Posts Tagged ‘Blawg Review’

Blawg Review 325.4

November 4, 2013
File:BM, AES Egyptian Sulpture ~ Colossal bust of Ramesses II, the 'Younger Memnon' (1250 BC) (Room 4).jpg

The Younger Memnon statue of Ramesses II in the British Museum. Its imminent arrival in London may have inspired the poem (Image via Wikipedia)

Shelley’s “Ozymandias”

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desart. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

“Ozymandias”, the famous sonnet written by English romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822), was first published in the January 11, 1818 issue of The Examiner in London, and later in Shelley’s 1819 collection “Rosalind and Helen, A Modern Eclogue; with Other Poems”. It  also forms part of a posthumous compilation of his poems published in 1826.

Percy Bysshe Shelley imbibed his radical philo...

Written in atypical iambic pentameter, “Ozymandias” is said to have been inspired by the British Museum’s acquisition of a large fragment of a statue of Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II from the thirteenth-century B.C.E:

Weighing 7.25 tons, this fragment of his statue was cut from a single block of two-coloured granite. He is shown wearing the nemes head-dress surmounted by a cobra diadem.

The sculptor has used a slight variation of normal conventions to relate his work to the viewer, angling the eyes down slightly, so that the statue relates more to those looking at it.

It was retrieved from the mortuary temple of Ramesses at Thebes (the ‘Ramesseum’) by Giovanni Belzoni in 1816. Belzoni wrote a fascinating account of his struggle to remove it, both literally, given its colossal size, and politically. The hole on the right of the torso is said to have been made by members of Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt at the end of the eighteenth century, in an unsuccessful attempt to remove the statue.

Ozymandias also featured prominently in a trailer for an episode of Breaking Bad:

As Katy Waldman at Slate writes,

Here is the joke, says [Romantic scholar Paul] Fry: Confronted by such a tapestry of unreliability, we think we have attained insight into Ozymandias. The sculptor was taken in too, when he tried to commit a version of his ruler to stone. But time warped his handiwork just as surely as it will reframe Shelley’s poem, muddle our recollections, and drag the leavings of our own lives through “lone and level sands.” (Are you laughing yet?) For Fry, in other words, “Ozymandias” links together a chain of egomaniacs who believe they have arrived at a stable form of knowing. It coaxes us into a glib understanding of its subject that it does not necessarily share—and the trench between that easy, seductive judgment and the truth (whatever it is) is the real irony.

Ramses II has not, actually, been forgotten. Nor was his ghost receding in Shelley’s time: The ancient Egyptians fascinated Napoleon, who brought archeologist-historians with him when he invaded Egypt in 1798, and Lord Byron, whose journals are littered with speculation about long-dead civilizations. (In fact, Byron’s adventures in Greece, Albania, and Turkey the year before the sonnet was written led Fry to wonder whether this “Napoleon of verse” was the “traveler from an antique land.”) And while the 18th-century “relic” poem—of which “Ozymandias” is an exemplar—has a memento mori, all-is-ephemeral vibe, sonnets traditionally celebrate the perseverance of art across centuries, even across the threshold separating life from death. So if Ozymandias and his sculptor were not right, they weren’t entirely wrong, either.

No, not that Ozymandias, but I did enjoy watching “The Watchmen”.

So why choose Ozymandias as the theme for my posthumous Blawg Review tribute?

Aside from the obscurity of the multiple perspectives—the anonymity of the story-teller, the traveller and the subject— Shelley’s poem presents an intriguing counterpoise to the late Editor of Blawg Review, our beloved “Ed Post”. Ed could be  the speaker who meets the traveler, or the traveler himself. Ed was peripatetic both in real life and virtual life. He met many of us, yet none, as far as I know, knew him. He travelled extensively and was fond of posting photographs, always obscuring his features, so the eye was forced to see a broader perspective.

One thing does remain. While traditional legal writing in the form of law reviews, case comments and firm newsletters may end up in the dustbin of legal history, legal blogging (blawging) is vital to the future of the legal profession   Blawg Review remains a monument to Ed’s legacy, his dedication and  perseverance. Ed Post was an important part of the Blawgosphere.  We may not really know the man, his family or his close friends, but we know Ed through Blawg Review and how it brought us together, if only for a time. We, the members of the Blawgosphere, will remember Blawg Review:

Monuments to great kings fade; mighty empires rise, decline and inevitably fall. All that remains is art…and the art of blawging.

And so, dear readers, what follows are some of last week’s posts that represent the best of the Blawgosphere:

(more…)

Ed, We Hardly Knew Ye

October 30, 2013

It is with a heavy heart that I heard the sad news of the passing of Ed at Blawg Review from his son on Twitter:

Ed Blawg Review Announcement

Many lawyers and blawgers knew Ed through his highly influential and entertaining Blog Carnival: Blawg Review:

Ed was one of the first to graciously invite me to host on Blawg Review. It was a daunting task, but a labour of love. It was through Ed that I was able to meet so many of the blawgers in the Blawgosphere when I started this blawg back on August 10th, 2009. I also followed Ed on Twitter: @blawgreviewBlawgReviewEd-751947-784057

Ed was a complex man of many talents. Many have met Ed in person, but few, if any, knew his real identity. I never did. All I knew about Ed was through our email exchanges, when Ed would randomly send an email linking to an idea for a post, or he would send a DM (Direct Message) on Twitter with a wry reply to a tweet.  Ed enjoyed travelling the world and meeting new people. He often posted whimsical self-portraits; photos of himself in exotic locales, obscuring his face to keep up the intrigue of “Ed Post”.

