“This was a missed opportunity.”
“This was a missed opportunity.”
Go home and wash up.
Clean up your act.
Sweep your lives clean of your evildoings
so I don’t have to look at them any longer.
Say no to wrong.
Learn to do good.
Work for justice.
Help the down-and-out.
Stand up for the homeless.
Go to bat for the defenseless.
~Isaiah 1: 13-17
In the Greek Orthodox faith today is Καθαρά Δευτέρα — Clean Monday. Clean Monday is to Greek Orthodox believers what Ash Wednesday is to Catholic believers. It’s the start of Great Lent. Well, technically it begins at sunset the Sunday before.
Lent is thought of as a time of abstaining. We fast from meat and dairy. But it is more than that. It is also a time of taking on new, better habits. Today we not only wash ourselves from our past wrongdoings, but we work on behalf of those who need a helping hand.
“Lu was the glue,” said Allen Ginsberg, talking about how integral Lucien Carr was to connecting the people who would go on to become collectively known as the Beat Generation. Carr and Ginsberg met when Ginsberg came knocking on his dorm door at Columbia (well, technically they were attending Columbia but lodged at Union Theological Seminary) to discover who was playing the delightful music of Brahms. Carr was also friends with a fun-loving student named Edie Parker who introduced him to her boyfriend Jack Kerouac. Meanwhile, around that same time, Carr’s stalker, David Kammerer, and William S. Burroughs, whose family Carr had known back in their hometown of St. Louis, arrived in New York City. A charismatic wit, Carr drew this circle together and came up with the idea of a New Vision that embodied “naked self-expression,” a “derangement of the senses,” and the doing away with conventional morality” when it came to art.
Lucien Carr was born on this day in 1925 in New York City.
Usually you can make it to more than one Carnival because Greek Orthodox follow the Julian calendar, while Catholics use the new, Gregorian, calendar. However, this year our calendars coincide.
Carnival is basically a time to many go wild right before the seriousness of the 40-day fast of Great Lent leading up to the Crucifixion of Christ on Good Friday and His Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Though it’s certainly tied to Orthodox Christianity, practicing Orthodox believers don’t participate in its more reckless aspects that are tied to Dionysus. The parades and floats, though? Those are fun!
If you flip — or scroll! — to page 40 of Scripps Magazine you’ll see me featured in their regular column of alumnae authors, “ManuScripps.”
The column talks about how Scripps, the women’s college of the Claremont Colleges, fostered my education in the Beat Generation. …Which just goes to show you that feminists can like the Beats!
And if you missed it, here’s a post on the New York chapter of the Scripps book club reading Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.”
Jhumpa Lahiri criticized the American literary world as “shameful the lack of translation, the lack of energy put into translation in the American market.” The Indian American author said this on the panel about global literature at the Jaipur Literature Festival that I blogged about earlier, when I remarked on Xiaolu Guo’s sentiments that American literature is “overrated.”
I agree with Lahiri that our reading preferences in America are too inward focused. Ideally, we’d all be able to read in at least a second language, like Lahiri, who apparently hasn’t read anything in English in over two years. Good for her, but I’m a Greek school dropout. When I was in high school, I used to read Spanish decently, but I unfortunately haven’t kept it up and nowadays only read the Spanish advertisements in the subway station. Sometimes I tell myself one day I’ll go back to school to really study a language, but that day hasn’t come yet. It’s not that I don’t think it’s important. It’s that I know my limitations, and as horrible as it is to admit this learning another language just isn’t a priority at the moment.
That pains me especially when it comes to contemporary Greek literature. I am quite curious about the literary trends in Greece right, particularly in how they treat the economic crisis. I’ve read some translations of contemporary Greek works, but the truth is they’re hard to come by.
