Friday, August 04, 2006

Is it August? or me?

Maybe it's me, but all the blogs I read lately seem to have been authored by the same whiny post-adolescent with micro-tunnel vision. I've read blog entries about taking licensing exams, burning fingers on a hot steering wheel, preparing for vacations and other illuminating topics.

I'm thinking it's half me -- I just want to scream at a narcissist monologue -- and half August. No one can summon a critical or creative thought.

That said, I'll have to justify this blog entry with a web site offering. These photos can be viewed as a mini-vacation -- and you don't even have to do the climbing (or be ferried up in a basket).

17 comments:

  1. fab photos -- makes one wish to see a dramatic film set there. (Odd, how much the visual interruption of the copyright notice impairs appreciation of such photos; it differs in kind, not merely degree, with a painter's signature, seems.)

    so: August is the cruelest month? And after that: September of the passing year

    cheers,
    d.i.

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  2. Let's hope Setpember gusts in with a breath of inspiration. Of course, where you are, that's likelier to happen than here! But one never knows the ways of the Muse.

    Rachel

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  3. Thanks Rachel for the link to the photos. As for the Varlaam Monastery-- Unreal. That's magnificent.

    Also, thanks for the kind words that you left about my poetic/purpose ramblings.

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  4. Sam -- Yes, it's otherworldly. I was happy to come cross your blog entry. It really expanded the breath of my day, and I'm grateful.

    Rachel

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  5. Hi Rachel

    (If this ever gets through to you, I will be amazedddddd!)


    I was looking through my list of “To Do’s” and came across your blog with the link to the spectacular photos of Meteora in Greece. I visited there a goodly number of years ago, and, in fact, have an icon that I bought there on the wall in my bedroom. On the walls in one of the rooms in the most frequented monastery were incredible paintings of the various deaths the martyrs suffered, but it also seemed clear to me that these thick stone walls implied that women were also the enemy: “He [the priest guide] knew that in this city of men/ this eyrie/ we are the enemy/at least one reason for windows hacked/four feet into stone walls raised on top/of rocks a thousand feet high/the sheer drop cut by occasional outcrops/of pin oak, and caves gouged out by men/who fled the flesh.” The quotation is from a poem (“In the Monastery at Meteora, Greece”) that I wrote about that exciting trip, published in my chapbook Column of Silence.

    (Well, let's see if I made it through all the forms to fill out!)

    Joyce

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  6. Joyce -- Yay! You got the forms filled out right and got your comment in here.

    How amazing about your having visited Meteora. And how nice to have a quote from your poem. I'd like to read the whole thing. My understanding is that these Greek monasteries were so rabid about female presence they even banned female animals from the premises. I have vertigo and couldn't possibly climb to such places anyway, but I'd love to read a poem about it! Please send, or post here.

    Rachel

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  7. rather a dramatic exhibition of "I want to be alone!" From what Joyce says, it sounds as if the place might now be a cross between (still?) functioning monastery plus pilgrim-tourist location? [It seems almost reason enough to go to Greece. ;-)]

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  8. Joyce Nower12:37 PM

    Hi Rachel - Here's the entire poem. It's from a chapbook entitled Column of Silence (Avranches Press, 2001). The woman in the poem was a member of my group.

    By the way, David,as far as I remember there were several monasteries situated on top of peaks in Meteora. They are probably not all open to the public, however.

    In the Monastery at Meteora, Greece

    For a moment the abbot saw Eve.
    He singled you out as he might have her,
    alabaster cheeks lightly rouged,
    silver drops, body a swirl
    of curves like the filigree of birds
    and leaves in the carved iconostasis
    in the monastery nave.

    With a harsh hand he led you
    to Byzantine frescoes where the Virgin
    nestles cheek on cheek with a Jesus-child,
    or with chin on one shoulder, laments,
    a hand raised in supplication.
    He knew that in this city of men,
    this eyrie,

    we are the enemy,
    at least one reason for windows hacked
    four feet into stone walls raised on top
    of rocks a thousand feet high,
    the sheer drop cut by occasional outcrops
    of pin oak, and caves gouged out by men
    who fled the flesh.

