Thursday, 10 November 2011

Psalm 1 - illustration of my new approach

Here ye! Hear ye! Extra! Extra! הנה Hey! הנה Behold!

This post illustrates how I am developing my visual structures in the Psalter. One year after the Psalms conference in Oxford, when I had just completed a first complete marathon (for me) read of the Hebrew Psalter in 2 months, I am now ready to focus on seeing - and hopefully eliminate the tendency to blather on about irrelevancies. If you would like to see the private work as it appears and as I work through each psalm again in sequence, drop me a comment or send me an email [bobmacdonald at] and I will let you know where the readable pre-publication ms is.

I find I write differently for paper than for the web. The design problems are different and there is a need for frequent revision and editing. Also - it's the-whites-of-their-eyes issue. The whole will emerge when I am given enough time. It will represent all the visual aspects of seeing the psalms that I discover - but with as little commentary as I can manage.

I am still posting notes at Poetry of Christ. They are more commentary than visual, but they will morph into more visual for the last 50-odd posts scheduled there to March 31, 2012. That blog illustrates why blogs are unsuitable for real writing. So does this one. I have revised all those translations from 2010 by the hundredsthousands. That's not blogging. They hardly have any of the original post left - a few bits and pieces if I want to illustrate some day how writing develops.

Now if you want to help, here's what I need. One or two persons willing to point out mistakes and unnecessary comment.  And clarity of focus - when am I ambiguous or confusing?  Matters of taste or gloss we might not agree on. And of theology, I hope to say little but let the text speak for itself.  Also I don't think I am discovering magic - but rather the work of human poets and redactors with a devoted purpose.  What I see must have been possible for them to see before and as they created the poems in their present form.

So I think the Psalter was deliberately constructed in the form I see it in, and I think it was perfectly possible for editors and writers to do such a thing as a response within their ordinary-extraordinary lives.  There were great poets among them. Children also - Psalm 114 is the work of a young genius. Perhaps great musicians too.  Psalm 89, on the demise of the Davidic monarchy, is like the Chaconne in D Minor, on the death of Bach's first wife. And Symphony? Psalm 78, Brahms, Psalm 84 later Mozart, 86 early Mozart, Psalm 90-91 The Art of the Fugue. 139 Bairstow, I sat down. I am getting carried away

What the Hilliard ensemble did with the Chaconne is illustrative of what I would like to hear in the text of the Psalter, the inner joins and the cantus firmus.

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