Ephreak Title

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Do Not Fade

Do not fade, it's an order!
Stay with me; here, there,
On the border, everywhere!
If you faded, or got lost,
Or stopped loving me... my God!
Tell me, what shall I do?
Shall I write without my muse?
Shall I sing to walls and floors?
Shall I dance, a lonely tango?
With the whisper of a fan go,
That I shall do!
For the rainy day you go,
I'll be sunk to never drown,
Never die to sink alone.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Is English an easy language to learn?

Let's face it, English is a crazy language:

There is no egg in Eggplant nor ham in hamburguer; neither apple nor pine in pinapple.

English muffins were not invented in England or French fries in France.

Sweetmeat are candies while sweetbreads, which are not sweet, are meat.

So far you have taken English for granted, haven't you? Anyway, let's continue exploring its paradoxes:

Quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea-pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig. An why is it that writers write, singers sing but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?

If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth beeth? One goose, Two geese. So one moose, two meese? One index, two indices?

Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend?

If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught?

If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

What about this?

The bandage was wound around the wound.

The farm was used to produce produce.

The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

We must polish the Polish furniture.

He could lead if he would get the lead out.

The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

I did not object to the object.

The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

They were too close to the door to close it.

The buck does funny things when the does are present.

A seamtress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

After a number of injections my jaw got number.

Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Sometimes, I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.

Definitely, I'm going to take up Arabic and Chinese... xDD

Monday, January 22, 2007

"Proper" English

There are some rules concerning proper English that we know and try to respect. However, the importance of style is something frequently done away with nowadays.

I personally find some of these rules quite annoying -and btw demand an opportunity to express my concept of proper-, but it is obvious that they are still important within certain contexts, so there is nothing left for us but a long and nice study of its conventions.

Some stuff on this topic:

Famous quotations:

- "Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put."
(Winston Churchill, writer and politician)

- In a letter to The Times newspaper:

"There is a busybody on your staff who devotes a lot of his time to chasing split infinitives. Every good literary craftsman splits his infinitives when the sense demands it. I call for the immediate dismissal of this pedant. It is of no consequence whether he decides to go quickly or quickly to go or to quickly go. The important thing is that he should go at once."
(George Bernard Shaw, playwright)

20 tips for proper English:

1.- A preposition is a terrible word to end a sentence with. Never do it.
2.- Remember to never split an infinitive.
3.- Don't use no double negatives.
4.- Don't ever use contractions.
5.- And never start a sentence with a conjunction.
6.- Write "i" before "e" except after "c". I'm relieved to receive this anciently weird rule.
7.- Foreign words and phrases are not 'chic'.
8.- The passive voice is to be avoided wherever possible.
9.- Who needs rhetorical questions?
10.- Reserve the apostrophe for it's proper use and omit it when its not necessary.
11.- Use 'fewer' with number and 'less' with quantity. Less and less people do.
12.- Proof read carefully to see if you any words out.
13.- Me and John are careful to use subject pronouns correctly.
14.- Verbs has to agree with their subject.
15.- You've done good to use adverbs correctly.
16.- If any word is incorrect at the end of a sentence, an auxiliary verb is.
17.- Steer clear of incorrect verb forms that have snuck into the language.
18.- Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing your idioms.
19.- Tell the rule about "whom" to who you like.
20.- At the end of the day avoid clichés like the plague.

There you are, proper English :-P

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Why reading T.S. Eliot??

Little Gidding, The Four Quartets


What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make and end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from. And every phrase
And sentence that is right (where every word is at home,
Taking its place to support the others,
The word neither diffident nor ostentations,
An easy commerce of the old and the new,
The common word exact without vulgarity,
The formal word precise but not pedantic,
The complete consort dancing together)
Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,
Every poem an epitaph. And any action
Is a step to the block, to the fire, down the sea's throat
Or to an illegible stone: and that is where we start.
We die with the dying:
See, they depart, and we go with them.
We are born with the dead:
See, they return, and bring us with them.
The moment of the rose and the moment of the yew-tree
Are of equal duration. A people without history
Is not redeemed from time, for history is a pattern
Of timeless moments. So, while the light fails
On a winter's afternoon, in a secluded chapel
History is now and England.