Translation in general is, as Lahiri pointed out, not a priority for American readers. Maybe because for many, reading isn’t a priority. With the difficulties the publishing industry has faced, it feels sacrilegious to condemn them for not publishing more translations. I do want to applaud one publishing house I’ve been keeping my eye on for the past few years: Europa Editions. Here’s why:
Europa Editions was founded in 2005 by Sandro Ferri and Sandra Ozzola Ferri, who are also the owner-publishers of Rome-based Edizioni E/O, one of Europe’s most prestigious independent publishing houses. Our idea was to capitalize on Edizioni E/O’s decades-long experience to bring fresh voices to the American market and provide quality English editions of international literature by enlisting some of the best translators in the business. Our appearance would be distinct, incorporating both European and U.S. jacket design standards, reflecting our conviction that books today must be pleasing to the senses as well as to the mind. Our catalog is eclectic, for we believe that dialogue between nations and cultures is of vital importance and that this exchange is facilitated by literature chosen not only for its ability to entertain and fascinate, but also to inform and enlighten.
Also, can I make a bit of a suggestion for those interested in translation? If there’s a note from the publisher or translator, read it! It’s fascinating and eye opening to read about the decisions the translator grappled with when bringing a foreign-language work to an American audience.
What contemporary Greek authors should I be reading right now? Where’s a good place to find Greek works translated into English?
Also, you might enjoy:
“Are you in a cult?” my friend once asked me.
My friend and I led a Protestant ministry for young adults, and I had mentioned that I actually celebrate Easter on a different day than most Protestants. Growing up, I had always celebrated Easter at the Greek Orthodox Church. Granted it was the only time of year my family went to the Greek Church (we went to a Protestant church the rest of the year), but we were pretty adamant about that being Easter.
No, I’m not in a cult, I sighed, aggravated that she would think that. In fact, there’s much more tradition and practical reason for celebrating Easter when I do.
The Greek Orthodox Church follows the old calendar system, the Julian calendar. Protestant and Catholics later decided to follow the new Gregorian calendar. What this means, though, is that sometimes Protestants and Catholics celebrate Easter before Jewish observers celebrate Passover. And if you know anything about these religions at all, you know that that doesn’t actually make a lot of sense since Jesus’ Last Supper is suggested to be a Passover meal.
This year, however, our calendars happen to coincide!
…I guess that means no discounted Easter candy for me this year.
I’m leading a free writing workshop today with my friends Nana and Maurice. We’ll be over at the Redeemer Offices, 1359 Broadway, 4th Floor, Main Conference Room. The workshop starts promptly at 7pm and will go til 9pm. Please bring 1-2 pages of your writing for critique.
Sometimes it’s strange how you get introduced to an author’s work and what you end up associating with them. I’ve had people make assumptions that I got into Jack Kerouac because I was trying to impress boys, which is far, far from the truth. I got into Kerouac after discovering The Portable Beat Reader in the pages of Seventeen magazine, an unabashedly teen girls’ magazine. It never even crossed my mind that Kerouac might be associated as a guy’s book or that reading his book or any book might make me popular with guys. I mean, when you’re in high school, you don’t really think that reading is going to make you sexy. You think lip gloss will. Lip gloss and CK Be.
But when I think of how I first encountered Hunter S. Thompson’s work, I remember watching Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in college with a boy I liked. A boy that liked my friend. She had a boyfriend and was not interested in this boy, and yet he remained puppy-dog in love with her, barely noticing me. But we did watch Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas together. And so now whenever I think of that movie, I think of that time, insignificant as it may have been.
Hunter S. Thompson was alive at that time, and I don’t remember his passing, but he passed away on this day in 2005 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. In his typewriter was a sheet of paper with the words “Feb 22 ’05″ and “counselor” typed on it. You can see the police report on The Smoking Gun.
How did you first come across Hunter S. Thompson‘s work?
Mmm… smell that smoky aroma? It can only mean one thing! Today is that special Greek holiday known as Tsiknopempti. Literally, it’s Charred Meat Thursday.
Yes, that’s right. We have a whole holiday devoted eating meat. Tsiknopempti is the preamble to Great Lent. Basically, you eat a whole lot of meat now because you’re going to be fasting for a long time. Longer, in fact, than the 40 days of Great Lent, since the meat fast starts ten days before that.
Do you fast?
Previous posts on Tsiknopempti: