Monday, May 12, 2014

Myths & The Last Man at Nuremberg

If you think people in your life are normal, then you undoubtedly have not spent any time getting to know the abnormal side of them. 
~ Shannon L. Alder (bohemian observer)
Myth and fairy tale have definitely returned. First of all there’s a generation who have grown up on Dungeons and Dragons, Tolkien and Narnia, and now, Philip Pullman and Harry Potter. I haven’t read theTwilight stories so I probably shouldn’t talk about them, but I have watched one of the films, and it seems to me that it’s an example of the problem of attenuation: instead of getting richer, these stories are being told in a less rich way, and the vampires are being tamed! 
As for Biblical stories, it’s true that the Bible is probably even less read now than the Arabian Nights. When I was young I learned a lot of the stories from the Bible and classical mythology through paintings. I like wandering around looking at paintings, and I always have.

Homer or Imrich. Nobody now reads Homer in ancient Greek. There are people who learn it and can do it with a crib—I can, just—but only slogging through it in a total maimed way. But I know Homer from many translations and new versions. I love Alice Oswald’s poem Memorial, which is a version of the Iliad. It’s beautiful. And someone like Anne Carson has done strange, echo-chamber responses. Carson is probably one of the few people alive who do actually read ancient Greek fluently. She’s exceptional.

When I get messages about conferences and workshops that are going on, I see many of us are also obsessed with the question of translation, and increasingly curious about the idea that there’s no authentic text. Because, to go back to Shakespeare, although we’re nearly agreed on a definitive Hamlet, the fact is that you can’t really experience Hamlet except on the stage. And when you see it, it will be different every time. Even the same production is different every time. I think that we are increasingly accepting this instability, and the rich metamorphic quality of an artefact.

The Last Man at Nuremberg

“Benjamin Ferencz was 27 when the Einsatzgruppen trial began in 1947. There were 22 defendants, all men, all members of the German SS. “One of the counsel has characterized this trial as the biggest murder trial in history,” the military tribunal wrote. “In this case, the defendants are not … charged with sitting in an office hundreds and thousands of miles away from the slaughter.… These men were in the field actively superintending, controlling, directing, and taking an active part in the bloody harvest.” Put simply, the Einsatzgruppenwere exterminators: Their squads traveled to towns throughout Eastern Europe, rounding up Jews and shooting them with mechanized efficiency. Some mass graves were filled with hundreds of bodies; others, thousands. Otto OhlendorfPaul Blobel, and almost two dozen others led these divisions of Hitler’s army; after the war, they were indicted for crimes against humanity. Benjamin Ferencz was 27, and he was the chief prosecutor responsible for convicting 22 men on trial for murdering 1 million men, women, and children…”