Deconstructing The Raven


thOne hundred and seventy years ago today, a moody writer published an iconic work. That writer was Edgar Allan Poe and the famous bit he crafted was The Raven. What I like about Edgar Allan Poe is his use of symbolism and metaphor. If you’ve been to my blog before, you know I just love that stuff.

It’s interesting to note that Poe was pretty much rejected by the literary circles of his time. Even critics who object to his subject matter admit he was a master of wordcraft. As a literary critic himself, he explained of his writing something he called the “unity of effect”, meaning every element of a story should help create a single emotional impact. Poe once explained the melancholy mood he imbued in The Raven. He designed it to “invariably excite the sensitive soul to tears.” It’s curious just how he did that. 

First off, he used the saddest subject in the world — the thdeath of a love one. And who might be deeply affected by this death? A lover whose heart was broken by the loss. Every description he uses conveys this dark and sad lost love. For example, there are a lot of references to endings — midnight, December, and dying embers all refer to something coming to an end — one day to the next, the end of a year, the extinguishing fire. In one stanza he says a “…sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain…” Aside from the fact purple is a color of mourning, he intends for us to know the rustling curtains share the misery of the mourner. In other words, the sadness is so great, even the non-living things around him feel it. This is also conveyed in the storm howling outside.

An even more curious thing about his writing is the odd associations he makes. For example he once explained how he felt the “o” sound in nevermore was an extremely sad sound. So with exciting souls to tears as his goal, he repeated that “o” sound at the end of each stanza to drive home the sadness. Even nothing more and Lenore share that “o”.

On the creepier side of things, he put a single word into the mouth of a creature who doesn’t know the meaning of it. Quote the raven, “Nevermore”.  Creepy. But then he adds this touch– he puts the raven on top of the bust of Pallus — a goddess associated with wisdom.  The instant implication: that the repeated nevermore was actually spoken from wisdom. So all the while we read this poem and assume the raven knows something. In the end we discover the raven was just a mimicking bird.

It wasn’t until 1845 when The Raven was published that Edgar Allan Poe became a household name. In addition to writing some dark and macabre things, he championed the cause of higher wages for writers and pushed for an international copyright law. Way to go, Poe!

What a marvelous voice James Earl Jones has. I went to youtube to find someone reading The Raven to post here. (I was hoping to find Tom Hiddleston. I love that man’s voice.) I listened to Vincent Price, Christopher Walken, and Christopher Lee. All creepy in their own right. The Raven narrated in those iconic voices adds a whole other layer to Poe.

More~
This version of The Raven is generally accepted as the final version authorized by the author. And here’s a surprising number of variations to compare it with.

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phraseologyPhraseology
I often wonder where certain words and sayings come from. For the next few weeks this word collector will be examining some familiar phrases to get at their heart.
I think you’ll be surprised.

The phrase for today is ~A little bird told me

We recognize this phrase today as meaning I was told by a secret source. Shakespeare and various writers through the centuries have referenced birds as messengers. The origin is most likely Biblical. In Ecclesiastes 10-20 of the King James Bible, there’s a passage that says, Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.

I don’t know…Carrier pigeons deliver messages too.

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RB4U purpleToday is Author Sandra K. Marshall’s blog day.
http://romancebooks4us.blogspot.com/

Romance Books ‘4’ Us ~ Our February contest is coming up. http://www.romancebooks4us.com


~❋~

If you enjoy my daily musings, subscribe to get them sent to your inbox, or if your inbox is as packed as mine is, check out the Networked Blogs tab on the right and get all the blogs you follow in one daily notice. A new year full of curious and compelling posts awaits!

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~❋~
~Coming Soon~

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Blow…


Every once in a while I have breathing issues. That case of pneumonia early last year didn’t do my asthma any favors. My recent new year health scare reminded me I need to work on my lungs.  My daughter was recently in Peru and she brought back two native wind instruments for me – a wooden flute and a set of panpipes.  The finger holes on the flute give me trouble, but I’m doing ok on the panpipes. I love Andean pipe music so I play along with my various CDs.

thWind instruments are old. Millennia ago someone picked up a reed, animal horn, or a hollow bone and blew through it. With a few adjustments that simple tube concept became all the wind instruments created since. Some wind instruments disappeared over time. Others spread around the world. Some stayed relatively simple while others became elaborate things. All of them make unique sounds. Early on, musicians figured out different sounds could be made by adding holes. Someone noticed even more sounds could be made by adding reed slivers to narrow the mouthpiece, a gourd to amplify the sound, or a membrane to vibrate against the breath.

