Friday, March 27, 2009

LOTR poetry

> > > When he, the herald voice of Gil-Galad,
> > > Did come to Elendil’s folk bearing news
> > > Of war, of pestilence, of last alliance
> > > Twixt Elves and Men against the Eastern Fire
> > > And Eastern Ring, he set his eyes upon
> > > The creaking ships, the aged hands that held
> > > Age-transcendent elven-works and scrolls,
> > > The young hands with the psalm, the child, the sword.
> > > Amidst this grandeur next to futility,
> > > He saw, like one might see a raven in
> > > The forests of Eol, a wizened maid
> > > Who walked towards him with a look of fate.
> > > “Elendil be’eth occupied,” she said.
> > > “Orowen be’eth I. I hail from there,
> > > The House of Healing. There, the wounded die
> > > In peace, while we do tend their hurts” she said.
> > > “Elendil sai’th that my house is yours
> > > Throughout your stay within our humble town.
> > > For when the king is occupied, I oft
> > > Fulfill this humble task of great import.
> > > For some few guests. Now tell me, elven-man,
> > > You treat all speaking tongues with dignity.
> > > But does this task degrade your king or self:
> > > Namely: for maid to play the host to man?
> > > The herald laughed, a sound like carven urn
> > > Of silver plate. “A forward tongue you have,
> > > Dear Orowen, to ask this thought so strange so first
> > > Among our words, but I will answer it.
> > > Tis true, we ought to not think it a social slight
> > > The times we find ourselves with maids alone
> > > Except for three small points of nature’s plan.
> > > The first is that in times when Woman’s host,
> > > She’s careful not to show her wit and make
> > > Her manly guest regret his lack thereof;
> > > When man is host to man, the two can speak
> > > More freely knowing they ‘lmost equals are.
> > > The second’s that in times when Woman’s host,
> > > The things of which she knows are not the man’s,
> > > And thus insulted are his speech and wit.
> > > The third is that the man is king of home;
> > > For one king to be hosted by his peer
> > > Is honor, loyalty and due respect,
> > > But e’en the greatest consort’s not a king.”
> > > (As they spoke they walked a ways through town.)
> > > And Or’wen laughed, a cloudy sunset sound,
> > > “I know of many things be known to men,
> > > I hope I’m not like those thrice dull women.
> > >
> > > But see, we reach my house,” the widow said.
> > > A quiet house, with garden filled with vines
> > > Of creeping shade, green holly-bush of yew,
> > > And bitter herbs for medicine to make.
> > > An archen door with beams of ancient wood
> > > That stagnant stood like Morwen’s wild tomb
> > > Did ope upon the wrinkled walls within
> > > Encrusted with her baubles of the past
> > > Soft and tender mathoms fancied she:
> > > A tapestry of Nienor’s nakedness,
> > > A pukel-girl with knife and shield and fat
> > > War-grimaced face of strong impending doom,
> > > A china urn of nightshade-color’d ink
> > > Ornate within and out with sleepy runes.
> > > From thing to thing the herald’s eye did dart
> > > Confounded with the faintly war they made:
> > > Like orcs confounded with tree-light they waged
> > > Upon themselves and on his senses six
> > > A little bit like in the elder days.
> > > And as she spoke in quaint and silvery tones
> > > That quieted and blended with the fight
> > > While the herald listened, wholly stupefied,
> > > By her age-temperate verbage and d├ęcor,
> > > She brought a drink in piquant, steaming cup.
> > > “Small stirrup-cup” he said (a feeble joke).
> > > She laughed. “Why should I serve such cup to you,
> > > The cup that goes from maiden’s hand to king’s,
> > > When we can drink the equalizer, tea?”
> > > She laughed again, and with a trembling hand
> > > So wrinkle-thin like chestnuts from the Wold,
> > > She disposed of the brew within his mouth.
> > >
> > >As when the lights of Valinor were quenched
> > >By struggling 'gainst The Spiders beak and webs
> > >When life and light were sucked from trees, and pools
> > >Imprisoned in Ungol'ant's mucky hulk,
> > >So was the trick within the fatal brew:
> > >Surprise unlooked for, death unprophesied,
> > >Steamed forth from it; the ancient widowed maid,
> > >Became more violent than the youngest, freshest dark
> > >Demonic uruk-hai of fatal brood
> > >In her surprising scheme of drinked death,
> > >And the elf, the drinker unaware
> > >Felt his life grow dim, his vigour faint.
> > >His slender elven-love did stand right there:
> > >Was she an elf, or Entwife of the beech
> > >Convulsed into a blend of troll and orc?
> > >And in that tone of fear and anger mixed,
> > >He fell to ground, all cold and faint-away.
> >
> When with a block of ice a prankster strokes
> A sleeper's head, and rouses from his rest
> The one who sleeps so soft and peacefully,
> The sleeper feels his life-force drain away
> In slow and gradual headache agony
> (Like short-lived fizz escapes mead-jars unsealed);
> The herald rose, and with the sudden start,
> With which one wakes when hearing war-cry's gong,
> He felt a red-hot iron pinching him
> And with despair realized his limbs were bound.
> "How now!" She leered with coldest vict'ry cry
> "Do you expect to bear your message forth?
> You fool-mistook me for a common nurse,
> As innocent and simple as a wife.
> No wife am I, no widowed olden maid.
> A terrible swift Mordor-queen am I.
> With promises from HIM of future fame.
> If I kill you, no message shall be sent
> From Gil-Galad to southern king of men.
And when your lord hears of this deadly deed,
Attribuiting its guilt to Elendil,
There will be no new league, the elves and men
Are left to face the great Dark Lord alone!"
And as he writhed and cried aloud in pain
The messenger of Gil-Galad despaired
And in the mood that causes suicide
(a pleasure in which elves do not indulge)
His mind began to work its fantasies
Of deark and dearth and hallways full of fear
In which the very stars were always veiled
And life and light extinguished for all time
Except in sundry jails and torture-halls
In which resided fair Celebrian
But fair no more, a shell of former self,
Doomed to die unless some daring one...

