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Posted 2/9/2012 8:50pm by Eugene Wyatt.

At Amazon I couldn't find a book with an example of Cicero's famed periodic sentence style (other authors were exampled; but not he, the original master) where the sentence is not complete and does not make sense until the last word, phrase or clause is written. Nothing in print, I was dumbfounded.

I appealed to Anthony Whalen, a professor of Latin I know from Greenmarket, for a translation showing me one of Cicero's periods as it appears verbatim in Latin. He chose the first sentence of De Officiis, "a doozy" to quote him, which had been chopped up into smaller (more understandable?) sentences by the modern translators whose books I'd leafed through. 

"Conventional modern English loves short sentences and hates long sentences; it is my dim recollection from Freshman Composition that the worst term of opprobrium that Strunk and White could wave at a passage was "run-on sentence". Therefore, modern translators have spayed (Cicero's) periods. Even in the Loeb Classical Library 1913 version, the translator is rather cheating with his semicolons, which are virtually independent sentences. Mine is a period."

Although it must be true, my son Marcus, that you, having heard now for a year the philosopher Cratippus in person, and that in Athens, must abound in precepts and principles of philosophy on account of the depth and deep learning of the teacher and of the city, the one of whom is able to augment you by knowledge, the other by examples, however, as I myself have for my own benefit joined Latin studies with Greek studies and not did I do this in philosophy only, but also in the discipline of forensic training, I maintain that same this should be done by you, so that you may be equal in the faculty of each language, indeed, by which thing, as it seems to us, we have rendered a signal service to our countrymen, so that not only those who cannot read Greek, but even the learned suppose they have gained something both in relation to oratorical training but in mental training.

After searching I found a 19th century version of De Officiis by Marcus Tullius Cicero 44 BC translated as On Duty with the original periodic sentence structure mostly intact by Andrew P. Peabody, 1887. 

Posted 2/6/2012 6:51am by Eugene Wyatt.

The term "essay" means "an attempt."

Others shape the man; I portray him, and offer to the view one in particular, who is ill-shaped enough, and whom, could I refashion him, I should certainly make very different from what he is. But there is no chance of that. . . . I cannot fix my subject. He is always restless, and reels with a natural intoxication. I catch him here, as he is at the moment when I turn my attention to him. I do not portray his being; I portray his passage; not a passage from one age to another or, as the common people say, from seven years to seven years, but from day to day, from minute to minute. I must suit my story to the hour, for soon I may change, not only by chance by also by intention. It is a record of various and variable occurrences, an account of thoughts that are unsettled and, as chance will have it, at times contradictory, either because I am then another self, or because I approach my subject under different circumstances and with other considerations. Hence it is that I may well contradict myself, but the truth . . . I do not contradict. Could my mind find a firm footing, I should not be making essays, but coming to conclusions; it is, however, always in its apprenticeship and on trial.

On Repentance Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), translated by John M. Cohen.

Tags: Montaigne
Posted 2/1/2012 8:13am by Eugene Wyatt.

Giandomenico Tiepolo (1727–1804)

Portraits by Tiepolo shown publicly for the first time at Fundación Juan March in Madrid.

From Art Knowledge News; on Twitter @ArtKnowledge or subscribe to a daily email keeping you abreast of what's showing in the galleries of the world from old master to contemporary.

Posted 1/31/2012 2:44pm by Eugene Wyatt.

A couple of weeks ago, it was cold and we were working indoors; Rebecca and Dominique were over at my place and we'd fired up the wood stove for the first time. We were barcoding 1500 skeins of yarn in 6 different weights and in many colors from natural dyes and modern dyes. 

We were tired and I think it was the afternoon of the 3rd day and we were on worsted Indigo blue and we had blue yarn spread all over the floor. I asked them if they knew who Yves Klein was; they shook their heads.  "He was a post-war French artist who died young in the early 60's; in his Blue Period he painted all paintings—I mean every one—with one color: Blue."

Dark Indigo Blue

I remember him best for a photo of a performance piece he did in 1960.

Le Saut dans Le Vide

The girls looked at the photo and Rebecca said we should name the dark Indigo Yves Klein Blue.

Posted 1/25/2012 9:13pm by Eugene Wyatt.

