Saturday, May 2, 2009

Saturday Night on a Long Weekend

It's Saturday night and it's been a busy day. This morning I had the monthly meeting of the LGBT History Action Group at QAHC. It's Pride Festival month next month and we are planning various things, primarily around Pride Fair Day on June 13 and then two weeks later there is the Brisbane Queer History Bus Tour. Gai Lemon and I are putting that together and I think it will be a fun day. Gai and I used to do Queer Radio together on 4ZZZ back in the early '90s.

But anyway today was meeting day and I was sort of chairing and sort of minute taking, sort of. I'm definitely not the best at chairing and I never usually put up my hand for minute taking. When I was working as interim NTEU organiser at University of Qld (UQ), minute taking was one of my duties, so I had no choice then.

Afterwards. I made my way to UQ, with a little bit of reconnoitering of a couple of bus tour sites on the way. I was aided and abetted in that by Mick from the meeting today. He lives in Annerley and drove me to Dutton Park where I can walk across the bridge to UQ.

I really love doing that walk - you get a spectacular view of the border ranges over to the southwest and sometimes you see some amazing scenes in the river. One day, crossing the bridge some people stopped me to point out a dolphin playing in the river below. Now that was stunning.

No dolphins today. But the border ranges in the distance seemed so close you could touch them. And on the way Mick took me reconnoitering some sites on the list for the bus tour. And as usual I discovered something new too. I never knew that in South Brisbane cemetery at Dutton Park there is a memorial to all the men and the one woman who were executed in Queensland at the nearby Boggo Rd Gaol. It's a very simple plaque on the grave of one of them and it lists all their names and the dates of their lives and their ethnicity. For those who don't know, Queensland abolished the death penalty back in 1922. It was the first territory of the now Commonwealth, then British Empire, to do so. The cemetery is right by the bridge and it has a bearing on the History tour because definitely at least one of those executed was innocent. He was Chinese and was set up to take the rap for the Mayne murder. Thanks to that murder, Patrick Mayne became a wealthy man and the Mayne family would play an important role in the development of Brisbane and especailly of the University of Qld. And the Mayne family would play a part too in the queer history of Brisbane, not to mention the Catholic history too. In St Stephens Roman Catholic Cathedral there is a remarkable set of stained glass windows above the altar. I say remarkable because the windows display the Ascension and the central window shows the ascending Christ and directly below him, earthbound in contrast to his heaven-bound form, is Mary his mother. Mary is not mentioned amongst those present at the Ascension in the various New Testament account of the event, although Acts records her as present at the first Pentecost.

Did the gay sons of Patrick Mayne specify the details of the image when commissioning the window or does it tap into older iconography of the Ascension? I presume it's the latter and I wonder where the idea first saw expression. Whenever it might have been, I cited that window as evidence in my Rosary essay for the tradition reading Mary as present at all the key events of the Christ story, a tradition instantiated in the traditional Rosary (and a tradition diminished by John Paul 2's Luminous Mysteries - very little Marian about them at all, no Marian glue to bind them together at all). Does the window stand in the lineage of ancient Marian midrash? And how appropriate that a gay man - (a) Mary - should be responsible for commissioning it.

But I digress (I've been wanting to say that for some time). Because I really want to get across the bridge to UQ or, at least to the reason why I was going to UQ, one of the reasons at any rate. When I got my first pay from Griffith Uni back in March, my first pay for a long time and my first pay for academic work for several years, I thought I would celebrate and treat myself. Now while I used to do Queer Radio on 4ZZZ for several years too long ago, for some time now I've been mainly listening to 'classical' music and ABC Fm and 4MBS radio primarily. For those who don't know, the radio world of classical music is quite remarkable, in fact quite diverse, particularly on our ABC. For some time now ABC FM has been playing the CD set Jerusalem, a production of Jordi Savall and Montserrat Figueras. Needless to say I really like it. Well, with my first pay I bought a copy through Fishpond is good for struggling scholars and cultural critics like myself because you don't need a credit card or even a debit card to buy from them. In Australia anyway, you can transfer money form your bank account to theirs. They also don't charge for delivery for orders over $50. If there is any problem with Fishpond it's that their delivery is sloooooow.

