Geplaatst in King Arthur

Angel Coulby

Zij is naast een geweldige actrice ook nog bijzonder mooi.

Het is niet dat ik de TV serie Merlin leuk vind, mooi vind, omdat zij daar in mee speelt. Om eerlijk te zijn: dat help wel natuurlijk. Maar ik vind se serie Merlin gewoon heel mooi. Een soort inspiratie bron voor me. De serie dan te verstaan.

Zij, Angel Coulby, is geboren op 30 augustus 1980 en is een Engelse actrice. Zij is vooral bekend geworden als Guinevere (Gwen) in de BBC TV serie Merlin.

Ze is geboren en op gegroeid in het Noorden van Londen. Later verhuisde zij zich naar Edinburg voor haar studie aan de Queen Margaret University.

Dat zij 62 aflevering in Merlin speelde als Queen Gwen, tussen 2008 en 2012. Verbaast eigenlijk niemand.

Van een smidse dochter en bediende tot Queen Guinevere. Ze hadden geen betere actrice kunnen nemen als Angel Coulby.

En als je zie in hoeveel films ze al heeft gespeeld, dan begrijp je pas dat je met een natuurtalent te maken heb.

Helaas, en zo blijk het allemaal te gaan ………. ze heeft rollen geaccepteerd waar ze haar borsten moest laten zien, maar waarom zo’n goede actrice ook nog geheel bloot moet gaan en een ander kan binnen gluren, vergeef ik haar maar.

Dat doet niets af aan haar acteer talent. Het is niet mijn ding.

Nu heb ik een hulp, die maar zo,n beetje 1x per maand bij me komt. Zij heeft een baan bij de hulp instantie Aafjes, waarin zij bepaalde dingen kan en mag doen. Voor al die hulp kom ik, god dank, niet in aanmerking. Ik hoef niet te spuiten, te zwachtelen met liften en zo geholpen worden.

En of er nu de duivel mee speelt, weet ik niet. Maar iedere keer als ik naar die serie wederom kijkt, komt zij wel even. En je mag dan een keer raden wat ze dan zeg?: heb jij alleen maar Merlin op DVD om naar te kijken.

Dus het word tijd voor me, dat ik weer naar Merlin kijkt, Dan kom zij weer (hahaha)

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Geplaatst in King Arthur

James Mallory Merlin

 

Tovenaar Des Koning

Een book heb ik hier nog nooit besproken, maar eens moet de eerste keer zijn.

Van de week was ik in een tweedehands winkel, ik kocht daar iets, en toen zag ik voor slechts 1 euro dit boek staan.

Sinds mijn ongeluk een jaar of 6 geleden, heb ik de grootse moeite om iets te lezen. We doen het wel, maar waar het eigenlijk over gaat, weet ik veel. Toen ik dit boek zag staan, maakte ik een uitzondering.

Een ieder weet wel dat ik een grote fan van Robin Hood, The Musketeers en King Arthur. En als je bij King Arthur komt, kom de automatische in contact met de tovenaar Merlin. De 5 seizoenen van Merlin kijk ik dan ook regelmatig en met veel plezier.

Ik heb maar dvd’s/films die zowel met Merlin als met King Arthur te maken heeft. Dus toen ik dit boek zag staan, twijfelde ik geen moment. Thuis gekomen dat het geschreven was naar aan leiding van de de mini serie die ik op onderstaande link, al besprak.

https://cmmoerenhout.wordpress.com/2016/08/18/merlin-de-miniserie/

Rutger Hauer speelde in 1998 mee in deze serie (2 DVD’s).

Toch is het vreemd om een boek te lezen waarvan je de twee delige serie al zo vaak heb gezien. Je heb zo de neiging om bepaalde beelden op te roepen.

Maar het is in ieder geval leuk om er een boek over gelezen te hebben.

Geplaatst in King Arthur

Prince Valiant: Vol 14: 1963-1964 – The Arthurian Plot Slowly Thickens

https://childrenofarthur.wordpress.com/2017/04/29/king-arthurs-children-raised-in-twenty-first-century-time-travel-back-to-camelot/

King Arthur’s Children, Raised in Twenty-First Century, Time Travel Back to Camelot

April 29, 2017 by childrenofarthur

The Ring of Morgana by Donna Hosie is the first volume in The Children of Camelot Series. As most of my readers of this blog know, in my book King Arthur’s Children (2010) I predicted that the trend to continue to create children for King Arthur to carry the Arthurian story forward would continue and this novel is further indication I was correct. In fact, it was published in 2014, the same year I began publishing my five-volume The Children of Arthur historical fantasy series, detailing King Arthur’s descendants from the sixth to twenty-first centuries.

Hosie’s novel is in some ways similar but in others very different to my own series. It also begins in the twenty-first century. We are introduced to sixteen-year-old Mila Roth and her ten-year-old sister, Lilly. They live in Wales in a house called Avalon Cottage, which is rumored to be haunted. The truth, though, is that Mila and Lilly’s parents have some secrets they’ve been keeping from their daughters, including that they possess a mysterious sapphire ring. I won’t go into the full details of the plot (spoiler alert though that I will give quite a bit away), but basically, Lilly gets ahold of the ring, puts it on her finger, and it begins to make her deadly sick. This situation results in numerous secrets coming out, including that Mila and Lilly’s dad is King Arthur and their mother, although she goes by the name Sam, or Lady Samantha, is apparently really Morgana, a Gorian priestess.

So yes, we have another novel with King Arthur having daughters. What is interesting from here on is that Morgana is the mother of two girls. As the novel progresses, there is no indication that Morgana is the mother of Mordred, as is more typical in Arthurian fiction. Mordred is referenced in the novel (he’s already dead), but it is never stated that he is in any way related to Arthur or Morgana. (Here I should point out that this novel was written after Hosie wrote her The Return to Camelot Trilogy, which I have not read, but which seems to be a prelude to this novel. Consequently, certain details of this book’s plot I may have not understood as thoroughly as if I had read that series first—I was unaware at the time I bought this book that it was linked to Hosie’s earlier series.)

In order to save Lilly, it is necessary for the Roth family (why did Hosie choose that name? It’s not Welsh) to travel back in time to Camelot. Here I think is the only real fault of the novel. Hosie has her characters travel back in time one thousand years—this date is preposterous to me because it would suggest they go back to the year 1014 A.D., give or take a few years. They arrive in the kingdom of Logres at Glastonbury and then travel to Camelot. This year is about 500 years too late. In 1014, Ethelred the Unready was King of all of England and a Saxon king. The novel states that Mila was born during the Battle of Mount Badon, the traditional date of which is 516 and when King Arthur and his Welsh/Celtic contemporaries would have likely lived. A few other historical oddities exist in the novel in terms of some of the name choices—Mila’s aunt is named Natasha and she’s married to Bedivere—Natasha is a Russian name. No one in medieval Britain would have had that name. (Plus, Bedivere is an English version of the Welsh Bedwyr, which I used in my own novels.) Some of the other name choices are equally odd.

In any case, the family arrives back in medieval Logres. Along with them comes Mila’s best friend, Rustin. I mention him, although he’s not related to Arthur, because he plays a significant role in the plot and the sequel book Quest of the Artisan will apparently focus on Rustin, who enjoys woodworking and becomes known as the Artisan in this novel.

The plot now revolves around Merlin trying to heal Lilly while the family reside at Camelot—ruled by Guinevere, who is in love with Lancelot. (The romance dynamics of the novel seem to assume the reader read the earlier series since I never figured out how Arthur and Guinevere must be married, yet he lives in the twenty-first century with Sam/Morgana). Guinevere is childless as usual, but she is very gracious to Arthur and his daughters, who until now have lived in the twenty-first century since it’s apparently safer for them there.

It turns out that Mila must do battle with Nimue in order to save Lilly—this also relates back to themes in the earlier novels—apparently Nimue had some sort of romantic crush on Arthur that caused trouble.

In the end, Mila succeeds and Lilly is healed, and then everyone returns to the twenty-first century, but Rustin is unhappy and decides to figure out how to return to Camelot.

One final point of interest in terms of treatments of King Arthur and his children should be mentioned here. Mordred is dead at the time of the novel. However, he has a son, Melehan, who is about Rustin and Mila’s age and is under the care of Sir Gareth (presumably his uncle). Melehan is traditionally the name of Mordred’s son, which usually would make him King Arthur’s grandson (in my own Children of Arthur series, I used the alternative spelling Meleon; there he is the son of Mordred and grandson of Arthur and Morgana). Mordred does not seem to be related to Arthur in this novel so that means Melehan is not one of Arthur’s descendants.

The novel closes with Melehan traveling to the twenty-first century to meet Mila and tell her he has much to tell her about Rustin and the others back in Camelot, leaving the ending open for a sequel.

