The Law of Noncontradiction
The Law of Noncontradiction is the second single from the forthcoming album ‘Heraclitus Flow’ by Thomas Riffmatch, produced by Andrey Bokovikov and featuring the electronic compositions of Nikita Nikitin. The Law of Noncontradiction also features backing vocals by Primavera.
The idea behind the song is that the logical law of noncontradiction is primarily experienced by us in terms of relationship. The position “If I’m right, then you’re wrong” is something familiar to all of us who have engaged with each other on social media or in the context of familial or intimate relating. This “excluding the middle” is what gives us a sense of our own essential “rightness” and feeling that we proceed from a “moral conviction”. However, it’s obvious that nobody has a monopoly on “rightness”! As my dear mother likes to jest: “When they said I had finally met Mr Right, I had no idea his first name was ‘Always’!”
This theme is central to the concept behind ‘Heraclitus Flow’: no man steps into the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and it’s not the same man!
Backing track (minusovka)
Although people say I’m a bit of a one, to tango or foxtrot takes two; Still, having the same sense at the same time, both of us cannot be true; For a state to willingly give up its sovereignty, that would be gross dereliction: On behalf of the crown, I therefore lay down the law of noncontradiction. For every system that’s sufficiently expressive, there’s a provable – or not – proposition; If I’m right, then you’re wrong – that’s the dialectic that structures our personal mission; But all analytic statements are somewhat tautologous: is it a fact or a fiction? I don’t care what you say if you don’t disobey my law of noncontradiction. In violating each other’s identities thus, we find ourselves in a situation; We run to extremes, excluding the middle, to obviate equivocation; We aim to be justified, strive to always proceed from a moral conviction; Though blissful, such ignorance is no defence against the law of noncontradiction. If 'fire' and 'not fire' are thought to be equal, the thinker’s subjected to burning; Since feasting and fasting are one and the same, the student through hunger is learning; We’re all of a surety lacking security, all of us facing eviction; But, on my high horse, I still have to enforce the law of noncontradiction. Like the self-amputation of a broad-snouted caiman undergoing a caudal autotomy, Or the diachronic change in a epileptic’s brain following a frontal lobotomy; Dividing into two antagonistic parts results in a vasoconstriction: Permission dispensed to go up against the law of noncontradiction. We are and are not what is now or to come, in a constant and fixed state of flux; Though the road up and down are one and the same, both entail the giving of fucks; Our action consists in the mills and the grists to work up the requisite friction To find an explanation for each and every violation of the law of noncontradiction. The one that is and ever must be is a truth that is always immutable; The other that’s not – and must always not be – is a path that is wholly inscrutable; For you cannot know what is not, or is so, to refute my despondent prediction: All that’s desired must be paid for as required by the law of noncontradiction. Respect things that are in the sense that they are, preserving the ship and the treasure; Show all proper deference when making reference to that of which man is the measure; Take on this handyman to feed the biters, all due to his excellent diction: The collection of rent is ninety percent of the law of noncontradiction. It’s both mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive, now that I’m giving the flag salute; But everything must be absolutely relativised in order to relate to the absolute; Elenctic negation results in stagnation, all due to a chronic addiction To think yourself better than the spirit or letter of the law of noncontradiction. Restricting reaction in the same part or relation, a utopian state is thus frozen; At the same time, on the contrary, somehow, must always an action be chosen; To be fixed like a hero on the frieze of the Parthenon’s to suffer a grievous affliction: Till the day that I die, I’ll never comply with the law of noncontradiction.
©Lyrics written and performed by Thomas Riffmatch to a backing track composed by Nikita Nikitin with backing vocals by Primavera, recorded and produced in Ekaterinburg by Andrey Bokovikov.
Concert at “Music under the sky” as part of a new collaboration
On August 28, 2021, at Ostrov Manor, Leninsky district of the Moscow region, as part of the Music under the Sky festival, Scottish bard Thomas Beavitt will perform a selection of Lermontov’s poems set to original Celtic-inspired music and accompanied by the Novaya Skazka orchestra.
Mikhail Lermontov is the descendant of a Scottish soldier of fortune, George Learmonth, whose restless spirit brought him to Russia at the beginning of the 17th century.
George’s probable ancestor was Thomas “the Rhymer” Learmonth, a 13th-century nobleman from Erceldoune whose genes and artistic oeuvre combined Anglo-Norman and Gaelic cultures. His rhyming prophecies were preserved in the form of oral traditions and several Middle-English manuscripts dating to the fifteenth century.
