Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Concluding Thoughts

As far as final thoughts go on the semester, I would just like to say that I really enjoyed the class, and I think finishing up with group presentations was a great way to leave with a smile on your face. Everybody did a great job, I enjoyed all of them and I enjoyed doing one with my group. As you might be able to tell from the rest of my blogs, I loved the mythology aspect of this class, I think that the relationships that the gods have with people and with each other shines a new light on how we interpret things today. It really added a new perspective to the way classical literature was written and how that influenced following literature all the way through to today and into the future. I don't think that I will ever look at a book, a song, a poem, in the same fashion. The other day in American Literature when we were reading early American poetry it was funny how the authors that used references to classical literature were thought of as more educated and not only that but by using those references to gods, or philosophy the poems seemed deeper, like they more of a meaning than what was present at face value. Without this class it would have been harder to really understand the depth of some of those poems. This application with be helpful for the rest of my life as Literature major and hopefully as a writer. Thanks to everybody in the class for a lot of fun and a big thanks to Dr. Sexson for presenting it in a fun and interesting manner.

Considerations on my Final Paper

When I was writing my paper I was trying to think of a clever way to incorporate music into Musea's parentage. I thought about using Hermes, but Hermes background is kind of stuffed up and he was a pretty prominent god, and a trickster which I wasn't sure if I wanted to be associated with Musea. In my eyes, her character was meant to be almost pure, simple, loving, almost to an ignorant level because I recognize that it seems unlikely that one would not know they they were a goddess, but I'm sure about that so I just went with it. I may have to improvise that a little bit, one idea was to make her half god, that way if no one ever told her that she was a goddess she might not know. Another idea that I had was to make her the offspring of an affair that Aphrodite had with possibly...Orpheus. This would make sense because as the son of Apollo, who was given the Lyre by Hermes, he was known as the perfecter of the Lyre and had the ability to put charms on the birds, or the beasts, he could even charm the rivers to make them change their course. Though historically, I don't know if he had the ability to charm other gods and goddesses, I could of had him cast a charm on Aphrodite and have an affair with her. But that all just seemed to complicated, and out of historical context. I needed to have Musea be the daughter of Aphrodite, and I wanted her to have some sort of musical tie, but I needed to make it seem like a possibility. It seems possible, actually probable, that at one point or another goddesses had children that they didn't want and so they just threw them away. The only way that I could make this happen with Aphrodite was to have her throw away a child that was the creation of her and her husband because that doesn't change the historical facts too much. It doesn't add a new love affair, it doesn't change the facts too much; its like historians just forgot to mention this baby girl and how she became the first love song.

A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings

I made this connection a while ago when we were talking about The Symposium and it was the weirdest thing. I was sitting there listening to Dr. Sexson talk about Anamnesis and how we used to have wings and we used to know everything and we were divine in intelligence and a really bright light jumped in my head. A while ago I read "A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and I loved it, I wrote like three papers on it, all having different interpretations of what the old man with enormous wings could represent, an angel, foreign lands, other planets, but I hadn't heard of Anamnesis. When Dr. Sexson started talking about this concept of life, my heart started beating so fast and my brain was racing with ideas. I started jotting down notes in my notebook left and right. I was so excited. It was kind of silly but I was stoked.
The story is about this old man with enormous wings that washes ashore in this little village and a couple finds him. The people don't know what he is or where he came from but they put him in a cage and start to make money off of him. People from all around the world come to see this old man with enormous wings. Eventually he starts to get sick, and because he cannot speak to any of the people in the town he gets sicker and sicker. Finally the people who found him let him out of the cage and let him walk around their house with them and they feed him and treat him better and he starts to return to health. One day he flies away into the distance and the people are left wondering what he was and their questions are never answered.
Now that I have heard the concept of Anemnesis, I am pretty sure that this very old man with enormous wings was a man that somehow got lost before he was born, and ended up in our world before he forgot everything. Knowing that we are ignorant after birth the old man does not speak a single word and attempts to let the people try to figure out what he is. In the end he flies away to be born again. EPIC. The story is on the link below.

