Wednesday, April 29, 2009


This semester has been great. I love classical literature and I had so much fun reading it or re-reading it in some cases and discussing it. I love all the connections we can make. Either through movies and books of the present day to the past or our own Bozeman Chronicle. It has become quite clear that the past possesses the present. I can't help but read into stories now. I look for their link to Ovid or Apuleius. I look to the activists of our time and see Antigone. The doomed romances and the brutal tragedies. Hard to cope with and harder to understand. Why? The death of a child, the rape of a woman. We cry and when we can't cry anymore, we laugh. Or from King Lear, "The worst returns to laughter." As Iphigenia says, "It is wrong to love life so much." We know the story doesn't have a happy ending and we learn to OK with that. There is life after it ends. But either tragedy or old comedy, either focused on the individual or the society, there is something there that teaches us and consoles us. It teaches us to cry at the right times or laugh at the awkward moments. It teaches us to purge our emotions or don't mess with women. It's more than right from wrong. The past teaches us to live in the present. Thank you to all my classmates for your wonderful blogs and presentations. You have taught me so much.

Love vs. Hate

We spent a lot of time talking about love from the Symposium, but not so much on the subject of hate. I think the best example from our readings of hate come from The Trojan Women. Also interesting to note that the Symposium consists of male characters when talking about love and The Trojan Women consists of female characters demonstrating hate. Anyway the Trojan women have watched their husbands, sons, fathers, and brothers die in a lost war. Now it is their fate to be toted away from their homeland to become slaves and concubines. These feelings of grief and bitterness transform into a burning hatred focused on Helen of not so much Troy anymore. Their homes are gone. Their lives are gone. The only thing they have left even in the slightest bit in their control is to see Helen punished for bringing this destruction to them. Hecuba takes up the charge and does her best to present a calm and rational case against Helen. But she escapes their grasp and their justice. She will live. But the hate will remain in the Trojan women's hearts because it is all they have left after watching their love be destroyed.

Reading Favorites

My favorites of the semester in order from best to least:
1. The Golden Ass
2. Ovid
3. An Imaginary Life
4 .Lysistrata
5. Demeter and Persephone
6. To Hermes
7. Antigone
8. Steiner's Antigones
9. Trojan Women
10. Plato's Symposium
11. Iphigenia

Don't Look

The theme of 'don't look' is rather prevalent in classical mythology. Psyche is told not to look at Cupid or in the box of beauty. Orpheus is told not to look back at Eurydice. Pandora is told not to look in the box. What is it that is forbidden to humans? What aren't we suppose to see? Maybe its knowledge. 'Don't look' is different from' don't eat,' but I see the same theme in the Adam and Eve story as well. Something is forbidden and we do it anyway only to suffer the consequences. I think humans need rules to follow. Maybe the knowledge is withheld from us until we are ready to accept it. But we get impatient and want in now. Like when Orpheus looks back at Eurydice. He only had to wait and he would have had her alive again and in his arms. But he needed to see her now or did he need to know what death looked like? Is is curiosity or impatience that is our downfall and our resurrection?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Reading into things

Ever since taking my first Sexson class, I can't help but read into things. I looked up a few jokes to post on my oral tradition blog and I discovered two things connected to this class.

The jokes were about marriage and they are the best kind in my opinion. Here is the first.

A man has six children and is very proud of his achievement. He is so proud of himself, that he starts calling his wife, "Mother of Six" in spite of her objections.
One night, they go to a party. The man decides that it's time to go home and wants to find out if his wife is ready to leave as well. He shouts at the top of his voice, "Shall we go home 'Mother of Six?'
His wife, irritated by her husband's lack of discretion, shouts right back, "Anytime you're ready, Father of Four."

This is Niobe! The man brags about all these children he has to someone who holds more knowledge than he does. Soon he finds himself with less children than he started with because of his arrogance. The second joke was a more broadly connected, but I think you will get it.