During the first part of the concert at the Ostrov Manor, audiences will hear the musical version of Thomas the Rhymer’s mythical meeting with the Queen of the Faeries in Mikhail Fegyin‘s poetic Russian translation.
Thus, it was that, following their implantation in Russian soil, these Scottish roots produced the flower of Russian poetry – Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov.
Thomas Beavitt performed for the first time in front of a Russian audience in 2009 at the festival organised by Ivan Dontsov’s “Veresk” Foundation. This was followed by a concert at Moscow’s House of Music in honour of the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns, which brought together a full hall of new fans.
The subtle interweaving of Russian and Scottish cultures resulted in a joint international project “Lermontov”, leading to the installation of a bronze bust in the Scottish village of Earlston to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the poet. According to the centuries-old manuscripts, this was the place where Thomas “The Rhymer” Learmonth made his home.
“I wanted to come to Russia because I felt its culture pulling me by the sleeve!”, recounts the modern bard Thomas Beavitt.
His first poetic translations were based on the work of Vladimir Vysotsky, whose birthday fell on January 25 – coincidentally, the same birth date as that of the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns. This coincidence inspired Thomas to conduct several musical performances in Russia with musical reflections on the work of the two poets from different eras.
“By 2009, although my Russian language was still rather basic, I had already started translating Russian songs and poems into English. The first song I translated into English was ‘Liricheskaya’ by Vladimir Vysotsky”, said Thomas Beavitt.
Thomas has been living in Russia since 2013 – first in Moscow, then for 7 years in Yekaterinburg, and now recently moved with his wife to Crimea. Now, as well as a bard and poet, he works as a professional translator of scientific articles and books.
Konstantin Uvarov, artistic director of the Novaya Skazka project, said:
The same Ivan Dontsov who produced the Novaya Skazka project introduced us to Thomas’ work. And we just fell in love with Thomas and his music! We hope that this concert is just the beginning of our collaborative work with Thomas – we plan to create a great musical fairy tale together.
At the Music under the Sky concert, Thomas Beavitt will perform songs based on poems by Mikhail Lermontov set to music of his own composition, highly appreciated by professional musicians. The sound of Celtic motifs played on classical instruments will leave a special impression on the listeners of the second part of the performance by Thomas Beavitt and the Novaya Skazka Orchestra at the Music Under the Sky festival on August 28, 2021. The story of the great Russian poet Mikhail Lermontov, as told through his own poetic voice, will be performed in Russian for a Russian audience.
Rhyming Thomas & the Faery Queen (video)
Rhyming Thomas & the Faery Queen: performance (in Russian) of the modern version of the 13th-century Romance of Thomas of Erceldoune by Thomas Beavitt. Russian translation by Mikhail Feygin. Video shot by Regis Tremblay at Livadia Palace, Yalta, Republic of Crimea on 21st May, 2021
The Blood of the Bard: Prophecy and Succession in Russia and Scotland (video)
Thomas Beavitt. “The Blood of the Bard: Prophecy and Succession in Russia and Scotland”, Livadia Palace Conference Presentation, Yalta, Republic of Crimea, 21st May, 2021 (in Russian)
It isnae over until it’s over
I wrote this translation of Vysotsky’s Еще не вечер in the run-up to the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. In the original Russian version, Vysotsky has in mind the veteran theatre director Yury Lyubimov, under whose inspired Brechtian leadership the Taganka Theatre departed from the Stanislavskian method-acting approach of the state financed Moscow Art Theatre. Here, the pirate ship serves as a metaphor for the Taganka, facing the might of the “navy” but never quite succumbing to its attacks. In my translation, the pirate captain is Alex Salmond – while the ship is, of course, Scotland.
The Return of the Global Village Bard – Interview with Regis Tremblay for Global Conversations
It was a big pleasure to be interviewed by this fine gentleman Regis Tremblay for his show Global Conversations. I talk about my long and seemingly inevitable journey from Scotland to Russia, my childhood background and my Global Village Bard collaboration programme.
The first single from the forthcoming concept album ‘Heraclitus Flow’, Vitruvian Woman presents an ironic and irreverent romp through three millennia of western cultural and philosophical history. Starting with the Hebrew myth of creation and original sin, it cheekily guides the listener’s imagination through Greek Homeric prehistory and the Athenian golden age, pausing to note the importance of the presocratic philosophers Heraclitus (“no man steps in the same river twice”) and Protagoras (“man is the measure of all things”), through the Roman empire and Christian nativity, via the Renaissance and so-called “Enlightenment” to the modern era. Taking into account such culturally-significant figures as Napoleon, Einstein and Julian Assange, it nevertheless places each in a context fundamentally conditioned by feminine subjectivity. In the last two verses, the author appears (“it’s getting rather hard to be a global village bard”) to give his own personal account of the postmodern condition.