Quotes I gathered over the semester

Here are some of the quotes that I gathered from throughout the semester. Some of them I don't who said them, most of them are probably Dr. Sexson. My favorites are in bold.

"How do you know what you think till you hear what you say?"
"History is the facts, mythology is the truth."
"We have been power pointed."
"Why do Greek men have such small bottoms?"
"Not only do you have to will it to happen, you must do it till you get it right."
"Music should touch the chords of divinity in your heart."
"Everything you need is right where you are."
"Ones life is hardly lived for oneself"
"I was just born yesterday"
"You don't decide anything. It is always decided for you. By the gods."
"Everything is a version of something else."
"All families are disfunctional"
"Who are you?"
"Life is the brief moment of light between the womb and the tomb"
"Every time we raise our glass to a toast we are making an associating with the Symposium"
"Everything you do in life should be in remembrance of something."
"We are falling into a world of ignorance, not sin, and need education not redemption"
"You can't desire what you already have"
"We laugh so as not to cry"
"Everything returns to laughter"
And my very favorite:
"You don't have to understand things, you just have to stand under things."

Mountain God

We've gone over quite a few of the gods and goddesses, god of the oceans, god of love, god of fire, and the list goes on, but one god that we didn't really touch on was the god of the wilderness. I have this immense love for the mountains and have spent much of my short life trying to get to the tops of many of them, from Alaska to Peru I have climbed my fair share of mountains and spent a fair bit of my time in the wilderness. So, naturally I wanted to know what god I should thank for all the splendors of nature. I came across a few names but the one that stuck out in particular was Pan.

Pan's parentage is unclear from what I could gather, some say that he was the son of Zeus and some say that he was the son of Hermes. His mother was most likely a nymph but again which one is unclear. I think that it would make most sense for his father to be Hermes for a couple of reasons, first Hermes was a herder, and therefore spent most of his time in the pastures with his flocks, and the name PAN comes from the Greek word 'paein' which means "to pasture". So that connection just makes sense. Second, some accounts of Pan say that he was sometimes called the god of "rustic music" which would have ties to Hermes because Hermes invented the first Lyre, and according to Dr. Sexton was the real inventor of music. So, for his song to become the god of rustic music makes sense. So that's my theory on Pan's father.

His birth was said to be the birth of irrational terrors or panic, like being afraid of the dark, because when he popped out of his mother all the nurse saw was a little bearded face and a little boy with hooves for feet, so she ran away screaming, when really he was a gentle little boy who just got mixed up with some weird genes.

It is said that Pan spent most of his life simply wandering the hills and the mountain tops slaying beasts that got in his way and staying out of most everybodys way, which is perhaps why not too much is written on him. He wasn't the kind of god that wanted to be in the middle of things, unlike most the other gods. It is said that he was the Creator of beautiful music that he made with his flute. Some accounts say that when the sun started to set he would play his flute and sing sweet songs so the animals would fall asleep.

The story of how Pan came to have his flute of reeds is an interesting one that was actually another poem in Ovid's Metamorphoses. The story goes that Pan fell in love with the nymph Syrinx, but because he was neither fully man nor goat she disdained him, but he pursued her regardless. Finally she came to the rive Ladon and asked it to transform her into something else so she could get away from Pan. The river granted her wish and turned her into reeds. Instead of leaving her there, Pan picked the reeds, dried them out, and held them close to his mouth like he was going to kiss them, but when he blew out air he discovered that noise came from them, so he cut them at different lengths and hence invented the instrument which he named in his loves honor the syrinx.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pyramus and Thisbe by The Beatles