    The only exit is upward
    and it is time. Armed with silver cross,
    black robe, gray beard, and groans of the martyrs,
    chest pierced by spike, back split by ax,
    nails driven into feet, their haloed heads
    severed sacred portraits on the ground,
    it is time to show you your salvation.

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  9. Joyce Nower12:55 PM

    Hi Rachel - Here’s the rest of the poem. (Column of Silence, Avranches Press, 2001) The woman in the poem was a member of my group.

    David, there are several monasteries on top of peaks in Meteora, but they are probably not all open to the public.




    In the Monastery at Meteora, Greece

    For a moment the abbot saw Eve.
    He singled you out as he might have her,
    alabaster cheeks lightly rouged,
    silver drops, body a swirl
    of curves like the filigree of birds
    and leaves in the carved iconostasis
    in the monastery nave.

    With a harsh hand he led you
    to Byzantine frescoes where the Virgin
    nestles cheek on cheek with a Jesus-child,
    or with chin on one shoulder, laments,
    a hand raised in supplication.
    He knew that in this city of men,
    this eyrie,

    we are the enemy,
    at least one reason for windows hacked
    four feet into stone walls raised on top
    of rocks a thousand feet high,
    the sheer drop cut by occasional outcrops
    of pin oak, and caves gouged out by men
    who fled the flesh.

    The only exit is upward
    and it is time. Armed with silver cross,
    black robe, gray beard, and groans of the martyrs,
    chest pierced by spike, back split by ax,
    nails driven into feet, their haloed heads
    severed sacred portraits on the ground,
    it is time to show you your salvation.

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  10. Joyce -- this is gorgeous. Thank you so much for posting the whole thing. What an amazing experience and set of images. Does justice to the amazing pictures. Thank you for sparing me the climb.

    Rachel

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  11. What a fearsome and striking poem. ("The only exit is upward" seems a particularly apt line.) I don't know if "iconostasis" is your neologism, Joyce, but it's certainly a splendidly compact and thought-provoking word (rather like a good pulling into English of the sorts of combined words one associates with German). Makes one wonder about other poss. combination forms for icono- or for -stasis! Icono-aperspectivity? Salt-pillar-static?

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  12. Hey Rachel! Just saw your poems in Cranky -nice job, great magazine!

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  13. Hey, Jeannine! Thanks for your congrats and for letting me know. I haven't got my copy yet, so I'm glad to know it must be on its way.

    Rachel

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  14. i, Rachel - Thanks for the kind words about a poem I hadn’t read in quite some time. As for climbing, no, I didn’t! And I sure didn’t get up there in a net or bucket!!!! I got to the monastery via bus and pedestrian bridge. I found my booklet on Meteora last night (In Greece, you can purchase wonderfully illustrated and affordable booklets for every site you visit!), and it reminded me that in 1948 a public road had been built in the mountains behind the various monasteries. Apparently only a few monks who act as guides live in the six preserved monasteries. (There were originally 24.) My poem describes what I saw in the monastery called Great Meteoron.



    Good morning, David - No, I can’t claim that beautiful word “iconostasis.” The iconostasis in a church or monastery (Eastern orthodox, including Russian and Greek) is the screen separating the inner sanctuary where only the priests can go, and the public church. (One of the most beautiful I found in a Cossack church in southern Russia in Novacherkaask. I have a photo of it on my bedroom wall.)


    There are thousands of reason to go to Greece! I went with the Classical Alliance. The tour was conducted by a classicist at San Diego State University. It was one of the great experiences of my life!

    Joyce

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  15. OK, I'm a big fan now.

    Thanks for the link. And for reminding us that the whininess in the late summer blogosphere isn't all-pervasive.

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  16. Hi Carmi -- Meteora was a piece of luck -- a lucky Stumble (I blogged about Stumble, maybe it was in July). Amazing that I actually have a poet friend who turns out to have been there and written this spectacular poem. But then, I'm not really surprised, as I believe the universe to be intentional, despite evidence that can seem contrary.

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  17. Rachel,
    here, August has been Bhau Kalchuri season (with a poem on same blogged this morning) -- a good way of passing the summer torpor.

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