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The difficult art of prose. Oscar Wilde, his Oxford years and the Greeks

Oscar Wilde. courtesy of the Oxonian Review. Source

Oscar Wilde. courtesy of the Oxonian Review. Source

Since I’ve been experiencing in the last month ‘the difficult art of prose’ in a foreign language (text will be rewritten three times, here’s the Italian original, definitely better) I’ve googled the said words and have found this article by Thomas Wright on Oscar Wilde that I liked quite a lot (and which incidentally considers the notion in an entirely different way.)

Apart from the difference between poetry writing and prose writing, the article is rich with details about Oscar Wilde’s education at Oxford (it seems that Wilde’s poetry blossomed at Oxford; then Walter Pater came and said: “Why do you always write poetry?”)

At Magdalen College, Oxford, “Wilde flourished in variegated ways – Thomas Wright narrates. “He mastered the rigors of the literae humaniores or ‘Greats’ course […]”

“During his undergraduate years Wilde also perfected the persona—part aesthete, part Disraelian dandy, and part Athenian philosopher—with which he would later make a splash in London’s artistic and social circles.

The aesthetic flaneur who liked to pose as a ‘dilettante trifling with his books’ at Oxford was really only pretending to be wicked. The truth was, Wilde read hard ‘surreptitiously, into the small hours’ in a bedroom bursting with books and cigarette smoke.”

“Along with all the primary and secondary set texts of his Greats course,” – Thomas Wright goes on – “he devoured at Magdalen the writings of Hegel, Kant, Schopenhauer, Darwin, Clifford, Buckle, and Spencer, drawing from them the central tenets of his own intellectual credo.”

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After analysing the influence played on O.W. by Walter Pater and his Studies in the History of the Renaissance (1873), the article mentions John Addington Symonds’ two-volume Studies of the Greek Poets (1873 & 1876), another of Wilde’s “golden books.”

What Thomas Wright writes here is interesting:

“A Trinity [College, Dublin, MoR] contemporary would recall Wilde’s love of Studies—the book was, he remembered, perpetually in Wilde’s hands. […]”

“Studies offers an imaginative analysis of most of the surviving corpus of Greek literature; Symonds also discusses Greek historiography, mythology, philosophy, and the genius of Greek art. In the late 19th century, classical works were often regarded, in Mahaffy’s words, as ‘mere treasure-houses of roots and forms to be sought out by comparative grammarians’, with many classicists focusing solely on the linguistic minutiae of the texts. The historicist school of scholarship was also prominent in the period […]

In Studies, Symonds eschewed both philological and historicist approaches. He attempted instead to enter [emphasis by  MoR] into a stimulating dialogue, across the centuries, with the ancients. He regarded the Greeks as essentially modern men, whose literature spoke directly to 19th-century readers. He also believed that the ancients had exercised a profound influence on contemporary culture. “Except the blind forces of nature,” he declared, “nothing moves in this world that is not Greek in its origin”—a phrase that Wilde would quote with approval. Symonds drew attention to the many points at which modern and ancient cultures touched, comparing Aristophanes to Mozart, Aeschylus to Shakespeare, Greek Myth to Medieval Romance, and Greek drama to European Opera. Wilde marked many of these parallels in his copy of Studies.

Wilde enthusiastically embraced Symonds’s approach to the ancients […]

ψ

A side note by MoR. Symonds’ approach is extreme and simplistic. He doesn’t consider:

1. That the Greeks were just dwarfs on the shoulder of giants (their mythology, philosophy, science and art would not exist without the Egyptians, the Hebrews, the entire Fertile Crescent up to Mesopotamia) 2. that these giants were in their turn dwarfs, at their beginnings, on the shoulders of someone else (even though deprived of writing) 3. Rome’s substantial, and creative, contribution 4. the contribution of India and China, equally substantial 4. the Arabs etc.

And yet in many ways he is right, in my view, as this blog tries to point out in various ways (see a list of posts below, although ‘a quirky research on Romanness’ says it all’.)

Capitoline She-Wolf. Rome, Musei Capitolini. Public domain

Related posts.

The Weird Story of a Beautiful Girl Whose Body Was Found Incorrupt in a Coffin

14 Places in Egypt You Must Visit in 2014

Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Syria etc. Arab Spring Revolutions seen from Rome (2)

Over at Cheri’s. Alcibiades, the Golden Dude of Classical Greece

Dear Voters of Scotland: I care

Dear Voters of Scotland: I care

Man of Roma:

Worthy of meditation.

Originally posted on Abstractions of Life:

Dear Voters of Scotland

I am writing to you about your upcoming independence vote. I cannot help but feel that as an English-British person I am not allowed an opinion on the matter, which bothers me. Voicing solidarity with either the Better Together or the Lets Stay Together campaign has clearly become a frowned upon thing to do from south of the Scottish border. If you have a Scottish friend around for dinner in England you will no doubt find the topic the elephant in the room; nobody wants to broach the subject for fear of retribution.

I mean, blatantly it is not our fight; we haven’t the right to vote therefore haven’t the right to comment.

