In Philippic II, Cicero(106 -43 BC) wrote a rebuttal to Mark Anthony’s scurrilous attack on him. This was not the Shakespearean Mark Anthony but the real-life historical Marcus Antonius, debauched, lascivious, drunkard Marcus Antonius. The Marcus Antonius who was unfit for office.
Emil Cioran (1911-1995) poet and prophet of pessimism, an existentialist, but one who abhorred meaning-making, whose philosophy focused on the tragic and meaningless, the despair in existence. He wrote ‘I have seen one man pursue his goal, another that one; I have seen men fascinated by disparate objects, under the spell of dreams and plans…
Marguerite Yourcenar’s Aphrodissia: The Widow
In Marguerite Yourcenar’s (1903-1987) Oriental Tales, there is a story “Aphrodissia, The Widow” which deals with the problem of secret grief, that is secret because the source, the relationship with the lost object is a secret but also forbidden.
Reading Thomas Hardy in Dorset
I am preoccupied with the nature of oaths and vows. How is it that we come to find promises binding? What is about words, about language, that utterances take on the status of fiat. There is the associated magic of the written word, the manner in which suddenly the affixed sign turns a dull document from insignificance, from an inert object to a living document that has power and authority.
Ibsen’s When We Dead Awaken
This is the context then of When We Dead Awaken, a play that describes an encounter between a retired sculptor Arnold Rubek and Irena, a model who had sat for him. It is a reckoning of sorts, an accounting of the value of a life. And sadly, it concludes that the artistic life eschews living and is dead!
The Forest of Cedar
The Epic of Gilgamesh was written over 5,000 years ago. It is regarded as the first great work of literature. My interest today is not in the usual emphasis, that is placed, on the examination of the nature of friendship, the treatment of the duties of kings foreshadowing ‘mirrors for princes’ in the Epic. Today, I am preoccupied with the motif of journeys in literature. This theme is most explicit in Homer’s Odyssey and in Aeneas’ Aeneid.
The extraordinary blending of muted trumpet and muted trombone with clarinet gave richness and depth to the colouring, and sometimes a human voiced trombone, would be added, in the most anguished and wailing tone, I suppose of wet, indescribable indigo.
There are vestiges of Victorian Lagos in Sefi Atta’s novels. Vestiges in the sense that these aspects of Victorian Lagos are quiescent and invisible, somewhat like the appendix, that is until inflamed. In The Bead Collector we have Regina Hernandes and Eugenia Hernandes both Aguda, Lagos Brazilian Catholics. Our heroine, Remi Lawal’s visit to Eugenia’s house is…
A Cloud of Books
An imaginary being, an ancient text by al-Jahiz and translated by Miguel Asin Palacios and related to us by Borges and sent onwards on its journey by me. An accumulation of preposterous imaginings over space and time, an accretion some might say but no less alive for that and infused with vitality in the retelling.
Borges and Maps
‘…In that Empire, the craft of Cartography attained such Perfection that the Map of a Single province covered the space of an entire City, and the Map of the Empire itself an entire Province’