242 Visitor Messages

  1. I had some friends over and I am sorry to be late. I am very glad to read your messages.

    I am reading Paradise Lost first time in English. It is an intense reading and not easy for me to follow with many references and so I often rest from it and read some other books or poems. I get excited each time Satan shows up in the book (he is more fun). I read it aloud sometimes. I can see why it can obsess people. I think I am learning a great deal from it, through its references. I am in the middle of the war in Book VI.
  2. I think you will like what I found from Paradise Lost, comparing Eve’s beauty with that of Pandora:
    “More lovely, than Pandora, whom the Gods
    Endowed with all their gifts, and O! too like
    In sad event, when to the unwiser son
    Of Japhet brought by Hermes, she ensnared”
    - Line 714 in Book IV

    I searched Pandora in Wikipedia and found also this version by Hesiod's poems, the Works and Days: Hermes gave her "a shameful mind and deceitful nature"; Hermes also gave her the power of speech, putting in her "lies and crafty words."

    The lines 714 up to 775 gave me the looming doom of humans to fall out of Paradise even before Satan’s lure. Hear how Adam speaks of the Tree of Knowledge. If it were a coconut tree, it would not have been so tantalizing. Our boredom or our curiosity opens all the evils of mankind as Pandora did. Hope remained in the jar, remember? I shall hang on to Hope.
  3. Today, I finished Lolita second time and I just nodded my head, agreeing with your words: "Good writing speaks for itself." What a great book! I almost sympathized with Humbert in the end. His writing flows easy and smooth, never ceasing to captivate me in it. What a heated discussion you were having, while I was popping in and out clueless as usual. As a gentlest person as you sound in words, you can be very assertive. I applaud you! Excuse my amateurish opinions, though, because that is what I am, an amateur, in literature.
  4. Did you catch the sarcasm in the lines?:
    "If slaughter, or if arson, poison, rape
    Have not as yet adorned our fine desings"
    It is more obvious in French and I was wondering if Campbell version shows the sarcasm better.

    The poem is controversial and I have my doubts but I would like to lean toward to an optimistic point of view. I put this question in French Symbolism: Is boredom worse vice than our folly or error or selfishness?
  5. View Conversation
    The accusations of "elitism" have become so cliche that I have come to embrace the term... perhaps not unlike all the various artists throughout history that had insulting terms hurled at them (Impressionist, Cubist, Fauve, etc...) and ended up turning the term into a positive.

    In a similar situation one of the leading painters today, Odd Nerdrum, was forced to suffer the insults of "artists" who dismissed his work as "kitsch" for the simple fact that he continued to paint in a dramatic, emotionally-charged, and realistic manner. He now has a manifesto and a web site dedicated to promoting himself as a "kitsch artist."

    http://www.nerdrum.com/kitsch/
  6. View Conversation
    continued...

    I can't understand how some people cannot fathom the notion that personal opinions are not the same as the educated opinions of the culture as a whole and the experts within a given field. I have no problem admitting that while I love traditional American bluegrass music... it is probably not on par with Mozart and Bach.

    I absolutely hate the limitations set on these visitor messages!
  7. View Conversation
    continued...

    Even worse is the idea of cultural relativism... whereby all art is of the same value (there is no good nor bad) for all art is an expression of an individual at a given time and place. What a crock of s***! I have no problem admitting that within my own artistic efforts there are works that are clearly better or worse. There is great art and there is art that is less than great. Of this I am certain. The experts... and that includes anyone who seriously invests the time and effort into reading and understanding literature... do not always agree 100%... but there is a consensus to a certain extent. It would be rare for someone experienced and knowledgeable in literature to deny that Shakespeare or Tolstoy were great writers... even if they were not particularly fond of their work or the genre.

    continued...
  8. View Conversation
    I personally can't stand the notion that the merits of art are all purely subjective or personal opinion (and all opinions are to be held in equal esteem). I would assume that my opinions on art hold greater merit than those who imagine that comic books, Thomas Kinkade, and the airbrushed paintings of muscle-bound men grasping large-breasted women while fighting alien invaders on the covers of Sci-Fi magazines are great art. By the same token I continually laugh at those on Literature and Art forums who believe that their opinions, based upon their experiences in a couple of grade-school science classes, should rival the opinions of scientists on complex issues such as global warming... after all the "experts" don't all agree.

    continued...
  9. I was in a hurry to go out and I must have sounded incoherent as the poet himself then. 7th stanza seems full of sarcasm, especially the first two lines. I read the stanza and got this impression: if you do not seek pleasure or you sin in less inventive ways, you are just being a coward. I added "less inventive ways" because an ordinary person do not lead dissipated lives as he did. We are lazy to study today or we give in to our cravings for chocolates, at any rate minor offenses, compared to what he did.

    A poet feels stronger than an ordinary person and I think the poem applies more to artists' lives because they have to subdue their senses or because they want to experience all things good or bad themselves or any other reasons I can't fathom.

    Do you also have Roy Campbell's translation?
  10. No problem!

    I have not moved away from the poem yet, either. The poem led me to read a short biography of Baudelaire, although I would not always like to understand a poem by the life of the poet. I looked up on Satan Trismegistus (Thoth and Hermes separately), thinking he must have a good reason to choose Trismegistus. He may be referring to something strong innate tendency in human, uncontrollable and so almost inevitable. To some different degrees, we are more alike than we like to think otherwise. 7th stanza: I may disagree with the poet if I understood him there correctly: Self-control should not be called cowardice or hypocrisy. It is a gripping poem for me more than his famous CORRESPONDANCES.
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