Except, not speaking about the subject at all seems to me to be counter productive. It is like saying we don’t really care what the outcome is because it isn’t our business. This sort…

View original 678 more words

This Blog is on Vacation for One Month

Monte Rosa in the clouds

Monte Rosa in the Clouds. Its main peak is located in Switzerland although it is “the second-highest massif in Italy” [Wikipedia]. It is, too, one of the favourite vacation places of the Piedmontese. Source

Dear readers, in order to celebrate Feriae Augusti, or Ferragosto as we say in Italian (by contracting the ancient Latin phrase,) this blog will be sleeping for one month.

Mario: “Or will be in catatonia, one might say. Is that by any chance due to peaking temperatures and intolerable heat?”

MoR: “No, since the weather is cool along coastal Italy, even cold at times, with frequent storms and lightning bolts – not to mention internal Italy and the Alps (OMG) where I unfortunately, and very stupidly, chose to find refuge.”

Claudia: “So why CATATONIA eccheccavolo??”

Extropian. “Because in slumber, or death, there is more life than in their opposites.”

Φ

If you want to know more (within an orgy of crime, sex, Evil and Good fighting their neverending battle) read here.

Man of Roma

Where is Europe going? Andreas Kluth from the Economist & others (Richard, Christopher, Andy, Cyberquill etc.) Discussion gets heated (and LONG.) 3

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Andreas Kluth, Berlin Bureau Chief, The Economist & Author of Hannibal and Me.

Andreas Kluth – Berlin Bureau Chief plus Germany Correspondent for the Economist – is author of ‘Hannibal and Me: What History’s Greatest Military Strategist Can Teach Us About Success and Failure.’ See A.Kluth’s Twitter account & blog

 

[Work in progress, it’ll take the whole day since I’m busy; you can read and comment the continuously edited text in the meanwhile]

[Now – 18: 00 European central time – I have to play some J.S. Bach in a band made of friends; links and other comments will be inserted tonite or tomorrow (Cyberquill, Thomas etc. u gotta wait) ]

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Here’s a selection of comments arrived in floods in response to Professor Piero Boitani’s “open” letter to David Cameron [unabridged discussion.]

A reflection on Europe vs the UK – or on Europe vs the US or vs the Mediterranean countries etc. – has always been present in this blog. See a post that is like a prologue to the present dialogues, or another on the Arab shores of the Mediterranean vis-a-vi the North shores.

The discussion this time though got A LOT heated because Europe – just my opinion – is at a big turning point. Better still, the entire world is.

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Let us therefore leave the floor to commenters.

To some of Professor Piero Boitani’s main points, first, so that we can better interpret responses from our slice of the blogosphere, eg by Richard, Andy, Christopher, Potsoc, T. E. Stazyk, Cyberquill, Sledpress etc. and by Berlin Bureau Chief for The Economist Andreas Kluth (see caption above) we all have the pleasure (and honour) to dialogue with since many years.

[Andreas Kluth is Germany Correspondent for the Economist & author of “Hannibal and Me: What History’s Greatest Military Strategist Can Teach Us About Success and Failure” (A. Kluth’s blog.) ALL links in this post are mine, MoR]

Source and clip

Source and clip

Piero Boitani:

“Dear PM,

[original text; Richard’s 1rst comment, below, quotes it all; I cut it just a bit]

I have followed the recent developments in your attitude to the EU with a growing sense of concern and irritation.

Since the age of 10, I have been a strong anglophile.  I have studied in England, have taught and published there. […]  Quite frankly, I do not understand your opposition to Juncker, which has left Britain isolated in Europe with Orban’s Hungary (sic!).

Juncker is by no means the ideal President of the European Commission, but he is no worse than, say, Barroso. Was your opposition dictated by the fact that Junker is supposed to be a ´federalist´ and that he was indicated by the European Parliament rather than the governments? […]

Britain ought to examine herself very deeply on the matter of Europe. The cultural roots of Britain are European, from the 1st century AD to the present. […]

What is there in ‘Europe’ that annoys the UK? Its bureaucratic structure? […] Or is it that Britain does not want a supranational European state, something many (not all) Europeans want so that Europe may count more in a globalized world?

But Britain already is out of that state. It has ‘opted out’ of so many things. But to think that it can stop the others from having a tighter union if they so wish, wouldn´t that be considered presumptuous in any human relationship? […]

If Britain, at the end of such self-examination process, decides it wants to leave the EU, I shall be sad, but will face the situation serenely – and will give up my strong anglophilia […].

Piero Boitani, Rome

n_dylan_4kluth_120105.blocks_desktop_large

Andreas Kluth [complete comment] :

“Britain’s place within (or without) the EU is one big topic. Whether Juncker was the right person for commish is another big topic. How the EU develops as a whole (with or without Britain) is a third, and the biggest.

Nobody is excited about Juncker, not even Merkel.

He will be the next commission president because of the weird head-game his rival, Martin Schulz (German, SPD), played with the concept of Spitzenkandidaten.

Somehow the German SPD convinced all Germans and most Europeans that it is more democratic if each party nominates a top candidate and the one from the strongest party then automatically becomes commissioner. They were hoping it would be Schulz, but now it is Juncker.

That Spitzenkandidaten method, however, is barely known outside Germany and alien to many Europeans. It is also not enshrined in any EU treaty. Cameron was right to question the method and insist on the prerogative of the Council to nominate a commissioner which the parliament then confirms. He was wrong only to persist in his blocking after it became clear that he left himself isolated.

