Sunday, June 25, 2017

8 Mile - Brooklyn Edition

I was supposed to go to the zoo in Manhattan this afternoon, and since my friend was first attending church in Manhattan I figured I'd darken the doors of my local church as well.
So I enjoyed a nice morning in Brooklyn.

A few minutes before I was going to have to leave for the Adventure by Subway, I thought to check my phone -- and I learned that my afternoon had freed up due to parade/traffic complications.

So it was a fine day for some nice walks around Brooklyn, interspersed with Relihan's translation of Consolation of Philosophy.  I headed the long way around the perimeter of Prospect Park to get to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
An Answer to the Age-Old Question, Do Trees Grow in Brooklyn?

The bees were out in force today; shown here on lavender, I believe

yellow-and-black on yellow in yellow

Water Lily

The water lily ponds today were graced by a visiting egret.

As tourists crowded around with cameras, the egret promptly took off for the southern pond.

One small step for Egret...

Got it!!!!
There were a fair number of dragonflies on the water lilies in the artificial pine barrens pond in our native flora garden.
Here's Looking at You, Kid

Dragonfly and Ladybug

Turtle Surfacing

Dragonfly on Water Lily Bud - Sneaking Up Behind 

Dragonfly on Water Lily Bud - Side View

Female cardinal
I saw a bluejay in the "native woods" area, but it got nervous as I turned on my camera, and I got only a very blurry picture or two before it disappeared from view.  Just outside, back on the paved path, I saw a beautiful male cardinal - again, I only managed to capture a splotch of red.  As I waited, a female cardinal arrived.  She, too, was fairly shy - but nowhere near as shy as the male.

Borrowing, Homage, Influence

Tolkien fans like to quote Lewis's comment that “No-one ever influenced Tolkien – you might as well try to influence a bandersnatch” (a claim that Diana Glyer has worked to soften or refute in The Company They Keep and Bandersnatch).

Some of them also like to sneer at Lewis for making references to Numinor in That Hideous Strength in homage to Tolkien's NĂºmenor, apparently interpreting this either as a sign of an unoriginal mind, or even as outright "plagiarism" (a claim I find implausible, since Lewis acknowledges the source in his preface and seems to be merely attempting to situate his own original story in the same world with other legends - both the Arthurian and the Tolkienian). 

Still, in this context, it is interesting to consider the following passage from Tolkien's essay "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics":
For it is of their nature that the jabberwocks of historical and antiquarian research burble in the tulgy wood of conjecture, flitting from one tum-tum tree to another.  Noble animals, whose burbling is on occasion good to hear; but though their eyes of flame may sometimes prove searchlights, their range is short.
(Source: The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays.  Ed. Christopher Tolkien. HarperCollinsPublishers, 2006, at 9.)

This is, after all, heavy and unattributed copying from the 3rd and 4th stanzas of Lewis Carroll's 7-stanza poem, "Jabberwocky," including several distinctive words that Carroll himself invented.  Moreover, some are slightly misspelled (tulgy/tulgey, tum-tum/Tumtum), just as with Numinor/NĂºmenor:
`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe. 
"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
  The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
  The frumious Bandersnatch!" 
He took his vorpal sword in hand:
  Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
  And stood awhile in thought. 
And, as in uffish thought he stood,
  The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
  And burbled as it came! 
One, two! One, two! And through and through
  The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
  He went galumphing back. 
"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
  Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
  He chortled in his joy. 
`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.
(Source: Through the Looking Glass, in The Annotated Alice.  Ed. Martin Gardner.  New York: Bramhall House, 1960, at 191-97.)

To be clear, I do not criticize Tolkien for invoking "Jabberwocky" in this way; it strikes me as a fair use, just like Lewis's reference to "Numinor."  Indeed, although Tolkien (unlike Lewis) does not mention the original author/source, he clearly expects his audience to recognize the reference and infer that the critics he is criticizing are spouting nonsense.

I do think there is more room for nuance in the discussion.  I happen to like both Lewis and Tolkien, but surely one can love Tolkien and detest Lewis, as a matter of personal taste, without being monstrous in one's own criticism.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Reverse Chron BBG & PP

Since it's still June, I figured I should go back to the rose garden again.  Unfortunately, the flowers were well past their prime.  But it was a lovely day to wander, and my meanderings through the park afterward took me by not one but two concerts!  One was for park supporters, the other was for the general public - a new orleans band which had a great sound although the lead singer seemed to want to show how tough he was by dropping f-bombs every time he spoke to the crowd.  It seemed a little unnecessary, esp with all the little kids running around and chasing each other in the back (where I was).
One little girl was wearing a silver sequin dress - she was adorable, like a human disco ball as she danced around or sat on her dad's shoulders.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Masses Gather in Prospect Park

At the end of a traipse around the park, I saw this mysterious gathering:

Probably some cult.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Night at the Skyscraper Museum & the China Institute

It hadn't been on my radar, but I saw the sign and it opened up my mind, as they say.  I decided to try two new museums this year.
I was very encouraged by the sidewalk art promoting the Skyscraper Museum:

American Surety

The commentary on this photo of the American Surety building was interesting: "Price conceived of his skyscraper as a campanile, in the spirit of the tower of San Marco in Venice. Classical in its references, the form and facade was organized as a column, with a base, shaft, and capital, or, as Price noted, as pilaster, with 'the seven flutes being replaced by seven rows of windows.'"

But overall, I was underwhelmed by the photographs and models on display.  I was expecting something more like David Macaulay's work, which tends to make architecture intriguing and accessible to the untutored.  So this miniscule museum about big buildings was wasted on me.  (Other people, clearly not as ignorant as I, seemed to be enjoying the displays immensely.)  In any event, it was pretty much on my way to the China Institute...

The first room of "Dreams of the Kings: A Jade Suit for Eternity" was not very exciting.  But once you enter the second room, WOW!  It was like a suit of armor made of mahjong tiles.  Each tile is connected to its neighbors by tiny gold wires; the red ribbon seams are presumably where the pieces got sewn together.  My own pictures did not do it justice, so I took photos of the posters outside.

They had some other interesting items as well, but the jade suit was extraordinary.  Definitely worth a visit.