I’ll conclude by saying that I thought The Ring of Morgana a very readable and interesting novel. I especially enjoyed the realistic depiction of Mila and her teenage friends in Wales. The build-up of Mila learning the truth about her family and background were all well-done. I admit I was less interested in Mila’s battle with Nimue to save her sister than in the other parts of the novel, but overall, it is one of the better Arthurian novels I have read in recent years and should appeal to young adults as well as anyone who enjoys a more science fiction/time-travel type of Arthurian novel. Those who are diehard fans of historical fiction and a more traditional Arthurian storyline will find it less appealing.

Stay tuned for a future blog about the novel’s sequel, Quest of the Artisan, and perhaps more blogs about The Return to Camelot trilogy.

https://childrenofarthur.wordpress.com/2017/04/29/king-arthurs-children-raised-in-twenty-first-century-time-travel-back-to-camelot/

Geplaatst in King Arthur

Arthur and the Kings of Britain

by Miles Russell 

Howard Wiseman’s Reviews >

(I read this as a google-play e-book.) Russell is an archaeologist. I quite liked his earlier book “Bloodline”, a somewhat revisionist history about the first 150 years of relations between Romans and Britons (c.50 BCE – 100 CE), based on the contemporary histories, and archaeological finds.

This book obviously grew out of his interest in that same period, but is far less satisfactory. The bulk of the book is a reëxamination of the 12th Century Historia Regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain) by Geoffrey of Monmouth, which covers the period c.1200 BCE to c.700 CE. That book is widely regarded as almost entirely fiction, composed by Geoffrey himself. But Russell claims that most of it is actually based on lost British sources from the period mentioned above, c.50 BCE – 100 CE. This is an extraordinary claim, as there is no hint of any such records(*) and nor do native legends of this type survive from any of the illiterate tribes that Rome conquered anywhere in Europe, as far as I’m aware. 


Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Unfortunately, the evidence Russell provides is extraordinary only for its flimsiness, given his academic background. His methodology is that of pseudo-historian, or, one might even say, that of the conspiracy theorist:


* Far too often, ideas that begin as “Could it be …” questions in one chapter become facts by the next chapter.

  • Every mention of Cornwall (to take an example) by Geoffrey becomes, for Russell, a mention of the Catuvellauni from the area north of London. There is no justification for this other than it fits his preconceived hypothesis. The same sorts of claims are made of other place names.


  • * King Cunobelinus (to take an example), according to  Russell, appears with multiple different names in multiple different centuries in Geoffrey’s narrative. Similar claims are made for just about every important Briton in the historical record in Russell’s period of interest, c.50 BCE – 100 CE. I am no linguist, but I know enough to tell that Russell is no linguist either, as he gives no scholarly analysis of how each of these numerous name transformations could occur.


  • * No rigorous argument (involving postulated specific texts with transmission histories) is given to explain how Geoffrey could have ended up with so many distorted versions of genuine legends from more than 1000 years earlier. 

Russell also makes claims beyond that early period e.g. that the Saxon Aelle was actually the Romano-Briton Ambrosius Aurelianus, and that Arthur “cannot have existed”, which are equally baseless. For the reader looking for an introduction to Geoffrey of Monmouth’s pseudohistory, and its relation to real history, I suggest Geoffrey Ashe’s “Kings and Queens of Early Britain”. It is not only better written and more entertaining; it is also a far better guide to the actual value of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s work as history. For the reader interested in the period when Rome came to rule Britain, stick to Russell’s earlier book. In both cases, steer clear of this one. 

(*) A few similar legends do appear in the 9th Century Historia Brittonum, but this is not surprising since Geoffrey almost certainly did use this as one of his sources.

Geplaatst in King Arthur

Ultraviolet light reveals hidden text in ancient book of Arthurian stories

http://www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/ultraviolet-light-reveals-hidden-text-ancient-book-arthurian-stories-002864?page=0%2C1

Scholars in Wales have discovered that parts of one of the most important books in Welsh history was erased and some of the texts on its animal-skin pages overwritten. The book is titled The Black Book of Camarthen and includes Arthurian stories, Christian prayers and poetry.

In passages that were not erased, Merlin, Arthur, Cuchulainn, Uther Pendragon, the hero Gereint, the poet Taliesin, Cyridwen, Fairy King Gwyn ap Nudd and other figures of Dark Ages legend, myth and tall tale make appearances in the 750-year-old, 54-page book. It is the oldest known surviving book entirely in the Welsh language and has some of the earliest references to Myrddin (Merlin) and Arthur.

The verse portrays Arthur and Myrddin (Merlin) before they were king and wise counselor to kings, respectively. In one poem, Arthur is a supplicant to enter the court of a king. Myrddin is a wild man driven mad in battle and extolling the virtues of trees.

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Professor Paul Russell and Myriah Williams of the Cambridge Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic told Past Horizons that a man who owned the book in the 16 th century, probably Jaspar Gryffyth, erased verse, doodles and marginalia that had been added to the manuscript over the centuries as it changed hands.

Using photo-editing software and ultraviolet light to examine the vellum pages, the scholars revealed poetry that is unknown in the Welsh canon. The poems are fragmentary, but they hope with further analysis they can read the text, which they think is the ending of a poem on a preceding page and a new poem at the bottom of the page.

Past Horizons quotes Williams as saying:

The margins of manuscripts often contain medieval and early modern reactions to the text, and these can cast light on what our ancestors thought about what they were reading. The Black Book was particularly heavily annotated before the end of the 16th century, and the recovery of erasure has much to tell us about what was already there and can change our understanding of it “

In text that was not erased, the Black Book contains the oldest known poem about Arthur. He seems to be the leader of a band of warriors seeking entrance to the court of a king. He tries to persuade a king to allow him to enter by extolling the virtues of his heroes:

Arthur distributed gifts,
The blood trickled down.
In the hail of Awarnach,
Fighting with a hag,
He cleft the head of Paiach.
In the fastnesses of Dissethach,
In Mynyd Eiddyn,
He contended with Cynvyn;
By the hundred there they fell,
There they fell by the hundred,
Before the accomplished Bedwyr.
On the strands of Trywruid,
Contending with Garwlwyd,
Brave was his disposition,
With sword and shield;
Vanity were the foremost men
Compared with Cai in the battle.
The sword in the battle
Was unerring in his hand.
They were stanch commanders
Of a legion for the benefit of the country- Bedwyr and Bridlaw;
Nine hundred would to them listen;
Six hundred gasping for breath
Would be the cost of attacking them.
Servants I have had,
Better it was when they were.

This is a translation of Old Welsh into modern English. The book can be read, except for a few chapters, at the Celtic Literature Collective . “Currently housed at the National Library in Wales, the Black Book of Carmarthen (Peniarth MS 1) is a manuscript dating to the middle of the thirteenth century. It is believed to have been the work of a single scribe at the Priory of St. John in Carmarthen,” says the Celtic Literature Collective introduction to the book.

In the prayer “ A Skillful Composition ,” the writer expresses how impossible it is to convey in language the power of God. An excerpt:

A skillful composition, the pattern being from God,
A composition, the language, beautiful and pleasant, from Christ.
And should there be a language all complete around the sun,
On as many pivots as there are under the seat,
On as many winged ones as the Almighty made,
And should every one have thrice three hundred tongues,
They could not relate the power of the Trinity.

The Celtic Literature Collection says of two poems attributed to Merlin, “The poems are often attributed to Myrddin, as one of his ‘prophetic’ poems made during his madness in Celydon.” Merlin had a “wild man” phase before he became the wise counselor of four British kings, though it’s possible Scottish stories of Lailoken were attached to Myrddin in the Middle Ages.

As a source for Myrddin as a wild man of the woods, the webpage Arthuriana : Myrddin/Merlin names several poems, including “ The Apple Trees ” and “ The Dialogue of Myrddin and Taliesen ” from the Black Book of Carmarthen . The webpage states:

In most of these poems the subject – who is either named as Myrddin or is generally assumed to be him – is portrayed as a Wild Man of the Woods living in Coed Celyddon (the ‘Caledonian Forest’), where he has fled to after losing his reason (‘wandering with madness and madmen’) in the northern battle of Arfderydd, fought between rival chieftains c. 573 A.D.; with this lapse into madness Myrddin is said to have acquired the gift of prophecy. The antiquity of these traditions is however suspect, at least in their attachment to Myrddin. In Scottish sources there is a virtually identical tale of a Wild Man to that summarized above, but in these he is named Lailoken rather than Myrddin.”

Past Horizons calls the book a labor of love and says, “Despite its value today, the Black Book of Carmarthen (so called because of the color of its binding) was not an elaborate production, but rather the work of a single scribe who was probably collecting and recording over a long period of his life.”

Geplaatst in King Arthur

Who Was King Arthur Really?

 

Posted on April 25, 2015 by Nu Christ

Who was King Arthur, the mysterious Celtic king, who defended the post-Roman England against the Saxon invaders without leaving any historic records?

who-was-arthur-reallyThe origin of the name Arthur or Arturus is as obscure as his life. It’s an artificial word that can be linked to meanings like bearman, or king. Some etymologists suggest that it could also stem from the Latin name Artōrius. According to Latin Gematria, Arturus adds up to 106, the same value as the Hebrew for the phrase Yah’s messenger (MLAKYH), counselor or emperor (MLYKV), and the phrase He praises God (YHLLAL). These associations give us a first clue that King Arthur wasn’t a king-king, but a metaphor for someone or something else.

