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Philokalos

[ website | Angst & Vergil: adventures in late adolescent logophilia ]
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Switch to Xanga [May. 14th, 2005|10:12 pm]
Philokalos
I have decided to switch to Xanga for the summer:

http://www.xanga.com/home.aspx?user=philokalos
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AUC 2758, my favourite year ever gets even better [Apr. 20th, 2005|05:23 pm]
Philokalos
[mood |snack foods as metaphysic]
[music |Franz Ferdinand]

Oh Yale!

As the sage Martha so warmly intones, “it’s a good thing”.

And for four days it very much was.

So that you can scan this quickly, I’ve capped all the important names of people, places, and objects.

Sing now Muses, sing of luggage made fugitive by fate!

GOOD THING # 1: I flew on SONG airlines on my way to Yale. They had FRANZ FERDINAND in their music options. I may have to rethink my hatred of the American Corporation.

GOOD THING #2: My handsome, charming, and brilliant TASPer friend PAUL (oh you’d better not go to Harvard) was personally convinced by none other than HAROLD BLOOM to attend Yale University. Paul also can be noted as the fount of all judgment of Yale college males, noting wryly something to the effect of: “I saw the most attractive man I had ever seen in my life. And then I saw the second most attractive man I had ever seen in my life, his boyfriend.” Ouch, Paul, that burns, and yes folks, Yale is in fact the queer ivy, sporting perhaps more chiseled male streetcorner makeout scenes per capita than the Bay Area.

GOOD THING #3: Meeting NADJA, ELIZABETH, and MICHAEL from the Yale livejournal. Sorry I had only five minutes to talk with you. IM me and I’ll compensate!

GOOD THING #4: A Dialogue

Setting – Master Class, Reading the Novel Today, a request for prefrosh participation has been voiced

Prefrosh#1: {insert inane comment here}
Prof: Uh-huh. That’s interesting etc.
Prefrosh #2: {insert random reference to Tony Morrison here}
Prof: Tony Morrision, wtf? (just kidding, she didn’t really say that!)
Me: {insert some lit babble about structural and linguistic emulations of the classical tradition here. Credit Eliot.}
Prof: [laughs] Well, would you like to just come teach here now then?
Me: [laughs, embarrassingly squeaky and high pitched] Yeah, that would be great.

Sadly, I did not come away triumphantly waving the flag of tenuredness, but still, nice little blip on the ego radar. Speaking of things sonic, after I told LUUKAS about the possibility of new Arichilocus and Sophocles in the recently decoded (only hours ago from then) Oxyrhynchus papyri, he ran around campus like a maenad on crack, shouting out names of classical authors. Not that I didn’t subliminally approve. Very Bacchae, sans morte of course.

FINAL GOOD THING FOR THE MOMENT: NOAH has partially convinced me to be a classics major. Also, I spent an evening talking about BRITISH MP’S AND LABOUR PARTY ISSUES, KANDINSKY, MINIMAL WORK STRATEGEMS, THE ROMAN EMPIRE IN ALL OF ITS GLORY AND DEBAUCHERY, and lastly, the capacity of spell checker to keep “utilise” as itself and not “utlize”, the crass z of the American ethos of etymological illiteracy. So go NOAH, starter of conversations (epithets suit him).

---
Lastly….
I am translating more Vergil today, so I might not be online. Latinate iambs + Moleskine + Toblerone chocolate bar = pure bliss.
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oh my [Apr. 15th, 2005|10:50 pm]
Philokalos
[mood |Paris Hilton gone Greek]
[music |Badly Drawn Boy]

I've been skewered in the Yale Rumpus Tabloid!

Check it out (page 14):
http://www.yale.edu/rumpus/archives/pdf/yalerumpus.com_apr05.pdf

Mildly amusing, I must admit... (and here I am resisting the urge to make a "pretentious" reference to Aristophanes).
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Oh So Hemingway [Apr. 12th, 2005|09:55 pm]
Philokalos
[mood |milder wrath of Juno]
[music |Hedwig & The Angry Inch Soundtrack - Origin of Love]

Reading short stories again... bull fighting is becoming interesting. This must mean I'm in a depressed mood, latching on to the Hemingway code and all. Men Without Women is such a motivational title for me too.

