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Apr. 8th, 2008

Seraf

The Pearl

I just  spent about 30 to 40 minutes photocopying the Syriac text of the wonderful gnosticizing "Hymn of the Pearl" found in the Acts of Thomas. My superviser has had the good taste to teach me Syriac, and why not use it to read a text in the original that I have long adored in translation? I'm actually thinking of writing something about it (something scholarly, that is) at some point after the dissertation is ready. We'll see.

The text is a wonderfully poetic allegory on the soul's capitivity in matter: a young prince is sent by his royal parents to "Egypt", to fetch a pearl from an evil dragon. But he eats of the Egyptian food and drinks the Egyptian drinks, and he forgets his home and is charmed. He is caught in a foreign land, without any ability to free himself. Finally, a letter from the parents "wakes him up", and so he captures his pearl and returns home to wear his robe of glory. A translation of this wonderful text can be found at http://www.gnosis.org/library/hymnpearl.htm .

Mar. 31st, 2008

Teshub

For Sueciophones

If Swedish is one of your languages, the following might be worth a visit: http://ola-wikander.blogspot.com ....

Mar. 30th, 2008

Hermes

Isogashii-sô desu yo!

You have to keep it up. Your vowels, that is. Your sacred vowels.

Have kick-started my Japanese again, after having neglected it for so long. I suddenly realized that kanji actually can be interesting - it is, after all, only a modern variation on the same themes found in Akkadian cuneiform. Which is nice.

Held a speech at the linguistics department a few days ago. I was invited there after randomly meeting one of their professors up in Stockholm, where we were both attending meetings with the Swedish Research Council. She immediately thought I ought to come to them and say... something..., to which I heartily agreed, and so it happened that I delivered an address on Ugaritic philology to a crowd of about thirty (I have to say) quite enthusiastic researchers in linguistics. Which was nice.

My translation of the Chaldean Oracles does apparently exist in the material world as of now, but the entire shipment of books (printed in Poland) has for some reason decided to make a weird (and to the plain eye completely unnecessary) postal side-tour through Germany and is expected here in Sweden next week. On an additional note, if you're by any chance interested in that text or other ancient theurgic practices, I definitely recommend a visit to the lovely site www.theurgia.org . But remember: Sig' eche, mysta!

The Dear Lady has started a new blog, the main topics of which are women history and the history of clothing. The URL is http://dameboudicca.blogspot.com , and a visit is definitely recommended.

She and I and our Dark Female Friend were in Malmö yesterday, getting all sorts of interesting stuff. I bought a book of art-prints by Yoshitaka Amano, who has been my hero for many years. Just looking at the pictures makes you get lost in dream. He's something like the Lord Dunsany of the pictorial arts. In this age of disgustingly shallow blogs about shopping, it feels heartening to write about that kind of shopping (as opposed, say, buying "sexy" tops with horrific color-schemes with a sort of understated right-wing twist). Yoshitaka Amano kî jay!

Mar. 22nd, 2008

Magus

Mastering Swedish

I cannot keep this to myself, it's just too hilarious for words: http://www.slayradio.org/mastering_swedish.php
And for those of you who don't get a joke - no, these lessons are not  meant to be serious Swedish phrases - we're not quite that insane; the stuff they say in the recordings are the most bizarre tounge-twisters in history. But they're just wonderful, aren't they?

Mar. 21st, 2008

Magus

Oxford in those days was still a city of aquatint...

I have been heavily at work on the Indo-European stuff lately, and my brain feels like it's bulging with reconstructed verbal forms. Also, had two new nice ideas for books to do sometime in the future (very vague ideas which might come to absolutely nothing, but still): one is a commentary the Hymn of the Pearl (from the Acts of Thomas), discussing the Exodus-motif as applied to the soul in a gnosticizing context, thus combining my Hebrew Bible interests with the Gnostic ones, and the other is a book focusing on some aspects of Old Testament thinking from a "philosophical" point of view: what would happen if we looked at the Deuteronomists, the author of Job and Deutero-Isiah not as theologians but as philosophers instead? Could be interesting, could be completely impossible to do. Perhaps we shall see one day.