A man and his wife were having some problems at home and were giving each other the silent treatment. Suddenly, the man realized that the next day, he would need his wife to wake him at 5:00 AM for an early morning business flight. Not wanting to be the first to break the silence (and LOSE), he wrote on a piece of paper, "Please wake me at 5:00 AM." He left it where he knew she would find it. The next morning, the man woke up, only to discover it was 9:00 AM and he had missed his flight. Furious, he was about to go and see why his wife hadn't wakened him, when he noticed a piece of paper by the bed.. The paper said, "It is 5:00 AM. Wake up."
Men are not equipped for these kinds of contests

This is one of the Steiner conflicts from Antigones. Men vs women. And just like in the real Antigone, he is no match for her.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Beware the Women

Did you notice while reading the Golden Ass that most of the villains were female? More specifically female witches who seduced young men and could turn into animals. I mean the whole reason Lucius gets transformed is because of a woman, right? Blame the woman! It was her fault! Wow, that sounds familiar. But we do have to remember that it was also a woman who returned him to his human form and for that he joined the goddess Iris in her religious mysteries. The women in this book have a lot of power. Interesting, huh?

My thoughts on Rent a Family

The story below sounded so outrageous I just knew it had to come from Ovid. But I wasn't sure which story it was at first. I went through the chapter titles and there it was, Pygmalion. Don't like how the world is treating you? Can't stand reality? Then make something false become true and live happily ever after. Create something lifeless and give it life. Pygmalion didn't like the way he saw the women of his city behaving. They were cursed. So he took it upon himself to create the perfect woman. If this woman had an ad in the newspaper today, this would be it. Rent a family. Don't like your family? Replace them with another. Don't have anyone to go on vacation with? Take an imaginary one. Just think about. I don't know if there are any other stories in this article. I'd be happy to hear any ideas you might have.

Bozeman Daily Chronicle

GARDINER - "Need a personable, entertaining and helpful family to stand in at your wedding for your ill-mannered kin?
ERIK PETERSEN/CHRONICLE The Roberts Family, including Jim, Joni, and their children Emma, 9, Bennett, 7, Preston, 4, and Fiona, 1, pose for a photo in front of their Gardiner-area home. The family is available for rent on eBay, an idea they came up with as a unique way to make money in challenging economic times. Thinking of going on vacation, but don’t want to go alone?Trying to learn English and want some practice?No problem. There’s a family of six here for rent.“We’re all immunized, healthy, carry U.S. passports, non-smokers ready for your next assignment,” states the ad posted on eBay by the Roberts family.

The Roberts - Jim, 42, Joni, 39, Emma, 10, Bennett, 7, Preston, 4, and Fiona, 1 - are available for everything from family reunions to product endorsements.“I did put on the ad, ‘university testing,’ too, and I’m a little concerned about that,” Jim said this week. “I can see someone saying, ‘Here, take this.’ … The whole family?”The Roberts’ going rate is $250 per day, though they will not engage in anything illegal or immoral. And, any travel expenses must be paid and materials related to the job supplied.“If they want us to walk around in banana costumes, they have to supply the banana costumes,” Jim said, grinning.Jim and Joni say they hope their entrepreneurial venture will help them make a living in this economy, allow them to spend more time with their kids and make it possible to stay in the remote Montana town at the edge of Yellowstone National Park that they love so much.The Roberts’ kids are home schooled so they could go anywhere, at anytime, Joni said.“We thought in this economy, with things the way they are, we’ve got to be creative and we’ve got to kind of think outside the box,” she said. “How can we make money while we’re working together?”The family moved to a house that Joni’s family owns on the Yellowstone River last spring, after work slowed down at Jim’s job as a surveyor outside Seattle.Jim got the “Rent-A-Family” idea after seeing a help-wanted ad on Craig’s List seeking a family for a video being filmed in the area.“Maybe there’s someone who’s old and they don’t have any grandkids, but they’re taking a cruise around the world and wish they had some to share it with,” Jim said. “Why not us?“Or hey, rent the whole family to wear your company’s shirts,” he said. “We’ll be your custom representatives.”Or, Joni chimed in, “We could fill in the groom’s side” at a wedding. “The bride’s side always has a large amount of people.”The Roberts’ kids are on board with the idea. Under the pay scale the family has worked out, when they’re working, each kid would get $1 per day for each year they are old."
Who's story is this? All that is past possesses the present.