Did you ever try to make music with tissue over a comb?

I’m a drummer. My main musical talent is working out drumbeats and creating rhythm on synthetic and hide drums.  Everyone knows drums are percussion instruments, but few realize they are also considered membranophones. Not a glamorous-sounding name is it? A membranophone is any musical instrument that produces sound with a vibrating stretched membrane. On a drum that would be the drum head. Membranophones come in more forms besides the drum. It also includes wind instruments like onion flutes, eunuch flutes (yes you read that right) and mirlitons (not the chayote). A mirliton is a kazoo. Yes, a kazoo was once a serious instrument. And today is…

national-kazoo-day-logo

 


:)

More~

http://mentalfloss.com/article/29859/great-moments-kazoo-history

http://www.hmtrad.com/catalog/articles/kazoo.html

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phraseologyPhraseology
I often wonder where certain words and sayings come from. For the next few weeks this word collector will be examining some familiar phrases to get at their heart.
I think you’ll be surprised.

The phrase for today is ~ Face the music.

Everyone knows this phrase has to do with accepting the unpleasant results of one’s actions, but opinions are divided on just where this phrase comes from. One opinion has to do with actors being on stage and facing the orchestra pit. That sounds pretty weak to me. If this were so, how does the current meaning fit? The other opinion is this phrase refers to a military reprimand or court martial . A drum head would be used as an improvised writing table for a court martial or formal reprimand held in the field You’d face the drum to hear your sentence, and the slang meaning becomes obvious. Makes sense to me.

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RB4U purpleToday our guest is Author Jane Leopold Quinn
http://romancebooks4us.blogspot.com/

Romance Books ‘4’ Us ~ Our February contest is coming up. http://www.romancebooks4us.com

~❋~

If you enjoy my daily musings, subscribe to get them sent to your inbox, or if your inbox is as packed as mine is, check out the Networked Blogs tab on the right and get all the blogs you follow in one daily notice. A new year full of curious and compelling posts awaits!

all7books-smallSample my scorching love stories for free!


~❋~

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Here be Dragons


sextantI was one of those kids who always saw the pictures hidden in things –things like animals in clouds, faces in wood, and larger geometric patterns within patterns that repeated.

I recall my 3rd grade epiphany when I happened to look at the huge canvas map of the world hanging on the classroom wall. I saw that the western edge of North and South America fit exactly into the eastern edge of Africa. I asked the teacher about it and she said it was a coincidence. Not so. Years later I learned the continents were once connected exactly there and together the large land mass was called Pangaea. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always been drawn to maps. Not for the places and roads on them, but because of their shapes within shapes.  For other people, it was all about the places.

Here’s an interesting timeline of geographic history, streamlined to fit a morning blog post:

  • The first city map ever discovered was created in stone in 2300 BCE for the city of Lagash, Mesopotamia.
  • In 450 Herodotus compiled a map of the known world.
  • In 334 Alexander the Great set to conquering the Middle East and India.
  • In 240 Eratosthenes calculated the circumference of the earth.
  • In 20 AD Greek geographer Strabo published his 17 volume Geography.
  • In 77 AD Pliny the Elder wrote his Encyclopedia of Geography.
  • In 150 Ptolmy the Greco-Egyptian polymath published his Geography that included a coordinate grid system a map and places labeled.

sextantA lot of changes both large and small took place from Ptolmy’s time on in to the 1100s. Things like Mt, Vesuvius’ eruption, the fall of Rome, the Crusades, and the discovery of the magnetic compass.

 

  • In 1154  Edrisi the Arabic scholar published his book of world geography. He was famous for his planisphere– the most accurate map of Europe, north Africa and western Asia.

sextantMore changes rocked the world between the 1100s and 1400s. China ruled the seas, there were more crusades, and the Bubonic plague killed approximately 60% of Europeans.

  • In 1410 A translation of Ptolemy’s Geography was published in Europe
  • 1418 Portugal’s Prince Henry the Navigator established the Sagres Research Institute.

Collectively, the 1400 and 1500s were big in geography. sextantSpanish and Portuguese explorers made new and profitable discoveries. They also established trading posts in the new world and throughout Africa. Magellan began his circumnavigation of the earth.

