SAHM the Libby
So Amazon has pulled the guide for pedophiles. It was first put on the site Oct 28 and was not taken down until Nov 11th after threats to boycott. Amazon first defended its right to sell the book claiming they didn't want to censor books. It's just a different ball game all together and the fact that they couldn't see that from the start and that it took them so long to pull the book really worries me. We're talking about the safety and well being of our children. That just trumps anything else they got, any other argument just doesn't hold a candle for me, especially after looking at my gorgeous daughter. For myself I think it will take a while before I buy anything from this company. Ironically they acquired a site that sells diapers the day before they pulled the book.
SAHM the Libby
"Amazon is selling an e-book entitled "The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure," and shocked consumers across the nation now are calling for a boycott of the online retail giant." Reports Fox News.

Umm, I pretty much am. As a mother and a woman, no, a HUMAN, I'm disgusted and will not be buying anything from this site and will be disabling the links from my site to theirs. This is what the author says about his book:

"This is my attempt to make pedophile situations safer for those juveniles that find themselves involved in them, by establishing certian [sic] rules for these adults to follow," a product description reads. "I hope to achieve this by appealing to the better nature of pedosexuals, with hope that their doing so will result in less hatred and perhaps liter sentences should they ever be caught."

He wants pedophiles on the streets sooner, he also can't spell, sorry couldn't help notice that. As a liberal I'm usually the first to say freedom of speech but there is always a line and this is it. There aren't pictures so somehow this doesn't fall under child pornography, I'm not interested in technicalities it's just wrong and I know where my money isn't going,...any where this book is being sold.
SAHM the Libby
I started a book club on called Book Snobs of North Seattle. We've read Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz, The Vagabond by Collette, Portrait of a Marriage by Nigel Nicolson, and Dead Souls by Gogol.

I liked Palace Walk but was really more interested in the women in the book and it mostly covered the men and boys. I guess the second book of the trilogy follows the women and the third must follow little Naima who is supposed to die early. Several of the members of my group very much wanted to forgive the father for his tyrannical behavior but did not excuse Yasin at all. Yasin was looking for some control over his own life with his disgusting affairs and so I felt some forgiveness for him, but the culture was no excuse for the father to me. Even his friends called him overly harsh and extremely jealous. The only good thing I could say was that though he didn't treat his wife like the treasure she was he did know it intellectually.

I love Collette. The Vagabond is my favorite I've read of hers, it feels the most true and real. Some question her place in literary writing. She's no five course meal, she's a box of Godiva chocolates, rich and delicious, and a little sinful. I love her.

The Portrait of a Marriage was fascinating to me. There's sort of a stereotype I think of the upperclass homosexual marriage of convenience and this wasn't it. They truly loved and respected each other. The most important thing to me was that the children always felt secure in their parents marriage, though Nigel does say Vita was a bit cold and distant. Some in my group didn't want to forgive her this. I had to say if we're going to forgive the Muslim father in Palace Walk because of his culture then why can't we forgive Vita for hers. Upperclass turn of the century English woman a little cold and distant, shocker. Very breifly toward the end Nigel talks about Virginia Woolf and this is the best part of the book. He says she would talk to them (the children) interestedly and in earnest, saying "Go away Vita can't you see I'm talking to Nigel and Ben." I love that, I love that she was good with children. Dying to read Orlando now, V. Woolf based the character in the book on Vita.

Dead Souls, I read this book a bit distracted. I had a kind of cyber stalker and other unfun situations happening. I wish that they hadn't tried to rescue what he had burned. Sometimes it's best to just respect the author. It reminded me greatly of Don Quixote, it only lacked a Sancho Panza. But there is a great scene where one of his servants says something to the effect of, "Oh if you want to give me a beating I'm sure I deserve it and a great man like yourself would surely give me such a beating as I would deserve." It was terribly funny and dark, just as it should be. It's a satire and commentary on the bureaucratic society and the petty Bourgeois still something we like to satirize today.

Right now we're reading The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, for Halloween obviously. They won me over to reading this when they told me she was the author of the short story The Lottery, shiver.
After that is the Satanic Verses.
SAHM the Libby
Quick post- what I've been reading to catch up and get in the groove of things.

I don't think the relationship between Maggie and Tom was as important to the story as George Eliot thought it was. I also never cared much for Tom so I couldn't see why she did so much. He's the kind of guy your girlfriend starts dating and you think, 'uh oh,' but then you get to know him and think, 'Well I guess he's a good enough guy but I'd never date him, I'd end up hitting him over the head with a frying pan.'
This was a psychological novel, she was trying to say this had to be the outcome because these people could only act in this way. But I never really bought that because I could never understand why Maggie was so desperate for male attention. Her father loved her and was compassionate and affectionate with her so it never made sense for me. Perhaps it was just a flaw of her character but if so it makes me like her less. None of her suitors suited her it was just that they were there.
I loved Middlemarch and have read it twice, but this George Eliot didn't float my boat.
SAHM the Libby
I'm coming back I swear. I'm always doing that, starting projects and not finishing. I'll have a post in a week.
Herodotus kicked my butt, that was supposed to be my next book. I'm a history major, but couldn't finish. I'll tell you more about it later. But for now, I think I'll start small, The Art of War, very doable in a week.
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SAHM the Libby
"The Scythians next turned their attention to Egypt, but were met in Palestine by Psammeticus the Egyptian king, who by earnest entreaties supported by bribery managed to prevent further advance. They withdrew by way of Ascalon in Syria. The bulk of the army passed the town without doing any damage, but a small number of men got left behind and robbed the temple of Aphrodite Urania - the most ancient, i am told, of all the temples of this goddess. The one in Cyprus the Cyprians themselves admit was derived from it, the one in Cythera was built by the Phoenicians, who belong to this part of Syria. The Scythians who robbed the temple of Ascalon were punished by the goddess with the infliction of what is called the 'female disease', and their descendants still suffer from it. This is the reason the Scythians give for this mysterious complaint, and travellers to the country can see what it is like. The Scythians call those who suffer from it 'Enarees'."

