montagnarde1793: (OMSBWTF?)

...Seeing how I've been shamefully neglecting LJ these last few weeks, I thought I would just pop in for a moment to reassure everyone that I am indeed alive, as well as to apologize for not replying to people's posts. I have been extremely busy, as you might guess, and I have something of a one-track mind when I have an exam or a presentation or a paper due. So I do hope you'll excuse me. And I'm afraid I'm not out of the woods yet either, as I have a Latin test tomorrow for which I need to know large swathes of De divinatione and Pro lege manilia, as well as several of Cicero's letters. Not to mention grammar. >__>

But anyway, now for your random (or possibly not so random) fact for the day: 216 years ago Saint-Just gave his "rapport sur la police générale". I'm not sure why I wrote that on my calendar, but I'm sure I must have had a good reason... If I were less busy I would quote from it or something, but I really shouldn't considering. Again: >__>

Also, what post would be complete without at least a mini-rant? Have you ever read a (history) book in which you can't (for the most part anyway) fault the author on facts or even really interpretations, but where in the author's attitude is really annoying? The background text for my history class this semester is a bit like that. (Though there is one thing he asserts - without actually ever attempting to prove it - that really annoys me, which is that he seems convinced that capitalism existed in the Middle Ages just because there were merchants.)

For example:

"However much modern democratic sensibilities are offended by restriction of the franchise, that does not always translate into bad government." -- Nicolas, Urban Europe, 111. (This is followed by a defense of pre-modern oligarchical municipalities.)

I mean, seriously: No, this does not "offend" my democratic "sensibilities" this outrages my democratic principles, you pretentious reactionary.... Ugh. I think maybe I should quit while I'm ahead.

Ides of March

Monday, 15 March 2010 23:58
montagnarde1793: (Porcia)

Happy Ides of March, all! (Before they slip away.) Today's post will again be devoted to miscellany, I'm afraid.

So, first item: A Word on Dictators

I really hate living in a society where it's okay to defend (some) known dictators, because the fact that said historical figure was a dictator is so well known that it can be placed in the background, allowing whoever wants to defend him or her (because I'm including autocratic queens in this as well) to say, "of course s/he was a dictator, BUT..." (And yet a society that allows the condemnation of historical figures who were not dictators simply by asserting that they were. I don't really think I need to point out who I'm talking about here.)

Case in point: today, since it is the Ides of March, we were discussing the day's significance in my Latin class. One of my friends in this class, who enjoys bringing in various baked goods for no particular reason (not that I'm complaining, mind!) brought cookies today. There was some joking discussion about how she shouldn't be celebrating because she had played Julius Caesar in a reenactment last semester. I, still half in jest, mentioned afterwards to her that I, for one, didn't mind celebrating, because I'm on the side of the conspirators. (Actually, my views are more complicated than that, as you know. I am unreservedly on the side of the fictionalized versions of the conspirators that the 18th century seems to have believed in. I'm much less enthusiastic about the real, historical conspirators, though if I had to choose, I'd still pick them over Caesar any day, so I wasn't exactly lying.) Now, because this conversation happened in half-joking mode, I'm not entirely sure what conclusions I can draw about what happened next, but nevertheless, it disturbs me.

This friend of mine proceeded to defend Caesar, as well as Octavianus (I still refuse to call him Augustus), on account of their achievements, but more, I think, because she considers them "awesome" or "badass" or some such tripe, completely discounting my objections that perhaps there might be a problem with the concept of absolute power in the hands of a single individual, not to mention with invading your own country and taking over its government with your own personal army, or issues of (il)legitimacy of power.

In fact, she then followed up by asserting that she was a firm believer in benevolent dictatorships, and thought that the best form of government is one where a single individual who somehow, magically, knows what's best for everyone, has all the power and then somehow, instead of the things dictators usually do, actually puts that magical knowledge of what's best for everyone into effect. And why? Because it's more efficient and there would be no "special interest groups" that way (well, except for the special interest group of one that is the dictator, but I guess that magically doesn't matter either)!

