Saturday, 1 December 2012

Carnival - analysis and reflection

In the work done last month, I wondered what would arise from it as I proceeded. I have to admit some apprehension, some excitement, fear, and some difficulty afterwards letting it go. (You can see a bit of the emotion in that I hardly blogged at all apart from the carnival, 8 of 11 posts, in November.)

I began on day 1. I was reasonably sure that if I did not work every day, I would fail to finish with an adequate product. I worried about the delays in the October Carnival. I wondered if I could fit everything into one post. (I kept independent back ups on a test blog, and I tested on various devices like handhelds, laptops, etc to ensure it was technically OK - shows quite well on my Blackberry for instance). The columns, incidentally, which allow just a little more juxtaposition, are simply an extra table. They were not particularly easy to manage - so I am not sure I recommend it. I just worked with a simple editor and notepad where necessary.

Mid month, I had scanned roughly 2000 posts and selected about 10%. (low signal to noise ration). We ended up with about 350 posts contributed by about 90 persons.  The art and commentary also just appeared.

I had vague goals: how many posts written by women would I find?  How many different languages could I unearth?  Could there be representation from several religious traditions?  Are all continents represented?  And I am biased towards the aural and oral these days (except in posts like this one) so I was glad to include some music.

Then there was how to organize the thing - by book? - no, too much detail. By major section and century? - eventually, this emerged.

Then the content - the month began and ended with such trouble that by the end I realized I could have created a litany instead of a carnival. The idea of using John Donne just appeared - and with le Donne as mentor, it stuck. Mid month, I went to a lecture on the anniversaries and was utterly delighted with the summing up of my history from childhood to liturgy in these poems.

So instead of  Torah, Prophets, Writings, NT, various related extra-canonical items, archaeology and the usual dose of polemics and current events that simply cannot be ignored, I arrived at the Patriarchs, Prophets, 'waters' for the whole Bible. Apostles, Martyrs, and Virgins - and I left out Confessors and Doctors - though there's hay to be made here.

The idea sets the carnival in the 16th century. I bet some earlier and later settings (medieval, 19th C) might also be a challenge to other creators.  Anyway, it was a good month for reading John Donne again even if occasionally out of context.

So - did I represent all continents? Yes, almost:

  • North America dominates with about 65 (25% female) of the approximately 90 persons represented. 
  • South America - only 1 from Brazil. 
  • Asia, a couple from India, 
  • Africa - 4 I think (but I guess a couple - the Arabic fundamentalist, and one from Malawi, and maybe 2 others). 
  • Australia/NZ had 5 persons represented, 2 female.
  • Europe - Britain, 7 of which 2 are female, Continent, 7 or so, none from Germany, but Italy, France (at least Languedoc for content), the Netherlands, Finland, Norway, were represented. I know several scholars from Denmark, but they don't blog I suppose...
What do you think?  Could something more than Noyse emerge from the Biblioblogs, heading toward that equal music?


  1. What a good idea, a historical and literary commentary on the carnival :) Also really interesting reading, I just hope that you have not "set the bar" so high others fear to begin the task.

    1. I just returned from a live stage performance of a Christmas Carol - if I were doing carnival this month I would see if I could make the ghosts fit somehow. This show made me laugh and cry as if I were 50 years younger. Superbly acted.

  2. All I can say is WOW! Thanks Bob, for your diligence and hard work. I am going to "reblog" this soon and I hope give it a bit more circulation, as it truly is a nice representation of all the amazing things that go on month by month by our colleagues...Just noticed your translation of the Pslams...sounds fascinating, I have to order it...

    1. James - thank you. I am delighted that you would order Seeing the Psalter. This is a serious workbook on the Hebrew text. I am just completing the design of images of the ancient music of the te'amim to use as separators for the five books. Similar to David's Lament in the carnival. Of course the psalms are meant to be heard as well as seen - but our society is so visual. I have had good feedback on the translations from two poets - so I think the book will be very worthwhile (what else can one say about the fruit of a lifetime!)

      Energion-direct - per the link, has 30% discounts on the book for prepaid orders. Henry is holding the discounted price at 30% till December 3.

  3. Putting together the carnival sounds like hard work! Thanks for doing it, though. There was good stuff there.

    1. Thanks James - I expect you have the talent and staying power for it too. It's collecting and juxtaposing - (and suppressing the desire to comment). I found I could get some creativity by the verb I chose, and occasionally there were such nuggets in the post, I would quote a sentence from it. You can volunteer for next year through Phillip Long.

  4. Really fun to read this! Even as I prepare for the next carnival, to post in a day or two....

    1. Thank-you Abram - I have been thinking of you as this month's creator (with some relief).