Terrorism: Disbelief in Canada, cont’d


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Sergeant Vickers

Sergeant Kevin Vickers

According to the National Post,

“Jihadist fighters or their sympathizers took to Twitter Wednesday to celebrate the attacks this week that took the lives of Canadian soldiers in Ottawa and St. Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., and to encourage more attacks on Canadian soil. They say Canada is getting its just desserts for sending fighter jets to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Al-Sham, and some said ISIS is behind the attacks in Canada.”

It does seem that young rebels without a cause have found one. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the RCMP, has a list of 130 Canadians who have been identified as possible Muslim extremists.

Martin Rouleau-Couture

Martin Rouleau-Couture was prevented from flying to Turkey in early July 2014. His passport was taken away.

On 21 October 2014, at St. Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec Rouleau-Couture shot two soldiers, one of whom died. Rouleau-Couture was killed in the mêlée.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Zakria Habibi

Zakria Habibi, from Sherbrooke, disappeared on 17 July, in Turkey. Statements on his Facebook account suggest he is a jihad sympathizer:

“My imprisonment is a retreat, my death would make me a martyr, and being exiled from my country would be a promenade.” (quotation from Ibn Taymiyyah, 13th century)

Zakria’s father travelled to Turkey to look for his son, but failed to find him. Zakria’s father was interviewed yesterday and stated that the words quoted above, from Sherbrooke’s Tribune, could not be his son’s.

Although Zakria Habibi is listed as a possible jihad militant, no one can confirm that he is. He may in fact have been captured.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

There are doubts about Zakria Habibi’s position vis-à-vis Isil. But Martin Rouleau-Couture, who had renamed himself “Ahmad,” was a jihad sympathizer attempting to join the militants.

Kevin Vickers Honoured

Sergeant Kevin Vickers was honoured today in Parliament. Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, yesterday’s gunman, was killed by Sergeant Vickers a few metres away from rooms where a large number of Canadian politicians were meeting.

Yesterday, Sergeant Vickers used his gun for the first time in 30 years.



The National Post
The Ottawa Citizen
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Louis Lortie plays Chopin, an Étude


© Micheline Walker
October 23, 2014

Terrorism: Disbelief in Canada


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Photo: Adrian Wyld La Presse canadienne Un policier prend position devant le parlement où des coups de feu ont été échangés.
Photo: Adrian Wyld La Presse canadienne
Un policier prend position devant le parlement où des coups de feu ont été échangés.

 (A policemen gets into position in front of the Parliament buildings where gun shots were exchanged.)

Stunning News

I just picked up the local newspaper and read that, yesterday, a soldier was killed in Ottawa. I have yet to read all fourteen pages devoted to the killing by a terrorist, in Canada’s capital. The above picture was copied from Le Devoir, the leading French-language paper in Canada.

Names, etc.

The suspected killer has been identified as Montreal-born Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, aged 32. The victim was Nathan Frank Cirillo, aged 24. Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was shot by sergeant Kevin Vickers. Two individuals were injured.


I watch the News at suppertime, but yesterday I had flu symptoms and a temperature. I walked in front of the television set without turning it on.

At least one French-Canadian, from Sherbrooke, where I live, has joined Isis. He has been reported missing and may have been killed. An inquiry is under way.

Needless to say Canada’s Muslim population fears retaliation, but they are not to blame.

The above is the reason why I am trusting President Obama. He is in possession of facts denied civilians for security reasons. I understand why President Obama has a friendly relationship with former President George W. Bush. The attacks of 11 September 2001 could cause undue haste.

Allow me to read the details and get back to you.

The scene inside: Attack in the Hall of Honour

The scene inside: Attack in the Hall of Honour (Photo credit: The Globe and Mail)

Video: CBC

(Canadian Broadcasting Corporation / Radio-Canada)
(National Post)

Paul Robeson sings « Un Canadien errant »

The Canadian Flag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Canadian Flag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

© Micheline Walker
October 23, 2014

I support President Obama


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President Barack Obama

Barack Obama, the President of the United States of America


Three Flags, Jasper Johns, 1958, Whitney Museum of American Art (Photo credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Flag Vase, Jasper Johns, Joseph K Levene Fine Art, Ltd

Flag Vase, Jasper Johns, 2000 (linocut) (Photo Credit Joseph K Levene Fine Art, Ltd)


I am not an American citizen
We jumped for joy

I have received several messages asking that I make donations to President Obama‘s political campaign in the United States. I cannot do so because I am not an American citizen. My grandfather was an American citizen, but I was born in Canada. I have tried to make donations, but my money was rejected.

