NaNo, random, writing

NaNoWriMo approaches…

Oh, I’m so excited! I haven’t really got my plot totally figured out yet, though… 😛 but I don’t really care. If I was planning, like a lot of people, to polish this book for publication, I might care. But I have a feeling that if I do, I’ll probably have to change the plot no matter what, so it doesn’t really matter. If the above three sentences made sense, here’s a virtual chocolate pie.

Tomorrow we’re having a block party (right in front of our house!) for Halloween, also known as All Hallow’s Eve. I’m going as a gypsy if I can find the missing parts of my costume.

Humour, language, Latin

In Defense of Latin

This is for all you who say “Latin is stupid, it’s a dead language, and you can’t even speak it.” I have nothing against you. You include several of my friends. However you are incorrect on that point.

#1: “Latin is stupid.”
It would seem that Latin is stupid, for stupid is that which is lacking in common sense. Latin is not common. Ergo, Latin cannot contain common sense.
The reply: The accusation is false, for that which is rare is not necessarily stupid. Common sense itself is not common. Indeed, as will be shown later, Latin is eminently intellectual.

#2: “It’s a dead language.”
It would seem that Latin is a dead language, for a dead language is a language which is no longer spoken or written, and Latin is no longer spoken. Ergo, Latin is a dead language.
The reply: Latin is not a dead language, for a dead language is one that is no longer used. However, Latin is still used; Church official documents are still published in Latin. Additionally, it is still learned by thousands of students over the world. See this Wikipedia article.

#3: “You can’t even speak it.”
It would seem that Latin cannot be spoken, for two are necessary for speaking a language. Latin has no native speakers. Ergo, Latin cannot be spoken.
The reply: Latin, it is true, has no native speakers any longer, but it is possible to learn it and speak it with another student of Latin. In addition, even if this accusation is partially true, it in no way diminishes Latin’s merits.

Now, here’s a list of reasons to study Latin:

1. It’s the language of the Church. You deprive yourself of great spiritual richness by not learning Latin. The traditional Mass of the Church is in Latin, of course, and the Novus Ordo was really originally intended to be said in Latin. (I myself have actually never been to a Latin Mass in either form, unfortunately. Not that the English Mass is bad. It’s still the Mass, after all, but Latin is the language of the Church.)
Nearly all the important documents of the Church are in Latin; the only other languages that come immediately to mind are Greek and Hebrew. Numerous great devotional and theological works are in Latin; St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. Bernard, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bonaventure, Imitation of Christ, etc. That is, the non-Greek Fathers of the Church and all the medievals. What about translations? you ask. Well, see the next point.

2. The great literature. Virgil, Cicero, Lucretius, Horace, Livy, and Caesar among the pagans alone, not to mention Boethius, Augustine, etc.
Translations are not the same at all. No word can mean precisely the same thing in its original language as it does when translated. It does not have the connotations, the history and richness, the sound (the sound is part of the meaning also). Additionally, a translator must take some liberties, and will probably take more than necessary. Translated poetry, especially, suffers; the poem must have the rhythm and meter. I do not condemn all translations, of course, but the gain from reading books in the original is very great.

3. It helps you with English. I have experienced this myself. In my writing class, I knew well before it was taught what the indirect object was.

4. I believe that the study of Latin is supposed to help in the study of other Romance langauges.

5. It aids logical thinking. Latin has numerous linguistic features, including masculine/feminine/neuter nouns, different cases for different uses, relatively clear distinction of different verb tenses, indicative/subjunctive, and various other distinctions. (Greek is even better, with its “middle” voice in addition to passive and active). This forces you to use your brain.

In brevi, ego linguam Latinam corde toto amo. Eheu, Latina non saepe amatur. O Tempora, O Mores!

Music, NaNo, random, school, writing

Late at Night Randomness

I have something of a love/hate relationship with math. If I didn’t have math, I could have called a friend or taken a walk or something. Of course, I could have done those things anyways if I had done my math earlier instead of reading on the computer, but I digress. 

Anyways, I downloaded some music today. 

#1: Remember that Ossian album I mentioned that was so cheap from eMusic? Well, I got that. It’s called Light on a Distant Shore. I haven’t listened to it yet.

#2: 2 more songs by the same band. (You know, I love eMusic, but it doesn’t have all the Ossian I want! iTunes has more. I really want the album Seal Song… oh well, I guess I just have to wait until I have money to burn.)

