Day 73 Happy 29th Kiahk!

December 27th, 2013 § 0 comments

I expect that many of my readers think that I’m becoming increasingly slovenly in my observance of religious festivals. It wouldn’t be surprising, given my advancing years, and the number of other things I’ve had to think about, such as the danger of mass immigration (see previous post). But this is far from the truth. You, friends, along with your benighted neighbours in the Roman church, not to mention the C of E, the Methodists, the Baptists, the Presbyterians, the Dutch Reformed Church and what not, may all celebrate the Nativity on the 25th December, and therefore think that I’ve forgotten to mention this important festival. But have you considered the equally valid position of the Copts,

nativity-icon1Serbian nativity icon

the Orthodox (Greek, Russia and indeed Bulgarian), the Ethiopians, the Jacobites and Nestorians? I think not. Many of these admirable people tend to observe the Nativity on or about the 7th January, the problem being the usual one about Pope Gregory XIII who reformed the calendar to some peoples’ satisfaction (but not to all) in the sixteenth century. The problem, you will recall, was the need to drop a leap year about every century, since ‘the equinoctial year (or solar year), which is the time the earth takes to revolve around the sun from equinox to equinox, was slightly shorter than the Julian year – in fact, 365.2422 solar days. Back in trouble with time again.

In the Coptic calendar, the 25th December (old style) is the 29th Kiahk, hence the greeting above; and you’ll find a hard-hitting discussion of the whole question at a Coptic webpage; which poses many awkward questions, such as: ‘Is it necessary that the liturgical calendar be adjusted to a scientifically correct solar year?’ What do you have to say to that, Mr Welby?

Anyway, whatever you’re celebrating (if you’re still reading this), enjoy your celebrations. Particularly if you’re a devout Armenian and have been fasting for a week. On Christmas Eve, Wikipedia informs me, you can let yourself go and have rice, fish, nevik (նուիկ, a vegetable dish of green chard and chick peas), and yogurt/wheat soup (tanabur, թանապուր). Don’t overdo it.

Meanwhile, if you live in London (U.K.), and are passing along Piccadilly, W.1., stop and  look at the life-size image of the Separation Wall that has been put up by the ‘Bethlehem Unwrapped’ project at St James’ Church. ImageGen.ashxAnd you can draw on it!

Forgiveness seems to be very much à la mode in this festive season, with Preident Putin pardoning almost everyone, including Pussy Riot; and the Queen pardoning (sixty years late) Alan Turing. For the wrong reasons, as the New Statesman pointed out, i.e. if he hadn’t been a brilliant genius and saved us during the war, his conviction for gross indecency would remain. And in any case, the ‘pardon’ doesn’t overturn the conviction, as we can see in the case of the Armed Forces Act 2006 – which pardons those who were shot for cowardice etc. etc. while leaving the convictions in place. When are the Americans going to get into the pardoning game? What about Chelsea Manning, or even Edward Snowden?

Who incidentally sent an alternative Christmas message on Channel 4. You have quite a pick of such messages this year: we need time for quiet and reflection (the queen), we should stop being greedy and selfish (Welby), we should stop having wars (the Pope). Is anyone listening? No, our island is ruled by a coalition of Scrooge and the Grinch.

235px-The_Grinch_(That_Stole_Christmas)The Grinch

Why have they failed to stop DFS from selling all through the season?

Moving on from the last posting’s Bulgarian theme: the hysteria about Romanian immigrants is presumably linked to the British theory which connects Romanians with vampirism; and supposes that there will be unreasonable demands on the NHS from neck-wounds and such. As a whole series of recent movies have shown, we have more to fear from American teenagers than from Romanian counts these days. Let’s then turn, having cited the lessons we can learn from the Bulgarians, to the Romanian surrealists Gellu Naum and Gherasim Luca, who in 1940 were already trying to correct some of André Breton’s well-known excesses. To quote their manifesto:

Love. The Eroticization of the Working Class. “The Non-Oedipal Stand”

As a “general revolutionary method specific to surrealism”, love makes understanding the world possible. All the known states of love are both accepted and left behind, given the dialectic spirit: libertinism, unique love, complex-bound love, the psycho-pathology of love. Treading in the steps of Sade, Engels, Freud and Breton, accredited as authorities in the field, the Romanian surrealists proclaim “love freed from its social and individual, psychological and theoretical, religious or sentimental constraints,” whose characteristic features are “methodical exasperation”, “unlimited development”, “breathtaking fascination”.

Taking as an example the verbal construction “objective hazard”, they introduce a new phrase, as hazardous as can be: “objective love”, “dialecticized and materialized”. It goes without saying that such love would also have some social scope, which surrealists always try not to leave out:

“Even in its most immediate aspects, we believe that the boundless eroticization of the proletariat is the most precious warrant that can be found to ensure them a real revolutionary development in the miserable era we are traversing.”’

I can see that you don’t want such people hanging around the jobcentre, in this miserable era.

To cite a sample poem:

“Tell me how much you can hate

so that I know

if the volcanoes still have


The fever of your earrings

heralds the night

Your little smile

like a crab in an Attic combat

sleeps in my eye

like in a mold.”

(I can’t find the original; and my attempt at publishing an original Romanian poem by Mariana Codrut turned out to be potentially suspect.)

While here is a charitable recording of Romanian gipsy music. Let’s hear more of this in the streets of London in 2014!




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