Merkel and other members of the German elite want Britain to stay in the EU. They view the UK, with Germany, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Austria and Poland as a liberal bloc with interests in less state-centric economic models. Britain’s exit (a BREXIT, it’s called) would hurt the EU in many ways. The main one may be that the EU could go in a wrong direction, the sort that France is associated with.

But the big question is where next for the EU as a structure, with or without the UK.

For most of my life, the direction was “ever closer union”, with ever more integration. The result of the May election is that people no longer want this. So we may have to switch from a “hamiltonian” model to a “holy roman empire” model [you might like this post by A. Kluth on such topics, MoR]. The former is named after Alexander Hamilton, who gave the loose confederation of the United States a stronger federal constitution. Here the EU in effect becomes a country. The latter is named after the 300+-member Holy Roman Empire as it came to be after the Thirty Years War. Here sovereignty stays with the member states in all but a few areas, under the principle of subsidiarity.

In the euro zone, a “looser union” will be more difficult, of course, because with the currency we are now attached at the hip. Hence “banking union”, as it is now coming to pass and other attempts to integrate and align these different economies.

Sooner or later, however, we will discover in the EU that we need each other. Putin may provide the impetus in the east. American may provide it in the west, because it will gradually retreat from the continent, leaving us to look after our security ourselves. And we can only do that together.

 

Richard [original comment] : “[…] For ease of reference, I reproduce [P. Boitani’s] paragraphs and deal with them seriatim.

1 :
“I have followed the recent developments in your attitude to the EU with a growing sense of concern and irritation […] I do not understand your opposition to Juncker […] Was your opposition dictated by the fact that Junker is supposed to be a ´federalist´ and that he was indicated by the European Parliament rather than the governments? That is actually a more democratic method […] “

Comment:
Indication by the majority party in the European Parliament for appointment to the Presidency of the Commission does not necessarily make the process a more democratic one, for a number of reasons. A) There is no requirement for the appointee to stand for election to the post B) the appointee may never have stood for any election to a representative body of the EU C) he is not a member of the Parliament and is not answerable to it D) Analogy to the British Parliament, which is sovereign, fails on all these counts and in particular the House of Commons has the power, in practical terms, to dismiss the Prime Minister: in form the Prime Minister has constitutionally to command the support of a majority if the House of Commons and if he fails to do so he is obliged to tender his resignation to the Queen, who is obliged to accept it.

2.
“In short, your opposition seems to me purely instrumental – […] Unless at the back of it all be an unconfessed attempt at going with the presumed British feeling of annoyance with the EU. Threatening the other EU members with ‘The UK will leave the EU if Juncker is nominated’, or ‘Anti-European feelings in Britain will grow to the point that the 2017 referendum will turn out to be against Britain staying in the UK’, is quite inappropriate, and useless, blackmail.”

Comment:
This series of opinions does not take into account the will of the British people as expressed in the elections, which is not prompted by a sense of annoyance alone but also by a reasoned concern for the failure of the EU A) to accommodate and absorb a differing legal system and to note how Scotland, though within the UK, has preserved its own legal system for 300 years B) to meet established democratic expectations C) to recognise the perceived shortcomings in the rule of law and in the unfair distribution of the burdens and benefits of membership D) to satisfy an audit of income and expenditure. D) to accept the will of the people as expressed in democratic elections E) to make its deliberations public or to report intentions faithfully.

3.
“Britain ought to examine herself […] on the matter of Europe. [There is first] a question of [Britan’s] roots and culture [which are] European, from the 1st century AD to the present. Yes, there is also a different strain, wider and tied to the British expansion on the sea, and narrower because of its feeling of insularism and isolation from the Continent. But at the critical moments in history, Britain has always made a decidedly European choice, witness the Napoleonic wars and First and Second WW.”

Comment

The British are restless under authority and it is not practical to tell them to examine themselves deeply on the question of Europe. Their democracy is an old one, they are politically sophisticated, they are likely to have made, and will continue to make, such examination of their own accord, and their governments are used to accepting the democratic will. Part of that sophistication is a willingness by the individual to accept a government that holds opinions diametrically opposed to her own and a corresponding understanding by government of the need to take into account the wishes of minorities.

It is not altogether correct that British cultural roots are European. There was a relatively advanced social system and culture in place on the arrival of Claudius in 43AD. He came principally for the rich mineral deposits and the Roman occupation was not initially taken easily. The indigenous kings were quick, however, to acknowledge the many benefits of an advanced civilisation and the occupiers were, in their turn, willing to absorb them into their system. It was the Roman way to crack down on rebellion with an iron fist, otherwise more of the existing system would have been left in place. Britain readily acknowledges the irrepayable debt it owes to Rome in so many ways, but its long presence here is as much to do with willing Romanisation as with force – a lesson in itself for the EU.

King Alfred, the only one of the Saxon kings to be called Great, the founder of the navy, the giver of laws, the translator of the bible into the vernacular, the conqueror of the vikings, the creator of England, was profoundly inspired and influenced by his visit to Rome as a child.

Britain has a tradition of classical scholarship and has been deeply influenced by it.

All this does not mean that England remained like Europe. With its roots in Saxon custom, the Common Law began under Henry II in the 12th Century and the first Parliament was called in the 13th Century, the century of Magna Carta. These roots are not shared with Europe.

It is not clear how resisting European threats in the Napoleonic and First and Second World Wars can be represented as a “decidedly European choice”.

