Saturday, April 6, 2019

on Silence and Simplification

In Andrew Freyn's contribution to The Silent Morning, entitled `What a victory it might have been`: C. E. Montague and the First World War, pp.131-148, Freyn works with the pastiche method of approaches of analysis that makes historians so careless about contradictory positions.

He cites five different opinions, ranging from historians to composers like John Cage of 4'33" fame, to negate the position that silence is an absence of sound. However, he grapples nowhere with the assurance that these positions are not self-contradictory and in the end undercuts his own analysis by pointing out that Cage is trying to get the audience to listen to the ambient sound of itself, which shows conclusively that the "silence" that Cage is after is just another form of sound (albeit not the one that the patrons paid for, and not a "natural" sound, but one that Western music performers like Beethoven cultivated in their listeners, who had happily chatted through Haydn [see Greenberg's lectures on Beethoven, by the Teaching Company] or 19th century French music performances [see Bernier's Pleasure & Privilege, esp commentary on attending the opera).

Freyn is more successful in integrating the use of silence as a commemorative device into the concomitant silencing of other forms of celebration as well as other stories. He cites two observers for the second aspect who deserve to be quoted in full.
Jay WInter comments that 'every decision to commemorate is a decision to simplify and clarify a message by leaving out substantial parts of the story surrounding it' [citing Fn 11]; .... similarly, James V. Wertsch comments that commemorative performances have a 'tendency to eschew ambiguity and to present the past from a single committed perspective' [citing Fn12] (p.133)
[[RCK: The references are to Winter's paper Thinking about Silence in Ben-Ze'ev et al, A Social History of Silence in the 20th Century, Cambridge University Press 2010, p.20 and to Wertsch's monograph, Voices of Collective Remembering, Cambridge University Press 2002,  p;42.]]

 And Freyn himself so aptly notes:
The officially sanctioned solemnity of Armistice commemorations [in Great Britain, RC] meant that alternative vibrant and boisterous celebrations were restricted, seen as unofficial and dissenting -- even if many of those who wanted to remember the war as a victory were those tho had worked hard to win it. (p.133)

Bibliography: Trudi TATE, Kate KENNEDY (eds), The Silent Morning: Culture and Memory after the Armistice, in series: Cultural History of Modern War,  Manchester (Manchester University Press) 2013.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

A Knife as a Seal

From the collection of Durham Cathedral.

3366    n.d.
Lowick, Chapel of
Printed R.N.D. App. 135. See no. 2151 above, where Robert of St Martin uses a like sign in place of a seal. See also letter from the Rev. Dr Greenwell printed in Proc. Soc. Ant. of Newcastle , 2nd ser. vol. II, p. 95.
Size: -
Seal design: A knife with broken blade, the handle is inscribed on one side.
Inscription: signum de capella de lowic
and on the other side: de capella de lowic et de decimis de lowic totius curie et totius ville

Tally keeping at the English Exchequer

A sample was presented at the Society of Antiquaries that is part of an exchequer account.

Other forms of tallying were chirographs (a wavy cut through the word chirograph separated copies of the text) and indentures (wavy cuts on the top of the manuscript pages of the copies).

Of course, not just the king kept accounts; the Bursae of Durham, for example, is equally be worthy of study.

Medieval Source Materials on the Web

Via the Common Law materials, I found the general Medieval Sources on the web information, and from when Durham Cathedral's digitization project, which in turn brought me to an annotated book of Ruth.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Flying Witches

Even the Greek witches in Lukian of Samosata's satirical Dialogues of the Courtesans fly at night.
Who would have thought that?