Was I three, was I four? I don't exactly know how old I was. One of my first memories was of one of wonder; the seeing of a dog, a black dog, running by me, a fast dog, small dog (a very small dog, smaller than me), speeding around me, I, thinking this dog was faster than a car, faster than anything I'd ever seen; I was sure it was the fastest thing in the world and I knew what wonder was, looking at that running dog, before knowing what the word 'wonder' meant. And this memory was not part of a shared past that had been told me over and over by older people such that it became a recollection that defined who I was. This dog on that day was something that I'd never told anyone of until now.

Tags: Dogs
Posted 1/23/2012 8:28pm by Eugene Wyatt.

Dominique calls him a polar bear as he weighs close to 400 lb. and is twice the size of a Saxon Merino ram.  But he is all gentleman and, to my mind, wise.

The Corriedale breed is the result of crossing the Lincoln and Merino breeds.  

Posted 1/22/2012 7:15pm by Eugene Wyatt.

A bright moment on a cold and snowy Saturday at Greenmarket in Union Square was my visit to the National Arts Club to see an exhibition of paintings and etchings by J. W. Middendorf and his daughter Frances.

In New York you can go an exhibition at a museum during market hours, given competent market help which I am fortunate to have, or go to a play after you fold your tent for the day. The sheep don't care what you do there as long as you bring back enough money to feed them.

The temperature outside was just below freezing and I was dressed for it. But going up Park Avenue South to the Club located on Gramercy Park I did wonder if the doorman would let me in; I was, by all appearances, a street person who slept on subway grates to stay warm, with two pair of pants under my old and ragged Carhart insulated overalls and a two-sizes too big barn coat over my 3 shirts. Plus I had my clunky waterproof Muck books on, the ones I slog around the barnyard in, but the nice thing was that I didn't have to turn and jump over the puddles as the fashionably but ill shod New Yorkers did walking along the slushy avenue with expressions of furtive pain on their faces like they were being pelted by molten lava when they were touched by a floating snowflake, I splashed straight ahead—"Damn the torpedoes"—I was someone who walked on water.

At the red lights, to myself and to the imaginary doorman, I rehearsed in a droll and innocent manner, "I say old boy, is there a show of etchings here?" like I were William Powell playing the suave and tuxedoed Nick Charles in The Thin Man to whom no door is closed. 

It worked.  "Downstairs and to the right," I was told. "Will the artists be here?" I asked in passing.  The man at the door shrugged, "On a day like today..."  We smiled knowingly, even though we knew different things.  I was in.  Now where was Myrna Loy?

The mission of the National Arts Club is to stimulate, foster and promote public interest in the arts and educate the American people in the fine arts.

To enter the Club is to step back in time to a 19th century overstuffed elegance that Edith Wharton might have written about and to rub elbows with celebrated American artists who were members, Frederic Remington, Robert Henri and George Bellows to name but a few.

The first gallery was devoted to Frances and what impressed me were her watercolors; I had seen her drawings before after Cesare Pavese poems  but never had I seen her work in color. Very nice.

The second gallery featured her father's etchings of the circus and a favorite of mine was an etching of high trapeze aerialists, one caught up in the air, and upside down, but so composed with his arms at his sides. So trusting.

Delightful to see the works of father and daughter in the same gallery and at the same time.

Paintings and Etchings by Frances Middendorf and J. W. Middendorf at The National Arts Club, 15 Gramercy Park South NYC through January 28, 2012.

Posted 1/20/2012 2:15pm by Eugene Wyatt.

Fall Brown 

I asked David at Green Mountain Spinnery, being that they had made our Bulky Yarn by twisting four spun strands together into a singles, if they could they could twist six strands together making us an even thicker yarn, a Super Bulky. "Hmm," he said, "we can try."  Never had they made a yarn that thick before. "Well, if it's iffy," I said, "spin a small lot, say 50 lb."

I called David several weeks later, "We did it and we like it," he said. "Good!" I said and I had them send me a couple of boxes of the new Super Bulky yarn, so eager I was to see and feel it.

It is soft and lovely as is all our Saxon Merino yarn, but it is thick and you must use large needles to knit it.

4 oz (100 g), 110 yd, 4 stitches per inch on US 15

Last week I asked Rebecca to dye several colors, ones that would look good on a yarn so thick—she was to dye only one pound of each color to see if they worked—and she did, and I like them.

Look at the colors in the Super Bulky Yarn store and tell us if you like them.

Posted 1/18/2012 9:48pm by Eugene Wyatt.

Stanley Fish in his How to Write a Sentence describes the additive sentence mastery of Virginia Woolf: here is a sentence from To the Lighthouse and several pages later he quotes and discourses on a sentence from Mrs. Dalloway.

