Monday, August 01, 2011

Lines Written in the Program for the Biennial Meeting of the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists: A Poem in 3 Sessions


Figure 1. Adam naming the animals: Old English Hexateuch, Canterbury, England, first half of the 11th century (BL Cotton MS Claudius B IV, f. 4)

by EILEEN JOY

Currently, I am happily ensconced in Madison, Wisconsin for the biennial meeting of the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists, a conference I am attending for the first time in my career. So far, Day 1, so good: some wonderful papers, beautiful weather, Wisconsin beer, and a lakeside view from the Pyle Center, where the sessions are taking place. In place of the usual overview of papers heard at the conference, I offer the following poem, with thanks to the authors of the papers, Drew Jones, Andrew Rabin, Robert Upchurch, Alice Jorgensen, Leslie Lockett, Colin Mackenzie, Peter Darby, Rosalind Love, and Mercedes Salvador-Bello [and also to Ælfric, Alfred, Bede, Isidore, Gregory, King Edgar, and other Anglo-Saxon luminaries]:

Lines Written in the Program for the Biennial Meeting of the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists: A Poem in Three Sessions

Session 1. Holy Bodies: A Benedictional

Loosely associated with Lent, she was taken up whole from her tomb,
called down for negligence ranging from incontinence to neglect of duties;
the place was dedicated in olden days to honor the holy Peter.

Against the vision articulated here: the pastoral imaginary.

I am sorry to tell you that we will be getting liturgical.
We imagine a seminar of bishops sitting around saying,
"okay, what do we want?"
I recently re-read Gregory's Pastoral Care,
but we arrived too late for coffee and couldn't make the link
between Alfred and Ælfric.

That secular dossier was around since the 940s: I'm trying to suss out
how that works, between the new and the old.
The issue for a male body is not so much that it needs to be enclosed:
I certainly follow your argument, but . . . am I right?
Who do you think the audience for this is, exactly?
(I speak of myself.)

Session 2. Models of Mental Activity: The Handout

I see that the handout has almost reached the back of the room.
It's not immediately clear what we learn when we detect the shame-rage spiral;
a typical sequence would involve a patient
who seems first to view self from the vantage point of the therapist,
and not just in the major rituals of an Australian tribe.

Turning now to the life of St Agatha,
I promised her jewels and golden adornments.

Now, this is an openly aggressive exchange: lines 66 to 68.
I'm using the Acta Sanctorum text here, the 1863 Paris edition.
I said I was being a little speculative: Ælfric has it both ways.

This is item 1A on your handout: the logic of the hydraulic model of the mind--
mental heat: "I must bear in my breast an agitated heart."
This model of the mind is exclusively cardio-centric,
and might become more roomy, as in Judith. This is item 6.
And item 7C: He swelled up in his breast,
a real spatial phenomenon.

This can be characterized as: "mental cooling."

I haven't put this on your handout, but,
what larger conclusions can we draw from this comparison?
Thank you.
Before I begin, so,
the mind is called grain-sheaf;
one should paraphrase it by terming it grain or stone or apple or nut or ball:
number 5 on your handout.
It just doesn't appear to be the case in Old Norse.
It seems reasonable to conclude that there is a definite functional structure,
so, for example:
í óvit óg þa stöðvaðist.

I have a question for Leslie: is there any alternate model?
There are a lot of passages, um . . .
I hate to bring up the stuff you didn't talk about.
In the 13th century, people had "moved on," but,
who is this "we" that sympathizes?
But just to undermine my own argument,
let me ask Colin to answer that question.
[applause]

Interlude. Lunch on Your Own.

Session 3. Enigmata, My Beloved

He will be looking at Bede's orthodoxy and heterodoxy.
The handouts are coming around now.
I was most grateful for your letter in which you have taken care.

To put themselves more firmly
in mind of the Lord's incarnation, Bede addresses a bishop with the epithet,
"my beloved."
It reads like a thinly veiled attack on the iconoclasts of the East, but,
it is fine to make pictures, fine, I tell you.
I cannot help but notice a touch of irony.
Now, this last point is significant: carved into the walls of the temple.

She's going to be talking about the consolation of diversity;
yet, she seemed so ancient in all her cross-eyed majesty.
Nearly 80 manuscripts survive, but what kind of engagement was it?
Not that there were not, however, what we would call "jottings" in this book.

This is a snippet you've got at the bottom of your page:
a teacher, not a pupil.
EXCLAMATIO! (all caps)

A kind of orderliness prevails, yet this also belies the untidiness within.
Who let these theatrical tarts come near this sick man?
Blah, blah, blah: the Pope's bathtub, this is section 3 on your handout.

Lights were poured down on you
at the right time from heaven.

Throughout the years, it has not been easy to convince editors
of my hypothesis.
The headings and the indications of the different sections
are my own.

Are they terrestrial animals? Aerial? Clean? Unclean?
Mouse, weaver, mole, cricket, ant, etc.: Subgroup A.
By way of concluding, in the case of the letter "i,"
all this suggests the enigmata format.
Thank you very much for your attention: you can use the mic
in answering questions.

I was surprised, I don't mean to be so judgmental, sorry, but,
in the case of the C4 manuscript, it isn't the "brains."
I think George is next.
But then they were put into Latin subsequently, but in a sense,
they're ten a penny.

But perhaps, not as far as this.

2 comments:

Jonathan Jarrett said...

You have raised the bar for all conference reports, Eileen!

Eileen Joy said...

Thanks, Jonathan! Perhaps some heroic couplets later to describe the receptions?