Today I went to the Social Studies Knowledge Bowl. It really is amazing how many high school students can forget the name of the emperor Tiberius. Granted, like 3% of the 1000 or so questions were classics, but my god, how hard can it be? Apparently, social studies do not include anything remotely resembling Thucydides either. Hmmmmm.... oh speaking of things Greco-Roman, there is another Barnes and Noble that has eliminated classics and essays altogether. What are they thinking? Or not thinking, as the case may be. Bastards.

Gave speech at NHS induction. New lime green Coach (I can't believe I let my mother talk me into those) heels hurt, I still can't walk in them. It's funny, I own at least two conventionally fashionable items now. When did that happen? Am I becoming a brand whore?

Still covering immense scratch on face with super-heal long term bandage thing. I'm hoping it will heal by Bulldog Days. Maybe I'll say I got into a fight with someone. That probably won't work. A fight about,er, critical theory?
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Difficulty, Asses of the Golden Persuasion, and Super Sonnet Man [Mar. 28th, 2005|08:16 pm]
Philokalos
[mood |Stephen Dedalus sans angst]
[music |Simon & Garfunkel (oh come on, I have my moments)]

I am currently reading three super cool things (ok, I say that about most books, but still):

1. "Just Being Difficult? (subtitle: academic writing in the public arena)"

Yes that's right people, hard core critical theory has returned to my life! In this collection of essays by prominent theorists (read: American Idol for English profs), there is a lot of (in my view, justified) bitching about the new supposed "irrelevance" of theory. Specifically, the authors try to make the case for specialist language in the humanities, and specialisation in the humanities, as contributing to, rather than detracting from, the humanistic enterprise. Some are better than others. Jonathan Culler borrows rather liberally from Derrida (I swear I saw some of those phrases in On Grammatology), but the essay on Hume is a good read.

2. on the lighter side we have.... Apuleis' "The Golden Ass", translated by the freakin' awesome Robert Graves (freakin' not being a mangled word commonly associated with him, but you know, I'm extravagant). Think donkey, for those of you who are used to me talking about dirtier Roman lit. I'm only a little ways into it, so more on that at a later date.

3. "Will in the World" by Stephen Greenblatt

Approx. 15 people told me to read it, so I am. The chapters on childhood were riveting, the ones on Shakespeare's religious experience not so much, but that's probably just me. The pictures of the portraits of the Earl of Southampton, i.e. the infamous Fair Youth of the sonnets, were interesting though. I would have thought he was a woman if not told otherwise. What hair! I kind of wish I kept my hair long sometimes...

Other news:
Still hating Camille Paglia. Still wearing black, high-necked sweaters a la Sontag.
When people ask me what I want to do with my life, still saying aesthete.
Some things never change.
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I Am Sooooooo Lazy! [Mar. 27th, 2005|09:19 pm]
Philokalos
[mood |soaringly elated]
[music |Cole Porter]

Yeah I haven't posted all break, even though I've had infinite time. Yeah, I know.

You see, I've been busy talking to future Yalies, whom I have discovered I adore (not exactly in the crazed Madame Bovary sense, more Platonic). There are so many people like me in the world it is truly disturbing. And marvelous. And astounding etc.

Also, I have been reading David Foster Wallace, which kills any tendencies I have toward prose. The man is godly! I turn green with envy reading his long, achingly beautiful, polymathic sentences. He's like a wack, hybrid cross between Ovid, Dave Eggers (he's better than Eggers, but still, some elements in common), and James Joyce. Read him or die unshriven.

This break has also been dominated by Latin, specifically by writing the analytical essays to accompany the translations I've been doing. Has anyone else noticed that Vergil is obsessed with enumerating body parts in Book I of the Aeneid? Perhaps I'm just strange, or desperate. You see, my anal online Latin teacher killed the new historicist thing I was trying to do by citing Tacitus. Damn her!

Last night I went with Matt to an awesome opera, "Lucia de Lamamoor". Makes me want to write a libretto... like postmodern Auden? No I'll keep that little bit of musical pretension to myself for now. Still, tres cool, the soprano (actually flown in from NY to replace the original who got the flu) was very good, and the staging was innovative. Maybe I'll read the novel it was based on later, seeing as I no longer work for school.
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I know you're all sick of this becoming "Alex's Classics Blog"... [Mar. 4th, 2005|07:54 pm]
Philokalos
[mood |moodless wonder]
[music |Carmen, Act II]

... but the National Latin Exam is Monday (!), so I can hardly restrain myself. Spent the day blasting assorted opera through my (new and totally awesome) headphones while memorising emperors and Tiny Little Islands in the Aegean That Are Mentioned A Mere Two Times Each in the Classical Canon. So you know, good clean fun.