I started thinking more about the ironic love story of Pyramus and Thisbe, and as far as stories go that are related to Ovid's Metamorphoses, I am pretty sure this one has had one of the greatest influences on future literature, and perhaps even life itself. Naturally, the first thing to do is to Wikipedia Pyramus and Thisbe, haha. No but really, actually it had a few good things to say and what I found most interesting was the list of "Adaptations" of the story and just to list a few, Giovanni Boccaccio's "On Famous Woman" and "Decameron", Chaucer's "The Legend of Good Woman" and to state the obvious Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" and some aspects of "A Midnight's Summer Dream". Those are just a few of the ones that they mentioned on Wikipedia.
Another sight that I came across was called and oh my god, The Beatles actually dressed up and reenacted the play! Pyramus was played by Paul McCartney and Thisbe was played by John Lennon! How hilarious!! I attached the link below, seriously check it out sooo funny! I'm actually questioning the legitimacy of this site, but at the same time it is tooo awsome to just let go.
Reflecting on the Thoreau quote, "we should read the eternities rather than the times" I found a passage that says almost the exact opposite in a Simon and Garfunkel song, Overs. The stanza goes,
"Why don't we stop foolin' ourselves,
The game is over, over, over,
No good times, no bad times
There's no times at all,
Just the New York Times."
Now the song is actually about two people who were in a relationship and aren't any more, but if we take this stanza out of its context I think that it could be interpreted to mean something with a much more encompassing interpretation that we can reflect on today. Assuming that nothing is original anymore, I think it is fair to say that we certainly like to think that we are original and in that sense we are foolin' ourselves, when we think the game is on the game has been over for years, and like a broken tape we just keep playing the same songs over and over. All we have left is the New York Times, because more than anything else what seems more original to us is the news. The news happens everyday, and more often than not it is the same shit that happens every day, but somehow it feel new and original everyday. I'm not sure why, but I do it everyday, I go to the Book Store, buy a newspaper for 50 cents and look through it like I'm going to see something I haven't seen before, but it's always the same. People debating, people passing laws, people getting arrested, people dying, people being born, and every once in awhile you'll get a nice article about someone doing something nice. But isn't that just life? It's weird to think about because, I look back at all that I've learned this semester and it seems like that was all they were doing back then too. I don't know why, but I like to think that there is more to life than what goes on in the newspapers. Maybe that is why I like the Metamorphoses so much because it has all those lying, cheating, dying, baby making aspects of real life but with a twist, magic.

Awhile ago I wrote a blog about how the gods and goddesses were always interfereing with the humans and that there life would be much simpler if the gods had just stayed out of it. I think that a really good example of this, though there are many, is the story of Apollo and Daphne. Though I don't think we touched on this story in class it is one of my favorites and in recently rereading it I noticed the involvment of Cupid, or Eros, more so than I did the first time I read the story.

Daphne is the daughter of Peneus, which is a river oddly enough, and Apollo fell in love with her because of a dispute between Cupid and himself. Apparently Apollo was making fun of Cupid when he was practicing shooting his bow, naturally this made Cupid mad and to take revenge on Apollo he shot him with one of his love arrows causing him to fall in love with Daphne and then shot Daphne with a lead arrow which stopped her from falling in love with him, causing a bit of a dilema. After discovering that she could never escape Apollo she prayed to her father which in return turned her into a tree, a laurel tree. Even then Apollo fell in love with the laurel tree and it became sacred to him. There is one particular piece of art that I found that is both very beautiful and very prominent in the time that it was painted. It is called Apollo and Daphne by Antonio del Pollaiolo and was painted sometime between 1470 and 1480 which is significant because prior to this there was a long absense of mythological art work due to the rise of Christianity.

My favorite passage from this poem is this,

"Such was the god, and such the flying fair,

She urged by fear, her feet did swiftly move,

But he more swiftly, who was urged by love,

He gathers ground upon her in the chase;

Now breathes upon her hair, with nearer pace,

And just is fastening on the wished embrace,

The nymph grew pale, and in a mortal fright,

Spent with the labor of so long a flight,

And now despairing, cast a mournful look,

Upon the streams of her paternal brook,

'Oh help', she cried, 'in this extremest need!

