Monday, September 19, 2011

Slight break in Transmission

  Updates to Medieval Writing have hit a slight delay. Sometimes real life has a habit of interfering with the tranquility of virtual reality. You see, it started with a fire and explosion in a chemical factory. No really. Let me explain.
   The family medievalist, now he is retired, helps out at a charity called Lifeline which offers telephone counselling. He doesn't do that, but does help with their major fundraising effort, two gigantic secondhand book fairs each year. This involves sorting books for six months and then selling them over a three day fair, which is occurring next weekend.
   But there was a fire and explosion in a chemical factory in the suburb where the books are stored and nobody could get in for several days, so they couldn't move the books to the place where they sell them last weekend, when there are young and able bodied volunteers available to move and unpack them.  So they are having to move and unpack 200,000 books over the next few days with a team of aged retired warriors. I took pity and offered to help. Books are heavy you know. Maybe there is something in this e-book thing after all.
  Add to that the usual level of chaos in the family circle, and there might be a few little delays, but I will get back on the job. Sorry if this sounds like a "dog ate my homework" story. More updates coming eventually.

Monday, September 12, 2011

By Gode's Bludde, Forsooth!

  BSL, just when I thought Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog was the silliest medieval oriented thing on the web, I find out about this. I received an email from an anonymous private secretary to the Lord of Kinterbury requesting permission to link to my website if I would link in return to The Ancient and Medieval Honour Guild. Now Medieval Writing is entirely public and anybody can link to it. Feel free. But his Lordship's little effort is only accessible, apart from a few entry screens, to persons who can prove they are descended from medieval knights and who hold a manorial title such as Lord or Lady, and they are dedicated to the highest moral ideals of chivalry etc. Well, that last is a good thing, but I wonder whether it extends to chivalric attitudes to the descendants of jugglers and criminals, recent immigrants to Olde Englande and other diverse members of the human race.
   I mean, are they really still like that in England? I do remember when I was living there at some stage in the past there was talk about reform to the House of Lords, and a peer of the realm was arguing quite genuinely on TV that he was one of the people who should be leading the country because he had a hedge on his estate that dated to Anglo-Saxon times. They dutifully showed a picture of the hedge, and I couldn't believe my little Aussie ears.
  I suppose the private secretary didn't know he was writing to a lefty, pinko, socialist, republican Australian descended from miscellaneous bods who had fled their motherlands to live in a country where they were not subjected to anachronistic, feudal-descended attitudes. I answered him quite politely. I think.
  PS. In relation to recent postings on this blog, the header of said site is illustrated with a picture of some ye olde distressed parchment and a modern fountain pen which has leaked blobs all over it. I invite learned iconographic analysis of this imagery.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Boring Jobs and Bizarre Coincidences

   I am plodding resolutely through updating the formatting and graphics in the script samples section of Medieval Writing. This may drive me bonkers, but I guess it is a good thing to do. I have worked my way into the protogothic section. That still leaves an awful lot. There still seem to be plenty of people making use of the site, so it shouldn't look too aged and daggy (unlike its author). I have discovered that some of the examples that I put up fairly early in the piece not only have sad little graphics, but I was also still experimenting with how to present transcriptions and the like. I guess it will come out rather more consistent eventually. I have lots of new stuff to put up, but I am (currently) maintaining steely resolve to tidy up the backlog.
  An odd distraction came up during the week, when somebody in England sent me a picture of a page of a manuscript that they had had in their possession for twenty years or so to ask me some questions about it. It was a liturgical sheet on paper with musical notation in the form of German hufnagelschrift. The odd thing was that it seemed to be an exact match in every way with a leaf I had acquired only a few months ago from the USA; not identical of course - it was a manuscript - but identical in script, notation and every decorative detail. 
A bit of mine

  She emailed the dealer I had bought mine from, and he was equally sure that it was from the same manuscript as the one from which he had sold several leaves. There is nothing odd about the way manuscript leaves from the same book have fluttered around the world, having been split up and passed around at auction and through dealers. It does seem a large coincidence that they should be randomly reunited by email across the world.
  The conversation we had, which involved references to various German websites displaying liturgical manuscripts, was reminiscent of several others I have had in which people somehow want their treasures to be older than they seem to be, and then claim that they have got the oldest whatever-it-is in captivity. Now I think paleographical dating may be a tad overrated, but I do think you go on some sort of Occam's razor principle. Or in modern parlance, if it quacks like a duck, waddles like a duck and swims like a duck it probably is not a highly advanced pterodactyl. Just mentioning it in case you think you have the earliest whatsit in the world in your little bottom drawer.