However, I want to state that I am a non-American supporter of President Obama. I fear the conflict in the Middle East will not be solved militarily, but I do not possess sufficient information to oppose President Obama’s involvement. In fact, I have no reason to think President Obama is acting irresponsibly. I can trust him and I believe President Obama found himself in a position that did not allow him to keep out of the coalition battling demented terrorists: Isil/Isis.

I have been watching President Obama since 4 November 2008 and everyone I know admires and respects President Obama. In my opinion, he may well be one of the United States’ best Presidents. In fact, he may prove to have been the best. I love the way he treated former President George W. Bush. He treated him as a President should be treated. He was very polite. And he treated him in a manner Jesus of Nazareth would like: forgivingly. The attacks of 11 September 2001 were destabilizing, to say the least.

On 6 November 2012, we were jumping for joy. Americans had elected the better candidate.

Were President Obama not at the helm, the world could well be facing its worst financial crisis ever. The success of an economy is based, to a large extent, on reliability. President Obama is trustworthy. He looks before he leaps, which is very wise.

Voter Suppression

Ethical behaviour

What President Obama wants is security and stability for his people. The Affordable Care Act is proof of this. If President Obama could, he would do even more, but Congress is dysfunctional. Mr. Boehner is suing President Obama, thereby ignoring the fact that Barack Obama is the duly-elected President of the United States of America.  He was chosen by the people without using unethical means, such as voter purges.

Welfare for the Wealthy

Opposition to the Affordable Health Care
Demand for tax cuts
Debt ceiling crises
Obstructionism and Scapegoating

Let it be widely known that Mr. Boehner wants tax cuts for the wealthy and opposes the Affordable Health Care Act because there may be a rise in taxes. If taxes are raised, it will not be by a large amount and it will be for the better. It will ensure affordable healthcare for all Americans and save many from bankruptcy and, possibly, death. Besides, in no way should the poor and the middle-class support the wealthy.

I do not support politicians whose main concern is obtaining tax cuts for the wealthy and are therefore trying to sabotage the Affordable Health Care Act because the wealthy may have to pay higher taxes. In this regard, the debt-ceiling crisis of 2013 and the government shutdown were the last straw. That crisis was a form of blackmail and it cost American citizens billions. Congress had derailed.

When the debt ceiling has to be raised, one raises it. The alternative is unthinkable.

President Obama has been subjected to systematic obstructionism and scapegoating. Whatever he does is condemned. He is not paid the respect he deserves by virtue of his position, wisdom and leadership.


Detail of Flag (1954-55). Museum of Modern Art, New York City. This image illustrates Johns’ early technique of painting with thick, dripping encaustic over a collage made from found materials such as newspaper. This rough method of construction is rarely visible in photographic reproductions of his work. (Caption and photo credit: Wikipedia)


If President Obama were not at the helm, the world would live in fear of hasty decisions and a total economic collapse. Too many Americans would carry lethal weapons. A woman’s health concerns would not be respected. The poor and the middle-class would be poorer. The minimum wage would not be raised. There would be no social programmes protecting the citizens of the United States. The United States would be governed not by a polite and exceptionally gifted statesman, but by mere politicians shooting from the hip.

Imagine! Mr. Boehner would kill himself if the minimum wage were increased. Are Americans to return to the days of slavery?

Dear Barbra

One letter came from Barbra Streisand. Barbra, I doubt that you will ever read this post, but I will say nevertheless that I am a supporter of President Obama. I love his manner, his humility, his compassion, his brilliant intellect, but most importantly, I know that he cares for the people: the poor, the disabled, the sick, the middle-class homeowner, the children who need good schools and good teachers.

