A Fragmented Tower

la torre, with cat

I confess I hoard information. This fragment of notes comes from my undergraduate days. It occasioned me to perform Old Testament research twice.  Once was related to a 16th century socio-economic pamphlet referencing the Plagues of Egypt. The other came when I was interested in researching the Tower of Babel

So here, transcribed from the original paper, is my note. I’ve transcribed it as it appears on the back of a letter, kept for years in my files, and now discarded.

I’ve added links next to the obscure references, transforming my hand-written note into a hypertext marvel of the modern age. Enjoy!

Tower of Babel

Gen xi, 1-9

KRAMER ‘Man’s Golden Age: a parallel to GEN XI’, Journal of Oriental Studies
pp191-4 [google search]
JAOS 63of [this must be a reference to the Journal of the American Oriental Society]

Parrot, La Tour de Babel 1953 [a facsimile of this book, in English, exists online as a .pdf at the University of Chicago]

ET The Tower of Babel (1955)

Expository Times

Nought is so unintelligent as fear
For, while it speaks with obscure stammering lips,
It comprehends not what is plainly said.
You cannot Parley with it. Thus it will fare
Ever with their temerity who think
To storm and raze the Unknown. Preposterous Towers
Absolute wreck, and tounge’s confusion.-
Such, through all change of circumstance and time,
Will be their brief and doleful history!

NOEMA
Have you no sure conception how the Tower
Was overthrown? Whether a frolic troop
Of Seraphim invisible rode by,
And with the point of their light-poised spears
Tilted, and down it went? Or lightning real,
With thunder in reserve succesive launched
By Heaven’s almighty Captain, smote its front,
And routed its pretenders?
Who shall say? I saw no armoured Seraphim, nor heard Thunders unparalleled or lightnings strange,
But only complete sickness of the air,
Clouds vomiting fire, and with deep rumblings vexed,
To which the Earth responded; and the Tower
Collapsed in their commotion. It may be
that one of Nature’s mindless accidents
The ruin wrought, or that the Unseen Power
Made that loud music with man’s folly chime,
And with a fixed [coinncidence/countenance?] rebuked
[his/this] weak extravagance. We cannot know.
Even in that star whose denizen I was
Ere Earth’s more blest inhabitant I turned,
God’s face was all as dim as seems it here

Advertisements

Gay Marriage – a child’s perspective

Many years ago, like most kids of my generation, I was sent to school. I still remember the primary school – the vaulted, slightly dusty corridor with a dark shiny floor, and the dim secluded annex for coats and scarves next to the first classroom door.

Each child was instructed to use a particular peg to hang their coat. This was probably the first game we played at the school, a game we went along with. I never recall anyone questioning why we had to use the same peg each time, not me. I suppose in hindsight it was an early lesson in bureaucratic efficiency and obedience.

Anyway, each peg was identified by a unique picture above it. Colourful and bold, the images were of easily recognisable cartoon-style scenes and characters. A giraffe perhaps, or a church? Possibly there was a policeman (friendly but big), a nurse (female), a doctor (male), or a roaring open fire. I don’t really recall. All I recall is my peg’s picture, the icon signifying my place in the array of coats. It showed two chaps, two business men perhaps, outfitted in identical pinstripe suits, bowler hats and bristly moustaches, apparently stepping out together on a nice walk.

Now, bearing in mind I was five, and that this was in 1976, I look back and wonder that I just assumed without  any conversation or self-questioning, that the icon above my peg depicted a male married couple, having  a stroll and being reasonably happy and settled in their relationship. I seem to remember mentioning this to someone – whether pupil or staff I don’t know – and remember being corrected into believing the two gentlemen of the coathook icon were, in all probability, friends, and not married as I had quite innocently assumed.

In retrospect, I feel I was ahead of the curve, and that same-sex marriage clearly did not seem unnatural or peculiar to me. So the idea that it would undermine heterosexual marriage seems utterly wrong.

Here’s Gary Gillatt’s review of the curious Jon Pertwee Doctor Who story The Ambassadors of Death, newly restored on DVD.

Great review which immediately impressed me by telling me something I didn’t know I knew about Season Seven. Confined to Earth, each seven-parter has the Doctor explore ” all three dimensions still available to him.” Almost shamanic dimensions – first down into the underworld to meet the Silurians, and now the Ambassadors lead him “straight up into the sky”.

I’m not sure Gary is correct that Episode 5 would be pulled today in the light of Apollo 13 – it had splashed down the previous day. Wife in Space commented on this during their watch of the story

And while the emotions of the finale are understated, I used to feel them especially in the aftermath of the emotive end of the Silurians, in which the Doctor fails to prevent his human associates from ‘wiping out’ their intelligent reptilian forebears. His success in saving the aliens of this story acts as a reflective counter-point to his earlier failure, and as a building of tension in the arc towards the season’s explosive, tense conclusion in the Inferno.

That’s my recall anyway. It’s a while since I saw the story, but look forward to watching the new DVD with friends some time this year. Gary’s review has certainly made me even more keen to make that soon.

