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About AllBlue

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  • Birthday 11/06/1957

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  1. AllBlue added a post in a topic What books are you reading now?   

    Taking some time with Lucretius and Epicurus. - Cyril Bailey and WHD Rouse translations of On the Nature of Things; Norman DeWitt's Epicurus and His Philosophy; David West's The Imagery and Poetry of Lucretius

    David West takes issue with translators who paraphrase: "Popular though it is among writers on classical literature, paraphrase kills poetry, and in Lucretius (where so much depends upon the acuity of the detail), it mutilates the corpse."
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  2. AllBlue added a post in a topic P.Z. Myers: New York Times Supports Rape Culture!   

    People have gotten used to the lazy "reporting" they see on tv news, where shocked looks and an overly dramatic reading of a handful of sound-bite sentences suffices to "cover" a story. Long live the NY Times, a small island in a sea of pretty much total crap.
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  3. AllBlue added a post in a topic What books are you reading now?   

    A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

    This book had a hypnotic effect. The short descriptive sentences are rhythmic and make it seem as though someone is reading to you in a low voice. As the sentences pile up on each other, the scene emerges. The technique made me think of photorealism in painting. It's notable that emotions are seldom named or discussed but they are there. The last scene is heartbreakingly dismal even without Henry delving into his feelings.
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  4. AllBlue added a post in a topic What books are you reading now?   

    Summer solstice, a good day to write down a summer reading list, although there's not anymore time in summer than in the other seasons if you work full time.

    These are currently in the stack. A couple are rereads, some I've started, some I haven't yet. If I get through them all before fall it will be a nice surprise:

    The Decipherment of Linear B, John Chadwick
    The Mycenaean World, John Chadwick
    The Archaeology of Greece, William R. Biers
    The Varieties of Scientific Experience, Carl Sagan
    Life on the Mississippi, Mark Twain
    This Organic Life, Joan Dye Gussow
    The Greek Achievement, Charles Freeman
    Wives and Daughters, Elizabeth Gaskell
    The Comedy of Errors, William Shakespeare
    Archaic Marble Sculpture from the Acropolis, Humfry Payne and Gerard Mackworth Young
    The Parthenon and Its Sculptures, John Boardman and David Finn
    Olympia: The Sculptures of the Temple of Zeus, Bernard Ashmole and Nicholas Yalouris

    A happy summer to all!

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  5. AllBlue added a post in a topic What books are you reading now?   

    The Odyssey by Homer

    First I read a translation by R.L. Eickhoff published in 2001 which is a mostly prose written in modern language. Now I'm reading a few other translations including Fagles, Fitzgerald, Butcher and Lang, Mandelbaum and Palmer.
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  6. AllBlue added a post in a topic What books are you reading now?   

    Right now I'm slowing reading Odysseus Unbound: The Search for Homer's Ithaca by Robert Bittlestone. This lengthy book proposes that the western peninsula of the island of Cephalonia is actually the site of ancient Ithaca, not the modern island of Ithaca just east of Cephalonia. It's interesting but slow going. Mr. Bittlestone takes into account all the theories that have been put forth from ancient times to the present, finding them all unsatisfactory. He is building his case using satellite imagery, newly translated text of Homer's Odyssey and the geology of the area. Fascinating stuff.
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  7. AllBlue added a post in a topic What books are you reading now?   

    I'm currently reading Ovid's Metamorphoses, Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War and on Sundays Understanding Poetry by Cleanth Brooks, Jr. and Robert Penn Warren.

    I went to a used bookstore today and picked up Four Plays By Aristophanes (The Clouds, The Birds, Lysistrata, The Frogs); Sophocles 1 (Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone); Hesiod's Theogony, Richard S. Caldwell; Aristotle for Everybody by Mortimer J. Adler and The Homeric Hymns, Apostolos N. Athanassakis.

    This is a great small bookstore. The shelves are so full that they're leaning far past plumb (a lawsuit waiting to happen I suppose), and books are stacked chest-high in piles in front of the shelves so that if you really want something that you can barely see through the stacks, you either ask the owner for help or spend some time carefully removing and replacing books. Every now and then you hear a stack fall. Whenever anyone asks the owner where something is, he always knows where in the maze to send them. The Greeks are in stacks that also include authors like Faulkner, Eliot, Austen and Hawthorne. Nearby are poets, across the aisle are books about faith. Down at the end of the row, against the wall opposite the leaning end of the bookcase, are romances. It's an equal opportunity store! A good place to spend some time on a Saturday.
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  8. AllBlue added a blog entry in AllBlue's Blog   

    Poetry Sundays (October 23)
    This week I read Percy Bysshe Shelley's Ode to the West Wind:


    O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,
    Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
    Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

    Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
    Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O Thou,
    Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed

    The wingèd seeds, where they lie cold and low,
    Each like a corpse within its grave, until
    Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow

    Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth, and fill
    (Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
    With living hues and odours plain and hill:

    Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
    Destroyer and Preserver; hear, O hear!