SAHM the Libby

So often in books made into movies one or the other disappoints. Usually its the movie, not always though, I infinitely prefer the movie The Joy Luck Club to the book, but maybe that's just me. Rarely are both wonderful. Revolutionary Road was the book come to life. So if you liked the book you'll like the movie, there is really nothing of Yates to miss. Winslet was of course wonderful, DiCaprio was occasionally just adequate but over all very good, and both were just perfect for their roles. The screenwriter and the director were just brilliant. They got it all in. I loved the casting of Micheal Shannon as the insane John Givings, he looks a bit like DiCaprio, a messed up version, so to my mind, in their final confrontation it seemed like that ugly place inside Frank is confronting himself with the things he won't allow himself to acknowledge. The final scene even helped me to understand something from the novel, the way which April ends things confused me, but now I see it was her protest against being a woman. As she stood at the window looking out I could hear her telling Frank, "You're the most wonderful thing there is, you're a man."
I really recommend the book followed by a viewing of this movie.
SAHM the Libby

Thanks to Freud we all know the story of Oedipus. Or do we? Like Homer I found that the bits and pieces have become larger than the stories themselves. When reading the actual works there is so much more and the famous parts are often passing information. This is due to two things, the writers were working with already very well known stories in their time so the parts that we pay especial interest in aren't as of much interest to the ancient Greek. The other way that these stories are so large in our mind is the influence of the Greeks on our culture. The scene in Antigone where a messenger has come to tell the king Creon of Antigone's disobedience, the stuttering way the messenger gets out his story and Creon's peevishness, "out with it all ready," "you grow more tiresome by the minute," well it just smacks of Shakespeare, and really any play I've ever seen. I read the Lattimore translations of Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, and Antigone. These three plays are arranged in order of the events but not in the order of when they were written. Antigone was actually the first and it was thirty years in between Sophocles writing Oedipus the King and Oedipus at Colonus. The first, Oedipus the King is the story of the tragic kings discovery that he had murdered his father and that his wife and mother of his children was also his own mother. I find it interesting that it is this rash violence of ancient Greece that brings Oedipus to kill his own father as they, unknown to each other, pass each other in the street. The driver of his fathers coach means to push Oedipus off the road which prompts Oedipus to kill everyone but one loan survivor left to reveal the truth years later during this play. Jocasta, upon learning that Oedipus is her son, hangs herself and Oedipus puts out his eyes. The most touching scene is at the end when the blinded Oedipus holds his two daughters, Ismene and Antigone, and laments, "I weep when I think of the bitterness there will be in your lives, how you must live before the world.-And when you're ripe for marriage, who will he be, the man who'll risk to take such infamy as shall cling to my children, to bring hurt on them and those that marry with them? What curse is not there? 'Your father killed his father and sowed the seed where he had sprung himself and begot you out of the womb that held you.'" I know I've looked at my beautiful daughter and wondered how many hearts she'll break, it would be a bitter pill to think she would be an object of derision and untouchable, completely marriageable. The whole scene reminds me of another tragic king, King Lear, I can almost heat Oedipus howl at the gods, "Why?" There is no answer. If the gods know at all they aren't telling.
The second play concerns Oedipus' two sons who are struggling over the throne. Oedipus is wandering Greece clinging to the arm of Antigone and begs to kindness of the king of whatever land he's in, telling his story like a wandering Entertainment Tonight, and living off their hospitality while their amusement with his infamous celebrity lasts. It the longest of the two and the least interesting. At the end Oedipus has cursed his sons and is called by the gods, saying you have tarried too long, to his final rest. And that is what it is for Oedipus.
Antigone takes up where the brothers have killed each other fighting for the throne and Creon, their uncle and Oedipus' right hand man during his reign and apparently the brother Eteocles, is now king and declares that no one should bury the body of Polynieces. Antigone goes out with an urn full of dirt and sprinkles this over the rotting corpse of her brother and is dragged before Creon. Antigone admits she did it but denies any wrong. She represents the right as ancient Greeks took burial very seriously and anyone who didn't bury their own family was cursed. Creon is stubborn and refuses to listen to reason from Antigone, Ismene, the chorus, his son Haemon (who suddenly appears as her fiance', so much for Oedipus' worries), or the prophet Teiresias who pronounces that due to his obstinacy one of Creon's own children will die. In the meantime Antigone is thrown down into a cave to slowly starve to death, instead she takes a stip of her clothing and hangs herself. Haemon goes in to save her but finding her dead runs himself through with his sword. Creon's kingship goes bad because of his bad character and his disobedience to the gods in not burying Polyneices. This is a common element of Greek writing except for poor hapless Oedipus.