Ed was a very private person. So private, that when I met him for the first time in early 2010 in Toronto at my former office in North York, I had no idea what he looked like. It was snowing and bitterly cold. Typical winter weather for Toronto. Ed was waiting at the lobby wearing a hooded parka. He approached me and simply said: “Hi, Antonin. I’m Ed.” We had an enjoyable lunch across the street at an Italian restaurant. As circumspect as he was, Ed could tell a great story. In fact, all that I could pry out of him was that he was a fellow Canadian, had practiced corporate law, but was since retired. He enjoyed his anonymity, but solely to promote the Blawgosphere and each of the blawgers who contributed to his Blawg Review.

Ed could be a tough critic and would not shy away from controversy, but always with a wry sense of humour and never with any animosity. Although I often chided him to reveal his identity, he never chose to do so and I never asked him who he really was. The mystery was not for its own sake, but, and I firmly believe this, Ed enjoyed helping others. Ed was a Renaissance Man. He enjoyed the Classics.

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If I had to characterize Ed, it would be “Fifth Business” from the famous novel by Canadian, Robertson Davies:

“Who are you? Where do you fit into poetry and myth? Do you know who I think you are, Ramsay? I think you are Fifth Business. “You don’t know what that is? Well, in opera in a permanent company of the kind we keep up in Europe you must have a prima donna — always a soprano, always the heroine, often a fool; and a tenor who always plays the lover to her; and then you must have a contralto, who is a rival to the soprano, or a sorceress or something; and a basso, who is the villain or the rival or whatever threatens the tenor.

“So far, so good. But you cannot make a plot work without another man, and he is usually a baritone, and he is called in the profession Fifth Business, because he is the odd man out, the person who has no opposite of the other sex. And you must have Fifth Business because he is the one who knows the secret of the hero’s birth, or comes to the assistance of the heroine when she thinks all is lost, or keeps the hermitess in her cell, or may even be the cause of somebody’s death if that is part of the plot. The prima donna and the tenor, the contralto and the basso, get all the best music and do all the spectacular things, but you cannot manage the plot without Fifth Business! It is not spectacular, but it is a good line of work, I can tell you, and those who play it sometimes have a career that outlasts the golden voices. Are you Fifth Business? You had better find out.”

Ed tried to revive Blawg Review, but it was clear that the Blawgosphere had changed; some say for the worse.  Ed was a teacher. He taught me the value of writing for writing’s sake. He thought that blawging benefited the blawger as much as the reader. Writing about what others have written was like a journey of discovery. As Robertson Davies also wrote in “Fifth Business:

I liked the company of most of my colleagues, who were about equally divided among good men who were good teachers, awful men who were awful teachers, and the grotesques and misfits who drift into teaching and are so often the most educative influences a boy meets in school. If a boy can’t have a good teacher, give him a psychological cripple or an exotic failure to cope with; don’t just give him a bad, dull teacher.

Ed was good company and a good teacher, in equal measure.

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It was a pleasant surprise to hear from Ed this summer, as we had lost contact over the last couple of years. The internet is a funny thing. Things that are vitally important one day, are easily forgotten in the ephemera and ether of our daily lives.

Ed told me he was in Toronto and invited me for a coffee. We met and, frankly, I didn’t recognize him. Not for the reason that Ed was nondescript. He wasn’t. It was that he had lost a tremendous amount of weight. We went across the street from my new office to Tim Horton’s. Ed regaled me with stories about his recent travels to Puerto Rico, where he stayed in a tent and lived a spartan existence, met many new friends and fellow world travelers.  Half way into the conversation, Ed finally confided in me that he was recently diagnosed with inoperable esophageal cancer and that the prognosis was not good. I was crestfallen, but tried not to show it. Ed was philosophical, as always.

He was genuinely proud of his accomplishments, the greatest in his own words, “My family, my children and my friends.”

BVws3tbCIAAkk8fEd asked me to keep the sad news about his health confidential. As I respected his anonymity, I respected his wishes. I gave Ed my copy of Brian Cuban’s new book, Shattered Image, for which he was genuinely grateful.

I just wish that I could tell his family that I considered Ed a mentor and a friend.

Ed, we hardly knew ye.

You will not be forgotten.

Rest in peace, my friend.

Blawg Review #319: The Power of Myth and the Myth of Power

April 30, 2012

Welcome to Blawg Review No. 319, which follows U.S. litigator and lobbyist, Dan Hull’s elegant No. 318 at the widely acclaimed What About Paris?

I previously had the privilege of hosting Blawg Review No. 250 employing the theme of the Bushidō (武士道), or “the way of the warrior,” the moral code of the Samurai.

Christopher Columbus, head-and-shoulders portr...

Similar to Christopher Columbus, who on this date back in 1492, received his commission of exploration from Spain; I invite you to join me on this Blawg Review journey, where we will explore two conflicting themes: The Power of Myth and the Myth of Power. (more…)


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