"Sterne, Salinger, Stein, Hemingway—the additive, non-subordinating style is obviously versatile; it can be the vehicle of comedy, social satire, philosophical reflection, realism, and something approaching photography. In any of its guises it displays the advantages of being able to stop on a dime, arrest action, freeze the frame, stay still at the same time the reader moves linearly—all effects achieved in spectacular fashion in a sentence from Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse (1927). Mrs. Ramsey has just rebuked her daughters for mocking "the little atheist" Tansley. We see them react in a moment that expands and remains in focus despite the passing of considerable reading time:

She was now formidable to behold, and it was only in silence, looking up from their plates, after she had spoken so severely about Charles Tansley, that her daughters, Prue, Nancy, Rose—could sport with infidel ideas which they had brewed for themselves of a life different from hers: in Paris, perhaps; a wilder life; not always taking care of some man or other; for there was in all their minds a mute questioning of deference and chivalry, of the Bank of England and the Indian Empire, of ringed fingers and lace, though to them all there was something in this of the essence of beauty, which called out the manliness in their girlish hearts, and made them, as they sat at table beneath their mother's eyes, honour her strange severity, her extreme courtesy, like a queen's raising from the mud a beggar's dirty foot and washing it, when she thus admonished them so severely about that wretched atheist who had chased them to—or, speaking accurately, been invited to stay with them in—the Isle of Skye.

The word "behold" is a command: behold this woman! In the sentence, our surrogate beholders are the three daughters who gaze upward at their mother as if at a portrait and think thoughts in silence. From its beginning to "a life different from hers," the sentence proceeds in the subordinating, hypotactic mode: "looking up from their place" is the present action the three young woman perform, but the present is immediately framed by the "after" clause—"after she had spoken so severely"—-which provides a past and causal perspective on what they are doing. But then, "in Paris, perhaps" the prose breaks free. Who says "perhaps"? Is it a qualification from the outside, made by an omniscient narrator, or does the word belong to the three sisters, who perhaps have not yet settled on their preferred dream? And who is it that wants not to be "always taking care of some man or other"? Surely the daughters have not yet taken on that burden; does this wish belong to their mother, who is now playing in the fields of her daughters' consciousnesses? Are the "infidel ideas" the sisters "sport" with theirs or hers? Is it for her or for themselves that they imagine "a life different" from the one their mother leads? The latter is the more likely; the austere majesty of Mrs. Ramsey leads them to question the world of ceremony and courtesy they associate with her; and yet—the sentence does not progress, but keeps adding to the perspectives and vistas that open up in its leisurely spaces—the severity from which they imagine themselves freed has its own attractions, its own beauty, which is summed up in the person of their mother, to whom they, and the sentence, return, re-conceiving her as a queen admonishing her subjects. At the same moment the subordinating style, with its clear temporal demarcations ("who had chased them—or, speaking accurately, been invited to stay with them"), also returns, putting events and persons in their proper place.

What makes the Woolf sentence able to shift direction and emphases without seeming discontinuous or disjointed are those "slight ligatures" that mark the coordinating style: "and," "for," "though," "when." These interact with a succession of present participles—"looking," "taking," "raising," "speaking"—verbal forms indicating ongoing actions, no one of which is completed and all of which combine in almost a symphonic fashion to paint a densely layered moving, kaleidoscopic, sometimes frame-frozen picture."

How to Write a Sentence Stanley Fish 2011, Harper

Tags: Fish, Woolf
Posted 1/11/2012 8:31pm by Eugene Wyatt.

In order for an improvised scene to be successful, the improvisers involved must work together responsively to define the parameters and action of the scene, in a process of co-creation. With each spoken word or action in the scene, an improviser makes an offer, meaning that he or she defines some element of the reality of the scene. This might include giving another character a name, identifying a relationship, location, or using mime to define the physical environment. These activities are also known as endowment. It is the responsibility of the other improvisers to accept the offers that their fellow performers make; to not do so is known as blocking, negation, or denial, which usually prevents the scene from developing. Some performers may deliberately block (or otherwise break out of character) for comedic effect—this is known as gagging—but this generally prevents the scene from advancing and is frowned upon by many improvisers. Accepting an offer is usually accompanied by adding a new offer, often building on the earlier one; this is a process improvisers refer to as "Yes, and..." and is considered the cornerstone of improvisational technique. Every new piece of information added helps the improvisers to refine their characters and progress the action of the scene.

Improvisational Theatre Wikipedia

Tags: Improv