#3: A set of tunes by Capercaillie, The Weasel, from their album Sidewaulk. I don’t think I can wholly endorse them as I think they have some iffy songs, but I’m pretty sure this early album is good. This set has one of my favorite tunes, which can be found here and in a more common key, here (this is the transposition used by Lunasa on their fantastic track Morning Nightcap on their equally fantastic album The Merry Sisters of Fate). 

#4: A track by Alasdair Fraser, an excellent Scottish fiddler, called Stratherrick from his album Dawn Dance, which is supposed to be excellent.

#5: Happy Jigs, an exhilarating set by the well-known modern Celtic band Flook from the album Flatfish. I encourage you to check them out – they’re definitely different! 

I recommend this link if you want to look up almost any Celtic song from most Celtic artists: Celtic Lyrics Corner. If you’re not sure about a song in English or want to find out what that Gaelic song’s all about, this will probably have it. It has a pretty good-sized library of lyrics from artists from Clannad to Old Blind Dogs to the Bothy Band. Most of them are translated if they’re not in English. Also, if they don’t have the particular artist you’re looking for, check for the song under the song titles section; many songs have been recorded more than once and it’s likely enough that it will be there from a different musician.

I’ve got my NaNo novel a little more resolved. I found out that the name Glædwine, which I chose for the leading man, actually does have a modern equivalent, and it’s not Gledwine – Gladwin. I think I will spell it Gledwin though, since I like that better and I think it’s justifiable as after a perusal of the Behind the Name website I find that “æ” is contracted to “e” anyways as often as not. My two main female characters are still Elfleda and Aldith. 
The current plotline:

Lacrimae Rerum (current tentative title)

Gledwin, a child of an English nobleman, wanders away into a strange land where he is raised by a childless noblewoman.

He meets the lady Aldith, the lady Elfleda, the lord Eldred, and many others.
When he is a young man, he goes to battle.
That’s about all I’ve got so far…

That’s what’s on my NaNo profile, which is under the same name – Mirfain. 
The title is a famous phrase from Virgil’s Aeneid, and there will be a good a reason for it. Literally translated it means “the tears of things”; it is notoriously impossible to translate the entire line, however. 

Books, C. S. Lewis, fairy tales, GKC, philosophy

A Review of Coraline

Recently I read Coraline by Neil Gaiman. I recommend it. I read it all in one night… yes, at night.

I was very pleased with it. First of all, there was a quote from G. K. Chesterton in the front. That’s always a good sign. I think it might actually be slightly misquoted, but I’m not certain about that. Actually, I believe can see the influence of G. K. Chesterton on this book. But I’ll talk about that later.

It is a quick read, a bit shorter than the Narnia books, I think, and is filled with action. One sign of a good writer is that he can say a great deal in a relatively short amount of space, which Neil Gaiman has succeeded in doing. He has a pretty good style, I think; he doesn’t ramble, and he does not rely on the unfortunate technique (which I first heard explained by C. S. Lewis) that constantly uses words such as “frightening”, “dreadful”, “strange”, etc. instead of showing that these things are frightening or dreadful or strange. That is, they tell you something is frightening instead of showing you how frightening something is. In short, his descriptions are good!

Warning: the following contains spoilers-I recommend reading it only after you’ve finished Coraline

Two themes in this book intrigued me. The first was the theme of finding joy in everyday things. This is clearly Chestertonian. I don’t know whether this was intended or not, but it seemed pretty clear to me. When the book begins, Coraline is bored stiff, but by the end she’s happy just to be in the real world again with her parents and her neighbors. I suggest reading the introduction to The Everlasting Man by G. K. Chesterton for a more lucid explanation of what I mean than I can give.

The second theme I will sum up in one quote:

“The other mother could not create. She could only transform, and twist, and change.”

This is remarkable. I have a feeling that he drew it from Tolkien, actually (his childhood and teenage reading, according to Wikipedia, included Chesterton, Lewis, and Tolkien as well as many other authors) but Tolkien got it from a higher source, which some think is Boethius (whose feast day was yesterday! Boethius is a saint under the name of Saint Severinus Boethius!). Well, yes, but I don’t think Boethius made up the concept.
In fact, as far as I know, St. Augustine was the first to state this. The idea is that God created all things, and all God created was good; therefore evil is not a thing in itself, but a twisting of a good thing, and the devil cannot create anything but only deform it. (Think C. S. Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet-the language that is spoken on Malacandra has no word for “evil” and Ransom has to use their word for “bent” instead). It’s possible that this had a root in philosophy before Augustine, which I am not learned enough to know, but this is the earliest place I know of.