4.
“Secondly, there are political and economic reasons. Would the UK be better off outside the EU? Or, has Britain been worse off since it joined the then EEC? To say so would be a gross error. Has Britain been less ‘free’ since joining the EEC? You drive on the left and use miles, pounds, and pints. You have kept the pound sterling. You are out of Schengen. Is someone forcing you to eat taramasalata or sauerkraut? Or to learn ‘foreign’ languages? Or to surrender your navy to the Germans?

Comment
It is impossible to prove one way or another whether membership of the EU has been to British advantage. Its fortunes and those of Europe are naturally linked but that does not mean that it has to be part of the EU and the advantages of continued membership are, at the very least, controversial. Similar arguments were made prior to the UK referendum in 1975.

There is a sense that Britain is less free to determine its own affairs because of the EU. Apart from the pound sterling, the other influences mentioned are trivial.

5.
“What is there in ‘Europe’ that annoys the UK? Its bureaucratic structure? I admit it could be simplified and made more efficient, but you must yourself admit that a democratic administration for nearly thirty countries is not easy to achieve without a bureaucracy, and that the mandate of this bureaucracy is to uniform and unify, not keep the thousand tiny differences that exist within Europe. If you want free circulation of people and goods among those 30 countries, you will need laws – uniform laws all over – to protect that circulation. Didn´t the British Empire do exactly this, impose the same laws all over?

Comment
There is annoyance, but it derives from the reasoned judgments set out in the set out above and the refusal to debate them.

Rome governed the whole of its empire with a tiny bureaucracy. There is in principle no reason why a modern democracy should not aim to do the same.

It is the mandate that Britain takes issue with. If European unity is truly desired, that mandate need not prevail.

The need for laws is not disputed. It is the nature of those laws, how they are created and how they are observed that count. As to uniformity, please see the case of Scottish Law within the UK cited in 2 above.

6.
“Or is it that Britain does not want a supranational European state, something many (not all) Europeans want so that Europe may count more in a globalized world? But Britain already is out of that state. It has ‘opted out’ of so many things. But to think that it can stop the others from having a tighter union if they so wish, wouldn´t that be considered presumptuous in any human relationship?

Comment
Yes. All these matters are legitimate areas for debate.

7.
“Yet the British public is annoyed by Europe (you will of course understand that the rest of Europe might be slightly annoyed with Britain). I suggest that the British public serenely and rationally examine themselves about Europe and decide once and for all whether they want to stay in or quit. Should they decide to leave, they should realize that they will give up, together with what they consider the disadvantages of being in the EU, also the advantages.

Comment
It is better to draw conclusions after debate not prior to it. It is possible for Britain and the EU to separate, but not Britain and Europe.

8.
“One no longer is a member of a family, or a club, if one decides to leave it. They shall have to pay duty on their wines from Europe and grow resigned to selling less whisky in Europe because we will have to pay more duty on it. But at least they will stop having headaches about being or not being European, being or not being in the EU.

Comment
Again it is premature to reach conclusions on these matters prior to a debate on the larger issues. Will the EU debate them?

9.
“I confess that I feel upset when I have to show my passport upon entering Britain. I am particularly annoyed at having to change euros into sterling (something from which only banks profit) and having to buy plug adaptors for every electrical appliance I acquire either on the Continent or in Britain (something from which only the makers of such adaptors profit).

Comment
Unfortunately, annoyances are an inevitable part of life. A proper debate on the longer term issues may lead to an alleviation of some annoyances, but not all.

10.
“If Britain, at the end of such self-examination process, decides it wants to leave the EU, I shall be sad, but will face the situation serenely – and will give up my strong anglophilia without any further headache.

Comment
Britain will of its own accord continue its self-examination before and after a referendum, whether in or out of the EU. Many in the EU will conduct their own self-examination.

It would be a sad failure of the EU if anyone were to reject the call of one of its constituent states with all its diversity, different allegiances and varied opinions all on account of the prejudices of a fledgling institution and at the first major sign of dissent. It is not encouraging for the comity of nations.

 

Andy [Englishman & long time blog pal; I met him face to face; titles by MoR] :

Democracy. To whom is this letter addressed […] To Cameron when, in fact, it’s not for Cameron but for the British public. This letter is to chastise Cameron for his opposition to Juncker. And yet, the letter appears in the Independent. This probably excludes 80% of the population. […]

He talks about democracy when, in fact, the people of Britain (and, to some extent, of Europe as a whole) don’t feel there is much that is democratic about the EU. Most people don’t even know who these people are! The problem with the EU controlling powers and people is that they are such a long way from the ordinary person who lives in Europe. I live in Italy where, for some time now, we have been run by someone who isn’t elected by the people, so here it is accepted. But, in Britain where, as Richard rightly says, a PM without a mandate is required to tender his resignation to the Queen and fight (if he/she wishes) a new election, it is not acceptable. The problem is that, even if there is democracy in the EU, it is not seen as democratic.

Lack of understanding. […] I don’t think that Cameron’s reaction was so much a result of Farage’s victory as in what that victory emphasises with regard to the feelings of the British people. And Cameron’s future as PM is dictated by the will of the (near-)majority of Britons – namely the next general election. He needs to be re-elected. He will do what he thinks it will take to BE elected. THAT’s the reason for it. He’s trying to emulate Thatcher (at least in the eyes of the electorate.)

