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Showing posts from March, 2010

Character Study

It's 4 in the morning and I'm awake. Thankfully from that second (or third, or was it fourth?) glass of wine, not this time from crying. Not that I fenced all that brilliantly yesterday, but at least I fenced my D-Es well for once, even if I did lose all (yes, all) of my pool bouts. (This was Veteran Women's Epee, not Foil, but it still hurt.)

So there I was yesterday morning, sitting by the strip and thinking about something that (I think) Aldo Nadi once wrote, about how we reveal ourselves on the fencing strip, and I started making a list of things that might affect how I behave on strip. At the time, I had hopes that just sitting there writing might help prepare me for the pools. Who knows? I might have gotten even fewer touches than I did if I hadn't made the list. Here it is, for what it's worth.

1. I like to make lists. Making lists makes me feel secure, as if I have quite literally circumscribed a problem. Lists are more or less by nature finite, if a…

If At First You Don't Succeed...

I'm thinking, quit. None of this try, try again nonsense. Try, try again, and again, and again...and then what? Keep trying indefinitely until you're dead. Certainly, if you quit, you'll never know. But neither is there any guarantee that by trying you will succeed.

I was, yes, in tears again yesterday morning before my next event, talking with my husband on the phone. You know the conversation, I've had it so many times before: me, in tears, trying to figure out why I keep coming to these events when it is 99% certain that I am going to lose, he trying to figure out something to say that will help me stop crying, all the while (as he has told me before) not really understanding why it is that I feel this need to compete because, well, of course I'm going to lose. I'm not really an athlete.

It is all too easy to think of the ways in which I don't really practice as much as I should. I don't do drills; I don't do enough footwork; I don't …

Prayer for Indifference

My husband quite justifiably asks of what do I feel I have been cheated by yesterday's results? Did I really think that I should have been up there with the medalists? Well, no, not really. Okay, yes, but still, not really. What I want is some feeling of progress, a sense, any sense that my fencing has actually improved so that I might have the hope of, yes, one day, maybe getting up there with the winners rather than being yet again one of the ones taking photos of her friends. (They gave the winners chocolate in their goodie bags. Talk about adding insult to injury! It's not the winners who needed the chocolate! But never mind.)

Or is that it? I don't know any more. Do I have any hopes of ever making the medals round at a national tournament? I doubt it, I really do. Just as I have lost hope of ever owning a house or getting that promotion that I thought last year's leave might help me towards or publishing something that more than a few hundred people mi…

Been There, Done That

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Guess what? It still f*cking hurts.

Active & Contemplative

I spent all day yesterday conscious of the fact that it was the feast of the Annunciation and I hadn't posted anything to my new blog. Now it's nearly time to go to the tournament venue to warm up for Vet Women's Foil and I haven't written anything about my pre-tournament jitters. Yesterday I had the sort of excuse of traveling, although that isn't really much of an excuse as you all know I travel with my laptop and could easily have written something while I was waiting for my plane. But somehow my thoughts simply couldn't settle onto one theme, even as I knew that the only thing that was really worth writing about yesterday was the miracle of the Incarnation and the wonder of Mary's role in the redemption of humankind. Instead, I spent the flight reading in Dinesh D'Souza's What's So Great About Christianity (2007). I thought about reposting my thoughts from last year on the Annunciation, but that didn't seem quite right. And then I …

Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary

It is time. I need a place to start writing about all of the things that I want to say about devotion to the Blessed Virgin. Rather than burden Fencing Bear with this responsibility, I have--yes!--started a companion blog. Please have a visit. Here's the first post.

Itinerary for the Equinox

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6am EST Wake up in New Haven, Connecticut. Take shower. Finish reading Northrop Frye's The Educated Imagination.
7:15am EST Wake up son. Finish packing.
7:30am EST Leave hotel room. Find that the hotel has had herbal tea in the lobby all along. Make tea.
7:45am EST Catch taxi to airport. Drink tea while talking with taxi driver about the weather.
8:00am EST Arrive at airport only to find it filled with medievalists. Eat yummy little bread loaf left over from lunch the day before at Claire's Corner Copia.
8:50am EST Board plane with "Zone 3" to sit in row 7 out of 9. Note that passengers include three Chicago medieval historians (counting self), plus at least four other Midwest medievalists.
9:15am EST Take off. Flight time approximately 4o minutes, plus time to circle over Philadelphia waiting to land. Read about gardens in Northrop Frye's The Great Code.
10:10am EST Land in Philadelphia.
10:25am EST Get shuttle bus to change terminals.
10:45am EST Get tuna …

Where's Mom?

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(For all those not in the know, the Medieval Academy of America is meeting this weekend in New Haven. Happily, the dogs don't seem too worried about how far away it is.)

