heliopausa: (Default)
[personal profile] heliopausa
It's been a full-on few weeks, including (as was always on the cards) a funeral.  I feel like such an idiot to need to learn again and again (I am so sick of this) about the finality of death and what living in time means.  Time is change and things not being the same.  Yes, of course.  Everybody knows that.

Well.  Well, so back to Dreamwidth.  What can I write about?  Books and video/television viewing?  Okay...

My reading took a huge dive - I abandoned both the books I was properly, attentively, reading, and will have to start them all over again. Mostly, I just read scraps of things picked up from what was around.  Two such things were:
Sallust, Jugurtha and The Cataline Conspiracy, as translated for a Penguin Classic, I think - it was an oldish paperback, anyway.  I read them because I was pleased to be learning even one name of an African king, even if he was a ratbag (according to Sallust), and also because I vaguely wondered if looking at pre-Caesar Roman evolutions might give me some ideas of how to look at how things are changing politically, now.  But mainly just because the book was to hand.
I also read great chunks of the Iliad, in an online translation by Ian Johnston of Vancouver Island University, in order to argue (amiably) with someone about whether Paris was a coward etc.  (I would be delighted to discuss such stuff while it's fresh in my mind, if anyone's interested.)

I've watched three oldish British television renderings of PD James novels featuring the detective Adam Dalgliesh.  The first one I saw was about the residents of a stately old abbey, stuffed with priceless art, facing the prospect of its shutting down.  The second one was about the residents of a stately-home-turned-museum, facing the prospect of its shutting down.  The third one was about the residents of a stately home, facing the prospect of... but I gave up on that one before we'd even got to the second murder, because I thought I was getting the drift.

I watched - now this is good! - parts of several episodes of an Australian six-part mystery, called Seven Types of Ambiguity - yes, of course the title's a steal, and that's not something I like, in general, but the Empson book is part of the plot, sort of.  The acting and the writing is mostly very, very good, and the cinematography as well.  I had to leave and so have missed the closing episodes, but what I saw was very good indeed, good enough to have conversations with strangers about.  (What?  I'm not sure if that's a sane measure of anything.)

Date: 2017-05-19 02:47 am (UTC)
asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
From: [personal profile] asakiyume
LOL the PD James-based television series ;-)

I definitely understand what you mean about something that's good enough to have conversations with strangers about, too--it's great to have something like that up your sleeve.

What are the pro and con arguments about Paris as a coward?

Date: 2017-05-20 05:33 pm (UTC)
asakiyume: (miroku)
From: [personal profile] asakiyume
This is great!

I did read the Iliad, but some time ago. It seems to me that Paris's problem isn't cowardice, it's that he's the sort of man who, when confronted by three powerful goddesses and asked to choose the most beautiful, picks Aphrodite. All his (and everyone else's) troubles flow from that decision!

"What's wrong with choosing Aphrodite?" someone might well ask. Certainly as a child I thought that Aphrodite *had* to be the most beautiful, because she was the goddess of love, and I figured beauty had to adhere to love. As I got older, it occurred to me (a) that there are many types of beauty, and what you find beautiful is dictated by--well, lots of things--but also (b) when you're dealing with the gods, you really have to think through the consequences of your decision--in other words, "They asked me who was prettiest, so I picked the one who appealed to me most" is maybe not the best way to handle the situation.

Maaaybe Paris did think long and hard--it's a pretty rotten position to be in--but the answer he gave definitely is at the root of his troubles.

Date: 2017-05-22 01:15 pm (UTC)
asakiyume: (miroku)
From: [personal profile] asakiyume
That's a good point about Paris just acting according to his nature, and reading your remarks makes me feel better about that nature--I had forgotten what you said about their choosing him as a judge for his honestness: I think I did him an injustice in my earlier comment!

So I think I'd say it's not a case of "You reap what you sow/You get what you deserve," said in a vindictive voice, but rather that our natures make trouble for us, and at some level we're helpless in that regard. (Some things we can change, but not our entire nature.)

