highlyeccentric: Book on a shelf, entitled "Oh God: What the Fuck (and other stories)" (Oh god what the fuck (and other tails))
People wearing black Balaclavas should not:

- wear large black sunglasses
and then
- ride bicycles very swiftly down the main pedestrian concourse of the uni.

Because it is not reassuring to start your working day with a BLACK FACELESS THING cycling toward you at a great rate.
highlyeccentric: Arthur (BBC Merlin) - text: "SRSLY" (SRSLY)
Speaking of The Handmaid's Tale: if you've read it, you may remember that in Gilead one could pay for a punch-card machine called a Soul Scroll to read aloud set prayers for you.

You can now pay a computer to say your Hail Marys - with a range of prayers for other religious groups as well.
highlyeccentric: Me, in a costume viking helmet - captioned Not A Viking Helmet (not a viking)

This principle is something I felt the need to articulate this week, as a result of discovering first the latest abuse of the Not-Viking-Helmet, and then the latest in 'protective' gear*

Originally, circle A had been entirely encompassed by circle B, but after my terrible efforts at pronunciation this week...
And circle B had originally been much larger, but as I was gnawing on my pen and chewing my fingernails just now, I think I may have overestimated it somewhat.

I feel like I should say something significant about the medieval in modern culture, and the fact that you can dress your manly-bits up heroically, but instead, I shall leave you with the following advice: if your bedroom ego is inflated by the addition of chain-mail or faux-viking helmets, for the love of Bede make sure your chosen partner is a modern historian.**


*Both work safe, although if extra conscientious, avoid the first.
**Speaking of advice, check out the strangest response I've ever had to my blogging
highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (waltrot)
So, exhaustion is supposed to result in sweet dreamless sleep. I could be so lucky. Instead, I seem to have been channelling [livejournal.com profile] ursulav, except without all the sex. And no birds, either, unless you count dragons.

Had an extremely complex dream last night, one of those ones where two separate narratives crash into each other with bizarre results.

To start with, I was pregnant. The baby was due on my birthday (which, weirdly, in this dream was Nov. 7, not 6), but Dad was sure it would be two weeks premi. That meant that I was due in week twelve of semester, and would conflict with the presentation-and-paper I was planning to give for Devious' class that week. [livejournal.com profile] goblinpaladin was also in said class, but could not or would not swap presentation weeks with me. I'm not sure if he had anything to do with the baby at all, he was certainly quite peripheral to the whole thing.

At this point, the plot collided with a very cool, very vibrantly coloured fantasy world, in which I decided to summon a dragon oracle from an outback dunny, to find out when my baby would be born. The dragon oracle had a BABY DRAGON ORACLE, which was ADOWABLE and had blue eye-shadow. I don't think I found out when I'd be giving birth, but the dragon oracle did give me useful advice on parenting in general and managing parenthood and study in particular.1 Meanwhile, there was a very complicated plot going on in this fantasy land, which I can't remember particularly well anymore. There were two cousins in love, an evil lord of some sort, and a king or possibly duke who was with me also consulting the dragon oracle. He needed to know when my baby would be born (it was important to the fantasy plot somehow, but also I think he was in Devious' class with me), and then we conducted a second summoning of the dragon oracle in order to find out if she could convince the queen to resume conjugal relations with the king. Except that the queen didn't BELIEVE in dragons, so when we dragged her down to the outback dunny, all she could see was an outback dunny, and that doesn't put anyone in a conjugal mood.

There were sieges, escapes and pursuits, a couple of villages got razed, and I had 15000 words of essays to write.


1. Current theory is that the "babies" in fact represent theses, and the Dragon Oracle represents Awesome. What the cousins in love and the non-conjugal royalty had to do with it, I'm unsure.
highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Tonks)

Isn't he just the coolest little dude?

I asked JLJ to base him on this picture from the Junius Manuscript )

I've been meaning for aaages to write a post about heroism and Satan and some other stuff in Anglo-Saxon England. But for now, let it suffice to say that Satan, in his most memorable appearances, is a flawed hero: beautiful but arrogant, corageous but disloyal. In the manuscript artwork, for some reason he always has a bit of a pot belly, and he is either naked, or wearing a flimsy see-through version of angelic garb.1 Puppet!Satan is sufficiently badass to meet these criteria, i feel.

