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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

In the dark, dark forest (10)

[16: 11, Ismen speaks]

Per lungo disusar già non si scorda
L'arte a cui dà la morte ampio tributo,
E so con lingua anch'io, di sangue lorda,
Quel nome risonar grande e temuto
A cui né Dite mai ritrosa o sorda
Né trascurato in ubbedir fu Pluto.
Ma ecco io già. . . - Voleva più dire, e 'ntanto
Conobbe ch'ubbedìano al fero incanto.

"A long disuse could not make me forget
The art to which Death gives a huge tribute; (*)
I also know how, with a bloodstained tongue,
To utter that great and dreaded name (**)
To which Dis(***) isn't reluctant or deaf
In obeying, nor does Pluto neglect to. (****)
But, lo! I. . ." and he meant to say more when
He saw that they obeyed his fierce spell. (*****)


(*) Black magic. The text was plainer in Gerusalemme Liberata (13: 10): "The most efficient help of cruel arts."
(**) Probably Demogorgon, according to scholars. The King of Fairies according to some traditions retrieved in the Renaissance, he will play a cameo role in Milton's Paradise Lost. Theologically speaking, He whom all necessarily obey should be God/Christ, but this would not fit in well with the context.
(***) Here feminine, therefore meaning the "city" i.e. hell in general, not Satan.
(****) "Neglect" (trascurato) corresponds to Tasso's text in GL and in the GC manuscript; in the final printed version of GC it will be modified into tracotato: "Pluto would not dare to."
(*****) To be noticed the theatrical dramatization of Ismen's actions and words. Theater was, for Tasso, the key category to understand the universe.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The 7 Days of CryAction 4: 76-145

by Nivalis70, from the anthology
Emanations: Third Eye,
International Authors, 2013


Me, Tasso, tour operator
guiding foreigner guys
to the top towers
of some Chinese city,
[80] that is, souls of seekers
(so far erring on earth)
to the sublime secrets
of this huge heavenly
City the old home
of our ancestor Adam
and gold-sharing God.
We were thence exiled
by the Assas-Sin
who hooks and kills
[90] eternally, enslaving
us with strong strings
of hardest adamant.
My guests will guess
the auriferous origin
of everlasting soul
as well as the suddenly
attacking atrocious Death
the worthy son of Sin;
of Sin, the firstborn
[100] of Dis the disobedient
the prince of pollution
the evocator of evil.
Theyll know themselves
as fatally frail
while also the work
of God’s crafts-Manship,
therefore themselves
launching towards El
worshiping Wotan
[110] serving Shaddai
praying the Supplier
glorifying the Giver
the Lord of all lives
on earth and in heaven.
This they will learn
and exalt Him endlessly
insofar as his presents
to us mean mortals
support his promises about
[120] extraterrestrial treasures
and his divine dome
to which He calls Hope
who otherwise snakes.
If ever-changing chaff
is nice nonetheless,
what about Walhalla?
If visible vanity
looks so pleasant,
what about aorata?
[130] If the sky’s size
overcomes measure,
who will comprehend
the infinite Physis?
The sun is splendid
true to its turns
useful to humankind
the eye of the sky,
we long for its light
every evening, even
[140] if it will die one day:
What about the beauty
of the Sun of dikaiosyne?
If night proves a pain,
what will the damned do
without the true Light?

(to be continued on July 3)

Friday, June 24, 2016

In the dark, dark forest (9)

[16: 10, Wizard Ismen conjuring devils]

A quel parlar, le faci onde s'adorna
Il seren de la notte egli scolora,
E la luna si turba, e le sue corna
Di nube avolge, e non appar più fora.
Irato i gridi a raddoppiare ei torna:
- Spiriti invocati, hor non venite anchora?
Forse aspettate, o neghittosi e lenti,
Suon di voci più occulte o più possenti?

