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euskara {basque}
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other links : i ii iii

Can you translate the next 300 words into Hindi, or Korean?; if so, please contact me and there will be rejoicing.

2002 Q1 & Q2

July 31st; Ryan phones me at Robin's from Michigan. Later, Eva calls round for tea.
I finish Robin's beautiful copy of William Hood's 'Fra Angelico at San Marco' that I started last summer. A visual feast. The book goes into particulars about Saint Dominic's Order, and Fra Angelico's life as a Dominican friar. Hood's writing could have been edited, though. He is fond of words like 'explicate', 'antiphon' and 'thaumaturgic'. Worse, sentences like "One need only recall the characteristic manner in which his work for San Marco owes its ability to communicate to the artist's learned manipulation of the visual connotations springing from the standard repertory of images intended for monastic contexts." are the rule rather than the exception. Frequently, I got confused. In a closing discussion of the 'Annunciation', Hood gives column heights and widths in units of Florentine 'braccia' but leaves me muddled on front column spacing and side column spacing. All it needed was a modest diagram measured in braccia, and a handy glossary of terms like 'giornata' [amount of fresco painted in one day], 'intonaco' [fine-plaster finish], 'sinopia' [pre-fresco sketching with red-earth lines]. But, still, a book that discusses 15th-century Florence and Fra Angelico in such loving detail, showing so many of his frescoes, can only be good.
An intense sensation, almost like a flavour, hit me at times - as if I could reach out and touch the bright Italian morning where mediaeval suddenly meets modern, where belief overlaps with thought. That the [to us] forward-looking, progressive art of Fra Angelico was part of an antiquarian, backward-looking movement - the Dominican Observance - came as a typical surprise. The very idea of a nostalgic, back-to-basics faction in the 1440s trying to restore the lost purity of the 1220s gave me a strange thrill of historical vertigo. As that character in Tarkovsky's 'Sacrifice', says, art-history is as near as we get to worship these days.
July 30th; Trapped at Jeremy's office by downpour, so leggy Wilma cooks us an Italian meal. Then I catch the train to Robin's.

July 29th; Scott, Christie & J u l i e. Cafe + teahouse.
July 28th; Met Fraser at a bar where lots of Americans were registering to vote, including Jake, John, Rita & bouncy Ildiko. People actually discussing politics.

July 27th; Tiling (or rotational symmetry?) from Bob too.
July 26th; A page of gorgeous tilings. Scroll down.

July 25th; Demolition man interviewed. Big bad sunspot.
July 24th; Get up at 4am for long day of filming in Scott's film about Seress. Director Sam impressively sharp and focussed on details. Met Christie from Switzerland. We all finish in a rather swish bar at midnight with Sam's interest-rate swaps trader cousin from London.

July 23rd; Costume fitting in Fot: Seress again tomorrow. Kind costume-designer Sosa drives us back into town.
July 22nd; I might have those 20 words for Miklos now.

July 21st; You'll never get to heaven if you're scared of getting high.
July 20th; Swam with Lilla, met Istvan & Ilan. Ate melon.

July 19th; Serious sunshine. Story meeting at hotel.
July 18th; I float in darkness.

July 17th; Swam a 1/2 mile. Unseen by oiled bikini girls glistening uptop, a ring of scuba-divers knelt on the blue-tiled pool bottom, hissing bubbles like big black frogs.
July 16th; Spent sleeping off lurid Thursday night revelry.

July 15th; Seems mediaeval monks ate a lot. Capon, posset, sack, rowanberries.
July 14th; Tom & I talk sales over omlette brunch, then scrambled-egg dinner.

July 13th; Nice maps of country names, via language hat.
July 12th; Having learned that I am now an "asshole", another woman friend repeatedly describes me as "vile". I think I see a pattern taking shape here, citizens.

July 11th; Swam 3/4 mile. Met Terri, but Parisa away.
July 10th; Started house-price article research.

July 9th; Jessica, back from SF, laughs over a white-wine froccs that I've become an asshole. Praise indeed.
July 8th; Finished Robin's old friend's ochre-coloured copy of 'The Sufis', by Idries Shah about the elusive mystics and their work in progress. This old paperback fell apart page by page as I read it, just like a book about Sufism should. Delicate glueing needed.
Few books can boast glowing reviews from both Stevie Smith and Ted Hughes on the back cover, and an introduction by Robert Graves. (I'm still recovering from the blunder of actually reading 'The White Goddess' all the way through in 2000) Perhaps too much fun to be true?
Anyway, Shah's main story is that Sufis are not an ism and not a sect of Islam, but a group who have worked within many religions, avoid fixed descriptions and rigid methods, set up schools which are meant to dissolve and pass away once their teaching diffuses into the surrounding culture, and seek to develop all of us in selflessly loving God and freeing ourselves from spiritual illusions. The role of the true teacher is so important, that Sufis go to great lengths to disguise their work from doctrinally-rigid believers of orthodox religions, so that they can continue their work and so that false teachers, fossilised dogma, & unprepared students can be kept at a distance. Hence the riddles. Pretty much everything about a range of mystical beliefs and mysteries over the last two thousand years can be explained by attending to interlocking groups of words in Arabic losing their double meaning once translated into Western languages. So Freemasons, troubadours (we got measured music from Arabic Spain? Interesting.), court fools in caps and bells, the apparently not-so-Jewish Kabbalah, er, Morris dancing, Italian secret societies, the Tarot pack, the good old Knights Templar of course, and lots of other unsolved puzzles boil down to deteriorated and misunderstood Sufi traditions. Cor. The similarity of Zen koans to the Sufi Mullah Nasrudin stories suggest a link - yes even Hindu yoga & Buddhism are part of the project... An edition with Arabic lettering in the riddle bits would motivate me to get back to Arabic.
I wonder how that chain-smoking Sufi in the blue suit I met back at QIC is these days?

July 7th; Visit Sam's flat with Scott, Rita, David, to see editing of Seress film in progress.
July 6th; Rather Dionysian evening with Lilla, Moni & Gyuri starts with a board game borrowed from Miklos, and in stages becomes impressively disorderly.

July 5th; A couple of weeks now since I ran into Ryan's friend Adrienn on the 47 tram. Chatted for the 7 or 8 stops our journeys overlapped. I'd never really noticed before just how haunting & piercing her grey/blue eyes are.
A couple of days ago Mariann & I went to the cake shop 5 minutes before opening time and found the open door blocked by a menacing 6-foot cardboard cut-out of an ice-cream cone. Somehow its big triangle resembled a delta-physique doorman. Mariann got the giggles.

July 4th; Last night stepped out for a late kebab. A huge butter-coloured fullish moon peered down my street.
July 3rd; Brief, lazy swim at Palatinus on Margit Island.

July 2nd; Moni signs me into the refurbished library where she works, and gives me my first Persian lesson. Eerily, my data is still on the system from almost a decade ago. Excellent party at Heather's for Zdravko's birthday. Lots of bubbly law students. Oh, and Microsoft patents the human body as a circuit component.
July 1st; My young student in Erd has formed the singular intention of reading 'Emma' by Jane Austen, a bold enterprise for which I fear she is poorly prepared. Finding I could not influence her opinion towards a more amenable challenge, I urged her to at least read slowly, and to approach her new ambition in measured steps.


Mark Griffith, site administrator / contact at otherlanguages.org

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