Alkestis, Greenwood Theatre 1900 10 February

February 11, 2016

***

We have been asked whether we would recommend a visit to the 2016 Greek Play, on the basis of the Wednesday evening performance–after all, Edith Hall did tweet 2016 King’s College London Greek play better than ever.

I think it would be worth seeing as a reasonably typical example of the KCL Greek Play, illustrating the difficulties one faces in staging such a thing and the way one might go about solving them.  One of these issues is that one does not have actors experienced in voice projection and dominating the stage.  So having them follow what I think was ancient performance practice by miming what the were talking about was a good idea, while having Alkestis deliver many of her lines at the stage rather than the audience was not.

It’s worthwhile noting that, in contrast to the Alkestis-derived Cocktail Party I recently saw in Notting Hill, none of the actors fluffed their lines–advanced electronic prompting may have been employed to this end.  But there was systematic underplaying, especially from Heracles, who may perhaps have been reading his lines from the label on his bottle of wine.

The dance passages were the most effective and some of the choreography was very good.  I’m not sure that the director ever came to a clear idea about what she was trying to do–the programme made great play of a contemporary setting, which in the event appeared only in the form of cocktail glasses and a wind-up gramophone–and she hadn’t established control over time, so that some important passages (such as Herakles asking who had died or indeed Admetos finding out who Heracles had brought to him) passed by quickly and some more routine passages didn’t.

It looked like the choral odes had been solved at the last moment by getting one person to read them via a recording over a musical backing, which may have been somewhat of a last-minute expedient.

We had certain technical problems on the night.  The scene changes lasted a long time, which may have been deliberate but if so that still wasn’t a good idea. There were also problems with the lighting cues, and especially with the surtitles, which were often a line or more early or late and ceased entirely towards the end, leaving the audience rather puzzled as to what if anything had happened to conclude the piece.

There was indeed a facility to buy tickets at the door, to answer another question…

Some interesting data

February 7, 2016

We recently came across some data (about a recruitment exercise, as it happens) as below in Excel.

corrupdata

If we look at the second row, then 28 + 28 + 18 + 13 + 24 + 20 = 131, so that’s all right. If we look at the third row for instance, it’s a little more interesting–2.5 billion + 2.5 billon + 1.6 billion + 1.6 billion + 2.2 billion + 2.2 billion = 124 smacks of anti-climax.

It’s easy enough to correct by hand: 1,733,333,333 is ‘obviously’ 17.33333333 by comparison with the other figures in the same column. It’s less clear how you could corrupt the data format in this way even if you wanted to.

You can’t even do it by hand in Excel: paste value, remove ‘.’ to get integer, then format the thousands with commas, because there are more decimal places stored and you end up with (say)173 billion rather than 1.73 bill.

From the name of the person responsible for the data, it looks like conversion to/from a Polish version of Excel might have something to do with it…In Poland, they use a space as the divider for thousands, which you can see might cause difficulties upon conversion, but I don’t know whether or how that is implemented in Excel.  In other parts of the spreadsheet you certainly have (say) 359,6 for 359.6, so ending up with a comma for the decimal point and for the thousands separator takes some doing.

Discussion 

It is very odd indeed isn’t it? If we make your ‘correction’ of 1,733,333,333 = 17.333… then it does fix row 3 but aren’t rows 1 and 4 still out by a factor of 10? It looks as if something decided to put just one figure in front of the first comma (or decimal point) in the recurring decimals, no matter where the decimal point should have been.
You can’t even do it by hand in Excel: paste value, remove ‘.’ to get integer, then format the thousands with commas, because there are more decimal places stored and you end up with (say)173 billion rather than 1.73 bill. In Poland, they use a space as the divider for thousands, which you can see might cause difficulties upon conversion, but I don’t know whether or how that is implemented in Excel.

When you type 17,3333 and loads of 3s into UK excel (as if you were converting from Polish perhaps) you get a big integer value with the commas (to mark 1000s) put in the right place marking off in threes from the right hand end. Then if we pretend we we put in all the threes possible, we would get a big value with all the digits marked off with commas in threes from the right hand end and the first comma might come after the first digit depending how many digits excel can hold. If you had a number that filled all those digits, and it got bigger by being added to something else, then excel might have to lose the extra right hand digits and the first comma would still always be in the same place because of being marked off three at a time from the right hand end. I think we almost have it but I haven’t expressed it very well.

So all the recurring decimals in your sheet were simply converted to huge integer numbers and, because of the number of digits Excel can hold, they all ended up with a comma after the first digit and then another after each set of three.