By saying so, he discolors the lamps
That adorn the serene sky by night;
The moon darkens by enveloping 
Its horns in the clouds, and disappears.
In anger he now redoubles his shouts:
"Conjured spirits, aren't you coming yet?
Are you waiting, O you lazy and slow,
For more secret or more powerful words?"


Notes
Something is apparently going wrong with the ritual. Ismen reacts in a typical fit of rage (a mood Tasso knew all too well), i.e. insulting those he should 'charm.' Noticeably, Ismen's phrasing was less offensive in the corresponding octave in Gerusalemme Liberata (13: 9): "Why do you tarry so long?"

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

In the dark, dark forest (8)

[16: 9, Wizard Ismen conjuring devils]

Prendete in guardia questa selva e queste
Piante, che numerate a voi consegno.
Com'è il corpo de l'alma albergo e veste
Hor sia de' nudi spirti il duro legno,
Onde il Franco ne fugga, o almen s'arreste
Ne' primi colpi, e tema il fero sdegno -.
Disse; e quelle, ch'aggiunse, horribil note,
Lingua, s'empia non è, ridir non pote.

"Be the guardians of this forest, of these
Trees that now I mark(*) and entrust to you.
As the body is the soul's home and dress,
So be the hard wood for you, naked spirits,
Thus making the Franks flee, or at least stop
After the first blows, afraid of your wrath,"
He said; and the frightful notes he added
No tongue other than ungodly can repeat. (**)

(*) Literally "number," that suggests both a magic effect reaching the trees one by one and the use of numbers like in esoteric formulas. It is a technical term, and so is note in line 7, that follows the Latin word notae (signs, marks, stains) while also hinting at a chant (musical notes), whence the very term "en-chant-ment" comes.
(**) The poet does not report such "notes" partly because it would be ungodly to do so and partly because, probably, he does not know them. In fact, the evocation made by Wizard Ismen draws on classical sources rather than on actual magic formulas, which "sounded" quite different.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The 7 Days of CryAction 4: 1-75



Songday 4


While watching wrestlers
or hundred-meter runners
during grand games
or the Army’s achievements
at home and abroad
or tour tournaments
you are moved within
by feelings following
the battling boys,
[10] so, are a fan perforce
of one opponent
waiting for his victory
n’ shouting savagely.
Ditto with those who
look to trans-logical
horizons or hear about
incomprehensible hints
at ineffable Phronesis:
they will in themselves
[20] burn with perception
in contemplation to catch
so many marvels made
by Ho Theos in a trice.
With all of their strength
as faithful friends
they will have to help
truth not to be stifled
and without any faults
enlighten the hearts.
[30] But, am I boasting?
In this holy enterprise
in which I temerariously try
to weigh the Whole by
depicting the beginning
and our ball’s birth
not searching at random
throughout gross Greece
as boobies do, blinded
by false philosophies
[40] like Plato’s or Aristotle’s
let alone Egyptian geeks
but directly and divinely
from the Red Sea savior—
may he escort me safely
out of this terrifying
sea of petty pride!
Clement! Moses’ copy
renewing his example
and, like him, a slide
[50] of the Sky’s Sovereign
though in worldly shadow:
You are currently the true
living and illustrious image
of God’s spotless glory,
you reflect its rays, so
please share something
of it with my poor mind
and may your light lead
the spirit-pilgrims.
[60] If they ever elevated
their eyes in the evening
to the starry systems
and thought about theology
(Who created cosmos?
Who forged fantasies
with gleams and gold?
Why does Vorstellung
win against Wille?)
and if by doing so they
[70] learned to look at God
and from unseen shapes
to imagine the Invisible—
they will surely sit
in this theandric theater
where his Doxa dives.

(to be continued on June 26)

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Pre-Tassean Renaissance: Perugia 1416

In these past seven days, the first edition of Perugia 1416 took place in Perugia, Italy: A Medieval/Renaissance festival whose name honors the military and political leader Braccio Fortebracci. Here are some photos of the costume parade.