Oh, and I found out there will be a paper on the Hebrew wayyiqtol-tense presented at the OTSEM conference in April (the one where I will be presenting the first chapter of my thesis). That is interesting, because I have myself been sketching on an article on that very problem but from a comparative typological perspective (using the rise of the Indo-European augment as a typological comparandum for the waw-consecutive). I am quite interested in seeing what the paper presented at the conference will have to say on the matter.

I like Odin Sphere, by the way. Hack and slash with a quasi-RPG finish and beautiful graphics. A little Mana-ish, which really works for me. I have to replay Secret of Mana... once again. And Seiken Densetsu 3. After all, it was Mana that got me into the JRPG thing in the first place, many years ago. Just thinking of Hiroki Kikuta's wonderful "Where Angels Fear to Tread"-theme makes my eyes water. It is simply wonderful, isn't?

And why make a 2-hour movie adaption of Brideshead Revisited when there already is a tv-series version from heaven which will not and cannot be surpassed? Leave beauty alone - do not disturb it. Jeremy Irons/Anthony Andrews/Diana Quick/Evelyn Waugh. You can't get any better, so stop trying.

Mar. 10th, 2008

Seraf

Memetics - no, not a fan of Dawkins...

I got a meme from dysorderly who in turn got it from the Dear Lady herself, dameboudicca. Pacta sunt servanda, I guess, som I'll just have to do what it tells me to do. The instructions are:

 A. List seven habits/quirks/facts about yourself.
B. Tag seven people to do the same.
C. Do not tag the person who tagged you or say that you "tag whoever wants to do it."

Uhm... I think I'll skip B and C, and thus I won't proliferate this particular "virus of the mind", as Mr Dawkins would no doubt call it. There are others (like religion, socialism and Attic Greek) that I find more worth infecting people with ;-) But if you, dear reader, feel like copying this little thingy and do it yourself, by all means go ahead. Oh, I think I just broke the rules of point C. So anyway.

My seven quirky facts about me:

1. I have actually read Gramsci in the original Italian. A little, that is.
2. I think Keanu Reeves is a good actor. Really.
3. I have quite a large collection of 80's and 90's Transformers magazines. I love Simon Furman.
4. I enormously enjoy reading old video game reviews, especially of really bad games, like Syvalion, Pit Fighter and (of course) Big Rigs - Over the Road Racing.
5. I have conducted e-mail discussions in Latin, Sanskrit and Yiddish.
6. I actually find religion, politics, moral philosophy and literature to be quite sensible after-dinner conversation topics. At least with the right crowd.
7. I have been offered to buy heroin from a complete stranger. Even though it hurts my rock-n-roll sensibilities, I am actually quite happy that I declined.

So there. Sat sapienti.
 

Mar. 2nd, 2008

Teshub

In the House

I like Hugh Laurie. I liked him when he did Fry & Laurie, liked him when he did Jeeves & Wooster. And I like him on House. It's nice to see the man on his own, out of Mr. Fry's shadow, so speak. Even though I admire Stephen Fry quite as much. And I have to watch Peter's Friends again - one of the best movies I know.

Lots of work during the past week. Recording TV in Stockholm on friday, interviewed for paper on thursday. Gothenburg on tuesday. And I'll have to clean my apartment before the coming wednesday - another journalist wants me, and he wants to see me in my home. Why? Because he writes for a housing magazine. Weird world.

And the dissertation chapter is as good as finished for submission. And I wrote an article on Lucian's Vera Historia for a Finnish magazine called Kontur. And I just did some work on the Seraphim, too. Not a lot, but still.

