6.15.2017

Language learning in the Crusader States

Christopher Tyerman. God's War: A New History of the Crusades pp. 234-235 Penguin (2006)
Inevitably, some Franks did learn local languages as well as more generally becoming acculturated with the Near East in diet, dress, hygiene, economic activity and accommodation. A smattering of Arabic for judicial, diplomatic or administrative purposes may have been common place; at least one western knight, William de Preaux, managed to learn the Arabic for king, malik, during the Third Crusade, using it to divert the attention of Turkish troops away from Richard I during an ambush near Jaffa in 1191. Learning to speak, even read, other languages came as less of a burden to twelfth-century western aristocrats than to some of their modern successors. In addition to his own local vernacular, an educated nobleman would have daily confronted Latin (if only in church or at prayers) and probably numerous other vernaculars, if only orally. Henry II of England was fluent in northern French and Latin, with a smattering of other western European languages; his son Richard I cracked jokes in Latin and recited verse in northern and southern French. To rule England or Sicily, Norman rulers or their officials needed to be trilingual; Bohemund [de Antioquia] spoke Greek. 
Among the Frankish nobility in Outremer [Estados Cruzados], captivity provided a more peculiar school of languages; during his imprisonment in the 1160s, Raymond III of Tripoli learnt Arabic, probably not a unique pastime among long-stay prisoners. Others acquired Arabic out of curiosity, intellectual energy, political judgement or necessity. Reynald lord of Sidon (1171-1200) employed a Muslim language teacher, enjoyed religious debate and studied Arabic literature. Sufficiently fluent and adept to charm Saladin himself, Reynald used his linguistic skill to bamboozle the sultan into withdrawing from his stronghold at Beaufort in May 1189 and buy a year’s grace and good surrender terms for his castle. Later Reynald acted as a diplomat in negotiations with Saladin during the Third Crusade. Another Frankish noble who, according to Saladin’s associate and biographer Baha’ al-Din Ibh Shaddad (1145-1234), spoke Arabic well was the effeminate Humphrey III of Thoron, whose linguistic talent was in turn employed by Richard I of England in his negotiations with Saladin in 1191. Both Reynald and Humphrey came from families long established in Outremer, their proficiency in Arabic, while striking Arabic chroniclers as sufficiently unusual to be worthy of note perhaps reflecting a growing facility among the Latin rulers, surrounded as they were, even in their own households, by Arabic-speaking Christians as well as a few Muslims and Arabized Jews. 
Throughout the twelfth century, chance comments or descriptions of exchanges between Franks and Arabic-speaking neighbours, even at the level of spying, hint at a perhaps wide pool of linguists. The parallel may be with Anglo-Norman England, Sicily and Spain, where conquerors encountered resilient and sophisticated local languages of learning, literature, government and an indigenous social elite. Again, in the context of relations with Syrian Christians, the desire to communicate, even if not strictly imperative for political or administrative survival, appears unsurprising. Much the same could be said of other eastern elite languages. The charter recording the negotiations between the Hospitallers and Meletus the Syrian archbishop of Gaza and Bethgibelin of 1173 is bilingual in Latin and Greek. The Edessan nobleman Baldwin or Marasch, killed in a failed attempt to recapture Edessa in 1146, spoke fluent Armenian and employed an Armenian priest as his confessor. 


Notários gregos, árabes [sarracenos], e latinos na chancelaria normana da Sicília, séc. XII.
Fonte: Cod. 120.II Liber ad honorem Augusti de Pietro da Eboli, c.1197 Folio 101r
Burgerbibliothek Bern, aka BBB [Biblioteca Municipal de Berna]

5.27.2017

freedom ancient & modern (Arendt)

Hannah Arendt. On Revolution. pp.30-31 Penguin (1963)
Freedom as a political phenomenon was coeval with the rise of the Greek city-states. Since Herodotus, it was understood as a form of political organization in which the citizens lived together under conditions of n-rule, without a division between rulers and ruled. This notion of no-rule was expressed by the word isonomy, whose outstanding characteristic among the forms of government, as the ancients had enumerated them, was that the notion of rule (the 'archy' from ἄρχειν in monarchy and oligarchy, or the 'cracy' from κρατεῖν in democracy) was entirely absent from it. The polis was supposed to be an isonomy, not a democracy. The word 'democracy', expressing even then majority rule, the rule of the many, was originally coined by those who were opposed to isonomy and who meant to say: What you say is 'no-rule' is in fact only another kind of rulership; it is the worst form of government, rule by the demos. 
Hence, equality, which we, following Tocqueville's insights, frequently see as a danger to freedom, was originally almost identical with it. But this equality within the range of the law, which he word isonomy suggested, was not equality of condition — though this equality, to an extent, was the condition for all political activity in the ancient world, where the political realm itself was open only to those who form a body of peers. Isonomy guaranteed ἰσότης, equality, but not because all men were born or created equal, but, on the contrary, because men were by nature (φύσει) not equal, and needed an artificial institution, the polis, which by virtue of its νόμος would make them equal. Equality existed only in this specifically political realm, where men met one another as citizens and not as private persons. The difference between this ancient concept of equality and our notion that men are born or created equal and become unequal by virtue of social and political, that is man-made, institutions can hardly be over-emphasized. The equality of the Greek polis, its isonomy, was an attribute of the polis and not of men, who received their equality by virtue of citizenship, not by virtue of birth. Neither equality nor freedom was understood as a quality inherent in human nature, they were both not φύσει, given by nature and growing out by themselves; they were νόμῳ, that is, conventional and artificial, the products of human effort and qualities of the man-made world.