Yes that would work but if I try doing it (starting from 52/3, which is clearly what we gave here), I tend to end up with 173 billion–it might be possible to change the number of zeroes Excel stores I suppose…

But it wasn’t put in as 52/3, it was transfered as 17,33333333 (Polish) and converted to 1,733,333,333 etc precisely because you can’t change the number of digits Excel can store. It must be of the form 3n+1, I think.

Sorry if I have become a bit obsessive. It is a lovely problem and much nicer to play with than my PhD! I will go and try and do some writing now though!

And really I don’t think this is how Excel stores integers now – it has 15 digit precision and then a power of 10, but the idea did seem to be almost there … damn I must stop thinking about it!

There’s certainly something in the handcrafting idea. In another part of the spreadsheet, she’s written 349.265 (or 349,265 in her terms) by just putting a comma in 349265–only a factor of 1000 out this time. I believe the young woman in question is now doing a PhD herself…

Successive approximations to Antigone, lines 801-816

January 13, 2016

IMG_NEW1

IMG1_NEW

From:  Sophocles Antigone, ed Mark Griffith, CUP 1999

1.  Without referring to anything

CHORUS Now already I bear myself
Out of the laws, having seen these things, I cannot
Hold back any longer the springs of tears,
Because I see the general marriage-chamber
This Antigone finishing.

ANTIGONE You see me, oh citizens of the fatherland,
Going the new way,
Seeing the new light of the sun,
And never again; but the general Hades
Is taking me alive to the bank of
Acheron, and I have not obtained
Bridal songs, nor will has in any way
A bridal song sounded at my wedding,
But I will marry at Acheron.

2.  After consulting LSJ and the notes at the back

CH Even I myself am being swept
Out of the proper bounds, having seen these things, I cannot
Hold back any longer the springs of tears,
Because I see the general marriage-chamber
This Antigone making her way to it.

AN You see me, oh citizens of the fatherland,
Going the last way,
Seeing the last light of the sun,
And never again; but the Hades who puts all to bed
Is taking me alive to the bank of
Acheron, and I have not any share of
Bridal songs, nor will has in any way
A bridal song sounded at my wedding,
But I will marry at Acheron.

3. After comparison with Lloyd-Jones’s Loeb

CH Even I myself am being swept
Out of the proper bounds, having seen these things, I cannot
Hold back any longer the springs of tears,
Because I see the general marriage-chamber
This Antigone making her way to it.

AN See me, oh citizens of the fatherland,
Going the last way,
Seeing the last light of the sun,
And never again; but the Hades who puts all to bed
Is taking me alive to the bank of
Acheron, and I have not any share of
Bridal songs, nor will has in any way
A bridal song sounded at my wedding,
But I will be the bride of Acheron.

4.  After pre-class revisions

CH  Even I myself am being swept
Out of the proper bounds, having seen these things, I cannot
Hold back any longer the springs of tears,
Because I see the marriage-chamber where all must lie
This Antigone making her way to it.

AN See me, oh citizens of the fatherland,
Going the last way,
Seeing the last light of the sun,
And never again; but the Hades who puts all to bed
Is taking me alive to the bank of
Acheron, and I have not any share of
Processional songs, nor has in any way
A bridal song sounded at my wedding,
But I will be the bride of Acheron.

5.  After class

CH Even I myself am being swept
Out of the proper bounds, having seen these things, I cannot
Hold back any longer the springs of tears,
Because I see the marriage-chamber where all must lie
This Antigone making her way to it.

AN See me, oh citizens of the fatherland,
Going the last way,
Glimpsing the last light of the sun,
And never again; but the Hades who puts all to bed
Is taking me alive to the bank of
Acheron, and I have not any share of
Processional songs, nor has in any way
A bridal song celebrated me at my wedding,
But I will be the bride of Acheron.

Мария Галина и Аркадий Штыпель в Лондоне

January 3, 2016

5-го января 2016 года
в 6 вечера в Жан – Жаке 
Jean Jacques – Soho, 45 Frith St, London
the website link: http://www.jeanjacquesuk.com

читают свои стихи
известные поэты из Москвы —
Мария Галина и Аркадий Штыпель.

Мария Галина

лауреат нескольких литературных премий (в том числе поэтических премий Anthologia и Московский счёт) известна как поэт, прозаик и переводчик поэзии. Ее стихи и проза переведены на несколько языков.

Аркадий Штыпель

автор нескольких поэтических сборников, переводчик украинской и англоязычной поэзии, известен помимо всего прочего своей яркой манерой чтения, он победитель литературных слэмов, в том числе и Московского.

Мария и Аркадий переводят и
пропагандируют украинскую поэзию

ГАГАРИН

Репродуктор на столбе
Поёт песню о тебе,
О твоей несчастной, горькой, загубленной судьбе.

Бухгалтер средних лет
Покупает билет
Своей маленькой женщине, одетой в креп-жоржет.

