[ilds] gnomic aorist

david wilde wilded at hotmail.com
Thu Jun 3 11:31:58 PDT 2010


Hi James.  I took a quick Modern Greek course with the Orthodox Greek community here in Albuquerque one recent (about 6 years recent) Christmas holiday and I can tell you that as far as I am aware according to my month-long crash-course the instructor (an engineer) told us that the Greek government changed the grammar legally making it almost another 'read' language-landscape than the attic.  I seem to recall those antique aspects such as the 'gnomic-aorist' were not now available in the greek modern form.  You could always call the Greek Embassy!  Cheers.  david wilde
 

> Date: Thu, 3 Jun 2010 11:07:42 -0700
> From: odos.fanourios at gmail.com
> To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
> Subject: Re: [ilds] gnomic aorist
> 
> As it happens, I have a piece appearing in /jml: Journal of Modern
> Literature/ later this summer on the politics of Durrell's early
> interactions with the English Surrealist crowd, in many respects via
> Miller's ties in Paris.
> 
> I think you're right about the grammatical experimentations of Stein
> and Breton coming to LD via Miller, and they did expressly invite
> contributions to /Booster/ from Stein (the letter's in Victoria).
> 
> I'd planning last term to teach /The Black Book/ beside Beckett's
> /Murphy/, but the gawds of the book industry distributors conspired
> against me. Nonetheless, there's something of an English surrealist
> moment running from 1934-45 with Gascoyne displacing Beckett as the
> translator and the mutual publication networks that rapidly spread
> from Corfu and Cairo to California... I recently discovered that
> production of Durrell's /The Black Book/ got as far as proofs for the
> Circle Editions coming out of Berkeley in the 1940s (Miller was tied
> to the anarchist Circle there via Rexroth and Leite, and they did
> bring out Durrell's /Zero and Asylum in the Snow/ at that time, among
> other quasi-surrealist avant garde works).
> 
> By Durrell's claims in his letters, he'd begun drafting /The Black
> Book/ as early as 1935 when he wrapped up the proofs for /Pied Piper
> of Lovers/ on Corfu. While most of those mss. aren't available, I'd
> speculate on the process of learning Greek as being integrated over
> time, though he'd already had some Ancient Greek training while in
> England.
> 
> Can any of our Modern Greek speakers on the list confirm whether or
> not Modern Greek has the gnomic aorist? I know it has only one past
> tense, and I don't believe it carries a distinct gnomic mood anymore,
> right? If that's the case, this wasn't new knowledge for LD when he
> moved to Greece -- he's already had it in school.
> 
> Cheers,
> James
> 
> On 2 June 2010 17:32, david wilde <wilded at hotmail.com> wrote:
> > Black Book (1937) definitely set me thinking and taking Classical Greek
> > (Scott-Liddle) grammar to discover the 'true- meaning' of the aorist -
> > gnomic and otherwise which led me to discover the horror Durrell suffered in
> > his many guises as a Public School (Private in the UK system) student in
> > many a school setting of classical languages and history. This literary gem
> > (Black Book) made possible by a transatlantic understanding between Durrell
> > and Henry Miller. Miller advocated the use and misuse I suspect of the
> > radical and irrational usage of grammar previously offered by the likes of
> > Gertrude Stein (Ida) to peform a self-reflecting surreal drama.
> > Notwithsatnding Andre Breton etc and the 'Pataphysique' art of Henry
> > Miller's pre-WWII Paris. Amen.
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >> Date: Wed, 2 Jun 2010 14:21:03 -0400
> >> From: Charles-Sligh at utc.edu
> >> To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
> >> Subject: [ilds] gnomic aorist
> >
> >>
> >> Bruce Redwine wrote:
> >> > Durrell, however, definitely likes /gnomic;/ he advocates a gnomic
> >> > style somewhere. Whether he was influenced by Classical or possibly
> >> > Modern Greek is a very interesting question, which could fall under
> >> > that rubric of Durrell's diction, previously discussed.
> >> >
> >>