I definitely think that the Iliad has its cultural preferences for hero types, and I definitely *don't* like some of those types--like Achilles, for instance. And I think you're right (if I'm understanding what you're saying correctly) that the narrative itself is biased against Paris in a way that's unfair to Paris--and yet still manages to portray his strengths well enough that, coming from a very different time and culture, we can appreciate him. (Especially if we have friends who stick up for us and get us to think!)

Date: 2017-05-23 12:06 pm (UTC)
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
From: [personal profile] asakiyume
I do like Hector too; my only recollection of a strong feeling about a character was that I liked Hector.

My memories of the Iliad do get very much confused with other tellings/interpretations, not least from Greek tragedies, but extending up more or less to the present. Lloyd Alexander had a book, The Arkadians, that retold various Greek myths and also elements of the Iliad/Odyssey in a very antiwar way.

That quote is excellent.

Date: 2017-05-19 10:37 am (UTC)
blueinkedfrost: (Default)
From: [personal profile] blueinkedfrost
Sorry to hear about your friend. I think everyone learns the same lesson over and over again - we heal, and know we will be wounded again.

I have Jugurtha and The Caitiline Conspiracy on my bookshelf - I think it might be the same one. I found Jugurtha very sympathetic, and the Catiline Conspiracy rather dull (although I read the book twice, so it can't have been that dull).

Date: 2017-05-19 01:25 pm (UTC)
moon_custafer: (Default)
From: [personal profile] moon_custafer
I suppose it's hard to keep death always in mind because unless you're in the middle of a plague or a war, the days when you lose someone you know are greatly outnumbered by the days when you don't, and so it slips to the back of your mind for a while. That's probably necessary, or it'd get in the way of living; even people who've lived through plagues or wars say that grief doesn't scale.
Edited Date: 2017-05-19 01:27 pm (UTC)

Date: 2017-05-19 10:53 pm (UTC)
autumnia: Central Park (Default)
From: [personal profile] autumnia
I've got the Adam Dalgliesh series on my future reading list -- do you think I'd be better off reading the books or watching the tv adaptations?

Date: 2017-05-23 05:21 pm (UTC)
sovay: (I Claudius)
From: [personal profile] sovay
It's been a full-on few weeks, including (as was always on the cards) a funeral.

Their memory for a blessing.

Sallust, Jugurtha and The Cataline Conspiracy, as translated for a Penguin Classic, I think

I have really good memories of reading both of those in Latin—I don't know what the Penguin translation is like, but it's very compressed, character-sketch, archaic (with showers of neologisms) style. I'm sure Sallust wrote about somebody he didn't think was a ratbag, sometime.

(I would be delighted to discuss such stuff while it's fresh in my mind, if anyone's interested.)

I am always down for Homeric debate.

Date: 2017-05-31 01:56 am (UTC)
sovay: (I Claudius)
From: [personal profile] sovay
I'm impressed that you've read Sallust in Latin!

My professional training was as a classicist. It is one hundred percent irrelevant to the jobs I have nowadays unless you count writing (in which case it informs pretty much everything), but it made me very happy at the time.

save for those in the Good Old Days he fantasises about, where honesty and restraint prevailed.

I really love how from certain angles all of history looks like an endlessly receding succession of generations yelling GET OFF MY LAWN.

I was taking the POV that the writer doesn't subscribe to this view, and that the Iliad was intended for a female audience as much as a male - the person I was discussing with was of the view that no, in those days that was just how it was seen by everyone, including the writer and the male audience.

My immediate if inelegant response is that the person you were discussing the Iliad with is stuffed full of wild blueberry muffins. I am coming at this conversation from a slight angle in that I subscribe to the idea of Homeric epic as an eventually codified oral tradition rather than a single-source narrative with an identifiable writer/author, so for me it's less a question of an author's views than cultural values reflected in the epic, but there is good reason to believe that the assumed audiences of both the Iliad and the Odyssey included women as well as men, not least the fact that we find women in the audiences of epic performances in the Odyssey.


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