Их посадят в пятый ряд,
Дверь за ними затворят,
И покажут в кинохронике привязной аэростат,

Академика наук,
Двух ткачих, цветущий луг,
Всё на свете исчезает, превращаясь в свет и звук,

Исчезают и они
В чёрной бархатной тени
В эти тёплые, последние, в эти солнечные дни.

Мария ГАЛИНА

ТЫ ПЛЫЛ
(спиричуэл)

ты плыл волну разбивая
подныривая под волну
и тысяча солнц качалась
вокруг твоей головы

но этого больше не будет
ни с кем никогда и нигде
нет-нет это будет, будет
со всяким всегда и везде

ты видел луну и звёзды
ты видел траву цветы
ты слышал как пели птицы
и как грохотал гром

но этого больше не будет
ни с кем никогда и нигде
нет-нет это будет, будет
со всяким всегда и везде

ты женщину видел нагую
какой её создал бог
ты был перед ней как остров
накрытый большой волной

но этого больше не будет
ни с кем никогда и нигде
нет-нет это будет, будет
со всяким всегда и везде

ты станешь вином и хлебом
но это будет потом
ты выгнешь дугой позвоночник
и руки раскинешь крестом

и этого больше не будет
ни с кем никогда и нигде
нет-нет это будет, будет
со всяким всегда и везде

но этого больше не будет
ни с кем никогда и нигде
нет-нет это будет, будет
со всяким всегда и везде

Аркадий ШТЫПЕЛЬ

West Central Street WC1

January 1, 2016

IMG_1650

This splinter off the southern section of Museum Street is all rather strange. Its existence in the first place.  And then the name: ‘West Central Street WC1’ betrays either megalomania or a complete lack of imagination or indeed both–surely ‘Hyde Street’ was much better as a name, neither merely descriptive nor misleadingly misdescriptive.   I’ve not found anything relevant either on the Internet or in the London Encyclopedia.

IMG_1649

Then it’s a rather strange location for a frivolously-painted building with the frivolous paint severely flaking…

My rose bush seems to be alive…

January 1, 2016

IMG_1652
… now that I’ve dealt with the mass of brambles, ivy and creepers that was suffocating it, and the two of us wish you a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Grigory Ryzhakov at Muzio Clementi House, 28 November

December 6, 2015
ryzhakov1

A picture I swiped from Facebook

So last week my cold and I went to hear Grigory Ryzhakov talk about his new book under the auspices of the Anglo-Russian culture club.  While I wasn’t at my most alert or coherent I will try to record some of the interesting points that emerged.

Since Svetlana Alexievich’s Nobel Prize was still on people’s minds, Grigory suggested that the most likely candidates for the next Russian winner were Ludmila Ulitskaya, Viktor Pelevin and Vladimir Sorokin. The writers most  likely to make an international breakthrough in the near future were Zakhar Prilepin, Maksim Kantor and Mikhail Shishkin, together with somebody else whose name I didn’t write down.  There was some feeling that it was in the field of sci-fi/fantasy (Lukyanenko, Glukhovsky….Pelevin!) that contemporary Russian literature was most internationally competitive, though Grigory may not have said so in as many words.

There was some question as to whether contemporary Russian literature was just too Russia-specific to appeal to outsiders, but Grigory felt that Maksim Kantor was an international writer, while Evgeny Vodolazkin’s newly-translated Laurus was both outward-looking and positive.  Grigory’s own candidate for the book most deserving of translation was Pozor i chistota by Tatyana Moskvina.  Contrariwise, he had taken against Dmitri Bykov after reading his production in bulk, and there was indeed some spontaneous commentary from the audience regarding the low level of Bykov’s public lectures in London.

We had some discussion about various sources of information on contemporary Russian literature.  Grigory felt that his specific contribution lay in classifying the specimens, in the manner of a true biologist.  Among other things, I found out about a film called Russia’s Open Book:  Writing In The Age Of Putin on YouTube.

Afterwards there was discussion and wine.  Somebody put forward the idea that the average income in the UK is about £25,000, the average amount you make out of writing a book is £ 8,000, so you chug along on £ 33,000 writing a book a year instead of going down the pub until your number comes up and you turn into J K Rowling…optimism is a fine thing, especially for the young…

 

Θρῄσσησιν!?

November 25, 2015

griffith

In the really excellent edition of Antigone by Mark Griffith, we come across the passage above in the third choral song, and are immediately struck by the rather strange dative plural Θρῄσσησιν, or Θρήισσησιν if you prefer.  Why not Θρήισσηισιν? Is this a new form, or was somebody suffering from iota fatigue?