Soon, I am going to watch DVD 5 of House season one. I desperately need to know whom he's going to fire (because the evil Mr Vogler has forced him to pick one of his subordinates). Not tonight, though; it's 03:36 in the morning, and my brain hurts.

The Syriac is coming along nicely. The language has a nice fluidity to it. But Tocharian is harder, so much harder....

Last week I told one of my Greek students that cracking a difficult verbal form is a bit like playing Doctor House. Attack the probem logically, rule out impossibilities, make a diagnosis. And so you find that "idoi" is 3rd person aorist optative active. Thank you, Dr Laurie, you did it again.

Oh, and sometimes I wish I were born in America. But then again, I really wouldn't want that, for a ridiculously large number of reasons. England perhaps...? Nah, too much British Class System for my poor nervous system. Or maybe Japan? No, better for short visits, I think. Sweden will just have to do.

Over and out. And don't go listening to Southern Baptist sermons over the internet - it drives you crazy... possibly with laughter. Or depression, whichever serves your amount of dystopia.

Feb. 23rd, 2008

Seraf

At night

 Watched the new movie adaption of Northanger Abbey... which was very nice. And then Fruits Basket. Lot's of it.
Isn't funny that when you've actually told yourself that it's quite okay to stay awake till dawn, you get more tired than ever? I usually go to bed about 4 o' clock in the morning anyway, and here I am at 2.30, feeling dead tired. Bizarre.

Write Seraphim, yes yes yes yes yes. Dissertation chapter nearly finished for conference, yes yes yes yes yes. Wake my stupid brain up, yes yes yes yes.

Being interviewed by tabloid press on tuesday, recording tv-appearance on friday. Here we go again....

Wake up stupid brain. Cre-a-tive.

And the chapter I've almost finished is about two lines of Ugaritic poetry. They go like this:
nrt ilm špš shrrt
la šmm b yd bn ilm mt

(there are actually some additional diacritics to go into that, but I won't sprain my head trying to find out how to write them here on the blog.)

It actually a bit fun to know that these two lines have generated fifteen pages of text in may thesis already. Here we go.
And my girlfriend just handed me a glass of sherry. I think I need it.

Feb. 20th, 2008

Teshub

Glossomania

Two shelves are now in place - here we go! Ganbatte kudasai, as they would say in Japanese.
My private Ugaritic studies with my supervisor got postponed - he couldn't find Segert's "Basic Grammar of the Ugaritic Language". I found it for him, and we're going to get to it again next Wednesday. On Tuesday I'm off to Gothenburg to discuss the Indo-European book with another learned academic - will probably be quite entertaining. Sauphalyam astu!

Soon I really have to be on the way to the Department - but not quite yet. One of the advantages of getting up at 10.30 in the morning instead of 14.00 is the fact that so much of the day is left when you're finally... uh... mentally awake. Usually the day is almost over by the time I can actually think straight.

Last night a threw a glance at Classical Armenian. It is one of those IE-branches that not to many people have in their repertoire, but... Hurrian, Syriac and Tocharian are enough for one month, I think. An Ugaritic, of course. And Hebrew. It's a mouthful, but it's what I do!

Saha vîryam karavâvahai!


Currently listening to: "Doin the Omoralisk Schlagerfestivalblues"

Hermes

Elthe makaira thea, mal' epêraton eidos echousa!

Just performed today's ritual workings. Now listening to invocation to the appropriate planet from the wonderful CD "Secrets of the Heavens" (among other things featuring the Orphic Hymns in the Latin translation of Ficino). Also performed a small "inner travel", during which I fell into a dam located inside a gym and found a treasure chest on the bottom of the water. Interesting.

Will try to move one of the new bookshelves today, and hopefully get some work done on the dissertation. Would also like to work a little on the article on the Consecutive tenses. We will see what Dame Fate has in store for me.

Pictures of me for the Indo-European book arrived today. Can you say "sly smirk", boys and girls?

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