Reading Notes

p. xviii: "Every teacher of the humanities employed by a university is expected to be a 'productive scholar,' and in the present state of criticism not everyone can be that. It follows that there have to be critical methods developed, including my own in its narrower aspect, which enable scholars to produce what are primarily academic exercises, not really increasing the understanding of literature as a whole but demonstrating a certain competence in the subject."

p. 16: "In the medieval theory of polysemous meaning, or at least in Dante's exposition of it, there is nothing that directly corresponds to our conceptual mode, but there are two levels of what I am calling the rhetorical one. The first is 'allegorical' (better called analogical or typological); answering the question quid credas, what you should believe; the other moral or tropological, answering the question quid agas, what you should do. We can call these the theory and practice respe…

The Unbearable Singularity of Christianity and the Relativity (or Not) of Ethics

"The one real objection to the Christian religion is simply that it is one religion. The world is a big place, full of very different kinds of people. Christianity (it may reasonably be said) is one thing confined to one kind of people; it began in Palestine, it has practically stopped with Europe [and the Americas, but never mind--FB]. I was duly impressed with this argument in my youth, and I was much drawn towards the doctrine often preached in Ethical Societies--I mean the doctrine that there is one great unconscious church of all humanity founded on the omnipresence of the human conscience. Creeds, it was said, divided men; but at least morals united them. The soul might seek the strangest and most remote lands and ages and still find essential ethical common sense. It might find Confucius under Eastern trees, and he would be writing 'Thou shalt not steal.' It might decipher the darkest hieroglyphic on the most primeval desert, and the meaning when deciphered …

Nothing to Say

Let's face it: argument drives scholarship. If we all agreed on how to see the world, if nobody ever made what others consider interpretive mistakes, there would be, quite simply, nothing to say. We might spend some time writing definitions or descriptions, but once written, they'd be finished, after which we could spend our time doing something else, like watching the flowers grow. Academics need arguments in the same way that fencers need opponents. No opponent, no fencing match; no disagreement, misunderstanding, misinterpretation, no academic research.

Okay, okay, so maybe I'm just using the wrong metaphor here: "Argument is War." Maybe arguments are buildings and we should concentrate rather on their construction, building up their foundations and making them safe for people to live and work in. But buildings come with their own reasons for being: people don't like being rained on while they're asleep; wind makes it difficult to work with papers…

Dog & Cat

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Dies Natalis

It's a rainy old day outside. Not storming, just dripping gently, just enough to tantalize the puppy when we go out for her to do her business, but not enough to drive us back in without giving her some time to play. My husband is off to work and my son is at school. So now I'm here at home alone with the pets--and the memories.

Today is the fifth anniversary of my father's death. It doesn't hurt as much to say that as I thought it would. Perhaps there has simply been enough time. Perhaps I am no longer feeling guilty for having spent the last week of his life finishing that article now that it is finally published and, even better, being well-received. Indeed, it may turn out to be one of the most important things I have ever written.* More to the point, in so many ways, I wrote it for him. I wish....

I was going to write, "I wish that he had been able to read it." But he didn't need to. I had been arguing over its argument with him for years. A…

Joy Like Swords, Poignant as Grief

One of my most loyal blog readers (who wishes to remain anonymous) sent me this comment on yesterday's post: "It was refreshing to have a fun, positive blog to read--maybe you should concentrate on similar items more often!" To which my not-entirely-charitable knee-jerk response would necessarily be: "I would love to, if only I weren't such an Eeyore and actually felt that happy more often."

Okay, okay, I'm not being fair. Because, of course, in part at least, she's right. Maybe if I wrote about happy things more often, I would feel happier more of the time, although, again, of course, that's one of the reasons that I keep this blog: more often than not, it is only in writing about the things that are upsetting me (or, perhaps more accurately, that I am upset about) that I am able to see them in a clearer light and thus feel better. (As, for example, here, when I had a rather different experience taking my puppy for a walk than I did this pa…

Spirit Guide

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How can I describe it? My heart is singing. Thanks to my puppy, my Dragon Baby, my Joy, I no longer live in a city of asphalt and automobiles, days without sunlight spent all indoors. Instead, I find I am surrounded by magic. Treasures to discover, fantastic beasts to meet, dense forests and winding pathways to explore. Suddenly, our backyard is no longer simply a patch of dying grass impossible to maintain, but an enchanted garden, filled with mysterious plants with uncertain powers, surrounded by animals seen and unseen.* Suddenly, our neighborhood is no longer simply a space between campus and home to be traversed as quickly as possible lest I lose time from my work, but a whole world of people to talk to and buildings to admire, sidewalks and grass to sniff. And campus itself, whose architectural and botanical beauty was always previously for me something rather impersonal and cold, is now a realm of leisured walks and captivating vistas.

Oh, dear, I am not doing this experi…

Quote for the Day

"Intellectual pursuit, whatever the method it brings into play, is for the believer always a struggle where he knows from the start that he will ultimately be overcome by the mystery, and where, at the very start, he accepts this defeat with joy."

--Henri de Lubac, Medieval Exegesis: Vol. 3. The Four Senses of Scripture, trans. E. M. Macierowski (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2009), p. 232.

Living Mythology

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The Baby Dragon with her Hoard

The Baby Dragon at the Roots of Yggdrasil

Songs of Youth

All I can say is, "Thank goodness for iTunes!"

These are songs that I haven't listened to for over twenty years. I think I could probably find the cassette tapes if I dug around in the closet a bit, and I still have my old Radio Shack cassette player somewhere around here. But it's not the same listening to tapes as playing the songs on your iPod. Plus, we don't have a cassette player in the car anymore.

But these are just excuses, not really reasons. Why haven't I listened to this music in such a long time? These are the songs of my youth, the songs that I used to listen to over and over and over again, so much so that even now, decades later, I remember not only all of the lyrics, but even the music, not, of course, so as to be able to play it (sigh), but it's there, deep in my memory, a part of my soul. Pretty corny, eh?

Have you noticed that I'm not telling you which songs I'm actually listening to? I want to, very much, but what if you …