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Bits, pieces and a picture of my house

I'm working entirely from home this week, as it's 'reading week' at Warwick (although I still had to teach first years on Monday, because they don't get one). In the garden outside my window, lots of little birds are hopping around, rummaging for seeds and grubs, and chirruping as they do so. It's rather nice to have them keeping me company as I continue to edit chapter 3.

On this topic, I'm going to try out LJ's new 'insert picture' function, and see if it will let me put in a picture of my flat, so you can all see the garden I'm talking about. Here goes:

Hmm, it's worked, but the image is smaller than I'd like. So, experiment conducted, but I think I'll use methods which allow me more control over my pictures in future. Anyway, the front part of the ground floor of the building in the photograph is my flat, so all the windows you can see at that level are mine. I am working just inside the window in the bottom right-hand corner, and the birds are jumping around in the large bush-type thing in front of it (although that is now, of course, leafless). Please pause to admire my rose (pink) and clematis (lilac).

Hell, let's have a picture of my bridge while we're at it. I've been meaning to post this for a while:

This crosses the railway to approach my house, and although it was built by the Council, it is, self-evidently, my personal property. I cross it every single time I leave the house, and my friends never cross it for any reason other than to get to my house. Ergo, mine. It is my equivalent of the large gates and tree-lined avenue which told visitors they were entering into the territory of a stately home. On the bridge, you can see the small, retreating forms of edling, johnnydefective and angeoverhere.

Last night was the last episode of Six Feet Under, but I haven't watched it yet, 'cos I was out in the pub, so DON'T TELL ME WHAT HAPPENS. I'm looking forward to seeing it, and will be all sad that it is over, of course. But I am broadly in agreement that it was time to draw 6'U to a close, as I didn't think season 5 lived up to all the programme had once been. It had become a little soap-operaesque, I felt, with the old flair for stark, yet surreal, realism gradually ebbing away. And I miss the way that the deaths they dealt with each week echoed and reverberated with the family's own issues, in a manner which felt unforced and genuinely coincidental, and yet also strangely unsettling and spooky. "Is there any meaning?", the programme used to demand, week after week. And now the meaning is all too obviously centred around maintaining viewing figures by giving us regularly metered-out shocks.

Anyway, I will be thoroughly consoled for all this by Rome, which starts tonight. This post by swisstone, and the late-night browsing which it inspired on the soi-disant 'Rome revealed' section of the HBO site has got me quite excited about the sets. They're certainly not entirely historically accurate, as swisstone points out, but the ways in which they aren't (or nearly are) are incredibly interesting. I'm particularly fascinated by the evident interest in evoking the feel of a multi-ethnic city, which I've noticed cropping up before in things like Cleopatra (1999) and Gladiator. The Classical past is no longer the privileged reserve of the educated white European, but is becoming home to a much more varied cross-section of humanity, and that can only be a Good Thing.

Oh, and all you legions of people who don't have exler_rss on your friends list - you do know that it's a regular Dilbert feed, don't you? There are occasional short articles in Russian as well, actually, but they are easily ignored for the much higher proportion of daily Dilbert cartoons which you get. Just spreading the love, there.

Time for more of chapter 3, I do believe...


( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 2nd, 2005 12:03 pm (UTC)
Argh, I've missed the entire last season of Six Feet Under??
Nov. 2nd, 2005 12:07 pm (UTC)
Oh E4 you have, but I presume it will come to Channel 4 in time. Though, as I say, it ain't t'same as it used ter be. I actually missed about 5 episodes in the middle of it due to moving from Belfast and taking a while to get set up here with Sky, but I wasn't particularly devastated about it, and fairly easily picked it up again once I was reconnected.
Nov. 2nd, 2005 12:59 pm (UTC)
They're certainly not entirely historically accurate, as swisstone points out, the ways in which they aren't (or nearly are) are incredibly interesting

That's pretty much what I was trying to say - this is not an accurate reconstruction of first century Rome, but it is by no means without thought either.
Nov. 2nd, 2005 01:11 pm (UTC)
Indeed. I think we are going to have a lot of fun chewing and musing over this series as it unfolds.

I got quite wrapped up last night in the pictures of some of the graffiti on the walls (which I think you'd mentioned to me previously, but I hadn't actually seen before). It's been 'transliterated' from a typical Roman cursive script to something more like the lettering used in inscriptions, so that the individual letters are legible to modern viewers: but of course it's also still in Latin. Which means that most people will be able recognise it as writing and get a sense of graffitied names, etc., and yet they won't be able to understand the exact meaning, so that it will retain a sense of the alien and the exotic.