Two final thoughts I have on this mess, none of would have happened but for the meddling of the Oracles and Prophets. They tell the King and Queen that their son will murder his father and marry his mother, so when he is born they leave Oedipus out to die of exposure. A shepherd saves him, he is passed to another he is carried to another land and adopted by the King and Queen of that land. When he is older he is told he will murder his father and marry his mother he leaves that land out of love for his parents. In doing this he stumbles right into the hornets nest. So if the prophets had kept their big yaps shut none of it would have happened. Lastly, if you followed everything in the Antigone story you would realize Haemon and Antigone are's that for royal inbreeding?
SAHM the Libby
So I had my long awaited appointment with the endocrinologist and, as most autodidacts will suspect, if I want any real information on my disease I need to get it myself. So I've already ordered two books about thyroid and autoimmune disease. The doctor told me that the hives and facial swelling are not connected to my thyroid even though the allergist and my primary doctor used those as indicators of a thyroid problem. So irritating. He couldn't tell me anything to do for them or to make the facial swelling go down. Sunday was Easter but we didn't go to church because my top lip was swollen. I've posted the picture of my swollen lips but this was just the top lip. I looked like daffy duck. Nope, no church for me. My husband was kind of depressed because in the Philippines this is a big holiday, here its really for those who are very religious and for kids. He didn't want to go without me. I think it made him home sick, holidays do that.
What it is, what is happening, is that my immune system is attacking my thyroid. One interesting thing he told me was that I may have developed the thyroid problem while I was pregnant and that is why I had preterm labor. It's impossible to know now but its interesting because I was never given a reason it happened. A woman whose baby was in the room next to ours was told after her placenta was analyzed that she had had an upper-respiratory infection and that is why she had her baby at 26 weeks. It must have been so upsetting for her to hear that something so stupid was causing her baby such pain, but it would have been nice to know. She was also told that it would be highly unlikely that it would ever happen again. They couldn't tell me anything of the sort. HD will eventually cause me to have an under-active thyroid, hypothyroidism, which can cause miscarriages, infertility and preterm labor. In addition to weight gain, it also makes me more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes. My husband and I are hoping to give Sophie a little brother or sister. We've already picked the names, Daniel or Lila.
We are moving to Everett Washington in two weeks. Once we get there I am going to find a Dietitian, an OB, and maybe a Fitness trainer. Exercise can help with thyroid function. And of course I have a lot of reading to do. Now if you'll excuse me I am going to go scratch at the hives that have nothing to do with my thyroid.
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SAHM the Libby
Isn't Netflix great? I got to watch a 1977 Greek making of this tale. Oh sure it wasn't a great movie but I'm not a film critic so I won't bother. I enjoyed watching it because it helped to kindle a little fire. I realized that these Greek tragedies, like Shakespeare, were meant to be seen not read. I also realized that the whole thing is a soap opera, not surprising when I think of it, Greek tragedy is where we get operas from and then where soap operas got thier name from, duh. The Trojan war is Salem or General Hospital, its just the pretense for all the drama.
The plot is that a soldier kills a sacred deer and an oracle proclaims that to win the war Agamemnon, as the leader of the Greek army, must make the first sacrifice, his child for Greece's children. Agamemnon writes his wife saying that Iphigenia is to marry Achilles before they go. He lures her there with the promise of marriage to a hero. Once the plot is revealed she runs away but the soldiers drag her back. Agamemnon struggles with this and tries to come up with a way to save her but in the end convinces her that if she doesn't the army will kill her themselves and the whole family. So Iphigenia tell her mother to bring her bridal veil and wreath, you can see her in it on the poster, looks kind of like a deers antlers. She says, "Death will be my marriage, children and glory." it ends with the Greek army sailing off and Clytemnestra watching as the wind wipes her hair around her strong dark eyes. It was very good but then I love old European movies. Small warning to those squeamish about nudity, hey like I said its European. As a side comment, the Achilles in this one made Brad Pitt look butch.
SAHM the Libby

If there are children near by tell them not to look, I'd hate to frighten them. This is what has been happening to me every night since Christmas. This is a particularly bad night. So you see why I haven't been in the mood to blog? You may not understand why I haven't been reading though. Us bookworms usually turn to books for escape and perspective all the more during difficulties. Usually that is the case for me but there have been a couple times in my life when I just didn't feel like reading. When I broke my elbows, (once the pain went down and I got off the Percocet, and my sister bought me a bookstand, I was reading a book a day) when I was hospitalized and put on bed rest for preterm labor, and for the first month when Sophie was in the NICU I mostly only wanted to read books on prematurity and the like. Have any of you ever just didn't feel like reading for a significant amount of time?
Oh, so the face, after some hoopla with the doctors I have found out its my thyroid. Every night I break out in hives. Itchy nasty hives ever since Christmas. I'm still waiting to see an endocrinologist to find out what we're going to do. That appointment isn't until April 9th. If only I could show him this picture and tell him what I go through every night maybe he'd see me sooner. Probably not.