Now, of course, when I asked her whether she would like to live in a dictatorship, she replied no... unless she could be the dictator. This was at least half in jest, as I mentioned, but still, it seems to be a disturbingly common sentiment in a certain privileged milieu. (It's in no way an exaggeration, to state the obvious, that the vast majority of the students at my college are privileged.) Note that this is related to the "If you could change one thing about your country/if you could be President of the World for one day what would you change?" memes, but is in fact a rather unpleasant mutation, in that the former suggests that there are limits on your hypothetical powers, while the latter suggests there are no such limits.

I think I see at least one major cause of this - let me know if you disagree or want to mention some other factor - which is to say, the kind of illogical comparisons people tend to draw. We start with the issue of many people's ill-founded belief that if states which call themselves democracies are not democratic, they are at least as close as it's possible to get to democratic. Then we compare one of these states, the US, for example, and they way it really works, with a hypothetical construct: the ideal benevolent dictatorship (described above). The obvious choice to many people (although not to me - I'd rather live in the modern US, terrible as it is, than under some whitewashed version of Julius Caesar) is the latter. However, see how easily this model falls apart when we compare an ideal, hypothetical democracy with an ideal, hypothetical dictatorship. Since both are equally idealized, neither has the problems of pratical governance. However, the ideal democracy has something the ideal dictatorship lacks: legitimacy. I think this concept is not emphasized nearly enough in schools or in society at large. Just one more reason natural rights philosophy urgently needs to be taught in school (in the full significance of the word taught).

On a lighter note, I used to enjoy playing various simulator games, such as the Sims, Caesar (III) (speaking of), Civilization (IV) (which game I really hate for its reductionist views about what constitutes "civilization," as well as the impossibility of playing history straight even if you want to, but which I find strangely addictive in any case). In fact, I still enjoy playing them, but I leave them home when I'm at school because they eat your time. (The internet eats your time too, of course, but it is no longer an option not to use the internet, even if I wanted to.) I'll probably have to get rid of them altogether when I only live in one place. But I digress. When browsing TV Tropes through one of [ profile] maelicia 's links, I came across the game "Europa Universalis," which is essentially a more particularized version of Civilization, from what I can tell. I won't buy it, for the above mentioned reasons, but I was curious about it so I went to the forum on the game's website.

There, I found this gem (obviously, these questions and answers are in the context of the game, but it's funnier if you forget that for a moment):

Q: What are the ins and outs of revolution? What does it do? Why would I want it?
A: New governments: Revolutionary Republic and Revolutionary Empire.

Leaving aside the question of whether a "Revolutionary Empire" is merely a figment of Bonapartiste propaganda...

Free war with damn near everyone.

Ain't it the truth.
montagnarde1793: (iCicero)

It's been a long time since I've posted anything, I know.  I've been busy, but that's not really the reason. After all, I'm busier than ever and I'm still posting now. I just haven't really had much of relevance to say. It's sad, but what can you do?

I missed a couple of birthdays last month, so a very belated birthday to Charlotte Robespierre and Jeanbon Saint-André.

Really, I just wanted to point out this article, by Lynn Hunt, whom you may remember as one of the better American historians. Which isn't saying too much, but beggars can't be choosers. (Though if that limited choice were all that was available to me, I'd still pick Timothy Tackett over her any day).

I'm not sure whether I like the article or not. It's one of those pieces where I'm on a borderline between thinking it's useful for pointing out a few things that I've noticed to be true about writing, and getting annoyed with it for stating the obvious. In light of some of Hunt's work, I'm also going to have to be a bit snarky and add that if your instinct tells you that Freudian analysis is the right approach to your study of the French Revolution, maybe it's time to stop listening to your instinct. On the other hand, I'm quite possibly being too hard on her, both in terms of the article and in terms of her other writings, so I'll let you come to your own conclusions (which I would be happy to hear about!)

In other news, applying to study abroad is incredibly stressful when added to all my other work. Cumulative Latin exams are likewise stressful - there's a good 200 lines of Cicero's "In Verrem" I should be studying right now - so do wish me luck. (For the record, I like "In Verrem," which is Cicero's prosecution of the corrupt governor of Sicily, Verres, who, if Cicero is to be believed, stole everything he could get his hands on in the whole province, and also - in the part I'm not being tested on - had a Roman citizen crucified - which you really don't do. However, there is so much vocabulary that I don't know, that my brain may explode between now and tomorrow afternoon. And there's parsing. I hate parsing. D:)




Utinam haec lingua facilior sit. ;-;
montagnarde1793: (Maxime enfant)

Sorry for the semi-absence. I've been a bit on the busy side. Still, I'm back at school now and have not forgotten my obligations. :D Which is to say, article-translating is still on, though it will probably take longer than it would have over the summer.