But I'd had an email notice a week or so ago saying that it should be arriving at the designated delivery address around about now. Being an Honorary Research thingie in the School of History Philosophy Religion and Classics, I've been using the UQ address as my delivery address for just about all orders from Fishpond, Amazon and similar sites, in Amazon's case for may years. So my main reason to get to UQ today was to pick up Jerusalem which I was sure would be there. I was right, it was there, I collected it and I'm listening to it now and drinking a glass of NZ pinot grigio.

Jerusalem, it's a two CD set embedded in a book in a plethora of languages. I happen to love 'Middle Eastern' music and this set has ME music to the max (I've been itching to say that too). The lyrics are in Arabic, Hebrew, Armenian, Greek and Latin. The singers and musicians are mostly Jewish, Palestinian, Armenian, Turkish, Greek together with Savall's and Figueras' own companies. The music incorporates biblical, Quranic, midrashic and a range of other material including a piece based on the 3rd century BCE Jewish versions of the Sybilline Oracles. I want to make a plug here for putting the Sybillines into both the Old and New Testaments. Modern, primarily evangelical Christians baulk at the thought of the Sybil being included in scripture but, for ancient Christians and Jews, the Holy Spirit inspired both Jewish and pagan prophets alike, including the Sybil. I suspect this fact should have significance for inter-faith dialogues. It is a move made for appropriation, no doubt, but a very generous appropriation. And that is how the Buddha became Josaphat, a saint primarlily of Eastern Christendom.

Jerusalem celebrates the city sacred to three faiths - Judaism, Christianity and Islam. If I have any complaint it's not musical but is to do with historiography. Pagan Jerusalem is completely elided. Granted that we don't have the pagan musical traditions as we do Christian, Muslim and Jewish. But a lot of ancient music has been recreated or at least provides a rich site of creative reconsruction. I would have liked it had Jerusalem had had a go at exploring some of that world too. It's the shadow world of biblical religions and the bedrock of biblical religions too. Without the too often denied pagan matrix, the womb of Judaism/Samaritanism/Karaism, Christianity and Islam, then none of these religions could have existed, certainly not as we know them and live them (even and most especially the Left Behind Christianities).

I don't know if this post has a point except to record and share some of my day. It's been a busy day, an exhausting day, an enriching day. I did get to St Mary's tonight to check out the new regime there now that Peter and Terry have left. I plan to write something on that very soon. I will also write some more on Jerusalem. I also plan to update this post with embedded links. But for now I'm feeling very tired and consequently both solitary and self-conscious. I want to write more on the Virgin Mary (I've said so little on her), more on Jerusalem, and I've promised pieces on prophecy, parables and the Shepherd of Hermas. And very soon I will write something on why same sex marriage really sucks and should be resisted by all us queer folks. It will also include reflections on love and relationships and sex between same sex folks especially us guys.

But I also suspect I've had a tad too much to drink and so soon I won't be making any sense at all. If I have at all. I should call it a night. I will double check that all the links are embedded tomorrow - if I have time, it looks like a busy day too.

Oh yes and here is a little taste of Jerusalem:

And some more from Hesperion XXI and co

"Lavava y sospirava" an anonymous sephardi song played by Hespèrion XXI and sang by Montserrat Figueras.
Sepharad was the Jewish community In Spain, especially in the territories controlled by the moors in medieval times; when the catholics took Granada, the last moor kingdom in Spain, in 1492, the jews were expeled, most of them had to emigrate to Portugal, where they were expeled later, and Netherlands.
(Please excuse my bad english)

1 comment:

  1. Hi Michael!

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