Edit: It isn't my thyroid giving me hives or making my face and hands swell. It's my immune system of course, which is also attacking my thyroid. Poor thyroid, its already having a hard enough time and then I accuse her of doing all this.
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SAHM the Libby
Jane Sophia Isabel
March 18, 2009, 3 pds 6 oz.
Ten weeks early.

March 12, 2010, 15 pds, 3 oz, enjoying a birthday cupcake.

I was warned that there would be moments when it would all come rushing back. I had no idea. Whoosh! All at once you let go. You didn't even know you were holding your breath. She's gonna be okay, she's gonna be okay.

Happy birthday to my favorite person in the whole world.
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SAHM the Libby
Doesn't have the same ring does it? eh

Pronunciation: \ˈcher-ē\

1 archaic : dear, treasured
2 : discreetly cautious: as a : hesitant and vigilant about dangers and risks b : slow to grant, accept, or expend

Merriam Webster's online dictionary

Write the new word on some post its and put them on the bathroom mirror, the refrigerator, the car radio, the baby's forehead, anywhere you're likely to see it. I remember some nineteen year old smart alec telling me on my twenty fifth birthday that our vocabulary stops growing at that age. Since then its been my goal to prove her wrong (see sour face here).

SAHM the Libby
It's funny that reading Revolutionary Road and Palace Walk (a Nobel prize winning book) should feel like goofing off but it does. I'm a bit busy lately so my reading has slowed as well, oh well. I'm sure my dozen or so regulars will forgive me.

Revolutionary Road, published in 1961, is about two grown up versions of Holden Caulfield. Everybody's a big fat phony which is ironic. I wouldn't call this a portrait of a marriage, and I'd be wary of anyone who did. It is a portrait of a certain kind of marriage. A dishonest one. We never really see the true April or Frank Wheeler, we see them occasionally peeking at us from behind their masks. They are both to chicken to come out. What are they afraid off? Mediocrity. They cannot forgive it in others, each other, and especially in themselves.
It can be very difficult to read a book about people you don't especially like unless it is well written, and this is, though I didn't dislike them and it wasn't until the very end that I felt any judgment for their actions. I don't want to give anything away except to say that what finally made me frown and shake my head was when their selfishness affected their two children, Jenny and Micheal I believe.
It didn't seem like I was reading about two thirty year olds, I felt that they were extremely immature. Richard Yates also made sure he had the presence of all the female archtypes. Maureen is the whore, Mrs. Givings, the crone, Milly is the matron, and April the maiden. She is the untouchable one.
The meaning of the entire book appears within the first dozen pages when April participates in a play at the community theater. "The trouble was that from the very beginning they had been afraid they would end up making fools of themselves, and they had compounded that fear by being afraid to admit it." And so on, the whole thing is a foreshadowing and obviously so.
The final question, though, is if this book speaks of reality. Yes. Not mine but I've known a few April and Frank's. People who thrive on drama and cannot seem to stop their self destructive behavior. They tell you their plans and you hold your breath wondering how this is going to blow up and you hold their hand as they cry about things never even attempted, yet again. Annoying, lovable, fragile, April and Frank.
SAHM the Libby
Reading Aeschylus (pronunciation thanks to Merriam Webster\ˈes-kə-ləs, ˈēs-\) I really felt that I was missing something. There is a bit of back story which is not explained. At some point prior to the Trojan war Agamemnon feels compelled (for reasons I'm not clear on, probably due to their wonderful gods) to sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia. Clytemnestra, his wife and Iphigenia's mother, sites this as the reason for murdering her husband upon his return. This wasn't clear to me during the reading but once I knew it it changed my entire feeling for the plays. She is this sort of Jezebel in the plays and so heinous her son Orestes comes to murder her. I don't blame her. If someone hurt my child, watch out. In fact my fury could not have waited ten years. However, she sends furies to kill her son for murdering her. So perhaps she isn't the mother bear after all.
The Oresteia isn't as tragic as one would expect. I expected at the end that everyone would be dead and this wasn't the case, there's plenty of blood shed though.
It is clearly Shakespeare's inspiration for Hamlet. Orestes isn't as introspective as Hamlet but Hamlet's mother isn't nearly as complicated or interesting as Clytemnestra.
But even clearing up the reason for Clytemnestra's desire for revenge I still feel that there is much I missed and I have a feeling that it has to do with the form itself. There is a lot that is unknown about Greek plays but I know practically nothing. I know that it was the inspiration for Opera. There, that's all. So before moving forward into Sophocles and Euripides I want to look at a few books recommended in The New Lifetime Reading Plan in the hopes that it will illuminate my future readings.

Greek Tragedy: An Introduction
History of Greek Literature
A History of Ancient Greek Literature
SAHM the Libby

I did it again. I waited an incredibly long time to write a review. It's been almost a month since I read the Analects of Confucius and its all a bit fuzzy. Even more so than my usual mommy brain fuzziness. So I am sitting here trying to decipher the handwriting in my ill-kept writing journal and kicking myself.