Symposium Presentation

Love is a word with no true synonym. Words such as affection and caring come close, but nothing exists in the English language to replace it. There is only one, ‘I love you.’ So what is love? Bell Hooks borrows Scott Peck’s definition of love early in her memoir, All About Love, as, “the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth. Love is as love does. Love is an act of will – namely both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love” (5). Love is a choice. Mainstream Hollywood would like its viewers to have the opposite opinion. The films targeted at women, both young and old, fling the old cliché of destiny and fate when concerning two lovers. The belief that it is more romantic to be destined for someone leads to higher ticket sales in the box office and the reality of love is left at home, at best. While we each have our own opinions on love, I think we learn the act of love as a child. Hooks writes that “we learn about love in childhood. Whether our homes are happy or troubled, our families functional or dysfunctional, it’s the original school of love” (17). Her belief is firmly planted that our outlook of life and love are shaped in childhood. It is an age of learning and lessons. It can be a time of hard choices and bitter tears or care free laughter and endless summer days. The environment that a child grows up in shapes his or her views of them self which later on will affect their behavior and attitude in a relationship. In this critical time, a child can either be built up to become a healthy well adjusted adult or he/she can be torn down and develop into an insecure, at times bitter, adult. Hooks continues, “In functional families individuals face conflict, contradictions, times of unhappiness, and suffering just like dysfunctional families do; the difference lies in how these issues are confronted and resolved, in how everyone copes in moments of crisis. Healthy families resolve conflict without coercion, shaming, or violence. Love and abuse cannot coexist” (Hooks 211). It is important that we make the distinction between what is love and what is not.
Love is not violence. While negative forces work against love, the positive forces are love. Love is healing, caring, service, compassion, forgiveness, trust, nonviolence, hope, and peace. 1st Corinthians takes this further, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.....It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” It is the positive constructive forces of life that make up this complex notion of love.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Explanation: Read after story

I found it interesting the way the Cupid and Psyche story was told by someone so as to make it a frame story. The old woman begins her tale in order to make the young captive woman more at ease in such a terrifying and strange world. She brought the girl back to herself through story. My story starts out the same. I even use the same words for the opening paragraph. I only changed a few of them to update it a bit. The story is also told from another’s perspective. Her name is Jess. She is the young assistant to the Venus character, Sateen. From her position she witnesses the whole affair.
I wanted to make it as believable as possible. I used technology as the force that drives the lovers apart instead of the candle wax. But the evil sisters remain the malignant catalyst that leads to Olette’s, the Psyche character, curiosity. However, I did let the sisters off easy. Their only punishment is they have to live with each other at the end of the story. There are references to other mythologies, as well as the same feeling of a rushed happily ever after ending. All that is past possesses the present.
So the story goes, the big and bad Sateen is getting left behind in the archives while Olette’s career is sky rocketing. She asks her son, Aaron, to destroy Olette’s reputation or at least her heart, much in the same way Venus orders Cupid to make Psyche fall in love with a loser. But when Aaron meets Olette for the first time, under disguise, he is instantly attracted to her and finds himself in quite a bind. His overbearing mother is out of the country at the time, so Aaron decides to date Olette under the alias Logan Hayfield. Just as the night covers Cupid’s appearance so does a fake beard and colored contacts work for Aaron. Another significant difference is the couple does not get married. Trying to keep up with the times, I have them in a committed relationship living together when the jealous sisters scheme to pry the couple apart.
Olette seeks Sateen’s help in contacting Aaron. This is the start to Olette’s tasks. Given the length of the paper, I skipped ahead to the last task. In order to receive Sateen’s help, Olette must pick up a box of beauty products from an apothecary in the Village. Again, the theme of “don’t look” is tossed out there. Olette retrieves the box, but her curiosity is too strong. So for some reason or another, just as Orpheus looks back at Eurydice, Olette peeks into the box. Olette passes out. Aaron saves her just as Cupid comes to Psyche’s rescue.
The big news comes at the end. Aaron must stop his trickster ways, much like Cupid, and focuses on writing greeting cards. Olette stops competing with Sateen by switching careers. The same thing happens in the story when Psyche becomes a goddess so that her mother-in-law can come to respect her. All literature is displaced myth. Our narrator keeps insisting that life isn’t a fairy tale and that elements from the past have no business in the present. But she’s just fooling herself. The present can’t help but replay the past. This is what I have come to learn in my Classical Foundations class.

