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
Sesquipedalian
\ˌses-kwə-pə-ˈdāl-yən\
: 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.

Watchman:
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
Ancillary
Pronunciation: \ˈan(t)-sə-ˌler-ē, -ˌle-rē

1 : subordinate, subsidiary
2 : auxiliary, supplementary

Merriam-Webster online