  • In 1569 Flemish geographer and cartographer Gerardus Mercator created his map and coined the word Atlas for a collection of maps.
  • In 1675 the Royal Observatory was established at Greenwich, England. This is important because here we have the Prime Meridian –longitude defined at 0°.
  • In 1714 the British government offered a 20,000£ reward to anyone who could accurately determine longitude at sea. It’s all about time.
  • In 1761 John Harrison’s chronometer did just that — accurately determined longitude at sea.
  • In 1768-1779  James Cook explored the earth.
  • In 1804-1806 Lewis and Clark explored the western United States.
  • In 1817 German geographer Karl Ritter published his first volume of Die Erkunde (The Explorers).
  • In 1830 the Royal Geographical Society was formed in London.
  • In 1840 the Geological Survey of Canada was established.
  • In 1850 the first use of the camera for mapping takes place in France.
  • In 1851 the American Geographical Society was formed.
  • In 1855  Matthew Fontaine Maury,  the “father of naval oceanography” publishes his Physical Geography of the Sea.
  • In 1867 the United States Geological Survey (USGS) was established.
  • In 1874  the first Department of Geography was established in Germany.
  • In 1884-1885 Berlin Conference divides Africa among European colonial powers.

And…
thOn this day in 1888 the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and education institution was founded for “the increase and diffusion of geographical knowledge.”
We know this as The National Geographic Society. It was conceived by a diverse group of geographers, explorers, teachers, cartographers, military officers, and financiers who all shared an interest in scientific and geographical knowledge. They felt “Americans were becoming more curious about the world around them.” Indeed, that magazine, and all that went with it, opened the door to the world for many a rural American. Oh for those days when an ignorant population didn’t equate education with elitist snobbery, but as a way to better oneself and the lives of their children. 

More~
100 Years of National Geographic Maps
The famous National Geographic Magazine

A lengthy historical look at Longitude (part 1)
http://youtu.be/SSGHOifF_oI 
(part 2) http://youtu.be/IfxXJPmKzo4

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phraseologyPhraseology I often wonder where certain words and sayings come from. For the next few weeks this word collector will be examining some familiar phrases to get at their heart. I think you’ll be surprised.

The phrase for today is ~ Here be Dragons
It’s a fanciful phrase today, but it has more to do with the terrifying unknown than lighthearted dragon mythology. It was common practice among map makers to jazz up their uncharted seas and grounds with pictures of fantastic and often terrifying beasts. Remember, the earth was flat in their minds. They knew of whales and giant squid so those unknown things that lay beyond the edges had to be even more frightful.

One such map was the copper Lenox Globe (circa mid-1500s). Written on the eastern coast of Asia, the globe says “hic sunt dracones” and from Latin that translates to Here are dragons.

~❋~❋~❋~

RB4U purpleToday is Author Janice Seagraves’ blog day. http://romancebooks4us.blogspot.com/

Romance Books ‘4’ Us ~ Our February contest is coming up. http://www.romancebooks4us.com

~❋~

If you enjoy my daily musings, subscribe to get them sent to your inbox, or if your inbox is as packed as mine is, check out the Networked Blogs tab on the right and get all the blogs you follow in one daily notice. A new year full of curious and compelling posts awaits!

all7books-smallSample my scorching love stories for free!


~❋~

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Nose to the grindstone


I had a mentally busy week last week. I’m up to my eyebrows in a story right now. Since the muse went packing after my old puppy died, this burst of creativity is not something I can turn my back on.  Strike while the iron is hot,  gather ye rosebuds while ye can,  sail with the tide, and carpe diem, I say.
:D
So, yeah, I’m busy writing my next novel. Still, I couldn’t resist blogging a special day — It’s World Rock Stacking DayIt’s a little hard for me to do with my nearby river frozen over like it is, so I’m sharing it here just in case those of you in milder climes want to try.

rockIf you’ve never heard of this before, to some, rock stacking is a sort of performance art along the lines of what nature artist Andy Goldsworthy does. To others, balancing stones atop one another is a meditative process. I can see that. I’ve tried stone stacking on a small scale and it certainly is a peaceful activity, though not an easy one. You must be aware of each breath you take. Try it sometime and I think you’ll agree. You need not balance boulders. A handful of pebbles from the garden or park work just as well.

I came across this youtube gem recently. It’s a shorter artsier version of a lengthier clip (see additional link below). I think the narration adds a whole other dimension to stone balancing. As I said, some find this a mediation. I hope you enjoy.

More~
http://www.thehappyscientist.com/science-experiment/rock-stacking

The longer version http://youtu.be/kHVLi8LA_0Q

The Inuit culture also balanced stones. http://inuitinukshuk.com/

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phraseologyPhraseology I often wonder where certain words and sayings come from. For the next few weeks this word collector will be examining some familiar phrases to get at their heart. I think you’ll be surprised.
The phrase for today is ~ Keep your nose to the grindstone.