Friday, June 17, 2016

In the dark, dark forest (7)

[16: 8, Wizard Ismen speaks]

- Udite, udite, o voi che da le stelle
Precipitâr giù i folgori tonanti,
E voi che le tempeste e le procelle
Movete, habitator de l'aria erranti,
E voi ch'a l'alme dispietate e felle
Ministri sete degli eterni pianti.
Hor, cittadini de l'inferno, udite,
E tu Re, odi, de l'avara Dite.

"Listen, listen, O you whom thundering
Flashes threw down from the stars,
And you, the inhabitants of the air,
Who stir the tempests and the storms,
And you, those who minister eternal 
Tears to the foul and merciless souls!
Now listen, O citizens of the hell, 
And you, the King of insatiable Dis!"


Notes
With Renaissance/Baroque accuracy in demonology, Tasso methodically lists the main features and 'duties' of devils: fallen from heaven, "spirits of the air" able to rule the natural elements (cfr. Dante, Purgatorio 5: 109-114), and guardians and punishers of the damned souls.
Dis was, more precisely, the Greek name of the -- meek, not cruel -- god of Hades, of afterlife; but since Dante mentioned as "the city whose name is Dis" the lower part of hell (Inferno 8: 68), it has turned into a place name. "Insatiable" renders the adjective avara in its Latin sense; but, again, in classical literature the phrase conveyed a different concept insofar as it referred to death in general rather than to a place of endless punishment for the wicked.
The choice of God's weapon to defeat the rebel angels is based on the myth of Zeus striking the Giants with lightning (cfr. Dante, Purgatorio 12: 25-27; Milton, Paradise Lost, bk 6; and indirectly Michelangelo's Last Judgment). On the other hand, the detail is not included 'as such' in the Bible, not even in the allegory of Isaiah 14: 12, therefore Christian poets and artists had to retrieve materials where they happened to be provided.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

In the dark, dark forest (6)

[16: 7]

E scinto e nudo un piè, nel cerchio accolto
Mormorò potentissime parole.
Tre volte volse a l'Orïente il volto,
Tre volte a' regni ove dechina il sole;
E tre scosse la verga ond'huom sepolto
Trar da la tomba e dargli il moto ei suole;
E tre col piede scalzo il suol percosse,
Poi co 'l grido la terra e 'l ciel commosse.

He took a shoe off, and stepping inside
The circle, murmured most powerful words.
Three times he then turned towards the East,
Three times in the direction of sunset,
Thrice shook the rod by which he often called
Corpses out of the grave and made them stir;
His naked foot having beaten the ground thrice,
His shout finally upset earth and sky.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The 7 Days of CryAction 3: 1384-1482

based on Primo Levi's short story Ammutinamento


Between different phyla
Nature put peace
or hostility and hate.
Pomegranates and myrtle
or the latter and olive
are full-blown friends
[1390] and nice neighbors.
Vine and fig figure
as enormously enemies,
a natural hint at wars
of well-meaning allies.
But sometimes they marry
as in kin kingdoms
after woeful wars;
a foray into the fig
will also kill the vine,
[1400] an “Earl-y” example
of conjugal concord.
A cabbage approaching
a vine sort of veils her
most sparkling mood
and balances boozers
by controlling alcohol.
Most harmless are
apple and pomegranate
troubling no tree.
[1410] Pacifically the pine
with numerous needles
gives superior shade
tho on reduced roots;
under its cool coldness
myrtle and laurel live.
Under the state meant
by a non-greedy king
who doesnt Deinonychus-like
prey on his people
[1420] peace props the many
pushing painting and study
ornament and honor.
There are LGBT trees
with a border-line life,
Myricae among these,
in faraway wilderness
or deep in ponds like
(me, like) those who often
change parties and palaces
[1430] following Fortune
always for the worse.
What about their tears?
What about weeping
wood, and living humors
gathered transparent?
Slow and sticky tears
have lentisks, and balsam
has sweet-smelling tears,
the precious plant from
[1440] Hebrew export;
the ferula from Africa.
Élektron is a liquid
that trickles from trunks
and turns into stone.
Ha, words overflow
and find no stop sign
all over the world,
theyd go on gyrating
for myriads of minutiae
[1450] that can glorify God
as well as a Chinese Wall.
So let us slow down
for our audiences sake
and before the brief day
of my life may set.
O you plants-watchers
in hothouses woods
high peaks and pools
or under the Red Sea
[1460] studying their stems
and leaves and flowers
see Super in Small
and add—addicted—
more marvels still
made by the magnificent
Forger of four dimensions.
He said, “Let lutum
make wood and sweet
fruits.” Therefore a
[1470] spinning-top model
was the whirling world
hit by his utterance
always alternating
season after season
dressing then undressing.
God’s voice gloriously
spins the spheres so
that year after year
motion is maintained.
[1480] May He halt this
when earth and heavens
enjoy their eternal rest.

(to be continued on June 19)

Friday, June 10, 2016

In the dark, dark forest (5)

[16: 6]

Così credeasi, et habitante alcuno
Del fero bosco mai ramo non svelse;
Ma i Franchi l'atterrâr perch'ei sol uno
Materia diede lor per l'opre eccelse.
Hor qui se 'n venne il mago a l'aër bruno
E de la notte alto silentio ei scelse,
Di quella, dico, che primier successe;
E suo cerchio formovvi, e i segni impresse.

The inhabitants believed so, and no one
Ever cut one branch of that fierce forest --
But the Crusaders did, as only it(*) could
Provide the wood for the siege engines.
Now the wizard(**) came here at twilight
Choosing the deep silence of night,
The night that immediately followed; (***) he
Drew a circle and engraved the fit signs. (****)

(*) The unusual phrase sol uno comes from Dante, Inferno 2: 3; another hint at the "dark forest" par excellence.
(**) Ismen
(***) After the adventurous destruction of the siege engines of the Crusaders.
(****) Again for the first time in Italian literature, among the big authors at least, an evocation of devils will be carefully described. Its details may look like 'commonplace' to us, but it was not so back then. It was Tasso himself indeed who made readers, from Renaissance on, familiar with this kind of black magic scenery.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

In the dark, dark forest (4)

[16: 5]

Ivi le maghe sono accolte, e 'l vago
Con ciascuna di lor notturno viene,
Vien sopra i nembi, e chi d'un fero drago
E chi forma d'un capro infome tiene:
Conciglio infame, che fallace imago
Suole allettar di desïato bene
A celebrar con pompe immonde e sozze
I profani conviti e l'empie nozze.

There the witches gather, and with each
Of them her lover comes by night from
Above the clouds, some having the shape
Of a fierce dragon, some of an ugly goat:
A foul Council(*) that a deceiving image
Of a longed for good very often calls (**)
To celebrate, with a filthy splendor,
Profane banquets, ungodly weddings.

(*) Interestingly enough, the manuscript reads Conciglio (more exactly spelled Concilio), but in the final printed version the word was slightly modified into Consiglio: Though coming from the same Latin root concilium, in Italian the former means a Church assembly while the latter means a town council, or nowadays an administrative board. Maybe in the "director's cut" of his main poem Tasso chose not to stress the parallelism -- though ironic, or precisely because of this -- with the Council of Trent, even if he himself had used the term Concilio in Gerusalemme Liberata. John Milton, who had read the Liberata, added to the irony by defining Pandemonium "a solemn council."
(**) Another interesting detail. Both Dante and Ariosto had dealt with witches, but neither had proposed a sociological explanation of the phenomenon as Tasso does here.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Thin Red Line between Fantasy and Sci-Fi

by Selkis+ilT

In H. P. Lovecraft's 1930 short story From Beyond (illustrated above), quite noticeably, the alien entities are called through a machine instead of magic formulas as it happened, e.g., in The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, 1927, as well as in most of HPL's stories. The Providence writer in fact also loved Jules Verne's and H. G. Wells' books, and was deeply interested in modern astronomy and physics: Einstein, Planck, Heisenberg.