I trust the citizens of the United States will not let themselves be bought. There are anti-tax extremists in the United States, but there are people who can see greed and selfishness, where there is greed and selfishness. There is an élite. They may or may not be affluent, but their integrity cannot be doubted. Barbra, you are part of this élite.

You are so right about Congress. In my opinion, it is a perfect storm.

I apologize for not posting sooner. There is a crisis in my family. However, the bigger crises are taking place in the Middle East and the United States.

Please accept my kindest regards.

Paul Robeson sings “Let my people go”


© Micheline Walker
October 21, 2014
Updated Oct. 22, 2014

Guido Reni & Tomas Luis de Victoria


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Guido Reni, Charity, 1604 – 1607 (Photo credit: WikiArt.org)

For Catholics, Charity is the most important of the three theological virtues: faith, hope, charity. The events of the past week brought the word charity to my mind. I faced several obstacles because I could not provide a credit card number.

But let us turn to Marian HymnologyGuido Reni‘s art and Tomás Luis de Victoria‘s compositions. We will call it a pause.

Marian Hymnology: Four Antiphons

By clicking on the titles below, you will be at Notre-Dame de Paris. On the left side of the page are the titles of the four Marian Antiphons. Choose the antiphon you wish to listen to. You will also be provided with the words.

Hermann der Lahme

Hermann der Lahme (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Extraordinary Hermann of Reichenau

The Salve Regina is one of the four Marian Antiphons. It was composed (Gregorian Chant) by Hermann of Reichenau (18 July 1013 – 24 September 1054) who was severely crippled and spent most of his brief life at the Benedictine Abbey of Reichenau. Hermann “the lame” became a monk. He was a scholar, a composer, a music theorist, a mathematician, an astronomer, and a linguist.

However, the composition, I have inserted at the foot of this post is not Gregorian chant, but a setting by prominent Spanish composer Tomás Luis de Victoria (c. 1548 – 27 August 1611) of the lyrics of the Salve Regina. It is a combination the French would call heureuse, happy.

Guido Reni

Guido Reni (4 November 1575 – 18 August 1642) was born in Bologna. He is a high Baroque artist remembered for his use of luminous colours. The painting shown above does not reveal this characteristic. It is somewhat and successfully monochromatic. His themes were biblical and mythological and therefore consistent with the subject-matter of painters of his era. The little children he depicted resemble puttibut putti (plural for putto) have wings.

Apprentice to Denis Calvaert: Franco-Flemish School

Reni was an apprentice to Flemish artist Denis Calvaert (1540 – 16 April 1619), often called Il Fiammingo due to his origins. In the very late Middle Ages, just prior to the Renaissance,[1] Flanders was the cultural hub of Europe. Adrian Willaert of the Franco-Flemish school taught music to students in Venice who were very gifted and whose love for music was exceptional. In turn, the Italians created the French Overture. It was introduced in France by composer Jean-Baptiste Lully, born Giovanni Battista Lulli. Lulli was also a dancer and choreographer who worked with French playwright Molière (1622 – 1673).

Early Recognition

Guido moved to Rome in 1601 and his first commission was an altarpiece of the Crucifixion of St. Peter. During this period of his life, Guido’s patron was Paolo Emilio Sfondrati (1560 – 14 February 1618). According to Britannica, Reni was later influenced by the novel naturalism of the Carracci, a family of artists: Annibale, Agostino and Ludovico.

Guido was soon recognized as a master. He was a painter to Pope Paul V (Borghese). We owe him many frescoes.­­

Guido’s Style: “serene”

According to Britannica,

The mood of his paintings is calm and serene, as are the studied softness of colour and form. [2]

Britannica also states that Guido’s compositional choices in 

Atalanta and Hippomenes” (1625) show his preference for gracefully posed figures that mirror antique ideals. [3] 

Hippomenes won the race dropping apples.