Backing track (minusovka)
In the beginning, the world started spinning – a disk that accreted from void. Creator’s intentions produced more dimensions, each lest the last be destroyed. And out of affinity strode masculinity, clutching his logos referral, But deep in his core lurked a maiden, a whore, a temptress, a mother, a girl. Then Adam knew Eve… well, he thought that he did… and that was original sin. But when Cain and Abel were sat at the table, his judgements seemed petty and thin. Playing the martyr’s a total non-starter when round such routines she runs rings! What is this insanity? Everything’s vanity! Woman is the measure of all things! The gods liked to toy with Helen of Troy, whose visage launched thirty contingents. The judgement of Paris was heard on Solaris, albeit with many infringements. And Hera sat on Ida with Athena there beside her; when Aphrodite was vindicated she rose. But the Oath of Tyndareus exonerated Menelaus, thus launching the epoch of heroes. Well, then Hector fought Achilles and Odysseus in series, but in the end they dragged his corpse around the walls; With old Agamemnon leading them again on and on till at last his fate befalls Each, who merits his portion of outrageous fortune, indignities, arrows and slings: It’s all part of the plan, but he’s only a man – and woman is the measure of all things! The bee's knees, Alcibiades, in Plato’s book Protagoras Was shown to please old Socrates, whose elenctic can still stagger us. But all those Archimedes greedies looking to lever the Earth Still need a fulcrum to rest it upon – when all they have is its dearth. Nobody can know the Heraclitus flow, who never steps into it twice: Everything slides and nothing abides – and knowledge is never precise. Man only knows the ebbs and the flows to which his identity clings: For he’s not the same man and it’s not the same river – and woman is the measure of all things! Then Aristotle went full-throttle into full-blown academia. At a nearby clinic, Diogenes the Cynic diagnosed him with schizophrenia. But Alexander wouldn’t pander to a fear of his own dark shadow; After breaking his steed, he stood in great need of self-knowledge – a failure, a saddo? Then, proceeding as taught, he did as he ought, according to Delphian principle: Dragged the old sybil out by the nipple till she screamed “My son, you’re invincible! With your banner unfurled, you may conquer the world – it ain’t over till Pythia sings That life is the school, love is the teacher – and woman is the measure of all things!” That diamond geezer, Julius Caesar, had a scene with Cleopatra. In the palace, he unsheathed his phallus, while the eunuch Ganymedes tried to capture His fleet, but was forced to retreat, while Alexandria, still besieged, burned. After the Battle of the Nile, he tarried a while, then returned To Rome, the place he called home, to await his doom in the Senate At the Ides of March. Thus, we recall the indispensable tenet: When back to Egypt his mother Caesarion brings, It all becomes clear, I fear, that woman is the measure of all things. Jesus Christ had a tryst with Mary Magdalene. Those who knew this wandering Jew could never quite explain Just how he was able to turn the table on all hypocritical sinners, But then, at a loss, he was nailed to a cross: this game of life sure has no winners. As thunderclouds loomed, he adopted a spread-eagle pose And, pondering death, exhaled his last breath and arose… Who’ll square the circle in this murk’ll be the king of kings – But in the land of the blind, the deaf don’t mind if woman is the measure of all things. It was easy for Leonardo to bring his masterpiece to fruition; Harder for Galileo to go square up against the Roman Inquisition. Truth falls like two cannonballs straight from the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa And Michelangelo’s David was wholly created in the shadow of the Mona Lisa. Logical proof is offensive to truth – who can say how the heliocentre moves? And the anthropic principle is clearly evincible for he whom the calculus proves That the puppeteer need never fear when jerking on his strings – Vitruvian man does what he can… but woman is the measure of all things! Immanuel Kant had a rant, producing a moral monstrosity. With his golden rule, he started to drool, forgetting about reciprocity. In a season of reason, he promised perpetual peace, Where pleasure in measure to ethics can only increase. He continued like that, from his conjuror’s hat, a sequence of white rabbits To produce, and from them to deduce, based on his own clocklike habits, A constructed reality, lame like an amputee, where eternal springs Of hope elope with cash for rope, but woman’s not the measure of all things! Napoleon Bonaparte practised the art of loving his wife, Josephine. His “ne te laves pas, en trois jours je reviens” ‘s still thought to be somewhat obscene. He wrote: “I have been endowed with a nature that is proud, but I still place you above me; In your alluring case, out of gossamer and lace – have you really ceased to love me...?” Then, in despair, in search