Well, that’s all the profound stuff I can remember. The children’s separation from their souls may seem to be an issue to Christians, but if you’ve read fairy tales, then you probably know that the device of having a detachable “soul”, “heart” etc isn’t very uncommon. I consider this a pure fairy tale trick and don’t have a problem with it. Now, I’m fairly strict about what I’ll read and not read. I don’t read Harry Potter or Twilight or anything else like that, so I would like to think that if Coraline were problematic I would have noticed it.

I enjoyed the parts where Coraline refused to eat “recipes”. It sounded familiar… younger siblings, anyone? She seemed like a very real little girl, except that surely she would have been more frightened than she was in parts of the book? Well, I suppose that if she had been too petrified that the story wouldn’t have worked out. Possibly I’m just transposing my own cowardice to others.

I thought that the gradual revelation of the other mother was very well done. The first time Coraline sees her, she looks like her real mother, except “her skin was as white as paper”, her fingernails were too long, and, of course, the buttons. Later, it mentions that her teeth were a tiny bit too long. Near the end, it says her teeth were as sharp as knives. This struck me as being good storytelling.

Final thoughts: I think that if I can get my sister Elvenmaiden to read this book, I might try scratching at the window and see what she does.


In all, I can recommend Coraline, with the caveat that this is NOT for young readers. This is one of the creepiest fairy tales I have ever read. (It certainly is a fairy tale.) This is a book for middle schoolers at the youngest. What a fascinating book, though. Just one thing… you might not want to read it at night. I did, and it didn’t bother me too much, but you’ll just have to decide on your own. This is a VERY creepy book, but a very good one.

Blog, Books, C. S. Lewis, fairy tales, random

New theme!

🙂 I designed the banner myself.

Today I curled my hair. I might have to upload pictures or something… it looks really cool, if I do say so myself. I’ve never curled my hair successfully that I can remember until now.

So, I’m rereading C. S. Lewis’ book Till We Have Faces. I first read it almost 18 months ago-it feels like a very long time. If any of you would like to read it, I would recommend waiting till you’re at least 15, but it’s pretty amazing. It’s totally different from his other books.

I love C. S. Lewis and have read nearly all his books, including most of his works of literary criticism. I actually own copies of English Literature in the Sixteenth Century and The Discarded Image (both of which are excellent, by the way, if you’re interested in literature-especially poetry). I think his only published works I haven’t read are some of his Collected Letters, An Experiment in Criticism, and some of his essays. I like the “theologian Lewis”, the “fantasy Lewis”, the “Narnian Lewis”, the “literary Lewis”, and the Surprised by Joy Lewis, but this is an entirely different book. I don’t know that if I picked it up and read it that I would have guessed it was by Lewis. However, it’s a very deep, fascinating book.

Music, school

Oh Life…

…don’t go too fast, or I’ll get left behind!

This week I participated in my first *gasp* study group! Not a terribly exciting experience, but a novel one. I’ve taken classes since seventh grade and I’ve never done a study group. Unless you count an extra play practice I got together one year. It was to work on an essay. I. Hate. Essays. 
Hey, check this out!
That’s what I call real music! Lunasa is one of my #1 favorite bands, and this set (consisting of three tunes-Wedding Reel, Good Morning to Your Nightcap, and the Malbay Shuffle) is superb. 
Check out Kevin Crawford on whistle: he’s amazing (the whistling starts in earnest at 1:29). Oh, and the fiddler has red hair. There’s something so right about an Irish fiddler with red hair…
language, names, NaNo, school


I just found out today that my nanotechnology essay is due not this Thursday, but NEXT Thursday. Yes!

I have decided to go with the Anglo-Saxon names for my NaNo novel. There’s a possibility I’ll discard the second lady, but right now it’s still Elfleda, Aldith, and Gledwine.

Elfleda is such a lovely name. Something interesting, a lot of Old English names do have the element “ælf” (meaning “elf”) in them, but this name actually doesn’t. It was contracted into “Elfleda” but it originally was composed of the two elements æðel “noble” and flæd “beauty”. By the way, I find all this name information off the Behind the Name website, which I rather enjoy browsing around.