Atalanta and Hippomenes

Atalanta and Hippomenes, 1625 (Photo credit: WikiArt.org)

The Adoration of the Shepherds (Photo credit: WikiArt.org)

The Adoration of the Shepherds (Photo credit: WikiArt.org)

Guido went to Naples to complete a commission to paint a ceiling in a chapel of the San Gennaro, but it appears competitors attempted to poison him, which emphasizes his talent as an artist. In 1625, Polish Prince Władysław Sigismund Vasa visited Reni’s studio in Bologna, which led to the purchase by the Prince of several works by Guido Reno. Guido survived the plague of 1630 that claimed many lives in Bologna. He was then painting the Pallion del Voto “with images of St. Ignatius and Francis Xavier,” produced during the plague of 1630 that befell Bologna. (See Guido Reni, Wikipedia.)

Guido died in 1642 and is buried next to Elisabetta Sirani (1638 – 1665) in the Rosary Chapel of the Basilica of San Domenica. Elisabetta Sirani’s story is told by Germaine Greer, in chapter XI, entitled The Bolognese Phenomenon, of The Obstacle Race.[4]


My kindest wishes to all of you.


[1] “Western music.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2014. Web. 18 Oct. 2014. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/398976/Western-music>.

[2] “Guido Reni”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2014. Web. 18 Oct. 2014. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/498122/Guido-Reni>.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Germaine Greer, The Obstacle Race (New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1979).

Salve Regina, Tomás Luis de Victoria (c. 1548 – 27 August 1611)

Beatrice Cenci, oil painting by Guido Reni; in the Galleria Nazionale, Rome Alinari/Art Resource, New York (Britannica)

© Micheline Walker
18 October 2014

The United States’ Electoral Campaign


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"Frostbitten, 1962" is on exhibit at the National Gallery of Art in an exhibit "Andrew Wyeth: looking Out, Looking In" (National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Charles H. Morgan, © Andrew Wyeth)

Frostbitten, 1962″ is on exhibit at the National Gallery of Art in an exhibit “Andrew Wyeth: looking Out, Looking In” (National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Charles H. Morgan, © Andrew Wyeth) (Photo credit: McClatchy DC)

I am writing a post – nearly finished – on a different subject than the United States, but wish to take a moment to write about the crisis in the Middle East and the electoral campaign.

President Obama

President Obama

The Crisis in the Middle East

I could be very wrong, but as you know from previous posts, it would be my opinion that the current strikes in Syria will not help solve the present crisis in the Middle East.

  • The drone strikes may lead to the death of several civilians, including a large number of children.
  • The drone strikes are a form of retaliation, and retaliation invites retaliation. It never ends. The crisis could spiral out of control.
  • Moreover, the drone strikes will no doubt be seen as further meddling on the part of the United States in the Middle East, which it isn’t. It is a mission to save detainees and disable the militants.
  • They may endanger the lives of Americans on their native soil: retaliation.
  • They may endanger the life of the detainees and cause the militants to torture them.
  • They harm the environment.
  • But, most importantly, retaliation is what Isis wanted. Isis can use the drone strikes as their lame excuse for beheading innocent detainees.

Having said the above, I need acknowledge that I lack detailed information on the crisis in the Middle East. Leaders cannot divulge all the facts and their strategy to civilians. 

The American Arsenal 

I should note that the American arsenal is so large that this can lead to rather false demands on the American people and its President. I should also note that the military respects the President, which may be a factor in the decision to use blind strikes. This matter is complicated, but when one has had to dodge attacks for six years, a small degree of erosion is to be expected.

With respect to the crisis in the Middle East, personally, I would use the best  intelligence available and send in the dog squad. Dogs can sniff the clothes of the detainees and then find their whereabouts. Isis militants are little more than rebels who have found a “cause.” They are giving Islam a bad reputation. Nothing justifies the terror Isis spreads.

See “The Dog Squad,” The New Yorker http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/video-the-dog-squad

Wolf Dog, Jamie Wyeth, 1976

Wolf Dog, Jamie Wyeth, 1976

The Electoral Campaign

Myopic and systematic opposition
ignoring the decision of the American people

The Republicans have more money than the Democrats and there is, on the part of hardline Republicans, a significant degree of systematic and myopic opposition, bordering on hatred, towards President Obama and his administration.