Such a passage from fantasy to science fiction had already appeared in Torquato Tasso's works. In both of his Jerusalem-poems the wizard Ismen [we are dealing precisely with him in the current set of posts called In the dark, dark forest -- BEWARE: SPOILER] is finally swept away by a boulder thrown by a high-tech catapult while trying, hopelessly, to stop the Crusaders by means of magic. But the switch is especially intriguing in the literary evolution from Gerusalemme Liberata, 1581, to Gerusalemme Conquistata, 1593. In the former poem the main hero, Rinaldo, is given a typically enchanted armor for the final battle; in the latter the hero, now called Richard, receives a war equipment that, by exaggerating the features of Achilles' armor in the Iliad, makes him look like Iron Man.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The 7 Days of CryAction 3: 1303-1383

by ilT + Selkis


Consider Darwinistically
how trees are tilled
by editing their essence
with improving inputs—
and know yourself.
The African apple with
white and purple pearls
[1310] hidden then eaten
comforting the thirsty
often changes its acidity
into sweetness; so will
the bitter almond do
if you drill its trunk
by the roots and put
a wedge with pitch
into its pith. Therapeutic
is barley for the leaves
[1320] making them majestic:
the force of farming!
But if laziness leaks
and needs are neglected
the dendra will decay.
Some chance to change
even without help.
A white poplar happens
to blacken, overflowing flax
turns into tare and
[1330] water mint into mint.
So does your soul
not carefully cleaned
lose its own whiteness
or turn into narrowness
or fall from above
unless culture comes
and helps it to evolve.
O mortals, learn how
to polish your psyche
[1340] and heal its illness.
Who could tell and list
all different fruits
and colors and savors
and hidden energies?
Not only do one thousand
species sprout their fruits
but the very same species
can vary as to color
shape and even sex.
[1350] Palms surely possess
both males and females;
as driven by desire
she unfolds her fingers
to hug her husband.
The figs, as follows:
a “foreign” fig plants
itself close to a garden
and fruits make friends
with those inside. This
[1360] will defuse diseases
and prevent pollution.
What do symbols signify?
Maybe Tellus teaches
that foreigners fortify
and make us magnificent.
Let Italy have an insight
Italy so weak in war
and corrupt in peace
and blind to business
[1370] let it appreciate the Alps
and their proud peoples
and have its own weakness
enlivened by Leagues
or by examples at least.
The direst degeneration
that deprives plants
of spiritual strength
is when—woe woe woe
male turns into female;
[1380] so, let man mind
he never effeminizes
his brave heart because
of laziness or luxury.

(to be continued on June 12)

Friday, June 3, 2016

In the dark, dark forest (3)

[16: 4]

Perché dove tagliò l'infame bosco
E la statua spezzò fiera e sanguigna
Il buono Osia, al ciel più scuro e fosco
Quel terren si rinselva e si ralligna;
E piante ombrose con amaro tosco
Luce vi fan più incerta e più maligna;
E s'udìa spesso in quel medesmo loco
Quasi di trombe un suon turbato e roco.

In fact, where the infamous wood was cut
And the fierce, bloodstained statue was broken
By good Hosea, under the darkest sky
That soil keeps growing wilder and wilder;
There, shady trees full of bitter poison
Make the light more uncertain and evil;
In that very place one could often hear
A vague and hoarse sound like that of trumpets.


Notes
This stanza was missing in Gerusalemme Liberata; and in the final printed version of the Conquistata, Tasso would add one more octave specifying that in that same place the idol of god Moloch had existed. But he erroneously ascribes the Hebrew religious reformation to King Hosea instead of Hezekiah (in 716-687 BC, or so; see 2 Kings 18-20) and Josiah (640-609 BC, or so; see 2 Kings 22-23).
The description of the forest recalls, in part, Dante in Inferno 13, but auditory horror is especially a literary feature of Tasso. He himself suffered from very annoying auditory hallucinations.