If water gods are deities indeed:

Gape earth, and this unhappy wrench intomb;

Or change my form, whence all my sorrows come'.

Scarce had she finished, when her feet she found

Benumbed with cold, and fasted to the ground;

A filmy rind about her body grows.

Her hair to leaves, her arms extend to boughs:

The nymph is all into a lawrel gone;

The smoothness of her skin remains alone."


One of my favorite gods that we just got a little glimpse of is Dionysus or Bacchus to the Romans, so I did a little more research on him and here's what I found out.
Dionysus was the son of Zeus and Semele, and therefore spent much of his life fleeing from Hera. His birth was a pretty exciting one as told by Apollodorus, apparently Hera, Zeus's actual wife, got so jealous that Zeus had impregnated Semele that she convinced Semele to ask Zeus to show himself in all his glory, but because Semele was human she could not withstand the sight of Zeus in all his glory, and she died. But Zeus was able to remove the unborn baby from her belly and place it in his own thigh, where Dionysus was born from. When he was born Zeus gave Dionysus to Ino, Semele's sister, who had two other children, Learches and Melicertes. But Hera in all her jealousy made Ino and her husband go mad. Athamus, Ino's husband, ended up killing his son Learches with a spear, mistaking him for a stag and Ino ended up killing their other son by placing him in boiling water. Ino then threw herself into the ocean holding her boiled baby. So last but certainly not least Dionysus spent the rest of his life wandering the earth trying to avoid the rather of Hera. Along his travels he aquired many vineyards and hence became the god of wine. He has also been associated with plant life, festivals, dance, and just pure excess - that is with everything that takes man out of his dailt routine.
When he returned to Greece, the sisters of Semele had convinced everyone that he was not the son of Zeus but the product of their sister and some man she had been cheating with. First, Dionysus punished the woman that had spread these rumors by causing them to go mad and sent them up to Mount Cithaeron. Thebes was ruled by Pentheus at the time, who was actually a cousin of Dionysus. So, Dionysus went to talk to his brother and convince him that he was actually the son of Zeus. There he convinced Pentheus to go up to Mount Cithaeron and see where he had made the woman mad. When Pentheus did this the woman tore out a tree and smashed him and then cut him into pieces. Agave, Pentheus's mother, took her son's head and stuck it to a Thyrsus ( a staff with ivy leaves at the top) and carried it to the city, displaying it with pride in her madness. And this is the major plot line in The Bacchae, a tragedy by Euripides.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Modern Midas's

I really enjoyed group fo's video today that was very clever and it turned out really good. I like the story of Midas because I too know a lot of greedy people. Often times when people ask me what I'm going to do with my major and I reply that I have no freakin' idea, they question why I would pursue a major that has such insecure career opportunities. I answer that people have lost their sense of passion and focus soely on majors that can grantee them a secure job that makes them lots of money so they can grow up get a job, get married to a good looking suitor and support them and their children for the rest of their lives. BOOO! That fantasy rarely plays itself out and besides how boring. I like to answer these people with sarcastic answers like, oh I'm just going to write a best seller and make a million dollars, then I'll never have to work again! ha.  Then they are  stuck there thinking that I'm the ass... haha, if only they knew. Greed makes you the ass, buddy! People have lost the concept that dreams can become reality and I think that is a big reason why society pushes students to have a secure major that is going to secure them for the rest of their lives. I am glad that I am not secure, because the places that pursuing my passions will take me is probably going to be a lot father and a lot more fun than securing my future with money.