Culture. I’m with Richard 100% of the way regarding culture. British culture is completely different from Europe. Our influences have come not only from Europe but from the Empire. […]

The fact that Britain managed to retain some things does not mean that some things have not been “lost” to Europe. Petrol is now sold in litres, sugar in kilograms. He simply has no idea how the changes we made to accommodate the “European way” affected us! (I speak on a personal note as I was at school at the time)

As Richard rightly says, it is the mandate that annoys us. And, to be honest, the thousand tiny differences are really important. Trying to change most aspects of a person’s life and habits in such a short time is counterproductive. People (and, certainly British people) tend to push back the more someone pushes against us. Stop it! Brussels should be the light hand, guiding countries towards unity. Not introducing laws to make Europe homogeneous which, after all these years, we are not.

Tighter union. The desire for a tighter union was the reason for Britain becoming involved in the wars in Europe. He’s right in one way, we are scared of a supranational state right on our doorstep – in the same way that we were scared of Hitler’s desire for a homogenous Europe. And I’m really not sure that the majority of European citizens would be in total agreement with him. But has he even asked?

I too get annoyed about having to show my passport when I return to the UK – and mine is a British passport! I too wish that Britain had the Euro – it would make my life so much easier. But I fully understand the reasoning. I joke with my fellow Italians that the reason Britain hasn’t adopted the Euro is simply because Europe won’t let us have the Queen’s head on the Euro notes and coins. But is it really a joke? After all, underlying this is the fact that someone is telling us what to do. If someone asks me nicely and it doesn’t make me feel bad or harm me or mine, then they will probably get what they want. If they try to tell me what to do or make me do something, I tend to, at best, ignore it.

And if, at the end of this, he can happily “give up my strong anglophilia without any further headache” should Britain leave the EU, then I think he’s misunderstood the meaning of anglophile. My love for Italy and for things Italian is not affected by the bad things about Italy or the bad things that Italy may do. I love Italy in spite of these things. Perhaps he might want to reconsider how strong his anglophilia is, if, in fact, it exists? You can’t just love the country and the people because they do everything you want, you know?

 

MoR: “WOW, Andy, I understand your point(s). You make the annoyance of Britain VERY clear (also with splendid writing incidentally.)

Although, in my view – as I’ve expressed it below, annoyance (yours, ours, no matter who’s) is just a tempest in a glass.

A BIG TSUNAMI with waves unheard-of is about to crush us all (us Europeans, at least, if not tighter united: we are cornered I guess).

That you don’t see this tsunami arriving makes your insulation, well, dangerous. Or, worse, you see it and you don’t give a damn because you think it won’t reach you.

Andy: “MoR, thank you for your kind words. I have to add that this is my view of how Britons see Europe and my response to the letter where the author clearly didn’t understand the British thinking. […] I am intrigued as to what this tsunami might be? […] What on earth do you envisage coming next?”

MoR: “[P. Boitani] clearly didn’t understand the British thinking .

From what I know of him, he probably knows the English better than you, also for the fact that he can see them from the outside, a big advantage, my friend.

I am intrigued as to what this tsunami might be? What on earth do you envisage coming next?

The fact that you are asking is not only evidence, as small as it may be, that I may be right (little matters) but of the fact that you people beyond the Channel are blind.

Scary.

You are still the shepherds in many things for many folks (Australia etc., the US to a lesser degree, but you have imprinted them) and for us too (we need you & and we are fascinated by you – not only the MoR lol – since you are our exact opposite.)

Well, where will the sheep go if the shepherds got lost in the mist?

This is the widespread impression ‘on the Continent’ (as sensed by the MoR)

MoR [too many quotes of the MoR but other commenters are arriving, they need the entire picure. Mario: “The way you see it? Gosh” MoR: “It is *my* cafe, shut up]

[*MoR is woken up by a chirp chirp from his phone at 2 am in the morning. He unfortunately gets m-a-d*]

My dear Richard, you English people are as hard as a rock behind a polish of polite manners, so let’s see who’s harder since we have the rocks of the Alps here.

I DON’T GIVE A DAMN about my premises (and you too but will never admit it) [my reasoning was good imo but I had made the darn premises mistake]

We Continental People – Germany, Austria, France, Spain, Italy, Poland, Holland etc etc – need a *tighter* unification to survive before the huge challenges ahead worldwide so we will get it, and a tiny rainy island like yours – blinded by a past of only 12 generations and lost in an opiate dream that she can still count something – cannot stop it.

Evidence my words are not a-blowing in the wind is the absolute defeat of Mr. David Cameron.

I am not different from Professor Piero Boitani, we’re both true Romans, ardent and good-natured, but when it comes to fighting for a cause we believe in, we Romans (and Italians) have guts superior to yours, believe me (not to mention the contribution to world culture by the Italians and by the Continentals that is overwhelmingly superior to England’s, du point de vue cumulatif mais pas seulement cumulatif, les Italiens suffice.)

Besides, the fact that I love Britain, I love you and Andy, the English IT student I had a rimpatriata with today, Solid Gold and the US Wasps etc etc but also love the French, the Germans, the Austrians, the Spanish, the Russians the Chinese, the Indians (and I know decently enough 7 languages) is evidence of the fact that I am cosmopolitan in space and time, non parochial, while you people beyond the Channel … I’ll stop, I don’t want to be too rude to friends.