UNLESS some daring one would come:
One whose task it is to hope
Against all hope and live against all death
With sword in hand and eyes light-blazing fresh
So that without the sword, the eyes will do!

And as she moved a knife towards his wrist,
A Harad-blade, convulsed with swirls of steel,
He said, with voice of calm and even tone,
"I pleasure in the thought of that small thing's
Invigorating, lightly tickling touch."
And as she laughed at his final jest,
Her cutting hand then gave a little slip,
There came from it the sound of sawing things
That bind the muscle to some harder thing
By name, the table on which he was bound.
And as she coiled in her joyless mirth
He stood and looked upon her shriveled form.
"Were you a man," he said "I'd bow before,
The duel that'll deal your deathly punishment.
But since your not, I'll grab your wrinkled arm,
And simply bind you in your own jail cell."
He left her there, and, telling Elendil,
Saved the lands and had her put in jail.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Another Question Provocative of Comments?

Does hip-hop dancing belong in the category of High dance or Don Pedro's beloved Vulgar dance? Like High dance, it is free-form. Like Vulgar dance, it is popular.

I'll put up a poll about it!

The Index and Les Miserables

I was just informed that Les Miserables used to be on the Catholic Church's now-abolished Index of Forbidden Books because of its strong pro-French-Revolution sentiments. I am not forbidding discussion of this book on this blog, just advising caution.

A note about the Index: though it no longer has binding power, we are still encouraged to avoid books that could be a danger to our salvation and can commit sin by reading such books. What books these are will vary from person to person (Example: Descartes (who was on the index years ago) is no danger to Peter Kreeft, though he might be to Peter Jaros.) The index did not prevent the flow of knowledge because people who had a good cause to read the books within it were permitted to do so.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Once upon a time, I had a post that got 50 comments in two days. It was like being in, well, not where I am now. So, if you have an idea controversial enough yet unstupid enough to get that sort of response from us, please post it in the comments box. Try to make it relevant to the blog topic.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tonality revisited, part I

