Novels, Romance, and Romans, oh my !

I’ve long kicked around the idea of writing a novel in Iambic Pentameter, the idea isn’t as nutty as it sounds. For one a few contemporary writers have written verse novels, like the late David Rakoff, whose “Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish is mostly in anapestic tetrameter, or Vikram Seth, whose novels are infused heavily with verse. His “The Golden Gate” is in iambic pentameter.

The idea seems funny, aren’t poetry and novels supposed to be separate?
Well, ask yourself, why?
Where does this assumption come from? Doubtless, few people in today’s world feel like wading through, say, Milton’s Paradise Lost but at one time verse, and poetry, were the queens of the literary world, both high and low. Broadsheet Ballads were the original English news papers, decades or perhaps even a century before the true rise of gazettes and journals.

Let’s consider this. The prose novel, as we know it today, is a rather new thing.
This is why, in fact, it’s called a novel in english, for it was a new and novel thing. They were also called Romances, a word that only survives today in Bodice and Panty Rippers churned out like candy, and devoured eagerly by educated and accomplished women all around the English speaking world as a naughty or guilty pleasure.

Originally all novels were Romances; or rather I should say and the Romance didn’t just deal with love, it dealt with war, adventures, all sorts of things. This notion survived on a bit even up until the 1960’s and early 70’s. Frank Yerby’s Gothic Romances were very much Male books. They could be read by women, and often were eagerly read by women, but the perspective of the central character was Male. The adventures were rugged, and he didn’t get one girl, rather he typically got two or more, of whom one would either survive (literally, death counts were a bit ghastly in some of these pulp paperback Romances) or be left as the one true love and right choice in the end.

The Romance in English is the Roman in French. The French prose Roman did inspire the first generation of English novelists, along with the translation of 1001 Arabian Nights, which in many ways more or less prefigured and inspired the Fantasy, Weird and Supernatural Tale (Lovecraft, and before him Poe, and even Lord Byron and others going before him were fascinated and heavily influenced by the 1001 Nights..)

Now the original Roman was in verse, they were poems, going back to the Roman de Rou and the Roman de Brut, in the earliest dim echos of Anglo-Norman literature. It is the Roman de Brut, which heavily borrowed from Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Histria Regnum Britannia, which was responsible for popularizing the legend of King Author both among the French and English at the close of the Dark Ages and dawn of the High Middle Ages in the West.

All Romans at that time were poetry, often in an octosyllable meter, though sometimes in Alexandrines, at times rhyming, that new poetic device borrowed from Arab poetry, whose cultural influence gradually wafted North from Andalusia during the time of Muslim rule in Spain. But sometimes eschewing rhyme, Romans were crafted in a sort of blank verse.

A novel in Iambic Pentameter, in a way, is a return back to it’s origins. Or let’s say that stories, rather, narratives, when told in verse, are a return back to the origins of literary storytelling.


to learn a new tongue, it is said..

.. is to earn a new soul.

I do not remember who first said this, maybe it was Oscar Wilde, that to Learn a new Tongue is to Learn a New Soul. But there is, increasingly, scientific evidence behind the sentiment itself – with an allowance for poetic license. To learn a second or third language is to establish entirely new pathways in the brain, in effect “rewiring” it, allowing one to see the world itself in entirely different ways. These ways may be nuanced, and hard to articulate, but they exist.

Few things are more feared by power than verbal abilities of dissidents. As for intellectual abilities, IQ, and so on well these are strongly correlated with verbal abilities. In truth having a moderate IQ and an excellent ability to convey your thoughts and ideas is far more dangerous to an elite than being a genius who is socially and verbally unable to effectively convey anything of substance to anyone outside of his recondite little circle.

The ability to effectively communicate one’s ideas, not being wordy or artistically articulate, but effectively distill meaning into verbal form and persuasively put it across, can manage to get one laid, admired, followed, and murdered. Sometimes all in the same week. History well attests to this.

