Sunday, January 07, 2018

Loathsome Diseases

This time of year people are posting uplifting things on Facebook about magically ridding themselves of negativity and drama to face the new year which will bring nothing but uplift and positivity.

What I find is that the new year is laying in wait with its own new store of negativity and drama. Such as, say, two-thirds of the family getting strep, some of them in places one did not even know it was possible to have strep.

Apparently Duchess actually had it last month and I didn't notice. Well, she did complain her throat was pretty sore a time or two, and one day she felt bad enough to stay home from school, which is pretty bad in her world, but I made her some tea and figured it would pass. I tend to take after my grandmother who reputedly refused to believe my father was particularly ill when, as it turned out later, he actually had polio. She made him go out and play anyways. The doctor later told her he probably was all the better for it.

Then DOB was ill, but DOB generally is ill this time of year to some degree or another. His sinuses do not care for winter.

Then Deux and Dot had the first week of school derailed by mysterious and unpleasant symptoms. Unfortunately things reached a head just when I was scheduled to take Rocketboy to a endoscopy appointment in the early morning, so DOB had the fun of dealing with miserable children overnight and emergency doctor appointments in the middle of court while I was semi-guiltily enjoying a ferry ride all by myself and order-in ramen and other such luxuries of city life with Rocketboy and Bookworm.

But I returned home with lots of books from Bookworm and everybody has medicines and ointments and after a few days are starting to feel semi-human. And I cleaned the fridge.

Chesterton on Being a Lawyer

" . . . we should always be much more inclined to trust a solicitor who did not talk about conveyancing over the nuts and wine. What we really desire of any man conducting any business that the full force of an ordinary man should be put into that particular study. We do not desire that the full force of that study should be put into an ordinary man. We do not in the least wish that our particular law-suit should pour its energy into our barrister's games with his children, or rides on his bicycle, or meditations on the morning star. But we do, as a matter of fact, desire that his games with his children, and his rides on his bicycle, and his meditations on the morning star should pour something of their energy into our law-suit. We do desire that if he has gained any especial lung development from the bicycle, or any bright and pleasing metaphors from the morning star, that they should be placed at our disposal in that particular forensic controversy. In a word, we are very glad that he is an ordinary man, since that may help him to be an exceptional lawyer."

~G. K. Chesterton, Heretics

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

First Post

Well, it is the new year and I have started the Aeneid. Turns out I actually really like it. It's not as gruesome as the Iliad, and not as discursive as the Odyssey, and spends less time on the sunrises.

It's still about the Trojan War, though. Apparently it took several centuries for everyone to get over that one. Only this is the story of the losers. History may be written by the winners, but poetry is written for the losers--or in this case, the current winners who want to remind everyone how they started out as losers.

Besides Troy, the thing these books have in common that is almost impossible for modern retellings to recreate is the sense of the gods as the primary actors. Moderns may try, but we cannot entirely take it seriously; we think they must just be putting it on and revert to cynicism as soon as they are offstage. But it's not really about the adventures of Aeneas; it's about Juno's and Venus's plans to check and counter-check each other and poor mortals just get caught in the middle.

Maybe they were wrong, but then, maybe they had a better appreciation of their limits than we do.

I'm not great at reading epic poetry--there are a lot of allusions to other places and people that I certainly don't want to bother digging out, so then I start skimming and then I realized I missed a key clue as to who is talking or doing something because they will use three or four names for the same entity. Poetic variation is overrated.

In other readings, I'm still finishing up Heretics by Chesterton and Napoleon's Buttons by Penny Le Couteur. And I just got Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency in from the library, but I haven't started it yet.