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THE XENA SCROLLS ARCHIVE



Xena Scroll Pouch #5
Dispatches from the Xena Restoration Society team that translated the Xena Scrolls
(as edited by Robert Mellette)



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Pouch 5: X.R.S. Correspondence

November 27, 1996 -
Scrolls 5th Pouch -

Date: October 23, 1996
To: TeamUniversal
From: Hasson
Re: The Fifth Pouch

I've received no end of grief from my students, and even some of my coworkers, over my opinion of the television version of Xena. I promised Marvin, Janice and Evan that I would include their thoughts in this pouch.

From Janice: "My grandmother, and great-grandfather, have been proven right. Sure, your discovery in 1983 helped to clear their names, Araham, but having Xena broadcast all over the world is a nice piece of retribution for my family. So it's cheesy. So it's campy. So the stunts and special effects look like a low budget B-movie. Xena is becoming a household name. Somewhere, I hope, my Grammi is watching, wherever she is."

From Marvin: "Araham, don't become one of those intellectual ingrates that separates `Pop' from `culture.' Culture that is not popular isn't culture--right? It's just stuff that nobody knows about--which, if you dig your mind down to the core of that thought, you'll realize that -- well, if a painter paints a painting that nobody sees, is it art? If Gabrielle only told her stories to the trees, would they exist? (The stories, not the trees.) That's the deal with Jason and the Argonauts, right? If that myth didn't exist at all--or, equally, if no one had ever read the ancient stories but some Hollywood Hotshot--and said Hotshot were to get together Arnold and Sly and Van Damm and maybe even the Magnificent Seven (the gymnasts, I mean, but you get the deal, right?) And all of these really popular action heroes were in this movie about going on an adventure to get something important, like--I don't know -- the Crown Jewels or something. Would you call that movie "mythology?" Would you study it? Would you call it literature? No, not today. But after 3,000 years of people watching it on home video, and remakes, and such, some space alien professor is going to be boring the hell out of his students by anal-izing the movie. `What do the Crown Jewels represent...?' My point is, Hasson, lighten up."

Evan writes: "Oh, the shame of it all. We are the laughing stocks of our community. I have just returned from a speaking engagement in New York which was attended by women in costumes. They did the Xena yell. One of them was a man. Back home, my youngest daughter has all of her friends over to watch Xena on Sky. She wants me to bring Xena's original costume home from the office. Where will this all end?"

So, I've fulfilled my promise. Now, back to the real story.

Hasson.

******************Message Separator******************

Ep#: 76916
Date: June 7, 1994
To: XRS
From: Hasson
Re: The Report

You've all had a chance to read the peer review. I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Hasson

******************Message Separator******************

Date: June 8, 1994
To: XRS
From: Covington
Re: RE: THE REPORT

What can I say? I'm devastated. Let me collect myself a little, sleep on it, and I'll post something in the morning.

Janice

******************Message Separator******************

Date: June 8, 1994
To: XRS
From: Costantakos
Re: RE: THE REPORT

I have nothing but the highest respect for every member of the review board. I mentored under each of them at some time or another. I am deeply disappointed to learn that their assessment of the Xena Scrolls so differs from my own.

Evan

******************Message Separator******************

Date: June 8, 1994
To: XRS
From: Mpappas
Re: RE: THE REPORT

What do we do now? Is it over?

Melinda

******************Message Separator******************

Date: June 8, 1994
To: XRS
From: Belinski
Re: RE: The Report

Hasson, my old friend, I was sorry to read of the news about the Xena Scrolls being forgeries. I have been on this project with you since the beginning, and I will be the last man off. I will be with you always--but my crew.

I have lost almost all of the volunteers from the United States and Europe. The students only wonder now when their universities will call them home, and as for my hired hands, they can read the writing in the sky. They are afraid they will not be paid if the money runs out, so they have stopped working unless they are paid in advance. What do you suggest I tell them?

Boris

******************Message Separator******************

Date: June 9, 1994
To: XRS
From: Mad Marvin
Re: RE: THE REPORT

I have never in my life read such depressing, down-in-the-mouth, pessimistic, dooms day drivel as I have just now--and I'm not talking about the report--I'm talking about you guys!

As for the report: Well, if there ever was a more academic, all- things-new-are-evil, what-about-MY-theories/thesis/job, let's-read- the-evidence-the-way-that-best-suits-US, piece of doublespeak, University-ese, non-communicable, giving-in-to-the-powers-that- be, CRAP--then I have never read it. Case in point:

"Spectral analysis of the writing stain provided evidence that the materials used in its formation--while sometimes available, but rarely processed and applied, during the late second to early first millennia B.C.E.--occur more commonly in works of the third to fourth centuries C.E."

Like... duh!

We hardly have any samples of writings as old as the Xena Scrolls -- besides the Scrolls themselves. The "writing stain" (that which we call INK!) might have been as common as Bic pens are to us - - only none of it has survived. This is the kind of one-sided slant to the evidence that really tics me off!

More:

"The evidence of the forger tipping his hand with an over zealous cleverness appears in the shameless bastardization of the Ulysses stories. Since this version of the tale is written on palimpsest of old shipping ledgers, it is clear that the forger got the idea for a sea-going tale from the very writing he scraped off the previous scroll."