King Arthur’s Father Uther Pendragon

Uther Pendragon means The Terrible, the Head of the Dragon (Uther stems from the Welsh uthr, meaning terrible). Since ancient times, the dragon symbolizes the raw, bodily life-power that animates living beings. In the East the dragon-power or snake-force is known as Kundalini.

Stepping on the dragon’s head is a metaphor for controlling the dragon-force and engaging it in the great work – the spiritualization of personality (the chariot). The control over the dragon-force is also illustrated by the Pentagram, the symbol of white magic.

pentagram_with_one_point_up_wikimedia_commons1

The upper most tip represents the human soul (as well as spirit or ether) and the lower four tips the four elements. Everything is fine as long as we are on top of the four elements. Otherwise the elements push us around and the Pentagram turns into a symbol of black magic. That’s when the dragon gets a head and it seems that the elements have intelligence and power over our soul.

Some Mary and Fortuna statues step on a serpent’s head. These women symbolize a pure and balanced mind. The control of the dragon-force is also illustrated in Tarot card 8, (the red lion is the same thing as the serpent force). Tarot card 8 shows that strength (the Secret of All Spiritual Activities) is a matter of habit (the woman represents subconsciousness) and love (the wreath of roses formed like the number eight).

So, who was Uther Pendagron? Uther stands for our (terrible) ego or immature self-consciousness. In it’s natural state, our ego is competitive and cunning; hence, it doesn’t surprise that Uther was a warlord. As the head of the dragon he employed the life-power for selfish ends.

Uther died on the battlefield when he was challenged by Odin in disguise. This has a deeper meaning too: since God (Odin) is everything, every adversary (karma) is Odin in disguise.

On a side note: The 20th lunar mansion, Ardra, is ruled by the dragon’s head. People born in this lunar mansion may be attracted to black magic, sorcery, exorcism, crime, and can have a cunning inclination.

King Arthur’s Childhood

If Uther symbolizes a selfish ego, what does his son Arthur stand for?

Arthur was conceived without Uther’s knowledge, who died before he could receive the good news. Arthur grew up under the patronage of a foster father – Merlin, the famous wizard. Successors are supposed to take their parent’s legacy to a new level, so, Arthur stands for a spiritually awakened self-consciousness. He hadn’t perfected the great work yet, he had just seen the light and realized that there is more to life than justconquering and ruling.

In this respect, Arthur compares to Israel. Israel means He-Who-Shall-Rule-As-God-Rules. Israel is a promise: perform the great work and you will be in control like God (Israel began the great work and Jesus Christ perfected it).

On a side note: covenant means promise too, it’s God’s promise to give us a splendid life after we accomplish the great work.

Merlin, The Hierophant

Merlin was not just a Celtic wizard, he stands for wisdom in general, as well as the sixth sense (intuition), and the small inner voice – the priest whisperer. He is pictured in Tarot card 5 as the hierophant or instructor of mysteries.

Are you surprised by the fact that Merlin already instructed and assisted the selfish Uther? Don’t be. We are always guided, however, materialistic our agenda. Mind that Jesus Christ began as Jesus, the Nazarene, and Nazareth means guided-one.

Merlin had the gift of the third eye. Once, a Celtic king tried to build a mountain fortress, but the mountain kept shaking and the building collapsing. Deep inside the mountain, Merlin saw two dragons – a white and a red one – living in a subterranean pool. These two were continuously quarreling and kept the mountain shaking. Superficially, this was  interpreted as the Celtic-Saxon war that kept troubling the kingdom of England; however, the red and white dragon could also be taken as the two sidekicks of Kundalini, the male and female forces winding around the spine through the nadis Ida and Pingala. The depth of the mountain is the base of the spine sometimes referred to as an abyss.

On a side note: The Old Testament equivalent of Kundalini is Leviathan. Leviathan means coiled or twisted. The Wikipedia article gives thirty-four quotes, mainly from Job 41. Mind this one: Can you pull in the leviathan with a fishhook or tie down his tongue with a rope? The fish-hook is Tzaddi, the letter associated with Tarot card 17, The Star, which signifies – among other things – meditation.

On a second side note: the red and white dragon may also represent the white (2nd) and red (3rd) stage of the great work.

On a third side note: the first picture Merlin and the Knight hints at Tarot card 7, the Chariot. The chariot represents personality, the sphinxes the senses, the (invisible) reigns the mind and the charioteer the Higher Self. Why is there also a knight in that picture? The knight is the ego (King Arthur), like Arjuna and Chrishna in the Bhagavad Gita.

Uther’s Sword

Whoever takes the sword will perish by the sword. – Jesus Christ.

Since Uther didn’t know that he had a legal heir when he died on the battlefield, he couldn’t appoint Arthur as his successor and therefore drove his sword into a rock, leaving it for the rightful heir to draw it out and claim kingship.

In spiritual psychology, the sword symbolizes the intellect (the mental ability to differentiate). The intellect is tempered through experiences – that’s Uther’s heritage. The sword in the rock, however, is a beautiful Alchemical image: the rock signifies the Philosopher’s Stone, the universal substance, or First Matter. Pulling the sword out of the stone means to discover the First Matter and that event is known to kick off the great work.

On a side note: in the Norse mythology of Siegfried his father Siegmund draws the sword out of a tree trunk (the Tree of Life).

Arthur was fifteen when he claimed the sword and kingship. 15 is an important number in Hebrew Gematria, since it’s the number of Yah – a short-form of Jehovah. Yah and Jehovah are associated with Chokmah (wisdom) and Hod (splendor), the 8th Sephirah, the latter signifying intellectual comprehension of wisdom. This is Israel’s state of mind, a person who is performing the great work – such a person has already an intellectual grasp of spiritual truths, but hasn’t achieved a full realization or gnosis yet.

Noteworthy, 15 is also the number of Abib (ABYB), the month of Exodus, which signifies the departure from a materialistic lifestyle (Egypt and the pharaoh – Uther) and the embarkation on the spiritual journey – the great work.

Excalibur

I didn’t come to bring peace, but a sword. – Jesus Christ.

Naturally, our intellect is separative and often deluded. As Einstein said: We should take care not to make the intellect our god. It has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality.

In its natural state, the intellect can be equaled with Satan, the Slanderer and Mother of Lies and yes, Satan is an inner demon – an unregenerated intellect as Jung put it.

As long as we are like Uther, caught in a separative state of mind, we use our intellect mostly to analyze or destroy. And this holds true for a long time while we are already performing the great work. We tend to knock down our spiritual roadblocks, instead of working on our weaknesses. That’s why Uther’s sword didn’t last. When King Arthur met Lancelot, he destroyed the sword by stubbornly trying to subdue one of his personal traits (Lancelot is likely to signify Scorpio and sexuality).

King Arthur received a new, regenerated intellect in the form of Excalibur. The earliest form of Excalibur, Caladfwlch (Welsh), means Hard Lightning. Mind that both – steel and lightning – are associated with the planet Mars and Tarot card 16, The Tower. Later, Caladfwlch metamorphosed into Caliburn (meaning to cut steel) and became Excalibur in the French version of the King Arthur’s myth. The Latinization of Excalibur, Caliburnus, has some interesting Gematria in store for us. Caliburnus adds up to 108, as does the Hebrew for to grasp, to hold (AZQ) – that’s the intellect again. The second interesting association is the Hebrew for to be sharp as well as to be gold (spelled ChMS). The latter hints at the intellect’s ambivalence and its transformation into Mercury, the Universal Solvent (that’s Alchemy).

The sword bearer was a woman known by various names. The two most important are Nimue and Vivienne. Nimue was a water goddess. This links back to the Gematria of Caliburnus, since 108 is also the value of MNHYG, meaning driver. MNHYG is used in the phrase MNHYG H’AChDVTh, Driver of Unities or Driver of the Chariot (we are back to the first post picture). This is the title of the 13th path on the Tree of Life, the path of Gimel, connecting Kether and Tiphareth, the Father and the Son. Gimel is the letter of Tarot card 2, the High Priestess. Have a look and you won’t have difficulties understanding who Nimue is.

On a side note: Nimue or the High Priestess is also the clue to the spiritual meaning of Christ’s virgin birth. Mind that the literal meaning of knight is Christ-awakened-being (Israel or King Arthur).

On a second side note: 108 is also the value of MYNCh, which are the waters of Noah giving a clue to the meaning of the deluge in the context of the great work. The water of the deluge originates in the robe of the High Priestess, the deluge is shown in Tarot card 20, Judgment.