of an heir, he wed Marie Louise for her womb, Who cried: “He’s a bit of a tyrant, but not when alone in his room. He’s only a temporary emperor, but [sigh] love gives him wings... Let him conquer the globe, but take off his robe… and woman is the measure of such things!” Karl Marx made some remarks about dialectical materialism. For Lenin, well, that was capital, but the ultimate stage is imperialism. And, despite such brains, some doubt remains concerning what to do about that: Что делать? Как быть? Куда бежать? Кто виноват? And while the Mao effect demands respect for a single blooming flower, Only the totally corrupt could ever dare to interrupt the prerogative of absolute power, Cutting closer to the bone to get blood out of a stone – the last drop that he wrings… But it’s all in vain and demonstrably insane – because woman is the measure of all things! Albert Einstein began to shine, making e equal to m c squared. Putting theory into practice, his conjugals seem tactless, but I doubt he really cared That their mothers were sisters and grandfathers brothers – relativity should be kept in the family! Elsa, like Monroe, was a sapiosexual ho. Giving him brain, albeit somewhat clammily, Was objectively sexier than a troupe of virgin nuns with anorexia, but I don’t mean to make light Of his depravity; to equate specific gravity with absolute momentum is quite right. And now Higgs has chosen the boson, along with quarks and superstrings… But why is there something rather than nothing? Because woman is the measure of all things! It’s getting rather hard to be a global village bard amidst all of these overlapping framings, Trying from the start to perform a minor part within linguistic Wittgensteinian gamings. And the nebulous assumption that per capita consumption has any kind of bearing on autonomy Has impuberal misconduct as the gross domestic product of an ailing low attention span economy. And I don’t like to mention the blank incomprehension that greets attempts to re-enchant the world – Just put it into storage while you try to pay the mortgage and never pause to think how we’ve been hurled Into these bum trades, while unicorns and mermaids cleave to deep affairs and shallow flings. It’s all been said before, just another kind of war… and woman’s still the measure of all things. Now Assange rots in Belmarsh prison pending extradition with nobody to come and go his bail; And many a sordid sex scene’s relived by Jeffrey Epstein, who may or may not have killed himself in jail; And whether Greta Thunberg’s financed by Michael Bloomberg or Soros himself appears beside the point, While the orgulous accusers of Satanic sex abusers for prurient viewers rarely disappoint. And the wombs of Muslim wives are being weaponised in an ongoing war against absurdity, Bequeathing to posterity an heirloom of austerity downloaded from the web of postmodernity. Now the dog and bone are long since overgrown, just like the one for whom the iPhone rings – It rings for me to the approximate degree that woman is the measure of all things!
©Lyrics written and performed by Thomas Riffmatch to a backing track composed by Nikita Nikitin with backing vocals by Tri Muzy and guest spots feat. Primavera and Katya Ashravzyanova, recorded and produced in Ekaterinburg by Andrey Bokovikov.
Lovely Jubilee 2020
Lovely Jubilee 2020
You shall make this year holy,
Что за время – посмотри!
©Lyrics written and performed by Thomas Riffmatch to a backing track composed by Nikita Nikitin, recorded and produced in Ekaterinburg by Andrey Bokovikov. Russian translation by Svetlana Deryabina.
Telegram channel launched!
We are delighted to announce that we now have a Telegram channel! If you are reading this, please say hi to confirm that it is working!
Translating Lermontov’s 1831-go IYUNYA 11 DNYA
A discussion of some of the problems arising during the course of attempting a ‘musical’ verse translation of Lermontov’s early lyric poem 1831-go IYUNYA 11 DNYA is presented. A metrical analysis of the poem’s prosodic features is carried out in accentual- syllabic, beat-prosodic and musical terms. In particular, the Russian poet’s extensive use of enjambment and caesura to create rhythmic and syntactic tension between the levels of phrase and poetic line creates challenges for a translator who aims to preserve the rhythmic structure of the original while also using the phraseological resources of the target language to the fullest advantage. In the course of the analysis, it became apparent that some prosodic features, appearing both in the source text and the attempted translation, evade full description in accentual-syllabic, beat-prosodic and musical terms. Therefore, it also became necessary to introduce the concept of “flow”, which is derived from contemporary rap music and may partially correspond to the Russian prosodic term zashagovaniye. Readers are invited to assess to what extent the translation strategies employed in this case are successful in maintaining fidelity to the source text in terms of its (i) signification, (ii) form, (iii) emotionality and (iv) singability.