And I am still working on your (now unfortunately rather late) birthday fic, . I'm just trying to work out the political context - you and I will both be happier with it if it has some political context - which means at this point that I'm trying to work in a short discussion of the federalist revolts, since they are referenced in That Song. I'm thinking the time-frame should be sometime in August-September 1793. Do you have any thoughts on this?

Among the other things I did not forget are Saint-Just's 242nd birthday on the 25th and David's 261st on the 30th. Let it be recorded that I wish both of their memories as well as ever.

So. Classes. I'm taking Roman History, History of Ancient India, Latin 201: The Aeneid, and French Lit from the Middle Ages to the Revolution (or more precisely from la Chanson de Roland to le Mariage de Figaro, which means we don't really make it to the Revolution).

Having been to one of each (they're all on the same days), here are my notes:

I'm really not sure what to make of my Roman History prof. This was her first day teaching here and she seemed like she was on the verge of tears several times during the lecture. Which I can relate to. What I can't relate to is what seems to be her strange affinity for dictators. She spent the introductory lecture fawning over Octavianus (I refuse to call him Augustus), which, while far from laudable, is also far from uncommon among classicists of a certain stripe. It was when she started speaking of Mussolini in rather similar terms that I began to get freaked out. I really hope I'm imagining things, or this could turn out to be an, er, interesting semester.

On the other hand, I have no complaints about the Indian History prof. The class was highly recommended to me and it seems not without reason. The prof's first lecture was informative and interesting and he let us know from the first things like where the emphasis of the course is going to be (he's more a historian of culture/religion/philosophy than economics). And once I've taken this course, my non-Western history requirement will be out of the way.

My Latin class is definitely going to be my hardest this year. I know already I'm going to have problems with the meter... And well, let's just leave it at that for now. No complaints about this professor either. So far, anyway.

The French lit class was and will likely continue to be pretty basic. But I promised the professor I would take it and I haven't read all the books on the syllabus, so I might as well. One potentially good point: When the prof asked us what periods/historical figures/currents/etc. we liked most in the period 800-1800, another girl said the Revolution. I must try to find out her perspective... Oddly, the class was all girls. Which is especially bizarre when you consider our gender ratio is supposed to be perfectly even. Oh well. Another unfortunate point is that several people expressed fondness for the monarchy. What is that?

Anyway, off to eat tarts with the rest of the Maison francophone. I'm sure Maxime would approve.


Wednesday, 13 May 2009 00:18
montagnarde1793: (maximebust)

....I'm going to kill something, I swear. I had a lovely entry all written about how I finished my essay (12 pages, after some fiddling with the margins, and 4,263 words) on Jews in the Revolution, and livejournal decided to eat it. D:<

I remain amused that I managed to use more sources (15, in all) than I wrote pages, and that I had 58 footnotes. How I do love you, footnotes! Let's run away together! ...or maybe not. XD

I also remain miffed that I didn't have enough space to talk about the Jewish National Guard who saved the Abbé Maury (opponent of civil and legal rights for Jews and all around rabid reactionary, for those not in the know) from being lanterned. Or the brothers Frey, for that matter. Oh well, more's the pity.

(I did, however, get to talk about how much Maxime pwns on two separate occasions. :D :D :D)

...And now, off to study for my Latin final. >.>

montagnarde1793: (maximebust)

So I have a few fun translation related things to share with you. ^__^ No, of course I'm not procrastinating on writing the paper I have due tomorrow or the laundry I have to do before [info]trf_chan  gets here. Why do you ask? >.>

The first is, I was in a translation symposium here at school on Tuesday, and I thought some of you might appreciate the poem I translated, as it's by Victor Hugo and has Revolutionary themes.

All it lacks is a title... )

Gah, I have a feeling I'm going to have a problem with formatting with that. Try to ignore it if it's strange, will you?