5.10.2017

patristics in full cry

Garth Fowden. Before and After Muhammad: The First Millenium Reconsidered p.13 Princeton UP (2013)
The deliberations of [the Council of Nicaea at 787] allow us a fascinating glimpse of a world of ambitious, frequently irate bishops and slanted scholarship based on the corruption or forgery of proof texts, in other words patristics in full cry, powered as much by testosterone as testimonia.

4.27.2017

οἰκοδομεῖν

וּמִי יַעֲצָר־כֹּח֙ לִבְנוֹת־לוֹ בַיִת כִּי הַשָּׁמַיִם וּשְׁמֵי הַשָּׁמַיִם לֹא יְכַלְכְּלֻהוּ וּמִי אֲנִי אֲשֶׁר אֶבְנֶה־לּוֹ בַיִת כִּי אִם־לְהַקְטִיר לְפָנָיו

Quem lhe construiria uma casa, se nem os céus, nem os céus dos céus o podem conter? 
E quem sou eu que lha construa, se não para que queime incenso na Sua presença?

Segundo Livro de Crónicas 2:5
Tradução minha

تحت جنح الظلام

יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר־בָּאת לַחֲסוֹת תַּחַת־כְּנָפָיו

O Sᴇɴʜᴏʀ é o Deus de Israel
sob cujas asas buscaste refúgio.

Rute 2:12
Tradução minha

4.26.2017

there and back again

הֲשִׁיבֵנִי וְאָשׁוּבָה כִּי אַתָּה יְהוָה אֱלֹהָי

traz-me de volta para que eu regresse
porque tu és o Sᴇɴʜᴏʀ meu Deus

Jer 31:18
Tradução minha

4.23.2017

Relationship goals

 וַיַּגֶּד־לָהּ שְׁלֹמֹה אֶת־כָּל־דְּבָרֶיהָ לֹֽא־הָיָה דָּבָר נֶעְלָם מִן־הַמֶּלֶךְ אֲשֶׁר לֹא הִגִּיד לָֽהּ  
E Salomão respondeu a tudo que [a Rainha de Sabá] lhe perguntou - e não houve nada que lhe fosse obscuro a que ele não fosse capaz de lhe responder.
1 Reis 10:3
Tradução minha

4.22.2017

קוֹל אֹמֵר קְרָא
וְאָמַר מָה אֶקְרָא

diz uma voz: Chama!
e a resposta: Chamo o quê?

Isaías 40:6
Tradução minha

4.18.2017

navigare necesse est

أمرتي بركوب البحرمغتررا
عليك غيري فأمره بذا الراء
ما أنت نوح فتنجيني سفينته
ولست عيسى أنا أمشي على الماء

mandas-me a cavalgar o mar, eu que nunca antes lhe toquei —
busca-te alguém que não eu, que o mandes à espuma das ondas!
não és tu Noé que me salve a sua arca
nem eu Jesus que caminhe sobre as águas

Ibn Rashīq (390-456 AH)
Tradução minha

dois versos do Avicena

هبطت اليك من السماء الارفع
ورقاء ذات ترفع وتمنع

Dos céus mais altos [a tua alma] desceu sobre ti
Uma pomba orgulhosa e hesitante

Avicena
tradução minha

3.23.2017

ΘΑΥΜΑ

διὰ γὰρ τὸ θαυμάζειν οἱ ἄνθρωποι καὶ νῦν καὶ τὸ πρῶτον ἤρξαντο φιλοσοφεῖν
it is because of wonder that people both before and now have set themselves upon philosophy
(Aristotelis Metaphysica 982b.12-13)

إذا عرف السّبب بطل العجب
wonder disappears if the reason is known
(Não encontrei a fonte; Provérbio?)

3.15.2017

um poema

vós ouvistes
da ira de Heraclito
e dos crimes celestes

mas eu digo-vos
dos gentios o sacro pecado
repeti-o, todos os dias, todos
os vasos quebrai


(2012)

3.08.2017

מָה

מָה אֱנוֹשׁ כִּי־תִזְכְּרֶנּוּ 
וּבֶן‏־אָדָם כִּי־תִפְקְדֶנּוּ

o que é o Humano que te lembres dele,
um filho de Adão que nele atendas?

Salmos 8:4
Tradução minha

1.31.2017


Mira-me Miguel como estou de bonitica
Xaia de burel camijica de estupica

Tenho três obelhas, mais uma cordeira,
Quero-me cajar e não acho quem me queira

Baila, Pedro, baila! — Xenhora, quero pão! —
Baila mais um pouco, que lhogo to darão!