Ignoring the American People’s Choice

In this respect, hardline Republicans have been ignoring the choice of the American nation. Barack Obama was voted to the Presidency of the United States on 4 November 2008, and President Obama was re-elected to the Presidency on 6 November 2012.

Moreover, the cause of these hardline Republican representatives is cancellation of the Affordable Care Act, voted into law on 23 March 2010, four years ago. Hardline Republicans are anti-tax extremists.

Respecting the Voice of the People

  • Given that the citizens of the United States voted Barack Obama to the Presidency of their Country, hardline Republicans have been ignoring the decision of the people.
  • Given also that President Obama is the President of the United States, he and members of his administration should be allowed to play their role.
  • President Obama must listen to the Republicans, but first and foremost, he must listen to the voice of the people and respect policies he announced.
  • Suing President Obama is picayune and, dare I say, mean. Nor is it legitimate to impeach him for frivolous reasons: tax cuts for the wealthy and the revocation of the Affordable Care Act.
  • A country is dysfunctional if its citizens do not pay their fair share of taxes in return for social programmes that protect them and other essential services. There are means of keeping costs lower. In short, American citizens should not forfeit their right to a reasonable degree of security at all times.

Buying one’s way to office, including the Presidency

  • Political Parties cannot conduct a campaign without the money to travel, to stay in a hotel, to buy meals on the campaign trail and to advertise to a reasonable degree.
  • However, money should not be the chief tool leading to political office. One should not be able to buy his or her way into office.

Voter Suppression

  • Moreover, in no way should hardline and greedy Republicans engage in voter suppression. Has the United States ceased to be a democracy?

The Minimum Wage & Debt Bondage

Mr. Boehner has stated that he would commit suicide if the minimum wage was raised. When determining the minimum wage, the cost of living is the standard one uses.

Forcing people into debt is creating a form of bondage: debt bondage. Mr. Boehner’s language is that of a potential slave-owner. Mr. Boehner may therefore need to commit suicide, which, metaphorically speaking, is a fait accompli.

Allow me to close by quoting the American Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” (The American Declaration of Independence drafted by Thomas Jefferson.)

Snow , by Andrew Wyeth

Snow, by Andrew Wyeth (Photo credit: mhsartgallery)


Snow, Andrew Wyeth (Photo credit: mhsartgallery)


If I were an American citizen, I would still support President Obama fully. He could not foresee Isis, as these are rebels who have seized on what they saw as an opportunity to kill. Isis is a group of bloodthisty terrorists.

With kindest regards to all of you.



Adagio for Strings
Samuel Barber (9 March 1910 – 23 January 1981)
"Wind from the Sea, 1947" is on exhibit at the National Gallery of Art in an exhibit "Andrew Wyeth: looking Out, Looking In" through November 30, 2014. (National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Charles H. Morgan, © Andrew Wyeth)

“Wind from the Sea, 1947″ (National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Charles H. Morgan, © Andrew Wyeth)

© Micheline Walker
October 12, 2014

A Letter to WordPress


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Basket of Fruit, Caravaggio, 1596 (Photo credit: WikiArt.org, both paintings)

Dear WordPress,

You are asking for my Credit Card number. The Credit Card, MasterCard, was cancelled a few days ago, for security reasons. I’m a target.

Yesterday, 10 October 2014, a MasterCard employee phoned me. A new card — a sixth card — has been reissued. It is in the mail. However, when I receive it, I may not use it online. The moment I use my card, the number is stolen.

MasterCard will not be at liberty to reissue a seventh card. When the card arrives, I will telephone you. I have provided you with my telephone number and I am certain you can provide me with a telephone number.

I will owe you 15 dollars to keep a second domain, the name of which I must change. It may be that I will receive my new card early next week, before my second domain expires, but there could be a slight delay. I have no control over Canada Post.

My MasterCard is my only credit card. I do not want a second one and I consider the company’s request reasonable. If you wish to speak to a representative, I will give you a phone number, but not online. We may have to give my site a name other than its current name.

Last night, I filled out several identical forms you sent me. There did not seem to be anyone reading what I was writing. Hence this post.

I thank you in advance for your support in this matter.