Group Presentations

I had a a lot of fun with group presentations. It was fun to see other people's ideas as well. Just to recap on what we performed today, we had an initial feast of Dionysus to start off in which we danced the sparagmos dance and ripped apart an animal (aka a bag of bags). The Festival was meant to bring us good luck throughout the rest of our plays, which I think it did.
The first play was written by Crystal and Brittney who recently had pets die, and felt that it reflected the play Antigone really well. So we went with that for one play. It was hard thinking of a mondern day Antigone because though we may often believe that the rules set for us are not correct, hardly do we have the chance to rebel so publicly. So, the dogs were a very mild form of Antigone.
The next play was Bizz's idea, because like she said during class this actually happened to her during high school, and it was pretty funny. The main gist of the play was simply a young boy with a "genius" idea to answer a girl who had asked him to a school dance. The tribulations that young people with go through and the problems that they have along the way is pretty hilarious, and this was a pretty good example of that.
And the third play was the man eating himself play, from Ovid's metamorphosis. we reenacted the poem in a modern light by placing the father as a talent agent and forcing her daughter to act slutty in order to get parts so as to feed his eating habit which ended up being the death of him one day when all he had to eat was himself.
Personally I liked the third play the best but everyone seemed to like the flaming toilet a lot and I can understand that, it was pretty funny, and fun to act out too.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I learned something interesting in my linguistics class today. We were talking about the evolution of the English language, Old English, Middle English, Early Modern English and Late Modern English and some of the famous works that correlated with these time periods and Shakespeare came up. Not to take away from Shakespeare in the least, because I truly do believe that he was a literary genius, but Dr. Coffey brought up an interesting point that the printing press had just been released right around the same time that Shakespeare started writing so many of his plays. This may explain a little bit of why Shakespeare is so famous, because he was one of the first talented authors to actually be able to present his work to the public without having to manually right out every script. Another interesting fact is that even at this time only about 5% of the public was literate, so even when the printing press was invented only a fraction of the population could actually read what was being printed. AND also just as interesting was the information that he told us about the Old English texts, like Beowulf. Because there was no printing press every copy of that text was hand written! Holy crap! That is a lot of writing and to think that when that was written only about 1% of people were literate and those were the priests and the heads of the church. To think that something that was only originally written down survived all these years in its full form is pretty amazing, I mean that was around 1300 years ago! I think that this stuff is so interesting, and I find it funny that this information is being expressed the way that it is in a Linguistics class and was not presented in any survey class that I have taken, Brit Lit I or II, World Lit I or II… It would have been nice to know when I was reading Beowulf that it was originally just a written manuscript and every copy that was made had to been rewritten. Dr. Sexton, that is why I really appreciate you because you come with a database of extended knowledge that overall adds to the effectiveness of what we are reading. So thank you.
Some of my favorite Shakespeare quote:
"A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool."
"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages."
"Ambition should be made of sterner stuff."
"And oftentimes excusing of a fault doth make the fault the worse by the excuse."
"As soon go kindle fire with snow, as seek to quench the fire of love with words."
"Being born is like being kidnapped. And then sold into slavery."
I really enjoyed all the individual presentations and I looking forward to all the group projects. Ours is coming together really well and it should be really funny. Our interpretations of the past possessing the future is very....creative. Regarding the individual presentations I really liked the theme that someone brought up about how magic is lost with age. It is the sad truth and something that we should try to work on, and it is probably a big reason as to why we find these metamorphoses poems and the golden ass works so interesting because in brings to light magic in a way that we can relate to, and make it seem almost real. When we are young magic is everywhere because we are able to create it more freely and with a more open imagination. I think that in growing up we loose some of the possibilities we once found in everything because we learn that that is not the way to perceive something or other, and in that sense our imaginations are thwarted and magic becomes less real and that is sad because I like magic, I like the idea of the unreal, the idea that there is some cool powers that we can see if we look hard enough. Anyway I thought that was a really good idea for a paper, props to whoever did that, sorry I'm not very good with names.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Final Paper

