The First Blush

“We’re so distracted by how things end, we usually forget how beautiful the beginning was.”

— Ryan Vandeput

Advertisements

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum, bitches

“Nolite te bastardes carborundorum, bitches”
— Margaret Atwood; The Haidmaid’s Tale.

(broken Latin, meaning ‘don’t let the bastards grind you down’)

Many will recognise this quote from Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ (and the subsequent – and epic – Hulu adaptation for the small screen). But where does this ‘fake’ Latin phrase originate? Michael Fontaine, a classics professor from Cornell University; and this blog’s author, Ryan Vandeput, an English Literature Masters Graduate from the University of Leicester, took their best guesses.

“It was likely an old school joke, for those who took Latin class. It’s not really ‘true’ Latin; rather, it sounds like something a school pupil made up for fun. It might even be something Margaret Atwood remembers from her schooling & childhood” surmised Vandeput. Another similar Latin joke phrase with the same supposed translation is “illegitimi non carborundorum,” which Fontaine noted was equally fake—though it’s perhaps a little more legit as Latin, since it at least doesn’t use the made-up “bastardes.”

“Illegitimi is a real Latin word,” Fontaine continues. “It could indeed mean ‘bastards’ (though it’s not the usual word, which is spurius or nothos).”

“My guess is that c. 1890-1900, some American people thought it would be funny to pretend like ‘carborundum’ was actually a Latin word meaning ‘needing to be worn down’ or (making allowances for ignorance, which is surely part of it) ‘to wear down.’ If the phrase was originally illegitimis non carborundum, then the original idea was that ‘there must not be a wearing down (of you) by the bastards,’ or in plain English, ‘don’t let the bastards get you down.’ Either then or soon after, illegitimis would have become illegitimi, which changes the grammar, but most English speakers can’t tell because our grammar doesn’t work that way. That would pretty quickly give you illegitimi non carborundum”

“The key to the mystery is knowing that carborundum was a trade name (for an abrasive scrubbing powder used for cleaning),” he continued. “Whatever it was, it’s not in use any more, so we’ve lost all memory of it. Nowadays it just looks like a strange, broken Latin word to us,” Fontaine concluded.

— Ryan Vandeput, 2018

Pride Season: How we can learn from the Stonewall Uprising, even today.

This year marks the 50th anniversary since simply being gay was no longer a crime. 

In 1967, changes in the law in the UK meant that homosexuality was at last decriminalised. In fact, it was what happened at the Stonewall uprising over in the United States that heralded in a new dawn for gay rights. Indeed, the very first Pride march took place shortly after these riots and have evolved into what we now recognise as annual gay pride. It surprises me all the time that so many people from the LGBT community have no idea of origin of pride. It’s not just a big gay knees-up. Yes, it’s great to celebrate the achievements of those before us, but we must never forget that there is still much to do. Social attitudes have changed, but more could be done. Government policy has moved forward, but not enough. Laws have been made or amendmended, but not where total equality is possible. Religious stances are evolving for the better, but at a ridiculously slow pace. In short, there is still much to be achieved, and while most see Pride as a great time to party, let us not forget why pride came about, and why we now have our freedom to love whoever we choose. Let us remember that there is still a need for activism, to better the lives of LGBT people everywhere, at home and abroad. 

“Let us remember that there is still a need for activism, to better the lives of LGBT people everywhere…”

We also need to look within ourselves. The once safe inclusivity of the community is being lost. We are quickly forgetting that it was a need for activism, because of persecution from other societal or religious groups, that brought us together as a movement in the first place. It wasn't being in cliques and ‘type categories’ that segregate us and push us apart. Much of the non-LGBTQ community is full of its very own negative stereotypes, abuse, slurs and hate towards us, without our own community adding to it – and we do. We need to remember what is important. An idealistic viewpoint is that we need to love and respect each other all over again.

We need to recognise that even today, when we feel that so much has been done for the LGBTQ community, so much more can be achieved and that there is always that call to arms, that call to fight; there is always opportunity for activism. Let your battle cry be heard!

For the most part, we’re doing great, but as my teachers often said, we “could do better.”

Finally, if you’re a reader from the non-LGBTQ community and wondering why there is no ‘Straight Pride’, remember this: gay pride was not born of a need to celebrate being gay, but our right to exist without persecution. So, instead of wondering why there isn’t a Straight Pride movement, be thankful you don’t need one.

Happy Pride Season!

If you’re interested in watching the incredible documentary on the Stonewall riots, you can watch Stonewall Uprising here:

http://www.pbs.org/video/1889649613/

(If you’re outside the USA, find a good VPN client. I recommend BetterNet, which is available free on AppStores and online.)

How long is forever? Sometimes, just one second. 

Bedtime selfie! 

It’s been a tiring but love-filled day, but not in any obvious way. 

I found myself lost in thought about those little but very special moments in life. These moments are often fleeting, are buried in the minutiae of life and yet they sparkle with the piercing brilliance of tiny stars on black velvet. There is still beauty in everything.

I remembered life is but a brief moment. The years go by quickly and if we’re lucky and make it that far, old age arrives suddenly before we have an inkling. People desire so many things and waste their days in vain. Some yearn for gold, others for power, yet others for glory and a higher station. But when death’s moment nears and they look back at the lives they’ve lived, they realise they’ve been happy only during those moments when they’ve loved.

How long is forever? Sometimes, just one second.

Happy Easter, to you all 🙂 
(Photo shot with VSCO)