Thursday, 17 September 2009

A Festival of Dangerous Ideas

Actually, before I forget- for anyone in Sydney during the first week of October, this looks very interesting. A potentially healthy cultural sign, I think. And not only are Christopher Hitchens and Cardinal Pell facing off against each other, but the crazy old Germ is making an appearance and speaking on what sounds like a very intriguing topic herself.

Off to Egypt

These images are my attempt to resist the temptation to display the obligatory pyramid photo. Anyway, I fly out to Cairo tonight. Blogging is likely to be anywhere from sparse to non-existent for the next month, depending on a host of factors of which I am presently largely ignorant. Truth be told, its been pretty sparse lately anyway, but for the next month I will have an EXCUSE! So expect posts when you see them. Ma9 salaama, folks.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Hufu- The Pleasures of Cannibalism without the Moral Dubiousness

I'm a big fan of random happenstance, and last week saw a choice example.

A colleague of mine was conferencing with her English for Academic Purposes students on essays they were preparing. One of them had volunteered to do his essay on "The Pyramid of Hufu". Coming into the staffroom during the break, she expressed loudly her perplexedness at this mysterious essay topic. I volunteered that perhaps the student had made a spelling error and had actually meant the Pyramid of Khufu (which turned out in fact to be the case and which monument, coincidentally, I shall be visiting next week) but not before my colleague had done a search for 'Hufu' on one of the computers, whereupon it was discovered that this word has a meaning of its own.

As it turns out, there is such a thing as hufu, or rather there isn't. It is, apparently, a parody version of tofu for recovering cannibals who wish to ease off their dependence on human flesh for sustenance but are not ready to take up the exclusive consumption of non-human based food products. Unfortunately (or fortunately) its website has been off the air since 2006 but one can read about it here. Moreover, the folks at Damn Interesting (a site which is well worth your time anyway) did an article on it a while back as well. Certainly, the concept of a pyramid of hufu does create a curious and rather risible image in the mind.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Mots D'Heures: Gousse Rames

A colleague of mine brought in a delightful tome to work today. It purports to be some kind of collection of medieval French poems (complete with scholarly footnotes) but, if one reads it aloud, one immediately recognises that the French poems are actually English nursery rhymes cunningly disguised. Who would think up something like that (much less publish it)? Fantastic!

Below is one example (which I hope I can reproduce without breach of copyright):

Chacun Gille
Houer ne taupe de hile
Tôt-fait, j'appelle au boiteur
Chaque fêle dans un broc, est-ce crosne?
Un Gille qu'aime tant berline à fêtard.
(Luis van Rooten, Mots D'Heures: Gousses Rames, Penguin Books, 1980)

The author/editor interprets this to be a short tale about a country bumpkin (a Gille), who adores carriages and other such pleasures and who, having uncovered part of a seed while hoeing, calls to a limping man something about cracks in pitchers and Chinese cabbages (the editor conjectures there might be some moral implicit here which is lost on the modern reader). What becomes immediately apparent upon reading the thing aloud, however, is that it is actually 'Jack and Jill'!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

What We Call Ourselves (and Each Other)

These two posts form an interesting juxtaposition.

(I'm not, I should add, asserting that one is a reply to the other; simply that they make an interesting pair, being on a similar topic but from quite varied perspectives.)

Was Jesus Christ Divine?

A short talk I gave for Lumen Verum last Friday on the divinity of Christ.

Read it here.