My first instinct was to get all huffy about the authenticity... but on second thoughts, I realised that the production team had probably struck just the right balance there for the 'feel' they are trying to create.
Nov. 2nd, 2005 01:16 pm (UTC)
There was a quite interesting interview with Rome's producer on Radio4 this morning, when he was talking about comparing the image of Rome as a gleaming white marble city to something that looked more like modern Mumbai or Bangkok; riotously colouful, dirty and crowded.
Nov. 2nd, 2005 01:42 pm (UTC)
Ah, pity I missed that, as it sounds very interesting. Actually, even in ancient literature, there were very much two Romes existing in parallel. Compare, for example, the following:

"And near this campus is still another campus, with colonnades round about it in very great numbers, and sacred precincts, and three theatres, and an amphitheatre, and very costly temples, in close succession to one another... If, on passing to the old Forum, you saw one forum after another ranged along the old one, and basilicas, and temples, and saw also the Capitolium and the works of art there and those of the Palatium and Livia's Promenade, you would easily become oblivious to everything else outside. Such is Rome." (Strabo, Geography 5.3.8),

"In the lower forum, the good and wealthy take a stroll; in the middle forum, near the Canal, they are mere show-offs. Above the Lacus Curtius are the bold and malicious gossips who brazenly insult others for no reason and lay themselves open to justifiable criticism. Below the Old Shops are the usurers who lend and borrow at interest, while at the back of the Temple of Castor there are men I wouldn’t be too ready to trust. In the Vicus Tuscus, men offer themselves for sale, to be taken however you want." (Plautus, Curculio, 476-83).

So the Romans themselves could choose to see a gleaming marble city if they wanted to, or a bustling, corrupt one if not, and modern film-makers can readily draw upon whichever suits their purposes. Which Rome they choose to emphasise speaks volumes about their interests and their intended audience.
Nov. 2nd, 2005 02:03 pm (UTC)
Ah, an enjoyable post and comments to distract me from my horrid marking.

while at the back of the Temple of Castor there are men I wouldn’t be too ready to trust

Of course he could be talking Pollux.

The devil made me do it.
Nov. 2nd, 2005 03:31 pm (UTC)
Factoring in the demonic influence of your marking, we can forgive you, I think.
Nov. 2nd, 2005 02:26 pm (UTC)
Think of film representations of New York...
Nov. 2nd, 2005 03:36 pm (UTC)
True. And I guess New York's double life is more literally written into its topography - Manhattan vs. the Bronx.

(Rome had rich and poor areas too, of course, but they were never quite so sharply divided because of the institution of patronage. It brought rich and poor together on a daily basis, and tended to mean that the houses of dependent clients clustered around the houses of their rich patrons.)
Nov. 2nd, 2005 03:01 pm (UTC)
I'm trying to think of how this compares to London, where I suspect the portrayal was much more one-sided. As I recall, Johnson translated Juvenal's third satire, rededicated it to London and most portrayals seem to have followed the same path, even while architects like Soane were trying to recreate the glories of Rome in London's architecture.
Nov. 2nd, 2005 03:44 pm (UTC)
Yes - there must be glorifying accounts of London, and I'm sure there are glorifying images of it. But perhaps the British taste for pessimism and self-deprecation has always encouraged us to see the squalid, rotten London first.
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 2nd, 2005 01:44 pm (UTC)
Argh, what a pain! I'm sure it will be repeated though - it's being promoted as a real flagship series, so you'll certainly get your chance.
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 2nd, 2005 03:30 pm (UTC)
Ah, excellent. And handy to know in case I miss it at any point myself.
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 2nd, 2005 03:26 pm (UTC)
Since, as I've established above, it's MYYYYY bridge, that means you owe a toll.

Which is to find your photos and post them, please.
Nov. 2nd, 2005 02:54 pm (UTC)
Hang on a minute- does this mean I should feel obliged to pop in for a cuppa every time I cross the bridge?
Nov. 2nd, 2005 03:29 pm (UTC)
A quick bow in the direction of my house as you pass will do.
Nov. 2nd, 2005 04:21 pm (UTC)
Roight y'are, m'lady. Oi'll be off tending the marrows...
*doffs cap*
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

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