Day 69.5

November 21st, 2013 § 2 comments

As you were probably thinking, it was high time that we broke free from the straitjacket of incrementing the blog entry numbers one at a time (next whole number, which is in itself pretty conservative). We are probably still too timid to break with other conventions, e.g. making the numbers always increasing, always positive, etc etc. For the moment, let’s just contemplate a new picture.

kobkeYou probably know (but I didn’t) that it’s Christen Købke’s bewitching 1837 ‘The Northern Drawbridge to the Citadel in Copenhagen’. Let me pause to moralize on how I discovered it; it’s one of the few pleasures I still have left.

I was in the National Gallery today, seduced by pretty posters (perhaps that’s the wrong word) featuring Schiele’s tortured self-portrait into shelling out for a rather disorganized exhibition of Viennese portraits ca. 1900. Coming out dissatisfied, I wandered up to the free part of the NG. Why I wondered, be anywhere else? Why waste your diminishing pension on over-hyped exhibitions when you can be lost among the Manets, Cezannes, Pissarros and what not (not to mention Caravaggio, who featured in these pages a long time ago), and pay nothing? And among all these, to discover Købke (to come to him, finally), whom no one had told me about.

Let’s put the music spot ahead of its usual place this week, just as part of a programme of disturbing expectations. It’s the world-renowned – if perhaps not yet hugely popular (2,995 hits) – Latvian Radio Choir singing ‘Mythes étoilés‘. Watch out for fireworks as 1:42!

Refugee update

Human Rights Watch has been reporting on the situation of Palestinians who, escaping from Syria, end up in Egypt. As you can imagine, it’s not good; the report is at ’More than 1,200 of the detained refugees, including about 200 Palestinians, have been coerced to depart, including dozens who have returned to Syria. As of November 4, approximately 300 people remained arbitrarily detained at overcrowded police stations, 211 of them Palestinians.

2013_Egypt_Abu QirA group of men from Syria held at Abu Qir police station in Alexandria in September

A Palestinian father who had set sail with his 3-year-old son, a brother, and 4-year-old niece, told Human Rights Watch that, “We faced a tough choice: go on the boat and risk our lives for dignity or return to Syria to die.”

According to the Egyptian government, 300,000 Syrians are in Egypt, of whom UNHCR has registered over 125,000 as refugees. There are an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 additional Palestinians from Syria currently in Egypt, according to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Since July 8, when the government imposed restrictions on their entry to Egypt, Syrians have had to acquire visas and security clearance in advance to enter. They have typically received a one-month visa, which many have overstayed, refugees and lawyers told Human Rights Watch.

Egyptian authorities initially sought to prosecute those detained from the ships on charges of illegal migration, but, in the cases of at least 615 refugees represented by the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights and in all two dozen cases documented by Human Rights Watch, prosecutors dropped charges and ordered them released. National Security — formerly State Security Investigations, a bureau within the Interior Ministry — has ignored release orders, though. It has instead ordered police to detain the refugees without any legal basis and to tell them that they will not be released unless they leave the country at their own expense. Under pressure, detained refugees have been departing Egypt on almost daily basis in recent weeks.’ And, as you have probably heard, they have been – like other refugees – boarding boats, being picked up and detained by the Egyptian authorities.

Today’s philosopher is Hypatia of Alexandria (otherwise known as a mathematician), probably a Platonist, rationalist and non-Christian; who was a notorious victim of Christian fundamentalism:


