Monday, October 27, 2008

Celtic Myth Podshow - podcast review

The Celtic Myth Podshow is more than just a podcast. Take look at the blog and discover that the makers of CMP are heavily involved in anything related to the heritage of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, Brittany and ancient Britons in general. Around the website, the forum and the blog, a community has developed contributing to this ever-growing wealth of material.

The community aspect is one of the strongest points in the podcast and as a matter of fact it is something that works well in any other podcast. Hosts Gary and Ruth create exactly that kind of comfortable, homey atmosphere you need to be drawn in. The point I am getting at is that you will need that, it takes some stamina to take in the core of the show. The larger part of the show is dedicated to the team's very lively reading of the old Celtic myths and legendary tales. This comes with trained voices, well acted play and careful sound mixing.

Nevertheless, even if the tales stem from an oral tradition and as a result of that should be extremely fit for podcast, I find it very hard to follow. I cannot solely contribute this to the difficulty my non-native ear has to take in the Celtic accents, pronunciation and words that mark the reading. The difficulty lies also with the uncommon style in which the tales are constructed. If I have to characterize that, I would say it has much less a narrative line than you would expect. The reading is that of a poem and the lines are more of a declarative nature, stating one fact, one name, one law, one occurrence after another, without much plot.

A case in point is the double feature of the last two episodes (18 and 19) about the story-teller Fintan. This legendary bard lives for over 5500 years, he has even lived through the Great Flood (of Noach) and in the story recounts some of his tales and passes lay and eventually dies a mythic death. There is no plot at all (that I could discover) and some of the entries in the tale seem to be there just to punctuate names and places and to interject Christian elements in an otherwise profoundly pagan epic.

What could help and I find this sorely missing, is a thorough framework to the source Gary, Ruth and the others are reading from. Tangible are the old oral elements, the modification in the writing down and the undeniably forcible insertions of Christianity and established history. We need to understand much more about the reception and development of this material, in order to properly appreciate it. I think CMP is planning to dedicate shows to this task in the future, but frankly, I needed them in advance.

Previously on the Celtic Myth Podshow:
Celtic bloodfine,
Bres the beautiful,
Let Battle Commence!,
The Celtic Myth Podshow.

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De gevallen zonen - veertien achttien

Voor velen komt het verhaal van de Eerste Wereldoorlog neer op de eindeloze slachting aan het westelijk front. De podcast veertien achttien maakt duidelijk dat er veel meer is, maar in de aflevering over Käthe Kollwitz, de moeder van de gevallen soldaat Peter Kollwitz (en een oorlog later de grootmoeder van weer een gevallen soldaat), kan presentator Tom Tacken het ook niet laten om de tragiek van de gevallen soldaten en de rouwende ouders uit te lichten als datgene wat voor hem de oorlog zo diep tragisch maakte.

Peter Kollwitz is als voorbeeld naar voren geschoven, vanwege de tragiek van zijn moeder, die terug te vinden is in haar kunst, in haar dagboekaantekeningen en ten slotte ook nog in het verlies van haar kleinkind, ook op het slagveld. Maar het had onverschillig welke andere vader of moeder kunnen zijn. Bijvoorbeeld David Sutherland, de Engelse soldaat die sneuvelt in 1916.

Sutherland's commandant was Ewart Alan Mackintosh en hoewel we naar aanleiding van Tom Tacken meegenomen werden in het allesverscheurende verdriet van de ouders, is de commandant natuurlijk ook een soort ouder. EN die maakt het sneuvelen van veel dichterbij mee. Zo getuigt ook het gedicht van Mackintosh, die zelf in 1917 omkomt, 24 jaar oud.

In Memoriam

So you were David's father,
And he was your only son,
And the new-cut peats are rotting
And the work is left undone,
Because of an old man weeping,
Just an old man in pain,
For David, his son David,
That will not come again.

Oh, the letters he wrote you,
And I can see them still,
Not a word of the fighting,
But just the sheep on the hill
And how you should get the crops in
Ere the year get stormier,
And the Bosches have got his body,
And I was his officer.

You were only David's father,
But I had fifty sons
When we went up in the evening
Under the arch of the guns,
And we came back at twilight -
O God! I heard them call
To me for help and pity
That could not help at all.

Oh, never will I forget you,
My men that trusted me,
More my sons than your fathers',
For they could only see
The little helpless babies
And the young men in their pride.
They could not see you dying,
And hold you while you died.

Happy and young and gallant,
They saw their first-born go,
But not the strong limbs broken
And the beautiful men brought low,
The piteous writhing bodies,
They screamed 'Don't leave me, sir',
For they were only your fathers
But I was your officer.

(Foto: Wikimedia Commons , Publiek domein, en uitdrukkelijke toestemming voor gebruik op Wikipedia. foto gemaakt door G van den Bor, juli 2005)

Meer Veertien Achttien:
Sir Robert Borden,
Carol I,
Herbert Hoover,
Otto Weddigen,
Helmut Von Moltke.

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