Reading Fuente Ovejuna in English the other day, in those ridiculous accents, was also fun, though neither good nor clean. Ted seemed, er, urban in his usual amusing, albeit incoherent way (Note to Ted: the Martin Luther King impression made it easier to actually tell which words you were saying). Wilson oozed gayness as usual. Astrid oozed despondency and suicidal tendencies as usual. And I oozed...um... poorly accented anglophilia? I need to watch some BBC or something to get my faux Brit accent down, or at least tolerable.

Life is utterly boring lately [[~~doing the ennui dance~~]].

Oh well, I need to go experience the joy that is FLVS now. Yay.
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okay, no more alcohol rants... [Feb. 28th, 2005|03:13 pm]
Philokalos
[mood |frothing with levity and mirth]

... let's talk about how much I love the Robert Fagles translation of the Iliad instead. I love it. It is the high grade heroin of the Homeric world. Read it-- it's only $15.95 in paperback, and since my Barnes & Noble is by nature identical to yours (they're ubiquitous, like Starbucks or those nasty wasps that live on my patio) I'm sure it's the same incredibly affordable price everywhere.

Why, you may inquire, does Robert Fagles merit some of your precious time?

He might look like the night manager of a Wal-Mart in his dust jacket photo, but that would be to sorely underestimate his superhero powers. Anyone who can do what he does with Homeric turns of phrase deserves a spot on your shelf. (Many people say Lattimore is a better translator because he comes closer to the original Greek, but that's only because they like their Homer to read like the owner's manual for a 1986 Mitsubishi Gallant.)

So read the Iliad & discover Robert Fagles' mad ninja skills. Besides, even on the off chance that you hate it (which would render you either an unfeeling block of synthetic cheese substance or bereft of all aesthetic comprehension), it's still an attractive desk item that has great allure to members of the opposite sex. Especially Grecophile members.
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more Bacchanalia... (a response to Dorothy's recent post on her livejournal) [Feb. 27th, 2005|10:39 pm]
Philokalos
[mood |Socratic]

Okay Dorothy, let's address your points (and they were well made, kudos for that) one by one:

1. Title: "An ode to Dionysos".-------- You don't seem to grasp the connotations this title has, so let me lay them out for you. There is a play by Euripides called "Bacchae" in which various violent (and highly disturbing) acts are committed by intoxicated Maenads in the service of the cult of Dionysos. Dionysos, in the Athenian high classical sense, and in fact, in the Archaic/ Homeric sense as well, was portrayed as a DANGEROUS god to be appeased, a force that was capable of destroying the core of one's rational self. In Greek society, especially in the Platonic ideal, "ontos" (the germ of self, the essence), and "logos" (reason) were the two essential elements of man. The fact that a drunken spree in the service of Dionysos could erase awareness of these elements scared Euripides and his counterparts. An ode to Dionysos was twofold-- the manic pleasure of wine, perhaps, but also its association with death and bloodshed, with feral inhumanity.

Sure the Greeks liked their wine, in the broadest of senses, but above all they favored moderation in all things (recall the chorus of the Oresteia here!). Wine in the Greek sense was not wine as we know it today. It was often diluted with water at a ratio set by the symposiarch in order to keep everyone from getting too inebriated for good discourse (Plato's Symposium serves as a good example of this custom). Drinking at high school parties has no such lofty aim, no such aspirations toward purpose.

Moral of the story: Don't go invoking the Greeks on me. They're more nuanced than you realise-- and you blame me for making generalisations!

2. Quote from Ovid: "Wine gives courage and makes men more apt for passion. ~Ovid".-------- Quick question: have you read Ovid? I have, in English and Latin, and let me tell you, the man does not whitewash, particularly not about passion. It is passion in Ovid that leads Apollo to attempt to rape Daphne, it is passion (and rotten luck) that leads to the untimely deaths of Pyramus and Thisbe. The term "passion" in Ovid does not always have cheeky connotations. While Ovid, as well as I, recognise that wine can be fun if used properly, we both know that it can be inane and disastrous too.

Moral of the story: Enjoy classical hedonism, but don't appropriate it for your posts without knowing the sources you're citing. Remember, I've spent the past four years of my life trying to understand the classical mindset and tradition. I've read the major authors, many in their original languages. So don't presume to lecture me on them.