Some Egyptian lady, probably not Hypatia
‘Some of [the Christian populace], therefore, hurried away by a fierce and bigoted zeal, whose ringleader was a reader named Peter, waylaid her returning home, and dragging her from her carriage, they took her to the church called Caesareum, where they completely stripped her, and then murdered her with tiles. After tearing her body in pieces, they took her mangled limbs to a place called Cinaron, and there burnt them. This affair brought not the least opprobrium, not only upon Cyril, but also upon the whole Alexandrian church.’
Says Socrates Scholasticus, usually reliable I think.
I was about to make a facile comment about Alexandria, women philosophers, and plus ça change. But when has it been a good time or place to be a philosopher, one might ask? (And do we care? Is the condition of philosophers an indication of the health of society? Discuss.) Look at Socrates, Giordano Bruno, and numerous eighteenth-century philosophes who were thrown into the Bastille. One wonders about famous good times for philosophy - the Left Bank in 1945, or Stanford in the 2000′s. Were conditions better?
Here, for any of you who escaped the temptation to play with matches on Guy Fawkes’ Day, is the terrible warning of Paulinchen aka Harriet from Struwwelpeter. I have neither the technology nor the patience nor the time to reproduce all the pictures, but the one below gives the general idea:
Paulinchen war allein zu Haus,
Die Eltern waren beide aus.
Als sie nun durch das Zimmer sprang
Mit leichtem Mut und Sing und Sang,
Da sah sie plötzlich vor sich stehn
Ein Feuerzeug, nett anzusehn.
“Ei,” sprach sie, “ei, wie schön und fein !
Das muß ein trefflich Spielzeug sein.
Ich zünde mir ein Hölzlein an,
wie’s oft die Mutter hat getan.”Und Minz und Maunz , die Katzen,
Erheben ihre Tatzen.
Sie drohen mit den Pfoten :
“Der Vater hat’s verboten !”
Miau ! Mio ! Miau ! Mio !
Laß stehn ! Sonst brennst Du lichterloh !”Paulinchen hört die Katzen nicht!
Das Hölzchen brennt gar hell und licht,
Das flackert lustig, knistert laut,
Grad wie ihr’s auf dem Bilde schaut.
Paulinchen aber freut sich sehr
Und sprang im Zimmer hin und her.Doch Minz und Maunz, die Katzen,
Erheben ihre Tatzen.
Sie drohen mit den Pfoten:
“Die Mutter hat’s verboten !
Miau ! Mio ! Miau ! Mio !
Wirf’s weg ! Sonst brennst Du lichterloh!”Doch weh ! Die Flamme faßt das Kleid,
Die Schürze brennt; es leuchtet weit.
Es brennt die Hand, es brennt das Haar,
Es brennt das ganze Kind sogar.Und Minz und Maunz, die schreien
Gar jämmerlich zu zweien :
“Herbei ! Herbei ! Wer hilft geschwind ?
Im Feuer steht das ganze Kind !
Miau ! Mio ! Miau ! Mio !
Zu Hilf’ ! Das Kind brennt lichterloh !”Verbrannt ist alles ganz und gar,
Das arme Kind mit Haut und Haar;
Ein Häuflein Asche blieb allein,
Und beide Schuh, so hübsch und fein.Und Minz und Maunz, die kleinen,
Die sitzen da und weinen:
“Miau! Mio! Miau! Mio!
Wo sind die armen Eltern? Wo?
Und ihre Tränen fließen
Wie’s Bächlein auf den Wiesen.
It almost makes me cry to tell
What foolish Harriet befell.
Mamma and Nurse went out one day
And left her alone at play;
Now, on the table close at hand,
A box of matches chanc’d to stand;
And kind Mamma and Nurse had told her
That, if she touch’d them, they should scold her.
But Harriet said: “O, what a pity!
For, when they burn, it is so pretty;
They crackle so, and spit, and flame;
Mamma, too, often does the same.The pussy-cats heard this,
And they began to hiss,
And stretch their claws
And raise their paws;
“Me-ow,” they said “me-ow, me-o,
You’ll burn to death, if you do so.”But Harriet would not take advice,
She lit a match, it was so nice!
It crackled so, it burn’d so clear, -
Exactly like the picture here.
She jump’d for joy and ran about
And was too pleas’d to put it out.The pussy-cats saw this
And said: “Oh, naughty, naughty Miss!”
And stretch’d their claws and raised their paws:
“‘Tis very, very wrong, you know,
Me-ow, me-o, me-ow, me-o,
You will be burnt, if you do so.”And see! Oh! what a dreadful thing!
The fire has caught her apron-string;
Her apron burns, her arms, her hair;
She burns all over, everywhere.Then how they pussy-cats did mew,
What else, poor pussies, could they do?
They scream’d for help, ’twas all in vain!
So then, they said: “We’ll scream again;
Make haste, make haste, me-ow, me-o,
She’ll burn to death, we told her so.”So she was burnt, with all her clothes,
And arms, and hands, and eyes, and nose;
Till she had nothing more to lose
Except her little scarlet shoes;
And nothing else but these was found
Among her ashes on the ground.And when the good cats sat beside
The smoking ashes, how they cried!
“Me-ow, me-oo, me-ow, me-oo,
What will Mamma and Nursy do?”
Their tears ran down their cheeks so fast;
They made a little pond at last.

§ 2 Responses to Day 69.5"

  • KateH says:

    Comments are closed on day 69 – true, I have not been keeping up and it was a little while ago, but it seems harsh. However day 69.5 is surely close enough to day 69 to allow me to add a scorpion reminder following the astonishing scorpion poem there:

    ‘Are you Mrs Briggs, dear?
    No, I am Scorpion.’

    Well, it isn’t me what makes these rules about comments being closed. Perhaps they emanate from GCHQ. I’d better investigate as keeping comments open for eternity (as they are for e.g. the Bible and Euclid), is the more democratic way to proceed.

    • admin says:

      Well, it isn’t me what makes these rules about comments being closed. Perhaps they emanate from GCHQ. I’d better investigate as keeping comments open for eternity (as they are for e.g. the Bible and Euclid), is the more democratic way to proceed.

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