Monday, April 13, 2009

More literary connections

If Lucius was alive today, one would think he was a pretty well read guy. Not only do I see allusions to Frankenstein, but also to Don Quixote. (I do know, however that the references are not in The Golden Ass, but in the literature titles I just mentioned as the fact remains that The Golden Ass precedes them by many centuries. Still we must remember that all that is past possess the present!) It's interesting to note that Sancho Panza rode a donkey and Lucius is turned into a donkey. (As is Bottom's head from a Midsummer Night's Dream, but that's another story.) But the most fascinating connection between the two literary masterpieces is the practice of the scapegoat. "As I walked hesitantly towards the bush, a young man who must have been the owner of the vegetable patch ran angrily at me with a big stick. He beat me so hard in revenge for the damage I had done that he might have killed me if I had not had the sense to defend myself by raising my rump and letting out with my hind legs" (76). Scenes such as these riddle the 940 page monstrosity that is Don Quixote. Every other chapter depicts the brutal beating of either Don Quixote, his squire, or both. Someone is always running at the pair with a big stick for some offense that Don Quixote unknowingly committed. And as the reader continues to read The Golden Ass, Lucius does not go unscathed and without many beatings. Vale.


Fotis speaks to Lucius: "You come from a noble family, and you have a noble soul, and you are already initiated into various religious mysteries" (63). This line caught my eye and immediately brought the Eleusinian Mysteries to mind. It was important to have some kind of lineage and a good family background to be the privileged few to witness such mysteries. Festivals that centered around rites and ceremonies within the community were revelries to certain gods, but certainly not private. What was so secret about that? I'm not sure what Fotis speaks about. She is trying to talk herself into telling Lucius the secret of her mistress, but the standards she sets are unfamiliar to me. I guess that's why they call them mysteries.

Playing with fire

Our dear friend Lucius knows how to get himself into trouble. He is drawn to the very thing that is the object of so many of his woes later down the road. "But I was naturally adventurous, and as soon as Byrrhaena mentioned the black art, which always held a peculiar attraction for me, so far from feeling inclined to be on my guard against Pamphile I had an irresistible impulse to study magic under her, however much money it might cost me, and take a running leap into the dark abyss (mis-en-abym) against which I had been warned. My mind had taken fire" (29). This reminds me of another character that dabbled in practices that should be better left alone. Victor Frankenstein anyone? "What had been the study and desire of the wisest men since the creation of the world was now within my grasp. Not that, like a magic scene, it all opened upon me at once: the information I had obtained was of a nature rather to direct my endeavours so soon as I should point them towards the object of my search than to exhibit that object already accomplished" (38). What is most interesting, besides the ominous presence of magic in both passages, is the commonality of such foolish obsessions with the unknown, and the result of following such an obsession. While Lucius's story seems to take a comic path, while Frankenstein's is destined for the dark shade of tragedy, both men must suffer tribulations before the last word is written.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Have you ever?

