Extending #HugAMedievalist and #WhanThatAprilleDay16 into a weekend Occ Fest

With apologies to Ozzy and in festive continuation of Twitter’s virtual medievalise-ins, #HugAMedievalist (2016-03-31) and #WhanThatAprilleDay16 – Guilhem de Peitieus / Old Occitan (2016-04-01).

Medievalists and philologists are here to help, at your service and for the public Good. Even at what for others is “the weekend.” Manning the Medievalism Helpdesk today is the master satirist Marcabru. He’s joining us today from 870-ish years ago to help our Powers That Be with Words Of Wisdom and Thoughts For The Day from another world; from nobler, more gracious and honorable, yet humbler times. In the humility of looking back in turn, in the ever-repeating virtuous cycle of nostalgia, at better less barbarous times.

Welcome to a civilisation where: (more…)

#UBCSAAM 2016-01-25 virtual teach-in (2)

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  • Some current parallels, like #femfog in the Medievalist community
  • Older post on here
  • Collected bits and pieces via Facebook and Twitter over the last week
  • And some more verbiage


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Next up: work in progress, #femfog


Currently connecting up:

  • The Maria de Ventadorn & Gui d’Uisel partimen
  • Some other medieval Occitan partimens & tensos
  • Questions: are rape jokes possible or permissible? Is there any way in which they can be positive and productive in educating and acting against rape (pseudo-)culture? And more immediately in preventing assault?
  • The K-Beauty débacle, feminism, academic feminism, and the point and public purpose of academia & academics
  • Having been obliged to think about the absurd foolish #femfog and #GYB bollocks, and how this feels… how shall I put it… intrusive?
  • Foolish and wise laughter and their social and ethical side: Plato (ideas triggered by talk on Friday), via Jean de Meun and Erasmus and Rabelais, looping back to medieval Occitania (and surrounds, i.e. Catalonia): Raimon Vidal de Besalú, Guilhem d’Aurenga, Socratic irony, true nobility of soul, and taking the piss (out of oneself and generally)
  • Satire, sincerity, play and its imaginative hypothetical space, and mesura (in whichever language, time, and culture; or as utopian ideal)
  • On which: it would be nice and proper if “PC” were to be returned to its original and longest-running meaning: the standard abbreviation for “Pillet-Carstens,” that is, the standard numbering system for the Troubadour lyric corpus (at least, for the 478 poets identified at that time, which has expanded since) and our industry standard since Alfred Pillet & Henry Carstens, Bibliographie der Troubadours. Schriften der Königsberger Gelehrten Gesellschaft, Sonderreihe, Band 3. (Halle: Niemeyer, 1933); for the record, this was one of these monumental two-generation-spanning works actually completed in 1931 and NOT a member of that other species of 1930s German philology. William P. Shepard’s classic 1934 Modern Language Notes review may be recommended as a splendid quick introduction in English.
  • So: #FeministHardcorePhilologySaysFogYou and #FogYB


End of academic year review (sort of) and a COMPETITION!

las leys d'amorOne academic year (2014) ended at the end of April, a second (2015) began a week or so later. I didn’t have a sense of a break between the two. For the last two years, our interrim department head has been doing end-of-year sessions with all faculty, which I’ve liked: a short but intensive leisurely chat, intended to reassure and give some sense of what one has done in a year, what one plans for the next year, and looking at what’s positive and only at what’s negative in terms of how it can be improved on, feasibly and realistically, in the coming year. I’ve actively enjoyed these meetings and felt them to be of great benefit. When I’ve worked outside academia I’ve had such meetings as a regular normal thing, as do most “outside” people I know. They give a sense of closure to the year, of a ritual patterning end that parallels the Grand Compulsory Meetings of the beginning of the year (that is, its main winter session) in September.

The end of the year also means submitting assorted paperwork. Many faculty in many institutions have to complete similar sorts of forms, with varying extents of administrativese. Some of my Annotated CV will look a bit different as I’m in the “Educational Leadership” faculty stream (a.k.a. teaching, rather than research). These forms should be FIPPA-able and open to public scrutiny, as my university is a public one. I’m attaching the PDF here (slightly redacted), because there is no reason not to and this is a public forum. Some of my salary comes from tax-payers, and they have a right to know how their money is being spent, and to know that I am grateful for it and regard their giving it not as a right but as a priviledge and a responsibility. I mean “priviledge” in its proper sense; not in the perverted sense of “entitlement.” “Entitled” is the exact opposite of what people in public service should be. (more…)

A quick note on why reading satire is good, and medievalist, and medievalistically-good

This is the Charlie Hebdo I grew up with, especially that of my teenage years: a magazine that is about protecting the poor and weak(ened) and underpriviledged; taking a stand against all forms of xenophobia in the name of internationalist common humanism; attacking power and defending the disempowered and powerless, while creatively suggesting alternatives to all that power-centred stuff (and this is one of the most important roles and raisons d’être of satire).



On Vancouver’s silent vigil yesterday for Charlie Hebdo (and updated the day after)

Yesterday evening, I forewent a prior engagement to enjoy some Improvisational Comedy. Instead, I did this:

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Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 8.28.30 AMNow, in an ideal world, I would have expressed my views about what happened yesterday equally well by going to watch live comedy. But these were not any old views (of the “opinions are like arseholes, everbody has one but…” etc. common-or-garden variety) and this is is not an ideal world, as yesterday’s events show all too well.


satire: uncanny as ever

Freud is dead. Freudian ideas are, alas, all too alive and well; alas given Popperian rejection as pseudoscience and the minor hitch of entire fields of knowledge having provided refutation: proper clinical and behavioural psychology, neuroscience, biochemistry, and the marvellous microcosmology of what happens in one’s gut. Freudianism is not just irrelevant or false: it can also be actively harmful when put into therapeutic practice.

Such is the fate of many a theory, and many a “science” whose solidity proves only temporary. The result can be further pseudosciences posing as knowledge, and anti-scientific moves and anti-knowledge movements. Or: the rise of further idolised deified Grand Theories, coupled with yet another wave of spiritual and/or religious belief.

Or: a continuing struggle between Lady Folly and Lady Fortune.

Such is the world.

But one Freudian idea remains true today. Like many of his more successful ideas, it’s an image, and a rather fine bit of imaginative imagery at that. Like much of his survival, it fits best into more imaginative parts of life and areas of knowledge. This idea is the uncanny, Unheimlichkeit. I think it’s got something to do with fortune, and maybe something to do with folly, but I’m still thinking that through.

Two curious coincidences this week, of comic fictions being so close to the bone as to be more true than an external reality that’s a fuzzy blurred version of this much clearer fictional picture, partly as the protagonists in external reality are themselves fuzzy and blurry and never this clear and direct.

The first is today’s Dilbert. It is uncanny for (at least) two reasons. The first will be obvious:


For the second uncanniness, (more…)