With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always-
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flames are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

Do you still need an answer?

Friday, January 19, 2007

What is our life?

On the Life of Man, Sir Walter Ralegh

What is our life? a play of passion,
Our mirth the musicke of division,
Our mothers wombes the tyring houses be,
When we are drest for this short Comedy,
Heaven the Judicious sharpe spector is,
That sits and markes still who doth act amisse,
Our graves that hide us from the searching Sun,
Are like drawne curtaynes when the play is done,
Thus march we playing to our latest rest,
Onely we dye in earnest, that's no Jest.

Just couldn't help repeating Sir Walter Ralegh... Those lines: "Our graves that hide us..." are great.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

All the world is a stage...or a lie

The Lie by Sir Walter Ralegh

Go, Soul, the body’s guest,
Upon a thankless arrant:
Fear not to touch the best;
The truth shall be thy warrant:
Go, since I needs must die, 5
And give the world the lie.

Say to the court, it glows
And shines like rotten wood;
Say to the church, it shows
What’s good, and doth no good: 10
If church and court reply,
Then give them both the lie.

Tell potentates, they live
Acting by others’ action;
Not loved unless they give, 15
Not strong, but by a faction:
If potentates reply,
Give potentates the lie.

Tell men of high condition,
That manage the estate, 20
Their purpose is ambition,
Their practice only hate:
And if they once reply,
Then give them all the lie.

Tell them that brave it most, 25
They beg for more by spending,
Who, in their greatest cost,
Seek nothing but commending:
And if they make reply,
Then give them all the lie. 30

Tell zeal it wants devotion;
Tell love it is but lust;
Tell time it is but motion;
Tell flesh it is but dust:
And wish them not reply, 35
For thou must give the lie.

Tell age it daily wasteth;
Tell honour how it alters;
Tell beauty how she blasteth;
Tell favour how it falters: 40
And as they shall reply,
Give every one the lie.

Tell wit how much it wrangles
In tickle points of niceness;
Tell wisdom she entangles 45
Herself in over-wiseness:
And when they do reply,
Straight give them both the lie.

Tell physic of her boldness;
Tell skill it is pretension; 50
Tell charity of coldness;
Tell law it is contention:
And as they do reply,
So give them still the lie.

Tell fortune of her blindness; 55
Tell nature of decay;
Tell friendship of unkindness;
Tell justice of delay;
And if they will reply,
Then give them all the lie. 60

Tell arts they have no soundness,
But vary by esteeming;
Tell schools they want profoundness,
And stand too much on seeming:
If arts and schools reply, 65
Give arts and schools the lie.

Tell faith it’s fled the city;
Tell how the country erreth;
Tell, manhood shakes off pity;
Tell, virtue least preferreth: 70
And if they do reply,
Spare not to give the lie.

So when thou hast, as I
Commanded thee, done blabbing,—
Although to give the lie 75
Deserves no less than stabbing,—
Stab at thee he that will,
No stab the soul can kill.

Sometimes words are worth one thousand pictures...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

On a Desperate Day

In the middle of the endless sea of thought
I swim, but do not reach the coast;
I see, but won't listen anymore;
I bleed, but I do not feel my bones.
Am I? I wonder, am I not?
Whose devil wrote this endless plot?
I wonder, but the answer is just lost;
For there is nothing, I perceive my senses not,
I feel nothing,

Driven by desperation, you are sure not to get anywhere. But how shall one resist it in the days of gloom?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Alas, poor Tristram!