Bamos à la cama, bamos a dormir,
Eu lhevo la manta, e eu lhevo o cantil.

1.29.2017

the Judaization of modern Western civilization

Dan Miron. From Continuity to Contiguity, Thoughts on the Theory of Jewish Literature. in Jewish Literatures and Cultures, Context and Intertext. (Norich & Eliav edd.) pp. 33-35. Brown University Press (2008) 
What we should part with—indeed, what we must exorcise from our cognitive system—is the obsessive theoretical craving for all-encompassing unities and continuities. Though we can understand the deep cultural insecurities that give rise to such cravings, and even aesthetically relish the beautifully arranged projections by which such insecurities are kept at bay, we cannot afford to let them replace historical realities. This is not a call for the banishing of ideological considerations from historical and literary thinking. Such banishment is both impossible and unwarranted. All history is informed by ideological considerations. However, ideological projection and wishful thinking are not one and the same. An authentic, scholarly historical narrative can balance such inevitable projections with a genuine interest in the ever so complex and multifarious facets of historical reality. The more we study the realities of the Jewish literary complex the less we feel the need to superimpose upon them a symbolic order (in the Lacanian sense of the term), to organize them hierarchically under an overarching principle. We should remind ourselves that the hierarchically tiered systems we are often offered by cultural theorists are at best no more than temporary and fluid constructions. Almost all can be differently arranged with lower, recessive, and conditioned tiers replacing the upper, dominant, and conditioning ones. The hierarchy is o en only in the eye of the ideological beholder. That is an important lesson we can and should learn from observing closely the Jewish literary complex, and especially its modern evolution since the second half of the eighteenth century. Modern Jewish history, with its wildly colliding crosscurrents, did not allow for the emergence of one unified modern Jewish culture or for an integral, albeit multilingual, modern Jewish literature. It rather forces upon the scholarly observer the realization that Jewish culture and literature were fragmented beyond repair. 
It was this realization that sent the early Zionist and Yiddishist theorists on their wild-goose chase after ideologically wished-for but historically impossible unities and continuities. Without necessarily adopting post-Zionist a itudes, I believe we can reverse this process. Zionist theorists, we know, sought a new, or revived, Jewish normalcy: this normalcy would entail a reunification of an exiled and sca ttered people, as well as a reorganization and streamlining of this people’s abnormal, fractured, and scattered cultural legacy. If we accept the so-called abnormality of modern Jewish culture, or even assert its essential normality, we can shed new light on the so-called normal literatures which are, in fact, not that much different from the aggregate of Jewish literatures. For these literatures—particularly the richer and more extensive and expansive ones—are ultimately no more than aggregates of their own, governed by projected hierarchies and imagined common denominators. As the scholarship triggered by the theories of minority discourse and minor literatures demonstrate, these hierarchies reflect the relative stability of the social and political power structures that approve of a culture and a literature of a certain tenor. They purport to express and define the universal human ethical identity while, in fact, they assert and define the identity of the sociocultural powers that be. At the same time, they eliminate other identities, through preferences, canonization, marginalization, and exclusion. 
Jewish culture, lacking the organized socioeconomic and political basis that supported the hierarchical structures of other cultures, could not achieve such impositions—no matter how much Jewish ideologues craved them. It was therefore unable to develop a modern Jewish canon. (This very concept is necessarily self-contradictory; Ruth Wisse’s recent treatise, The Modern Jewish Canon, for example, unwittingly demonstrates this by excluding most of the important modern Jewish fiction writers and by disregarding modern Jewish poetry altogether.) 
As a result of these weaknesses, however, modern Jewish culture and literature only made clear what all modern cultures harbored in the depths of their complex and repressive bulks. What has surfaced throughout the second half of the twentieth century is that cultures and literatures that were supposedly national and monolingual have actually been created, in part, by a host of foreigners and neophytes, whose language of writing was not their mother tongue. We have seen members of repressed and peripheral societies— colonial and otherwise—who have deterritorialized and denationalized languages such as English or French. In fact what we see in the last fifty years can be called the Judaization of modern Western civilization, in the sense that what was once regarded as a peculiar and unfortunate Jewish cultural condition has become quite the normal cultural condition of the West as a whole.

1.03.2017

Hölderlin // Die Heimat

[...]

Denn sie, die uns das himmlische Feuer leihn,
     Die Götter. schenken heiliges Leid uns auch.
          Drum bleibe dies. Ein Sohn der Erde
               Schein ich: zu lieben gemacht, zu leiden.

FH. Die Heimat.

1.02.2017

Bruderschaft // um poema da Ingeborg Bachmann

Alles is Wundenschlagen
und keiner hat keinem verziehn.
Verletzt wie du und verletzend,
lebte ich auf dich hin.

Die reine, die Geistberührung,
um jede Berührung vermehrt,
wir erfahren sie alternd,
ins kälteste Schweigen gekehrt.