Vivienne, the Lady of the Lake, gives us a bigger picture since she had been Merlin’s spouse. When he was young, Merlin had fallen in love with Vivienne and transferred all his wisdom to her. Viviane (ab)used her powers to imprison Merlin. The stories differ in describing Merlin’s trap, sometimes it’s a spiral crystal tower suspended in the air, sometimes a tree trunk, and sometimes beneath a stone. This story  is a beautiful allegory of Chokmah’s and Binah’s interaction on the Tree of Life. Binah receives and encapsulates the life-power that she receives from Chokmah into her substance. As she does so, she creates the World’s Light, the heavenly substance from which all universes were created, formed, and made.

This concurs with Genesis 1.2-3 where Elohim’s waters receive the Spirit and produce the world’s light. Mind that one of Binah’s title is the Great Sea, meaning she is the mother of Vivienne, the Lake Lady. Why is Vivienne Binah’s daughter? Because Binah is concerned with creation and Vivienne with evolution. Accordingly, Excalibur is the sword of evolution. Excalibur wasn’t drawn out of the stone (the First Matter), but out of the water, the heavenly substance, which is known as the Kingdom of Heaven (Jesus), the Stone of the Wise (Alchemy) or the Sacred Grail (the King Arthur myth).

the-luminous-intelligence1

On a side note: the relationship between God Mother (Binah) and Vivienne provides a clue to the understanding of the two Shekinah – the heavenly and earthy.

Jesus’ Two Swords

Uther’s sword is the sword of creation. Creation proceeds by continuous division, starting with God (in the beginning Elohim separated the heaven and earth), and carries on until the appearance of the infinite kaleidoscope – the physical universe.

The sword of creation is sacred, but can become destructive in the affairs of humans. That’s the sword by which we will perish in case we take and keep it.

Excalibur, on the other hand, is the sword that Jesus brought instead of peace, but mind that he didn’t mean people, but rather ignorance and selfishness. Excalibur is destructive too, but only to wrong thinking and negative feeling. It is wielded by the woman in Tarot card 11, Justice, who eliminates and cuts away all errors until only truth and love remains. Noteworthy, the Astrological connection of Tarot card 11 is Libra, which rules the kidneys, who eliminate bodily waste.

Having said all this, these two swords are still one and the same (understanding). There aren’t two swords only two way of using it. This is shown by the Gematria of 67, which includes Binah, zain (ZYN, sword), but also the Latin Jesus.

King Arthur’s Kingship

The word King rings a clear bell in the ears attuned to Qabalah. It’s a title of Tiphareth, the sixth Sephirah, which is the sphere of Adam and Christ, who symbolize the One Self of mankind. Mind that in a spiritual context, King Arthur didn’t become king. With the help of Excalibur and the High Priestess he became aware of his true identity and resurrected the Inner Christ, who reclaimed his kingship over personality. This is the true meaning of the Second Coming of Christ.

His kingdom is, of course, Malkuth (literally kingdom), which signifies either the physical universe or the physical body.

King Arthur and Queen Guinevere

King Arthur’s wife and queen was Guinevere, which means White Enchantress, or Fair Fay. In Qabalah, both queen and bride refer to Malkuth, in particular, the matter from which the physical universe and body are made. Accordingly, Guinevere wasn’t a woman-woman, but rather the First Matter. On the Tree of Life, she rules Yesod, the Purified Intelligence – that’s where Guinevere’s fairness comes in. Mind that fair has various meanings, such as white, pure, just, bright, beautiful, and benign.

On a side note: the side story of Guinevere becoming the lover of Lancelot, the greatest knight, hints at the secret relationship between Mars and Venus. Mind also that Yesod is the seat of the regenerative powers of the world – the Mars force.

King Arthur’s Kingdom

The capital of King Arthur’s kingdom (the physical universe or physical body) was Camelot. The etymology of Camelot is obscure as well. Taken as a Latin word, it adds up to 61, offering the following Geometrical associations: gen (γην, Greek for earth), materia (Latin for substance), and the adown (ADVN, the Hebrew for master or lord.). Adonai is the name under which God rules Malkuth, the physical universe.

But the Gematria of 61 also hints at the physical body, since it embraces the terms NVH (Hebrew for home or habitation) and aniy (ANY, the Hebrew for I or myself), symbolizing our self-consciousness – that which inhabits and rules the body.

Camelot stood besides a river, downstream from a place called Astolat. Not much is said about Astolat, except that it was the home of the fair maidenElaine. Taking the word downstream as a clue, Astolat would be Yesod as well. The downwards stream is mezla, the Influence, that originates in Kether and flows through all Sephiroth and paths. Mezla turns into a four-fold stream when it flows into Malkuth. This rhymes with the four-fold river that flows out of the Garden of Eden (likely to be Yesod as well).

Camelot was surrounded by large plains and forests (Yesod’s fertility), and owned a magnificent cathedral, referring to the fact that the human body is God’s temple. In this respect, Camelot is Kether of Malkuth (Yekhidah, the Indivisible).

When the great work is accomplished, Camelot will descend and turn the body into the New Jerusalem, a city that isn’t in need of a temple anymore, since it can host God and Christ. The New Jerusalem was described as a cube with twelve gates, which signify the twelve zodiacs. Analogue, the center of Camelot was the king’s court that hosted the Knight’s Round Table of twelve seats (just like Jesus’ twelve disciples).

The Sacred Grail

The Grail Quest is an allegory of the great work. It’s a complex subject and deserves a blog post on its own. Interesting for this post is the fact that the Sacred Grail healed King Arthur’s illness that caused him and the entire kingdom (Malkuth, the body) to deteriorate. When the Sacred Grail was found and brought to King Arthur, he had a vision and exclaimed that the king and his kingdom are one. This refers to the Alchemical secret that the First Matter (Yesod or Malkuth’s substance) is identical with mankind (the Cosmic Christ) – that’s the same thing as the affinity between Christ and the Sacred Spirit.

King Arthur’s Death

King Arthur died in a battle fighting his son Mordred, who was either his nephew (and knight) or his son conceived by his sister Morgan Le Fey in incest. In a spiritual context, incest isn’t a big deal, even Biblical patriarchs committed a lot of incests without God complaining. Why is this so? Because we are talking about the marriage of forces and powers, not people.

Anyways, Mordred was a cunning person and therefore represents our selfish ego that tries to usurp personality as long as it exists (same as Uther). It continuously fights back while we perform the great work (even Solomon was still fallible).

King Arthur’s final battle indicates an important milestone of the great work: when constructive and destructive mental forces assimilate each other into a spiritual state of mind – beyond good and evil. Another mystical description of this battle is Ragnaroek, the dawn of the gods, during which ambivalent gods kill each other to give way to a new world. The death of King Arthur and Mordred is paralleled by the duel between Heimdallr, the god of wisdom, and Loki, the mischievous god prankster (the intellect).

King Arthur’s After-Life

After King Arthur died, he migrated to Avalon – the legendary Celtic island. Avalon is derived from the Welsh afal, meaning apple. It has titles like the Island of the Blessed or Fortunate Island, since its fruits and crops grow magically and abundantly. The queen of Avalon was Morgan Le Fay. She was one of nine sisters – and yes we are back to Yesod, the ninth Sephirah on the Tree of Life (Avalon and Astolat may be two alternative names for the same realm).

On a side note: Morgan Le Fay was both King Arthur’s antagonist and rescuer (she healed him from his wounds, and she’s hugging him in the picture). This hints at the secret relationship between the Redeemer and Adversary, we elaborated in this post

Why All This Secrecy About King Arthur?

Well, at the time the King Arthur myth was fabricated, it was quite dangerous to promote spirituality, except in the forms that were sanctioned by the church. It is quite likely that Jesus Christ’s esoteric tradition found a temporary haven in British monasteries, remote from Italy and the Vatican. And it is likely too that the secret custodians of the great work wrapped the Arthur myth in chivalric storylines in order to catalyze its distribution (chivalric stories and songs were very much in fashion that time). They would do the same thing a few centuries later, by creating the Tarot and distributing ageless wisdom disguised as playing cards.

King Arthur’s Return

A couple of stories indicate that King Arthur didn’t die during his last battle, but was brought to Avalon to heal from his wounds. Supposedly, the king that was and shall be, is waiting there to return to Britain in the time of its greatest need – just like Jesus Christ – and bring back the Golden Age.

In a psychological context, King Arthur returns every time a baby is born. Each one of us is born as a King or Queen Arthur. Every one of us will, one day, see the light and draw the sword out of the stone. And when we work hard enough on our spiritual career, we will also receive Excalibur from the High Priestess and send out our twelve knights (twelve zodiacs) to seek the Sacred Grail.

In a spiritual context, King Arthur stands for the savior or liberator. But don’t think the Messiah (Christ) is a person. It’s  a power, an inner power to be precise. And as such it returns a few times every day to knock at the door of your mind, hoping you will allow more spirituality to enter into your mind and life.