Two years ago I took a course on Religion, Rel 201 Religions of India, Rel 202 Religions of China and Japan, and Rel 203 Religions of the Middle East. They were very interesting and except for Rel 202 I really enjoyed them. The reason I didn't like Rel 202 was that the teacher was obviously biased towards Buddhism. A week was spent on Confucianism and Taoism each and the remaining six weeks were Buddhism. A bit more on that subject I can understand, it is very trendy right now and Religion is a tricky subject to teacher. The Rel 203 guy got all kinds of flack, though I thought he kept himself clear of a stated opinion. The real problem I think was that he had long hair and a long beard, like Moses, so people spent a lot of time trying to guess his Religion or lack of it. No one did that with the India guy and certainly not the Buddhist guy because that's obviously what he was. But anyway, the one thing we talked about in relation to Confucianism is why it can be called a religion. If you read the Analects you will quickly see that he makes no divine claims. He is not a 'holy man' or prophet. He barely mentions religion at all. A few quick references to reverence for ancestors is all. Despite this he does provide a framework for some of the basic elements of religion. One, morals and traditions, Two: a hope for a better life (though not in the next life or heaven but through diligence and knowledge you can improve your station and happiness in this life), three: structure to society.
Another thing that must be addressed when talking about Confucius, the myth. That fortune cookie, slightly racist, “Confucius say:” nonsense. His name is actually Kung Fu'tzu. Confucius was a latinization. When reading Confucius you have to think of it the same way as you do when you read Socrates (or Jesus), because he never wrote anything down, it's a bit of guess work what he actually said and what his followers attributed to him later. He was a tutor and moralist, he believed that if given a public office he could institute real change and prove his theories. He was never given that chance. He received an honorary post with no actual power or control to keep him quiet but once he discovered this he resigned. Every now and then you can detect some bitterness about this in his sayings.
I am trying to leave as much of my own opinion about religion out of my posts because I don't intend to get into a discussion about it. I only do that with people I trust. But I will say that I think all religions have something of value that we can learn from and that it is important in our time to have a basic understanding and appreciation for different religions and the people who practice them. So with that in mind here were some of my favorite quotes:

Book I, 16. The Master said, (the good man) does not grieve that other people do not recognize his merits. His only anxiety is lest he should fail to recognize theirs.

Book II, 14. The Master said, A gentleman can see a question from all sides without bias. The small man is biased and can see a question only from one side.

15.The Master said, 'He who learns but does not think, is lost.' He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.

Book III, 26. The Master said, High office filled by men of narrow views, ritual performed without reverence, the forms of mourning observed without grief-these are things I cannot bear to see!
(In my view a synopsis of Confucius.)

Book V, 26. The Master said, In vain have I looked for a single man capable of seeing his own faults and bringing the charge home against himself.
Book IX, 10. Yen Hui said with a deep sigh, The more I strain my gaze up towards it, the higher it soars. The deeper I bore into it, the harder it becomes. I see it in front; but suddenly it is behind. Step by step the Master skilfully lures one on. He has broadened me with culture, restrained me with ritual. Even if I wanted to stop, I could not. Just when I feel that I have exhausted every resource, something seems to rise up, standing out sharp and clear. Yet though I long to pursue it, I can find no way of getting to it at all.
(The cry of every religious devotee.)

Book XII, 16. The Master said, The gentleman calls attention to the good points in others; he does not call attention to their defects. The small man does just the reverse of this.
(There are many like this.)

And of course the silver rule:
Book XV, 23. Tzu-Kung asked saying, Is there any single saying that one can act upon all day and every day? The Master said, perhaps the saying about consideration; “Never do to others what you would not like them to do to you.”
SAHM the Libby
: Latin sesquipedalis, literally, a foot and a half long, from sesqui- + ped-, pes foot — more at foot
Date: 1656

1 : having many syllables : long
2 : given to or characterized by the use of long words

Sorry I didn't get this posted yesterday. I am experiencing some health problems and so is the baby. Don't worry we'll both be fine. We are also planning another move, hopefully this move will be permanent.

This is the last Word of the Week, it will be a Word of the Month starting on the first of March.

SAHM the Libby
Anagogical: interpretation of a word, passage, or text (as of Scripture or poetry) that finds beyond the literal, allegorical, and moral senses a fourth and ultimate spiritual or mystical sense.
SAHM the Libby
Isn't it wonderful when life intersects with what you're reading? Watching the PBS NewsHour tonight there was this story...
"A dramatic performance project called 'Theater of War' uses ancient Greek tragedies for a very special goal: To link ancient and modern warriors in an understanding of war's pain and mental agony."
Here's the link to see it yourself, something to think about when reading Sophocles who is up next.
SAHM the Libby
Agamemnon: (the Oresteia are three plays by the Greek playwright Aeschylus. Agamemnon is the first of the trilogy. More about the Trojan war,...great.)

Time and Scene: A night in the tenth and final autumn of the Trojan war. The house of Atreus in Argos. Before it, an altar stands unlit; a watchman on the high roofs fights to stay awake.

Dear gods, set me free from all the pain,
the long watch I keep, one whole year awake..
propped on my arms, crouched on the roofs of Atreus
like a dog.

I know the stars by heart,
the armies of the night, and there in the lead
the ones that bring us snow or the crops of summer,
bring us all we have-
our great blazing kings of the sky,
I know them, when they rise and when they fall...
and now I watch for the light, the signal-fire
breaking out of Troy, shouting Troy is taken.
So she commands, full of her high hopes.
That woman-she maneuvers like a man.