    Thou on whose stream, 'mid the steep sky's commotion,
    Loose clouds like Earth's decaying leaves are shed,
    Shook from the tangled boughs of Heaven and Ocean,

    Angels of rain and lightning: there are spread
    On the blue surface of thine airy surge,
    Like the bright hair uplifted from the head

    Of some fierce Mænad, even from the dim verge
    Of the horizon to the zenith's height,
    The locks of the approaching storm. Thou Dirge

    Of the dying year, to which this closing night
    Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre,
    Vaulted with all thy congregated might

    Of vapours, from whose solid atmosphere
    Black rain and fire and hail will burst: O hear!


    Thou who didst waken from his summer dreams
    The blue Mediterranean, where he lay,
    Lulled by the coil of his chrystalline streams,

    Beside a pumice isle in Baiæ's bay,
    And saw in sleep old palaces and towers
    Quivering within the wave's intenser day,

    All overgrown with azure moss, and flowers
    So sweet, the sense faints picturing them! Thou
    For whose path the Atlantic's level powers

    Cleave themselves into chasms, while far below
    The sea-blooms and the oozy woods which wear
    The sapless foliage of the ocean, know

    Thy voice, and suddenly grow grey with fear,
    And tremble and despoil themselves: O hear!


    If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear;
    If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee;
    A wave to pant beneath thy power, and share

    The impulse of thy strength, only less free
    Than thou, O Uncontrollable! If even
    I were as in my boyhood, and could be

    The comrade of thy wanderings over Heaven,
    As then, when to outstrip thy skiey speed
    Scarce seemed a vision; I would ne'er have striven

    As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need.
    Oh! lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!
    I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!

    A heavy weight of hours has chained and bowed
    One too like thee: tameless, and swift, and proud.


    Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:
    What if my leaves are falling like its own!
    The tumult of thy mighty harmonies

    Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone,
    Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,
    My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!

    Drive my dead thoughts over the universe,
    Like wither'd leaves, to quicken a new birth!
    And, by the incantation of this verse,

    Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth
    Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
    Be through my lips to unawakened Earth

    The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
    If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

    It's hard to read this poem in the 21st century with a mind free of irony. I didn't love this poem. I was a little bored by Shelley's raptures. Section V stood out though. The idea of the wind playing on objects or people as if they are instruments is cliche now. Maybe it was old then, too. I don't know. But I enjoyed this development of that idea and Shelley's taking it beyond that to the point where the narrator implores the west wind to blow through his mouth, sending his words into the world. That's a different image.

    The first four sections of the poem I have difficulty reading without wincing some. That may be because of the poets that came after Shelley (and Byron and Keats) who, following in their literary footsteps, went on rapturous flights over every damn thing they came across. Their legacy has come down to us in cartoons and other spoofs.

    When I read in this poem about "bright hair uplifted from the head of some Maenad;" or night as "the dome of a vast sepulcher;" or, weirdly, "the sapless foliage of the ocean" that grow "gray with fear" and "tremble and despoil themselves" when the wind blows the waves above them, I can't help but think things like, did he really mean (see the last example) that the "ocean plants, crapped their pants"?

    The thee's and thou's, the drama, the phrases or images or styles that have been overused sound silly now. To really appreciate the poetry of this time period I guess we have to try very hard to let go of all that's been written since then and also let go of the current mode of having an ironic twist to our thoughts every minute of the day.

    Still, it could be that some of this poetry won't stand the test of time. Maybe it only spoke to the people of that time and a few decades after but not very far into the 20th century. New words and ways to order language began to emerge leaving these older words and ways behind.

