Sunday, 26 March 2017

Understanding things!

Yesterday we were invited out to lunch. Very nice it was too, in the restaurant on the top floor of El Corte Inglés, with a fine view over the bay. We ate one of those rice dishes with large crayfish, the dishes that the Galicians do so well. The Valencians may pride themselves on their paella but the rice dishes they do here in Galicia are also very good.

We were watched from time to time by large seagulls who patrolled the outer windowsill, clearly looking for a way to get in and share the food with us all.

Looking out towards A Guía (in Galician) or La Guía (in Castilian Spanish) our host asked if we knew what the name meant. I had always assumed that it had something to do with guiding, as there is a lighthouse at the top,of the promontory. But our host declared that it has nothing to do with that, although even most Vigueses (people of Vigo) are unaware of the truth of the matter. He took us back to Franco's time, when the dictator was striving to form a united Castilian Spain - United, Catholic and Spanish. None of these regional languages and odd names for things!

At that time the rocky promontory was called Niño d'Aguia, "Eagle's Child", because eagles (aguia in Galician and águila in Castilian) nested there. So somebody decided that this should be changed to something more Castilian sounding. Concentrating on the "aguia" bit of it, they decided that since "a" is the Galician version of the definite article "la", it could be called "La Guía". Nowadays, almost everyone refers to it in Galician fashion as A Guía, just as La Coruña is almost always called A Coruña.

Franco himself was a Gallego but was no doubt educated purely in Castilian Spanish. His family may have had servants who spoke Galician but they probably had to speak Castilian to their employers. Galician was not the socially accepted language of the time.

Our friend also told us of a theory about the name of Vigo itself. I don't remember reading anything about the etymology of the name. The city goes back a long way and is known as the city of the olives. Indeed it has an olive tree in its coat of arms. However a team of archeologists working in the Hebrides has found stuff linking Vigo to the Vikings, who certainly had settlements around here. According to that theory the name would come from Uig.

They certainly got around, those Vikings! England and France being in their range is understandable but getting across the Bay of Biscay is rather impressive. And, of course, they made it into the Mediterranean and took over Sicily as well. No wonder the Gauls were scared of them in those Astérix stories!

Later, in a cafe with wifi I had a go at googling "2001: A Space Odyssey". I cannot say that I am greatly enlightened. It may be that the black monoliths are the product of a more advanced alien race who took it upon themselves to help other races progress towards their level of civilisation. (If so, it doesn't seem to have worked on Earth , given the current state of our world!)

At least one review suggests that we should not seek to understand or interpret the film:

"Only a few films are transcendent, and work upon our minds and imaginations like music or prayer or a vast belittling landscape. Most movies are about characters with a goal in mind, who obtain it after difficulties either comic or dramatic. “2001: A Space Odyssey'' is not about a goal but about a quest, a need. It does not hook its effects on specific plot points, nor does it ask us to identify with Dave Bowman or any other character. It says to us: We became men when we learned to think. Our minds have given us the tools to understand where we live and who we are. Now it is time to move on to the next step, to know that we live not on a planet but among the stars, and that we are not flesh but intelligence."

So when we sat and watched light and colour patterns all over the screen, it perhaps truly was meant to be blowing our minds into another dimension.

One odd fact I gleaned from my googling was that Woody Allen cast the actor Douglas Rain, the voice of the computer Hal in Kubrick's film, in an uncredited part as the voice of the controlling computer in the closing sequences of his science-fiction comedy "Sleeper".

Interesting stuff!

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