The First Love Song

Plato’s Eryximachus once theorized that we were once twice the people we are now, and because we were double in strength and intelligence we were a threat to the gods. Zeus had a plan however, to put us in our place and make us humble. Instead of destroying us all together, he cut us in half, which diminished our strength and multiplied us into greater numbers serving to be more profitable to the gods, anyway. But the splitting of our bodies had a more powerful effect on our souls than was probably intended. The consequence being that we are forever in search of our other half and only when we find the other half to our body will our soul be complete again, and that is love. This story comes from Plato’s Symposium and there are a number of other theories of what love is and how we should regard it, but there was one story that Plato forgot to include. There was another attendant at this particular symposium that had her own theory of what love is and where it came from, her name was Aglaia, and she was nothing more than a servant girl who tented to the tedious demand of a room full of drunken, half naked, preaching men. But Aglaia knew something about love that these old men did not. For, when she was a little girl and there were no toys to play with or time to waste she would help her mother dig and bury seeds in the rich soil of the garden. There was very rarely any dialogue between Aglaia and her mother, but her mother had the most beautiful voice in their village and she always sang as they worked side by side. Those songs that her mother sang used to fill her with such an immense joy that sometimes a tear would escape from her olive eye and roll gently down her cheek, not from any sense of distress, but from a kind of pure happiness . It was a combination of the beauty of the song and who it was coming from that created the love that Aglaia had for her mother.
One day when Aglaia and her mother were confined indoors because the rain was hounding down like small spears from the sky, Aglaia’s mother noticed one tear fall from her daughter’s eye. She cut short her song and asked Aglaia what was the matter. When Aglaia answered that her mother’s song had filled her with an overwhelming sense of joy, her mother smiled and asked her if she wanted to know why that happened. Aglaia nodded and the two went to sit on a folded blanket near the window. Aglaia’s mother began by telling her that the goddess Aphrodite once had a daughter whom she called Musea. But this daughter was never very well known among the gods or the people because Aphrodite had been expecting a son and was so disappointed with a daughter that she threw Musea from the clouds and proceeded to forget all about her. But Hephaestus had watched what Aphrodite had done and being that he was the father of Musea, he planted a volcano where Musea was falling, and because she was the offspring of the god of fire she did not burn or even feel pain when she fell into the burning lava. Instead she floated to the top and gradually slid down to the base of the volcano where she was found and raised by mortals. The older Musea grew, the more beautiful she became and like any youthful girl she found herself very interested in one particular young man. As they grew to be closer and the best of friends they fell madly in love with each other and never left the other’s side. One day, a very dreadful day, a neighboring village invaded their village burned down their houses and stole away the strongest men for their own armies. In the depths of that disaster, Musea’s love was torn from her arms and carried away to be enslaved in a land she could not find. Musea’s heart was broken, and she vowed to spend the rest of her life searching until she found her true love or until she died. Musea had been taught from the people who had adopted her that sometime if you prayed and worshiped to the gods and goddesses hard enough that sometimes they would help you. Knowing that this was a matter of love she fled to the nearest and the highest temple of Aphrodite to sacrifice a stag and beg on her knees for help. But little did Musea know, Aphrodite was her mother and little did Aphrodite know that Musea was still alive.
As Aphrodite sat in her throne in the heavens watching all the people in her temples praise her, she was particularly drawn to one girl’s face, it was familiar, like she had seen those eyes before. Though, that must be impossible she thought to herself, but I have nothing better to do so I shall see what this mortal wants of me, and she floated down to stand before Musea in all her glory. Once Aphrodite was in her daughters presence she knew immediately who this woman was, and watching her daughter cry before her asking her to help her find her true love, Aphrodite felt guilt and she pitied Musea who did not even know that she was a goddess. However, instead of telling Musea that she was her daughter; Aphrodite decided to help her daughter find this true love, though she doubted that it was anything more than young lust. She called up to the gods in heaven to look down on the earth and find her daughter’s lover. When he had been sighted Aphrodite took her to just outside where her lover was. Musea thanked Aphrodite with a tear in her eye and Aphrodite left thinking she had set things right.
Musea’s heart pounded harder than usual, sweat beaded up on her forehead and her hands shook a little, but she walked on anyway. Their eyes met in a courtyard, locked and without blinking they ran to each other, embraced and kissed. This was their first real kiss and it filled Musea with such a joy that her vocal cords began to ring, and she burst out in the very first love song. Musea sang and sang until you would think there was no more air in her lungs, but she kept singing and it was a beautiful song. Gradually, her body had begun to tingle like when you first step out from your warm house into the winter air and she felt light like she wasn’t touching the ground, and she wasn’t. As the song came to an end her body burst into a thousand beads of colored light and for the first and only time in the history of the world people saw what music looked like and it was more beautiful than any art the human hand could ever produce. When the beads of light had flickered out, there was nothing left but the resonance of the very first love song in everybody’s heart and it filled them with joy. That feeling of joy is aroused now by two things and two things alone, a beautiful song and love and you know you love someone when you get the same feeling that you get from a beautiful song.
Music is the one force that is present in everyone’s life, just like love, and they both invoke the same feeling all because the daughter of love exploded into song. Since then, Aglaia had heard many beautiful songs and each one that reminded her of her mother left her with that clenched heart, that skip in her step and that smile on her face. She leaned against the door to the kitchen in Agathon’s house and thought back to that rainy day when she found out how to recognize love and how true it was. She had had a few romances but no one had made her heart fill with the same joy as her mother’s songs, until she met the man she was now married to. Aglaia may not have told those men of great importance and stature how to truly recognize real love, but she smiled to herself anyway and went to get Aristophanes a feather to tickle his nose.