    There aren't a huge number of older texts that still get read often and most of what has been published or read or sung during the last century and this one will pass into oblivion long before the sun decays or the earth becomes lifeless for other reasons. One of the interesting things about reading the works of writers long dead though is that it lets you look into the past and try to put yourself there and feel what was being felt at the time by the writer. That's a good exercise even if you don't love what you're reading.
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  9. AllBlue added a post in a topic Using Digits   

    Here's a link to my second weaving project since I got back into it. The first project didn't go very well, but the second one, using a type of pattern called overshot, is going pretty well so far.
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  10. AllBlue added a blog entry in AllBlue's Blog   

    Poetry Sundays (October 2)
    This week I read Il Penseroso by John Milton. The following text is copied from Project Gutenberg's The Poetical Works of John Milton. I read it in Understanding Poetry, by Cleanth Brooks, Jr. and Robert Penn Warren, in which the spelling was updated (i.e.: "joyes" to "joys"; "bright-hair'd" to "bright-haired").

    The antique language and, to my ear, convoluted grammar makes this poem tough for a 20th/21st century reader. A standard dictionary is some help with the references to various ancient gods, goddesses, persons and ideas (Philomel - nightingale; Cynthia - Artemis, moon) but not always (Camball, Algarsife, Canace). Milton is a bit of a name dropper.

    The title was not that helpful to me since my knowledge of the Romance languages is weak. Does it mean "the thinker"? The poem is a tour of Night from twilight to dawn using allusions to ancient ideas. The poem's speaker may be the thinker or maybe the title means something else. I haven't yet tried to find out more than I could by using a dictionary. I wanted to see how much I could understand using just that tool and what's already available in my head. When I did a quick online search, I found sites with studies of this poem and other works by Milton. Here's one that I may look at after I have read this a couple more times. One problem with the Internet is that it makes something like reading such a poem just another series of mouse clicks for those with already shortened attention spans (I include myself in that group), reading work that others have already done. I'd like to make this poem feel more personal. I think it will be worthwhile.

    One thing I did learn from a quick scan of the site noted above is that this is one of a pair of poems, the other titled L'Allegro. That is helpful. I don't have that in any books here, but of course Project Gutenberg has it so I can read it also. This is my first time reading Milton. I figured I'd sometimes use Poetry Sunday to read those poets I've always been fearful of reading. Milton is one, Dante is another.