What’s Wrong With the World of Music Theory

In G.K. Chesterton’s What’s Wrong With the World, he spends an entire section lamenting the state of education. One of his complaints, perhaps the most telling of all his observations, is the complaint that in modern education, one is not taught to tell the truth; one is taught not to lie, but one is not taught to tell the truth. He described the modern style of teaching debate as a sports game sort of contest, where one uses the facts of reality and tools of rhetoric to argue for their side, without even considering whether their side is the right side.
Analogously, this is true in music theory as well. The student is taught the language and techniques of tonality and then gradually moves on to more diverse, atonal techniques. As they learn, they are never asked whether or not tonality is more than a pleasant convention or a liked, practical technique, and, in contrast, whether atonality is a liberation from needless convention, a way to construct art without pleasure, another element in the vocabulary of musical expression, or an abuse of music itself.
Unlike normal education, it is difficult to read malicious intent into this lack. For most musicians, the study of theory is difficult enough as it is, even before the addition of complicating semi-philosophical considerations. Also, most musicians consider their art as a form of expression, and thus learning the tools used in the music, which is necessary for reading what the music really means into the notes, is more important than whether the tools themselves are good or bad. But I do not find theory difficult, so I will ask the question, and, in the process, try to teach you about theory.
First things first: Precise definitions and precise goals. So, let us define our key term. Music. Unfortunately, composers do not have a consensus as to what the word means. John Cage considers shooting a piano with a shotgun music. For reasons soon to be explained, we will use the definition that scientists use: music is sounds with a regular wave pattern, what we call pitched sound.

The Metaphysics Behind Music Theory Part 1

Now our goal, of course, is to find good music. A thing is good in itself insofar as it is perfect, and good as an means insofar as it is an effective means to a perfect end. As was mentioned above, music is used as an expressive art, thus, most musicians are familiar with the second type of goodness, for if the music is for expression, it is a means, not an end. Therefore, the theorist must be concerned with the first form of goodness. Perfection is further defined as a thing’s adherence to what it is (its form) and the level of this form on the hierarchy of being (the higher a form is, the more Godlike the being it forms). So when we search for good music, what we are searching for is an arrangement of pitched sounds that adhere to their form(s), and some forms are better than others.
Now there are two forms that are involved music. One is the form of music itself, what music is. The other is the form of the particular piece of music, what arrangement of music the particular piece is.
How does this apply to music practically? We might as well begin with tonality, the starting point of music theory. Tonality is based on the assumption that certain mathematical relationships that are part of what pitched sound is ought to be reflected in the arrangement of notes in the particular piece. Notes with the closest relationship mathematically ought to have the closest relationship actually. Expressed philosophically, this is equivalent to saying that the properties of the non-primary matter must have an analog in the form of the whole.
It would seem that there is no basis for holding this position. For no matter what the particular form is, the mathematical relationships will still exist. The particular form, no matter how it tries, cannot undo the mathematical constants of its larger genus.
But there are two ways in which the relationship can exist, one is in the abstract, as was mentioned. The other is in actual sounded notes. And if the notes are not simultaneous, one will cease to exist before the next starts, thus the two tones in which the relationship is must be simultaneous. This idea is the basis behind what we know as tonality, which I will show more or less presently.
A reminder: this is only possible with pitched sound, so defining music as pitched sound places it firmly within these aesthetic parameters, thus making it a useful definition, as well as a popular one.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hans Lundahl is back!

look on the post about him and on "the Book, Part IV'

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Dead Blog Syndrome

There is a deadly malady going around Blogger. An infectious disease known as "The Dead Blog Syndrome". This disease is highly contagious. It starts as a lack of desire to write. It gradually consumes you until you are unable to write anything at all.

If you read this, you are vulnerable to The Dead Blog Syndrome". Beware!!!!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A Theory for your Criticism.

Everything God made is beautiful, so art should be judged primarily on how much it makes us notice this fact.

The difference between this theory and what we have worked with so far is that it does not focus on the gradations between more and less beautiful works, considering that because they all exist, they are all beautiful and that is all there is to it. personally, I doubt this subtlety in this theory, but I want to see what we can learn from it.