[I didn’t by the way mention Professor Piero Boitani since he’s immensely more cosmopolitan than me]

Thus said, next Sunday I will cheer Germany, not Argentina despite the blood bonds with this country and my love for Pope Francis. The upcoming match is already called here the ‘match of the two popes’.

As you can see, Roma, not Londinium, is at the centre of everything

 

Manius Papirius Lentulus (soldier of Rome) & Massimo: totally rewritten

Posted on
The gorgeous Sutton Hoo helmet reconstructed

The gorgeous Sutton Hoo helmet reconstructed

The story of Manius Papirius Lentulus & Massimo has been totally rewritten (as a draft, of course.) You can read it here.

α

The Samnite: “What are you talking about?”

Giorgio: “Well, you know that novel we were discussing here in our living room a couple of months ago.”

The Samnite: “You mean the story on both Ancient Britannia & today’s Rome?”

Giorgio: “Exactly. It foresees at least two universes, but I would say infinite ones, as Giordano Bruno had imagined – the one burned by the Catholic Church in the late Counter Reformation Renaissance – & as modern physicists imagine today too.”

ω

Ok, readers, words are enough.

All the best,

MoR

[*enjoying Brazil- Germany on TV, and feeling sorry for the humiliation of a great soccer team. They have to react, damn! Massimo, soccer ex promising star: “Their defence is too weak, although it has always been like that …”  Giorgio: Brazil 1-7 Germany. Astonishing. Not that I am not glad for Germany, although I am thinking of those favelas where soccer is the salt of life …*]

Where is Europe going? Piero Boitani’s letter to David Cameron (debate at the Man of Roma’s cafe). 2

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David Cameron &  Jean-Claude Junker controversy over Europe

Jean-Claude Juncker (left), now president of the European Commission (voted by the European Council and recently by the European Parliament) was fiercely opposed by David Cameron. Britain and Hungary were isolated. “Instead of building alliances in Europe – said Ed Milliband, leader of the British opposition – ” he’s burned them”

I warmly thank Professor Piero Boitani for letting me publish here the letter to the British PM David Cameron he has just sent to the London’s daily The Independent.

Piero Boitani – a medievalist, Dante scholar, steeped in ancient myth as well as modern literatures – is Professor of Comparative Literature at Sapienza, University of Rome, and is also teaching at the Universities of Notre Dame, Indiana, and of Italian Switzerland.

He is also – among the rest, the list IS mind-boggling – Fellow of the British Academy and Honorary Member of the Dante Society of America (together with Umberto Eco.)

Here is Piero Boitani’s voice, loud and clear.

[a ‘Roman from Rome with ancient traits’ voice, I’d say. Wonder if he’d agree, he is not a reader of this blog, he doesn’t need to; links below are MoR’s, not Professor Piero Boitani’s]

Professor Piero Boitani is an extrovert despite his immense knowledge. Goethe wrote somewhere that  “the one who doesn’t understand 3000 years of history, lives in the dark, unaware, from day to day."

Blue-eyed, pensive, P. Boitani is an extrovert despite his deep knowledge. Goethe wrote that “the one who doesn’t understand 3000 years of history, lives in the dark, unaware, from day to day.” It is not the case of Piero Boitani, as one learns by reading his magnum opus, Il Grande Racconto delle Stelle [quote from here]

Dear PM,

I have followed the recent developments in your attitude to the EU with a growing sense of concern and irritation. Since the age of 10, I have been a strong anglophile. I have studied in England, have taught and published there. I visit it at least once a year. Quite frankly, I do not understand your opposition to Juncker, which has left Britain isolated in Europe with Orban’s Hungary (sic!).  Juncker is by no means the ideal President of the European Commission, but he is no worse than, say, Barroso. Was your opposition dictated by the fact that Junker is supposed to be a ´federalist´ and that he was indicated by the European Parliament rather than the governments? That is actually a more democratic method of indicating a new President than the old one of negotiations between national governments. Is Juncker against novelty or reforms of the EU? Well, governments can actually make Juncker do what they like, so if they want reforms he will pursue reforms.

In short, your opposition seems to me purely instrumental – dictated more by Mr Farage’s victory in the recent EU elections, i.e., by UK politics, than by the well-being of Britain. Unless at the back of it all be an unconfessed attempt at going with the presumed British feeling of annoyance with the EU. Threatening the other EU members with ‘The UK will leave the EU if Juncker is nominated’, or ‘Anti-European feelings in Britain will grow to the point that the 2017 referendum will turn out to be against Britain staying in the UK’, is quite inappropriate, and useless, blackmail.

Britain ought to examine herself very deeply on the matter of Europe. There is first and foremost a question of roots and culture. The cultural roots of Britain are European, from the 1st century AD to the present. Yes, there is also a different strain, wider and tied to the British expansion on the sea, and narrower because of its feeling of insularism and isolation from the Continent. But at the critical moments in history, Britain has always made a decidedly European choice, witness the Napoleonic wars and First and Second WW.

Secondly, there are political and economic reasons. Would the UK be better off outside the EU? Or, has Britain been worse off since it joined the then EEC? To say so would be a gross error. Has Britain been less ‘free’ since joining the EEC? You drive on the left and use miles, pounds, and pints. You have kept the pound sterling. You are out of Schengen. Is someone forcing you to eat taramasalata or sauerkraut? Or to learn ‘foreign’ languages? Or to surrender your navy to the Germans?