    Hence vain deluding joyes,
    The brood of folly without father bred,
    How little you bested,
    Or fill the fixed mind with all your toyes;
    Dwell in som idle brain
    And fancies fond with gaudy shapes possess,
    As thick and numberless
    As the gay motes that people the Sun Beams,
    Or likest hovering dreams
    The fickle Pensioners of Morpheus train. 10
    But hail thou Goddess, sage and holy,
    Hail divinest Melancholy
    Whose Saintly visage is too bright
    To hit the Sense of human sight;
    And therefore to our weaker view,
    Ore laid with black staid Wisdoms hue.
    Black, but such as in esteem,
    Prince Memnons sister might beseem,
    Or that Starr'd Ethiope Queen that strove
    To set her beauties praise above 20
    The Sea Nymphs, and their powers offended.
    Yet thou art higher far descended,
    Thee bright-hair'd Vesta long of yore,
    To solitary Saturn bore;
    His daughter she (in Saturns raign,
    Such mixture was not held a stain)
    Oft in glimmering Bowres, and glades
    He met her, and in secret shades
    Of woody Ida's inmost grove,
    While yet there was no fear of Jove. 30
    Com pensive Nun, devout and pure,
    Sober, stedfast, and demure,
    All in a robe of darkest grain,
    Flowing with majestick train,
    And sable stole of Cipres Lawn,
    Over thy decent shoulders drawn.
    Com, but keep thy wonted state,
    With eev'n step, and musing gate,
    And looks commercing with the skies,
    Thy rapt soul sitting in thine eyes: 40
    There held in holy passion still,
    Forget thy self to Marble, till
    With a sad Leaden downward cast,
    Thou fix them on the earth as fast.
    And joyn with thee calm Peace, and Quiet,
    Spare Fast, that oft with gods doth diet,
    And hears the Muses in a ring,
    Ay round about Joves Altar sing.
    And adde to these retired Leasure,
    That in trim Gardens takes his pleasure; 50
    But first, and chiefest, with thee bring,
    Him that yon soars on golden wing,
    Guiding the fiery-wheeled throne,
    The Cherub Contemplation,
    And the mute Silence hist along,
    'Less Philomel will daign a Song,
    In her sweetest, saddest plight,
    Smoothing the rugged brow of night,
    While Cynthia checks her Dragon yoke,
    Gently o're th'accustom'd Oke; 60
    Sweet Bird that shunn'st the noise of folly
    Most musical!, most melancholy!
    Thee Chauntress oft the Woods among
    I woo to hear thy eeven-Song;
    And missing thee, I walk unseen
    On the dry smooth-shaven Green,
    To behold the wandring Moon,
    Riding neer her highest noon,
    Like one that had bin led astray
    Through the Heav'ns wide pathles way; 70
    And oft, as if her head she bow'd,
    Stooping through a fleecy cloud.
    Oft on a Plat of rising ground,
    I hear the far-off Curfeu sound,
    Over som wide-water'd shoar,
    Swinging slow with sullen roar;
    Or if the Ayr will not permit,
    Som still removed place will fit,
    Where glowing Embers through the room
    Teach light to counterfeit a gloom 80
    Far from all resort of mirth,
    Save the Cricket on the hearth,
    Or the Belmans drowsie charm,
    To bless the dores from nightly harm:
    Or let my Lamp at midnight hour,
    Be seen in som high lonely Towr,
    Where I may oft out-watch the Bear,
    With thrice great Hermes, or unsphear
    The spirit of Plato to unfold
    What Worlds, or what vast Regions hold 90
    The immortal mind that hath forsook
    Her mansion in this fleshly nook:
    And of those Daemons that are found
    In fire, air, flood, or under ground,
    Whose power hath a true consent
    With planet or with Element.
    Som time let Gorgeous Tragedy
    In Scepter'd Pall com sweeping by,
    Presenting Thebs, or Pelops line,
    Or the tale of Troy divine. 100
    Or what (though rare) of later age,
    Ennobled hath the Buskind stage.
    But, O sad Virgin, that thy power
    Might raise Musaeus from his bower,
    Or bid the soul of Orpheus sing
    Such notes as warbled to the string,
    Drew Iron tears down Pluto's cheek,
    And made Hell grant what Love did seek.
    Or call up him that left half told
    The story of Cambuscan bold, 110
    Of Camball, and of Algarsife,
    And who had Canace to wife,
    That own'd the vertuous Ring and Glass,
    And of the wondrous Hors of Brass,
    On which the Tartar King did ride;
    And if ought els, great Bards beside,
    In sage and solemn tunes have sung,
    Of Turneys and of Trophies hung;
    Of Forests, and inchantments drear,
    Where more is meant then meets the ear. 120
    Thus night oft see me in thy pale career,
    Till civil-suited Morn appeer,
    Not trickt and frounc't as she was wont,
    With the Attick Boy to hunt,
    But Cherchef't in a comly Cloud,
    While rocking Winds are Piping loud,
    Or usher'd with a shower still,
    When the gust hath blown his fill,
    Ending on the russling Leaves,
    With minute drops from off the Eaves. 130
    And when the Sun begins to fling
    His flaring beams, me Goddes bring
    To arched walks of twilight groves,
    And shadows brown that Sylvan loves
    Of Pine, or monumental Oake,
    Where the rude Ax with heaved stroke,
    Was never heard the Nymphs to daunt,
    Or fright them from their hallow'd haunt.
    There in close covert by som Brook,
    Where no profaner eye may look, 140
    Hide me from Day's garish eie,
    While the Bee with Honied thie,
    That at her flowry work doth sing,
    And the Waters murmuring
    With such consort as they keep,
    Entice the dewy-feather'd Sleep;
    And let som strange mysterious dream,
    Wave at his Wings in Airy stream,
    Of lively portrature display'd,
    Softly on my eye-lids laid. 150
    And as I wake, sweet musick breath
    Above, about, or underneath,
    Sent by som spirit to mortals good,
    Or th'unseen Genius of the Wood.
    But let my due feet never fail,
    To walk the studious Cloysters pale,
    And love the high embowed Roof
    With antick Pillars massy proof,
    And storied Windows richly dight,
    Casting a dimm religious light. 160
    There let the pealing Organ blow,
    To the full voic'd Quire below,
    In Service high, and Anthems cleer,
    As may with sweetnes, through mine ear,
    Dissolve me into extasies,
    And bring all Heav'n before mine eyes.
    And may at last my weary age
    Find out the peacefull hermitage,
    The Hairy Gown and Mossy Cell,
    Where I may sit and rightly spell 170
    Of every Star that Heav'n doth shew,
    And every Herb that sips the dew;
    Till old experience do attain
    To somthing like prophetic strain.
    These pleasures Melancholy give,
    And I with thee will choose to live.