> >> Cf. /The Black Book/:
> >>
> >> > Not even the phenomenon of Grace disturbed my life as much as that
> >> > glimpse of the social mysteries. Horses
> >> > sweat, but Grace perspires; very delicately on the smooth flesh, on
> >> > the thin flanks, under the tiny
> >> > undernourished breasts. The blue-veined phthisic fingers are moist and
> >> > languorous. But why the present
> >> > tense? For Grace is no more; no more the street girl who sat, hugging
> >> > her knees, and staring at the empty
> >> > wallpaper. Shall we write of her in the gnomic aorist? Shall we invest
> >> > her with an epitaph? She would not
> >> > understand it. She understood nothing. She seemed not to hear. You
> >> > could speak to her, sing to her, dance
> >> > before her, and the distances she contemplated were not diminished by
> >> > one inch.
> >>
> >> > Here, it is real enough the stage on which I re-create this chronicle
> >> > of the English death. There is Bach
> >> > playing in the roars of the wind, the piercing slatterns of the rain.
> >> > There is you dancing, and the million yous
> >> > who persist in matter, echo, weep, cry, exult in flower powder,
> >> > smaragd, Italy, moon, veins of rock. There is
> >> > the cadenza of flesh here naked, and the you who run to the conclusion
> >> > of autumn, selfless and melancholy, or
> >> > smolder on the beach savagely. in all particulars of the body you are
> >> > working, in the dark sump of the vagina,
> >> > brewing vegetable history, sowing continents in whom I am the reaper;
> >> > in the dusty sandals or the naked toes.
> >> > It is forced upon me to write of you always in the gnomic aorist. For
> >> > this is the new vocabulary which I am
> >> > learning with ease. I am beginning my agony in the garden and there
> >> > are too many words, and too many things to put into words. in the
> >> > fantastic proscenium of the ego, when I begin my soliloquy, I shall
> >> > not choose as
> >> > Gregory chose. To be or not to be. It is in your capacity as Judas
> >> > that you have chosen for me. The question
> >> > has been decided. Art must no longer exist to depict man, but to
> >> > invoke God. It is on the face of this chaos that
> >> > I brood. And on the same chaos printed, across the faces of these
> >> > hideous mimes of mine, your pale glyph.
> >> > The white illusion of bone and tissue, the firm cheekbones set in soft
> >> > plates of flesh, the pouting mouth, the
> >> > soft jawless head of the snake, the lips as delicate as the biscuit.
> >> > Lubra in the dark, and when the swords grow
> >> > up from Constantinople, marmoreal, caryatid, pupa of flesh growing
> >> > upward among the bones, carrying them
> >> > upward from the hip, irresistible leaven. The hills snooze on with the
> >> > liths of your fingers laid over them: the
> >> > sensitive calyx of the pelvis like the dish of land which holds our
> >> > sea, silent outside the house. All that is
> >> > dying in me in this fatal landscape, your mine among active things,
> >> > stone, shards, language, meteors, butter.
> >> > Nothing but the punic body, our essential traitor, which stifles me
> >> > with its pollens. Snore on, you winter sea,
> >> > there is no more in here than the seven hectic elements can offer me:
> >> > more than the fantasy of the third ocean,
> >> > dipping its brush among the molten colors, leaking down to the hot
> >> > magma of things. More. More.
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> --
> >> ********************************************
> >> Charles L. Sligh
> >> Assistant Professor
> >> Department of English
> >> University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
> >> charles-sligh at utc.edu
> >> ********************************************
> >>
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> 
> 
> -- 
> ---------------------------------------
> James Gifford, Ph.D.
> Assistant Professor of English and University Core Director
> School of English, Philosophy and Humanities
> University College: Arts, Sciences, Professional Studies
> Fairleigh Dickinson University, Vancouver Campus
> Voice: 604-648-4476
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