The European Economic Community. Courtesy of Britannica Kids

The European Economic Community. Courtesy of Britannica Kids. Source

What is there in ‘Europe’ that annoys the UK? Its bureaucratic structure? I admit it could be simplified and made more efficient, but you must yourself admit that a democratic administration for nearly thirty countries is not easy to achieve without a bureaucracy, and that the mandate of this bureaucracy is to uniform and unify, not keep the thousand tiny differences that exist within Europe. If you want free circulation of people and goods among those 30 countries, you will need laws – uniform laws all over – to protect that circulation. Didn´t the British Empire do exactly this, impose the same laws all over?

Or is it that Britain does not want a supranational European state, something many (not all) Europeans want so that Europe may count more in a globalized world? But Britain already is out of that state. It has ‘opted out’ of so many things. But to think that it can stop the others from having a tighter union if they so wish, wouldn´t that be considered presumptuous in any human relationship?

Yet the British public is annoyed by Europe (you will of course understand that the rest of Europe might be slightly annoyed with Britain). I suggest that the British public serenely and rationally examine themselves about Europe and decide once and for all whether they want to stay in or quit. Should they decide to leave, they should realize that they will give up, together with what they consider the disadvantages of being in the EU, also the advantages.

Britain’s prime minister David Cameron holds a news conference during European Union leaders summit in Brussels today after Jean-Claude Juncker was nominated for European Commission president by an overwhelming majority. Photograph: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters. Source file

“Britain’s prime minister David Cameron holds a news conference during European Union leaders summit in Brussels today after Jean-Claude Juncker was nominated for European Commission president by an overwhelming majority.” Source and caption: Irish Times

One no longer is a member of a family, or a club, if one decides to leave it. They shall have to pay duty on their wines from Europe and grow resigned to selling less whisky in Europe because we will have to pay more duty on it.  But at least they will stop having headaches about being or not being European, being or not being in the EU.

I confess that I feel upset when I have to show my passport upon entering Britain. I am particularly annoyed at having to change euros into sterling (something from which only banks profit) and having to buy plug adaptors for every electrical appliance I acquire either on the Continent or in Britain (something from which only the makers of such adaptors profit).

If Britain, at the end of such self-examination process, decides it wants to leave the EU, I shall be sad, but will face the situation serenely – and will give up my strong anglophilia without any further headache.

Piero Boitani
Rome

Where is Europe going? Wide ranging dialogues at the Man of Roma’s cafe. 1

Posted on
"Le patron de la Banque centrale européenne, Mario Draghi, a convaincu les investisseurs que les taux directeurs resteraient très bas longtemps, et que les liquidités seraient abondantes pour les banques". Crédit Photo : Sébastien SORIANO/Le Figaro. Source

“Le patron de la Banque centrale européenne, Mario Draghi, a convaincu les investisseurs que les taux directeurs resteraient très bas longtemps, et que les liquidités seraient abondantes pour les banques”. Crédit Photo : Sébastien SORIANO/Le Figaro. Source

Here is the EU / Euro / Europe debate I had promised to some friends. We will start with personal dialogues from our slice of the blogosphere.

You will however notice how ideas & feelings (passionate, at times) will soon go beyond the sphere of the particolare and reach the wider area of an equally passionate debate a. within the EU etc.; b. on the other side of the Atlantic; c. much beyond that, since all economies – China, India, Japan, the gas & oil states etc.) are interwoven.

[last minute update: France & Germany, who will win? In the world cup, I mean. :-) I don’t know whom to cheer, folks ]

Cheri Sabraw

Cheri the faerie (writer & educator and a lot more from the SF Bay area) will lead the dance, like Madame de Staël did with romanticism.

Ψ

Cheri (original post & discussion) : “I remember visiting my grandparent’s home […] On the wall […] a framed cross-stitched message in blue which read, ” To Have a Friend, Be One.”

The souls I am privileged to call friends […] would say that I have always been too busy […]

[My sister Cindy] and I have a give and take friendship. I ask about her. She asks about me […]

This week, I have been in deep contemplation and as usually happens in times like these, my friends enter my consciousness like ethereal butterflies …

Were my grandmother […] still alive and were she to ask me whether I have […] followed the imperative on the cross-stitch, I would have to say “No, Nana. I have not.” I have simply been too busy.”

Kathie

Kaytisweetlandrasmussen: “I am a retired fine arts teacher, sculptor/painter, writer, and a native Californian. I love my family, dogs, horses, movies, reading and music, probably in that order. I have been married forever to a very nice man who is nice to old ladies, dogs and children.”

kaytisweetlandrasmussen83: “Let us be grateful to people who make us happy. They are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. ” Marcel Proust
Let’s face it, friends make life a lot more fun. You make my life more fun.
Loved the photo of Obexers! AK.”

Cherie Ladybugg: “You know, I was just up at Tahoe for one night. What a place that engenders so many memories. I slept in my parent’s room and on the wall is that large black and white picture of you and Dr. Advice, Ron’s parents, and mom and dad. You all looked so young and happy.

kaytis…83: “Weren’t we all dashing? We thought we already knew it all. Oh how wrong we were!”