If you'd like to see more of JLJ's puppet excellence, Jeff Spyeck now has a puppet Charlemagne.

1. Which is a good reason, as far as i'm concerned, to disparage Beowulfian nudity. Bodies, nudity, exposure, seem to be systematically used for shamefullness and unholiness. It's NOT a sign of heroism, as in ancient greek culture.
highlyeccentric: XKCD - citation needed (citation needed)
visual material for this lesson )

Roger Bacon is now well remembered for his interest in optics, the behavior of light and vision. A learned friend and classmate swears that he is her husband (only one of her harem of medieval men), and that his opus maius is best read by torchlight in a tent while consuming hallucinogenic fungi and abstaining from bathing. The following is cobbled together from the presentation which our MrsBacon gave subsequent to this expedition, and from Devious Lecturer's discussion following said presentation.

Anyway, Roger Bacon had this kooky thing going called the Multiplication of Species, which I don't understand very well because I spent the relevant lecture drawing diagrams in my notebook. The basic premise seems to be that Stuff radiates Essence-of-Stuff, which is called its Species. Everything has a species, including people and inanimate objects and the sun. Sunlight is the visible radiating species of the Sun. Therefore, the behavior of all species can be deduced from observing the behavior of sunlight. (If it meets a slightly denser substance, it refracts; if it meets a dense enough substance it reflects; that sort of thing.) This forms one part of Roger Bacon's interest in light. Another part, the significance of which I will elucidate momentarily, of Roger Bacon's interest in light is his interest in the Antichrist. When will the Antichrist come? What will it be like when the Antichrist comes? What will the Antichrist do when he comes? Roger Bacon is afraid he may have stumbled upon the answer to the last question.

Observe the diagrams on the left, above. When light shines onto a flat surface, it reflects straight back up.
When light shines on a convex surface, it reflects and spreads out. So far so good.
When light shines on a concave surface, it reflects back inwards toward a central point. Now, thinks Roger Bacon, if you get the angle of the concave surface right, you should be able to get *all* of the light rays meeting together at that central point and beaming outwards. Which would be kinda cool.
The worrying thing is, if you're Roger Bacon, that you understand light to have substance. So all of these rays meeting together and beaming out form a MEGA RAY OF DEATH.
Which is just the sort of thing the Antichrist could use to destroy entire cities at a time. Beware. Consider yourselves warned.

At this point, MrsBacon concluded her presentation, and Devious picked up and went back over the theory of Multiplication of Species, which no one quite understood. On the right hand side of the page you can see my attempt to put the theory into a simple and practical form that I might remember. Which worked, as it happens. I still remember the application of Multiplication of Species to academic flirtation, which is more than you can say for most of what went over my head in Devious' course. Having figured this out, I passed the notebook to MrsBacon and [livejournal.com profile] goblinpaladin, and poor Devious was much befuddled as to why three out of his four best students spent the remainder of the lesson sniggering and passing notes. We had to show him what I'd done after class, and I believe he was quite amused.
highlyeccentric: Me, in a costume viking helmet - captioned Not A Viking Helmet (not a viking)
Happy Christmas all :)1


1. Awesome gave this to me over the dinner table after seeing Beowulf, and commanded me to translate. Embarrassingly for all concerned, I didn't even get the joke.
highlyeccentric: Me, in a costume viking helmet - captioned Not A Viking Helmet (not a viking)
It is a fine old classical/medieval tradition to have your memory all sorted out with triggers, so that you can remember long speeches or texts easily. The Memory palace is an old trick for visualising your mind as a series of rooms and storage places.
If, on the other hand, you have a neatly catalogued and alphabetised mental filing cabinet, you might remember this post by Carl Pyrdum as either:
Monkey Butt-Trumpet
or, if you're a particularly neat person, Butt-Trumpet, Monkey.

Moving on to a different kind of memory, if you're wondering which of your dead relatives to pray first for, you could adopt the "spiritual lottery" method. Fr Nicholas has discovered something like a bingo apparatus to help make your prayer time simpler. I have a feeling I heard this via the Cranky Proffessor, but have lost the intermediary link.

