“Speech may be sublime but there’s something in the symbols.”

“Suppose someone said: every familiar word, in a book for example, actually carries an atmosphere with it in our minds, a ‘corona’ of faintly indicated uses. —Just as if each figure in a painting were surrounded by delicate shadowy drawings of scenes, as it were in another dimension, and in them we saw the figures in different contexts. —Let’s take this assumption very seriously!”
–Wittgenstein, PI Pt.II §35

They say you can find math in nature, that it’s already there. Similarly, you can find metaphor in understanding seamlessly.

Language is a shadow–and with it come shadows.
Shadows are created by three things; light, angle, perspective.



Timeline of the plague throughout history

The other day I was reading up on the plague, and I realized that there wasn’t a comprehensive timeline on any single website. So I compiled the information that I could find and well, here’s a timeline of the plague for anyone else who’s interested.

430 BCE – 2nd year of Peloponnesian War. Thucydides wrote of a disease that is believed to be the Plague. Some scholars debate that it was smallpox. Killed one-third of the population in Athens.

1st Century – Rufus of Ephesus, a Greek anatomist, refers to an outbreak of plague in Libya, Egypt, and Syria

160 – Plague contributes to the collapse of the Han empires

165-180 – “Antonine” plague kills five million people of the Roman empire. Emperors Lucius Verus (in 169) and Marcus Aurelius (in 180) also succumb to the plague.

262 – A plague in Rome kills about 5000 people a day

540 – An outbreak of the plague occurs at Pelusium, Egypt.

541 – “Justinian plague” kills a quarter of the population in the Mediterranean region. 25 million worldwide. Lasted till about 750

Continue reading “Timeline of the plague throughout history”

Translations of ‘The Master and Margarita’; The Many Lines to Read

“Afterward, when it was frankly too late, various persons collected their data and issued descriptions of this man. As to his teeth, he had platinum crowns on the left side and gold ones on the right. He wore an expensive gray suit and foreign shoes of the same color as his suit. His gray beret was stuck jauntily over one ear and under his arm he carried a walking stick with a knob in the shape of a poodle’s head. He looked slightly over forty. Crooked sort of mouth. Clean-shaven. Dark hair. Right eye black, left eye for some reason green. Eyebrows black, but one higher than the other. In short–a foreigner.”
-From Michael Glenny’s translation of The Master and Margarita

“Afterward, when–frankly speaking–it was already too late, various official institutions filed reports describing this man. A comparison of these reports can only cause astonishment. Thus, the first says that the man was short, had gold teeth, and limped on the right foot. The second, that the man was of enormous height, had platinum crowns, and limped on the left foot. The third states laconically that the man had no special distinguishing characteristics. We must discard all these reports as quite worthless.
To begin with, the man described did not limp on either foot, and was neither short nor enormous in height, but simply tall. As for his teeth, he had platinum crowns on the left side of his mouth, and gold ones on the right. He wore an expensive gray suit and foreign shoes of the same color. His gray beret was worn at a jaunty angle over his ear, and under his arm he carried a cane with a black handle in the form of a poodle’s head. He appeared to be in his forties. His mouth was somehow twisted. He was smooth shaven. A brunet. His right eye was black; the left, for some strange reason, green. Black eyebrows, but one higher than the other. In short, a foreigner.”
-From Mirra Ginsburg’s translation of The Master and Margarita

Alright. So if it isn’t apparent, these two quotations were taken from the same portion of The Master and Margarita. Obviously there are discrepancies to be expected from different translations, especially from a language such as Russian–sometimes there is more interpretation required. But what drew my interest to this section of text in particular are not the differences in text/translation, but what those differences, to me, draw attention to in the text. In my opinion, these differences lead to two completely different texts.

Let’s begin with the similarities. Wait, no, let’s begin with who this is describing, because that is terribly important as well. Professor Woland, whose name isn’t revealed until later, is a mysterious foreigner. Presumably German. Woland is a variation on Voland, a demon from Goethe’s Faust, and for a time Woland was used as a synonym for Satan in German. The homage to Goethe’s Faust is apparent from the quotation that opens Book One.

Hold on. I was going to touch upon how the Glenny and Ginsburg translated the Faust quote differently, but then after checking my Walter Kaufmann translation, I realized that Kaufmann’s translation is incredibly different!

Okay, so here’s Glenny’s version:

“Say at last–who art thou?

“That Power I serve
Which wills forever evil
Yet does forever good.”

Here’s Ginsburg’s:

“Who art thou, then?”
“Part of that Power which eternally wills
evil and eternally works good.”

And here’s Kaufmann’s

“Enough, who are you then?”

“Part of that force which would
Do evil evermore, and yet creates the good.”

Continue reading “Translations of ‘The Master and Margarita’; The Many Lines to Read”

last night i finished reading ‘the master and margarita’ for the first time

and  i’ve immediately come up with a project for myself. which is good and bad because it involves Crime and Punishment and Faust but in the way that it seems you cannot write about one book without writing about seven.

The list of texts I’ll have to discuss so far are: Goethe’s FaustCrime and PunishmentThus Spoke ZarathustraDoctor Faustus, and The Master and Margarita.

Although due to the fact that I was initially planning on writing about Crime and Punishment and War and Peace together means that I may have to include War and Peace in this, but perhaps will have to separate the project of the two specific novels into a different project. But at the end of the day, each of these texts is aimed at accomplishing a similar task (I would prefer not to use the word goal) and that is what I hope to focus on.


I guess this is now the…third book I have decided to write?