I have no idea who (if anyone) reads this blog, so I thought I would try a little experiment to see who is out there & at the same time, discover a little something about you, specifically if it is your curiosity about the Classical or the Contemporary (or both) that brings you here.
To take part, all you need to do is click on one of the images below – and buy (I know, but it is only 99 cents & I promise you it is worth it) the e-book U Catullus (U R __X) by the mysterious Jean Paaulhan (sic.) published by Paul Chan’s wonderful Badlands Unlimited Press back in 2011.(Sorry, non-US-based readers, these links are only to the US Amazon or iTunes stores – please search online for your own equivalents).
Now, on opening your new purchase, you will find yourself in the midst of a labyrinthine mash-up of the Athens of the tapestry of Catullus Poem 64 and the world of celebrity gossip (i.e. TMZ). While you may recall Catullus’ wretched Ariadne, caught sighing for that ‘blond stranger’ (Theseus), it is up to U, Catullus, to choose your own path: will you ‘contend with the savage blondes’ or ‘expose your own body’? If you choose to go the way of the former, you will come face to face with Mamurra and Caesar of Poem 57 – transposed as ‘Chiara and Ruddy’ – whoever they are. But what does the other path bring? And where will you go next? Eventually, through a series of meanderings & decisions you will (I promise) get to the ‘END’ and there, perhaps, you will be stabbed by the Rufus of Poem 77 or maybe you’ll be lucky enough to find Lesbia (albeit, which one, is up to you – will she be the well-kissed girl of your present, as in Poem 5, or the well-worn figure of your past, as in Poem 72?).
So, my experiment is as follows: what do you discover in U Catullus? Are you reminded of the poetry of the Roman poet, but learn new things about contemporary celebrity culture? Or, being up to day with all the celeb gossip, it is strangeness of the ancient context that is new to you? Or a mixture of both? To aid you in your quest, I recommend using the tools of Peter Green’s The Poems of Catullus and the Who’s Who search engine NNDB.
When you find a person or poem you know, please add a comment to this post.
Happy wandering, miser Catulle!