Micheline Walker

P. S. I should add that I was sent requests, a few months ago, to bail out a colleague who was supposedly stranded in Britain. I was asked to send money to Western Union, in Britain. Yesterday (10 October 2014) the MasterCard employee mentioned Western Union. I will have to get in touch with them. They used my colleague’s WordPress identity, a pseudonym, nothing more.


no title Caravaggio

no title Caravaggio

© Micheline Walker
October 11, 2014

The Versatile Blogger: the Rules


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A. J. Casson

A. J. Casson (Photo credit: the National Gallery of Canada)

Dear Colleagues,

As I wrote yesterday, I am not requiring people whose schedule does not allow further activities to follow rules.

However, I was remiss in not providing the rules, as you may wish to take advantage of this opportunity to nominate colleagues. It was a pleasure for me to do so. In fact, I would have liked to nominate more of my colleagues, but followed the rules.


The Rules

The rules are simple. In theory, you are expected

  • to nominate 15 colleagues;
  • to notify these colleagues;
  • to provide the rules;
  • to insert a link to my blog: http://michelinewalker.com

Allow me to thank Mr. Andrés Cifuentes once again. His website is very informative and interesting. It allows me to read posts written in Spanish. I once worked in Spanish exporting flour from Canada to Latin America. My task was to acknowledge receipt of an order, to place the order, and to make sure the order was shipped from a North-American port. In other words, once a customer had placed an order, I looked after the details.

Four months later, I returned to University. It had been a summer job. We worked on the docks in Vancouver and whenever a ship came, we socialized with the Captain and his crew. They always prepared a dinner for us. It was very pleasant. We were a team of four and we never spoke of word of English. I then took courses in Spanish literature.

Two of my nominees are specialists, but in areas that combine expertise in at least two fields.


March Morning, A. J. Casson

André Gagnon plays his Nelligan


The Versatile Blogger


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Delphiniums, A. J. Casson


I wish to thank WordPress author Andrés Cifuentes for nominating me for the above prize. I am most thankful for this nomination. I have discovered little treasures on Mr. Andrés’ site, a site he shares with colleagues.

There are rules attached to premios (prizes) one of which is to nominate other colleagues. Whom does one chose? Every text unveils a vision that is both unique and universal.

I will nominate persons whose posts I follow, or try to. However, I will not ask that you to nominate anyone for this prize unless you wish to do so. Some of you haven’t the time to nominate 15 colleagues. I hope I am not offending Mr. Cifuentes. Days go by at an alarming rate.

I had a birthday in July, on the same day of the month as Jean de La Fontaine. He will live forever in the fables to which he imparted eternity. As for me, on that particular birthday, I realized that my life was a peau de chagrin (shrinking shagreen).


The painting featured above is by A. J. Casson, a Canadian artist who was a member of the Group of Seven.

At the foot of this post, I have inserted a video showing Yehudi Menuhin playing the violin with his friend French-Canadian fiddler Jean Carignan. You will notice that Canadian fiddlers have been influenced by the music of Ireland and Scotland. The belt worn by Jean Carignan is the traditional ceinture fléchée, a belt with arrows. The music was composed by Québec composer André Gagnon. It is not a very good recording, but the event is memorable.

My nominees are:
Lino Althaner
Naomi Baltuck
Bite Size Canada
Hands on Bowie
Kaligrafi Nusantara
Antonio de Simone
Mélanie Toulouse

My best regards to all of you.


The Death Of a Great Country

Originally posted on Cbcburke9's Blog:

I may not have a political degree but surely I am not blind or stupid, but watching politicians jostled amongst each other for power instead of working together to keep the poor working class citizens in good stead, they listened to their millionaires backers who don’t care one hoot about anything other than their big bank account.
Our politicians ever so threatened by these millionaires about withdrawing their asset and moving elsewhere, why should our politicians be subject to these threat? How can a country survived without the taxes that needed to keep stability?.
I for one only hope that there is some honest politician out there who is willing to stand up for the majority and say to hell with those minority who are only in it for themselves.