Have you ever wanted something so badly that you went against your parent's wishes and did it anyway? The need was just too great. Their cautionary words never even penetrated your reckless thoughts. Maybe it was a dare or a purchase that was really out of your price range. And so, with a last look at the parent's worried face, Phaeton sets out to ride his father's sun chariot. Oh, wait, did you think I was really talking about you? But it doesn't matter because the old mantra of class is 'all that is past possesses the present.' This is a story that you can find in any newspaper in the country. Headline: teenager crashes car, 1 fatality. It is tragedy. An entire family is shaken. Now in Phaeton's case, his actions affect more than his immediate family, but the sorrow and grief are still there. His sisters turn into popular trees out of their grief. No word on how the parents take it. But we know the earth cries out as Phaeton's burning cargo scorches her face. She pleads to let her death end quickly. That's in today's headlines as well - Global Warming. Okay that was a stretch, but you get the picture. Story is everywhere. In last semester's class with Prof. Sexson our theme was all 'literature is displaced myth.' I see it in all of life. Equally beautiful, equally tragic.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Notes for April 6th Test

From Ovid...
Acteon - stag
Arachne - spider
Tiresias - man to woman to man
Atalanta - lion
Myrrha - tree (which gave birth to Adonis)
Pentheus - boar
Adonis - windflower
Narcissus - narcissus flower
Midos - ass's ears
Niobe - weeping stone
Calisto - bear constellation
4 Ages - Gold, Silver, Brass, Iron

1. flyting? - colorful verbal argument
2. Tally? broken coin from Plato's symposium and Aristophanes
3. Know story of Echo
4. What two characters models for Romeo & Juliet? - Pyramus & Thisbe
5. Name three symposium characters and their speeches on love.
6. Tragedy - goat song, comedy - revel song
7. metempsychosis? - transmigration of souls
8. catharsis? - purging of emotions (specifically pity and fear)
9. According to Trojan Women what is the worst? - sacrifice of a child
10. obscene? off stage
11. New comedy vs. Old comedy - marriage, feast, dancing
12. Animnesis? - Plato's theory of forgotten knowledge
13. According to Prof. Sexson reincarnation thought of as metaphor or poetic thought
14. What gift did Paris choose among those the goddesses offered? Helen/most beautiful
15. What character symbolizes reconciliation in Lysistrata? naked woman
16. Diff. between Sophocles and Euripides tragedy? formal truth vs. emotional truth
17. tragedy deals with individual, comedy centered around society/community
18. parabasis? - abuse of audience
19. What was the captured women's fate after a lost war? - slave or concubine
20. phallocentrism? domination of a culture by male point of view
21. Aristotle saw tragedy as perfect form of literature (not too short, not too long)
22. Plato - beauty - shoulder blade itches - wings
23. nostos? homecoming
24. once something said, can not be taken back (note gods and Tiresias story)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Ovid's Metaphors

"As he saw the sisters running./Now his bellow/Was as homicidal/ As it was anguished./ He came after them and they/ Who had been running seemed to be flying./ And suddenly they were flying." pg 228

It is important to note the metamorphosis, even when it is in the language. - when a simile becomes a metaphor. But why is this important? It is commonly known that a metaphor is more powerful. It makes a statement. It is the beautiful elegant sister compared to poor simile. Simile, the younger sister always living in metaphor's shadow. When Ovid transitions from simile to metaphor, he is constructing his world out of valuable material.

I found a passage out of Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being that was quite meaningful. "Tomas did not realize at the time that metaphors are dangerous. Metaphors are not to be trifled with. A single metaphor can give birth to love." pg 11

I liked this idea that metaphors give birth because that means they are life giving. Similes are restrained to the words like or as. But metaphors are bound by no two words. A metaphor can change one thing into another. The metaphor is at the heart of Ovid's Metamorphosis. It is the very thing that makes such remarkable transformations possible. That is why it is so vitally important.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Not much has changed...

