a face either, probably she only has eyes seen through the eyes of others, seen in reflections.

But let me return to the poem; I personally dislike long poems and I rather stay with short odes and little verses like in the previously translated fragments, that might be feasible to blame on me being a linguist too, my obsession for hyper-textuality and semiology, for non-verbal language is probably higher than my delicate close tough with the language in which I'm writing.

Still fragments #2 is a poem painful enough to carry along the way the aim to be translated and as a poem directly or indirectly (as well as fragments #1 and #3) to Afrodite it has some epic value in the context of the Greek mythology (although the "philologists" of the time -and until the Renaissance, quoted Sappho most likely in order to explain metrical and rhaetorical paradigms, with a few exceptions that didn't constitute philologists but philosophers like Plato and Solon, needless to say that in order to understand this dynamic we would have to crawl into the definition of what and who was the philosopher for the Ancient Greek) and constitutes an historical text. However, since I'm a simple philologist I can put the weight on short poems and bridal hymns. That's probably where her real core lies upon I think, for when reading poems such as the one transcribed here previously (and probably one of the best literary translations I ever did) I can't help the tremblor that seizes my skin.

Even the life of Sappho itself is a remarkable example of what interests me about the Greek world, of what I'm running after. Middle beginnings and initial endings, the endlessness of things (can you already figure how many times I've used this understatement over the last 4 years?). I'm deeply concerned about God and the gods and I'm if not a religious person, someone nourished with a stronghold of religious feelings, yet I would place the gods among the machinery and wheels behind the stage of the tragedy, of the greatest works the humanity has heard of (or unheard of as Heraclitus would say, the "Logos aphanatikos" - another note about Heraclitus and the fragment #1 in Kirk's edition to be made), but in the day to day life, beyond the Homeric grandeur, I'd rather stay with little songs for hidden lovers and slaves, for unofficial divinities and repulsively beautiful women of other men. That's where Sappho falls in place for me even after reading and commenting the greatest poets of the antiquity. The measure in which other people has come in contact with, and understood Sappho causes me "inciting laughter"; this philologist in the other hand doesn't claim anything but having attempted erroneously to misunderstand Sappho and he's perfectly fine with it. Nothing else should be expected.

Heidegger would help me to rephrase this accurately, even in his overcomplexations of simple words spoken by Parmenides, and spoken in the spirit of the Logos and not in the spirit of the Pneuma, hence no matter how deep we crawl into we can get nothing but lost, but I think that's the only possible direction. To find yourself in order to loosen and lose yourself back again in the drunkenness of wisdom and primary knowledge, just like nature does in our times and in theirs, to understand the "Logos" also like the river of Heraclitus and even the river of Aristotle. Yes, Heidegger would definitely be my man when I want to approach this broad subject but even he failed just like I failed, we failed in understanding those minimally radical concepts that only the average man would be ready to comprehend, and the average man is not precisely the philologist or any educated man of the 20th century, we're just victims of the 20th centuries, self-pitied victims (watch out for a note on this subject). We all have failed in understanding all this, so why not spending some little time trying to misunderstand?

In this order of ideas I must stress again I prefer little stories and little poems with little words (so much unlike my command and use of language) in opposition to greatest operas and recitals. Those little "somethings" do contain in my opinion the human being by itself and by definition. Heidegger would say the true human science, again Martin... you failed buddy... but I really enjoy his conceptualization. Despite my faithful love and admiration for Heidegger he, inasmuch as the rest of us has failed. The definiton of Heidegger the philosopher itself has failed. If he would have taken upon the standings of Parmenides he would have refused to call himself ever a philosopher. It was probably impossible in the scope of the German post-enlightenment, still nonetheless he failed.

This experience is not truely unique for I've admired every Greek and every Greek I've stumbled upon in my short life ever since my first Greek grammar class and Melitta's jar. I've also admired each and every man who admired the Greeks from afar, each and every man who has features and imitated the Greeks (that would include the whole human kind and as a presumably infatuated scholar the human kind includes most likely only the West) and even each and every man who has read the Greeks. I believe wholeheartedly that those I would consider the most brilliant heads of my generation are probably those who were nurtured from the Classics and that were fed with the bitter-sweet milks of the tragedy and the Athenian splendor.

Above all these I've admired those who think Greek, not those who think about the Greeks but only those who think Greek. I've read those great men who think Greek, who despite the impossibility of retrieval still dare to think Greek, for impossibility of retrieval or in other words a struggle against fate is also thinking Greek, Greek individual, however not "Hellenic". But it is about Greek individuals that I dream and lust about and in the end of the day struggle against fate (or let's call it living against history) is probably what we, the Jewish people, sons of Abraham and Yaakov are made of, hence the concept doesn't surprise me at all. I don't find myself at odds with it. Who if not the Jew in the Day of Atonement to prove that even the sons of Yaakov are metaphysical phenomena? (This related to a chassidic story I read in my childhood, one day I'll explain).

Ever read Antigone? She sounds very semitic to me, but in the end of the day who if not the Greek gods (the latter gods, second breed I think) coming from Syria and Lebanon to poison Thebas and Troja with the good and the evil of Abraham's progenie? With the curse of sin and virtue?

This certainly doesn't resume my poems or my translations and much the least my story-telling, it doesn't gather my religious spirit but it simply makes a note. It simply makes a note because I just realize the vaste amount of knowledge I lack to make anything worthier out of it. Still I can claim simple banality, the banality of "menschkeit".

I'm still loyal to Dyonisos and to Aurora; for my sorrowful state of the affair with the Apolinear trends has got to be explained somewhere else. In the aftermath of the journalist and the genesis of Isobel "de zweerver" there's no place for Apolinear remarks. Let the day come first, for we're still sinking into the dark night.

Sappho and me still read poetry aloud together and we come to interesting terms one with the other; for my translations are merely speculative since I don't know the Aeolic dialect as good as I would like to, specially because the language and the metre was based on patterns of speech, and this is certainly way beyond any educated knowledge I might have about the Greek antiquity, that would be wife's concern for sure but she's not around these days. So still Sappho and me read little poetry and I'm granted the license of speculating about the missing words and broken fragments of the text since I could say right down there I'm the poet myself, a poet who interprets a poet just like Saussure reading Saussure. It is allowed.

I'm not even certain if the numeration of the fragments is correct, for I just follow the Oxford papyrus since I don't know anything else; and right here I don't pretend to make elucidations of textual critic and parylogy for it's not really a good timing. Leave that to Isobel, leave that for Rehavia's rainy evenings. We don't do that kind of things in Tel Aviv. As I say, I prefer to cling onto little things, following Kunderian elucidations for the modern man.

And in any case who am I take on the weightfulness of these works? Who am I? When I'm still feeding my empty speech with books of Ranana Meridor and phone conversations with Kaltsidou? Am I anyone worthy at all to take on? You're better off with books of Harrison for I still read him everyday. In the end of the day I'm just a blogger.

A starving blogger, a single blogger, an anonymous blogger. So please, click right top and proceed to the next blog, between casual sex, kitchen tales and HTML you might be able to find elucidations such as these as well.

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