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10 April 2009

Canto XXXIX

Oh, I hate Roman numerals. Almost as much as Roman mathematicians musta. Actually, it wouldn't surprise me if they had used some kind of abacus. Roman numbering at least recognises base 10. Is it too hard to believe that Roman accountants would mentally translate vii into seven beads on a frame, then do the calculation and translate the pattern of beads back into letters? Their skill would have been in the translation (and also in the use of the abacus) and it would in fact have been in their interest to keep the numbering system difficult. But anyway, I hate Roman numerals because they're commonly used to mystify. As in copyright dates on tv programmes. Or to lend an air of antique respectability. The Cantos hardly need any more reference to ancient civilisation.

This one, for example, is back in homeric mode. There's an early reference to Circe and various passages in Greek, and (cheers Ez) he's got this habit now of giving the Greek passages twice, once in Greek lettering and then transliterated. There's also quite a lot of Latin and a bit of Italian, and this:
When I lay in the ingle of Circe
I heard a song of that kind.
Fat panther lay by me
Girls talked there of fucking, beasts talked there of eating,
All heavy with sleep, fucked girls and fat leopards,
Making it even more bizarre that he felt compelled (in XIV) to write sh-t.

You'll get no opinion from me on what this canto's about. I'm currently listening to a brilliant piece of music by Astor Piazzola.

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