SEEN: The Founder

The Founder (film) – WikipediaThe Founder (Rotten Tomatoes)—The Founder (2016) (IMDB)

Just seen. Biopic about Ray Kroc and Richard and Maurice McDonald.

Good, well crafted film, I thought. Amazing and subtle performance by Michael Keaton. Susceptible to the cliches and annoyances in plotting of a biopic, including the mandatory flashback setpieces (though the setpiece here was cute). But interestingly amoral, and giving both sides their hearing—and linking both sides to their broader cultural resonances, of small-town decency vs self-made man capitalism.

One or two clueless reviews lamented the fact that we the audience had to join the dots, and work out that Kroc was the villain. Those reviewers are idiots who do not deserve to breathe. The ambivalence of the film towards Kroc is the point. Yes, he’s a nasty piece of work. Yes, he shafted the McDonalds out of their royalties.

But—and I know that by saying this, I really have made my peace with the Market, God and Marx forgive me: I don’t think he was ultimately in the wrong. That is how business really is supposed to be.

Conrad: Heart of Darkness

After SEEN: Apocalypse Now Redux, it’s been made clear to me, by inter alia Scott Welch and Michael Masiello, that I need to go back and read Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

I’m cool to do that; he’s a master stylist, and style is what makes me able to read prose.

Although I have to admit, the main argument for me to read it came from my wife’s friend Jill. “It’s only 100 pp.”

What’s your favourite Christmas carol? Why?

I got a related question in my feed a few weeks back. I passed, but I kept thinking I should answer.

Yesterday, Tamar and I had stopped off on the way to a work Xmas BBQ, for her to pick up cheese and for me to pick up caffeine. The shopping centre blasts out Christmas songs, which is… regrettable. Especially because it’s on the open street.

And suddenly, this strange Anglo-Latin twang came across from the speakers:

Gowdaytay gowdaytay kristoos est nahtus, day mareeeeah virgin-ay gowdaytay

It was horrid. I was going to banter at the café “I like Latin, and that ain’t Latin”, but the staff already knew to ignore my bizarre remarks, so I didn’t bother.

But I was intrigued, so I went on to YouTube.

What I’d heard was the Steeleye Dan (EDIT: Steeleye Span) version of Gaudete. Rocking it like it’s 1582.

And herewith, the first version I found after Steeleye Dan’s, that I actually liked:

The jaunty syncopation, the modality (pity about that musica ficta leading note), the stern verse: it is pretty awesome. I was playing different recordings from YouTube all the way to the BBQ.

Whatever you do, don’t listen to the Erasure remix; jaunty syncopation tends not to work too well with an unimaginative drum machine:

Btw, I’m a Bah Humbug kinda guy, but to all of you here, whether Jesus of Nazareth was to you God or a Prophet or a Deceiver or a Crazy Hippy: my Season’s Greetings to you. May you find some joy over the next few weeks—and hold on to it.

What word in ancient Greek would be used to describe scientific discoveries like when the laws of physics were first worked out?

Ancient Greek for scientific discovery, eh?

Well, don’t go to Google Translate, man. That’s Modern Greek.

Start here instead: English-Greek Dictionary

“Discovery” gives us heuresis, aneuresis; mēnysis (disclosure), heurēma and exeurēma (invention, thing discovered).

Mēnysis is “messaging”, so it’s not what you’re after. The others are all derived from the verb heuriskō “I find” (as in Eureka). Of the two suffixes, –ma is a thing discovered, while –sis also allows the meaning of the action of discovery.

The prepositional prefixes in Greek are often not very important; aneuresis is “up-finding”, which can have a more intense connotation of bringing something to light, not just finding it. Similarly exeurēma “out-find” is about bringing something out as a discovery.

I think heuresis is your safest bet, but aneuresis is pretty close.

What is the ancient Greek word for “love for food”?

Philositos “fond of food, fond of eating” occurs in Plato’s Republic 475c. (It’s ambiguous with “fond of wheat”, which is how it is used in Xenophon.) The related noun philositia “fondness of food” turns up at least in Gregory of Nazianzen.

Is there an Ancient Greek equivalent to the Latin phrase “excelsior?”

Ioannis Stratakis is right, but the cultural equivalent that I can think of is Homer’s αἰὲν ἀριστεύειν καὶ ὑπείροχον ἔμμεναι ἄλλων (Iliad 6.208): “always to excel, and to be superior to others”.

If somebody with no Arpitan heritage wanted to learn the Arpitan language, which dialect of Arpitan would you recommend that they learn?

All other things being equal, I’d be heading for a dialect that has had significant literary production (so you can find things to read in Arpitan), and a dialect that still survives to at least some extent (so you can at least theoretically find someone to talk to in it).

I’m biased, as my bio shows, towards the Val d’Aosta. But honestly, I don’t know another region that will satisfy both. Franco-Provençal has been dead in French Switzerland for two centuries, and is not doing that much better across the border in France. Its status in the Val d’Aosta is kind of artificial, and certainly much confused with the status of French; but it is still much healthier there than anywhere else.

If I learned modern Greek, would I be able to read the New Testament in its original language?

Like the others said: no. Certainly not the more educated writing, like Paul or Luke. You’d know what was going on, more or less, but you would be liable to be confused, by the syntax or by the false friends.