Thoughts are divided as to just where this phrase comes from. In common use, it means work without rest, but that’s far different from what it really means.

Some think it has to do with the miller sniffing the grindstone periodically to detect the smell of burning grain. With all the chaff and flour in the air, a fire would be something to be watchful of.  As plausible as this meaning appears at first glance, that stone would be a millstone not a grindstone.

Were we to look to early citations of the phrase from the 1600s to determine exactly what it means, they suggest it’s actually a form of punishment. Holding a knife or axe to a grindstone sharpens nosethe metal. Imagine someone’s nose to the grindstone for a crime they committed. Yikes. The phrase’s original meaning faded with time but was apparently known for what it was around the turn of the last century when this photograph was staged. >>>

I’ll say it again — Yikes.

~❋~❋~❋~

RB4U purpleToday is Author Sam Cheever’s blog day. http://romancebooks4us.blogspot.com/

Romance Books ‘4’ Us ~ Our February contest is coming up. http://www.romancebooks4us.com

~❋~

If you enjoy my daily musings, subscribe to get them sent to your inbox, or if your inbox is as packed as mine is, check out the Networked Blogs tab on the right and get all the blogs you follow in one daily notice. A new year full of curious and compelling posts awaits!

all7books-smallSample my scorching love stories for free!


~❋~

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Fun Day Sunday & Weekend Happenings


funday smileIf you’ve been here before then you know Sundays on my blog are all about wonder and smiles. In honor of mentally kicking back once in a while, Sundays are Fun Days! Each Sunday, visitors will find a fun, interesting, or unusual something here. I’m a nerd with a complex sense of humor and absurd wit. It could literally be anything.

I’ve been super busy with a deadline so the blogging lapsed last week.  Sometimes you just have to put all those creative eggs in one basket.

I have something interesting to share today — a look at historical archery technique.  My husband got me into archery when we were dating.  I really enjoy it. It took a while to learn how to aim and not painfully twang my inner forearm with the bowstring, but I eventually learned to be a fair shot. For me, archery has a strange inconsistency similar to throwing darts. I can hit the bulls-eye fairly often but the occasional stray happens, and when it does it’s waaaaay off target. Huh. No rhyme or reason to it. The good news is I haven’t killed anyone yet. Yet.
erroll ;)

The following clip brings up some very interesting archery points taken from historical manuscripts and they’re nothing like Erroll Flynn used in Robin Hood. This archer is amazing.

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My Other Weekend Happenings

Weekend Writing Warriors
http://theancillarymuse.blogspot.com/

My Sexy Saturday & Sexy Snippets
http://calliopesotherwritingtablet.blogspot.com/

Sunday Snippet
**A promo op for you too!**
http://exquisitequills.blogspot.com/

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all7books-smallSample my scorching love stories for free!

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RB4U purpleToday our guest is Author Karen McCullough. http://romancebooks4us.blogspot.com/

Romance Books ‘4’ Us ~
Our January contest is on and we have prizes!
http://www.romancebooks4us.com

❋❋❋❋❋

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Fun Day Sunday & Weekend Happenings


funday smileIf you’ve been here before then you know Sundays on my blog are all about wonder and smiles. In honor of mentally kicking back once in a while, Sundays are Fun Days! Each Sunday, visitors will find a fun, interesting, or unusual something here. I’m a nerd with a complex sense of humor and absurd wit. It could literally be anything.

I had no idea a bird would do something like this. After seeing it I wondered if this was just a peculiar habit for one peculiar lovebird. It’s not! Check these out…



Wow. What do you suppose each little guy is thinking while he’s getting himself dolled up? I often wondered what went through my cockatiel’s mind when she used to go after my pincushion. She’d pull pins and needles from it one by one, walk them to the edge of the table and then drop them on the floor. She stay on task until the pincushion was plucked clean.
:)

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My Other Weekend Happenings

Weekend Writing Warriors
http://theancillarymuse.blogspot.com/

My Sexy Saturday & Sexy Snippets
http://calliopesotherwritingtablet.blogspot.com/

Sunday Snippet
**A promo op for you too!**
http://exquisitequills.blogspot.com/

❋❋❋

all7books-smallSample my scorching love stories for free!