    Updated, same day:

    Okay, I've tried to understand this first section:

    Hence vain deluding joyes,
    The brood of folly without father bred,
    How little you bested,
    Or fill the fixed mind with all your toyes;
    Dwell in som idle brain
    And fancies fond with gaudy shapes possess,
    As thick and numberless
    As the gay motes that people the Sun Beams,
    Or likest hovering dreams
    The fickle Pensioners of Morpheus train.

    My interpretation is of the ideas and isn't poetic:

    Go away, happy thoughts.
    You're nothing but foolish.
    You're hardly better than nothing.
    You're toys for those not able to really think.
    Go to someone who doesn't think much,
    Who'll love your many foolish "incarnations,"
    Much like dreams, that will fade.

    Later still, same day:

    The rest of the poem is an ode to Melancholy sometimes using aspects of night as metaphor. A cult of melancholy was a feature of arts and letters beginning in the 17th century.

    I read through this several times today. It is dense with imagery and allusions and to really make it be something I know well, I'll need to read it more times and also read the other poem mentioned above. I'm going to try to do that this week and hopefully add more information here as I do.
    Also, I've been trying to insert an image of Albrecht Durer's Melencolia but haven't been successful. Here's a link to it if you'd like to see it.
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  11. AllBlue added a comment on a blog entry Poetry Sundays   

    Thanks, soleo. I particularly like the lines "calls to you like wild geese, harsh and exciting, over and over." Wild geese sound harsh and exciting. I like it when a poet sees and hears the natural world clearly and describes it well but in a way I hadn't thought of.

    I read some of Mary Oliver's poems a few weeks ago. Here's one that I liked:

    We Should Be Well Prepared

    The way the plovers cry goodbye.
    The way the dead fox keeps on looking down the hill
    with open eye.
    The way the leaves fall, and then there's the long wait.
    The way someone says: we must never meet again.
    The way mold spots the cake,
    The way sourness overtakes the cream.
    The way the river water rushes by, never to return.
    The way the days go by, never to return.
    The way somebody comes back, but only in a dream.

    Thanks, Tzela Vieed, for mentioning the term "paradelle." It was new to me so I googled it. Here's the wiki page.
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  12. AllBlue added a blog entry in AllBlue's Blog   

    Poetry Sundays
    A few weeks ago I decided to read poetry on Sunday mornings. I'm trying to get to the library each week to pick a poet or poets whose work I've never read before or maybe read a long time ago. A couple of weeks ago I came across Billy Collins. He wrote a couple of poems about artists. Here's an excerpt from one about Goya:

    from Candle Hat
    But once you see this hat there is no need to read
    any biography of Goya or to memorize his dates.

    To understand Goya you only have to imagine him
    lighting the candles one by one, then placing
    the hat on his head, ready for a night of work.

    Imagine him surprising his wife with his new invention,
    then laughing like a birthday cake when she saw the glow.
    Imagine him flickering through the rooms of his house
    with all the shadows flying across the walls.

    Francisco Goya, self-portrait with candle hat
    Here's an excerpt from a poem about John Constable:

    from Student of Clouds

    The emotion is to be found in the clouds,
    not in the green solids of the sloping hills
    or even in the gray signatures of rivers,
    according to Constable, who was a student of clouds
    and filled shelves of sketchbooks with their motion,
    their lofty gesturing and sudden implication of weather.

    John Constable, Weymouth Bay

    Another poem by Mr. Collins, Walking Across the Atlantic,ends with the stanza:

    But for now I try to imagine what
    this must look like to the fish below,
    the bottoms of my feet appearing, disappearing.

    I don't want to interpret or evaluate these at this point. I just wanted to mention the poet who seems worth reading.
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  13. AllBlue added a post in a topic Using Digits   

    Did you finish the baby quilt? Is there a picture of it?
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  14. AllBlue added a post in a topic Using Digits   

    I've added another group of pictures to the weaving album on Facebook. I've gotten to the actual weaving stage! Take a look if you're interested: More pictures added to Weaving album
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  15. AllBlue added a post in a topic Using Digits   

    I'm including a link to the album I just started on FB where I'll be adding photos as I work through my first back-to-weaving project. I'm cutting up old blue jeans to make a few rag rugs. So far I've got the warp wound and have moved it to the loom. I've sleyed the reed and am beginning to thread the heddles.
    Facebook album of my weaving pictures

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