And when I keep to my bed, soaked in dew,
and the thoughts go groping around through the night
and the good dreams that used to guard my sleep...
not here, it's the old comrade, terror, at my neck.
I mustn't sleep, no-

(shaking himself awake)

SAHM the Libby
Pronunciation: \ˈan(t)-sə-ˌler-ē, -ˌle-rē

1 : subordinate, subsidiary
2 : auxiliary, supplementary

Merriam-Webster online
SAHM the Libby
I am total crap when it comes to poetry. Because of a bad experience in fourth grade I have stayed away form poetry until a few years ago. I am not a critic though, just a reader, I can tell you what I liked and that is it. I Bought a Poet's guide to Poetry by Mary Kinziea few years ago but I didn't finish it. I'm going to read it again. Along with the reading list I posted I have another one to read along side: Joseph Campbell, The Trivium, How to Read Literature Like a Professor, A History of Reading, etc., and that Kinzie is on the list. I'm planning to get through it before I get to more of those great poets, most of them are further down on my list so I have a bit of time to learn how to assess poetry. Perhaps though poetry is like opera, more fun when you don't know what's going on and you can access your emotional reaction more.

In any case, Richmond Lattimore has set the book up in sections, the poet's name as the heading with a few paragraphs about the poet and then a page or two of his selections. Almost every poem and epitaph are fragments and often there is very little known about the author. Here are my favorites.

Alcman of Sparta

No longer, maiden voices sweet-calling, sounds of allurement,

can my limbs bear me up; oh I wish, I wish I could be a seabird

who with halcyons skims the surf-flowers of the sea water

with careless heart, a sea-blue-colored and sacred waterfowl.

Stesichorus of Himera

Palinode to Helen

That story is not true.

You never sailed in the benched ships.

You never went to the city of Troy.

Ibycus of Rhegium

In spring time the Kydonian

quinces, watered by running streams,

there where the maiden nymphs have

their secret garden, and grapes that grow

round in shade of the tendriled vine,


Pindar of Thebes


O shining and wreathed in violets, city of singing,

stanchion of Hellas, glorious Athens

citadel of divinity.

War is sweet to those who have not tried it. The experienced

man in frightened at the heart to see it advancing.

Do not against all comers let break the word that is not needed.

There are times when the way of silence is best; the word in its power

can be the spur to battle.

Mistress of high achievement, O lady Truth,

do not let my understanding stumble

across some jagged falsehood.

SAHM the Libby
apo·the·o·sis\ə-ˌpä-thē-ˈō-səs, ˌa-pə-ˈthē-ə-səs\
1 : elevation to divine status : deification
2 : the perfect example : quintessence

Once again curtsy or Merriam-Webster online.
Next week I'll be beginning the Greek plays, first Aeschylus then Sophocles. Watch out things are about to get wild!
SAHM the Libby
“...[B]ecause mythology was historically the mother of the arts and yet, like so many mythological mothers, the daughter, equally of her own birth. Mythology is not invented rationally; mythology cannot be rationally understood. Theological interpreters render it ridiculous. Literary criticism reduces it to metaphor. A new and very promising approach is opened, however, when it is viewed in the light of biological psychology as a function of the human nervous system, precisely homologous tot he innate and learned sign stimuli that release and direct the energies of nature-of which our brain itself is but the amazing flower.” -Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God, Primitive Mythology

People say of the Iliad and the Odyssey that Homer was saying life is either a battle or a journey. If that is true Homer believed life was a battle. Only about a third of the Odyssey is Odysseus' journey, it is the most fascinating part. The rest is about Telemachus, Penelope, and at least a third is dealing with the suitors. All people in ancient Greece are subject tot he whims of the gods and the plans of destiny but none more than the women. Just as I never believed the war was about Helen I don't believe that the fault lied in the suitors. They complain many times that Penelope gave them all words and signs that their presence was wanted. Of course men can say that but it because they interpreted her words and movements to suit his own desires. Penelope though laments, when she learns that the suitors are plotting to kill her son, that she hadn't kicked them all out long ago, that tells me she had the choice to do so. Hospitality is very important to the Homeric people, that is the great moral lesson that seems to preoccupy the Odyssey the most, how to be a good host and a good guest. If you are not it can warrant death as the suitors learn. Just as many people read the meeting of Telemachus and Helen, where she says that just as Menelaus was sacking Troy she had had a change of heart and that the only reason she went with Paris in the first place was because she had been tricked by Aphrodite, and smile knowingly, that is how I read Penelope and the suitors. The Iliad and the Odyssey would be more interesting from the female perspective. Helen, Penelope, and Briseis are by far the more interesting characters.

The events that you would expect at the ending of the Iliad, the Trojan horse, the death of Paris and Achilles (remember his heel), and the sacking or Troy, are briefly mentioned in the Odyssey. I suppose that the stories were so well known to Homers audience he spent his time detailing other the other aspects but for me it was a shame. I would have preferred hearing about those things than many of the other scenes. A particularly fascinating scene of the Odyssey is when Odysseus goes to the gates of Hades. I read this part very closely because it is from Greece that we get our Western concepts of the soul and the after life, though it is till too soon for the happy side. The golden resurrection god, Dionysus, wouldn't be born into Greek mythology for some time.

To my mind the Odyssey is really the dreams of a child about his absent father. The ideal. When a child grows up missing a parent he concocts fairy tales about that parent, “He didn't abandon me, he's really an international spy, brave handsome and rich, and he left to protect me, but he'll come back and we'll have adventures together.” Perhaps this interpretation says more about me. Perhaps it says something about Homer.