❋❋❋

RB4U purpleToday our guest is Author J.D. Faver. http://romancebooks4us.blogspot.com/

Romance Books ‘4’ Us ~
Our January contest is on and we have prizes!
http://www.romancebooks4us.com

❋❋❋❋❋

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Serendipity


light-bulb-ideaOrigins~
There are so many things in our lives that we take for granted. Simple things like spoons and combs and toilet paper weren’t around when early man left the savannahs of Africa for parts unknown. Those things had to be invented by people who saw a need and devised a better way. Spoons and combs are infinitely better than fingers, and without question toilet paper is superior to leaves or handfuls of sand(!)

Many things we know and love came about with a dash of serendipity. For instance, the soap we know today was surely started from a combination of circumstances at the hearth — wood ash and water make lye. Fat from cooked meats when exposed to lye sets off a chemical reaction. Taken together, ash, water, and fat make soap. The thing is, serendipity requires someone to notice something. Then it takes someone to do it again on purpose.

This business of noticing and perfecting serendipitous events takes many forms. Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin is one such moment of serendipity. Corn Flakes breakfast cereal is another. In fact, many episodes of serendipity built up over time actually lead us right to cookies.

bite- 010Humble Cookies
After consuming one too many cookies during the holidays, I’m still keeping them at arm’s length until spring. If you stop to think about it, the humble cookie owes its existence to many unrelated serendipitous events. Off the top of my head — Flour: Hunter gatherers harvested wild grains wherever they came across the plants until someone thought it would be easier to put the seed where they wanted it to grow. Then someone thought the largest most robust seeds were best. Then someone cultivated only the best. From there we have agriculture.

Other things factor in to the cookie‘s background. Take animal domestication. Eggs and butter for human use came about much the same as agriculture did. It was just easier to keep the birds in one place and take their eggs as needed and borrow milk from lactating goats, cows, and sheep you kept in a pen.  Other components required someone to notice them first before they became perfected processes. Yeast, for example, floated through the air and helped bread to rise and liquids to ferment. Someone had to notice the changes and wonder why. Baking powder came about because a scientist thought to help his wife whose allergy to yeast prevented her from enjoying breads. Making sugar from various plant juices began when someone figured out when sweet juice evaporated it left sweeter crystals behind. Again, someone had to notice. These are just the main ingredients. There’s more! Peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies have very complicated beginnings:

Peanut butter >> Global exploration to South America (global exploration consists of its own pile of serendipitous events) >> cultivation >> Peanuts tweaked by George Washington Carver’s personal inspiration.

Chocolate Chips >> Bitter Cacao used by Olmec, Maya and Aztec civilizations>>>Global exploration to South America >>cocoa tweaked by the Dutch>>>Ruth Wakefield chops up a chocolate bar to add to her sugar cookie dough and invents the first chocolate chip cookie in 1937 – the Toll House Cookie.

Add to all of the above what it took to turn iron ore into steel baking pans and utensils. Add to this fuel production for our stoves. And finally, add the myriad this and thats I’ve forgotten. Connections between disparate things and events always fascinate me.
:)

So why am I talking cookies today? It’s National Fig Newton Day.

More~
http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/CookieHistory.htm
http://www.thenibble.com/REVIEWS/MAIN/cookies/cookies2/cookie-history.asp

Fig Newtons~  A beloved cookie

Cookie fact: To test oven temperature before baking a large cake, Dutch cooks would bake a little batter first. These little test cakes were called koekje or little cake.

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phraseologyPhraseology
I often wonder where certain words and sayings come from. For the next few weeks this word collector will be examining some familiar phrases to get at their heart.
I think you’ll be surprised.
The phrase for today is ~As the Cookie Crumbles

Like the French C’est la vie ( such is life) As the Cookie Crumbles is one of those certainty phrases that refer to our accepting the unpredictable fortunes of existence. Variations include that’s the way it goes and that’s the way the ball bounces.  As far as I’ve been able to discover, this slang term appears in print in America sometime in the 1920s.  Hey, cookies have crumbs. It’s a sure thing.

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RB4U purpleToday is Author Jean Hart Stewart’s blog day. http://romancebooks4us.blogspot.com/

Romance Books ‘4’ Us ~ Our January contest is on!
Lots of prizes.
http://www.romancebooks4us.com

~❋~

If you enjoy my daily musings, subscribe to get them sent to your inbox, or if your inbox is as packed as mine is, check out the Networked Blogs tab on the right and get all the blogs you follow in one daily notice. A new year full of curious and compelling posts awaits!

all7books-smallSample my scorching love stories for free!


~❋~

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