3. “no life is not a Hemmingway novel.”------ If you’re going to cite an author, spell his name right. Hemingway! And do you not recall the fate of the unfortunate Lady Brett Ashley in The Sun Also Rises? Hemingway may have been an alcoholic, but he too recognized the nasty end that drinking to excess in combination with a heady whirlwind of social activity can bring. Just because he drank doesn’t mean he thought all alcohol consumption was hunky-dory.

4. “By acting self righteous its saying you are judging us for drinking. Jumping to conclusions without having experienced half of it.”--------- I’m not judging you, or prescribing actions for you, or setting a so-called “moral standard”. I’m merely explaining why I personally do what I do. As for righteousness, don’t confuse clarity or forcefulness of argumentation for moralistic proscription. I do not, in any way, shape, or form, propose that my approach to drinking be the universal ideal.

As for having to experience something in order to talk about it effectively I ask, did Vergil wander like Aeneas? Did Shakespeare witness the assassination of Julius Caesar? Did Aristotle govern before writing the Politics?

5. “And regardless I have yet to meet a person, with the exception of yourself, that judges character solely by their diction.”---------- I don’t judge character on diction. I just love English, and hope that other people will come to appreciate it too. I like it when people speak well, but I do not dislike people who speak poorly simply by virtue of their vocabularies. That would be shallow.

6. “As far as experiencing life goes, alcohol is apart of life. Has been since the greeks and romans. You know that. That’s fine if you think it will mess with your perception of humanity, but the thing is, you really do not know what it will do, because you’ve never fully experienced it.”------------ Again with invoking the Greeks and Romans as uninformed archetypes! But anyways, I don’t believe there is any such thing as “fully experiencing” the human condition. You can’t do or try everything, it’s a physical (and temporal) impossibility. Discovering one’s humanity isn’t about trying out substances, or sky diving, or vegetable gardening, or anything else. For me, understanding the human experience is about making order out of chaos, questioning the nature of man and the world. Whether or not I’ve tried alcohol is irrelevant, because there will be many, many other things I will never have the chance to do in life. Despite this fundamental and inevitable dearth of complete experience, I can try to understand myself and my species anyway. I have to try—it is my duty as a thinker and a humanist.

7. “This seems long and overdone, and I don’t mean to offend, but the truth is you offended me in your post. You are guilty of generalizing and stereotyping and using those things to judge the character of people, like me. Not cool. “------ I wasn’t judging you Dorothy, or anyone else. Again, I reiterate, I simply laid out my reasons for MY actions. Mine, not anyone else’s, present or future. As for generalizing and stereotyping, I can only say that I attempted to make cogent, specific points, and that some generalization MUST ALWAYS occur when one talks about group actions. I can’t work forward from Aristotelian first principles, so I have to make some assumptions in order to say anything at all. If we were to accept the view that it is invalid to talk in broad categories, then philosophy would lapse into silence. Some generalizations must be made in order to set the stage for intelligent discourse of any kind.*

* See Derrida on the self-consuming nature of theory (in On Grammatology) for some very cool speculation on what philosophy can and cannot say.


And finally….

Moral of the Greater Story: Your arguments were interesting. Let’s have a dialogue, but keep your emotions out of it. Don’t take my points too personally--ultimately this is an intellectual exercise. Oh, and Dorothy, leave the Greeks to me, ok?

Vale,
Alex
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armavirumque, indeed... [Feb. 27th, 2005|01:27 am]
Philokalos
[mood |and you thought Juno was angry]

The conservatives have kidnapped Vergil!!! I'm serious, the New Criterion has the gall to call their weblog armavirumque (recall your Aeneid guys-- "Arma virumque cano in Troiae qui primus ab oris").

Who are they kidding? The Romans, conservative? Perhaps the Imperial decades Tacitus describes with such scathing clarity in his Annals, yes. Tyranny, state-enforced Augustan morality, I can see that. But Vergil?!? Need I remind everyone that Vergil glorifies what the Republicans refer to so snittishly as "alternative lifestyles" (Eclogues, esp. II, Aeneid Book V)? Need I invoke the Vergilian regard for integrity and honesty in warfare (weapons of mass destruction, my ass)?

Of course, one could just accept Simone Weil's perspective that the Romans were imperialist conquerers, colonialist oppressors etc. etc., but wouldn't that be taking the easy way out? Vergil shouldn't be a plaything for arrogant neocons.
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