Friday, January 31, 2014

Milton: A Master of Run-On Sentences


     I'm about halfway through the collected works of John Milton. It's a project that's taking some time. Mercifully the poetry is at the front of the volume. That's good because most of Milton's prose writings have little intrinsic interest. Aside from a few exceptions they are religious polemics against the high church prelates of his day. Reading such things tends to lower one's estimate of the author. Especially as their tone is beneath even the usual level of political polemics. I'll see if the tone improves with the more political pieces later in the book. It's hard to imagine the author of things like Paradise Lost and Sampson Agonistes using "fart jokes" as arguments, but it's there all right.

     Be that as it may there is another problem besides crudity to Milton's prose. I've discovered that he may be the ultimate master of the run-on sentence in the English language. Just to give the flavour of things here's a quote from one of his essays, 'Reason of Church Government Urged'. Take a deep breath:

     "For not to speak of that knowledge that rests in  the contemplation of natural causes and dimensions, which must need be a lower wisdom, as the object is low, certain it is, that he who hath obtained in more than the scantiest measure to know anything distinctly of God, and of his true worship, and what is infallibly good and happy in the state of man's life, though vulgarly not so esteemed; he that hath obtained to know this, the only high valuable wisdom indeed, remembering also that God, even to a strictness, requires the improvement of his intrusted gifts, cannot but sustain a sorer burden of mind, and more pressing, than any sustainable toil or weight which the body can labour under, how and in what manner he shall dispose and employ those sums of knowledge and illumination, which God has sent him into this world to trade with."

     Yes, that's all one sentence, and it is not an exception. I think it makes grammatical sense, but I'm not certain. Reading this sort of things is about as fun and as "educating" as reading post-modernist nonsense. I hereby nominate John Milton as the patron saint of post-modernism.


Friday, January 17, 2014

CNT-f Faces Eviction


     The CNT-f is the larger of the two anarchosyndicalist/revolutionary syndicalist union federations in France. They have traditionally been called the 'CNT-Vignoles' after their headquarters at 33 rue Vignoles in Paris. They have survived a previous attempt to evict them in 1996, but now they are facing a fresh attack from the Mayor of Paris.

     The following is their statement on the events. The original French version can be here. You can follow events from either their website or from the site of their newspaper Combat Syndicaliste. These events seem reminiscent of the eviction of the Spanish CGT from their headquarters at 18 Via Laietana in Barcelona back in 2011. Hopefully this time around the good guys will win against the government.



     In a recent letter the City of Paris has come to unilaterally terminate the ongoing discussions about the continuation of the CNT in its historic location at 33 Rue des Vignoles. We were also "invited" to leave on the pretext of carry out 'rehabilitation' work.

     Previously in 1996 the then-Mayor Tiberi voted for the demolition of 33. She had to retreat in the face of mobilization of the local residents, associations and the CNT.

     We, paramedics, masons, primary school teachers, labourers, nurses' aides, truck drivers, teachers' aides, metal workers, architects, technicians, journalists, postal workers, etc. who form the CNT unions in region of Paris:

     We who in this XXnd arrondissement walk in the footsteps of the Paris Commune and those of the Bourses du Travail of the CGT in the beginning of the 20th century:

     We who at 33 Rue des Vignoles walk in the footsteps of our older brothers and sisters of the Confederacion Nacional de Trabahadores, anti-fascists, survivors of the Nazi camps, the Resistance and the liberation of Paris:

     We who continue the struggle for the emancipation of the working world at the beginning of the 21st century:

     We who to maintain this place in acceptable conditions while the City of Paris has done nothing for almost 20 years:

     We will resist again. Yesterday in the face of Tiberi it was the violence of bulldozers. Today with Delancé it is the violence of King Money.

     This CNT has called a public meeting for information, solidarity and support from all who want a living Paris, a revolutionary Paris.
15 hours: Information on the status of 33

18 hours: Concert with Serge Utgé-Royo

20 hours: Convivial meal