Featured image attribution: “Merlin and the Knight” by Unknown engraver – The Rose, 1847, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

(1) “Idylls of the King 15″. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

(2) “Beguiling of Merlin” by Edward Burne-Jones – Scanned from Wildman, Stephen: Edward Burne-Jones: Victorian Artist-Dreamer, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998, ISBN 0870998595. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –

(3) “Ladyofthelake1″ by Alfred Kappes – Taken from English Wikipedia at [1]. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

(4) “Merlin And Vivien by Speed Lancelot” by Speed Lancelot (1860-1931) – The Legends of King Arthur and His Knights, 1912., 9th edition. Ed. Sir James Knowles, K. C. V. O. London; New York: Frederick Warne and Co., 1912. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

(5) “Idylls of the King 3″ by Gustave Doré – Enid, by Lord Alfred Tennyson. London: Edward Moxon & Co., 1868. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

(6) “How Mordred was Slain by Arthur” by Arthur Rackham – The Camelot Project http://www.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/images/arm&a.htm. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

(7) “Frank William Warwick Topham Voyage of King Arthur and Morgan Le Fay to the Isle of Avalon 1888″ by Frank William Warwick Topham (1838-1924) – Sotheby’s New York, 27. Januar 2012, N08826, lot 652. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

http://nuchrist.com/king-arthur/

Geplaatst in King Arthur

The Lost Book of King Arthur – King Arthur of the North 2 (Paperback)

 

Simon Keegan

The Lost Book of King Arthur reveals the ancient written source that proves King Arthur’s origin as a Northern King – and identifies two “Grails” that are inscribed with his final battle, final resting place and Dragon title.

book-king-arthurOn the 1500th Anniversary of the Battle of Badon, Pennine Dragon proved that the real King Arthur was a northern British chieftain from the York area called Arthwys ap Mar. Now the explosive follow-up The Lost Book of King Arthur reveals the texts that documented the great king’s life. And furthermore identifies – with actual photographs and locations of where you can go and see them – two of Arthur’s famous Grails.

These cups were treasured at Arthur’s Hadrian’s Wall garrison and are inscribed with the title Draconis (Dragon), Arthur’s final battle (Camlan) and his final resting place (Avalon).From Geoffrey of Monmouth’s “very ancient book in the British tongue” to an old copy of the Historia Brittonum, written by a Northern British prince – and only destroyed in the Second World War Blitz – finally the pieces of the puzzle fit.

The Lost Book of King Arthur shows through maps, charts and the piecing together of lost texts, that the legendary King Arthur was very much a real king and not only were his battle sites well documented they were etched forever into the side of great chalices.

Publisher: New Haven Publishing Ltd

ISBN: 9781910705483

https://www.waterstones.com/

Geplaatst in King Arthur

Was Koning Arthur een Romeinse Belg?

 

10/11/2009 Door Filip Hooghe

Onderzoeker David Xavier Kenney ontdekte inscripties op een Romeinse lans of contos uit de 2de of 3de eeuw na Christus, die gevonden werd op een heuvel in Norfolk County in Engeland.

UtherDe miniaturen op de lanspunt zouden volgens hem sterke bewijzen leveren dat Romeinse cavalerie en zeelui de inspiratie vormden voor de legendes over Koning Arthur en zijn ridders. Volgens de inscripties was de echte Koning Arthur een zekere Marcus Aurelius Mausaeus Carausius, die behoorde tot de stam van de Menapiërs, een Belgische volksstam die ten tijde van de Gallische oorlog (58-50 v.Chr.) woonde in de Schelde-, Maas- en Rijndelta.

Hij was een zeeman van bescheiden afkomst die zich als militair wist te onderscheiden in keizer Maximianus’ campagne tegen de Bagauda-rebellen in Gallië in 286. Als gevolg daarvan werd hij commandant van een vloot die haar thuishaven in het Engelse Kanaal had, met als verantwoordelijkheid het uitschakelen van de Frankische en Saksische piraten die de kust onveilig maakten. Maar hij maakte het zelf wat te bont bij het verdelen van de piratenbuit en de keizer verordende zijn dood. Carausius echter kwam achter deze plannen, en reageerde door zichzelf tot keizer uit te roepen, en kreeg daarin de steun van de drie Romeinse legioenen in Brittannië, en één in Gallië. Een Romeinse invasie van Brittannië in 289 mislukte door een storm. Carausius trachtte tot overeenstemming te komen met keizer Maximianus en diens mede-heerser Diocletianus, echter generaal Constantius Chlorus werd gestuurd om de rebellie neer te slaan.

Deze generaal wist het Gallische legioen terug voor zich te winnen en de macht te heroveren in Noord-Gallië en de belangrijke havenstad Boulogne. Uiteindelijk werd Carausius in 293 vermoord door zijn rentmeester Allectus, die Brittannië weer onder Romeins gezag moest brengen, maar in plaats daarvan nam Allectus gewoon het Britse koningschap over. Allectus bleek overigens niet in staat een nieuwe Romeinse invasie door Constantius Chlorus te voorkomen in 296. De tweede vloot onder de praetoriaanse prefect Asclepiodotus bereikte met succes Brittannië en deze trok op naar Londen. Allectus trof hem bij Farnham Surrey, maar sneuvelde in de strijd.

De miniaturen op de lanspunt beelden volgens Kenney een overwinningsvotief ter ere van de Romeins-Keltisch oorlogs- of zwaardgod Mars Camulos uit. Carausius identificeerde zichzelf duidelijk als deze god, zoals blijkt uit munten die hij liet uitgeven en de inscripties op de lans. De Romeinse nederzetting Camulodunum (nu Colchester), genaamd naar Camulos, wordt aanzien als de oorsprong van het legendarisch Camelot. Carausius streefde ernaar om een volksheld te worden in Brittannië en Noord-Gallië door te rebelleren tegen de Romeinse keizer. Hij riep zich zelfs uit tot mede-keizer.

De cultus van de oorlogsgod Camulos was vooral populair bij de Remi, een andere Belgische volksstam. Het gebied dat zij bewoonden reikte van de Ardennen in het noorden tot de Marne in het zuiden. In het oosten werd het gebied begrensd door de Maas en in het westen door de Aisne. Camulos zou in verband staan met een ongekende Belgische “beergod” van de vruchtbaarheid/landbouw, die alle symbolen droeg van de Arthurlegendes: een heidense soort graal, magische zwaarden, meteorieten, het magnetische noorden en een seizoen genaamd Artor. Het zwaard in de steen dat afgebeeld is op de lans staat in verband met een parazonium, een ceremonieel kortzwaard van de Romeinse elite. Volgens de inscripties is het primaire aspect van Artor een kracht geassocieerd met een doorbraak of begin, dus de lente en de dageraad. Deze beergod komt blijkbaar ook nog voor op andere artefacten die terug te vinden zijn over gans Europa en Azië tot in het oude China, vooral in de noordelijke regio’s.

Al bij al een boeiende, doch controversiële invalshoek op de Arthurlegendes die zeker het nodige stof zal laten opwaaien in historische en archeologische middens.

https://filiphooghe.wordpress.com/2009/11/10/was-koning-arthur-een-romeinse-belg/

Geplaatst in King Arthur

The story of the grail

the-new-cre-logo

By Stefan Beck

Reviews of The Buried Giant, by Kazuo Ishiguro; John the Pupil, by David Flusfeder; Know Your Beholder, by Adam Rapp & Notes from a Dead House, by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Of all the jewels lying dusty in the barrow of Western literature, few are quite so inexplicably neglected as Arthurian romance.

800px-holy-grail-round-table-bnf-ms_fr-116f-f610v-15th-detailI don’t mean that King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, and Merlin have been forgotten; I assume that children still watch Walt Disney’s 1963 The Sword and the Stone, that teen nerds still cackle atMonty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), and that Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is still required by at least a smattering of English departments. But where, outside of a Medieval Studies program, is anyone reading Chrétien de Troyes’s Perceval, le Conte du Graal, the anonymous Queste del Saint Graal, Wolfram von Eschenbach’sParzival, or even Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur? And what accounts for this indifference, when popular culture has gotten such reliable mileage from Arthur-influenced productions like The Lord of the RingsThe Hobbit, and Game of Thrones?

Granted, these are by no means breezy reads; I will ruffle some dyspeptic medievalist’s feathers, no doubt, by pronouncing Parzivalutterly unreadable. But most of these works are rewarding, both for the luxurious strangeness of the world they depict and for the insight they give into the spiritual intensity of their composers. A more recent take on the Arthurian legend, Kazuo Ishiguro’s new novel, The Buried Giant, offers the same strangeness, and a deeply humane examination of loss, memory, and truth—which is spiritual in its own right.1Though the book may renew interest in Arthurian literature, it is very much a stand-alone work, demanding little familiarity with its precedents. In a superficial sense, it is a fantasy novel, but it is, more to the point, an Ishiguro novel.

What that means will be readily apparent to Ishiguro’s devotees. For one thing, he always surprises, even when he is revisiting his well-established preoccupations. He is best known among American readers for a novel about the inner life of a comically conscientious and repressed butler: 1989’s Booker-winning The Remains of the Day.His 2005 novel Never Let Me Go is superficially a work of science fiction about clones who are raised so that their organs may be harvested. What The Buried Giant has in common with these books is that it repurposes an existing genre to serve Ishiguro’s thematic ends. His prose, precise and unadorned, leaves a clear enough path to his meaning—in this case, that memory is both precious and perilous.

