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K-los, waren wir nie wieder … Siberia is hell, frozen … !Diego, Diego, Diego! 23rd of January, 2007 POST·MERIDIEM 02:31

An unassuming Canadian had his Amazon reviews posted to the front of Metafilter a few days ago, and since they now provide syndication feeds for individual reviewers’ reviews, I subscribed to it. Whence this, on an album of covers by Il Divo,  and on Romance-speakers’ move to Northern Europe, an awesome diversion into whimsy in an unexpected place:

“Regardless of the weather, these romanciers introduced tenderness and warm compassionate mannerisms into the Teutonic milieu of Northern Europe, a social climate literally indistinguishable in its sexual violence from the Klingon empire.

This requires some explication of Klingon history. It wasn’t until the 14th century that the Klingon homeworld Qo’noS was inundated with the technologically advanced Hur’q. The invading Hur’q even went as far as to steal the sacred sword of Kahless the Unforgettable, a messianic Klingon responsible for the spiritual warrior creed of the Klingons, but also many of the brutal love rituals, such as glaring at one’s husband/wife with the most hostile expression possible, and also the ritual of at some point drawing blood with a large curved knife with a demon carved on the handle (a Klingon angel). The Klingons eventually repulsed from Qo’noS the Hur’q, and managed to reverse-engineer their transportation technology. This explains how such a crude, boorish race of sweating club-wielders could move into space, dilluting what had previously been a gentleman’s game, similar to the one played by our friends in Southern Europe.”

Not that I have a lot of consideration for knowing the minutiæ of Star Trek, mind.

And as so often here, something completely different. Some scary photos of how. fuсking. cold. Siberia is in winter. I can see a big part of the attraction of Israel, despite the violence, for the one-time inhabitants of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast, at least.

Word of the day: la boca is Spanish, cognate with la bouche, also meaning ‘mouth.’ Maradona’s first early football club, Boca Juniors, was named for that barrio in Buenos Aires located at the mouth of the river Riachuelo where it empties into the Rio de la Plata, where the Spanish New World tradition of prosaic naming came into play.


I guess that makes Jean Genet at least an honorary Klingon.

He’d need to have been an honorary German in this world, I think. (Or Englishman, or Fleming, or Norman … actually, this seems to imply a Norman or German background for it the name.)

Interesting comparisson, despite the fact that is appears to have been posted by some mad as bat-shit star trek devotee.

In fact, a cursory glance at history shows us the European-Mediterraneans single-handedly invented romance. They swept into Northern Europe chewing cloves and wearing nothing more than form-fitting silk pants and parted blouses. Regardless of the weather, these romanciers introduced tenderness and warm compassionate mannerisms into the Teutonic milieu of Northern Europe,

Not 100% sure on this, certainly the "Teutonic milieu" was less genteel and a bit rough round the edges socially, but to say that the introduction of "Romance" removed sexual violence is a bit of a stretch.

Also, it pretty much igornes romantic notions that pervade has folklore the world over for thousands of years. Also, off the top of my head at least, it seems easier to find strong independant women characters in pre-romantic settings, Boudica, Cleopatra and any female character you care to pick out of Irish Mythology.

Not 100% sure on this, certainly the "Teutonic milieu" was less genteel and a bit rough round the edges socially, but to say that the introduction of "Romance" removed sexual violence is a bit of a stretch.

Yeah, certainly it’s a stretch. But there’s something to it, all the same; the very idea of courtly romance seems to date from the troubadours, who came from Catalonia and Occitania, and the half-mind-reading of your Mills and Boon story didn’t turn up in the German-speaking world until French culture became fashionable as Louis the 14th made France the most powerful state in Europe, to my knowledge. (The Normans mean the idea had an earlier influence on our part of the world; the first thing the university student of French literature is introduced to is mediæval French-language romances written in England.)

I guess the problem is that the oldest versions of romantic stories from non-mediterreanian sources are lost and only the re-written romantic era versions really survive.

An example is the Tristan and Isolde story, which might be a retelling of the Diarmuid and Grannine Story, adapted by Twelfth Century French Poets.

Also the Cinderella Story, which might be a european retelling of the tale of Ye Xian which originated in China in 860AD, in that story Ye Xian had the smallest feet in the kingdom, which would explain why in the European version the glass slipper would only fit one girl in the kingdom. Given the significance of small feet in Chinese culture at the time, it goes some way to explaining Prince Chaming’s apparently fetishist behaviour.

I guess the problem is that the oldest versions of romantic stories from non-mediterreanian sources are lost and only the re-written romantic era versions really survive.

Maybe; or maybe arranged marriage and no Romeo-and-Juliet-stupid-infatuation or perhaps something more matter-of-fact instead was the usual pattern of things. I don’t believe we can say that the general craziness of written Western romance was always recognised social phenomenon in every society. My personal feeling is that it’s one of those societal weirdnesses that every society has, like the belief that it’s reasonable to start up a conversation on football with anyone male, or (in Turkey) that mentioning the Armenian genocide conducted by the Ottomans necessarily brings discredit on the modern Turkish state.

Interesting, a lot of the romances are stories of people bucking the excepted norms of arranged marriage in favour of the Romeo and Juliet infatuations. The notion of love tearing down class barriers, of royalty marrying a member of the peasantry.

It’s possible that these stories are expressions of dissatisfaction with the status quo, written by people who were prevented from being with the object of their infatuations by the societal norms. The basic requirement would seem to be a social structure that allows at least casual contact between two people who for some reason would normally be prevented from persuing a relationship, historically this has pretty much always existed.

Certainly courtly romance is the product of the troubadours, but I think the global appeal of a romantic story speaks to something deeper. There are romantic stories from all over the world from all eras of history, but it is possible and quite likely that these stories were told in a different form, with the romantic slant being exaggerated centuries later.

For example, the story of Theseus and the Minotaur works pretty well without Ariadne falling in love with Theseus, if you tell the story with Ariadne as a humanitarian who decides that feeding people to a monster is wrong and decides to help.

In the same way the Odyssey works as a story on it’s own, you could fairly easily rework the "keep the home fires burning" part about Penelope fending off suitors for twenty years and remaining faithful until her husband returned to a story of a woman who was holding on to the idea that her husband was alive to protect the birthright of her son.

However, the fact that these stories lend themselves to romantic adaption so well, does seem to suggest that in some form or another romantic notions did exist in literature previous to the silk shirt generations.

Although, I’ve only read translations of these stories, which have certainly been tainted by modern romantic sensibilities, so I could be wrong.

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