Next, while looking for a decent analysis of how the Revolutionaries related to Antiquity (I'm sure I've seen some books on the topic--off the top of your head, do any of you know of any good ones?), I found this little gem in a footnote to a collection of Robespierre's speeches from the 1880s. It almost makes me understand what people see in Camille. Almost. XD;

"Ce discours prononcé aux Jacobins provoqua un vif enthousiasme : 'Qui pourrait ne pas partarger [sic] la sainte indignation que Robespierre fit éclater aux Jacobins dans un discours admirable ?' s'écrie Camille Desmoulins dans les Révolutions de France et de Brabant. Ce discours fut aussitôt publié en brochure, et voici en quels termes l'annonce le même Camille Desmoulins: 'Discours sur l'organisation des gardes nationales, par Maximilien Robespierre (et non pas Robertspierre, comme affectent de le nommer des journalistes qui trouvent apparemment ce dernier nom plus noble et plus moelleux, et qui ignorent que ce député, quand même il se nommerait la bête comme Brutus, ou pois chiche comme Cicéron, porterait toujours le plus beau nom de la France.'"

"This speech provoked a keen enthousiasm when pronounced at the Jacobins: 'Who could not share the sacred indignation that Robespierre made to burst forth at the Jacobins in an admirable speech?' cries Camille Desmoulins in the Revolutions of France and Brabant. This speech was immediately published in pamphlet form, and here are the terms in which the same Camille Desmoulins announces it: 'Discourse on the Organization of the National Guards, by Maximilien Robespierre (and not Robertspierre, as journalists affect to name him who apparently find this last name nobler and more smooth, and who are unaware that this deputy, were he even to call himself the dim-witted, like Brutus, or chickpea, like Cicero, would still bear the finest name in France.'"

...Well, it at least has the merit of amusing me greatly.

Lastly, whilst I wait to decide whether or not I can like the historical Romans, I can at least enjoy the 18th century conception of them. And now you can too! (:D?) Because I've decided to post my translations of Marie-Joseph Chénier's "Brutus et Cassius, ou les derniers Romains" ("Brutus and Cassius, or the Last Romans") here, scene by scene. Unfortunately, this was never performed, but it's still a primary source from the Revolution, and though I know in many, if not most, circles it's considered sacrilege to say such a thing, I personally think it's an improvement on Shakespeare's version of the same events.

A couple of notes, before I post the beginning of the play itself:

1. The original can be found here, page 183.
2. If I've mistranslated the Latin quote introducing the piece, someone please correct me. I've only been studying Latin since January, after all.
3. You'll notice I've largely omitted Marie-Joseph's message to André. Why? While I'm sure it's fascinating (and I'm not saying that facetiously), it's longer than the play itself. If anyone who can't read French is dying to know what it says, I'd be happy to translate it as well, but I figure it's the play that's most important.


So, without further ado, I give you Act I, Scene I. )
montagnarde1793: (rousseau)


...Memeage! )Sorry, I just couldn't resist. ^^;

In another news, something amusing happened to me in Latin class today. We were playing one of those stupid games where you have to divide into teams, in order to see how well we had learned our participles. Now, in that class, a lot of the passages we translate are in fact just Cicero denouncing Catiline. You know, like he does. So, just to be contrary, my team decided they wanted to be called "Catiline's Supporters." Given this, I attempted to sit out the game, but unfortunately, our instructor, Alice (who, by the way, is only a Classics major in her last year--though lest it sound like I'm disparaging her, I really think quite well of her) was making everyone take a turn.

So the following exchange took place:

Me: "I refuse to conspire against the Republic." (I really did say exactly that, as I'm sure you won't be surprised to learn. XD;)
The Class: (Something along the lines of "...", "What?", and "Can she do that?")
Alice: (To paraphrase:) Um, well, I'll make up a separate sub-team. *writes "Catiline non-supporters" on the board* Pause. "Cicero would be proud." (She really did say that last bit.)

So the point - which I did get - did not go to Catiline's supporters. Admittedly, the whole thing was rather ridiculous and petty, but it was greatly amusing as well.

...I promise I'll get back to Serious Business in the next post. XD;
montagnarde1793: (wtfno)
*bangs head against walls* Shall I refer you to my icon?

Okay, so that wasn't actually the point of this post, but it really annoyed me. You'll find the really point of this post a lot less so I think. 



montagnarde1793: (Default)

October 2014

5678 91011
19202122 232425


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios