Torre's Blog
The Etymology of Entomology 
Saturday, May 2, 2009, 02:41 PM
One who studies
Words wonders:
Where in the
World the word for
One who studdies
Bugs Began?

[ add comment ]   |  permalink  |   ( 3 / 2551 )
Stuff I'm Working on: Bilingual poetry 
Wednesday, April 8, 2009, 11:50 AM
Continuing with the theme of translation and communication, I am working on a mixed language poem. I consider it unfinished, but here it is so far:

(To Say Goodbye)

My friend Carlos and I
Stood outside the building
At the end of my watch.

"Your family is here?"
He asks.
"Si," I reply,
"mi Padre, y mi hermana,
"my father and sister.
"My mother passed away in oh-four."
He nods his head knowingly.

He says:
"Mi madre, en ninety-eight...
"Ten years last year..
"I can't believe.."

We contemplate the evening
Thinking our own thoughts
Each in our own language.

"See you tomorrow?" he asks.
"Si, hasta mañana..." I say
My words trailing off.
I cannot express the sense
Of connection I feel.
Not in Spanish or in English,

But Carlos can with his eyes.
"See you tomorrow, then."
He says.
I nod, and smile, and walk away.

[ add comment ]   |  permalink  |   ( 3 / 4000 )
Federico García Lorca  
Saturday, February 21, 2009, 09:21 PM
I've been looking at the work of Federico García Lorca lately, trying to get a handle on it. He was a Spanish poet and a contemporary of painter Salvador Dali. You can read a bit more about him here:

See Wikipedia: Federico García Lorca

Most of the translations of his work that I have been able to get hands on are abysmal, so I attempted my own translation of one of his more famouse poems: "IGLESIA ABANDONADA" or "The Abandoned Church". Translating from the Spanish is quite dificult when a poem
contains this much imagery and alegory. The symbolism is abundant
and sometimes seems inconsistant. After spending several hours with
this poem, I have a deeper appreciation for it, but am not convinced that I truley have a better understanding of it.

Is it a poem about losing one's son to war? And exactly how does all
the Catholic symbology fit in? Is he likening the loss of his son
to Mary losing her Son?

Well here goes nothing:

The Abandoned Church
(A Ballad of The Great War)

Translated by Torre DeVito
from "IGLESIA ABANDONADA" by Federico García Lorca

I had a son who was named John.
I had a son.
He was lost by the arches of the church one All-Saints Friday.
I saw him play on the final steps of the mass,
Dipping his little tin pail into the priest's heart.
I've beaten the coffins. My son! My son! My son!
Pulled out a chicken foot from behind the moon and then
I understood that my little child was a fish
near where they move the vendor's carts away.
I had a little child.
I had a fish that died in the ashes of incense burners.
I was a sea. What? My God! A sea!

I got to play the bells, but the fruit had worms.
and the dying candle flames
ate the spring wheat.

I have seen alcohol, an invisible stork
plucking the black heads of anguished soldiers
and seen those trays with rubber housings
in which they pass arround cups filled with tears.

Amongst the holy flowers of the offertory you will find my heart
when the priest raises the mule and the ox with his strong arms,
to scare away the nocturnal toads that haunt the frozen landscapes of the chalice.

I had a son who was a giant,
but the dead are stronger than the living
and they know how to devour pieces of heaven.

If my child was a bear,
I would not be afraid of the alligator's stealth,
nor would I have seen the sea tied to the trees
to be ravished and trampled by regiments.
If my child was a bear!

I wrap this stiff fabric tight to avoid the cold of the mosses.
I know very well that I will get a sleeve or an armband;
but in the center of the mass I will break the rudder and then
they will come to the rock - the madness of penguins and seagulls
And they will cause those who sleep and those who sing from the street-corners to say:
He had a son.
A son! A son! A son
That was not more than your son, because he was your son!
Your child! Your child! Your child!

Notes on this translation:

Line 4:
"I Saw him playing on the final steps of the Mass"
"Le vi jugar en las últimas escaleras de la misa"
I am tempted to replace "final steps of the Mass" with "top step of the church"

Line 5:
"Dipping his little tin sand pail into the priest's heart."
"y echaba un cubito de hojalata en el corazón del sacerdote."
a more literal translation is "and throws the cube of tin in the heart of the priest" "echaba un cubito" could be a play on words to mean "throws the dice." I struggled with the translation here, and the meaning of this sentence eludes me. The "cubito de hojalata " is definitely a toy pail but what does the sentence mean? "Echaba" also hints of a spanish idiom that means to miss or mourn someone.

Line 8
"I understood that my little child was a fish"
The word for "little child" is more literally translated as daughter.
I think that the feminin ending here is meant as a diminutive, and chose to use it as such, because introducing a second child here seems to add nothing to this confusing poem.

Line 9
"near where they move the vendor's carts away."
"por donde se alejan las carretas."
More literally "where they move away the carts" I think Lorca is referring to a street market, but I have no way of proving this (see my note on line 40).

Line 14
"I got to play the bells, but the fruit had worms."
"Subí a tocar las campanas, pero las frutas tenían gusanos."
This is exactly what it says. I thought perhaps that bells might be a type of fruit, but frankly I find no connection or any reasonable explanation of the metaphore here. Perhaps some forgotten idiom of early 20th century Spain would link fruit to bells. Line 15 makes it clear that the things of the church are somehow blighting the narators crop (fruit of his loins) while it is still young.

I am tempted to rewrite this passage as:

"I got to ring the bells, but the bells were wormy fruit.
I got to light the candles, but the candles were maggots
That ate up all the spring wheat"

Line 18
"I have seen alcohol, an invisible stork"
"Yo vi la transparente cigüeña de alcohol"
More literally: "I have seen the transparent stork of alchohol"
OK, the Stork is a christian symbol of watchfullness. It is also a form of shackles that slowly tortures it's wearer. but the plucking/pruning imagery of the next line suggest the stork is somehow a metaphor for alcohol.

I think that I will write an "interpretation" rather than a translation - "I have known alchohal, that invisible reaper..."

OK here it is:

The Abandoned Church
(A Ballad of The Great War)

Translated and further interpreted by Torre DeVito
from "IGLESIA ABANDONADA" by Federico García Lorca

I had a son who was named John.
I had a son who was lost beneath the arches of the church
one All-Saints Friday.
I saw him playing on the steps as mass was ending,
Dipping his little tin pail into the priest's heart.
I've beaten the coffins for my son! My son!
Cast chicken bones during a full moon to try and understand
I had a vision that my little child was a fish
In a stall where they move the vendor's carts away.
I had a little child, a fish that died
in the ashes of incense burners.
And in my vision I was the sea. What? My God! A sea!

And I got to ring the bells, but the bells became wormy fruit.
and as I watched, dying candle flames
ate the spring wheat like maggots.

I saw alcohol, that invisible reaper which
plucks the black heads of anguished soldiers
in those trays with rubber housings
in which they pass arround cups filled with tears.

Amongst the holy flowers of the offertory you will find my heart
when the priest raises the host like one who lifts
a mule or an ox with his strong arms. He does this to
scare away the toads that come out at night to haunt the frozen landscape of the chalice.

I had a son who was a giant,
but the dead are stronger than the living
and they know how to devour pieces of heaven.

If my child was a bear,
I would not be afraid of the alligator's stealth,
nor would I have seen the sea tied to the trees
to be ravished and trampled by regiments.
If my child was a bear!

I wrap my child in stiff fabric to dispell the cold of the mosses.
I know very well that I will get a sleeve or an armband;
but in the middle of the chursh service I will break the rudder
we will drift to a rock in the sea - full of the madness of
penguins and seagulls, and it will cause those who sleep and
those who sing from the street-corners to cry:
He had a son. A son! A son! A son
Not that he was more than your son, but because he was your son!
Your child! Your child! Your child!

[ add comment ]   |  permalink  |   ( 3 / 4252 )
Friday, June 27, 2008, 04:02 PM
I am looking for comments on the translation. Any native French poets out there care to comment?

Croissance Pauvre
de Torre DeVito

Il fut un temps, après une histoire d'attention particulière
Nous avons parlé de volumes avec des mots simples
Et nos conversations étaient comme de vastes forêts
Où chaque nuance est passé comme un grand séquoia.

Quand est-ce que les insultes commencé à
Incinérer notre dialogue, dévorant
Verbes et adjectifs en flammes?
Le grand incendie a cessé de brûler depuis longtemps
S'est transformé en braises et finalement en cendres, mais quand même ...

Tous ceux qui nous restent sont les suivants:
Un enchevêtrement de mauvaises herbes, des correctifs de sable,
Et un désert de pauvre croissance des arbres.
Pour l'observateur occasionnel les cicatrices sont obscurcies:
Une vie nouvelle est mieux que des cendres froides
Mais maintenant une vécu repousse insuffisante
Lorsque une fois les séquoias puissants existe.


By Torre DeVito

Once after slow careful ages
We spoke volumes with single words
Vast forests of conversation
Where every nuance rose like some tall sequoia.

When did angry words first burn
Through our dialogue, devouring
Verbs and adjectives in tongues of flame?
That cruel inferno burned out long ago
Smoldered and died, but even so...

All we are left with are these:
A tangle of weeds, patches of sand,
And a wilderness of second-growth trees.
To the casual observer the scars are hidden:
Warm life from cold ashes, better by contrast,
But now mere scrub pines stand
Where mighty redwood grew.

[ 4 comments ] ( 306 views )   |  permalink  |   ( 3 / 3249 )
A gift 
Wednesday, October 11, 2006, 10:18 AM
How liberating it is to discover that you are the victim of your own actions, and thus not really a victim at all.

Feeling victimized leads to a kind of spiritual paralysis. Just as stagnant pools breed microbes, stagnant lives breed fear, uncertainty and doubt - choking out all life, light, and happiness. Victims are at the mercy of their victimizers, dependent on others to save them from their plight. By contrast, those who realize that they are in situations of their own making know that they are capable of getting themselves out of that situation. This empowers and entitles them to take action. Action leads to competence, competence leads to entitlement and confidence, and confidence further empowers the individual to action.

We understand our basic freedom best when we embrace the fact that we are primarily the product of our own choices. Even when events occur that are beyond our control we can choose how to react, if and how we will respond, both physically and emotionally. For instance, even in the wake of a great tragedy we can choose to remain positive, to do what is necessary to move on.

I give you this gift, the knowledge that you are the only one who can MAKE you angry. You are the only one who can MAKE you sad. You are responsible for your own feelings, and though you cannot chose what happens to you, you can choose whether and how to react. Happiness is a choice. Success is a choice.

[ add comment ]   |  permalink  |   ( 3.1 / 5046 )
More on your free computer 
Tuesday, September 19, 2006, 09:57 AM
OK - if the text of the last entry of my blog came as an email I would probbably delete it, but it is true. We all have this ultra-portable, ultra-fast, amazing computer at our disposal. What is even better is, we have the power to program this computer, for success or failure, victory or defeat, good or evil. How true that old adage of computer programers: Garbage in, garbage out (GIGO). Bad enough that we pump our minds full of hours of TV, fraught with violence, innanity, and immorality - our own words also program our heads with garbage and negativity. "I can't", "Everything I touch goes wrong"m Utterances like these enter the subconcience, a part of the mind that determins most of our actions, yet is incapable of determining truth from a lie.

What if we changed our speaking? What if we avoided the negative, excuse-ridden monologue and dialogue of our typical day? If our mantra became "I can!" - "I will" - "It shall be done" then our subconscience would work to bring things about.

I will continue this thought later.

[ add comment ]   |  permalink  |   ( 3 / 3955 )
You Have Won A Free Computer 
Monday, September 18, 2006, 01:33 PM
You have been awarded one of the fastest most powerfull computers in the world. Capable of fuzzy and hard logic and true as opposed to artificial intelligence. This computer is your birthright. It is called your brain.

[ add comment ]   |  permalink  |   ( 3 / 2754 )
Blogging from my blackberry 
Wednesday, August 16, 2006, 03:19 PM
The site looks ok from my new blackberry. What a surprise! Typing on a bb is hard ... All thumbs! +I could have done this faster on a palm pilot. Oh well.

Anger update: 3 days w/o a blow up!

[ 1 comment ] ( 334 views )   |  permalink  |   ( 3 / 3883 )
Saturday, August 12, 2006, 02:15 AM
Anger is such a destructive force, I know, because I have issues with anger. No, I don't beat my wife or kids, I don't punch walls, at least not often, and I don't stay angry long. I also don't have a short fuse in the normal sense of the term, i.e. I am usually slow to anger, but I go through periods when my fuse is short enough, thank you. And when I do I explode, and it is loud, and seldom called for, and usually my anger is way out of proportion to whatever set it off.

I also tend to be very diplomatic in public. Situations that would set me off in private are generally handled coolly and calmly.

Unlike my co-workers and acquaintances, my family gets to witness or, worse, be the brunt of my outbursts, and like toothpaste once out of the tube my anger cannot be put back away.

One of my heroes in life, Victor Frankel states, in his extremely moving book Man’s Search for Meaning, that “the only human freedom lies between the stimulus and the response.”

Reflecting on this I suddenly realized that there was only one person who could make me mad, and that was me. No matter what the stimuli I could decide upon my response.

Though this thought was very empowering, I also realized that it is beyond my own ability to overcome the anger that I have trained myself to respond with. Fortunately I believe in a loving God, and believe that He has the power to mend what I cannot.

I make this public declaration that I will do my best, and let God do the rest when it comes to my temper. I will hit my knees tonight and ask for help, in faith that it will be given. And will ask my family’s forgiveness and forbearance tomorrow.

I also use this venue to share with others who might be looking for help, and for others whom have overcome their anger in hopes that the will share their thoughts and encouragement with me, as well as their well wishes.

The only things we can control in life are our attitude and our actions. I’ve decided, with Gods help, to take back the reigns.

[ add comment ] ( 48 views )   |  permalink  |   ( 3 / 3792 )
Current poetry 
Thursday, August 10, 2006, 06:28 PM
Hey, I'm inviting comment on this poem that I am currently working on...

By Torre Anthony DeVito

"Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse."
-T.S. Eliot

Quantum physics suggests that observation affects reality and that the relation of position
to momentum is uncertain. Notions of causality disappear from our map of the cosmos.
We are off the charts, and here there be dragons.

On the old map, the Earth was our mother. Her womb was the sea, and
The sky-father fucked her on the backs of four elephants standing on a tortoise.
In the old paradigm, stars ejaculated matter upon Earth's primordial soup, where,
Life sprang forth as cosmic accident.

On the old map all revolved around the Ego. The child was the crux of its own universe.
In the beginning the child knew only self, and the rhythmic pulse of wet warm darkness.
Slowly, muffled sounds penetrated ignorance, and an awareness of otherness grew, until
Light burst forth, accompanied by pain.

Then the view shifted and there were other bodies,
Strange attractions and invisible bonds that redefined the focus.
The world is not flat. The universe is expanding, but will collapse, and
One learned that neither Earth nor Sun were the center of the universe.

To read the new map one must unlearn such nonsense, for all is relative, and
The geocentric and the heliocentric are just more-complicated models, no less correct.
All is uncertainty but observation affects outcome, nailing down the multiverse to a single path.

On the new map, perception is reality. I revolve around you; and you, I- even as
Gravity takes its toll and we grow older and feebler. On the new map
Time and distance are the variables, and though time flows differently for us all,
It seems to move solely and inexorably in one direction. The only constant is speed.

Maps, however, are just representations of reality. Truth has a way of slipping
the bonds of conception. The sub-atomic and galactic hint of grand design.
Beneath the fabric of the universe is the sublime,
And behind the infinite, and the infinitesimal: the Divine.

[ add comment ]   |  permalink  |   ( 3 / 2251 )
Tuesday, February 28, 2006, 11:58 PM

When did a soldier become a troop? The media insists on counting individual American casualties as troops... e.g. "three troops were killed today in Iraq..."

I am not sure if this is because the reporters are so closely entwined with the entertainment industry, and thus feel that "entertaining the troops" and "entertaining the soldiers" is essentially the same, thus troops and soldiers must be synonymous, or if there is something more sinister at work here.

Every death is important, but I get the sense that the reason the media uses the word "troops" is because they actually are aware that a troop means a group of soldiers, and that using the term makes it seem like more peoople have died...

Hear this... when three soldiers die it is no more correct to say "three troops" than it would be to say "three choirs were killed in a bus crash" if three singers met their end in said bus.

I guess it is just another example of the laxidasical, biased, editorializing that passes for news these days.

Thus ends the rant.

[ add comment ]   |  permalink  |   ( 3 / 3219 )
Floor Plans 
Tuesday, February 28, 2006, 11:42 PM
My sister is buying a house. About two weeks ago she began to talk about the fact that her rent was going to go up, and today she signed a contract with a builder. If all goes well she will close in late July and move in some time in August.

Decisions of this magnitude are not an easy matter for my sister. She has to poll all her friends and family for their opinion, and typically she disagrees with all of the opinions she gets at first, perhaps to see how convicted we are of our opinions, because despite her protests, she often does incorporate at least a portion of the advice.

Anyway, I find the whole thing amusing, if not somewhat exhausting, but it got me looking at different floor plans again.

I am of the opinion that houses these days are designed more for status than for living. Here are my rules for more logical houses.

1 - Doors should be at least eighteen inches away from the corner, unless the wall beside that corner contains closet doors or other doors, otherwise the wall cannot be used for furniture placement.

2 – Dining rooms and bedrooms should never be less than 10 feet wide or long, and should have at least 100 square feet of floor space.

3 - No toilet should face an object less than four feet away.

4 - If a house is on a busy street, all bedrooms should be in the back.

OK, so they seem pretty obvious, until you go house hunting.

[ add comment ]   |  permalink  |   ( 3 / 2474 )
Dual Monitors - Virtual desktops and KVM software 
Monday, February 13, 2006, 04:49 PM
My desktop, the physical one, is covered by three 27 inch monitors that I bought from a university surplus place... $40 for a palette of 4 monitors, one which I gave to my father. Why would I need to use 3 monitors? Simple: because I can. Actually the reason is a bit more complex than that... I use two monitors at work because I do web design, and I have a monitor and a Lenovo ThinkPad. Since the external monitor requires a duplication of video functions, ThinkPads have the ability to use the external monitor as a second monitor, doubling your desktop space at the same resolution (i.e. if both the internal and external monitor are set at 1024 x 768 you can use a 1024 x 1536 desktop - one monitor above the other -OR- a 2048 x 768 desktop - one monitor beside the other...). Windows can stretch across the two monitors for very long or very wide viewing, and sets of windows can be placed on separate monitors for working back and forth between applications and documents without opening and closing windows... this later use is my main purpose for using dual monitors at work.
With most new laptops and a Windows 2000 or later operating system the whole operation is easy to accomplish, you plug the external monitor in, attach it to the laptop, right click on the desktop, select "properties" go to the last tab (which is "settings" in XP). If you see two monitors labeled 1 and 2 in the window, you can select the grayed-out one with your mouse, and select "extend my desktop onto this monitor". Drag the monitor icons to match the physical arrangement of your actual monitors, and select "Apply". Viola - you have dual monitors.

To accomplish the same thing with a desktop model, you will either need to install a second video card or use a second computer and two network cards (NICs) to drive the other monitor along with a piece of software to actually use the second monitor from the main computer. I actually use both solutions. Two of my three monitors are connected to two video cards in my main computer, the secondary computer drives the third monitor and is connected to my main computer by a crossover Ethernet cable. Now I have no need to stretch any single window out to 3072 pixels in width so the software that I use to access the third monitor is a software KVM (keyboard/video/mouse) switch designed to use one computer's keyboard and mouse to drive another computers monitor (it should be called a KM switch, but lets not be nit-picky).
The software I use is Synergy (Google it on the web, you'll like the price) which has several nice features, you can add more than two computers and configure how they work together, and moving your mouse between the screens switches the control to the other computer. you can also cut and paste between the computers. What you cannot do is stretch a window across screens of more than one computer. This is no great hardship for me, though, because I like the added advantage of having a second computer with it's own processor and memory at my disposal simply by moving a mouse. I can run a processor or memory intensive ap on the second computer without impacting resources on my main system. Biggest drawback? You need a keyboard and mouse attached to the second system to use to launch Synergy on the second computer... I am thinking of installing a terminal program like VNC on the second computer so that I can run VNC Viewer on my main computer just to launch Synergy w/out digging out the second keyboard... I'll let you know how that works out.

[ add comment ]   |  permalink  |  related link  |   ( 3 / 2187 )
Self promotion 
Sunday, February 12, 2006, 05:53 PM
Today I am working on uploading my poetry, along with descriptions of each poem written by John Anderson. His glowing comments are embarrassing to me, but I am also amazed at how in-touch he is with my work. Promotion is the difference between failure and success I guess, so I just grin and bear it.

My understanding is that the descriptions will be used to generate the RSS feed as well. The whole thing is fascinating, but I just want to get done with it. I need to get done with it. I have other projects waiting and I don't need this one to go to my head.

[ add comment ]   |  permalink  |   ( 3 / 3486 )
"High Art" 
Saturday, February 11, 2006, 10:06 AM
Watched the movie "High Art" last night. The acting was wonderful, characters believable, but I think it misses something. I get that the character Syd feels "connected" to the Ali Sheedy Character (July, Trudy? Something with a long U but it escapes me) but they fail to meaningfully develop the friendship, and the ending was a bit predictable. Still, all things considered, it's a worth-see, provided you aren't offended by a lesbian lifestyle. Still scratching my head about how it got on my Netflix list though? I sure don't remember adding it. Maybe 'cause of Ali though... I enjoy her in the edgier parts... (let's not play thermonuclear war).

[ add comment ]   |  permalink  |   ( 3 / 2478 )

Back Next