The principals of the quest in The Buried Giant are Axl and Beatrice, an elderly couple departing their village in search of an adult son they only dimly remember. They believe that he is in a neighboring village, perhaps only a brief journey away, but it becomes increasingly apparent that they have no idea where he is; the reader is given to wonder whether he exists at all. “[I]n this community the past was rarely discussed,” the narrator notes. “t had somehow faded into a mist as dense as that which hung over the marshes. It simply did not occur to these villagers to think about the past—even the recent one.” Here, the “recent” past is the time just before the book’s sixth-century setting, during which a precarious and almost unaccountable peace exists between Britons, like Axl and Beatrice, and Saxon settlers—that is, invaders.

This is, of course, a real historical moment, but the novel’s trappings are anything but realistic. Ogres (“not so bad provided one did not provoke them”), pixies, a monster standing guard over a subterranean crypt, and a dragon named Querig—points off for evoking the popular coffee machine—stalk these pages. The noxious Querig’s survival, it turns out, is causing the collective amnesia hanging heavy o’er the “bleak moorland.” On their journey, Axl and Beatrice meet a Saxon knight named Wistan, whose young charge Edwin seems to possess an uncanny connection to the dragon, and an elderly Briton ycleped Sir Gawain. Which of these pilgrims might bring about Querig’s demise?

The complicating factor in The Buried Giant is that there are distinct pros and cons to slaying the dragon. Beatrice and Axl seek the restoration of their memories not only so that they might find their son but also because a mysterious boatman—no prizes for guessing his true identity—will ferry them as a pair to the farther shore only if they can deliver compatible accounts of their happiest times together. Yet their everlasting happiness would come at a cost to their countrymen: amnesia is the only thing holding back the tidal wave of bloodshed that would assemble itself should the Britons and Saxons remember their brutal past with one another. In this way Ishiguro establishes a tension between the pursuit of truth and the alluring pleasures of lotus-eating forgetfulness.

The Buried Giant invites a serious complaint. Ishiguro’s characteristic flatness of tone, which worked to such moving effect in The Remains of the Day, serves the narrative portion of The Buried Giant well enough, archaizing it without stooping to a lot of “hear ye, hear ye” nonsense. Yet it renders the novel’s dialogue self-parodically stiff. The call and response of Axl and Beatrice’s interactions—Husband? Yes, Princess?can become so tedious that the interactions of secondary characters are thrilling by comparison.

Another problem with The Buried Giant is that if one values truth—if one despises the concept of “narrative,” which suggests that there are larger and more valuable ends to be served than a reckoning with what actually happenedthen the novel’s tension is vastly less provocative. If an accurate historical memory is the greatest good, then this tale becomes little more than a straightforward quest: kill the dragon and the prize is not a hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver but rather truth itself. Does this not diminish the novel’s potency, its complexity? Does this not make it a rather mechanical A to B fairy tale?

It doesn’t. The Buried Giant is an allegory with a weighty and pointed message. When we at last encounter Querig, the dragon is an etiolated and pitiful creature, more like some overgrown fruit bat than, say, the fearsome “wyrm” of Beowulf. This is Ishiguro’s chosen symbol of our cowardly impulse to do away with the past, or to avoid confrontation with unpleasant truths. Our actual past, our most uncomfortable and challenging truths, are probably more frightening than we know, but they are nevertheless the proper object of our collective quest.

There is something in the nature of a quest narrative, its clarity of motivation and desired endpoint, that must be liberating for a writer, the way it is liberating for a poet to work within the constraints of a given form. The structure is plain, but beyond that the opportunities for imagination, embroidery, and surprise are limitless.

So it is with David Flusfeder’s John the Pupil, which traces a trek in a time, if not quite so distant from our own as the sixth century, distant enough to be entirely alien.2 It is 1267. The Franciscan friar and polymath Roger Bacon has contrived an excuse for one of his students to convey highly sensitive materials to Pope Clement IV. On this difficult journey young John will have just two companions to help him negotiate a vertiginous array of novel and sometimes terrifying experiences. As the book’s epigraph from Ecclesiasticus 39:5 has it, “He shall pass into strange countries: for he shall try good and evil among men.”

To impart his tale with verisimilitude, Flusfeder employs an amusing academic framing device that would do Borges proud. A “Note on the Text,” by the editor and translator of The Chronicle of John the Pupil, begins, “A few remarks should be made here about the history of this unique manuscript. I quote from Augustus Jessopp’s lecture ‘Village Life Six Hundred Years Ago,’ first delivered to a notoriously uninterested audience in the Public Reading Room of the village of Tittleshall in Norfolk.” It is within this lecture—which, along with Augustus Jessopp and “Tittleshall,” is, incredibly, realthat our editor purports to locate the first mention of John the Pupil’s fragmentary account.

The chronicle begins with a description of instruction under Master Roger: “And we read Qusta ibn Luqa on the Difference between Soul and Spirit and Averroes on geometry, and the antique authors of Rome: Seneca on the passions, Ovid on the transformations.” He “beats correction into [John’s] head.” Gradually the reader gathers that Bacon is a prisoner of the friary, suspected—correctly—of “novelties, which is an accusation hardly short of heresy.” And so John and his companions, Brother Bernard and Brother Andrew, are framed for a trivial infraction so that they might be sent by Bacon from Oxford to the papal court in Viterbo on a penitential mission. Their secret aim is the delivery of Bacon’s Opus Majus and some models of Bacon’s optical and military inventions.

Having read this far, one could be forgiven for expecting a stale narrative of “persecuted rationalists vs. medieval superstition,” in theHis Dark Materials vein. But Flusfeder is up to nothing so blunt or predictable. His Bacon is no heretic: “He disapproves of anyone who . . . takes no pains to celebrate the glory of creation by gathering knowledge to gain a closer apprehension of God’s work.” And Brother John is devout. Many of his daily entries begin with a hagiography of whichever saint’s feast it is, after the fashion of another regrettably forgotten work, Jacobus de Voragine’s Legenda Aurea. (These sections, in fact, showcase a command of “timeless” language far superior to what one finds in Ishiguro’s novel.) But he is beset by temptations and tested by what he sees in a wider world with which he is wholly unfamiliar.

John’s companions are lightly sketched. Massive Brother Bernard, forever knocking over and tossing aside the band’s enemies—soldiers, highwaymen, and schemers—recalls the squire Jöns from The Seventh Seal (1957). “Beautiful” Brother Andrew, ever “cheerful, pure” in the face of any hardship, is even more of a cipher. The three meet sexual temptation, are driven away by hostile villagers, and are accused of being thieves or demons. They get lost, suffer sickness, endure hunger: “We are not sure if today is a Friday or a Saturday, but we fast anyway, although we have no choice because we do not have any food.” There will be, along the way, a martyrdom as gruesome as anything in the annals of de Voragine.

Flusfeder’s prose is superb. His facility with a certain medieval tone, that archaic yet vibrant quality of a great work newly translated, suggests a writer who has steeped himself in his source materials. There isn’t a single anachronistic or otherwise false note in the book (and ferreting those out is half the fun of reading historical fiction). There is humor that is only accessible from a modern vantage point, but it lands, because who hasn’t encountered a gem of unintentional comedy in an old work?

They had thrown stones at us, and we had suffered bruises and cuts and it was a miracle of God’s grace that we escaped heavier injury. . . . Brother Bernard said that it was because they thought we were monks, like the Cistercians who preach chastity and practise incontinent concupiscence, but those were not the actual words he spoke: the epithets he used were borrowed from the tavern rather than church and he would not answer where he had found the words.

A very subtle humor pervades John the Pupil, which points up the absurdity of its strange, violent, benighted, but numinously energized world. It is capped off by endnotes both comic (“It is unclear whether the omitted words here are due to a break in the manuscript or to the modesty of John”) and illuminating. They warn the reader against viewing the past through the lens of modernity and illustrate the diabolical difficulty of communication—between past and present, superstition and modernity, us and themthat is itself allegorized by the long journey between Oxford and Viterbo. John the Pupil is a slim and unassuming book, but it is also one gravid with wisdom.

Were we must take leave of our medieval brethren and sally forth hundreds of years into our own era, where the Pulitzer Prize finalist Adam Rapp has set his new novel Know Your Beholder. The book owes an enormous debt to John Kennedy Toole’sConfederacy of Dunces (1980) and its Boethius-loving protagonist, Ignatius J. Reilly. It boasts its own Arthurian “Chapel Perilous” in the form of the attic bedroom where its antihero, the lovesick and agoraphobic and grotesquely bearded landlord Francis Falbo will either cure his existential despair or go stark raving mad. But Falbo’s quest is entirely in his own mind. The Holy Grail at the end of his Last Crusade is a relatively mundane one: getting over his ex-wife.