There is an article that says
As for morphology, in the dative plurals of α- and o-declensions, both lyric and non-lyric passages of tragedy use longer forms (-αισι(ν) and -οισι(ν)) alongside the usual -αις and -οις. Until 420 BCE, Attic inscriptions frequently employ the forms -ασι (with long alpha) and -ησι, which Aeschylus may have used. Lloyd-Jones and Wilson occasionally print such forms in Sophocles (Ant. 589 Θρῄσσησιν, in lyrics)

That seems to be a reference to the Oxford Classical Text Sophocles, where the Preface says, and in English, strangely enough:In matters of orthography we have paid some attention to the evidence provided by epigraphical discoveries, even though one cannot be sure that poets followed exactly the same rules as officials responsible for drafting public decrees. [p xiii]

It seems reasonable  that if you were having lots of stuff engraved in stone you would naturally try to leave out iotas or indeed anything else.

Apart from that, Griffith seems to be indicating by modest silence that he prepared his own edition of the text, but it looks as though he may have been starting from the OCT rather than actual manuscripts.

Brooklyn, Peckham Multiplex 15 November

November 16, 2015

****

brooklynfilm

At the end of this showing, a rather full cinema broke into genuine and sustained applause, which is a rare thing indeed.  I think that was because it was a film for grown-ups dealing with grown-up themes, in spite of the extreme youth of the heroine and of the actress playing her.

The action followed the plot of Colm Toibin’s novel quite faithfully, with some understandable simplifications.  It seemed that Father Flood had been turned into a figure of straightforward benevolence, and indeed Colm Toibinn’s representative in the film, since I had more than once heard Toibin praising Saoirse Ronan with paternal pride.  Different ways of relating to the symbolic sea seemed to have been abandoned, in favour of Saoirse doing with her face what takes me thirty pages, while there were some advert-y moments like Eilis exiting the immigration shed into a screenful of light.

But it was good to see a film about nice, decent people, and indeed nice, decent, lower-middle-class people…

Rachel’s Biblical Hebrew Class 2015/16

September 29, 2015

shema

For those interested in the more advanced kind of Biblical Hebrew class in London, Rachel Montagu has kindly sent details as below.  The course takes place in the West Central Liberal Synagogue, 21 Maple Street.  The cost averages around £130 per term but varies depending on how long a term and how many are in the class.

In my experience, these classes work in the time-honoured fashion: each student in turn reads a verse aloud and then translates it, with input from the teacher as necessary. She also provides some background and interpretation from traditional Jewish teaching.

The emphasis is certainly on understanding the text rather than grammar as such. In my experience, there have been perhaps an average of seven or so students coming to lessons. The level things are taken at tends to depend on who the students are.

In principle, students should have covered the material in the First Hebrew Primer from Eks before starting this class. If you know the qal conjugation (perfect and imperfect) pretty well for verbs with three strong roots (the ‘regular’ ones if you like) and have some idea about hiphil and niphal and verbs with weak roots, that will probably do.

If you want to know more, you can email Rachel;  or feel free to email me if you’re feeling shy.  I’ve also shared just about everything I know about studying Biblical Hebrew with the world here.

Autumn Term
A Singing Start
7th October Psalms 115, 100
14th October Exodus 14:11-15:5
21nd October Exodus 15:6-27
[28th October half-term]
4th November Judges 4:4-5:4
11th November Judges 5:5-31

Times and Seasons
18th November Leviticus 23:1-22
25th November Leviticus 23: 23-44
2nd December Leviticus 25:1-24
9th December Leviticus 25:25-54

Spring Term

Numbers: Learning how to Live Together and Worship Together
13th January Numbers 9:1-23
20th January Numbers 10:1-12, 29-36, 16:1-6
27th January Numbers 16:7-35
3rd February Numbers 17:1-18:7
[10th February Ash Wednesday]
17th February Numbers 20:1-26
[24th February half term]
2nd March Numbers 20:27-21:25

Nachum: Prophet of Good Tidings?
9th March Nachum 1:1-2:9
16th March Nachum 2:10-3:19

Summer Term

Isaiah and the Suffering Servant
13th April Isaiah 41:6-13, 42:1-10, 43:1-5
20th April Isaiah 43:6-13, 49:1-13
27th April Isaiah 50:4-10, 52:13-53:12

Samuel and Saul
4th May 1 Samuel 8:1-22
11th May 1 Samuel 9:1-27
18th May 1 Samuel 10:1-27
[25th May half term]
1st June 1 Samuel 12:1-25
8th June 1 Samuel 13:1-18, 15:1-9
15th June 1 Samuel 15:10-34

Psalms
22nd June Psalms 111:1-22, 112:1-10
29th June Psalms 11211-22, 145:1-21
6th July Psalms 34:1-23, 25:1-10
13th July Psalms 25:11-22


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 153 other followers