Final Paper

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cupid and Psyche

After reading Cupid and Psyche, it seems that it proves one of my points that I made in a previous blog about how the gods and goddesses are as human as humans are but have more power. They are struck with the same emotions as people are, like jealousy and fear. Aphrodite for instance is portraying all the symptoms of a normal worried, over protective mother. She is afraid that because Cupid has found another woman that is as beautiful as she is, she might lose the affection of her son. The other goddesses that Psyche goes to for help are fearful to help her because they know the damage that Aphrodite can put on them, but in the same way they are careful to defend Cupid because of the love spells he could potentially put on them, causing even more god drama.
One thing that I might have just missed or wasn't explained was why doesn't Cupid want Psyche to see him in the first place? If he had just let her see him she wouldn't have been capable of being tempted by her sisters into sneaking around in the dark trying to see him and potentially trying to kill him. The only way that I can make it make sense in my head is to make it a trust issue, by saying if you trust me you won't need to see me. Even then, I don't know why she would trust him.
The human characters and the roles they play remind me in a way of Cinderella. The jealous evil sisters plotting to destroy the life of their beautiful younger sister, only to get spited in the end. At first Psyche didn't seem like the brightest crayon in the box, but by the end and how she got her revenge was rather masterful and clever. I think that Psyche's character has lived long past this story of her, and one of the messages she gives is one that is still thought of today. She says that being beautiful does not necessarily make life easier but on the contrary, draws more attention to her and thus making it easier to point out her flaws. It's seems that she almost wishes her beauty to be not so great even though that's what has made her so famous, both amongst humans and gods.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

I got my hands on my mom's photos from Italy, and when we were in Venice we saw this guy walking around handing out posters that I am assuming were posters promoting a Lysistrata play. Naturally making everyone in the plaza very uncomfortable, he was walking around rubbing his ... on girls, getting down on his knees and pleeding for sex (I'm assuming, I don't really know Italian). Just another example of how the past possesses the present (all over the world).

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Stuck in An Imaginary Life

Realizing that this is a little past its time, here is my An Imaginary Life Essay...

