I’ve been out in the world too long with people who associate that word with Pentonville.
I want to go back to circles where people talk about nonce-words and connect with dead scholars who wrote ‘for the nonce’.
I find a class on textual criticism of Catullus. Top poet, could do The Lot. Anguish, filth, everything in between.
I email Stephen Harrison, Professor of Latin Literature. May I come to the class, as a long-ago graduate of this establishment?
|Professor Harrison, Dr Heyworth|
But it’s not austere to try to find out what Catullus actually wrote. A continuous stream of scholars from the middle ages to today (ooh look, there’s A. E. Housman) have been wrestling with careless transcribers and opinionated editors, on the quest for a true text.
The works of Catullus survived through one incomplete manuscript, shot with mistakes (not his), now lost.
This class is wonderful. Two top geezers conduct it in stereo: Professor Harrison - I haven’t captured his exquisite gestures here but he subtly hand-jives fragments of the poems - and Dr Stephen Heyworth.
Hate and love. Catullus uses a gleaming probe. Poem 85 is two lines:
HATE LOVE knuckles. You ask me why the needle’s stuck.
I don’t know. But it’s hissing and it hurts like ****.
James Methven from Precious Asses (Seren, £5):
Hate. Love. And you have to ask me why.
I don’t know. I feel it burning up my spine.
There’s your answer.
|Dr Heyworth, Tristan|
These are versions. I don’t believe in translation. I don’t even believe in synonym. That’s tough.
Today, Tristan Franklinos contributes a scholarly canter through the variants in 69.
Something cataclysmic has happened since I was last in these parts: Sir Tim Berners-Lee.
Would Catullus have written this phrase? Word search. Click. It’s there. Hang on a second - Plautus wrote it too.
It feels like cheating.
And silently, throughout the class, my BlackBerry hoards a trickle of messages from Fetlife.com, a discussion website via which I contact my sitters for a different blog:
‘Hitchin Bitches’ was started in London UK Scene
'Besoin d’aide pour un jeu érotique et fétichiste’ was started in BDSM France
'Kamasu knot: is it Somerville bowline?' was started in Riggers and Rope Sluts
Please, Gaius Valerius Catullus, send me a message via Fetlife.com.
When I arrived at university as a neurotic, ineducable teenager my motto was from Richard II: ‘I wasted time and now doth time waste me.’ In my adult years it’s ‘Otium Catulle’ from a section of 51 which he may or may not have written. And what is otium? ‘Time on your hands/freedom/leisure/idling/slacking/messing around/not having to fight a war (and is that a good or maybe a bad thing?), Catullus… It’s bad for you… Destructive…
|I got Argos to make the necklace. They won't use so many|
letters any more
Catullus shows us all the colours. This class exposes living tissue.