Know Your Beholder is one of the riskiest books of this season, not because its premise is unusual but because it is so painfully clichéd. A young man—a privileged straight white man, in the parlance of our times—is depressed because a woman has abandoned him for refusing to grow up. He reacts by becoming housebound and letting himself go to seed. He grows, or rather doesn’t shave, a beard, which may smell “gamey, like wet squirrel or coon.” There is a “light blue terrycloth bathrobe that has become a low-grade monastic cloak,” a detail cribbed from The Big Lebowski (1998).

There are further reasons to wonder whether Know Your Beholder will be terrible. Its privileged straight white man was until recently in a band. That band was called The Third Policeman, after the Flann O’Brien novel beloved by the kind of person who has only read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1994) and “parts” (±30 pages) of Infinite Jest(1996). There is a character named Bob Blubaugh, which would be a funny name if it wasn’t stolen from Bob Loblaw of the TV show Arrested Development. But these infelicities occur in the book’s early pages, and they are signs not of a stunted imagination but of a novel slowly finding its footing.

It seems that the quest of a privileged straight white man to solve his trivial problem is every bit as much a rule-bound form as the Chant Royal or Icelandic saga. One of those rules is that the man in question will not have to work. Rob Gordon of High Fidelity (2000) owns a record store; Ben Stone of Knocked Up (2007) lives off a personal injury settlement; and Francis Falbo “earns” his living renting out rooms in the massive Pollard, Illinois, home that his father has entrusted to his stewardship. (His mother is dead, granting him another, more plausible excuse for self-pity and stasis.) Falbo’s literary antecedents are cinematic; Know Your Beholder will doubtless take its place on the big screen, too.

So why in the holy hell does Know Your Beholder work so well? Falbo ought to be unlikable, a whiner, and he is a whiner most of the time. But he also grows by learning to engross himself in the problems of others, namely, his tenants. There is the couple whose missing daughter has become the subject of a national media circus of the sort ginned up by Nancy Grace; the seemingly happy-go-lucky widower who harbors a deep yearning for genuine friendship and creative expression; the young art student who draws Falbo out of his comfort zone with, of all things, nude modeling; the screwed-up former bandmate who activates Falbo’s nurturing instincts before exhausting them.

And, as with the quest narratives previously discussed, Know Your Beholder takes up its well-trodden path only to do some rather daring bushwhacking on the way. The creativity of its conflicts and vignettes is undeniable. Rapp experiments with suspense, as when the hitherto enervated Falbo rashly decides to stage a break-in after engaging in some ill-advised amateur sleuthing. The way that Falbo dispatches his detested former bandmate is insane, but also hilarious. And Know Your Beholder as a whole has something huge going for it: Rapp’s book is a feast, a smorgasbord, a rijsttafel of language. From its first page, with “storybook snow as soft as sifted cake mix,” it is Pyrex-clear that Rapp knows how to describe ordinary things in jarring and unforgettable ways.

The success of Know Your Beholder lies, finally, in its insistence that a broken heart is a suitable subject for a work of literature regardless of whose heart it is. Even an ostensible loser like Francis Falbo, licking his wounds and hiding from the world, has a soul capable of connection with another person and of suffering at the severing of that tie.

Rapp pulls his punches when he takes the cinematic route of giving Falbo’s ex-wife a cartoon character of a new spouse, easy for us to join him in hating: “A man five years my junior whose chiseled, perfect jawline is deftly offset by one of those undeniably aquiline, Mediterranean noses. A corporate alpha-male who dresses like an adult and shaves every morning . . . who can no doubt execute twenty military-regulation pull-ups while carrying on a lighthearted conversation about the pleasures afforded by his new, ergonomically-contoured office chair.” But Rapp gets something very right when that ex-wife, visiting Falbo on a tragic errand, is pressed to say whether she misses what they had together.

Do you guys have this?” I said.

It’s different,” she said. “We have our own ‘This.’ ”

The New This,” I said.

Yeah, the New This,” she said.

Good album name,” I said.

It is at this moment that Falbo is most definitively shut out by his wife’s new arrangement. But it is also this moment that most completely humanizes him and makes the reader root for his return to human society and sanity. That return won’t come easily, but it’s no spoiler to say that Falbo gets there in the end.

Francis Falbo is confined to house arrest by a self-diagnosed and possibly spurious case of agoraphobia. The young Fyodor Dostoevsky was roused from bed in the middle of the night, charged with membership in a socialist secret society, and ultimately sentenced to a term of hard labor at an altogether different type of house—in Siberia. Dostoevsky’s remarkable account of his imprisonment, Notes from a Dead House (1862; also translated as The House of the Dead), has just been released in a new edition by the celebrated translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.4 They have previously translated Dostoevsky’s Crime and PunishmentThe Brothers  Karamazov, and DemonsNotes from a Dead House is both a credit to their reputations and a priceless addition to the literature of the penal experience.

Dostoevsky’s account is no simple memoir, though he was aided in its composition by notes he took while a prisoner and passed along for safe keeping to an employee of the prison hospital. He uses the same framing device Flusfeder did in John the Pupil, introductory notes from a fictional “editor.” Because he didn’t believe that his book would pass censorship with a political criminal for its protagonist, Dostoevsky subsumed his own personality into the fictional murderer Alexander Petrovich Goryanchikov. A detail he did not change, as it was all too significant: Goryanchikov is, as Dostoevsky was, a nobleman, meaning that he is detested—alternately harassed and ignored—by the other inmates.

Dostoevsky is obsessed with what he calls the “inequality of punishment.” Suppose two men are given the same sentence for murder, but—in his example—one has knifed a man “just like that, for nothing, for an onion,” while the other “killed defending the honor of his bride, his sister, his daughter.” Sentencing in modern times takes such things into account, but it cannot control for the psychological toughness of the man to be punished. A master of psychological portraiture, Dostoevsky makes plain how one man—wicked but resolute—may easily, thoughtlessly endure a sentence that shatters a softer man.

Notes from a Dead House contains compelling observations about the meaning of labor itself. Dostoevsky finds little inhumanity in the work the prisoners are forced to perform, because it gives them a sense of purpose, bolsters their sense that they retain some value as human beings. “The worker sometimes even gets carried away by it,” he writes, “wants to do it better, more quickly, more skillfully. But if he were forced, for instance, to pour water from one tub into another and from the other into the first . . . [he] would hang himself after a few days.” He details the many other occupations, skills, and hobbies the inmates cultivate to stave off boredom and madness.

Confinement itself is spoken of as punishment throughout Notes from a Dead House, not surprisingly, and Dostoevsky’s words against solitary confinement should be taken up by modern prison reformers. It “achieves only a false, deceptive, external purpose. It sucks the living juice from a man, enervates his soul . . . and then presents this morally dried-up, half-crazed mummy as an example of correction and repentance.” But there is plenty of more savage punishment on offer here: fetters; branding; beatings with rods, knouts, and birches. Dostoevsky tells of prisoners who, awaiting punishment, court worse punishment with new crimes, just to provoke a new trial that will postpone the punishment already in the offing.

There are happy, even comic moments in this grim account. Dostoevsky describes how vodka, of paramount importance (just after money) to the inmates, is smuggled into the prison population; a Christmas tableau demonstrates its merry effects: “I cannot explain how it happened, but right after the major’s departure, an extraordinary number of people turned out to be drunk though five minutes earlier they had all been almost perfectly sober. Many glowing and shining faces appeared; balalaikas appeared.” He records prisoners’ theatricals and songs, and even their sustaining relationships with the prison’s animals. (He admits that dogs were occasionally killed and skinned to make boot linings.)

As a record of imprisonment and punishment in a time and place quite different from our own, Notes from a Dead House is consistently edifying and fascinating. It is still more valuable as a testament to the power of the human will, the way it can marshal patience and imagination and hope against the most nightmarish assaults on human dignity. “From the very first day of my life in prison,” Dostoevsky writes, “I began to dream of freedom. . . . Every convict feels that he is not at home, but as if on a visit. He looks at twenty years as if they were two. . . . ‘We’ve still got a life to live!’ he thinks and stubbornly drives away all doubts.”

Most of our struggles, our quests, do not occur at a level so fundamental to ourselves. But in life the possibility of despair is ever present, and Dostoevsky’s good news is that, by and large, we do not know our own strength.

1 The Buried Giant, by Kazuo Ishiguro; Knopf, 320 pages, $26.95.

2 John the Pupil, by David Flusfeder; Harper, 240 pages, $24.99.

3 Know Your Beholder, by Adam Rapp; Little, Brown & Company, 352 pages, $26.

4 Notes from a Dead House, by Fyodor Dostoevsky; Knopf, 336 pages, $26.95.

Geplaatst in King Arthur

The Things Adaptations of King Arthur Should Be Including

http://io9.gizmodo.com/the-things-adaptations-of-king-arthur-should-be-includi-1683204285

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King Arthur, Excalibur, Merlin, Lancelot, and Guinevere are stamped hard into the popular consciousness. As touchstones, they don’t need a lot of explaining when writer’s choose to dump them into whatever story they want to tell. And yet, there’s a lot of things we haven’t seen nearly enough of when that happens.