Okay, that's one theory. It happens to be complete conjecture without a shred of supporting evidence--but as long as we're playing that game, let's try this one: Gabrielle picked up the old shipping ledger while at Ithaca, or on the mainland, scraped the old text off herself, and then sat down to write the Ulysses story. Gee, that works for me. Makes sense about what we know of their financial situation. Matches the fact that the other texts are also palimpsest, or other piece-meal, put-togethers, of paper -- often from the same area that the story takes place. But who am *I* to come up with such a theory? Guess my little Berkeley Doctorate doesn't count. Gotta go get Evan's Mentors to come up with a plan. As long as we're making theories without evidence, why don't we say aliens from another planet dropped off the Scrolls in Old Ms. Covington's lap while on their way to Roswell!

Okay... so I'm a little angry. I'm a little bitter. I'm sorry, irresponsible science makes me that way--especially when it effects my pay check! I say we submit a counter report of our own. Either that, or just ignore it and get back to the job of translating.

REALLY Mad Marvin Back in the States ... I think.

******************Message Separator******************

Date: June 10, 1994
To: XRS
From: Hasson
Re: Rebuttal

Marvin, bless you. I had almost forgotten how clearly you can see through smoke and mirrors. I think a counter review is just the thing we need. I will issue a press release stating our intentions today. I will also need from each of you a rebuttal of the peer review based on the hypothesis that the review board has--innocently or not--slanted their opinion in a most conservative manner. I will do the same, as well as assemble a more liberal-minded review board.

Further up and further in!

Hasson.

******************Message Separator******************

Date: June 29, 1994
To: XRS
From: Mpappas
Re: Dickens and Xena

While you all have been working on the peer review, Dr. Hasson said I should plow ahead with assembling the scrolls, which has lead me to a disturbing discovery with scroll #805- 02-V0209. See if you see what I see.

"Once in a land far away, there lived a rich, but miserly, man named Kreesus whose heart was so [hard], his servants begged the gods to inte[rvene]."

[Then on a related fragment]

"[They] sent the Fates to separate the strands of his life so that Kreesus might see himself more clear[ly]."

There are three Fates, right? So, keep that in mind and look at:

"The miserly king who[se hear]t had withered into a [rest of line missing], took little note of the [spirit?], saying, `Nonsense. You're probably a dream brought on by indigestion. A fatty piece of beef, a bit of grissel. Get out, and let me sleep.'"

Now--compare that to:

"`Why do you doubt your senses?'" "`Because,' said Scrooge, `a little thing effects them. A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!'"

And the final icing on the cake is the constant mentions of a Winter Solstice celebration and the giving of gifts.

I don't know about you, but this upsets me for two reasons. On one hand, they could be used to prove the Xena Scrolls are forgeries. But, if the Scrolls are real, then it means that Dickens adapted his idea for "A Christmas Carol" from them. I don't know which would be worse. I love Dickens. I love Xena, but both of them can't be right.

My fear is that this will be used as evidence against the authenticity of the Scrolls, since they didn't turn up until the 1940's -- or 1983, really, or at least as far as we know. Though, my grandmother did tell me that certain stories of Xena were passed down from family to family. She mentioned some French guy that knew all about Xena--though he got most of it wrong, he knew about her. It could be that Dickens heard one of these stories as it was passing along, and that's how they became so similar.

What do you all think?

Melinda

******************Message Separator******************

Date: June 30, 1994
To: XRS
From: Covington
Re: RE: DICKENS AND XENA

I don't remember who said it, so I'll attribute it to Goethe (my rule for sounding like I know more than I do); "Good artists borrow. Great ones steal."

If Dickens did somehow glean his story from obscure ancient writings, then he was not the first. All of Grimm's Fairy Tales were taken from ancient Sanskrit writings. Shakespeare's so-called Italian plays were based on Italian Comedia Del Arte, which can trace its roots to ancient Greek comedies. This doesn't make Shakespeare or Grimm or Dickens bad writers, just smart ones.

I'm looking forward to working with that scroll once you've got it all together. It will be interesting to see what other Solstice traditions we still hold on to today.

As for the authenticity question, I think your theory may be right on the nose. I know we were both raised on stories of Xena, and I do remember something about that French guy. I wish I'd paid more attention to those tales. Who knows, maybe we'll hear them again someday.

Janice.

******************Message Separator******************

Date: July 1, 1994
To: XRS
From: Hasson
Re: The Hebrew Xena Scrolls

What is the American phrase? "I have cut a deal."back to the time of the Biblical King David--depending on how one wants to calculate his dates--so I invited [name deleted], an old friend from [an Israeli] University, to take a look at them. Though it was fashionable for the first century Jewish community to be familiar with Greek culture--even going to Greece to study--nothing of its type exists as old as this. The syntax and writing style pre-date the earliest Biblical texts.

I informed my friend of our dire financial situation, and he was quick to offer a solution.

So, pending approval of the Xena Restoration Society's Board of Trustees, the Hebrew Xena Scrolls will be leased to [my friend's] University in Tel Aviv. The money from this arrangement will keep us afloat during these difficult times, and we will have 100% access to their work. I am anticipating Board approval, since the XRS has very few Hebrew specialists. The scrolls will be in better hands in Tel Aviv.

Hasson.

******************Message Separator******************

Date: July 3, 1994
To: XRS
From: Costantakos
Re: Work

So, we have funding. Marvin is alive and as mad as ever. The Hebrew Xena Scrolls have a home. Hollywood is happy, and have sent us more scrolls. And we're all about to finish our peer review rebuttals. So can we please get back to work? I mean normal, everyday translation work? The last thing I translated had Xena dead--I think -- and the Amazons about to burn her body. I'd like to find out if I'm reading the final chapter or not.

Evan.




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