Squabbling Rubber

A review of the DVD for Doctor Who Magazine, from 2012

______________________________________________________________________________________

dvd-ambasadors‘Exile’ is too grand a description for the sentence handed down to the Doctor at the end of his original trial. Aside from changing his face – which admittedly could be argued to be a form of capital punishment – all the Time Lords really do is wheelclamp the Doctor’s ship and so deny him access to his favourite of his usual four dimensions. However, while our hero can no longer trip through time, his new incarnation still thrusts out unceasingly in every remaining direction. The first thing he does is to take a vehicle without the owner’s consent – a crime for which he has form, to say the least – after which he barely sits still for a moment. And in the seven-episode adventures that dominate his first year on Earth, we see him explore, in…

View original post 3,045 more words

God Complexities

Do you believe in God?

Augustine
Augustine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
God's Vaginal Liquid Omnipresence baptized us ...
God’s Vaginal Liquid Omnipresence baptized us with Her Eternal Divinity tonight (Photo credit: nayrb7)

I have never really understood this question, though it gets asked fairly frequently. There seem to be at least two questions wrapped up inside it, two interpretations. Do you have faith in God? And, do you affirm the existence of God?

I don’t propose to spend much time on the first interpretation. The second question, however, I find impossible to answer.

Here’s why.  Limitations of any kind are not supposed to pertain to the God. A story I once heard told in the House of Lords a few years ago has stuck with me. The story goes that during the English colonial intervention in India, the chiefs of the Anglican Church met with representatives of the Hindu religion at an equivalent level and said, basically, we don’t want any trouble right?  But we just can’t get our heads round one point about your religion, so need you to answer one simple question before we can guarantee that. Do you believe in one god or many?

The Hindus could not answer, because they said, we cannot limit god to singularity or multiplicity. The separation between them is part of illusion. To say god is one limits god, who can never be many. Similarly, to say god is many means he can never be one. Who are we to limit god to one side or the other of the one/many divide?

Similarly, it seems to me equally ridiculous to limit any god to just one side of the dichotomy between existence and oblivion, presence and lack, matter and void. Like Schrodinger’s cat, gods exist beyond such rationalist dichotomies.

I  cannot affirm the existence of god, for to do so would limit god to a kind of prison.

Christmas Countdown

In review: Doctor Who 2012 Christmas Prequels

Ah, the Doctor Who Christmas Special, instant tradition invented in 2005 with The brilliant Christmas Invasion, followed each year with variations on traditional Christmas film styles: a midwinter’s journey, from screw-ball comedy via blockbuster disaster and mock epic, to the current mode of romantic and literate sf-fantasy with hints of steam-punk and paganism.

This year, the Doctor Who team revisit Victorian values, in The Snowmen, due for broadcast on Christmas Day at 5.15pm. If two years ago the Doctor played ghost to Scrooge, it seems this time the Doctor himself is cast as an uncommon Scrooge.

Back in November Cardiff revived an aspect of the tradition going back to 2005: the Children in Need prequel to the Christmas special.

The Great Detective.

TX: 16 November 2012

My main problem with this was the arch, knowing humour which plays incongruities for laughs. How Mark Gatiss plays the narrator’s line about the Victorian detective! Inter-textually, this refers to Sherlock of course, thus setting up the punchline: ‘I refer of course – to Madame Vaastraa’. A moderately clever gag lampshaded and rendered excruciating by Gatiss’s unfortunate delivery. A rocky start led to another over egged gag about the henchman Strax

‘whose countenance was too horrible to be photo-graphed’,

which when revealed as a not particularly horrible Sontaran accompanies one of Murray Gold’s musical exclamation marks.

Fortunately this air of beautifully produced but rather forced humour is punctured by the arrival of the ‘fourth member’, the ‘shadowy figure’ of Matt Smith.

Tom Baker in Shada
Cool

I have to say I adore his new Xmas costume, I feel the Doctor looks genuinely ‘cool’, perhaps for the first time since 1979. So I was pleased to read recently Moffat’s comments on costuming the Doctor, signalling a move towards varying the actual clothes while retaining some ineffable essence of this Doctor’s look or style, a reading of the 1970s ‘version of it’.

The Doctor’s melancholy rejection of the gang is well played, and mysteriously finished off by the Doctor disappearing into thin air as he walks off, as if walking through dimensions. Disregarding that, the format and hook of the special is set up in Jenny’s final ‘Merry Christmas’ to him, reminding us that, as has been noted by the Tenth Doctor in 2007, Christmas always seems to be a busy time for the Doctor these days. Something is bound to come up.

Ending on a repeat of the joke about Strax threatening the moon is I presume the rebel in Moffat producing an anti-cliffhanger to rival Barry Lett’s finest.

Pleasingly, there’s a part two.

Vastra Investigates

TX online: 17 December http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p012q4yl

I loved this sketch’s combination of info-dump and comedy, giving us useful back story, reminding the audience who exactly Jenny, Vastra and Strax are. I watched this with a mate the other day and he loved all the jokes, as did I. TBH the trailer shown an hour or so after the first ‘minisode’ in November didn’t excite me, but I remain intrigued. The Doctor the Widow and the Wardrobe has had an airing to general like this year. Two very different friends of mine watched it recently and both reassessed their formerly low opinion. It’s a grower. Maybe they’ll pull off something even better this year.

But, evil snowmen? Maybe this one’s best watched with child-like eyes. Leave your cynicism at the door, but please don’t forget Strax’s grenade!

Merry Pagan Feast Day everyone.