Why do you think that black slaves in the American South were not allowed to be taught to read, by force of law and custom? This also existed among the ‘freedom loving and virile’ Spartans in Ancient Greece, where apart from a numerically small elite, the majority of the population were in fact slaves. (While though some craven historians refrain from pointing this out, contemporaries did note that Helots were, basically, slaves).

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4 Questions I have about FEMEN, part 2

So, I’ve beaten the subject to the ground. As to FEMEN, they recently according to this RT article shifted their operations HQ to France, in part due to the massive Muslim population there. Now given that most of their past antics (or those of associated artist activists like Pussy Riot et al.) involved highly aggressive demonstrations in Christian places or worship or symbols.

It is important to recognize that in my allusions and insinuations, past and present, I do not suggest that typical FEMEN supporters in the wider conversation, whether in the blogosphere, online fora, or outside the Internet’s sandbox of distractions, are disingenuous or less than sincere. I believe they overwhelmingly are sincere.

Nor do I mean to suggest that the tactical level activists are insincere, I believe that apart from a very small few individuals, each of these women protesting, much less than those sitting back-room organizing, is enthusiastic, sincere, and fired up about trying to make a difference. That does, of course, leave a small few individuals concerning whom my questions stand.

Regarding protests concerning Christian symbols and sites. Take one, like that chain sawing a Crucifix erected to honor the memory of Ukrainians killed by Stalin’s purges (and the frisson inherent in this is palpable) assaulting Church officials, or verbally harassing them, throwing objects in Churches, staging mock suicides in Churches. Religiously, take the recent campaign concerning Tunisia – one that nude protester and FEMEN sympathizer Amina Tyler herself was even taken aback by ( and so on.

It’s clear that FEMEN chiefly have two religious targets in mind. Christianity (Orthodox and Catholic), and Islam. FMEN have been explicitly quoted to the effect that their main purpose in moving to France concerned the very large Muslim population there. Given the massive abuse of women outside of both Christian and Islamic spheres, this extreme selectivity makes me wonder..

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4 Questions I have about FEMEN, part 1

I have two questions concerning FEMEN. Avant Garde Shock provocateurs of the day FEMEN, a purported “feminist activist group leave several questions in my mind, beyond the efficacy of their stunts in raising consciousness about the particular topics they protest, their group’s whole agenda shows a decided slant in their socially militant and provocative agendas.

My questions are:
1. Are they sincere or insincere ideologues, who also happen to be idiots or exhibitionists

2. Are they sincerely convinced of the efficacy of their tactics, or they in fact, or at least their core leadership, quite conscious of the problematics of their tactics because, in fact, their agenda is ironic, in the classical sense, in that they mean something other than what they speak and present in public?

3. Are they sincerely convinced of the importance of the topics and targets they chose for their provocations, or are both simply of a diversionary nature?

4. Why are all of the activists seen to date young, physically attractive and nubile, and highly photogenic, and racially mostly Eurasian (though a couple of darker faces joined them for one or two of their French protests one notes, even in the protests on Tunisian interests, it was the same blonde and redheaded gals, at least in the few pictures I saw)

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Musings, a Hadith, Fashion, Entertainment, Prostitution, Tinsel..

“..Look at these tears, tears of a clown
Look at these tears, oh they keep rolling down
Look at these tears, tears of a clown…” by Frankie J

Just some Inchoate musings on various things.

1. I was thinking about a hadith. In a narration from Amr Ibn Akhwas he relates that the Prophet(saws) commanded:
“Be kind towards your women. Take heed! You have rights over your women and your women also have rights over you.”

One notes that the command came first, before the justification of mutual reciprocity between men and women in terms of rights each has from the other, which of course suggests mutual reciprocity of duties. I think this is something that many of us men get sensitive about, the whole “nice guys get kicked to the curb” Line of thought. “Why be kind or nice, girls will just use you and step over you..”

I think Kindness and Niceness are somewhat different things, in English.
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