View original

It’s no skin off my nose


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Le Roman de Renard

The animals at Noble’s court
Noble the lion is king
Renart is the Fox
Ysengrin is the Wolf
Brun (Bruin) is the Bear
the rape of Dame Hersent, Ysengrin’s wife
Aarne-Thomson classification system (ATU) type 2
Perry Index number 17
Perry Index number 24

The picture featured above shows the Lion king, Noble. In Branch I, of the Roman de Renart, Le Jugement de Renart[1], the various animals, barons, meet at Noble the Lion’s court, a king’s court that doubles up as a court of justice. Ysengrin tells about his wife Hersent who has been raped when she got stuck in a hole in the wall of her home. (The Roman de Renart is not in chronological order.)

The Lion does not think he can charge Renart with rape as the charge might not “stick.” There is a “history” between Dame Hersent and Renart, which is known. Nevertheless, when she gets caught in a wall and Renart takes advantage of Dame Hersent, it is rape. It is in Renart’s “nature” (character) to avail himself of every opportunity.

Although a charge of “rape” might not “stick,” the other animals gathered at the Lion’s court come forward to tell Noble that Renart has wronged them time and again. For instance, he has eaten many of their relatives. Hearing their complaints, the king, Noble the lion, decides he now has sufficient reasons to have Renart brought to court, the king’s court of law. Renart’s trial and the discussion that precedes his being brought to trial is masterful. Renart’s trial is a building block in the development of European jurisprudence and has been identified as such.[2]

Renart et Dame Hersent

Renart et Dame Hersent, br. II (Photo credit: BnF)

Le Jugement de Renart: Reynard’s Judgement

Bruin the bear is the first ambassador
Maupertuis: Renart’s fortress
Renart the trickster
Bruin’s “nature”
Bruin loses the “skin off [his] nose”

Bruin the bear is the first “ambassador” to travel, on horseback, to Maupertuis, Renart’s, fortress. As you may suspect, Renart is not about to follow Bruin to court. Our red fox is the trickster extraordinaire, so he tells Bruin to put his snout down into a slit in a log that is secured by wedges. According to Renart, that is where Lanfroi the forester keeps his honey.

As it is known “by universal popular consent,” bears love honey. Our modern Winnie-the-Pooh gets stuck in a house because he has eaten so much honey he cannot get out the way he came in. He is like Æsop’s swollen fox (“The Fox and the Weasel.” Perry Index 24). To get out, Winnie-the-Pooh must first lose weight. Similarly, Bruin cannot resist looking down the opening in the oak tree. That is in his “nature.”

By now, Renart is at a distance to protect himself from Lanfroi, but Bruin puts his nose inside the opening in the tree at which point the wedges are removed and he gets caught, or “coincé” (coin = wedge and corner). He sees Lanfroi and “vilains,” villagers, rushing to attack him. Therefore, knowing that he will lose his life if he does not flee, Bruin sacrifices the skin “off [his] nose,” gets on his horse, and travels back to court. When he arrives at court, he is bleeding profusely and faints. “Renart t’a mort” (Renart killed you,” (br. I, l. 724) says the king.

Le siège de Maupertuis (br. Ia) (The Siege of Maupertuis) (Photo credit: BnF)

Renart assiégé dans sa forteresse (Reynard besieged in his fortress) (Photo credit: BnF)

The Comic Text, or the Steamroller

Bruin seems to be suffering. However, according to Dr. Jill Mann,[3] the translator (into English) of the Ysengrimus, written in 1149 -1150, the birthplace of both Reinardus (Renart) and Ysengrimus (Ysengrin the wolf), the various animals of the Ysengrimus do not suffer.

The Ysengrimus, a 6,574-line fabliau written in Latin elegiac verses, is the Roman de Renart’s (1274 – 1275) predecessor. Dr. Mann compares the fox and other animals to cartoons where a cat is flattened by a steamroller, but fluffs up again (Jill Mann, p. 11).

“The recrudescent power of the wolf’s skin [bear's skin] is reminiscent of the world of the cartoon, where the cat who is squashed flat by a steam-roller, is restored to three dimensions in the next frame.” (Mann, p. 11)  

In other words, Reynard the Fox is a forgiving comic text, which allows for devilish pranks that do not harm animals and human beings. They may scream, for appearances, but they return to their normal selves.