13925353_619884188182679_3150880121988322793_nThere are so many versions of the story of King Arthur, it’s nearly impossible to keep track. But that diversity means that there’s a lot more to take then just Arthur, his sword, and his shitty romantic life. Ironically, for every complaint we have of the BBC’s Merlin, you can’t say it didn’t use everything it stumbled on that seemed vaguely Arthurian. That’s not the case with most film and TV adaptations, which rely on the same things over and over again. If we’re going to keep doing this story, why not bring these lesser-known stories and characters to life? We keep worrying about Game of Thrones running out of books and we keep seeing books split into several movies when it isn’t needed, when an Arthur telling could conceivably never run out of things to do.

Here are the biggest suggestions we have for anyone looking to do this tale for the billionth time.

Let’s Spend Less Time With Lancelot, Guinevere, and Arthur

This is the cornerstone of a lot of the modern Arthurian adaptations, and it makes sense. We’ve got all sorts of reasons to be into the tragic love triangle of Arthur the perfect king, Lancelot the good knight, and Guinevere the … queen. Look, a lot of the characterization of Guinevere depend a lot on how this tragic love story is being told. She can end up being virtuous and tortured or a hated adulteress. But, regardless, we’ve spent a lot of time examining this relationship from every possible angle, and it’d be nice to delve into other parts of the Arthurian legend than endlessly re-inventing this one.

Let’s Spend a Lot More Time With the Knights of the Round Table

There are a giant pile of knights that haven’t gotten a chance to shine. It makes sense, since giving them all their due would make a single story difficult to tell. But there are some great stories waiting to be told in them. Any Arthur telling could have the running subplot of how much everyone just straight-up hates Galahad for being so perfect all the time.

Why not have a story about Caradoc? He starts out rebelling against Arthur and then becomes a trusted advisor. That would be great. Chrétien de Troyes gave Caradoc his own a romance , with his wife Ysave. Ysave gets seduced by a enchanter who then makes Caradoc fall in love with animals while he gets Ysave pregnant with a son, who Caradoc thinks is his and names after himself. There’s a ton more, with a beheading test and Caradoc the Younger discovering his parentage. And, of course, the comeuppance involving more farm animals. Let’s do this story!

How about Sir Gawain? We could totally do with an adaptation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight which doesn’t star Sean Connery as the Green Knight. Or even one about how his bizarre tendency to be at peak power during noon — it involves a priest praying for his strength God being very literal in granting his wish,. How about poor Bedivere, who spends his time helping another dude marry his dream girl and is often one of the few survivors of this whole mess?

The Saracen Knights

Speaking of seeing more Knights of the Round Table, there are Middle Eastern Knights who should totally get more screen time. Lord Esclabor was a Babylonian noble who ended up in Britain saving King Pellinore’s life and with three sons ending up as Knights of the Round Table: Palamedes, Safir, and Segwarides. Of the three, Palamedes is the one with the most story time. He’s the main rival for Isolt’s hand in the other well-adapted Arthurian love story, Tristan and Isolt. (Fun fact: Tristan has an affair with Segwides’ wife in Le Morte D’Arthur, and Segwides forgives him with “I will never hate a noble knight for a light lady.”) Palamedes is also one of the knights who goes after the Questing Beast, which has the head of a snake, the body of a leopard, the back legs of a lion, and the feet of a hart. Pellinore’s whole family spends their time hunting the Questing Beast, while Palamedes’ hunt is as futile as his quest for Isolt’s hand.

We could even get the comedy version of this quest, which was written by T.H. White in the second book of The Once and Future King, The Queen of Air and Darkness. In that version, Pellinore gives up hunting the beast, and Palamedes and others try to bring him back to the hunt by impersonating the creature. Accidentally drawing an amorous Questing Beast out of hiding.

Merlin As a Demon-Begotten Prophet Who Is Not Around For Camelot

We’ve gotten used to the advice-giving, beard-having, magic-wielding Merlin. He’s basically the template that all other helpful sorcerers are based on. Put him, Dumbledore, and Gandalf in a line-up, and it’d look like a family reunion. But we could spend time with Geoffrey of Monmouth’s version of Merlin, who was less of a sorcerer and more of a prophet with his own shady background:

Upon this the messengers hastened to the governor of the city, and ordered him, in the king’s name, to send Merlin and his mother to the king. As soon as the governor understood the occasion of their message, he readily obeyed the order, and sent them to Vortigern to complete his design. When they were introduced into the king’s presence, he received the mother in a very respectful manner, on account of her noble birth; and began to inquire of her by what man she had conceived. “My sovereign lord,” said she, “by the life of your soul and mine, I know nobody that begot him of me. Only this I know, that as I was once with my companions in our chambers, there appeared to me a person in the shape of a most beautiful young man, who often embraced me eagerly in his arms, and kissed me; and when he had stayed a little time, he suddenly vanished out of my sight. But many times after this he would talk with me when I sat alone, without making any visible appearance. When he had a long time haunted me in this manner, he at last lay with me several times in the shape of a man, and left me with child. And I do affirm to you, my sovereign lord, that excepting that young man, I know no body that begot  him of me.” The king full of admiration at this account, ordered Maugantius to be called, that he might satisfy him as to the possibility of what the woman had related. Maugantius, being introduced, and having the whole matter repeated to him, said to Vortigern: “In the books of our philosophers, and in a great many histories, I have found that several men have had the like original. For, as Apuleius informs us in his book concerning the Demon of Socrates, between the moon and the earth inhabit those spirits, which we will call incubuses. These are of the nature partly of men, and partly of angels, and whenever they please assume human shapes, and lie with women. Perhaps one of them appeared to this woman, and begot that young man of her.”

There’s another version of the origin story in later stories, where Merlin’s mother is a virgin and his father a demon, with Merlin intended as a sort of Damien-style antichrist. He’s baptized though, and his unusually heavy metal birth is where he gets his powers. I would 100% support seeing this version adapted.

Geoffrey’s Merlin also has very little time for shitty magicians: Merlin in the meantime was attentive to all that had passed, and then approached the king, and said to him, “For what reason am I and my mother introduced into your presence?”— “My magicians,” answered Vortigern, “advised me to seek out a man that had no father, with whose blood my building is to be sprinkled, in order to make it stand.”— “Order your magicians,” said Merlin, “to come before me, and I will convict them of a lie.” The king was surprised at his words, and presently ordered the magicians to come, and sit down before Merlin, who spoke to them after this manner: “Because you are ignorant what it is that hinders the foundation of the tower, you have recommended the shedding of my blood for cement to it, as if that would presently make it stand. But tell me now, what is there under the foundation? For something there is that will not suffer it to stand.” The magicians at this began to be afraid, and made him no answer. Then said Merlin, who was also called Ambrose, “I entreat your majesty would command your workmen to dig into the ground, and you will find a pond which causes the foundations to sink.” This  accordingly was done, and then presently they found a pond deep under ground, which had made it give way. Merlin after this went again to the magicians, and said, “Tell me ye false sycophants, what is there under the pond.” But they were silent. Then said he again to the king, “Command the pond to be drained, and at the bottom you will see two hollow stones, and in them two dragons asleep.” The king made no scruple of believing him, since he had found true what he said of the pond, and therefore ordered it to be drained: which done, he found as Merlin had said; and now was possessed with the greatest admiration of him. Nor were the rest that were present less amazed at his wisdom, thinking it to be no less than divine inspiration.

This Merlin also makes his prophecies and bails before Arthur ever shows up. It would be a great adaptation that takes Merlin out of the picture before King Arthur takes power, and instead leaves everyone trying to figure out what he meant.

Split Morgan and Morgause Back Into Two People

Originally, it’s Arthur’s other half-sister, Morgause, who was the mother of Mordred the traitor. Morgan’s already got a number of murdery plans without also attributing Mordred’s to her. In fact, women other than Morgan and Guinevere get left out in pretty much every modern adaptation save The Mists of Avalon. The Lady of the Lake has a great backstory with Merlin, where she refuses to give him love unless he teachers her magic. Then she traps him in a tree. That’s more fun than her usual demotion to strange woman lying in ponds distributing swords as a basis for a system of government. How about Arthur’s mother Igraine, who Uther impregnates by pretending to be her husband? And who gets her by waging war on her husband? Lots of women with interesting stories to tell who aren’t Morgan and Guinevere, awesome as they may be.

These are just a few things from the rich and diverse Arthurian tradition that we’d like to see more than just endlessly focusing on Arthur himself. The richness of the story comes from the fact that it’s constantly been re-written to suit the tastes and issues of the era. And yet, we’ve somehow ended up with a very concentrated popular conception of that story, when there’s a lot more storytellers could be doing with it.

http://io9.gizmodo.com/the-things-adaptations-of-king-arthur-should-be-includi-1683204285