SAHM the Libby

Thought grows out of environment. Ideally speaking the translator of such a book as the Analects ought to furnish a complete analysis of early Chinese society, of the processes which were at work within it and of the outside forces to which it reacted. Unfortunately our knowledge of the period is far too incomplete for any such synthesis to be possible. The literary documents are scanty and of uncertain date; scientific archeology in China has suffered constant setbacks and is still in its infancy. All that I have attempted in the following pages is to arrange such information as is accessible under a series of disconnected headings, in a convenient order, but without pretense of unity or logical sequence.


The Confucius of whom I shall speak here is the Confucius of the Analects. One could construct half a dozen other Confuciuses by tapping the legend at different stages of its evolution. We should see the Master becoming no longer a moral teacher but a 'wise man' according to the popular conception of wisdom that existed in non-Confucian circles in China and in our own Middle Ages, an answerer of grotesque conundrums, a prophet, a magician even. We should see the disappointed itinerant tutor of the Analects turning into a successful statesman and diplomatist employed not only in his own country but in neighboring States as well.

-Arthur Waley

SAHM the Libby
Conflate \kən-ˈflāt\
1 a : to bring together : fuse b : confuse
2 : to combine (as two readings of a text) into a composite whole
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
SAHM the Libby
Here are some tips for reading the Iliad. On the first page of your reading journal keep a list of the characters and whose side they are fighting for, Troy or the Greeks. Also keep a list of names, the Greeks and Trojans are called by several names, as well as the individual people. It's also a good idea to have a basic idea of Greek mythology.

The Iliad drips with testosterone. Where does it get a romantic image from? There is no romance in either the Iliad or the Odyssey. The Iliad begins with an argument between Achilles and Agamemnon over a woman they call Briseis. She is one of Achilles spoils of war. We laments many times how he won her from her family on one of the many Achaean campaigns into the surrounding country around Troy. Agamemnon takes her from Achilles who then refuses to fight with the Greeks. Achilles goddess mother then goes to Zeus and has him side with the Trojans because of the dishonor done to her son. Homer, being Greek, has an obvious bias to the Greeks because even though he says the Trojans are winning any affront to a Greek hero is met with equal violence to the Trojans so you have to assume that while the Greek heroes are far superior the victory is happening at the level of the common soldier who is faceless and barely mentioned in the Iliad. The violence is graphically described and through the whole thing I kept thinking that this ten year war is being fought over one runaway wife. It seems unlikely to me. Since we know that there is a historical Troy and a war leveled the city I read this thinking of real people. When Achilles says that he will overthrow the city and kill every man and his male children and capture all the women I feel these are real people being spoken about. And I don't believe that they fought over Helen. But her story with Paris is not my idea of romance. By the time we join their story they have been together nine years, she's a fish wife and he's a weeny unable to face her husband Menelaus in battle. I never for a moment believed that it is true love that Achilles speaks of when he laments the loss of Briseis. Its as unromantic as any story I've ever heard. She is his rape victim (for I don't believe a woman would willingly lay with a man who's just killed her entire family and kidnapped her).

I didn't like Achilles, he's a meathead, not my idea of a hero. He finally comes back to the battle after Hector kills his friend Patroklos. Achilles takes it very personally, which seemed unsportsmanlike. Its a war. I can understand revenge but the humiliation of his body after Hectors manly speech as they face off it just seemed petty. The most moving scene is when Priam goes to Achilles to beg for his sons body back. Achilles looks at the old man, a king and a father, who has been reduced to begging to the man who killed his son, and thinks of his own father, and though he swore he would never give the body back he is touched and gives Hector to his father.

The Iliad does not end as you would expect it to. There is no mention of the Trojan horse and in fact Troy hasn't been sacked. They tell us it will be, always there is the sense of destiny, heightened by the involvement of the gods, but we do not see it happen. It ends with the burial of Hector.

Note- I'm going to Seattle for the weekend with my husband. We'll be back late on Monday. I'll continue my thoughts on Homer next Friday from the Iliad through the Odyssey. I'm reading the Greek Lyrics now and hope to be finished Wednesday and then I'll be on to the Analects of Confucius. Have a good weekend.
SAHM the Libby
There was something wrong
with the animals:
their tales were too long, and they had
unfortunate heads.
Then they started coming together,
little by little
fitting together to make a great landscape,
developing birthmarks, grace, pep.
But the cat,
only the cat
turned out finished,
and proud:
born in a state of total completion,
it sticks to itself and knows exactly what it wants.

Men would like to be fish or fowl,
snakes would rather have wings,
and dogs are would-be lions.
Engineers want to be poets,
flies emulate swallows,
and poets try hard to act like flies.
But the cat
wants nothing more than to be a cat,
and every cat is pure cat
from its whiskers to its tail,
from sixth sense to squirming rat,
from nighttime to its golden eyes.

Nothing hangs together
quite like a cat:
neither flowers nor the moon
such consistency.
It's a thing by itself,
like the sun or a topaz,
and the elastic curve of its back,
which is both subtle and confident,
is like the curve of a ship's prow.
The cat's yellow eyes
are the only
for depositing the coins of the night.