The Roman de Renart is translated

Authorship of Ysengrimus has been challenged, but the Ysengrimus exists and it was rewritten in various European languages, the languages of the Netherlands and German, in particular. At any rate, it is of crucial importance that famed translator and printer William Caxton (c. 1415 – c. March 1492) wrote an English version of Reynard the Fox. (See William CaxtonWikipedia, the free encyclopedia.) (This translation is available online: The History of Reynard the Fox.)

From “goupil” to “renarT” and “Renard”

Reynard the Fox had to be popular in England as otherwise the expression “it’s no skin off my nose” could not be traced back, albeit hypothetically, to the Reynard cycle. In France, the Roman de Renart was so popular that goupil, the French word for fox, was replaced by Renart, but La Fontaine uses the modern spelling: renard. Now, if the fox lost his name goupil to become Renart, the Roman de Renart may also have influenced the English language.

Given the popularity and wide dissemination of Reynard the Fox, crediting a linguistic element to Reynard the Fox makes sense. In fact, crediting a linguistic element to a popular fable often make sense. Those stories were in circulation. Persons who could not read were told about Reynard, just as they were told Jacobus de Voragine‘s Golden Legend.

The Roman de Renart as a satire

According to Wikipedia,

Ysengrimus is usually held to be an allegory for the corrupt monks of the Roman Catholic Church. His [Ysengrimus'] greed is what typically causes him to be led astray. He is made to make statements such as “commit whatever sins you please; you will be absolved if you can pay.”[4] 

One could buy indulgences and do penance in purgatory:

purgatory, the condition, process, or place of purification or temporary punishment in which, according to medieval Christian and Roman Catholic belief, the souls of those who die in a state of grace are made ready for heaven.[5]

Obviously, the Roman de Renart was not written for children, but there are children’s adaptations of its many tales. In such versions, Renart does not rape Dame Hersent and when the wolf loses his tail to escape “vilains” who will kill him, he feels no pain. The Roman de Renart includes the tail-fisher motif (ATU type 2; Perry Index 17 and (“The Fox with the Swollen Belly) (Perry Index number 24). (See RELATED ARTICLES)



ATU type 2: The Tail-Fisher (Aarne-Thompson-Üther classification system)
Perry Index 17 (“The Fox without a Tail”)
Perry Index 24 (“The Fox with the Swollen Belly”)

In A. A. Milne‘s[6] Winnie-the-Pooh, Eeyore loses a tail, which may remind one of the Tail-Fisher Motif (ATU 2), but the tail is not severed or caught in the ice. In current children’s literature, Bruin’s nose would grow back instantly and Jean de La Fontaine‘s Renard ayant la queue coupée (V.5) (The Fox whose tail has been cut off), would not look repulsive when he turns his back to the other foxes, inviting them to have their tail removed.

Bruin the bear’s nose will grow back. He has not suffered. Moreover, as we have just seen, Bruin’s sad encounter with Renart and Lanfroi the forester may also have helped shape, hypothetically, the English language: “It’s no skin off my nose.”

Let this be our conclusion.

Wishing all of you a good week.




Sources and Resources


[1] Jean Dufournet & Andrée Méline (traduction) et Jean Dufournet (introduction), Le Roman de Renart (Paris: GF Flammarion, 1985), pp 72-79.

[2] Jean Subrenat, “Rape and Adultery: Reflected Facets of Feudal Justice in the Roman de Renart,” in Kenneth Varty, ed. Reynard the Fox: Social Engagement and Cultural Metamorphoses in the Beast Epic from the Middle Ages to the Present (New York & Oxford: Berghahn, 2000), pp. 16-35.

[3] Jill Mann “The Satiric Vision of the Ysengrimus,” in Kenneth Varty, ed. op. cit, pp. 1-15.

[4] Ysengrimus, Wikipedia – the free encyclopedia.

[5] “purgatory”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2014. Web. 04 oct.. 2014


[6] “A. A. Milne”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2014. Web. 05 oct.. 2014 <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/383024/AA-Milne>.


© Micheline Walker
October 5, 2014

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