I (we) have come across many wonderful books during these years, but few of them are so unfairly disregarded as Tristram Shandy. Yes, I own it is nowadays considered one of the most brilliant of all English masterpieces. However, the radical gap that exists between the academic world and the average reader makes this book, paradoxically, a pure "forgotten classic".

May this short introduction to a brief study of the book that we did last year serve as a presentation of what Tristram Shandy offers the reader. Sorry about any possible language mistakes or references to further sections, we are human.

There are only a few occasions in life in which one is faced with a book of the characteristics of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. Strikingly famous in its time but not fully understood until the arrival of modernism, this work by Laurence Sterne has left such a deep mark in English literature, that the styles of some of the most praised writers of modern times (James Joyce, for example), have been traced back to it.

Sterne dared to experiment with the novel and its mechanisms even before it was completely established, making use of the young conventions of the genre in the way his genius demanded (which, by the bye, was not in the least a common way). It would be unfair, then, to take for granted the hard work of constructing a story out of a hundred of them: the magic of Tristram Shandy (from now on, TS) lies in its depiction of human nature through the contrast among its eccentric characters. A picture that readers get by themselves, making an unconscious exercise of abstraction over the book.

It is almost impossible, when trying to analyse this work properly, to give an account of its plot. How to explain what it is about? How to summarise? How to select? How to decide what is important, and what is not? In fact, adopting this kind of approach would not only be useless, but even offensive to the spirit of the book. It could be possible to summarize what is told in each volume, but after putting it together we would realise that we have no coherent structure. And yet, TS has a story. It has a structure and every digression is there for a purpose. How is it then that it is impossible to be seized and written down?

Although we understand that it is not always essential to take into account the life of the author to understand a book (it is to analyse it, though), in this case it was completely unavoidable. Sterne’s own experience is utterly printed on every letter of TS, distributing his personality, his opinions, and his spirit among the characters. Therefore, we consider a biography vital in order to understand this book. The numerous literary borrowings are only to be apprehended with scholar guidance, although in some cases they are dispensable. A good knowledge of the historical and cultural context is desirable, however, if the reader wants to understand all the social and personal allusions scattered by Sterne throughout the text.

This witty clergyman succeeded, after all, in getting himself a place of honour in English literature. In fact, TS has become a work of major influence and a complete classic, like Sterne’s beloved Don Quixote, with which it shares the characteristic of being one of those books which everybody assures to have read, but few actually do. And, as it happens with Don Quixote, it is a great shame, because many would be surprised of the opportunity they have been missing.

TS was not published all at once, but in nine different volumes that Sterne released from 1759 to 1767. The writer intended at first to issue two volumes each year, but his delicate health prevented him from doing it. Volumes VII and VIII are not published until 1765, three years after the previous release. The last volume was brought out alone in 1767, soon before Sterne’s death.

Whether the author concluded the book, it is still debated (see Wayne C. Booth, Did Sterne Complete Tristram Shandy?), but it is probable that he would have released more volumes if he had lived longer. Indeed, Sterne wrote to Hall-Stevenson in 1766: ‘at present I am in my peaceful retreat, writing the ninth volume of Tristram---I shall publish but one this year, and the next I shall begin a new work of four volumes [note: he refers to A Sentimental Journey, of which he only wrote two volumes], which, when finish’d, I shall continue Tristram with fresh spirit’.

TS is undoubtedly a work worth reading, and a brilliant portrait not only of Sterne’s time society, but also of his huge amount of wit and judgement, which he defended so fiercely all along his life, never giving up his eccentric reasoning and character. Sterne loved Tristram because he was both his creature and a literary instrument to show his opinions. We will try, consequently, to reflect on Tristram Shandy with the help of Sterne… and vice versa.

Believe me, you have to read it.

No, really. I'm serious.

Have a nice day.

Friday, January 12, 2007

How dost thou?

It is time for us to begin. Anyway, let us leave for future times the hard work of a Declaration of Principles.

See you around, folks