O little
emperor without a realm,
conqueror without a homeland,
diminutive parlor tiger, nuptial
sultan of heavens
roofed in erotic tiles:
when you pass
in rough weather
and poise
four nimble paws
on the ground,
of all earthly things
(because everything
feels filthy
to the cat's immaculate paw),
you claim
the touch of love in the air.

O freelance household
beast, arrogant
vestige of night,
lazy, agile
and strange,
O fathomless cat,
secret police
of human chambers
and badge
vanished velvet!
Surely there is nothing
in your manner,
maybe you aren't a mystery after all.
You're known to everyone, you belong
to the least mysterious tenant.
Everyone may believe it,
believe they're master,
owner, uncle
or companion
to a cat,
some cat's colleague,
disciple or friend.

But not me.
I'm not a believer.
I don't know a thing about cats.
I know everything else, including life and its archipelago,
seas and unpredictable cities,
plant life,
the pistil and its scandals,
the pluses and minuses of math.
I know the earth's volcanic protrusions
and the crocodile's unreal hide,
the fireman's unseen kindness
and the priest's blue atavism.
But cats I can't figure out.
My mind slides on their indifference.
Their eyes hold ciphers of gold.

By Pablo Neruda
from Odes to Common Things

This book is also full of lovely charming drawings.
SAHM the Libby
Orgulous: Excessively proud, arrogant

Misused Words: discrete/discreet. Discreet means careful or prudent, discrete means separate, distinct, and unconnected. Arthur was discreet about his affair. He was able to manage two discrete households.

SAHM the Libby
I could not have chosen two more disparate books on the topic. It is very clear that Nabokov greatly disliked the book while Johnson is very eager to praise and excuse the book.

Nabokov devotes an entire chapter (actually it is an entire lecture, the book is a compilation of his notes for a class he gave at Harvard) on the cruelty of the book. He argues that the book is not funny but we are made to laugh at his pain and humiliation. For me, however, the funny part of the scene is not the pain he incures when he charges the windmills and has his face bashed in but his insistence that the windmills are giants and Sancho's plain arguments that they are in fact windmilld. I have no idea what a seventeenth century Spaniard would have found funny so I don't know what parts of the scenes are intended to be funny, I can only say for myself it wasn't the physical pain Don Quixote endured that I found funny but perhaps I was laughing cruelly at the insanity of an old man. I agree with Nabokov that the second book was particularly awful, the Duke and Duchess are noxious and evil. I don't think Nabokov wouldn't have liked The Three Stooges very much.

Nabokov also argues that the side stories have no function in the novel but are in fact fillers. He believes that they were old stories Cervantes had lying around that he just added. Nabokov says that even the readers of his time felt this way which is why he responds the way he does in the opening of the second book and why there are no such stories in that half. Johnson, however, says that these 'interpolated stories' are a common feature of books in Cervantes day. If that is true then why was he criticized for them by his contemporaries? If there is some greater meaning to those stories they should have been clearer in his day. In fact Carroll Johnson alludes several times to the reasons for the side stories but never delivers.

The second book deals with the usurpation of his character. This is why I read critiques about the book, in such old writings there is only so much you can do on your own, there are historical details that a layperson (like myself) won't know. It was ten years in between the publishing of the first book and the second and in that time another book was written by some other guy. A lot of the characters we see in the second half are that other writers creations. This is also why Cervantes kills Don Quixote, to keep others from taking his errant knight on any other unsanctioned escapades.

Johnson brings a lot of knowledge to the subject which illuminates many of the scenes. One example is the scene where Don Quixote accosts some merchants on the road. In Cervantes' Spain only Jews were merchants, this would have been immediately apparent to the reader. Don Quixote levels his lance at them and tells them that they must declare Dulcinea del Toboso the fairest lady in the world they say they've never seen her so how can they say honestly that she is beautiful at all. Johnson claims this is a satire of the forced conversion of the Jews and Moors which was an event that happened many times in the hundred or so years before Cervantes birth. He offers a few more examples but none so clear as that one. I still felt that Nabokov was correct in saying that Don Quixote was ill-planned so I wonder how much these kinds of scenes could play out to a greater meaning.

It's been a month since a read these books so they are a bit foggy in my memory which teaches me a blogger rule, to be faster with my reviews and stresses the need to keep a reading journal. I am going to read them both again after my logic stage reading of Don Quixote which I will begin after I have finished Le Morte d'Arthur.

SAHM the Libby
Parlous \ˈpär-ləs\ 1. perilous; dangerous; risky 2. dangerously clever; cunning; mischievous, shrewd, etc.
SAHM the Libby
When to use 'that':
When a time element comes after the verb: Freddy said that on Friday he would rake the leaves, or, Freddy said on Friday that he would rake the leaves.
When the point of the sentence comes late: Johnny found that the old violin hidden in a trunk in his attic wasn't a real Stradivarius.
When there are two more verbs after the main one: Silvio thinks the idea stinks and Paulie does to. This is confusing, does Silvio think that the idea stinks or that Paulie does? A that in the right place clears this up.
SAHM the Libby
It's been a decade and I'm still not used to that 2000 bit, it looks odd. I guess I know what kind of old lady I'm going to be.

Two New Year babies: E.M. Forster, 1879, and J.D. Salinger, 1919.
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