Women are "leaving the door open for a guy to get away with something...Here's what's happened over the years," says comic and radio host Steve Harvey. "Women's standards and requirements have lowered over the years. And as men, we know that. We have taken advantage of it. We've created terms that we feed to women that allow us to exist as we do," Author of Act like a Lady, Think Like a Man, Steve Harvey puts the responsibility on the women to train men again. By withholding what he calls "the cookie" (sex) women hold the power and can demand more from the men. He suggests a ninety day rule. Ninety days in a relationship before the man, uh, gets the cookie. In this way, the men can be held to a higher standard. Does this sound familiar? I immediately thought of Lysistrata's brilliant but simple plan. Stop having sex with men, to get them to bend to a woman's will. In her case it was to stop a war. Of course when Aristophanes wrote the play it was fiction, and comedy at that. But is there truth in it? What hidden power do women possess? And more importantly, is it our responsibility to ensure that men behave themselves? That they don't kill each other and sleep around? I want to know.

Death of Cygnus

1. At the walls of Troy,
2. A place once awed and admired,
3. An epic battle raged at her feet.
4. Swift footed Achilles tore through the Trojan lines,
5. Eyes searching for his prize,
6. But the life of Hector Tamer of Horses,
7. Would not be his to steal for years to come.
8. Instead here came Cygnus son of Neptune,
9. God of the sea.
10. His mighty arms plucked Greek soldier after soldier from the battlefield,
11. Throwing their souls into the dark underworld.
12. A worthy opponent indeed.
13. “Think yourself lucky,” Achilles bellowed,
14. “As you leave your pretty armor to me,
15. That it was Achilles who killed you.”
16. His deadly spear sped toward the Trojan's champion,
17. But…miraculously bounced harmlessly off his chest.
18. Achilles stared on in shock.
19. Cygnus’s taunting laughter pounded in his ears,
20. “To be the son not of a sea nymph like you,
21. But of Neptune, lord of the whole ocean, eh,
22. You’re going to have to do better than that, Greek,
23. If you want to kill me.”
24. At this time Cygnus threw his own spear,
25. Achilles raised his shield,
26. And felt the dull thud as the point nearly drilled all the way through.
27. Achilles returned fire,
28. Only to have the same result as before,
29. He might as well have been throwing toothpicks,
30. The way his spears bounded off Cygnus.
31. Achilles, angry, began to doubt his own strength.
32. He gathered his fallen spears,
33. And for good effect,
34. Hurled one through the soft body of a nearby Lycain.
35. He watched the man crumble dead to the ground.
36. Satisfied in his skill, Achilles hurled the same spear at Cygnus,
37. His eyes saw blood,
38. But his brain failed to tell him,
39. It was from the man he’d just killed,
40. And not from Neptune’s son.
41. He charged at the uninjured Cygnus and pounced on him,
42. Achilles blade shattered his helmet and shield with its frantic blows,
43. But Cygnus remained whole and unharmed.
44. On the contrary, it was the blade of Achilles that suffered,
45. The sharp edges turning soft like lead.
46. In a rage of despair and frustration,
47. Achilles rammed his shield into Cygnus’s face,
48. Crushing the nose like a soft pair.
49. He brought his sword pommel down,
50. Slamming it into the top of Cygnus’s head.
51. In this berserker state,
52. Achilles repeated this action until the skull caved in.
53. Thus was the death of Cygnus, son of Neptune.
54. But Achilles would go without his spoils,
55. For Neptune had spirited his sweet son away,
56. On the white wings of a bird.