While you're at it, you might want to pray for Michael Drout, who clearly treats his Anglo-Saxon literature class with too much levity. He thinks this is educational:

(In Yoda voice): Told you I did. Listen you did not. Now screwed we all shall be. There. I just showed you why natural languages don't use VSO order and summarized the Star Wars I-III.

The question is, can he beat my classmate of last year, who can read the sermons of Wulfstan in the voice of C3PO?

And to round off... a classic piece of Chaucer Blog goodness for those about to set off on the conference round in the northern hemisphere: Middle English Pickup lines.
If, for example, you hear Jennifer Lynn Jordan's paper at NEMSC you might say to her:
-Ich loved thy papere, but yt wolde looke much better yscattred across the floore of myn rentede dorme roome at dawne.
If you should meet a sexy scholar in your field, you might greet them thus:
-Ich notyce that myn demense and thyn do abutte. Wolde yt plese thee to consolidate ovre powere-base in the midlands?

good luck and happy holidays :)
highlyeccentric: Me, in a costume viking helmet - captioned Not A Viking Helmet (not a viking)
It being That Time of Year again, everyone is asking: What should I get for the medievalist in my life? Well, those who have medievalists in their lives are asking. Um. Maybe it's just the medievalists who are asking, because we don't go in for subtle hints.

Jeff Spyeck at Quid Plura presents the first and most comprehensive list. There's an Innocent III action figure! I wants it, precious. What better to complement my Miracle Jesus action figure, Mircale Toast set, my teddy bears Augustine and Origen, and my Dr Who action figure. (If you don't think the latter belongs in a religious kitsch collection, think again)?

Meanwhile, coming back to medieval gifts, Jennifer Lynn Jordan adds some suggestions of her own. I'm partial to the Warrior Head money bank, myself.

Over at Unlocked Wordhoard, you can leave your very own medieval gift requests with Fæder Krystemasse.

No one so far has suggested any books, possibly because we medievalists spend too much time with our noses to the page. (Well, except for one girl I know who spent a week weighing horse poo as part of a research assignment into military logistics in the crusader period.)
But how could you go past Cattus Petasatus- The Cat in the Hat In Latin? I certainly couldn't, which would be why [livejournal.com profile] goblinpaladin presented me with a copy. In case you're thinking that that's a classicist present, rather than medievalist, the translator's notes at the back explain that no classical verse form approximates Dr Seuss' particular style. Instead, they used a medieval trochaic verse form to render The Cat in the Hat in Latin. And they offer a reading list of textbooks on medieval latin.
Anyway. It is cool. Check out an exerpt.

Meanwhile, we don't know anyone corny enough to get their medievalist boyfriend a copy of Ovid's Heroides, do we? *whistles nonchalantly* 1

1. My excuse is, at least it's not the 12th century. At least I'm not imitating classical sop every time I write him a letter.
highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Jesus Called)
And Libby Purves has found it. Christmas trees are categorically condemned in the Book of Jeremiah, chapter 10, v. 2-4:
"Learn not the way of the heathen...for the customs of the peoples aredelusion; Because it is wood cut from the forest; The work of the hands of acraftsman with a cutting tool. They decorate it with silver and withgold; They fasten it with nails and with hammers So that it will not totter."

That's it. No tree for me. (YAY! we never remember it until christmas eve anyway, and then i lurks around for months before anyone can be bothered disassembling it...)


ed: In medieval/ early modern news, a Chilean priest has been sentenced to recite seven psalms a day as a parking fine. The sentencing judge declares that he did it as a tribute to Gallileo.
highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)
from my newly-baptised headset microphone:

Be special careful to wear whten carry out the move about in the latent danger.

ed: is Skype always so prone to echoing and patchy sound quality, folks?
highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (up to no good)
Jeph of Questionable Content also makes Postmodern Image Macros. Witness the glory of:

Invisible (Postmodern) Bicycle
Cosmic Cheeseburger
Something to think about in your "alone time"