As I read through An Imaginary Life by David Malouf, one recurrent theme that I noticed was this idea that there are levels to life and in particular the level of dreaming seems very relevant to our interpretations of life. However, it was not just in his dreams that he felt there were levels to life. In the fifth chapter as Ovid lied down to rest in the forest he expressed the observation that there were smaller levels to life as well, like the bugs and the earth. The more he started observing these levels the more I started making connections between them. In a way all of life, all of the earth, all of our relationships are connected in a set of stages and are tied together with our dreams.
The most basic stage is the stage at ground level, most literally. It is something that as people we don’t tend to think about very often but the earth and the ground level is why we are here, and how we are able to remain here. Without it we would not exist and in that sense we are apart of it. “The earth’s warmth under me, as I stretch out at night, is astonishing. It is like the warmth of another body that has absorbed the sun all day and now gives out its store of heat… and when I take a handful of it and smell its extraordinary odors I know suddenly what it is I am composed of” (Malouf 146).
The second stage is the stage of the feral Child, who is connected to the natural world in a way that most of us cannot understand. Able to survive the winters and flourish happily and communicate with the beast that roam the earth in complete harmony, he has a deeper connection with everything that is in and around his world, except humans. It is through the character of Ovid, however, that he begins to get a glimpse of both the beauties of our language, “Gradually, one sound at a time, we are finding human speech in him. It is a game he delights in” (Malouf 92) and the faults of civilization, “Out there he would freeze. Whatever his secret was, I have taken it away from him” (Malouf 114).
The third stage is the stage that our narrator, Ovid is in the majority of the novel; the level of human perception in culture and poetry. He is able to take a seemingly stressful situation (that of banishment) and transgress it into that of experience and change. His expression that life is how we change and the never ending process of change, is one that is both real and rarely observed. “Strange to look back on the enormous landscape we have struggled across all these weeks, across the sea, across my life in Rome, across my childhood, to observe how clearly the footprints lead to this place and no other” (Malouf 151).
The last, but seemingly important, stage is the stage of dreams that is expressed throughout the novel, by Ovid. He is very aware of the dream world and it ties together with the other stages that I have described. One of the more powerful analogies that he makes is with the natural world and how it is tied to the dream world. His idea that all things have been dreaming themselves into a new existence in a stadial progression, “Having conceived in our sleep the idea of a further being, our bodies find, slowly, painfully, the physical process that will allow them to break their own bonds and leap up to it” (Malouf 29). It is a very powerful way to interpret both how we dream and why we do it. From the natural world to the intelligence we find in humans, it is the subconscious expressed through our dreams that we are able to find novelty and originality.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I've been going over the stories in Tales from Ovid a lot in my head lately, and often I find myself laughing at how silly some of the stories seem. Like Actaeon made me laugh because from the way the Roman art depicts all these gods and demigods, they were pretty much naked all the time anyway, and this poor guy comes along and just happens to stumble upon a really gorgeous naked god, totally not his fault, but he got turned into a stag anyway. Seems a little rash of Diana in my opinion. Then again, I don't know how much rationality goes into what these gods are doing.

They are all pretty funny in their own regard but another one that was particularly funny was Arethusa, who turned into a fountain on the island of Sicily. Once again, just minding her own business she decided to take a bath in the wrong river and who would have thunk it, but the river was Alpheus who by this time was madly in love. I mean talk about an analogy she was bathing in someone, Alpheus was probably in heaven. It's no wonder he fell in love with her. But now this poor little nymph scared shitless starts sweating, and just can't stop till she is nothing but water. Now, every time I go to the gym I'm going to think of Arethusa turning into water because she starting sweating too much. I can just imagine myself just busting into water all over the floor and splashing all the people around me, hahaha. Now that would make a scene.

Oh, and I wanted to make a side comment about my An Imaginary Life essay. Ya...I haven't gotten the book in the mail yet. I ordered it two weeks ago and it still hasn't come. I have to say I'm a little disappointed in Amazon right now. But Dr. Sexton, I have not forgotten and will post it as soooooon as I get the book. My apologies.