Note: Lines 13-15, 20-21, 45, 48 were taken from the Ted Hugh's translation.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

An Imaginary Life

Who is The Child? He is Enkidu. He is Mowgli. He is Neleus and Pelias. This mystical character is present in all cultures and all times. There are websites to this day about wild, feral children. The struggle between civilization and nature have been voiced in human expression since the oral tradition. The Child slowly changes as he becomes more familiar with Ovid. What Ovid doesn't know, is that he changes as well. The more things change, the more they stay the same. All that is past possesses the present. These concepts are prevalent throughout the book. Not only does it have direct references to Ovid's Metamorphosis. pg 64 - "I have stopped finding fault with creation and have learned to accept it. We have some power in us that knows its own ends. It is that that drives us on to what we must finally become. We have only to conceive of the possibility and somehow the spirit works in us to make it is the real metamorphosis. Our further selves are contained within us, as the leaves and blossoms are in the tree. We have only to find the spring and release it. Such changes are slow beyond imagination." These changes are the true metamorphosis. Beyond life into poetry. Beyond poetry into life. The two become indistinguishable. So than, why does The Child return to the wild? After all his experiences he chooses nature over civilization. He leaves and Ovid is left alone, but happy. He wants this in his soul. He knows it is right. The meaning of age is lost to him. As is his previous life in Rome. He is left to nature and in this knowledge he is happy.

Term Paper

I got this brilliant idea for a creative term paper. I just have to talk to Prof. Sexson about it. Since all that is past possesses the present is the theme of our class. I would like to modernize one of the classical stories we have read for this class. My favorite is Cupid & Psyche, even thought we haven't gotten that far yet. But I thought an updated version of the classic tale would be pretty cool. We have Beauty and the Beast and a few fairy tales, but we don't have anything anchored in the real world. That's what I want to do.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A night at the symposium

Jesus broke bread and drank wine with his disciples the night before his death. The gods drank in Enlil Elish before deciding whether to give in to Marduk's demands. And Plato's talks of love center around a table laden with drink. Any guesses to why one mythological figure is prevalent in all of these cases? And who is he? What is the binding that ties these very different stories together?

The Father/Son Conflict

Oedipus curses Polyneices. Creon's contempt for Haemon. The father/son conflict is one of mass interest and even greater tragedy. Death is the only outcome to be hoped for. There is some power struggle that a father and son must go through seemingly from the moment the son learns to talk. The son seeks the father's approval, while the father seeks to make his son into a man, often forgetting he must be a child first. Out of duty, Haemon sides with his father at first, but we all know where his heart truly lies. It is that need for the approval that steers Haemon's first words to his father, "I am yours, Father. You set me straight, Give me good advice, and I will follow it: (28) Of course Haemon is lying to not only his father but to himself as well. Haemon then sets out to persuade his father to change his mind about Antigone's punishment. When that doesn't succeed, we see the first foreshadowing of the lover's tragedy, "Not me. Never. No matter what you think. She is not going to die while I am near her" (34) And yet, at the end of the play, a sure model for the Romeo and Juliet to come, Haemon and Antigone lie dead in each other's arms. Creon was so driven to be proved in the right, he lost all sight of what really mattered. He made an enemy of his son, his wife, and his niece/future daughter-in-law. I suppose this is what happens when a man refuses in, Creon's mind at least, to have any qualities of a woman. Hmm.

The Sister Conflict

In the Hymn to Demeter, the focused relationship was that of a mother and her daughter. But in, Antigone, the complicated dynamics of two sisters are the enigma of the play. The weaker sister, Ismene, would never go against the grain. She is one who colored inside the lines as a child and always played it safe. Her softer demeanor would have her follow the laws, even if they go against what her heart says to be true. Note that even as Ismene wishes to die with her sister, and shoulder the blame, she herself never broke the city laws. Antigone, on the other hand, is the rebel. She was born in the wrong time when women didn't have the power or the rights to do what she was born to do. She is strong hearted and bold, determined to stand by what she thinks is right. These qualities would have made her a fine leader had the times permitted her to do so. It is this conflict between the two polar opposite sisters that Steiner has overlooked. He places familiar conflict under the age vs. youth column, focusing most of his time and attention on Haemon vs. Creon. But what about two sisters who are opposed? And then brought back together in their shared family curse? This is great drama!