I’ve just gone through an exercise in Nick Nicholas’ answer to How much of a text by Aristotle or Procopius would speakers of modern Greek get?, of trying to render Aristotle and Procopius with a knowledge of Modern Greek alone. (Native Modern Greek, and I’m going to have to assume you pick up a comparable level of learnèd vocabulary.) Let me do the same with Mark and Paul.

Archaic words that might not be in your list as a Modern Greek learner, in italics. I’m outright omitting words a Modern Greek speaker would not guess. False friends followed by (!)

Mark 2:1–5

1Καὶ εἰσελθὼν πάλιν εἰς Καφαρναοὺμ δι’ ἡμερῶν ἠκούσθη ὅτι ἐν οἴκῳ ἐστίν. 2καὶ συνήχθησαν πολλοὶ ὥστε μηκέτι χωρεῖν μηδὲ τὰ πρὸς τὴν θύραν, καὶ ἐλάλει αὐτοῖς τὸν λόγον. 3καὶ ἔρχονται φέροντες πρὸς αὐτὸν παραλυτικὸν αἰρόμενον ὑπὸ τεσσάρων. 4καὶ μὴ δυνάμενοι προσενέγκαι αὐτῷ διὰ τὸν ὄχλον ἀπεστέγασαν τὴν στέγην ὅπου ἦν, καὶ ἐξορύξαντες χαλῶσι τὸν κράβαττον ὅπου ὁ παραλυτικὸς κατέκειτο. 5καὶ ἰδὼν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τὴν πίστιν αὐτῶν λέγει τῷ παραλυτικῷ, Τέκνον, ἀφίενταί σου αἱ ἁμαρτίαι

And entering again into Kapharnaum through days, it was heard that he was in a house. And many gathered, so that even the things towards the gate would no longer fit, and he was speaking the word to them. And they come bringing him a paralytic, being lifted by four. And unable to … him because of the mob, they de-roofed the roof where he was, and digging out they destroy (!) the bed where the paralytic was lying down. And seeing their faith Jesus says to the paralytic, Child, your sins are let off.

Romans 2:1–5

1Διὸ ἀναπολόγητος εἶ, ὦ ἄνθρωπε πᾶς ὁ κρίνων: ἐν ᾧ γὰρ κρίνεις τὸν ἕτερον, σεαυτὸν κατακρίνεις, τὰ γὰρ αὐτὰ πράσσεις ὁ κρίνων. 2οἴδαμεν δὲ ὅτι τὸ κρίμα τοῦ θεοῦ ἐστιν κατὰ ἀλήθειαν ἐπὶ τοὺς τὰ τοιαῦτα πράσσοντας. 3λογίζῃ δὲ τοῦτο, ὦ ἄνθρωπε ὁ κρίνων τοὺς τὰ τοιαῦτα πράσσοντας καὶ ποιῶν αὐτά, ὅτι σὺ ἐκφεύξῃ τὸ κρίμα τοῦ θεοῦ; 4ἢ τοῦ πλούτου τῆς χρηστότητος αὐτοῦ καὶ τῆς ἀνοχῆς καὶ τῆς μακροθυμίας καταφρονεῖς, ἀγνοῶν ὅτι τὸ χρηστὸν τοῦ θεοῦ εἰς μετάνοιάν σε ἄγει; 5κατὰ δὲ τὴν σκληρότητά σου καὶ ἀμετανόητον καρδίαν θησαυρίζεις σεαυτῷ ὀργὴν ἐν ἡμέρᾳ ὀργῆς καὶ ἀποκαλύψεως δικαιοκρισίας τοῦ θεοῦ,

For which you are unapologetic (!), O every human who is judging? For in what you judge the other, you condemn yourself, for you do those things, you who judge. But we … that the shame (!) of God is in truth on those who do such things. He should consider (!) this, O human judging those who do such things and do them, that you will avoid the shame (!) of God? Or do you have contempt for the richness of his usefulness (!) and his tolerance and patience, being ignorant of the fact that God’s useful thing (!) leads you to repentance? But according to you harshness and unrepentant heart, you store up treasures for yourself of rage in the day of rage and of the revelation of the just judgement of God.

The basics are there, sure (though a Modern Greek as Foreign Language learner would miss the italicised stuff). But I don’t think that counts as reading Koine, and I’m assuming less discomfort with Koine grammar than a MGFL learner would have. And those exclamation points? There’s some basic misunderstandings lurking there: loosening down the bed, not destroying it; God’s judgement, not shame.

How did Greek language survive despite centuries of foreign domination?

For all that Greek was spoken in areas of foreign domination,

  • It was the prestige and government language in the East Roman Empire—Latin never had a serious chance of displacing it.
  • It was the acknowledged and prestige language of the Rum millet under the Ottomans—Turkish never had a serious chance of displacing it, except in Cappadocia where the Greek-speakers were isolated and outnumbered.
  • It was the language of the Orthodox population in post-Crusade French/Italian held lands, and there was never a serious attempt to do away with it, even if the Franks weren’t as deferential to Greek as the Ottomans were.

Greek was never threatened. Through those centuries of foreign domination, Greek was never even marginalised.

The one place Greek was wiped out was the Middle East—Egypt, Syria, etc after the spread of Islam, Anatolia after the spread of the Turks. And even the former took a century or so after the Muslims started running Egypt.