In other news, since I appear to have secured gainful employment, I'm taking off to Sydney for a few days with [livejournal.com profile] goblinpaladin. [livejournal.com profile] phrasemuffin, if you're around and wish to Hang Out give me a ring or something. :D
highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (waltrot)
My dear friend Pixie sent me this juicy quote during StuVac (I like JUICE, she says. it helps to keep the colds away):

"Those who, driven by lust, cast out their semen like asses will contract red eyes and thick skin around the eyes and suffer from weakness of the eyes. Whoever performs this act with moderation and discipline will not damage and weaken his eyes very much." - Hildegard of Bingen, C12th

As far as I can tell, this means: "It be true. An excess of wanking maketh thou blind. Therefore, wanketh thou in moderation."
Pretty open minded, coming from a nun. Maybe she'd be a fan of SDMN? That involves "discipline."
highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)
Says [livejournal.com profile] goblinpaladin, quoting my previous entry: "It is a practical precaution against one of the realities of Anglo-Saxon life: another, stronger charm practitioner might easily steal your bees. Be warned."

^I have an image of two beekeepers both hurling dirt over a group of bees and chanting the charm in louder and louder voices, getting very angry.

And now I want to set this up as impromptu street theatre somewhere on campus in O-Week to get people into Old Englisc.

Yes, yes. So do I, very much. Or possibly for EMLAC day next year?
Although, were would we get a group of bees?
highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (waltrot)
Apparently Homeland Security Cheif Michael Chertoff recently promised that his discourse would be unambiguously clear, in Anglo-Saxon prose.
What exactly does this mean? Acephalous dissects Chertoff's word choice to find out. Subsequently, and somewhat more tolerantly, Dr Nokes applies George Orwell to the situation.

Meanwhile, J.J. Cohen offers suggestions on how to raise a medievalist.

For some amusement, Dr Nokes offers "Stuck In the Mead Hall", to the tune of the old Stealer's Wheel song.
I've got Celts to the left of me
A Saxon on my right, here I am
Stuck in the mead hall with you
I sent this to my anglo-saxonist mailing list. I believe at least one unsuspecting housecat was subjected to a rendition thereof. That poor cat- first it gets scared off the couch by its owner's distress at my footnote punctuation, then I cause bad filk songs to be sung at it.

Here's a sight you don't see every day: 700 year old church on the back of a truck.

Sydney University are currently ripping up one of the main streets on campus and moving a lot of dirt around in apparently random fashion. Last week [livejournal.com profile] mangelbojangel and his crazy theatrical friends sat out on the main road proper for an hour and a half and watched them dismantle a pedestrian overpass. As you do at 4 in the morning. Apparently it was very boring.
School renovations in Twyford, England, are rather more interesting. News via the Cranky Professor.
highlyeccentric: Steamed broccoli - an image of an angry broccoli floret (steamed)
Because naturally the important thing to be debating a month out from the election is female politicians' clothing.

Although the idea of Alexander Downer in fishnets is, as they say, strangely alluring.
In a way that makes me want to wash my mind out with soap.
highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (waltrot)

Over at Per Omni Saecula, Jenn brings us Weird Medieval Animal Monday, every Monday. You should check it out, religiously. You should particularly check out this week's profile on the wolf.

Particularly weird is the advice given to those who encounter wolves:

If a wolf sees a man before the man sees the wolf, the man will lose his voice. If the man sees the wolf first, the wolf can no longer be fierce. If a man loses his voice because the wolf saw him first, he should take off all his clothes and bang two rocks together, which will keep the wolf from attacking.

Says Jenn:
I can't help but thinking this was a big medieval prank. Some scribe got bored copying manuscripts all day and wanted to see if he could get people to take their clothes off and bang rocks together.

So there you go. You now know what to do, should you encounter a wolf this Halloween.
Also, since wolves are doing the rounds of the medieval blogs, Dr Nokes has put up a link to an online translation of Marie De France's Bisclavret, which is a werewolf story. Bisclavret is pretty darn cool. It's certainly the most fun thing I ever did in my French literature course last year. (I did love the medieval part of that unit... while everyone else was struggling to understand french textbooks on basic medieval history, I had a nice easy time- all it required of me was that I match up my english medieval vocabulary to the words on the page.) So, if you're procrastinating, or you're short of a supernatural tale for Halloween, you know where to go now.

highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (grammar time)
you feel a certain sympathy for this guy:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

his girlfriend must be an art historian. Or a physicist. She doesn't seem to be sharing the joys of subjunctive clauses.