Hermes Comes to America

In class, we discussed how Stewie from Family Guy could easily be a modern day Hermes. But it is interesting how Hermes has embodied the American dream since before Manifest Destiny. The cunning trickster is really what capitalism is all about. Step one: Be inventive. Hermes very slyly invents the lyre and then from step two: Use such inventions to get ahead. Hermes uses the lyre to give to Apollo in order to get his support to join the ranks of the gods. And finally my favorite, step three: if you can't afford it, steal it. Hermes is a well known thief, but from the time of cattle rustlers to corrupt bankers, America has harbored a den of thieves. So really, it doesn't matter what form Hermes takes or what name, such as Stewie. He will always be around in the good ol' U.S. of A.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The mother/daughter mystery

There is no greater mystery than the relationship between a mother and her daughter. The inside jokes, the secretive gesticulations, and the oh so subtle glances that say far more than what's on the surface. Movies attempt to copy it, and books and music delve into to define it, but the very first story, the story of Demeter and Persephone says it far better than any modern day retelling. Orpheus's love brought Eurydice back for a moment, but Demeter's grief, the grief of a mother who has lost her child, wilts the plants and leaves the ground bare and unusable, and brings her daughter back from the Underworld far longer. This higher love sends the gods into a panic, until arrangements are made to bring her Persephone of the beautiful ankles back to her, her little flower-faced girl. However, much has changed since Persephone's abduction. Her innocence has been lost in the mean time with the eating of the forbidden fruit. Now she must split her loyalties between her mother and her new husband. This is a tale of the human condition. Where nothing is simple and not everything is beautiful, but man, what a story.

Persephone by Third Eye Blind

She's barely moving now,
Warming in the sun,
warming in the sunI left her colder now,
Than almost anyone.
Warming in the sun,
warming in the sun
And the light she finds is golden,
And I can't take my eyes away.
But I'm no longer welcome,
And this is not my place to stay.
Cigarettes fill my lungs
One by one by one.
And I wish spring would come
Warming in the sun
And I play these songs without you,
In an empty space,
With the guitar that you brought me,
I pulled from a velvet case.
Persephone, Persephone
Can you help me?Can you help me?
Can you stop the moment bleeding?
Persephone. Can you?
Did I hear you scream,
While I was singing in a dream?
Naked by your side,
The only place I never lied.
And all that I can give you
Is an open door,
All in all, it swings too lightly
You won't beam through there anymore.
Persephone, Persephone.
Can you help me?Can you help me?
Did you pass this way?
Maybe not today
Persephone, can you help me?
I pushed away a summer breeze.
I want the promise of a real spring,
Free and born again.
Help me
Old emotions are coming back to me...
Old emotions are coming back to me...
I sit by myself,
Memories all I want
In the last light of the sun.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Listen to the Music

The lights go out. Suddenly two thousand people draw breath simultaneously. Anticipation smothers the persistent chatter. A single spotlight focuses at center stage. The lonely peal of an electric guitar reverberates against the walls. The hushed audience can hardly restrain themselves. Their star struts out into the glowing admiration with godlike confidence. Their screams rise to the heavens. The drums answer their cry with thundering arrogance. The saucy notes tease and excite the worshippers until their feet and hands can no longer remain motionless. The need to move bursts inside of them and the stirring lyrics tickle at their souls. The concert has begun.
OK, so I don't know what the first performance that Red Hot Chili Peppers put on was like. I haven't investigated into their humble or not-so-humble beginnings. It was most likely in some dive bar or no account small time gig. But, in my imagination, the first concert was sublime, magnificent, and eternal. It was one of those once in a life time experiences that never strays from the sticky veil of one's memory. A memory that still pulses with the vigorous shivers that were felt on that first night, when history was written.