 

MoR: “Dear Cheri, your post has hit my heart, I find it one of the most beautiful you’ve ever written. I did not have a brother, unfortunately … I do feel the same.

Our relationship, friendship, with you, Richard, Christopher, Cyberquill, Jenny, Andreas, Thomas, Douglas, Geraldine, Paul Sunstone and others from the Web it’s been non face to face, ok, but profound (of souls, as you say) and I have neglected you since I was too busy to achieve goals in my universus introversus […]

[I btw didn’t mention those met face to face: The Commentator Italo-Canadese, Paul or Pavlos le canadien du Quebec half Greek btw, Ashish the GeekWrestler (met by my daughter in Mumbai) Devinder the Sikh from Montreal, Nomad Anju from the Bangla culture, Nita from Mumbai, one of the best journalists ever etc. etc. etc.]

Id est 3 objectives that are inter alia impossible which I’m determined none the less to attain at the cost of croaking […]

So now objective num 3 [num 1 & 2 being performing 2 of Bach’s sublime masterpieces, ndr] is of course the ‘Manius Papirius Lentulus soldier trapped in Albion’ series (I’m thinking about a sequence of smaller books being published – feuiletton-like? – one after the other, like ‘Desperate Roman Soldiers’ LOL.)

So the writing has being restarted since a while (a 3-4 hundreds draft pages in both Italian and English: 3 perhaps draft small books) and […]  no less hard than the previous two Bach goals, it being a neo-Platonic-Pythagorean Dante […] these three objectives making me live like in a closed bell – with some old school mates around and other friends, who are patient – as you say, Cherie – since I none the less neglect them […]

And for that I have neglected you, Chaeri Faerie, who have been so warm, fanciful, crystal clear as only an Hyperborean Ladybugg can be […]

As for Londoner Richard, a soul I love as much as I love yours, I have not even told him my youngest daughter is working in London as an architect / civil engineer […] hired by an English engineering company busy building a skyscraper […]

Remember my friends that I love you so much, and to me, you ALL are important [those not mentioned because too many, of course, too], and perhaps you souls from the WWW are even more important, being like Platonic souls deprived of a body, you all having a place in a heart that doesn’t forget though neglects.”

Chaerie Ladybugg: “Well Giovanni, I don’t know what to make of this long emotional comment. […] Life is a journey that we are all on, most of us doing the best we can with what we have and with who are parents were. We meet the “other,” our spouse and we engage in a relationship, often times forgetting that they, indeed, are not an extension of ourselves, but an individual, at times very different from us on their own journey too. That is the magic of the “other”.

We have friends, whether in the WWW or face to face, friends with whom we connect and at times for myriad reasons, disconnect.

I’d like to believe that both fate and free will entwine in these dances that we do […]

Cheri

Richard: “Dear Roma,

I am not so naïve as to imagine that the feelings you express are for me personally. I know that you speak of the brotherhood of man generally and specifically of your love for my country and its people. That you do so despite their widespread rejection of the European Union in the recent elections to the Parliament is a measure of your sincerity.

Yes, the British do feel neglected by Europe. We feel treated unfairly, as a caricature of ourselves, that our pioneering contributions to European culture, democracy, justice, law, science, industry and peace are sidelined, misunderstood or even ridiculed. Our expectations, despite our massive sacrifices and investment in Europe over the last 300 years, and particularly over the last 100 years, bear hardly a consideration, as evidenced by the fact that the recent vote will make hardly any difference to our voice in Europe.

I myself have not lost hope in the European project, but believe that nations require their identity to be returned to enable them to be heard and to retain what is familiar to them so they may prosper together. Rightly or wrongly, there are those who reckon that some in Europe hope to win some sort of long-term cultural war through the medium of the EU, when there need be no war at all. This fear is behind the current crisis in the Ukraine.

Adaptability of form and purpose is the key to a united Europe, no less in its central organisation than in its constituent parts, and a willingness to abandon obsolete “visions” and obsessive “principle”. That headlong idée fixe has acquired a separate existence detrimental to the ideal. Real lessons can be learned from the UK and how it maintained many of the practical traditions of the constituent nations. In many ways the UK can be seen as a Scottish take-over as well as an English one. I know that we face the real possibility of Scotland’s severance, but it is a union that has lasted for 300 years, not without its difficulties, for sure, but of great mutual benefit, not only to ourselves but also to Europe and the whole world, by and large. It is significant that many true Scots who play such a large part in the running of the UK have no vote in the forthcoming referendum because they live in England. Our cultures are closely intertwined and most of us in England feel as one. I myself have Scottish antecedents on both parents’ sides and I am a Presbyterian – of a most liberal and broad-minded kind, I hasten to suggest.

Bigger is not necessarily better and if an organisation is unwieldy it is more likely to lead to unfairness, authoritarianism, disruption, rejection and, in the worst analysis, bitter conflict, than it is to peace.

MoR: [writing his novel, he needs:]

“An Invocation, before a mind journey

To my belovéd Anglo Saxon friends,
And to Chaerie dearest Faerie,
Queene of the Greatest Isle, Américà.

O Goddess, Thou, so heauenly and so bright!

Shed pls thy faire beams into our feeble eyne,
And raise, our thoughts being humble and too vile,
The argument of our afflicted style.

M. P. L(entulus) Maxumus

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