Saturday, May 26, 2018

Umbrian Language: Iguvine Tablets


See the little towns... Gubbio
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Leah: What a climb. But we made it. In here.
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Gubbio Civical Museum:
Tablets III to VII
Aria: We came here to see these?
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Leah: Discovered by a farmer in a field in 1444.
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Aria: What’s the writing mean?
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Leah: Part Umbrian, written before Christ, a dead language now, and part in Latin.
Translate that!
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Aria: Another dead one.
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Leah: But these are linguistic and cultural gems. The largest complete Umbrian text in existence. And all about sacrificial customs carried out in Gubbio here, two thousand years ago.
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Aria: Sacrifices? Who did they kill?
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Leah: Not people, but oxen, sheep, goats, pigs, puppies. To protect the mountain, to protect the city. All carried out by a religious brotherhood according to strict protocols. Bird flights determine auspicious timing, some animals are sacrificed outside the city gates, some inside, how the officiator is to be dressed, and how to conduct the ceremony.
________
Voice-over
A community which protects itself through sacrificial rites is not so far back in the past. David Wootton writes in “The Invention of Science” that in the 1600s, even educated Englishmen, who might own as many as a dozen books, believed in the power of witches, werewolves, magicians, unicorns, alchemy, astrology and a flat earth. A few still do. Fascinating to see how we thought before reason and science helped us make better sense of the world.
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Monday, May 21, 2018

Rome's MAXXI

Museo nazionale delle
arti del XXI secolo

On looking at Zaha Hadid’s building from the outside…
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Zena: What’s nice about concrete is that it looks unfinished. She said that.
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Eva: She said that?
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Zena: In Italy, that fits. Tiles that develop a patina. Rome, the eternal city. Construction going on among the ruins. Perhaps that was one of Zaha’s messages here.
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Eva: But the tree?
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Zena: Make of it what you will.
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Eva: Who invented concrete?
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Zena: Like everything else, we Romans.
_____________
Voice-over
The Romans invented concrete but what Zaha Hadid could do with concrete surprises even Italians.
And the museum has curated three great architectural exhibitions. Tel Aviv: The White City, Home Beirut: Sounding the Neighbors, and Bruno Zevi’s commentaries on Italian architects 1944 to 2000. A seamless passage from building to exhibitions.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Chopping rags for cotton paper


At the paper-making museum…
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Water power...
Claudia: The best paper is made of 100% cotton. Rags are collected and put in vats. Water turns the wheel and the camshaft raises the hammers. Then the hammers drop beating the rags to pulp.
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Ariana: The noise.
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Claudia: Yes. The hammers have nails in their heads. It helps chop the rags. Amazing what they did with a wooden machine driven by water.
__________
Voice-over
Water turned the wheel. Water helped make pulp. Later, water was turned to steam to dry the paper.
Older methods of paper-making like producing archive-quality cotton-based paper contrast with ecologically sympathetic hydro-electrically mass-produced paper. Fabriano: a UNESCO Creative City.
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Saturday, May 12, 2018

The silence of sign language


Silent speech…
Watching is istening...
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Carlo: And how was the Diocletian Termini?
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Antonio: Amazing, of course. The structure, the sculptures, yes. But most impressive was a sign language workshop.
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Carlo: Inside?
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Antonio: Upstairs. 25 deaf people. All young. A leader was commenting on their individual performances performed on video explaining the exhibits.
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Carlo: In sign language?
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Antonio: All in sign language. The room was so quiet.
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Carlo: Just the fluttering of the hands?
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Antonio: Very occasionally, a voice, a laugh, a cough.
_______________
Voice-over
As we age, we appreciate subdued conversations. And as deafness descends, sign language may be an optional voice.
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