* This mental image brought to you by the inestimable [livejournal.com profile] ulfruna, who bastardised this cartoon, which can be found on friendlyathiest.com
highlyeccentric: Me, in a costume viking helmet - captioned Not A Viking Helmet (not a viking)
Greetings! On this here friday i bring you a collection of links, to exiting and interesting blogs. Some of them I've been reading for some time now and have probably linked to before. Others are recently discovered.

On the intellectual side: check out Jonathan Jarret in "A Corner of Tenth Century Europe" as he navigates the nature of property ownership in the middle ages.
After some musing I at least came up with an answer that works for me, and predictably has a lot of Matthew’s thinking in it (there were reasons I worked with him, after all). I would say that medieval ownership is not of the actual land, as we might conceive of it, to do with it as you like. Neither however is it separate from the land as Matthew’s view might sometimes seem to imply. I think medieval landed property is the right to take revenue from an identified place.
(emphasis mine) interesting stuff, which will require your brain to be functioning as you read it.

While your brain is on, and only if you're feeling nerdy, proceed over to Heavenfield and read about Northumbrian Ethnogenesis. Or about my favourite people, the Venerable Bede and St Æþelþryþ.

A new discovery, courtest of Dr Virago at Quod She, is The Last Protestant Dinosaur. A useful reminder, for those of us over-exposed to Peter Jensen, that there are thinking Anglicans out there. I'm not going to agree with him every time, but you definitely can't say that he doesn't think long and hard about his beliefs. Check out his musings on "The way the truth and the life", his problems with Canterbury ("what could we through into Boston Harbor to protest prelacy without representation?") and his contemplations on the "Queen of the Sciences".
I quote from the latter:
For me, relinquishing our crown seems like a strong strategic move in the way that all death to false persona releases energy for new life. So many pastors tell me of the struggle to get the attention of their upwardly mobile families who have worked out strategies for passing on achievement and economic success to their children. Clearly they have declared where their self-interest lies and, considering the goals they articulate, they are wise. After all, getting involved with a living God with a track record of complicating the lives of her followers seems a risky investment at best - a junk bond, maybe... Spiritual journeys should be preceded by warning labels: "Warning this ride may cause extreme discomfort and get between you and your money."

Much less challenging but no less fun, i recommend Scribal Terror, for weird and whacky news and pictures. For example, check out the best security guards for chickens.

Also new, via Unlocked Wordhoard and In The Middle, is Dan Reimen of Wrætlic. I quote from his introductory post:
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. (emphasis mine, again)
I love him for the love he has of the text. Lovely text. Sexy language. (or is that just me?)

Speaking of love for language, I greatly appreciated Mary-Kate Hurley (Old English in New York)'s recent post over at In The Middle. She considers the concept of "endangered languages" and the human cost in language loss. Then she turns to her own dead languages, and her difficulties translating OE into modern english.
LJS's response was interesting. He discounted genre as a factor -- rather, he explained my problems with translation as a function of loving language. More precisely, a function of loving Old English more than I'll ever be able to love modern English. I'd never really thought the problem through in those terms, but it makes some sense. I nearly always go for the too-close-to-the-original in my translations. I think it's because I'm worried what my inability to be truly faithful to the original language I'll lose something vital. Or worse yet -- something still living in the dead language.
yes indeedy.
And she has some interesting things to say about translation and preservation of languages not-quite-dead-yet. Go, read.

And to round off with something frivolous: Geoffrey Chaucer speaks out in support ot Britney Spears.
highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (One Way)

[livejournal.com profile] lolgaimans directs us to the LOLCATZ translator, for all your inane captioning needs.

In an effort to improve the scholarly content currently available in LOLCAT, I present to you a draft paragraph from my current essay, on the Anglo-Saxon Boethius )

hehe. "influenzD by wikid doods"


highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)

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